Buckle & Boots 2022 was to start with a songwriters round with 3 artists who would not only play fantastic sets later, but who also could be found later freely wandering around the site talking to fans and other artists alike, really savouring the unique atmosphere of the festival.
Jeremy McComb announced himself as "the hillbilly of the group", possessor of a phenomenally strong handshake, his great sense of humour and healthy cynicism about some of the modern songwriting techniques ib Nashville made him great company on and off stage. Sophie Hanson from Sweden would later show off one of the festivals most amazing bits of couture in her full band show however this performance would allow us to see her play in a stripped back format. William Michael Morgan would be a presence throughout the festival whether singing himself or joshing with Gary Quinn at his songwriters round. Sometimes a festival can be defined by the start it gets off to, and this Songwriters Round would set the tone for good humour and great songwriting that would permeate throughout the whole weekend.
It was Jeremy McComb who would kick things off, bedecked with his hat and neckerchief and sporting a pair of shades with the early evening sun still shining. He chose to open with "Just To Prove I Could" his gravelly voice taking us on a journey through his life and it was certainly not a sugar coated trip - yet Jeremy's storytelling kept you hooked for each new development. Halfway through he ramped up the intensity and took us to some dark places before finding a redemption of sorts in the final verse. Only 5 minutes in and Buckle & Boots had witnessed another special moment.
Sophie Hanson was next with guitarist Richard in tow, and she revealed hersefl to be the owner of a soulful yet rocky voice on "Let's Talk About You". She would beautifully sell each line of the song with her left hand enforcing every line. With RIchard filling out the overall sound with high soulful vocals of his own. the bar continued to be set extremely high.
William Michael Morgan's first words were "Here we are again y'all" as he launched into "Vinyl" with his voice deep rich and smooth - it was a fitting end to a high class Round One and you could not help but take to him, for as the song finished he said "Thank you very much" while doffing his hat.
Round 2 began with Jeremy telling a hilarious story of a woman coming up to him and saying "You could be one of my kids fathers" - the ability to change the mood is key in an entertainer and within seconds we were in the dark and moody sounding "Last Man Standing" as featured in Series 5 of "Yellowstone".
Sophie Hanson's contribution to the second round was a song given as a Christmas present - "Lead You Home" - made all the more poignant by him being in the audience watching on. The background story made this duet on the day even more special and Sophie's vocals were truly heartfelt.
In a tight fought round it may well have been William Michael Morgan who came out on top on points with a new song "It Ain't Working Anymore" - It's the type of dilemma song that country music does so well and this was pretty much perfect
"Is she holdng on to me or am I just not letting go?"
Jeremy started Round 3 with his single from earlier in the year "Burned Out", reflecting how people had been feeling after the last few years as life has became ever harder. He gave a nice reaction to the line about "Roll your owns" and who would not want to live with the philosophy of
"Good times, good friends and bonfires!"
Sophie Hanson was to play "So Long" her relationship exit song - this mixed punchy choruses with a rocky chorus that gave a hint of what was to come the following day, In conntrast Rcihard's vocals were smooth and the engaging duo got the the first bit of audience participation going with some clapping.