To get a little sample of what was occurring around the festival it was time to pay a visit to the NyLon sessions, the home of exclusive mainly acoustic sets of 3 or 4 songs from a variety of performers. While on paper this sounds great ( and for those that can see it - it is ) the venue is set up so that at least half the audience can't see anything apart from backs of heads if they are lucky and it did not seem to be geared up for accepting wheelchair audience members unless they were in the queue at the start of the day. There was a lift to take the wheelchairs up to the first floor but then once everyone was seated no real space for them to go into. Perhaps splitting the sessions into groups of three and enforcing an evacuation of the room might allow a greater spread of festival attendees to attend and get a decent view.
The first of the three acts we saw on Sunday morning was Andy Brown, the one performer we had failed to catch up with since Country Music Week where he headlined a show at Bush Hall. He was previously with pop rock combo Lawson but has since brought out an EP of country covers, a couple of singles including one with fellow Universal artist and Shire Crissie Rhodes ( who politely declined to appear on the grounds that it was too early in the day and who can blame her!) and has an album of original material "Cedarmont" due to land in June.
Appearing as a trio with two additional guitarists who also provided sweet backing harmonies he was to get the day under way with a highly polished start. Tall and dressed in black he opened with his current single "Talk Of The Town", not a Pretenders cover, and not the highly polished production of the single, this was a more soulful approach to Country especially when all three sung together. The second song, the slower ballad "Lay With Me" about the wonders of not wanting to get out of bed, had some lovely lines of detail "John Mayer on the speakers" that gave it the feeling of authenticity and ramped up the Gospel like feel even more, after all it was a Sunday!. Finishing with "Put That Record On" which again had a silky smooth feel to it, Andy seems to be trawling waters as yet untouched by UK artists, and more readily associated with US artists at the moment. A few more acoustic shows like this would certainly cement his position in the UK Country market,
Next up our third sighting of the festival for Jeannine Barry, in the midst of a rich vein of recording form and with a band that seems to really compliment her. The confines of the Ny-Lon room if anything suited her even better as the sound was ever clearer. The short set opened with "Burning Bridges" and saw a flawless vocal performance. The new single "Sweet Spot" lost a little of the twangy guitar of the single being played on acoustic guitar and was replaced with a more smooth bass heavy version There was still a guitar solo of sorts but this version showed off another side to the song. Closing with the title song of her best EP to to date "Bittersweet", performed this time in its original format closer to that of the EP, it brought the curtain down on a very well received set.
Ashley McBryde had clearly laid the ground work for this appearance at the festival already as she was greeted by a huge round of applause just for turning up! Totally at ease at the microphone this was a masterclass in how to relate to an audience. She had the tales to accompany the songs and although she may have told them a hundred times before she was able to imbue them with a freshness that made it seem that this was the first time of telling So she was already a hit before singing a note.
Wearing a Brothers Osbourne t shirt she had the audience in the palm of her hand from the very start with the introduction to "A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega", a true story put to rhyme and then when she started singing the reason for those early applause was apparent with a voice strong and powerful from 11 years of playing in bars.
"Girl Going Nowhere" already has it's own audience catchphrase that they dutifully supply on queue unsolicited. It's a feel good story of staying true to your beliefs no matter what others tell you and was truly inspiring.
Her closing number "American Scandal" was simply a bravura performance, and to be honest we could have listened to her sing all day - I'm not sure i've ever seen a standing ovation for such a short set so early in the morning but this was fully deserved, this lady is surely going to be a huge star in the UK and she truly deserves it.