One of the best things about C2C is the great new music you get to discover on the pop-up stages.
The festival is a huge showcase for the sheer range on offer in country – everything from traditional bluegrass to more pop- or rock-influenced acts – and there really is something for everyone.
As a result it was tough to get down to my highlights, but here are my top five acts from the pop-up stages who I’d recommend checking out as soon as you can:
1. Backwoods Creek
Backwoods Creek are one of my favourite new discoveries and they got things off to a great start at Club WM on the first day of C2C. The six-piece group have a really great relationship which shines through on stage; their energy was so infectious that and they got the crowd singing along even at 2 PM! Their music is a real mix from the stomping twang of ‘Do As I Say (Not What I Did)’ to the honky-tonk ballad ‘Lonely House’ via the fast and frenetic ‘Freedom On Wheels’. Plus their cover of Zac Brown Band’s ‘Chicken Fried’ was fantastic.
2. Worry Dolls
UK indie-folk country duo Worry Dolls were one of those happy C2C moments where deciding not to go to the big pop-up act paid off in spades. Their gorgeous harmonies and sassy lyrics reminded me of Ward Thomas on songs like the singalong ‘Train’s Leaving’, the wronged-woman anthem ‘Bless Your Heart’ and the stripped-back ballad ‘Miss You Already’. Plus Zoe and Rosie have great chemistry together on stage; it felt like hanging out with cool country-loving friends. Quirky, unique and all the things I love about UK country.
3. Logan Brill
Logan Brill has a very eclectic style – her music covers everything from country and pop to Americana and blues. She wowed the crowd with her set at the Big Entrance Stage on Sunday, marrying wistful lyrics with driving beats and twangy guitar. Highlights for me were the soaring and soulful ‘World Still Round’, the sassy yet slowed-down ‘Walk of Shame’ and the heartbreakingly beautiful ‘I Wish You Loved Me’. One to check out if you like Brandy Clark, Aubrie Sellers and Ashley Monroe.
4. The Wandering Hearts
London-based four-piece The Wandering Hearts were one of the acts I was looking to before C2C and they didn’t disappoint. Their style is very alt-country and Americana-influenced, with elements of The Lumineers and (dare I say it) Chris Stapleton, but adding a poppy twist on songs like ‘Today Is Ours’, ‘Biting Through The Wires’ and ‘Rattle My Bones’. Even early on the Sunday morning they still had the crowd singing and dancing along and their voices blended perfectly together. They’re supporting Brothers Osborne at Dingwalls in London this evening so get down there if you can!
5. Jarrod Dickenson
I heard so much about Jarrod during C2C weekend so had to check him out for myself, and I’m very glad I did. In just three songs, his acoustic set and smoky tone had the audience completely rapt. The standout track was ‘A Cowboy and the Moon’ (although ‘Rosalie’ was a very close second), which showcased his storytelling lyrics and soulful, bluesy voice brilliantly. He was the last pop-up act I saw at C2C and definitely finished that part of the festival off perfectly.
Honourable mentions: the gorgeous, delicate vocals of Catherine McGrath; the jangly guitar meets cheeky yet introspective lyrics of Jake Morrell (who also does a mean Beautiful South cover); Scottish husband-and-wife duo Raintown, who rocked out Building Six; and Beth Thornton, whose gorgeous voice and soaring melodies made me cry (in a good way!).
Overall the standard of pop-up acts at C2C this year was incredibly high (as always), but wherever you went there was always some excellent music to be heard – and all for free. The organisers did a fantastic job picking them and I can’t wait to see who they introduce us to next year.