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Buckle & Boots Festival

Buckle & Boots


Thanks to Dan from DJS Photography for letting us his photos

Saturday a very new Country band – TC Country opened the music on the Paddock stage at 11.00am.  There were quite a few people there and the band was really grateful that people had made the effort to leave their tents and go see them!  Roni followed and then for me the problems started!  Jade Helliwell was on the Horizon stage whilst Roni was on the Paddock stage.  Stay for Roni, who I haven’t seen before, or leave & go see Jade who I also hadn’t seen before?  Wouldn’t be a proper festival if you weren’t torn between acts though would it?  I decided to go & see Jade.

I then stayed with the Horizon stage for the 3 acts that were on – Jade, Simon James and then Darcy.  Jade has a lovely sound to her.  I really liked Simon, we have been FB friends for a while, but again I had never seen him perform.  I wasn’t disappointed & I look forward to seeing more of both of these acts.  Darcy used the opportunity to launch his new EP, Hooked, which was released the day before.  He gave a very polished performance and quite literally set the stage alight, with pyrotechnics from the lights at the top of the stage!  Very impressive!

When Darcy finished I ran up to the Paddock stage to catch the end of Sarah Darling, Gary Quinn & Jenn Bostic – In The Round.  The tent was packed and the crowd was loving the stories behind the songs.  The feed back after this session was incredible, with many people saying it was their highlight of the day!  In addition, a lady asked Sarah to sing Where Cowboys Ride for her young daughter.  Sarah apologised & said she was singing it the following evening with her band.  The little girl promptly burst into tears, so when the session was all finished Sarah sat down with the lady & her family & sang the song just to them!  This really does indicate the relaxed atmosphere at this festival!


The Main stage started at 3.00pm with Kira Mac, she looked great in a tassled jacket and again another really good performance.  Katy Hurt followed and she returned the favour from yesterday and had Sonia Leigh join her on stage for a song.  With Katy’s last song a load of beach balls were thrown out into the crowd and were bounced around the audience!  Katy gave a very strong performance and again a lot of people said how much she has developed as a performer.


Fred’s House were next – I had forgotten how much fun this band are, although the drummer seems to have curbed his enthusiasm from the last time I saw them, about 18 months ago!  Ells Bailey gave a very confident set and was a joy to watch.

I then had the worst clash of the whole festival.  Thorn Hill came onto the main stage at 7.00 but Journey Home were on the Paddock stage at 7.30, before the end of Thorn’s set.  So I saw half an hour of Thorn & then ran up to see Journey Home.  Thorn’s set was as electrifying as ever, he really does put on a good show!





Journey Home were fun as always and treated us to some new songs that are going to be on their new EP, which they are hoping to release this autumn.  I have seen these boys a few times and their set is never the same, you get some regulars like British Summertime & Real Good Feel Good, but apart from that they always mix it up.  As the guys were the last on this stage, Andy Webb, who was stage managing, decided they could do 3 more songs after their set, as long as it was the 3 he wanted!!  They were 3 covers and fortunately Kip Moore’s Beer Money was 1 of the 3 songs.  I really like these guys cover of Beer Money!  Unfortunately as they went on longer than expected I missed Morgan Evans on the Main stage.  People who did see him were really impressed, especially as he was on his own, he didn’t have a band with him!

A very firm favourite of mine, Jess & the Bandits were the penultimate act, with some songs from their forthcoming album included in the set.  Jess had trouble reading her set list & got the running order of the songs mixed up a couple of times, but this added to the fun feel of her set.



The final act of the night was Dylan Jakobsen.  I do have to say I think these last 2 acts were round the wrong way.  Jess had got the crowd jumping, but Dylan was more laid back, I didn’t enjoy his set & it was the only set I saw that day I didn’t enjoy.  It cannot be said that it was because I didn’t know his music, because I didn’t know Simon James’ music, but still thoroughly enjoyed him!

After a slight pause, the After Party was again a DJ set.

The rain tricked me quite badly on Saturday.  I had been walking around in me wellies all day & there hadn’t been even a hint of rain!  Just before Jess & the Bandits I decided to change into my trainers – you know what I am going to say don’t you?  Yup, 10 minutes after Jess started the heavens opened & it poured!!  So for the 2nd night in a row walking back to my tent, my feet got soaked!

Day 3

Sunday dawned, how could it be the final day already?  The weather hadn’t been particularly kind to us, with lots of rain, 1 of the stalls Country 2 Western, had some cowboy wellies with them & they did a roaring trade in them!  The weather could have been a lot worse though & as I said, as you are under cover whilst watching the music, it isn’t too bad.

A very intimate church service started the day at about 10 am.  I had heard a rumour of this, but 10 am is too early for me!  Karl had told me on Thursday that the local vicar was very interested in the festival and that she wanted to bless it, I didn’t realise at the time though he meant a full service!  The vicar was seen throughout the weekend wandering around, she was wearing black jeans, black teeshirt, black leather jacket & her dog collar!!  For the service Jenn Bostic played keyboard.

Rebecca Walton opened the Paddock stage at 11.00 am.  I had had trouble with the shower so was later getting up to the music today, so I missed both her & Ceri-Rose.  I had seen Ceri just recently though.  I was in plently of time to see the newly engaged Emma Swindells open the Horizon stage at midday.  Emma put on a very confident show, she is another one who has come on a lot since I last saw her, think part of it was that she had her family on stage with her, 1 of her sisters was playing guitar, her twin sister was playing the drums & her brother was playing bass.



I stayed with the Horizon stage to see Ags Connolly.  He has a very unique sound!  After his 1st number I looked at me friend & said “How Honky Tonk was that?”  Ags then said, “This next number is a real Honky Tonk number”!  As I say, this is a very unique sound for a UK artist, I really enjoyed the set & I feel Ags did pull it off really well!

