Campfire Tales: Thoughts on country & Americana festivals 2020

There have been a bunch of announcements over the last few weeks for festivals in the UK covering roots music, specifically country and Americana. We’re going to take a look at the line-ups announced so far for Country To Country, Black Deer Festival, and AmericanaFest UK 2020.

C2C: Country To Country 2020

The good news first. Eric Church and Luke Combs are two mighty headliners. The Chief last headlined in 2016 and is due another UK show, and Combs, well, he’s just the king of mainstream country right now. #1 single followed by #1 single, and his debut record hadn’t even run out of juice before he released the follow-up recently.

Other good news, the Introducing Nashville section will be great, Eric Paslay is totally underrated, Abby Anderson is a whirlwind of country-pop, and Tenille Townes is one of the next big things. ‘Someone’s Daughter’ is a classic in the making. Also, Runaway June will be showing their country-pop chops and building on their cracking debut album, released earlier this year. The Cadillac Three are perfect support for The Chief, their hard-edged country rock is part songwriting masterclass, part blast-your-ears loud. Last but not least is probably the only true legend of the weekend, Tanya Tucker. Her first UK visit for a long while is overdue, but her placing below Brett Young on the bill is a bit of an embarrassment for the festival. I know they’re a crowd to play to, but seriously?!?!?

And that brings us to the not-so-good news. Now, we like Darius Rucker as much as the next person, but he’s not really a headliner. Not only is he not quite at that level, but he’s also played the UK a load of times in the last few years. And, how’s he going to play his biggest singalong when its original owners, Old Crow Medicine Show, have already rocked the arena with it? That’ll take some confidence. And really Charles Esten on the main stage? Old Dominion and Brett Young as the main support?

The most disappointing thing about the main stage line-up is that our of twelve acts there are only three female acts. Considering the 2016 line-up (six of twelve, 2 headliners) and 2018 (seven of twelve) it shows it can be done. So a bit of a must-do better for C2C on this front.

More information and tickets are available from the C2C website.

Black Deer Festival

On the subject of gender equality, a really strong start from Black Deer. We asked festival founder Gill Tee about it last year, and it looks like progress is being made. Wilco are strong headliners, fitting the spirit and clientele of the Kent festival perfectly. We’re also big fans of The Milk Carton Boys, who have a new record out imminently, the wonderful Courtney Marie Andrews, check out Honest Life and May Your Kindness Remain, The Secret Sisters, Madison Violet, and The Felice Brothers who always put on a terrific show.

It’ll be interesting to see if the festival can keep pace with that strong set of first names for the poster, and as always the range of non-music related activities are what usually set this festival apart.

More information and tickets are available from the Black Deer website.

AmericanaFest UK 2020

Over two nights in London, in freezing cold January, some of the best “smaller” acts in roots music gather to celebrate the AmericanaFest UK Awards and play a set of showcases across Hackney. In the past TDF have seen the likes of Tyler Childers and Angaleena Presley on the tiniest stages you could imagine, so it’s well worth it to see some of the brightest talents in the genre.

This year sees a genuine plethora of cracking acts to fill your bitter January evening (28th & 30th), some of our picks are Kaia Kater, Terra Lightfoot, and Michaela Anne, who’ve all released records that we’ve raved about here. Jonah Tolchin‘s 2019 release Fires For The Cold is a slow-burning masterpiece, Lady Nade, Worry Dolls, the brilliantly stirring Ferris & Sylvester, Darling West, perfectly beautiful acoustic-ness of Roseanne Reid, Malin Pettersen, Amy Speace, and your new favourite duo Smooth Hound Smith.

Bigger names like Gill Landry, Jonathan Wilson and The Secret Sisters are also showcasing. Venue-wise Paper Dress Vintage and The Moth Club need to be experienced to be believed. It’s a cracking two nights with something for everyone.

More information and tickets are available from the AmericanaFest UK 2020 website.

Max Mazonowicz

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

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