I’m so out-of-date that when I recently heard a reference to the UK charts coming out on a Friday I was mildly surprised. I still imagine that charts come out on a Tuesday lunchtime on Radio 1.
Now of course the BBC pop charts are not the only ones. Like the US we now have a number of charts for different genres and niche markets, including country.
It’s interesting to note the difference between two charts. The Official Country chart which is album based currently shows Detour by Cyndi Lauper at number 1; The things that we are made of, Mary Chapin Carpenter at 2 and Stayin’ up all night by Nathan Carter at 3. The album which has been on the charts for the longest time is the Shires debut with 52 weeks.
Over at iTunes UK country chart, which is single track downloads, the picture is different number 1 is Keith Urban’s The fighter, number 2 Brad Paisley, without a fight and at 3 Thomas Rhett, die a happy man. But it’s when you look at paces 4,6 and 8 that you notice the difference. All three slots are held by Dolly Parton, Jolene, islands in the stream and 9 to 5.
I’m not sure how many downloads it takes to chart but clearly the idea that the internet creates a long-tail of products is quite right.
It will be interesting to see how long Dolly stays on the iTune list and if other older tracks make an appearance.
Before we get the music a quick review of the venue. Bush Hall is in Shepherds Bush area of London and a great place to see bands. It’s a small, intimate if you are doing PR for the place, venue. A bit like watching a band in your front room, providing your front room has a small stage at the front and chandeliers. If it does you probably live in Downton Abbey or just down the road from Bush Hall in Buck Palace. Concerts are always good value.
And so the gig. Jess, of Jess & the Bandits, is from Texas but her bandits are all from the UK. which perhaps reflects the growing interest in country music in the UK, influenced by a new wave of US artists.
I first came across J&tB when they played on the late Sir Terry Wogan’s Sunday morning show, a performance she mentioned at the concert before playing their excellent cover version of the Jimmy Webb classic Wichita Lineman.
Although the band has only one album behind, Here we go Again, them the mix of songs means that they can up the tempo and slow it down without losing the audience because of the quality of the material. Ready Set is a great romp of a track and Nitty Gritty deserves to be an anthem for equality. As well as the cover of Wichita Lineman the band also do a neat cover of Mamma Told me not to Come and you felt that you were with them at the slightly dodgy party described in the song.
Because Bush Hall is so small it could be difficult to get the sound mix right for a five piece band but they do a good job and you get the feeling that these guys could make you feel up-close and personal in even the biggest venue. I did feel sorry for the drummer, who didn’t have a full set of drums but sat on and played what appeared to be a tea-chest, but was, I guess, a bit more hi-tech.
Before we close, a quick mention for Luke and Mel who supported J&tB. Like the headliners they have played Country 2 Country and have a number of British Country Music Awards to their name. Good performers, good songwriters and well worth checking out.
So the starting point for this blog was our trip to Nashville for CMA Fest and we are now just 36 days to the first act hitting the stage. That act will be Jake Owen on Thursday, June 9 on the River Front stage at 10am! Yes, 10am. Now that sounds like an early start for fans, but boy, it sounds a really early start for the performers. But that really sets the tone for the whole event. There are four stages which are back-to-back with acts and the challenge looks like trying to get to see all of the acts you want to catch. Even on the first day we’ve got Kristian Bush overlapping by five minutes with Maddie and Tae on different stages (First world problems, I know!) I’ve been a big fan of Kristian since I saw him at the first C2C festival in London. A great song writer and performer.
I guess more seasoned CMA Fest goers will have their game plan sorted but we are need to do our research, how far apart are the stages and can we dash between them?
Well, I’m in the UK and this is going to be about country music!
The main prompt however is that in June I’m off to Nashville for CMA Fest. In the meantime I thought I would blog about all things country, or at least all things country that I’m interested in, sound interesting, or simply come my way.
So do why do a qualify as someone who can write about country music? Well, I didn’t know you had to have a qualification. But as you’ve asked, the very first, yes, very first concert I ever saw was Johnny Cash and that was in the early 1970s in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, hardly a hot-bed of country music.
Since then the popularity of country music in the UK has waxed and waned. I have to admit the Dolly Parton, line dancing, pretending you live next door to the Dukes of Hazard when in fact you live in Dagenham (or anywhere else beginning with D) has never been my flavour of country. But there has always been great singer songwriters and great performers (of which more later)
More recently country has developed a whole new generation of acts (of which more later). Plus, things like C2C, Maverick magazine, and Internet radio enabling stations such as Chris Country to take to the air, are all giving country music in the UK a big push.
So this may be nothing more than a vanity project or it may turn out to be deeply insightful, either way welcome to the page and if you have thoughts on country music or particularly good acts you want to share let me know.