By Anna McLauchlan

Before this weekend B&B had one meaning for me – Bed and Breakfast – two of my favourite things!  By Monday B&B came to represent my absolute favourite thing – Buckle and Boots!

 

It was my first time attending this festival – labelled as being in Manchester but actually much closer to Stockport and personally I think it sells itself short by linking itself to Manchester so strongly.  It isn’t a city festival, the site they have at Whitebottom Farm (bordering Etherow Country Park) is integral to the relaxed ‘country bubble’ atmosphere that makes this festival so unique.  For first timers like myself who parked in the village there was a 20 minute walk through the country park to get to the farm.  There was minimal signage and I really did start to wonder if I had been set up when I suddenly saw a large waterfall through the trees and just over a bridge on a hill, a field full of tents and campervans.  It really is a stunning location and the walk to it just adds to the feeling of leaving the real world behind you.

 

The layout of the festival was well thought out and compact without ever feeling over crowded, everything was a minute’s walk away.  The fact you could hear the main stage acts just as well when sitting on the toilet or queuing at the bar as you could standing in the barn is just an added bonus!

 

 

Photo Credit Colin Jones.

 

The accessibility of the artists is another incredible thing about B&B.  Whilst not unique in itself the artists seemed genuinely relaxed and like they were enjoying themselves, every single one came out after their set to meet anyone wanting a photo and an autograph and the vast majority, headliners included, could be seen wandering around enjoying everything the festival had to offer.

 

There were 2 main stages, the Main Stage and the Paddock Stage.  The Paddock Stage was in a large circus tent and played host to numerous exceptionally talented artists including Lee Paul (who did an incredible cover of Drake White’s Making Me Look Good Again), Robbie Cavanagh (Godsend is a stunning self-penned tune) and Lew Thomas Band.

 

 

 

The Paddock Stage was also the site of the Songwriters Round and surprisingly, for such a large tent, provided the same intimate warmth and humour that I have come to expect from events of this style.  Jess (of Jess and the Bandits), country’s answer to Justin Bieber, Filmore and Swedish trio, Miss Winter were the artists weaving their magic on the crowd for the session I saw.  The fact the crowd was spilling out the sides of the tent perhaps proves that song writing really is the heart of this wide and varied genre of music.  When we are all busy critiquing what is and isn’t country maybe this is our common ground?

 

 

Photo Credit Colin Jones.

 

On the Saturday the Main Stage (in an open sided barn) saw the much loved  Izzie Walsh, Raihanna Estrada (with a plethora of her own songs, my favourite of which had to be The Dark) and Demi Marriner whose set was incredible, full of boot stomping original songs (with the rage of Jagged Little Pill era Alanis Morissette).  Denny Strickland was much anticipated following on from his success at Nashville Nights the previous weekend, his style wasn’t for me but he certainly got the crowd going and I can imagine he would be a great after party act for a future C2C.  Filmore is another artist who would fit into this category, I loved his acoustic songwriters set and his Main Stage performance with his band went down a storm!  I was a little worried we wouldn’t get to see The Wandering Hearts at all he seemed to be enjoying himself so much and had boundless energy!

 

 

Photo Credit Colin Jones.

 

As usual The Wandering Hearts provided us with an amazing set playing most of their album Wild Silence and a new (currently untitled) song.   There were some technical issues for their set, which for a band that relies so heavily on harmonies they become an instrument in themselves, must have been a struggle but they performed stunningly and acquired many new fans.

 

 

Photo Credit Colin Jones.

 

Whilst initially uncertain about the festival I was pleasantly surprised by the organisation and quality of the event as a whole. Everybody from security and the car park attendant to bar staff and food vendors were so obviously having a great time and smiled their way through the weekend.  The organizers have done a great job of blending the charming elements of a traditional CMC event (such as a Sunday Service) with the modern UK country fan’s expectations of festivals (such as songwriters rounds and international artists).

 

A few suggestions for first timers (prices as of as of the 2018 festival):

 

  • Join the Facebook Buckle and Boot Attendees page – best place to get quick answers to burning questions and reunite lost items with their owners.

 

  • The car park cost was £20 for the full weekend and £10 for a day. This was not widely publicised so ensure you have enough money.

 

  • The Shuttle Bus runs between specific times each day/night – keep an eye on the Facebook page – and cost £2 each one way.

 

  • For campers there are specific times that you can have your car onsite to drop off your stuff otherwise it is the long walk walk/shuttle bus for you and your belongings!

 

  • Most food vendors and the bar (more importantly) take bank cards.

 

  • Some phone networks struggled – I had 4G the whole time but better to let anyone at home know that you might be out of contact for a while! Great excuse even if it isn’t true!

 

  • Buy more bar tokens than you think you will need, you will drink more than you intend and probably drop at least one drink just after buying it, plus there is a £1 returnable deposit for the glasses.

 

 

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