C2C Country To Country preview: the Festival Stages

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We’ve already taken a look at the acts you really have to see in the main arena at C2C Country To Country, now we switch our focus to the trickier task of recommending bands and artists from the huge set of stages outside the main arena. Previously known as the Pop Up Stages these newly named Festival Stages host acts that are new and acts that are big. We’ll recommend five from each day that you really can’t miss.

Friday


With a smaller selection on the opening day of the festival the start of this task is slightly more straightforward. The first must see of the weekend is Charlie Worsham (15:10, BBC Radio 2 Country Stage). The 31 year old is a regular visitor to UK shores and despite only having 2013’s Rubberband to his name is a really talented and popular presence on his trips to the UK. Currently living in Nashville and from Jackson, Mississippi originally Worsham has a real musical pedigree. Listen out for ‘Could It Be’, his biggest crowd pleaser.

Working hard on the opening day are British folk duo Worry Dolls (15:40, Club WM & 18:30, The Saloon) whose debut Go Get Gone lit up the UK Americana chart on its release in January. Another duo not to miss hugely successful British country act, Ward Thomas (16:00, BBC Radio 2 Country Stage). The twins hit big in 2014 with From Where We Stand and followed that up last year with Cartwheels. Though leaning slightly more towards pop their vocal harmonies are as effective as those Worry Dolls.

The final two recommendations for Friday are the slightly off-centre Legends Of Country (16:20, Club WM) and their jaunty, Monkees-esque, take on country music, and the more traditional The Hardy Band (14:20, Club WM & 20:00, The Saloon) and their folky country vibes. Both bands offer something leaning to the more traditional side of country.

Saturday


It starts early on the second day, at 11am on the Festival Stages so be sure not to miss out. An old friend of TMF, Sarah Darling (12:30, Big Entrance) is someone to catch early in the day. Her balance of ballads, pop, and traditional really work well together and hearing some of her recent record, Dream Country, live is a treat. In a day dominated by great female acts Jarrod Dickenson (13:10, Big Entrance) stands out from the crowd. Now living in New York City he’s clearly not your regular Nashville guy. Sharp suited and behatted, Dickenson has a way with thoughtful lyrics. Expect to be wowed by stripped down performances.

Recommended by none other than the Festival Director for Country To Country, Bailey Bryan (13:50, Town Square) is well worth catching. Whilst she’s also playing the Yamaha Stage in the arena catching her on a small stage will be well worth while. She might very well be this year's Sam Hunt or Maren Morris - two breakout stars from the Pop Up Stages in 2015 and 2016. Fans of former members of hugely successful girl bands might be interested in Una Healy (14:30, Town Square), everyone else should pay attention for her wonderful voice and new direction, folk-y country of the peppy kind. Her solo debut, The Waiting Game, has some gems and this is a chance to see her up close.

The final recommendation for Saturday is a former reality contestant. Caitlin Koch (11:50, Town Square) has such a smoky voice that it seems unfathomable that she didn’t win. She didn’t. But then neither did JLS or Olly Murs and we know how that turned out. Anyhow, catch Koch to see why the judges did wrong.

A mention also has to go to Lucie Silvas (15:00, BBC Radio 2 Country Stage).

Some of the acts mentioned above are also playing on Sunday, check the C2C app for all stage times.

Sunday


The choice on Sunday is immense too with C2C Aftershow Party headliners Drake White & The Big Fire (12:50, BBC Radio 2 Country Stage) following up their Saturday night set with a Sunday lunchtime turn. Last year Old Dominion were still recovering so let’s see how Drake and his band get on. It should be mentioned that 2016’s Spark is a very good record and the main reason to see the band.

Irish singer songwriter Catherine McGrath (13:25, Big Entrance) comes to C2C for the first time with her country pop stylings, as does Twinnie (14:45 Big Entrance) who leans more towards the big lunged ballad approach. With a voice like hers that’s no surprise, but what is is how hard she rocks at times.

The final two cracking acts that’ll round off your weekend in style are Tennessee’s Logan Brill (14:05, Big Entrance) and Nashville resident Cassadee Pope (12:30, The Roadhouse). Brill has been quiet since her 2015 release Shuteye, which went somewhat under the radar in her home country. In the UK she’s an unknown. She bares similarities with Brandi Carlile vocally and writes a mean Americana song so is well worth half an hour of your Sunday. Cassadee Pope on the other hand is better known, she won the US version of The Voice (on Team Blake) and has just dueted with Chris Young. She’s also appearing on the Yamaha Stage in the arena but her Festival Stage appearance will be much more intimate than that.

There are still tickets left for the festival this weekend, details are on the Country To Country website.

For up to date stage times and any new additions download the C2C app for Android or Apple.

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