Festival season is upon us. That time of year when trying to organise a family weekend away is practically impossible – “Not that weekend! It’s Buckle and Boots.September? Are you kidding me!?!” It’s times like this when having a partner/parents/kidswho are also in to country music come in handy. Annual holidays are booked around the events – easy!

We’ve had a couple of festivals already and there’s a lot more just around the corner. It’s going to be a great summer and we’re practically spoilt for choice with the artists that are playing but who (dare I ask) are you most excited to see?

Now if I had all the time in the world to write about my favourite artists playing this summer then this would be easy but it would also be an incredibly long article. I only have about 900 words so here are just a handful of (in my humble opinion) this year’s festival stand-out artists.

Buckle and Boots. Who made it? Wasn’t it great?? This festival just goes from strength to strength and I love it. This year’s line up was so good I couldn’t narrow it down to one stand out artist. So I picked two…
I had the pleasure of interviewing the super lovely and incredibly talented Lewis Brice on a recent trip to Nashville and I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear that he was coming over for Buckle and Boots. He’s a great artist and if he’s not on your radar already then he should be.

The other artist from this year’s line-up I was really looking forward to was Brett Kissel. This phenomenally talented artists is also, quite possibly, one of the nicest most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met. I saw him stop at CMAFest to sign a fans guitar and then proceed to jam with the guy. He literally made the guy’s WEEK. He really makes an effort to connect with his fans and I definitely think he left Buckle and Boots with a few more… Let’s hope he comes back soon!

Black Deer. Yes, I know Kris Kristofferson was playing. And Band of Horses. And The Shires. But the one I was really looking forward to seeing was Mike Farris. If you missed him let me tell you, this guy is phenomenal live. It’s like a spiritual experience. He gives everything he has and then some. He has a sound that’s a little bit soul, a touch of gospel, a bit of rock with a country flair. He won’t disappoint. He did a tour before his appearance at Black Deer (supported by the awesome Elles Bailey – another one to catch if you can this summer). If you missed him, don’t worry. I don’t think it’ll be the last we see of him…

Nashville Meets London. Sarah Darling. Need I say any more. She is a goddess with the voice of an angel and the nicest person you’ll ever meet. Plus she has the best fashion sense and always looks like she’s just stepped out of the pages of Vogue. Every time I see her perform I am blown away by her talent. She’s playing the Opry nearly 100 times. They seem to like her and last time I checked they knew a thing or two about talented artists. And folks, this is a FREE event. You’re welcome. We’ll see you there.

Dixie Fields. This new addition to the festival lineup has the awesome Lauren Alaina headlining. Not bad for a first time festival. For those of you who missed Lauren when she played C2C a few years ago then go and see her play. She has such an addictive enthusiasm on stage. She’ll have everyone up and dancing for sure. We do love a new festival and this one looks like it’s going to be awesome – I’m sure it’ll be up there with this summer’s highlights.

Millport Country Music Festival. Yes, I’m travelling 450 miles for this one. I’ve heard it’s super fun and incredibly beautiful on the Island and they have over 50 artists playing. Fifty. How could I possibly say no to going?? Cam is headlining and we absolutely love her to pieces. She’s great live so that will definitely be a fun set to watch.

One band also worth checking out is the Nashville band Lockeland. If you haven’t heard of them then make it your mission to change that. They have catchy tunes and a great sound and are really fun to boot. It’ll be a long journey but definitely worth it!

The Long Road. All of them. Really, don’t make me choose. Last year was the first year for this festival and boy, did they deliver… This year has a very impressive line-up but special mention to Jake Morrell and Liv Austin here for flying the British country music flag!

Also Logan Mize. Another artist from C2C this year. He is unbelievably talented and will absolutely kill it over here in September. I will be front and centre for this one.

British Country Music festival. Another new festival and one with a host of UK talent. So far it’s looking like an incredible line up but my top pick has to be Laura Oakes. She’s so talented and amazing live. Also, I caught The Blue Highways at Country In The Afternoon recently and they blew me away. They have a brass section. I know. It almost doesn’t make sense but trust me, it works. It works very well.

And lastly, The Luck. This brother and sister duo sound amazing and I’m so pleased that they’ve made it on the roster for this festival. Go check them out!

So there you go. My personal top picks for the summer. Full disclosure… this was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. There’s so many great artists playing this year. Picking favourites is every country music fans worse nightmare. But that’s why festivals are so fun – you get to see so many different bands all in one day or one weekend. It’s like a buffet of country music. Something for everyone, some old favourites, something new to try and you go away feeling happy and full.

So go, have fun, wear your hats and sing along. It’s going to be a great country summer.