I have had the opportunity to attend many country music festivals recently from the likes of Nashville Meets London to CMA Fest to Long Road etc but it is always Buckle and Boots that manages to steal my heart! Some may say that’s because its the only country music festival on my doorstep however I would say in fact its the incredible family friendly atmosphere paired with the amazing people it gathers there to spend the weekend with and the fact you can be walking around and bump into the likes of Lewis Brice and William Michael Morgan on your travels!
The festival kicked off on the Friday night perfectly with an In The Round showcasing the amazing talents of across the pond artists and some may say newcomers to the UK; Tamara Stewart, Blake Oconnor and Jessica Lynn. Next up was our very own multi talented Backwoods Creek. These guys quite possibly worked the hardest anyone has ever worked at this festival, not only performing their own set of songs they also played with Lewis Brice and William Michael Morgan too, some may say the hardest working band in the UK. Their set brought the energy right up from the minute they set foot on stage and got the Friday night party started.
Katy Hurt told everyone on stage she just needed a drink when her set started. Straight from a string of other festivals, although it did not show, Katy performed a high energy set that got everyone up on their feet with songs from her new EP Unfinished Business and Pieces of Me. The Adelaides were next and they showed the audience just why they have been booked to play CMA Fest in Nashville with their harmonies in sync performing their debut single “Leave” and other fan favourites like “Jellybaby” warming the crowd up nicely before the headliner Lewis Brice took the stage.
Now am going to sadly admit before Buckle and Boots I had never heard a song by Lewis myself but I was willing to check him out, I mean he’s headlining so he’s got to be good right? From the second Lewis stepped on stage accompanied by the boys from Backwoods Creek it was like a scene out of the Greatest Showman, this dude meant business on his UK Debut and completely owned and wowed the main stage. Performing an array of his hits including the ever so catchy Best Ex Ever he had the whole of the audience rocking out and showing Manchester just how to perform a headline set at night 1 of a festival! He definitely earned a fan in me after that show stopping performance and left me and the whole audience wanting more!
Day 2 and although you could not judge the weather as per in Manchester, what was for certain was everyone woke up still on a high from the previous night and were ready to be treated to another full day of country music. My day started off with another incredible line up for an in the round comprising of Gary Quinn, William Michael Morgan and Brett Kissel bringing a little piece of the Nashville vibe to Manchester. These little showcases are my absolute favourite part of being a country music fan not only do you get to hear the songs sang acoustically you get to hear the stories behind them and how they were written, things you wouldn’t hear at an ordinary concert. I am sure anyone would agree it was the perfect way to open Day 2 of the festival.
After the In The Round I hung around the Paddock stage to excitedly see a few friends make their Buckle and Boots debut. First up was Hannah Paris with a full band. Highlight of Hannah’s set was the kickass Just You Wait and LA. Safe to say she did herself proud and the Belles and Gals Team proud too. Next up was my country sister Emma Jade accompanied by the MHMG band. From the get go this girl completely stunned the audience with a cover of Stay by Sugarland which instantly floored the audience seeing them insanely powerful vocals coming out of something so small. We all knew how nervous this girl was before taking the stage with the band but she did not let that show in her performance. Her performance was absolutely stunning and we can predict big things for this one in the coming year after her EP of the Year win last year. I have never been prouder to call this angel one of my best friends.
Fast forward to the main stage at the night and I just made it in time to see Jessica Lynn take the stage. After a lot of daydrinking on a Saturday afternoon we needed someone to really bring the party to keep everyones energy going and she definetely smashed that while jamming with her family on stage singing her hits like Lets Dont before headliners of the night Buckle and Boots favourites American Young took the stage. American Young are favourites of this festival and of all the years I have attended they had played at some point but they never fail to disappoint and no matter what always bring a fabulous show with them. We all know Kristy just had a baby and she brought him over to the UK so everyone could meet him, he just happens to be the coolest little dude in the world too. Highlight of the whole night had to be when her husband surprised her on stage dressed up in a Lion King outfit and brought her baby and held him up as the chorus of the Circle of Life played out. It was probably one of the cutest moments ever at Buckle and Boots and a memory am sure Kristy and her little boy will hold forever.
Sunday Morning and everyone woke up to the sound of rain hammering down on their tents expecting the day to be a washout but we still managed to make it to the church service with the amazing reverend Lynn, William Michael Morgan and Kezia Gill. Even if your not a church goer its a must do when at Buckles its a special service thats for sure to start off your Sunday Morning.
The lineup for Sunday on the main stage was a winner for me and was the one me and all my friends were excited about. Starting my last day of my country music fix seeing the fantastic Izzie Walsh, one of my highlights at last years festival was discovering this gem on the BCMA Horizon stage and am so glad she was booked to perform again this year. This gal oozes talent and put on a fabulous performance once again this year. Next up there was an English man Mr Jake Morell making me and the whole of Manchester fall in love with his music.
Jade Helliwell took the driving seat as the Sunday nighttime main stage first performer before the US took over. Coming on to crowd favourite Boom Tick and performing her hit singles such as Drive she really did own the stage and showed everyone why she is fast becoming one of the UK’s favourite. I have seen Jade perform many a time quite recently but I never tire of seeing her smash every performance out of the park.
The penultimate performer of the night was a man who needs no introduction at all William Michael Morgan. The US cowboy was accompanied on stage by our boys Backwoods Creek and Sarah Jory. The nicest guy in country music had already made a number of friends in the crowd by wandering around all weekend and taking the time to chat and getting to know everyone. Performing his hits like Missing and I met a girl it was clear to see why the Buckle and Boots team made the choice to bring him over to the UK for his long awaited UK debut and it was definitely worth the wait. The minute you heard the first lyric to his opening track he had all the girls falling at his feet with that unique traditional country vocal that just makes all the girls swoon.
Brett Kissel was the closing headliner for the festival and its safe to say they definitely saved the best for last. Before the festival I had heard this guys name but never took the time to check out his music. From the minute this guy made his way onto the main stage you could immediately sense he was a born entertainer and it was evident he had been waiting a very long time for his moment to shine! He came to play and play is exactly what he did he even managed to freestyle by playing a number of tracks that wasn’t part of his set, showing his versatility by even doing a little cover of Shania Twain’s Man I Feel Like A Woman. Delivering what could be described as the best performance to date at a festival the guy completely outplayed his set time and just didn’t want to stop even breaking the curfew time. If you didn’t know Brett before Buckle and Boots you definitely know him now and that is one performance we all won’t forget in a hurry.
I dont think till you have attended Buckles yourself you will understand why it is a one of a kind and one of the best country music festivals you could ever attend and what it is that makes people want to rebook straight away for next year to secure their place. I already know a number of people who have already booked for next year and as its the 5th one they will have to pull something incredible out of the bag to top this years that’s for sure but I will definitely be there to witness it and cannot wait to do it all over again! Till next year Buckle and Boots you were a blast!