After we were treated to three bank holidays in May, the months of June and July having an absence of three day weekends have seemed to go on for an age. However, the final holiday of the summer is less than three weeks away and coincides with the highlight of the festival summer for the fourth instalment of The Long Road Festival. The family friendly festival takes place in the beautiful and picturesque surroundings of Lutterworth’s Stanford Hall.
Over the last weekend of the month starting on Friday 25th August, an all-star cast will grace four perfectly themed stages at the most anticipated event on the country and Americana calendars in the UK. The bill is headed up by Californian hit-maker Jon Pardi, who is performing in the UK for the first time and Atlanta’s southern rock legends Blackberry Smoke who both are set to bring a real party on the Rhinestone stage. The same could be said for Breland and Tenille Arts who are the artists that not just top our list of artists to see but UK fans have constantly been in awe of the energy that they always bring to their live shows. The stage also has strong feel of the Lone Star state as Eli Young Band with their roots at University of North Texas make their UK debut alongside the big Texas country sound of Josh Abbott Band.
The Long Road as a festival has always looked to be at the forefront of encouraging gender balance across their line-up and this year well and truly delivers this and could be seen as one of the strongest overall line-ups UK audiences have encountered. Grammy nominated Margo Price and reigning Canadian Country Music Association “Entertainer of the Year” and “Female Artist of the Year” Tenille Townes have been regular visitors to these shores including the main stage at Europe’s largest country music festival. Earlier this year at Country to Country the energy of Virginia Beach native Alana Springsteen alongside the warm, witty southern charm of Caylee Hammack shared the stage together in an acoustic setting and after winning a multitude of new fans now both return with main stage sets of their own at The Long Road. Hammack and her fiery red locks are not the only link to Georgia as emerging Massachusetts Georgia Webster has it by name and also brings a very welcome return to the UK after joining Kelsea Ballerini on tour here earlier this year, whilst the other Georgia native is the most anticipated artist on the entire bill and the name on everyone’s lips ahead of the event. Whilst her smash hit introduction “Tennessee Orange” references the University of Tennessee Volunteers, ACM New Female Artist of the Year nominee Megan Moroney is a proud Georgia Bulldog and one of the most exciting artists to emerge across the entire music industry.
In addition to performing on the Rhinestone Stage, Moroney will also get to round off the entire event with the Sunday night after party and remind everyone why they really will not want to go home. The after party duties are in the capable hands of Canadian favourite Tim Hicks on the Friday, who always knows how to bring a party and Mississippi vocal harmony trio Chapel Hart looking after your Saturday night. One of the things that is most pleasant about TLR is the ambience and aesthetic of the stages. You have big hitting loud noise of the Rhinestone Stage and the sometimes rowdy indoor Interstate Stage which tailors more towards the Americana side where over the weekend you can also catch Country in the UK favourites Jill Andrews and Miko Marks plus the smooth vocals of the amazing husband and wife duo The War and Treaty and not forgetting this year’s AMA UK International Trailblazer recipients Nickel Creek. If your vibe is along the line of a tailgate at a juke joint in the middle of the woods, then Buddy’s is the place for you to catch morning songwriter sessions, late night parties and sets that we are really looking forward to from Tyler Booth and Ella Langley.
However, the stage that grabs the most attention and (even when you throw Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party and Latitude into this mix) is easily the best themed stage you will find at any festival in the country. The picturesque setting of the Front Porch transports you to a magical, more attentive place to hear songs and stories told from the porch of a log cabin including a series of takeovers from Rissi Palmer’s Color Me Country, the AMA-UK and Oh Boy Records. It really is so difficult to emphasise in words why this stage is perfect in every single way and is a really nice space for people who prefer to sit down in chairs to experience a festival where over the weekend they will be able to catch the likes of Kelsey Waldon, Tommy Prine, Alyssa Bonagura, Sacha & Joshua Ray Walker.
This year’s line-up has plenty for everybody! Country or Americana, contemporary or traditional, regular UK tourists and long awaited debutants mean this year’s event caters for every taste at what as ever promises to be the most exciting weekend of the year and the perfect end to the summer which is not to be missed. The Long Road Festival takes place at Stanford Hall in Leicestershire on the weekend of August 25th to 27th with full details and ticket information available on their WEBSITE along with INSTGRAM or FACEBOOK.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks