Whilst the headline stars are often the biggest draws at C2C: Country to Country 2018, there’s more to the festival than just the acts in the arena.
Every year the pop-up stages seem to get bigger and better, drawing a wide range of the hottest talent from both sides of the Atlantic. There’s plenty of great music on offer throughout the festival, and although it was a struggle, we eventually narrowed it down to the top 10 acts you should see next weekend.
Here’s who we chose…
1. High Valley
This Canadian duo – made up of brothers Brad and Curtis – might only just be starting to make it big in America, but here in the UK they’ve already had a sold-out show at Bush Hall and are well-known for their brand of uptempo country and singalong choruses. They’re making a flying visit to C2C as part of their UK tour but will definitely be a great way to kick off the weekend, so make sure to catch them if you can!
Catch them at: BBC Radio 2 Stage (Indigo), Friday 9th March, 3.30 PM
2. Holloway Road
Essex-based band Holloway Road have played C2C four years in a row and the crowds seem to get bigger every time – the sight of them surrounded by hundreds of people at the Big Entrance stage last year is one that will stay with me for a while. They’ve become one of the biggest acts on the UK country scene and are great at creating a real sense of energy during their shows, so are guaranteed to bring an element of fun to this year’s festival.
Catch them at: Big Entrance Stage, Friday 9th March, 3.10 PM; Water Margin, Saturday 10th March, 1.40 PM; Water Margin, Sunday 11th March, 12.50 PM
3. Ashley McBryde
Ashley McBryde might be relatively unknown here in the UK, but one listen to her wonderful bluesy old-school voice and you’ll be absolutely hooked. She’s also a fantastic lyricist, able to beautifully capture detail in A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega or bring out the raw emotion of American Scandal. With her debut album due for release at the end of the month, don’t miss your chance to catch a brand new star in the making at C2C.
Catch her at: BBC Radio 2 Stage (Indigo), Saturday 10th March, 12.10 PM; CMW Hub (All Bar One), Saturday 10th March, 3 PM; Spotlight Stage, Saturday 10th March, 5.50 PM (ticket required); Bluebird Cafe, Sunday 11th March, 1.30 PM (ticket required)
Five-piece band LANCO have been winning rave reviews for their debut album Hallelujah Nights and scored their first number one in the US recently with their single Greatest Love Story, so there’s plenty of anticipation around their debut UK performances. The group balances traditional influences with a modern twist on tracks such as Born To Love You and So Long (I Do) and they’re sure to have the audience joining in throughout.
Catch them at: C2C Late Night Stage (Building Six), Friday 9th March; BBC Radio 2 Stage (Indigo), Saturday 10th March, 2.40 PM; Town Square Stage, Sunday 11th March, 3.10 PM
5. Lindsay Ell
If you haven’t seen Lindsay Ell perform before then you’re in for a treat at C2C. As well as being one of the best guitarists I’ve ever seen live, she also has a really warm and infectious stage presence and a catchy, versatile catalogue of songs including Waiting On You, Champagne and Castle. She got a hugely positive reception from the crowd at London’s Borderline during Country Music Week and I expect she’ll win over yet more fans at C2C, so make sure to catch one of her sets over the weekend.
Catch her at: BBC Radio 2 Stage (Indigo), Saturday 10th March, 3.30 PM; CMW Hub (All Bar One), Sunday 11th March, 1 PM; Spotlight Stage, Sunday 11th March, 5.10 PM (ticket required); C2C Late Night Stage (Building Six), Sunday 11th March
6. Jillian Jacqueline
Another highlight of Country Music Week, Jillian Jacqueline is a firm favourite amongst UK fans for her open, honest songs such as Hate Me and Reasons. She released her debut EP Side A last year and is planning to release new music soon, so here’s hoping she’ll be playing some of those new songs at C2C. We can’t wait to hear the old favourites too though and her sets will definitely be a highlight of the festival.
Catch her at: Bluebird Cafe, Saturday 10th March, 2 PM (ticket required); Spotlight Stage, Saturday 10th March, 7.10 PM (ticket required); BBC Radio 2 Stage, Sunday 11th March, 2.40 PM
7. The Wandering Hearts
After making their C2C debut at last year’s festival, the Wandering Hearts are back to perform in 2018. The quartet released their first album Wild Silence last month to rave reviews and have just completed a sold-out UK tour, so make sure you get there early to hear their gorgeous harmonies and folk influence on songs like Burning Bridges, Wish I Could and Devil and see just why they’re next major group to hit the UK country scene.
Catch them at: BBC Radio 2 Stage (Indigo), Friday 9th March, 2 PM; Town Square Stage, Saturday 10th March, 12.30 PM
8. Ryan Kinder
Ryan may still be relatively unknown, but singles like the bluesy Closer and the soulful Still Believe In Crazy Love have helped him amass over 40 million streams on Spotify already. He’s just released his latest single Leap Of Faith, a staple of his live sets, and hopefully the track – and his impressive guitar-playing skills – will be making an appearance at C2C. I predict he’s destined for great things and is definitely worth checking out.
Catch him at: CMW Hub (All Bar One), Sunday 11th March, 12 PM; Town Square Stage, Sunday 11th March, 2.30 PM; The Saloon (Top Floor – All Bar One), Sunday 11th March
9. The Adelaides
Country-pop trio The Adelaides have been building up a strong following in the UK with appearances at the Borderline during Country Music Week and supporting Megan McKenna on her recent tour. Paris, Alicia and Abi will be bringing a blend of sweet harmonies, uptempo melodies and their modern yet traditionally-influenced tunes like What Your Heart Would Say and Jack Daniel’s to C2C, so if that’s your thing then it’s well worth seeing one of their sets over the weekend.
Catch them at: Town Square Stage, Friday 9th March, 2 PM; Big Entrance Stage, Saturday 10th March, 3.50 PM; Big Entrance Stage, Sunday 11th March, 1.50 PM
10. Liv Austen
Norwegian-born Liv is one of the most popular solo artists on the UK country music scene ever since she released her debut EP in 2014. Expect a set filled with pop- and rock-influenced tracks that’s guaranteed to get your toes tapping and have you singing along, such as The Next Time and latest single Don’t Regret A Single One. Throw in Liv’s rich vocals and strong stage presence, and you’re in for a really enjoyable time.
Catch her at: Big Entrance Stage, Friday 9th March, 4.40 PM; Big Entrance Stage, Saturday 10th March, 3.10 PM; C2C Close Up, Sunday 11th March, 10.30 AM
C2C: Country to Country 2018 takes place at The O2 in London from 9th to 11th March.