Whitebottom Farm, Etherow Country Park, Compstall, Stockport SK6 5HZ

After a short break, Gary introduced Jade Helliwell, who looked resplendent in a little black cropped top & red trousers with a skirt flare from below the knee.  I first saw Jade at this festival last year and had been impressed with her.  In the space of a year she has come on even further and gave a very polished and professional performance. It was also the first stage performance of the weekend, not just for Luke Thomas, but also Ben Guerney.  Last year, Luke performed on stage several times with several different artists.

Jade’s set had one slow song Numb, in it, but the rest of the set was upbeat.  She didn’t talk very much between songs, preferring to go from one song straight into the next.  Towards the end of her set, she asked Jenn Bostic to join her on stage & they sang Hallelujah which was hauntingly beautiful.

Laura Oakes was next.  Gary introduced her saying she was a double BCMA winner and really flies the flag for UK Country music.  Again she gave a very polished and professional performance, although having seen Laura several times now over several years, I expect nothing less!!

Laura said she was knackered as she had been setting up tents all day, then she backtracked slightly saying “Ok, I have been watching people set up tents all day, but I have been very encouraging!”  After singing Glitter, she said the audience sounded amazing & sounded like we were all ready for a party, she then corrected herself again, saying the party had already started!

Her next song Dreaming was written about when Laura was 14 years old and she thought that Country music would never happen in the UK.  She said that now, Country music was firmly in the UK.

Included in the set was a brand-new song which Laura wrote just a few months ago, it was one of the first few times she had performed, it, and it was only the second time they had played it as a band.  Old Ghosts went down very well with the crowd & Laura said that they will keep that one then!  One of her band members, who was playing the steel guitar for this track, had obviously hurt his finger on something, he managed to continue without it being too apparent though!

After a little bit of banter with the crowd, Nashville stole your Girl was followed by the song I was waiting for.  I was not the only one obviously as several people in the crowd were calling out for it.  The song was Lazy.  I had changed T-shirts for Laura’s performance as I have one of hers with the lyrics ‘I’m not lazy, I just make it look easy’.  I purchased this T-shirt at FSA fest in 2016, Laura signed it for me and I had my mother embroider over the signature so that I can still wear it and wash it.  Laura has seen me in this T-shirt previously, but I was stood right at the front and on the barrier for her performance, she pointed straight at me and said this song was definitely for me, she could also see someone else wearing one & said it was for him too, think it was Angela Yallop’s husband, whose t-shirt is also signed, but not embroidered!!

Laura asked if we fancied getting our groove on Country style, they did a cover of Groove Is In the Heart which certainly got us bopping.  We were then asked if we fancied a sing along, there was a big cheer for that suggestion!  Before she went any further she thanked the crowd, W21 Music, Buckle & Boots for having her & the sound guys.  She said they were having a brilliant time & could stay up there performing all night!  She finished with Snakes & Ladders instructing the crowd to help her with the ‘You oh oh oh ohs’.  Quite tricky as it is quite high!  I really enjoyed Laura’s set.  I very first saw her as a pop up at C2C in 2015 & really enjoyed her set then.  She is really gaining confidence & I love her interaction with the crowd.

After Laura was a seven-piece band who were a complete unknown entity, not just for me, but from speaking to others afterwards for most people there too, which is really odd as apparently the band also played B&B last year, in the Paddock stage!  Morganway are a 7 piece band consisting of two girls and five guys, 2 of the guys are twins and the lead singer, SJ Mortimer, is married to 1 of them (Kieran).  Right from the start of their set they set the stage on fire!  SJ has an incredible voice and sounds very unique – she is has quite a throaty tone.  The whole band were energetic and vibrant and really were the surprise of the evening.  I spoke to several people afterwards, nobody I spoke to had ever heard of the band before and everybody absolutely loved them.

They started with Devil’s Canyon and immediately you knew you were in for a real treat!  Callum said it was a pleasure to be at Buckle & Boots and what a beautiful part of the country we were in, did everyone enjoy their scenic drive up here?  I certainly had, although it wouldn’t have been so scenic if I had been on the M6!!  He said they are from a very flat part of the country, so it was lovely to see some hills!  They then sang My Love Ain’t Gonna Save You.

SJ asked us if we were ready to get our rock on, the crowd cheered, but not loudly enough for Callum who said “I think we can have a louder whoo than that!”  He commented on the fact that he could see a lot of cowboy & cowgirl hats in the audience & he was thinking we were up for a dance, they sang Let Me Go.  It was only now beginning to get dark, gotta love these longer summer days!

They then went seamlessly into Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain.  It was a really good cover with Nicole Terry having a big part on her fiddle.  It was a good song choice as the band do make you think of Fleetwood Mac.

Callum told us the band has recently gone through a big change, but they were going to play an old song which they decided to bring back as it is a song all about going through a massive change in your life when you sort of go AAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHH what do I do, what do I do, but something better comes of it.  He said if someone was in that situation now, this one was for them, The First Day.  Part way through the song the entire band started clapping and only the drummer continued playing, needless to say the crowd enthusiastically joined in – it became almost gospel like.

SJ said they were happy that they were going to be staying all weekend & enjoy the rest of the music.  I didn’t catch the title of the next song, but SJ said it was kind of about being on top of a mountain & singing out loud.  They followed this by another dance number – the energy SJ has is amazing, she bounced the whole way through the next song whilst singing and playing the tambourine!

