2019 was a massive year for country music and the first year of the new decade looks set to be even bigger for fans of the ever growing genre in the UK. With so much set to be going on this year, here at Think Country we want to keep bringing country closer and making sure you don’t miss out on any tours, festivals, album releases and news! So here is our initial guide for the year and the 20 Reasons to be excited about country music in 2020!
Hot Country Knights having a record deal! What a way to kick off the year with the news that Douglas “Doug” Douglason, Trevor Travis, Marty Ray “RayRo” Roburn, Terotej “Terry” Dvoraczekynski, Barry Van Ricky and Monte Montgomery have signed a record deal with Universal Nashville. I don’t know what it is about this 90’s influenced covers band, but does anyone else think there’s something about them that reminds you of their new label mate Dierks Bentley?
Heading out for a “Pint of Anything” with Chase Rice Time to ditch those post holiday blues because nobody really wants to do #DryJanuary anyway and join Chase Rice on his UK tour kicking off in Glasgow on January 11. Following on from one of the standout performances from 2019’s C2C: Country to Country festival, Chase returns for further dates in Belfast, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, London & Bristol where he will be joined on the tour through January by Madison Kozak so make sure you grab tickets whilst you still can HERE!
The 9th Studio Album from Little Big Town The multi award winning vocal harmony group and 3 time C2C: Country to Country alumni are set to release ‘Nightfall‘ through Capitol Nashville on January 17th. This is the first new record in almost 3 years since their 2017 Grammy nominated ‘The Breaker’ and approaching 18 years since their debut album! Pre-Order HERE
A New Dustin Lynch Album The Tennessee native returns with his 4th full length release on January 17th paying homage to his home town ‘Tullahoma‘ which you can make sure you don’t miss HERE when it is released through BBR Music Group.
Having NO excuses whatsoever to miss The Secret Sisters in the UK or their upcoming new Album The Grammy nominated duo from Muscle Shoals, Alabama return with their 4th offering ‘Saturn Return‘ on February 28th which we cannot wait to hear and have 2 trips to the British Isles planned for 2020. Firstly in January with shows at Celtic Connections in Glasgow (Tickets and Info HERE) and AmericanaFest UK in London before returning to Europe for a full tour including Black Deer Festival in June. So make sure you check out the new album (produced by Brandi Carlile, Tim Hanseroth and Phil Hanseroth) HERE to hear why you don’t want to miss out on the chance to see them on tour!
Ilse DeLange at AmericanFest UK Arguably the biggest name in country music from mainland Europe is one of the star attractions of this year’s AmericanaFest UK who will be showcasing across venues in Hackney between the 28th-30th January (Tickets and Info HERE) One of The Netherlands most acclaimed artists across all genres with a truly breathtaking voice who is a former coach on the Dutch version of The Voice and many people may be familiar with DeLange as being runner-up at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014 with UK Top 10 song ‘Calm After the Storm’ as half of Dutch duo The Common Linnets absolutely tops an already stellar lineup at this years AmericanaFest.
Brett Eldredge coming back to the UK and he is bringing Lauren Jenkins for company! Another stand out performer from last years C2C Festival, Brett Eldredge will return for his third trip to the UK on a 5 date tour (following a number of dates in mainland Europe) starting on January 31st in Cambridge followed by early February dates in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow & London (Tickets and Dates HERE) Then if that’s not enough excitement for you, fellow alumni from last years C2C and TC favourite Lauren Jenkins will be opening up for him on the tour!
The Hottest Ticket in Town (but remember it may not be quite warm enough for ‘Short Skirt Weather’ in early February) Kane Brown is set to make his first trip across the pond for a single show on the UK mainland at O2 Kentish Town Forum in London on February 4th which is already well and truly sold out! An artist that fans over here have been crying out for means that tickets are almost like gold dust for what promises to be on of the most anticipated shows of 2020!