I only saw a little bit of Clara Bond, as I wanted to see the full In The Round set today, after only seeing half yesterday.  The In The Round sessions were really popular and a lot of people were saying how good they were, so I wanted to catch the full thing today.  The artists today were Jenn Bostic, Sonia Leigh & Jade Helliwell.  It was a great set, Jenn was on her keyboard & Sonia & Jade had their guitars.  I felt a bit sorry for Jade as the stool she was sat on was too tall for her, she couldn’t quite reach the bar to put her feet on it, it was therefore tricky for her to play!  Sonia showed off what a wonderful musician she is, when Jade was singing Sonia watched her guitar work, then joined in accompanying her!  There was also quite a bit of banter going on between the girls, Jenn played Little Grace, after which Sonia joked “Well, I can’t really play Bootie Call after that can I!”  Then Sonia asked Jenn if she wanted to join in with her next song, Jenn asked what key it was in & Sonia showed her her guitar & said “This one!!”  When they finished, it had obviously gone down so well, Andy Webb said “Ok girls, let’s do 1 more round each”, so they all sang 1 more song.  This threw the stage times for the rest of the day, but stay tuned as it worked out really well!

I stayed in the Paddock stage as next up was Think Country’s’s very own Amy Westney.  Amy is a good friend, but I haven’t yet seen her perform, so I was looking forward to this.  I wasn’t disappointed!  It took quite a long time to set her band up, but it was worth the wait.  I must also say, Amy had her band all wearing matching attire.  They were all in black jeans/trousers, black shirts and red ties.  It looked very effective, very professional and really not that hard to do!  Amy’s set was really good, confident and entertaining!  This girl should go far, keep your eye on her!



Back to the Main stage after Amy, I had missed most of Tucker and I only just caught the last song.  Laura Oakes was next up.  I love Laura, I have seen her a few times, she always looks absolutely fab and again she is gaining confidence – even talking to the audience whilst tuning her guitar, something she has only just recently managed to do.

Gary Quinn was the penultimate act and Luke Thomas was part of his band.  (Luke Thomas was everywhere this weekend, he played with I think it was 5 acts, although he was playing with Tucker & Tucker played twice, so Luke played 6 times in all!  A fact that didn’t escape many peoples notice, Laura Oakes even joked with her guitarist saying “What are you doing there?  Isn’t that Luke’s spot?”)  Gary’s set was fun & the guys obviously really enjoyed themselves.  Gary also asked Laura to join him on stage and the sang the Chris Young & Cassadee Pope, Think Of You, it was stunning!


The beautiful Sarah Darling with her band, closed the proceedings, however we had a treat in store.  Several of us were torn, we wanted to see Sarah with her band, but we also wanted to see Backwood Creek.  This is where the overrun issue with In The Round worked to our favour.  The powers that be decided to let Backwood Creek play after Sarah had finished.  So once Sarah’s set ended we all moved from the Main stage up to the Paddock stage where Backwood Creek gave a sterling, energetic performance!  Once on the stage they didn’t want to come off & they had the crowd singing along with them.  It could be said though they out stayed their welcome, they were singing Wagon Wheel, the crowd were singing as loud as them when all the power went off, no lights, no sound nothing!  We weren’t finished though & the chorus of Wagon Wheel was sung another 3 times, before we allowed the guys to take their bow!  A very fitting end

The evening was still young however!  We all milled around & it was obvious no one was ready for their bed!  After a while Ray started to set up a microphone & speakers at the top end of the bar.  Ollie Hopkins (Darcy’s drummer) appeared with a Cajun drum & we were off again.  Darcy (with his guitar) & Ollie sang a couple of songs, but it was obvious other people wanted to join in too!  Amy took to the mike and sang a sterling performance of Bon Jovi Living On A Prayer.  The crowd went crazy & were joining in full gusto.  This was a very smart move on Amy’s behalf as I had a lot of people come up & ask who she was!

Sarah Darling, Luke Thomas & Jenn Bostic got up.  Jenn was hilarious, she had a lovely red floaty dress on & she was on Ollie’s Cajun drum!  She tried a couple of ways to play it whilst preserving her modesty, deciding in the end to sit sideward on it!  Tucker joined in, he wanted to sing a Kings of Leon song, but didn’t know the words, so he called it up on his phone & sang it reading his phone!  Jenn by now had a tambourine and was running around playing the tambourine!  Half the bar staff were up on the bar dancing, Jenn saw this & immediately got up on the bar too & started a line dance that didn’t involve too much travelling!!  Got to say, Jenn was jumping up & down off the bar like a snake, so lithe & really graceful!

Bucke and B


That was it for the night – except the crowd were still not ready to go to bed!  The evening finished with Gary Quinn, Jenn & Karl Hancock up on the bar singing Friends in Low Places!  This really was an incredible end to an incredible weekend!



There are so many people who worked so hard to pull this weekend off & their hard work paid off.  The only criticism I have of the whole weekend is that there weren’t enough rubbish bins around!


Roll on Buckle & Boots 2018, although we have FSA Fest next month, now really looking forward to that & doing it all again!









Annette Gibbons
Hi, I’m Annette, I have been a huge country music fan since the early 90s those were the days we were lucky enough to have CMT in the UK. I enjoy nothing more than listening to country music whilst having a cold beer (or a moonshine) with friends. I try to as many gigs as I can here in the UK and in the USA; I think of Nashville as my second home and I am lucky to have made some amazing friends in Tennessee. Think Country is something I am very proud of, I just want to share my love and passion of all things country music related with you all.
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