After thanking Karl, Jan, Gary & Laura, Morganway finished with Hurricane.  It was an absolute pleasure watching & listening to these guys.  Another band on the ‘watch out for’ list!

Final act of the night was festival favourite Jenn Bostic.  Jenn played at the festival last year and had been a huge hit, both on the stage & off stage, her line dancing on the bar at the after party on the Sunday night last year was a real highlight for me!  She didn’t disappoint, her set was great and her fun sense of humour really shines out.  Before she came on I could see her standing just by the stage entrance, rubbing her hands & blowing on them, she looked pretty darn cold!

Introducing Jenn, Gary said they were bringing back what they like to affectionately call a Buckle & Boots friend, she is one of the kindest people you will ever meet (this doesn’t surprise me at all from seeing pictures of her on Facebook, watching her interact with people last year at the festival and having seen her play a couple of times in Netley, Southampton).  As they crossed on the stage Jenn & Gary had a hug!

Jenn started with the track the Wrong Thing which is the first track on her latest CD – Revival. Jenn said she had been waiting 365 days to get back here!  Before singing Haunting she asked us to welcome to the stage April Jai and Jade Helliwell, the girls sang backing vocals on a couple of tracks for Jenn.

Jenn asked what we thought of her band, she said that they had played for about 2 ½ weeks together in the UK & asked how many of us had been at any of those shows. A large cheer indicated quite a few of us had been.  She said her next song was one she wrote for her husband (who lets her run around the world), playing songs & coming to Buckle & Boots and said that one of these years she is going to bring him with her.  They have been married for seven years now & although they are very different, there is something beautiful about falling in love & being committed.  The song was Love You.  Jenn has written a few songs for her husband, although my favourite remains I Don’t Like You At All.  If you are in any form of relationship, go give that track a listen (on her Faithful album), it is brilliant.

We were asked if we were ready to get involved as Jenn need some help on the next song saying it was way past her bed time so we should be good & ready for some fun!  She told us to all put our arms up in the air, she then said that the lights were so bright she could see everyone & not all of us had our hands up!  She talked us through the moves for her song Hollywood – if you don’t know you raise your arms up when she sings “raise ‘em up” & then sway when she sings “to Hollywood”.  She said there were people at the bar who were not joining in & that we were to all turn around & teach them how it is done!

Before singing Before It Gets Better, Jenn commented that there are times in your life when you can feel the lowest of the lowest, but before it can get any better it sometimes gets worse and you have to just hang in there.

Jenn loves coming to B&B and posts it all over her Social Media. She said it is her most favourite festival & it is run by four of her favourite people; Karl, Jan, Laura & Gary. She commented that they were amazing human beings making it possible for independent artists like herself to get up on stage & perform for us.  This lead her into her next song What Love Feels Like, saying we all want to be loved & appreciated and again the crowd joined in.

Someone then called out for a song, not sure which one, but Jenn said she would do that song on Sunday as the band didn’t know it, but she LOVED the person who had called out for it.  Instead she sang Not Yet which is about not giving up on a dream, she hoped we would be encouraged and inspired and that we would walk away still chasing our dreams & not giving up.

As Jade & April walked back on stage Jenn plugged her new album.  She said she took a huge risk with it as she stepped away from both her management and her publishing companies as their visions were not the same any more.  Jenn’s vision was to record her music the way she wanted to do it, sometimes in life you have to walk a path that you can only see the first few steps of, you are not sure what lies ahead or where you are going to end up, but you hope for the best.  Lamp nearly didn’t make it onto the set list for her recent tour, but it ended up being one of her favourite tracks to play live.

Before singing her last song Revival, Jenn asked us to give it up for her band & introduced them.  She mentioned that she had the opportunity to sing with a gospel choir for Songs of Praise which she believes is going to air on 12th August.  Part of the song sings “Take it to the River”, and the crowd were in full voice for this and joined in. Again it had a very gospel feel about it and you can see why Songs of Praise would like it.

Jenn then left the stage, the crowd were cheering, but both Gary & Jade started signalling for us to cheer louder. Gary then started us chanting “we want more”, the crowd didn’t need much more encouragement than this, clapping & chanting along.  Gary then asked Jenn if she would like to do one more song. She came back on stage, again hugging Gary and commented that she knewit was a Country festival but we need some Blues.  She said that her last song, when we all started singing “Take it to the River” before she asked us to, she almost lost it, but she kept it together & did not cry on stage!  Her final song was a song not written by herself, but one that she has been singing for many, many years, basically since she was 16.  She said lyrically it is wildly inappropriate for a 16 year old to be singing, Bonnie Rae’s Love Me Like A Man.  Towards the end of the song Jenn had a sing/play off with her lead guitarist, her singing & them him playing the guitar, bit like duelling banjos!

It was a great set & a wonderful end to a fabulous evening of music. Jenn has such a powerful voice & her songwriting leads to some some very original songs.  Buckle & Boots 2018 had started in the best fashion possible.

Once Jenn had finished, the night was not yet over as the bar stayed open and a mixture of songs (Country of course!) were played over the tannoy system.  There was also a larger than normal game of Beer Pong going on, using buckets rather than red solo cups (I fill you up!!).  I didn’t watch it though as although it had been a beautiful hot sunny day, with several people getting quite sun burnt, once the sun went down it was actually really rather cold, so I stayed round the other side to the Beer Pong, where it was slightly warmer!



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