Nashville Meets London
13th August 2016 – Day 1
By Helen Pocock
There has been an influx of new festivals showcasing Country music this year – Buckle & Boots, Little Mountain etc. Nashville Meets London was another one. There was something similar last year when Ward Thomas headlined, but it was on a Thursday afternoon. This year it was Saturday and Sunday and more to the point – FREE!! As the name suggests it was a festival featuring acts from both the UK and from Nashville.
A few of the Think Country team were there on Saturday, more were there on Sunday, I was there both days, but for ease, I am going to cover each day separately, otherwise the review would be mammoth & no-one would get to the end, they would die of boredom 1st!
I have to start by saying the British weather was for once particularly kind to us. The rain kept off & the sun for the most part shone. It was rather weird sitting in a park in the middle of London, surrounded by skyscrapers, watching planes fly overhead on a frequent basis whilst listening not just to Country music, but live Country music!!
Honey Ryder were first up to kick off the whole weekend. Good choice in my book as these guys are another favourite of mine.
We were there early enough to watch them start to set up & sound check. To my confusion & several others when I pointed it out, one of the team of 3 was absent. Lindsay O’Mahony was there, Jason Huxley was there, but where was Matt Bishop? I thought perhaps he was just running late. When they came on stage & started dead on time at 2.00 he still wasn’t there!! It turned out he was previously engaged, so a friend James Shaw stood in for him.
First up was You Can’t Say That, followed by Heartbeat. Lindsay then pointed out that already there was a ‘Crazy lady’ (Lindsay’s words!) dancing! Lindsay asked her if she was on beer or lime cordial, & whichever, get her another one!
Dammit was next followed by Worlds Away, which Lindsay explained was from their 2nd album and was written in Nashville. After What If We Only Have Tonight, Lindsay started to introduce the next track, which was a cover of one of Prince’s songs. Lindsay was saying it has been in their set list for a long time (& I did indeed hear them sing it in February of this year before Prince passed away). As she was saying all this Jason was coughing, aheming & generally trying to get Lindsay’s attention. He finally succeeded & Lindsay looked at him when he said “I think you will find it is Mirage next!” Lindsay said is it? Looked at the set list at her feet. “Oops, I am a little bit premature, hold that thought, here is Mirage”!
When they finished that track Lindsay said “So after my premature announcement & keeping the band on their toes next is When Doves Cry!” Half way through this number Lindsay threw some maraca shakers to the lady who was dancing for her to join in!
Lindsay then said that she is the mother of 2 boys aged 5 and 2 and that the next song Little Feet was about them. This is a lovely track which starts with the question I am sure most parents wonder – Will I be good enough for you? When they finished Lindsay said don’t get me wrong, they can be right little S H one Ts!
Next was Love Another Day, which Jas likened to Sisters of Mercy (Confession time, I had to Google them to find out who they were, I was guessing it wasn’t an order of nuns!!) Then Marley’s Chains, there was then a slight break as it had been brought to Lindsay’s attention that a guy in the audience called Chris had his birthday that day. So, Chris had a whole bunch of complete strangers sing him Happy Birthday!
Drink With Me and Beautiful Horizon were next. The latter is a curious title bearing in mind Lindsay told us it was written in London, overlooking a sewage plant!
Lindsay then explained the groups name, they are named after the Ursula Andrew’s character in the James Bond movie Dr No. I already knew this, but others in our crowd didn’t.
Lindsay finished by thanking the organisers and the crowd and asked us to continue to support live music. Honey Ryder finished their set with Remedy.
As usual it was a cracking set from Honey Ryder, Matt was missed, but James did a brilliant job as Matt’s understudy! There was quite a long queue of people afterwards buying CDs and having photos taken with Lindsay (Jason had to rush off, he had another gig that evening in Scunthorpe, busy boys these lads!!)
Next to take the stage were The Pauper Kings. Again, I have seen these guys a few times, including a couple of weeks ago at FSA Fest. I was disappointed then as they had the final slot on the Saturday night, but they did a mellow set with only 2 really rocky numbers. I personally prefer them as Rock Country band rather than acoustic. The band used to be 6 members, but it is now down to 4, consisting of Tim McKay, Henry Bird, Nick Miller & Jack Bird – yes, Henry and Jack are related, they are brothers! Jack’s twin brother did also used to be in the band, but he left a while back and the bassist Milo also left just recently.
Now this is where I get into trouble as I do not know the Pauper Kings very well, on the whole they sing music they have written and composed themselves. I don’t really know their music and it does not seem to be available in any of the normal places, so you are going to have to forgive me for getting the title of the tracks wrong. The only tracks I am sure on are the ones they actually introduced themselves. I do apologise, but in fairness, they didn’t have any CDs on the merch desk, so I am not sure they have even released any music yet, I think their CD is still in the making and due to be released this autumn.
