Country in the UK introduces you to this year's legend headliner - Kris Kristofferson
We speak with Black Deers the organisers, Debs and Gill, to find out about their passion behind the festival
First off, what a line-up this year! How did you manage to bring together such outstanding transatlantic talents? Debs: We are really proud of the line-up, we wanted a strong line-up for the second year. Despite their being such great talent in the UK, we knew we would have to throw the net much wider. We had our hearts set on Band of Horses, Kris Kristofferson and artists that we can be proud to host Gill: When we were planning it, we were in Nashville so spoke with managements out there too to get a mix.
It’s safe to say the Black Deer is one of the unique festivals so far in the UK celebrating the true sound of Americana and “country” music. What inspired to curate that brings forward the originals of the genre? Gill: When we went to the States it was clear to see how the two don’t go together out there - it’s either country or its Americana. We both felt there was no reason that we couldn’t put the two together in the UK as its just about great music. People in the States found it interesting we were going to mix the two genres, but here its gone down so well. We’ve picked artists who are great at what they do.
What are the pros and cons of putting up a festival? Gill: We were determined to do it, it might sound single minded but you have to be strong about what your pathway is as there are so many risks. Debs: It's a really fast growing genre in this country and we felt like there was the appetite there that we could bring this to the forefront in the live music industry and the festival world. The real journey of discovery was how the local audience came because it was a festival rather than what the genre was. They were then blown away by the level of the talent and we were able to make Americana fans. The day after the 2018 festival finished people wanted to come back and its attracted a crowd of followers who may not have followed that genre before. Gill: Country music in the UK seems to be a guilty pleasure and we are now able to say it's an accessible to genre to watch. We can feel like we hit the spot last year and have been able to sell so many tickets based on the success of that. Debs: You never know when you first start out, but when people were prepared to commit to another year so far in advance we knew we had done something right!
The festival brings together the many joys of music and many ways it can be consumed throughout the 3 days including a motorcycle show tent, campfire stories, songwriters session among others. When arranging these activities on site what was it as event planners you wanted to achieve? Gill: It was always important that it wasn’t just about the music, it was about the culture all around the music. We carefully thought through what we would do to make it whole. There were a lot of people hanging out around the Road House for the more rockier side of the music and it will be even more so this year with the addition of Desertscene. It’s just a way we think we can differ from other festivals. Debs:There will be events going on till the early hours of each morning Gill: The fact that artists want to come and play Black Deer means they get it and appreciate what it’s all about Debs: We have created an area called Live Fire for this year with 11 or 12 renowned chefs that specialise in the BBQ scene. There will be cooking demos, a charcoal maker and a BBQ competition. Guests will be able to sit and sample the experience of Live Fire Cooking. We’ve got a screen which is new for 2019 to show some great films based around country music. Gill: That will all start at 11-2am after the main stage has finished. Debs: There’s lots of exciting things going on - if you want to understand the history of Bluegrass come down to Live Fire to find out about how this rich genre began. There will be some dance lessons during the day, so you can practice some two step and try it out in the evening till the early hours of the morning. The dancing was brilliant last year and the roof was coming off. Gill: There is another world within a world in our campsite area that will also feature live music from local artists, if you buy a weekend camping ticket you have a bonus opportunity to see some new talent, it's our opportunity to showcase some of the talent that is out that, that maybe wouldn’t get to perform at a festival Debs: We have our Young Folk area as there is a huge emphasis on it being a family festival. It’s all based around the outdoors - making, doing, creating. It’s incredible to see the production the kids create from a great pile of wood. They take ownership of the town Gill: They feel like it’s there world. This year we’ve also developed the Cowboy area further with the addition of horses and will now be named the Outpost. The kids will feel like they’ve escaped into another world. We are so passionate about what we do and are so excited about going on site this year. Debs: We also have a great Fancy Camping section again this year, it will be full of beautiful Bell Tents and Caravans. It’s a lovely area with its own bar and seating areas, which will be a step up from our general camping.
