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Nashville Meets London Presents, Pizza Express Holborn

In the run up to the (now annual) free NML festival at London’s Canary Wharf this Saturday there were two great ticketed shows at Pizza Express, Holborn and I headed to the first on a hot, humid Wednesday evening.

Fortunately this great listening room style venue, home to the monthly Nashville Meets London Presents which was launched last year, has efficient A/C and although the atmosphere was hot in anticipation of the live music the temperature was very comfortable although of course a few beers helped the cooling process too!
With three UK and one US act on the bill I must say I was particularly excited about seeing Nashville based Angie Keilhauer for the first time….I have been a fan of her music since stumbling across her 2017 single “ Born To Drive” .  UK’s Holloway Road, Danny McMahon and Clara Bond completed the line up, all of whom I’ve caught live in the past and are incredible in their own ways …the country genre really is diversifying these days which of course is brilliant for attracting new fans.

Host Baylen Leonard introduced each artist before their sets, with Clara Bond first to take to the stage accompanied by Ollie Harris on acoustic guitar/backing vocals. Things got off to a great start with her catchy cheating song “ Does Your Girlfriend Know You’re Single?” based on a true story, as are a lot of her writes. With a new EP due out later this year we were given a taste of what to expect with the emotional ballad “ Baby, You’ve Been On My Mind”  and her fun pop infused “ Out of Towners” followed, the song Baylen had mentioned as being the one which initially made him aware of Clara’s music and wondering how it hadn’t been a massive hit! Incredibly it’s three years old now and was followed by her most recent single “ Pink Wine” (apparently her favourite song) ,  hearing the two back to back it struck me how much Clara has evolved as an artist and what a versatile writer/vocalist she is

Closing a fantastic set with “ Crown”, a song that brims with attitude and was written after a bad experience in the music industry, Clara cemented my opinion that she is one of our top female country artists here in the UK. More information at clarabond.com

Bristol’s Danny McMahon introduced his set as being “ country pop” and he is indeed relatively new to the country scene having started off his career in the world of pop. It’s a move that seems to have been a wise decision based on his fast rising popularity among country fans and during the set he mentioned how great it was for him to see audiences singing along, something that’s been happening for the first time at recent gigs and festival appearances.  He is a very confident performer and his rich vocals are really beautiful. Joking that he alternates between fun and morbid songs when playing live it was a heartbreaker “ Everything” from his recent EP that started things off, drawing the audience in lyrically especially on the emotional chorus. On the subject of emotion, the EP’s title track “ Boys Cry Too” also found its way into the set, Danny saying how the song was inspired by a poster he saw while walking round Nashville and that he wanted to highlight the fact that it’s ok for men to show their feelings.

“When I See You” was the only song in his set that Danny didn’t write, it was penned by Nashville record executive Dan Evans about his grandfather’s passing and he specifically wanted Danny to record it….a great choice that landed Danny a number one spot in the UK iTunes country chart. But as mentioned earlier there were upbeat, fun songs such as “Friends With Benefits” in the mix too , and he even succeeded in getting the reserved audience to clap and sing along during “Move” and “It Don’t Work That Way” (inspired by the epilepsy he suffered as a child)  that closed his impressive set. Catch him on 3rd August London at “ Under The Bridge” and at Somerset’s Watchet Festival on 24th August.

Angie Keihauer (Angie K) was playing her first official UK set and judging by the reaction to her polished performance she won a whole bunch of new fans at this event. Arriving in Nashville a few years back (via El Salvador and California!) she’s made her mark stateside with her relentless touring schedule which has recently included opening for the likes of Tanya Tucker and Jake Owen and she has also appeared on The Voice ( team Blake of course!) over there. Explaining how much she appreciated such an attentive audience ( something not necessarily the case when playing as a support artist ) she opened her set with the beautiful ballad  “ Let It Ride” ( from her 2014 release “ Live Acoustic Sessions” ) which immediately drew attention to her edgy, vocals and superb guitar playing. Things got cranked up a few notches with the appropriately Summer infused and really infectious “ Made To Live By The Water”, the opening track from her 2016 EP “ Wild” , which showcased the energy and attack Angie brings to the stage and showed a totally different side to her as an artist and performer. The song that started things off for Angie on The Voice, her cover of Dierks Bentley’s “ I Hold On” followed before one of her more personal writes …..as mentioned earlier, she relocated to Nashville from California, a move she told us that was instigated after Jake Owen noticed her ( they now share the same manager) and in turn this inspired  “ Leave California” . In this fantastic song that oozed emotion she’s trying to convince her partner to make the move with her, and fortunately it worked and things are going very well for Angie, her girlfriend and their Boston terrier in music city.

We were fortunate enough to hear the first ever live performance of Angie’s new song “ All I See Is You” which she informed us premieres on YouTube later in the week, a beautiful love song with a lilting chorus inspired by laying on a boat in Greece looking up at the stars . “ I hope it makes you feel big and small at the same time” she told us. The stunner of a set closed with a song she didn’t write but which she’d loved immediately she heard it and which she is thinking of recording and has on hold, sorry if i get the title wrong but i think it’s “ I’l be Your Friend” but anyway it was really infectious and got us all clapping along . “ It’s been a magical night for me” Angie said before heading off to the march stand, and i must say she actually exceeded my expectations and I really hope she’ll be back in the UK before too long, Keep in touch with her news (new music out soon!) at angiekeilhauer.com
The ever popular Holloway Road’s Jack and Robert ended the evening with a really entertaining set, they may laugh and joke in between numbers but they take their music very seriously and are fast building a substantial following on the UK country music scene. Their writing, playing and vocals ( beautiful harmonies in particular) were all showcased perfectly, starting things off with “ Hang over Here” the opening track from their 2018 EP “ Broke”. A brand new song, “ Chance” was up next, a reminder to seize the moment and not let things pass you by and I must say that I feel their writing is really strong these days, those trips to Nashville are definitely paying off! Next was a flashback to one of their older numbers from their 2016 EP “ Roots” with “ Good Thing Gone Bad” a slower paced heartfelt song which always sounds great, before they introduced the Levi Hummon write “ Reckless”  from their latest EP ……Levi is the son of Nashville hit writer Marcus and it definitely seems that talent runs in the family! The duo brought us bang up to date next with their new single, the break up song  “Lightening” which they poured a lot of emotion into and which really drew me in…take a listen and hopefully you’ll agree https://www.hollowayroadmusic.com/music
“ If She Falls” (dedicated to ” all the Mums out there”) and their 2018 single “ Get the Girl” ( which really shows that Nashville influence I mentioned earlier)  brought their well constructed set and and excellent evening of country music in its various formats to a close …….what a way to kick off Nashville Meets London week, I hope all of you attending any of the other events have a brilliant time and roll on NML 2020!

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Lesley Hastings
Hi there ( or should I say Howdy Y'all??) So excited to be part of the Think Country team, I am a massive music fan with Country and Americana being my particular passions! Great to see their rise in popularity here in the UK. Just love great lyrics, vocal harmonies and a song with a story! Throw in some steel and I am in heaven..... I have a serious gig-going and cowboy boot collecting habit, which I am sure some of you can relate to! Occasionally I pick up a guitar and try my hand at songwriting. I am also passionate about animal welfare, and have recently left the London rat race behind to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle in Buckinghamshire with my rescue dogs and cats. Cowgirl Lesley. xx
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