They started with Breath Away & then Friday Night. Tim asked if anyone had seen them before. Most of our posse cheered loudly & Tim said he could see some familiar faces. They then did Feels Like Home and Love History. Next was a cover of The Dixie Chicks Some Days You Gotta Dance, which they did for a Bob Harris Under the Apple Tree session. I enjoyed this number and I particularly like the irony of a boy band covering a girl band song!
They sang a Vince Gill number, Turn Me Loose. Tim told the audience about their visits to Nashville where they have worked with the likes of Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum. They then sang Let It Be Love, a song they wrote out in Nashville immediately after the Orlando shooting. Tim said they wrote it as they feel the world needs a lot more love!
Henry then had a quick chat with us saying what a cool festival it was. They nearly didn’t make it however as they were driving round the outside & couldn’t see where to get in or where they should be! A Dan & Shay cover Messed Up was next, this hasn’t actually been released by Dan & Shay! After Kick Start, Tim said it is Nick’s birthday on Monday and also they had been asked to say Happy Birthday to Scarlet, who was in the audience. A group of The Pauper Kings friends then started shouting, it was one of their party, Alison’s birthday too. So we all sang Happy Birthday again! For what is probably the most popular song in the world, it is really hard to sing it in tune, even Henry was asking what key he should play it in!!
Goodbye Would Go was next, which Tim said is the most requested Pauper Kings song. After this track, Tim introduced the band & then Road is Winding finished their set.
I have to say, when Milo, the bassist left The Pauper Kings, I feel he took a lot of the oompf with him! Every time I have seen The Pauper Kings since they supported Brett Eldridge in February, they have left me wanting. They seem to have lost a lot of their spark! They were a Country Rock band, however they seem to have lost their way a bit now, even Tim doesn’t wriggle his hips as much! Wish they could get back what they had! In saying that, the queue at the merch table for them was way bigger than for Honey Ryder! So perhaps I am a minority feeling that!
For our last UK act of the day, we had a lady from Bristol – Yola Carter. Baylen Leonard, who was compering, told us she has previously sung with James Brown, she has also written songs for a whole host of people. She has now decided she has a Country heart & a Country soul & Country was the way forward for her! Yola came on & said “Give me a wave” which we all did. She then went into her first song 15. This was a slow song about domestic abuse. Struck me as an odd song to be singing live, especially at a festival & even more so as the first number!! It got even more odd when she started yodelling in the middle of it!! I am afraid for me, Yola’s set was off to a bad start & unfortunately it did not get any better! With songs like Dead & Gone and Home, the slow theme continued. Yola said they were traditional Country songs, jolly tune, sad lyrics. I didn’t hear the jolly tune!
After What You Do there was an up tempo track at last, I think it was called Big Time Girl, but I found it hard to catch any of the lyrics!
Leave Me To Run and Morning a.m. were next. (I could be wrong with these track names, again I apologise, but Yola has not yet released any of her music, so again I have no way of checking!) The latter track Yola said was like a check list for what is right in life. She then said the next track was a dirty, dirty love song, it was a song about drinking in a bar in Bristol, getting hammered & then doing wrong – Little Red Lie. Yola’s response to psychopaths was next – Fly Away, no idea why as again I couldn’t hear the lyrics. Who’d Have Thunk it finished the set. Baylen seems to think pretty soon Yola will be a really big name, personally I think she should have stuck to the Soul genre. I didn’t think she was Country and I found her set depressing & really not right for this type of festival!
The 1st of the 2 Nashville acts was up next – Logan Mize. I didn’t catch the name of his 1st track at all, a friend was talking to me & I didn’t like to say shush! I did when he finished! State of Your Heart was the 2nd track and I was beginning to really enjoy this chap. He said he is originally from Kansas, which is really flat, all they do is grow wheat & dodge tornados!!
Never Going To Change and his new single One More Of Everything was next followed by Daddy Walk the Line which is a Waylon Jennings cover and What I Love About You. He then said that because Kansas was so flat and nothing happened as a songwriter he struggled for ideas to write about, so he invented his own town with made up characters and called it Prairieville. Welcome to Prairieville was naturally the next track!
By now the crowd were absolutely loving this guy! He was sounding great and his interaction with the crowd was really working well for him. His next story was about recording a song which is the unofficial song for Kansas, Sunflowers.
A Tom Petty cover – You Wreck Me was next, followed by a new one which he said he didn’t want to make fun of anyone, but this sums it up – Pray to Jesus Save Your Soul. He then said for the next song he did a radio tour, he went all over the place promoting it and in the end 3 stations played it and it got to 180 in the charts, “but hey it sounds great live so I am going to play it!” Good Life did indeed sound great live!