Have you ever thought about making a song-writers competition? Debs: We are in talks with a company at the minute as we are keen to develop a hub on our website. It’s such an important part of this genre. We’d like to develop that for next year as it would be exciting for the talent. We had over a thousand unsigned artist apply to play at Black Deer, which we crawled through. The talent was phenomenal. Gill: We’re very excited about here Black Deer can go and what it can do for the genre. We want to give the platform to these fabulous artists that are out there. We want to develop a community of artists who have played from year one. We want to embrace their success, even if they aren't playing this year. Debs: As an independent festival, when ideas come to us we can put them into place. Everything comes from our hearts and we have put our heart and soul into creating it. Gill: It has become our lives, our friends' lives and our families lives! We are making great friends with the artists as we actually want to know them, not just put them on a stage.
Who are you most looking forward to see? Debs: I want to see Ryan Bingham really badly Gill: Kris Kristofferson, the fact the legend is on our stage is incredible Debs: We hand pick every artist and we pick them because we love them all and want to see them on stage. Gill: we have very few artists coming back as we want to give the opportunity to artists to experience it. There is a handful that we are bringing back and in future will bring back a few each year, we call the The Dearly Beloved
Are there any more artists you’d love to have in the future at Black Deer Festival? Gill: There’s so many. We worked with our booker very closely. There were artists that we approached that weren’t available so hopefully they’ll be there another year.
For someone who’s part of the Americana industry, what does the term “Americana” mean to you? Debs: ‘Americana? It’s what the industry calls roots-based music these days. It’s country, folk, blues, gospel, bluegrass… and a whole lot more besides. Artists who make Americana music promise to whisper their secrets into the ear of the listener and sing the truth about themselves, their lives and their experiences. There’s very little vanity with Americana, it speaks of a time when things were simple. The genre is dominated by amazing singer/songwriters and bands who want to create something tangible that will stand apart from a disposable world and live forever. As the founders, we are incredibly passionate about this genre – there’s just something very real about it and everything that surrounds it.
What are your long term hopes for Americana in the UK? Gill: That it becomes a genre that is recognized more widely in the UK. Our festival gives the opportunity for people to come and enjoy the talent of artists who come under the ‘Americana’ umbrella.
Final question, are there any more surprises to look out for during the festival? Gill: We do not have any ‘surprise guests’ lined up who are not on the festival line up, however, you never know if one of our amazing artists could rock up with their guitar and start playing around the campfire. These artists are all about the music, and they like nothing more than an impromptu performance in amongst their audience.
WINNER OF AIF’S ‘NEW FESTIVAL ON THE BLOCK’ 2018 WINNER OF NOEA ‘EVENT ORGANISER OF THE YEAR’ 2018 WINNER OF EPA’S ‘MUSIC EVENT OF THE YEAR’ 2019 FESTIVAL AWARDS NOMINEE (BEST FESTIVAL FOR EMERGING TALENT) ILMC AWARDS NOMINEE (NEW GIG ON THE BLOCK)
WILD ROSE STAR JESSIE BUCKLEY TO JOIN BLACK DEER FESTIVAL BILL
Black Deer Festival continues adding to their unique and authentic Americana and Country festival experience in the UK this summer,by adding Jessie Buckley - the phenomenal lead in the latest British drama-country-musical film Wild Rose.
Revealed on the same day as the highly anticipated film release, this will also be the very first chance to see Jessie perform livethis summer, adding an exciting new element to an already outstanding line up at Black Deer.
Jessie Buckley will be performing the beloved songs from the films’ soundtrack such as Primal Scream’s ‘Country Girl’ and legendary country artists Emmylou Harris’ ‘Born To Run’ at the stunning Eridge Park in Kent this June.
Gritty, inspirational and heartwarming, Wild Rose embodies country music in its purest form with Jessie Buckley’s character Rose-Lynn Harlan seeking out understanding and belonging as a modern-day outlaw. Hailed as “Irresistible” by The Telegraph and “Wonderful” by The Hollywood Reporter, the film’s themes resonate on every level with the ethos and aesthetic of Black Deer festival, and stands as yet another testament to the UK’s growing toe-tappin’ feelings towards the immersive lifestyle and genre.
