Buckle & Boots 2022: Paddock Stage - Gary Quinn, Karen Waldrup & Audra McLaughlin
The second Songwriters Round of Buckle & Boots saw proceedings relocated to the Paddock Stage where a packed tent would lay witness to each artist adding to the weekends best moments with a magical song performance. Our host was to be the musical face of Buckle & Boots freed from his role as MC on the Main Stage to concentrate on just performing. He was to be joined by Audra McLaughlin fresh from her UK debut the previous night and Karen Waldrup making her first appearance at the festival. It has to be said that the Paddock Stage was subject to something of a ferocious cross breeze making it not the warmest place on site but those concerns would soon fade away as activities got under way.
As with Friday the tone was set with the opening tune,
Gary Quinn chose to start with something of a surprise, a new song "Need You To Go" - even on first listening it was undoubtedly his best song in years and quite possibly it could go on to be his greatest song ever. Such was the storytelling on show, utterly believable with each of the characters in the song facing a real dilemma and with the eventual end seemingly left hanging, unresolved. It caused Karen to spontaneously provide some backing harmonies and will certainly be one to watch out for - preorder it now!!!
Karen Waldrup chose to open with the title track of her forthcoming album "Kendall County Road" - immediately her classic country vocal combined with the lyrics and you were immediately transported into her world - and the pain of being separated from your family - truly moving stuff.
This "Round" was to show another side to Audra, that she isn’t just a “Voice”. She is nobody's puppet and can play guitar and is a talented songwriter, as well as possessing a vocal talent that can swing from being incredibly soft and sultry to supplying the full out vocal explosions that we saw on Friday night - that ability to change mood between the two essential for the longer term career.
There was to be no beating around the bush or any euphemisms as Aufra flat out stated that "Wake Me Up" was about morning sex! To give the song its full title ( I Cant Wait For You To ) "Wake Me Up", it came with her trademark power vocal and some expressive guitar playing - with Audra exclaiming "Yeah Girl" as Karen again added some extra vocals.
Gary was truly on top form, and his next tune was to be his forthcoming single "He's My Dad" - it came with an emotional intro and clearly meant a lot to him. It'll be interesting to see how the single turns out as it would be easy to make it a little too schmaltzy however if handled right it could be another Quinn classic. With the aid of quick lip bite he made it through the song and duly received a hug from the songs inspiration.
Keeping the levels of excellence high Karen followed with "Whiskey & A Cowboy" -
"One brings me trouble - the other ones to blame" - An outstanding vocal with some strident guitar playing - this was top drawer stuff - classic performances were coming thick and fast.
There was a fascinating time to be had noting the contrasting differences between Karen and Audra, each extracting everything from their material in slightly different styles. For Audra "Drinking With Lonely" which had wowed the previous night was simply sublime played solo - the verses breathy and restrained - the touch paper for the explosion that was to follow on the chorus. Once again a mxture of a soulful bluesy vocal working to great effect and the high pitched finale may well have shattered windows in nearby Manchester it was that powerful!
Gary opened Round 3 with "Poison", a William Michael Morgan co write who just happened to be watching on - after the earlier two efforts this almost seemed subdued in comparison yet it was definitely a great version - On completion, Gary ended up receiving his second hug of the round - this one from the onlooking WMM.
Karen chose to stand up for her third contribution and immediately improvised the missing sax introl on "Nothing Is Impossible" - an all out southern blues rocker with vocals to match.
Audra was to close Round 3, relinqushing guitar duties to Sally Rea Morris, whose dark glasses probably hinted at a celebratory glass or 2 after the previous nights magnificent efforts. Audra once again provided a more soulful approach with "Beautiful Pain" also choosing to deliver while standing - the vocals swinging from whisper to full on, retaining a rootsy smooth quality.
An impromptu "if we're quick" round was added on probably to the dismay of the Paddock Stage organisers but soon to be forgiven for it provided yet another gem in a pretty diamond encrusted batch of songs. Gary got the party started with his long term favourite - "On Your Way Out", with Karen , Audra and seemingly the whole audience joining in
Karen saved another special moment until last "Normandy" co written with a 101 year old veteran. There was a risk that the song might make this pivotal event in history a little "countrified" but within the opening line we know that was not the case - the lyrics at time seemed to quote verbatim and had the veracity of someone who was actually there. Audra closed out events with one of her poppier hits "Boomerang", ending yet another highly impressive and entertaining Songwriters Round.