This weekend Country To Country Festival – Europe's biggest country music event – returns for its seventh year. From Friday March 8 to Sunday March 10, fans will flock in their tens of thousands to London’s O2 Arena, the 3Arena Dublin and SSE Hydro in Glasgow. It’s proof, if any were still needed at this point, that country music’s rise continues unabated on our shores. As with previous incarnations, this year’s C2C’s boasts an incredible array of superstars – some returning, some playing for the first time. Here, Music Week’s rounds up five acts you can't afford to miss…
1. Ashley McBryde
It’s arguable that no one is under more pressure at Country To Country this year than Ashley McBryde. Why? Well, when she played a mini-set last year on the O2’s satellite stage she not only blew the whole crowd away, she actually put on the best performance of the entire weekend. On the heels of that mesmeric first impression – not to mention the on-going success of her incredible, Grammy-nominated record Girl Goin' Nowhere – everyone will have to pull something very special out of the bag to top McBryde’s 2018 set. And that includes McBryde.
2. Lady Antebellum
In this week’s special Nashville edition of Music Week, Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott recalls writing Need You Now – a song so massive it would sell over 6 million copies, win four Grammys and become the most downloaded country song ever. When Adele covers your song, it’s safe to say you’re doing something right. And to think: that’s just one of the songs they have at their disposal as they headline C2C for the second time. Throw in the likes of Bartender, plus new songs like You Look Good and Heart Break, and you have all the makings of a triumphant return.
3. Chris Stapleton
At C2C 2016 there was one artist that everyone was talking about: Chris Stapleton. It had already cemented itself as an all-time classic C2C performance before he even left the stage. He returns to headline for the first time with a lot more material to his name – having released two albums in 2017, From A Room: Volumes 1 and 2 – not to mention Say Something, a huge collaboration with Justin Timberlake. Over to you, Chris.
4. Keith Urban
Judging from the ecstatic reactions to his show at London’s O2 Forum Kentish Town earlier in the week, we are in for a treat when multiple Grammy winner and chart topper – not to mention judge on American Idol – Keith Urban headlines C2C for the first time ever. He brings with him a veritable arsenal of country superhits. Expect new tracks from 2018’s Graffiti U alongside classics like Somebody Like You and Blue Ain’t Your Colour to bring the house down. All eyes will be on him to see what he can do with the C2C mainstage.
In 2015 Cam released one of the finest country songs of recent memory in the form of Burning House. When she performed it live at C2C 2017 on the satellite stage, she delivered one of the moments of the weekend and was visibly moved by the sight and sound of the entire O2 Arena singing it back to her. Hence, you can expect that graduating to the main stage won’t be a tough job for her – especially with her excellent recent song Diane in tow.
Our Maren Morris cover feature leads up Music Week’s Nashville 2019 special – which also includes interviews with Country To Country Festival’s Chris York, the CMA’s Milly Olykan, rising star Kassi Ashton, Sony/ATV Nashville’s Troy Tomlinson and Lady Antebellum.