On Jessie Buckley’s appearance at Black Deer, co-founders and promoters Gill Tee and Deborah Shilling commented… “We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome the wonderful Jessie Buckley to Black Deer Festival. The music and culture this festival celebrates is rooted in authenticity and spirit and Jessie’s powerhouse performance in Wild Rose has this in spades. Country and Americana has never been more relevant and we’re delighted that Wild Rose is shining a light on the amazing singer/songwriters out there. There’s something very real about this music and it needs to be heard.”
EVEN MORE EXCITING NAMES REVEALED FOR BLACK DEER FESTIVAL
BILLY BRAGG ✮ YOLA ✮ ETHAN JOHNS (solo) ✮ BLACK EYED DOGS ✮ TREETOP FLYERS ✮ IDA MAE ✮ MIKE FARRIS ✮ EMILY MAE WINTERS ✮ SAM MORROW ✮ ROSEANNE REID ✮ AMY MONTGOMERY ✮ JOANA SERRAT ✮ ARIELLE ✮ SAM BEER ✮ THE SOUTHERN COMPANION ✮ HANNAH WHITE & THE NORDIC CONNECTIONS ✮ HOT ROCK PILGRIMS WITH DJ SETS FROM ✮ HANK JD SLEEK ✮ WHISKEY PREACHIN ✮ BIG STEVE ARLENE ✮
PLUS BOB HARRIS’ UNDER THE APPLE TREE ACTS REVEALED
AND AUTHENTIC SMOKEHOUSE COOKING, UNRIVALLED CULTURAL ENTERTAINMENT WITH BYNWR, CUSTOM MOTORCYCLES AND WESTERN INFLUENCED STYLE ✮ FUN FOR ALL THE FAMILY✮
Boasting a remarkable lineup featuring only the very best Americana & Country artists from around the world, Black Deer Festival is thrilled to reveal even more names for the return to the picturesque Eridge Park this June. Billy Bragg, Yola, Ethan Johns and many more will join Band Of Horses, John Butler Trio, The Staves, Kris Kristofferson & The Strangers, The Mavericks and Neko Case for a truly unrivalled celebration of the Americana way of life.
NEW ARTISTS! With a career spanning over three decades, Billy Bragg is an icon of stripped-back storytelling and fearless political activism. His ongoing punk-charged documentation of British life saw Bragg honoured the PRS Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award at the Ivor Novello awards last year as he continues to be a valuable and relevant force in contemporary music; his appearance at Black Deer Festival will be a true festival highlight.
With a voice like no other, the ever-fierce Yola is set to captivate the Black Deer Festival audience this summer with surefire hits from her debut album ‘Walk Through Fire’. Recording her debut release with Dan Auberbach of The Black Keys, Yola is one of the UK country’s fast-rising stars, overcoming adversity with a tenacious spirit and an undeniable passion for music, sparking inspiration with her unique country-soul sound.
2012 Brit Award winner Ethan Johns is playing not only solo sets but also with Black Eyed Dogs for what is expected to be a stand out performance from across the weekend. Famed for his world class engineering, production and mixing work with the likes of Paul McCartney, Kings Of Leon, Ray LaMontagne and Tom Jones, Ethan released his fourth EP ‘Anamnesis’ in September 2018 which was met with glowing reviews world-wide. Written over two weeks in Ethan’s London home, the legendary producer described the experience as “legitimately one of the best times I’ve ever had making a record.”
London folk rock outfit Treetop Flyers have truly stamped their mark on the international folk scene since winning the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition in 2011. With three studio albums to their name, the five-piece’s most recent self-titled record serves as a poignant turn within their musical self-confidence, whilst staying true to their 60s West Coast and psychedelia style. Elsewhere, Treetop Flyers’ Soulful vocalist Sam Beer will also make a solo appearance at Black Deer, bringing his American delta blues-inspired songs from his ‘Great Barr Colony’ EP to Eridge Park.
