As we come to the end of 2022, a year that saw the music industry begin to recover from the pandemic, (we use that word carefully and with hesitation because there are still obvious side-effects in play) I thought it would be interesting to think about artists that we’d love to see over in the UK in 2023.
There are some obvious caveats and some expectations that need to be tempered from the outset here. Dolly has retired from touring but might play the odd festival, and other artists like Brooks and Dunn and Alan Jackson have personal issues that are probably going to preclude them from ever making it across the Atlantic.
This is not a ‘fantasy football’, let’s just pick 5 legends article. It’s a more realistic, ‘we can’t think of any reason why these artists wouldn’t be able to make it over’ kind of thing! Of course, playing Country music in the UK is never easy and often a loss making exercise that needs to be offset against the more lucrative, American parts of the tour. (Matt Ramsey of Old Dominion once told me this, as did Kip Moore and Thomas Rhett to differing degrees) So, it is much harder for independent artists to bring themselves, a band and equipment over to the UK and we also can’t account for family situations or things happening in personal lives but I thought I’d give it a go anyway!
It’s been a while since we saw Dierks. An appearance at the C2C festival and a couple of shows in 2016 is all we’ve had in the last six or seven years from this talented artist. A quick Dublin, Glasgow, London, Manchester jaunt wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility in his next album phase, surely?
We were so close just before the pandemic! Lee locked in a few UK dates but they got re-arranged and then cancelled because of Covid. As with most artists who lost revenue during that time, priority had to be given to getting back out on the road in the USA to begin with but maybe now it’s time to look a little bit wider in 2023?
The most ‘in-demand’ artist in Country music right now. Similar to Lee Brice, Wallen had dates booked pre-pandemic to come over and play small venues but they got cancelled. There’s been no mention of anything else since as Wallen’s career exploded. The biggest issues here would be his availability now, cost and the size of venue needed, which would be too big for some traditional Country venues but not big enough for arenas or theatres in some provincial areas.
A whirling dervish on stage and a performer with some great songs, Janson has never been over to the UK, which we’ve always found a little odd. Now signed to Big Machine, a label with a distinctly trans-Atlantic feel to it, 2023 might well be the time he breaks the run and treats us to some of his classic songs like ‘Drunk Girl’ and ‘Buy Me a Boat’.
With fabulous new album, ‘Note to Self’ freshly released this would be a great time for Randy to bring his wonderful, rich vocals across the Atlantic. With nearly a decade and a half of hits and awesome songs under his belt, Houser would be a much-anticipated artist in this part of the world.
Cody Johnson, fresh from his recent CMA awards success would also be on many people’s ‘must-see’ lists for 2023 but his booking price, similar to that of Lainey Wilson, just went up dramatically in the last couple of weeks after that ceremony! The C2C festival are incredibly lucky to have got Lainey secured, pre-CMA awards.
There are also lots of emerging artists we’d love to see grab a Spotlight stage slot or Pop-Up stage appearance at the C2C festival in March or even on tours of their own. Bailey Zimmerman, Nate Smith, Kylie Morgan, Kameron Marlowe, Kimberly Kelly, Conner Smith, Ashley Cooke, Chapel Hart, Peyton Porter, Morgan Johnston, Becca Bowen, Isaac Hoskins, Grace Leer and Shelby Darrall have all released great music this year that we’d love to see on a UK stage at some point.