Tuesday, 18 March 2014


What a fabulous weekend. Wanstead Flats overflowing with migrants, and then two amazing afternoons of top-quality music at the O2 in Greenwich. I'm only lying about one of these things, and it being mid-March you might think I would be talking about the latter. Especially when I tell you it was a country music festival, Nashville-on-Thames. But no, Wanstead Flats had no migrants whatsoever, bar a Chiffchaff that has probably been here all along but only just started singing. It was pretty rubbish on both mornings, all the good singing started around 4pm.

For those of you that don't know, I'm a big fan of country music. This is less dominated by twangy banjos these days, but there are still a lot of songs about love, cold beer, and trucks. Generally a love of cold beer and trucks, though possibly of high school sweethearts too. Frankly it's an ideal complement to my other cool hobby of birdwatching, and makes me the all-round "hey, I wanna be that guy" guy. Not. But I don't care, I absolutely love it, as those who have been on long-distance twitches with me driving will know. The Country2Country festival (such a great title, so much hidden meaning...) is becoming an annual event, and takes place over an entire weekend. There is now sufficient demand for this genre that they're able to fill the O2, and what was almost a sell-out last year was a definite sell-out this time around. Last year I only went to one of the days, and saw amongst others two massive names, Vince Gill and Tim McGraw (look 'em up!), but this year I went the whole hog and was there both days. The line ups were Martina McBride, Dierks Bentley, The Dixie Chicks, and the Zac Brown Band, followed on Sunday by Chris Young, The Band Perry, Rascal Flatts, and finally Brad Paisley. Just so people can understand quite how popular they are, I did a protracted search on the wikipedia, and between them these eight artists have won 20 Grammy awards, and sold a massive 83 million albums (and that's just in the US), 29 of which went platinum (or multi-so), with a further 10 gold. This is big, big stuff. Dixie Chicks album Wide Open Spaces sold 12 million copies. That's more than Automatic for the People. More than Back to Black. More than Harvest. More than The Lion King soundtrack.

Getting ready

Lots of this. NO shame.
It was of course fabulous, with the Dixie Chicks, Rascal Flatts and Dierks Bentley being particular highlights. The Zac Brown Band, possibly my favourite group at the minute, were excellent but I didn't think as good as when at the Shepherd's Bush Empire last year, and Brad Paisley, like Tim McGraw (40 million albums, 20 Grammys...), was a superstar and exemplary showman. Cowboy boots and wide-brimmed hats were of course in abundance, though not on me. I draw the line at a truckers cap, I have no need to look (more) like a tit. Anyhow, something like ten hours of live music over two afternoons/evenings, and a brilliant atmosphere. If they can keep it going I'll be there every year. Whilst I prefer the smaller venues for sure, the convenience of multiple acts one after the other with much reduced "per band" rates is an excellent idea, and one I hope continues. 

Pretty much a perfect weekend as far as I was concerned, let down only by a distinct lack of Wheatears. Partial redemption on the way back from the Sunday gig with calling Tawny Owl as I walked home from the bus. When I got home I ordered eight new CDs. Twitchers beware.

Yes, some brainwashing did occur....

1 comment:

  1. No migrants whatsover..I'm fairly confident that when I last looked in my Collins bird guide - Sand Martins were still classed as migrants. I can only imagine you were still transfixed by the Dixie Chicks when you wrote this post!