The Cadillac Three bringing the ‘Country Fuzz’ Jaren Johnston, Kelby Ray and Neil Mason will be bringing a whole heap of noise and energy for their first time performing at C2C in March but prior to that, the Big Machine Records trio are set to drop album number 4 ‘Country Fuzz’ on February 7th and available for Pre-Order HERE
Carly Pearce’s eagerly anticipated Sophomore Record The recently married Mrs Michael Ray has kept us waiting 2 and a half years since her fantastic debut release ‘Every Little Thing’ and fans have been crying out for more. Luckily the wait ends on February 14th which is of course Valentines Day when her self titled second album (which you can Pre-Order HERE) is available through Big Machine Records. The album will include current single ‘I Hope You’re Happy Now’ which features Lee Brice along with the Kelsea Ballerini, Thomas Rhett, Ashley Gorley and Jesse Frasure penned ‘Finish Your Sentences’ which is a duet with her husband.
An intimate Writers Round where you may develop a ‘Girl Crush’ The focal point of the UK’s country music calendar is preceded by The CMA Songwriters Series which provides the perfect curtain raiser for C2C. Previous years have seen the likes of: Brandy Clark, Jessi Alexander, Jon Randall, Shane McAnally, Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby, Brett James and Ashley Monroe (along with a guest appearance from Miranda Lambert) have the audience in the palm of their hands for these magical evenings.
This years show in the Indigo at the O2 on Thursday March 12th (Ticket Info HERE) features The Cadillac Three lead singer Jaren Johnston, rising star Niko Moon along with the return by popular demand of Liz Rose and Lori McKenna BUT this time we get them both on the same bill and they are bringing Hillary Lindsey with them! The prospect of all three members of “The Love Junkies” on stage together in London has been right at the top of the bucket list for so many fans over here. I think amongst other things there may be a very special moment indeed if we get to hear a rendition of a certain Grammy winning song that the 3 of them wrote together and was made famous by Little Big Town!
A little weekend in Greenwich that goes by the name of C2C: Country to Country The crown jewel or pièce de résistance of the calendar, being the biggest event for country music lovers to converge on the London’s O2 Arena between Friday 13th and Sunday 15th March for the 8th running of this showpiece event which occurs simultaneously in Dublin and Glasgow with the main stage artists rotating between days across the venues. Previous years have seen the likes of Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum, Kacey Musgraves, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Little Big Town, Dixie Chicks, Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean, Chris Stapleton, Dan + Shay, Sugarland, Kelsea Ballerini and Keith Urban at the festival so it really does bring out the biggest names in the genre!
This year is no exception as the ultimate entertainer Eric Church comes back to headline the festival for the second time whilst both Darius Rucker and Luke Combs also return but by popular demand move up to top the bill for the first time and the feel good, high energy show from Old Dominion will also be back at the event for a third time! Tanya Tucker will fill the almost iconic Sunday afternoon legends slot where she could well be rolling into town with significant recognition from the Recording Academy at this month’s Grammy Awards whilst UK fan favourites: Tenille Townes, Eric Paslay, Jordan Davis, Old Crow Medicine Show and The Cadillac Three all return to London but for their first opportunity to experience this festival.
One of the other great things about C2C is how artists initially appear on the smaller stages during the event where fans instantly connected with Sam Hunt, Maren Morris, Drake White, Old Dominion and Ashley McBryde who in subsequent years got to grace the main stage and shows the value of building the fan-base over here early! This year 4 alumni from previous years: Charles Esten, Abby Anderson, Runaway June and Brett Young (who has played the main stage in Dublin and Glasgow previously) have proved so popular for them to return to play the main stage for the first time in London. A stellar supporting cast for 2020 includes Mitchell Tenpenny, Kassi Ashton and Caylee Hammack amongst artists looking to repeat this trend!
Tickets for the main arena and Aftershow parties along with full information can be found HERE with further artists for an array of stages within the O2 complex (a number of which are free and accessible to the general public without an event ticket) to be announced in due course.
The good news that Midland are back and ready to ‘Let It Roll’ In December last year Mark, Cam and Jess were sadly forced to postpone their UK tour dates after a medical emergency following the birth of Mark and his wife Ty’s daughter. Fortunately things are on the up and the “21st Century Honky Tonk American Band” have rescheduled their dates in Belfast, Manchester, London, Sheffield, Birmingham & Glasgow for the end of March (original tickets still valid and further details HERE) where the neotraditional trio will be ready to take you on a wild ride with one of the best live shows in the business!