Husband and wife duo Ida Mae, a.k.a Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean, are rapidly becoming the hottest names in alt folk rock. Fresh from touring the states and armed with their latest single ‘If You Don’t Love Me’, the duo’s beautiful simplicity never fails to demand attention. With their debut album ‘Chasing Lights’ expected in July, Black Deer Festival offers the opportunity to get a taste for their material first.Storming to Eridge Park will be Tennessee-born Grammy Award-winning Mike Farris. Coming up in Nashville after founding Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies, Mike Farris is an unmistakable voice within blues rock and recently been working with the likes of Dave Lancio, Reese Wynans and long-time collaborator Paul Brown on his latest album ‘Silver & Stone’. His performance is set to deliver a musical masterclass straight from Nashville.
Drawing influence from the likes of Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss, UK starlet Emily Mae Winters won last year’s Guardian Songwriting Competition for her beautiful track ‘Anchor’ and went onto work with iconic producer Ben Walker on her self-penned debut album ‘Siren Serenade’. Flying in from Los Angeles, Sam Morrow will journey through his myriad influences from Texas country to old-school funk as demonstrated on his defiant third record ‘Concrete and Mud’, produced live with Eric Corne. These two artists are famed for passionate live performances, making for unmissable sets at Black Deer.
Dynamic singer-songwriter Amy Montgomery has been likened to Janis Joplin, Grace Slick and Alanis Morissette with her fierce and passionate voice resonating with audiences further afield than her native Northern Ireland; joining her at Black Deer will be Scottish songstress Roseanne Reid. Enjoying the success of her recently released debut album ‘Trails’, Roseanne will deliver delicate folk-roots music in June. Hotly-tipped by tastemakers Lauren Laverne and Ricky Ross, the soft vocals of Spanish-native Joana Serrat are sure to compliment the gorgeous Eridge Park scenery when she steps on stage to perform fan-favourite tracks from her latest album ‘Dripping Springs’.
Recognised by country superstar Vince Gill as one of the ‘Top 5 Best New Guitarists’, Arielle, the self-proclaimed “hippie traveling, guitar-wielding, song-writing, flowy clothes wearing lady” has toured with the likes of Joan Jett, Billy Rae Cyrus, Guns N’ Roses and Graham Nash. With a new LP, ‘Suspension / Dimension’ in the pipeline, Arielle’s emotionally drenched, classic folk melodies are guaranteed to win over the hearts and souls of audiences at Black Deer.
Formed from a collection of the finest UK session musicians and fronted by singer-songwriter Darren Hodson, The Southern Companion recently released their stunning new record, ‘Shine A Little Light’ which preceded a storming first UK headline tour. Having penned an exclusive track for the upcoming hit movie ‘Wild Rose’, the British CMA Award-winners are sure to treat Black Deer audiences to special live performance.
Praised by the likes of BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music to name a few, the politically-inclined humanitarian offerings of Hannah White & The Nordic Connections stay fresh as they reinvent 70’s Americana with a Nordic twist. Elsewhere, multi-instrumentalist act Hot Rock Pilgrims will be rip-roaring through their set at Black Deer Festival with melodic vocals, flatpicking guitar work and irresistible energy.
BLACK DEER DJS! Alongside these incredible live acts, it has been revealed that eclectic Americana selector Hank JD Sleek, dynamic duo Shamblin Sexton and Senor Mick AKA Whiskey Preachin’ and award-winning globetrotting broadcaster Big Steve Arlene will be DJing at Black Deer - serving up the all-things Americana to continue the party. Country, southern rock, swampy blues, outlaw boogie, rockabilly and hillbilly, cajun - you name it, they’ve got it. There’ll be plenty of opportunity to get your the Texas Two Step moves on. UNDER THE APPLE TREE! In addition to the awe-inspiring musical artists set to appear across the June weekender, Black Deer Festival is proud to announce the return of the Under The Apple Tree sessions as founded and continually curated by BBC Radio 2 and The Old Grey Whistle Test’s “Whispering” Bob Harris OBE. Springing from Bob’s very own Apple Tree studio in a rural Oxfordshire orchard, the sessions will come to life on Black Deer’s SupaJam Stagewhere musical minds are set to perform and discuss their heartfelt musical influences.
