Now we know for sure the lineup for next year’s festival , here’s some thoughts on Country to Country 2016 and what is by far the biggest weekend of the year for UK country music fans . First off , I think it’s another great bill that tries to cover all bases ; mixing up newer acts with older and more established performers , bigger stars with up and comers . The headliners all deserve the spots and nobody can complain about the lack of female presence this year . Bro-country is relatively conspicuous by its absence after last year’s blow out . There is some confusion about why Ashley Monroe is not on the poster for London ( despite being down for Dublin and Glasgow and listing the date on her website ) and there is some talk of her being on one of the satellite stages which seems a bit odd . I’m surprised The Shires didn’t get a main stage slot and I was certain Kenny Chesney was going to be here , but I’m not complaining . Here’s some ‘ off the top of my head ‘ thoughts on the individual artists ( the dates listed are for London ) :
FRIDAY 11 MARCH
Miranda Lambert – As I said yesterday , this is the country star I and many others have wanted to see over here for years and it’s great that C2C have listened to the fans and managed to book her . Still promoting a fine album ( Platinum ) , it’ll be a set full of great songs and I can’t wait .
Dwight Yoakam – Filling the traditional ‘ older fan ‘ slot previously taken by Gill , McBride and Womack , he’s sure to draw a decent number of his own fans and it’ll be interesting to see how he goes down with the increasingly younger O2 crowd .
Thomas Rhett – That should be no problem for the 25 year old Rhett . He leans a bit too far over on the pop/EDM side of things for me , but I’ve enjoyed some of the songs I’ve heard and he should put on a fun show .
SATURDAY 12 MARCH
Carrie Underwood – A true star , a return headliner , a stupendous singer and already very popular here – does anybody not like Carrie ? I had reservations last time , but I’m much more of a fan now and her forthcoming album ( Storyteller ) is shaping up to be a cracker .
Little Big Town – Another returning act and another of my favourites . A great live act and they’ve showed with Painkiller that the deserved success they had with Tornado wasn’t a one-off .
Sam Hunt – A performer that I’m not that familiar with , despite his big success in the US with his debut Montevallo album ( on which he co-wrote all the tracks ) . He’s definitely part of the pop/EDM/rap crowd , but I’ve liked what I’ve heard and he obviously has something different .
Maddie & Tae – The likeable duo have already proved with their first album that they are more than one-hit wonders and this should be a lot of fun . I think they’re going to go down a storm here .
SUNDAY 13 MARCH
Eric Church – The first time back for Mr Church since he played the UK right at the beginning of his tour for The Outsiders in 2014 . Back then , it seemed as though opinion was divided on the album , but it’s just grown in stature since and still has legs ( no sign of a new album on the horizon yet ) . This should be a strong end to the festival and it seems clear that Eric has had a hand in picking his support acts for the day .
Kacey Musgraves – Probably the current US country singer with the biggest profile in the UK music press and touring here soon , Kacey is already on her way to being a crossover success in this country and it’s surprising she hasn’t played the festival before . The perfect special guest for the headliner .
Chris Stapleton – Respected country music songwriter who I first became aware of due to Luke Bryan’s Drink A Beer . Now a solo artist and surprising left field CMA nominee with his Traveller album , he’s a good addition to the bill and I’m looking forward to his show .
Andrew Combs – The first C2C act to be announced that I’ve never even heard off . A singer/songwriter with an old school style , this will be interesting and I’m assuming he’s playing because Eric Church is a fan .
There you go . Lots of other announcements to come ( the smaller stages and the CMA Songwriters Series etc.) and tickets on sale at 10am Friday . I’ll be there and I promise that I’ll stop going on about it here for a while .