The next song Logan told us he had been on tour with Justin Timberlake, he got home tired and grumpy, on a Sunday night just wanting to chill out. His wife was also tired and grumpy as she had been at home on her own with the kids. As a result they had a big fight, so he grabbed his guitar and ran down the stairs to write a song about her Taylor Swift style – Years Ago, which was followed by Hanging On. He then said his next song was his last song, he thanked us all for hanging on in there, like it was a problem?? Can’t Get Away From A Good Town was the last song and Logan introduced his band. When it finished the crowd showed they had really enjoyed the set. Logan got a really good response. Baylen came on as Logan went off, the crowd were still hollering. Baylen asked if we wanted one more. Of course we did! Logan & his band came back on & El Camino finished the set.
I had never heard of Logan Mize before today, but he was so good, he is what I love in a live act. Lots of stories & really good music, most of it up tempo & rocky, but also some slower tracks. If he comes back to the UK, I will be 1st in the queue to go see him again!
The final act to hit the stage was Ty Herndon. Again Ty is from Nashville, so it was a bit of a shock when Henry Bird (The Pauper Kings) walked on stage with the band with his guitar! Ty had played a gig in Manchester the night before and had had rave responses on Facebook, so I was looking forward to this set.
Now, I have to admit, my notes get a bit fuzzy from here on in, something to do with being out in the sun all day, nothing at all to do with the Prosecco I had consumed by now!
Ty started with Love Too Much. When he finished he asked for a Yeehah, the crowd happily obliged, once again, very odd to hear a crowd shouting YEEHAH in a park in London! He then said “I want to sing a song I only wrote yesterday, hope I remember the words!” Thing is, if he had only written it yesterday, we were the 1st to hear it, how would we know if he got them wrong? Kinda Night sounded good to me & he didn’t appear to stumble, so one can only assume he did indeed remember the words!
He then told us he has a brand new album coming out in September. He has been singing Country music for 20 years and this is his 1st visit to the UK and already he wants to come back, although we were only a couple of songs in, judging the crowd’s reaction & the reaction from the previous night he will be made very welcome when (not if!) he returns!
He asked if there were any lovers in the crowd & then went into Death Of Me! We then had another birthday in the crowd and we sang Happy Birthday again, this time to Tracey!
Loved Too Much was next, he told us this track spent 2 weeks at no 2 in the Billboard chart because Reba wouldn’t move over!!
Ty then said that he had been in Manchester the night before & said that they had got the train to London & he was surprised at how quick the train was! This is probably because in the States, the trains have to give way to freight trains & not only do they move really slowly, some of them are sooooo long!
Ty said he wanted to party tonight & by the response from the crowd, so did they! His next song was one he wrote on a beach, I wrote the title down, but there is no such song by Ty, so the Prosecco was really kicking in by this stage!
With his next song, Ty said this is one for my mom. The crowd almost as one yelled MUM! He said “What?” & we all yelled MUM again! He then went into Man Holding On To A Woman Letting Go (which must be a contender for the longest song title!!) Staying on theme Ty dedicated the next song, Hands Of A Working Man, to his dad (we didn’t correct him on that!) and all hard working people, “God bless you”,
When he finished this track, Ty said he wanted to share something quite big with us. He said that as he had already said he has a new album coming out, he also has a new recording contract with Sony Red. In fact, the contract had only just come through that day! He had been looking at it when he was on his own in his hotel room and he had nearly signed it, but then something stopped him. He said he wanted to sign it, but he didn’t want to sign it on his own, he then yelled to someone off stage “I’m ready”. The contract was brought on stage & Ty signed it then & there with us all as witnesses!! Personally I felt that was a really special moment! How many people can say they have seen a record contract signed?
Ty then took the opportunity to introduce his band. He said, “I think you might already know this dude” & pointed to Henry Bird. A big cheer went up. He said, “Henry has never played with us before but he said he could learn my set & it sounds to me like he has!” I gained a huge amount of respect for Henry from this! He then pointed to the drummer & said, “That there is my brother Zac”.
The next track Ty said was the story of his life over the last 18 months, I wrote down House on Fire, but there is no such track, so sorry, once again I got it wrong! By now though I was down the front dancing with a crowd of people. I tried to continue to be diligent to pass the information on, but there comes a time when the need to party to a great performer takes over! Ty did another couple of tracks (I confess, I can’t read my writing!!) He then left the stage, but of course the crowd were not going to allow that. Baylen didn’t even come out to ask if we wanted more, Ty just came back on!
Baylen initially introduced Ty saying he has been in the business for 20 years. I cannot believe I hadn’t heard of him before! He has released several albums. He has had a troubled personal life though, which is probably why we haven’t heard much of him over here in the UK, but this guy is so good & like Logan Mize he engages his audience with stories and tales. Again, I want to see more of this guy! That ended Saturday night. We hadn’t seen a drop of rain all day, I just had a tee shirt & cut offs on, not once did I even get chilly, although dancing around like a loon probably helped with that!!