Kicking off proceedings on Friday 21st June, Bob Harris will host the weekend’s first highly-anticipated session featuring Ethan Johns, John Smith,Irish Mythen, and Ferris & Sylvester. For the remainder of the weekend, Bob’s right-hand-man Marc West will step up to the SupaJam stage to host an interactive meeting between Ryan Bingham, Chance McCoy and Roseanne Reid on Saturday. Marc will then round-off the festival with a closing assembly with Billy Bragg, Larkin Poe, Worry Dolls and Paul Cauthen.
SMOKIN’ DEEP SOUTH DELIGHTS! Alongside a wholehearted musical program, Black Deer Festival will yet again be cooking up a storm in their Live Fire Arena. Promising even more mouth-watering delights than were served up last year, Jon Finch and Ben Merrington - founders of Grillstock, the largest authentic BBQ festival outside of the US - are back, pioneering the Americana barbecue scene in the UK’s festival fields once again.
Set to transport Black Deer attendees to America’s deep south, Live Fire will see the very best chefs, pitmasters, butchers and woodsmen appear in their own fiery performance of cooking demonstrations that’ll both educate and inspire. As well as demos, Live Fire is set to host blazing BBQ cookout competitions where the best pit teams will go head-to-head in a series of fast paced challenges exercising their meat expertise as well as testing their know-how in new vegan and fish rounds.
This year, Black Deer Festival’s Live Fire Chefs include US BBQ pitmaster and TV personality Ray ‘Dr BBQ’ Lampe, Temper owner Neil Rankin, NZ BBQ export Matt Burgess, foraging and game butchery guru Nick Weston, Co-Chair of The Guild of Food Writers Genevieve Taylor, food writer and stylist Gill Meller, award-winning beer & food journalist Melissa Cole, Matt Williams, Countrywoodsmoke’s Marcus Bawdon andSMOKESTAK founder David Carter.
AMERICANA CULTURE! More than just a music festival, Black Deer Festival is a complete appreciation of the rich cultural heritage attached to Americana - all the raw passion and grit of the movement is here.
This year, Black Deer have joined forces with director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Bronson,The Neon Demon) to bring a unique cinematic experience to Eridge Park. The byNWR Expressway is set to show a specially-curated trilogy of unearthed gems for the first time in a new form. Showing Forty Acre Feud as a world exclusive, all three films including Wild Guitar and Cottonpickin’ Chickenpickers allhark back to a time of the American drive-in cinema at its peak, and have been beautifully and meticulously restored to serve as a visual reimagining of early Americana, adding to the immersion at Black Deer.
In another exciting partnership, Desertscene will be taking over this year’s Roadhouse stage with heavy blues, desert rock and whiskey-fuelled riffs galore. With Left Lane Cruiser and Brant Bjork spearheading the proceedings, gearhead festival goers will be able catch the curated custom motorcycle display at the Roadhouse, Black Deer’s beacon of counter culture.
Set to open for business over the June extravaganza, the Mercantile will return for another year. The home to thoughtfully-crafted and ethically made artisan wares which strike the perfect balance between functionality and design. With traders soon to be revealed, get saving for ornate rustic items such as authentic leather, denim, homewares, handmade knives, original printed art, vintage clothing, handcrafted surfboards and much more. Boasting a remarkable lineup featuring only the very best Americana & Country artists from around the world, Black Deer Festival is thrilled to reveal even more names for the return to the picturesque Eridge Park this June. Billy Bragg, Yola, Ethan Johns and many more will join Band Of Horses, John Butler Trio, The Staves, Kris Kristofferson & The Strangers, The Mavericks and Neko Case for a truly unrivalled celebration of the Americana way of life.
BAND OF HORSES CONFIRMED AS FIRST HEADLINER FOR 2019
After an incredible inaugural outing this summer, Black Deer returns for a three day celebration of Americana and Country at the stunning Eridge Deer Park in Kent. Black Deer has picked up multiple awards since June and has been adopted by fans of Americana and Country as the gathering of choice for those of an independent, outsider spirit. Globally revered act Band Of Horses are confirmed as the first headliner for 2019. The South Carolina-based band have released 5 studio albums and are responsible for many of the last decade’s much-loved singles, including ‘The Funeral’, ‘Marry Song’, ‘Detlef Schrempf’ and ‘No One’s Gonna Love You’. Formed and led by the irrepressibly charismatic frontman Ben Bridwell, Band Of Horses are a rough and ready, boisterous, live proposition who garner true adoration from their legion of fans and this will be an unmissable headline slot.