Heading into ‘The Light’ (and later back through ‘The Dark’) with Delta Rae Last year the enigmatic six piece from North Carolina decided to leave their label and return to being an Independent band then through the power of a Kickstarter campaign had one of the highest grossing crowd funding campaigns to back a project. Over $450,000 pledged will see the first phase of the project ‘The Light’ to be released on March 20th with the aptly titled follow up ‘The Dark’ already set to be in progress and released by the end of March 2021. Join the journey and get the first taste with the uplifting 80’s vibes of ‘Take Me There’ which is available HERE now!
The First UK Tour in more than 12 Years from Keith Urban After his long overdue return to play live in the London for Country to Country in 2019 and doing his best to blow the roof off the O2 Arena, the southern hemisphere’s biggest country music export returns for 7 UK shows in May 2020. Fans will firmly have these dates in their diary already and you won’t want to miss out on tickets (HERE) to see him in London, Manchester, Glasgow or Birmingham
Brothers Osborne: Need we say more? T.J. and John are back again for May dates in Birmingham, Cambridge, London, Edinburgh, Manchester & Leeds where as always they: will be loud, will absolutely bring it 100% and will make you wish you had TICKETS for all 6 dates on their tour!
A glorious weekend in the Garden of England Back for it’s third year in the beautiful setting of Eridge Park, just outside of Royal Tunbridge Wells is what I anticipate to one of my personal highlights of 2020! The fabulous Black Deer festival which has a really great fun atmosphere that is also very family friendly in incredible surroundings of rolling countryside. The festival has so much going on with a great number of venues for music along with some of the finest smelling foods you will find at an outdoor event.
The festival incorporates a lot of southern rock, Americana, folk, bluegrass and roots along with “country” so the lineup which already includes top drawer appeal with The Dead South, The Secret Sisters, Wilco and The Waterboys is very diverse and will get even more exciting as more names are added. All the info is available on their WEBSITE and this festival really is an absolute gem that has so much going for it particularly in regard to sustainability where it has a superb cashless system for all purchases made across the whole site!
This is part of a growing number of high calibre well organised events with increasingly strong lineups year on year such as Buckle & Boots in Stockport, Dixie Fields and Nashville Meets London which are the 2 other festivals in the south east (both taking place in July) then The Long Road at the start of September is a fantastic way to round of the summer in the perfect setting of Stanford Hall for what promises to be an equally as incredible event as the last 2 years.
A ‘Taylor’ made headliner for Glastonbury’s 50th Anniversary! The world’s most famous music festival is celebrating half a century this year and to mark the occasion and closing out the most prestigious stage in all of music on June 28th as the Sunday night headliner on the Pyramid Stage will be Taylor Swift! Tickets for the event are completely SOLD OUT but through extensive coverage to be expected through all BBC platforms, this is something you will not want to miss!
The long awaited UK debut from Lee Brice The South Carolina native has long been talked about amongst fans in the UK as an artist people really wanted to come over to this side of the Atlantic and the excitement built when his younger brother Lewis made his own maiden voyage last year! With well over a decades worth of hits including 5 number one songs means this highly anticipated July tour with stops in London, Birmingham, Manchester & Glasgow (Further details and tickets HERE) is expected to be a big highlight of 2020.
Finally the eagerly anticipated arrival of ‘Gaslighter’ This is where we dig out our crystal ball and bring out our powers of divination to look at other new music that we anticipate is on the way without a confirmed release date. However there is one record that is expected, which has a substantial level of excitement and we have been waiting a long time for, over 13 years to be precise! Comments made in an interview last September on the Spiritualgasm podcast by Natalie Maines all but confirmed that the first Dixie Chicks studio album since 2006 is likely to be expected this year and it will be called ‘Gaslighter’ but as of yet there is no date set in stone for this.
When you combine this with the potential optimism fans have for new music that should come from the likes of LANCO, Ashley McBryde, Kelsea Ballerini, Sam Hunt, Tenille Townes, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Dan + Shay, Kip Moore and Garth Brooks along with the pending tours, festivals and confirmed releases 2020 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for country music and to continue growing in the UK! So hopefully Annete, Lorna, Lesley, Jordan, Dan & Myself (or Patti, Bill & Amy if you are reading this Stateside) will get to meet plenty of you this year as we have big things of our own planned here at Think Country!