Australian roots, rock heroes, the John Butler Trio have been together for two decades and their particular brand of alternative rock and bluegrass has sold them multi platinum albums and won them multiple awards. This is a rare UK show for the John Butler Trio and their live shows are stirring, emotional affairs.Soulful with a punk edge, Northumberland’s Jade Bird has marked her out as a crossover star. With performances on Later With Jools Holland and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in the US, Jade Bird has been hotly tipped by a plethora of music titles including Rolling Stone. Her set at Black Deer is sure to be an ‘I was there’ moment for years to come.
Black Deer are also delighted to welcome Canadians The Dead South, noted for their bluegrass and hillbilly folk and distinctive dress code, and Nashville based Atlanta born sisters Larkin Poe with their riff heavy blues-rock and southern harmonies.
Ryan Bingham is the real deal - raised in a roadhouse brothel in New Mexico he was riding rodeo south of the Mexican frontier by the age of five. He has graduated to be the poster boy for American Roots music and winning an Oscar, a Grammy and a Golden Globe. Grammy winning folk musician and guitarist in the Old Crow Medicine Show, Chance McCoy will also perform.
Oakland’s very own NPR Tiny Desk Concert contest winner Fantastic Negrito will be bringing his own blend of black roots music whilst Hayseed Dixie will entertain festival fans with bluegrass covers of rock songs from the likes of AC/DC, Black Sabbath, KISS and Motorhead.
The folkier side of Americana is showcased by rising Devon star John Smith, critically-acclaimed Martin Harley takes care of the roots and blues sound along with 17-time-Blues-Music-Award-nominee Watermelon Slim, whilst fiddle playing showman Gordie Mackeeman & His Rhythm Boys will give fans a lesson on how things are done Canadian style!
Compelling duo and incredibly talented multi-instrumentalists, the sublime Worry Dolls present a beautiful set, whilst Irish Mythen’s incredible voice, underpinned by her country, roots and folk influence, will be heard throughout the weekend, along with rising star of Australian country and blues, singer-songwriter William Crighton, the raw and distinctive sounds of Bob Harris endorsed Morganway, will also perform and completes the first wave of names to be announced with many more to follow.
Black Deer celebrates a culture like no other and is more than just a music festival. It’s more than an appreciation of a musical genre. Black Deer is a celebration of a way of life. A way of life rooted in, and respectful of, the rich cultural heritage of America - a movement that’s become known as ‘Americana’.
Black Deer has been widely acclaimed as a truly authentic experience, an independent festival born from passion, and built from experience – thanks to its two female founders whose love and respect for the genre shines through every facet of the festival. After last year’s hugely successful collaboration with the founders of Grillstock, Live Fire returns to Black Deer Festival in style with their mouth watering array of country culinary delights in tow. Bigger than before, Live Fire is set to be a soul food lovers’ heaven, as festival goers can watch the BBQ world’s best chefs, pitmasters, butchers and woodsmen work their magic, spreading the gospel of American BBQ. With a Smokehouse Cooking Cookout Competition, Food Demos, Gospel Brunch, Renowned Chefs in tow, Vegetarian & Vegan Campfires and Craft Beer, there really is something for everyone’s tastes.
The Roadhouse stage will also welcome the best custom bike builders in the world down to Eridge Park, and the mighty Desertscene will be taking the music reins with a loud dose of low and slow desert rock and heavy blues to shake up the dust. Master makers using selvedge denim, leather and other authentic materials will feature at the Black Deer Mercantile, alongside campfires, a kids and teens area that allows younger ones the chance to learn new skills, explore and engage with nature and be creative. With music lessons also on hand, Black Deer is an experience like no other. This year, Black Deer Festival are delighted to welcome The Americana Music Association UK (AMA UK), Orange Amplification, Desertscene, Barons Speed Shop as this years partners, as well as return from the inspiring Supajam and esteemed Tunbridge Wells Forum.