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UK Country acts shine at the Big Feastival Music & Food Festival over the Bank Holiday weekend

The "Big Feastival", held in the Cotswolds delivered another superb weekend of Music & Food. It was on the 2nd stage, perfectly entitled "Sundown Saloon" where all the action was happening for Americana artists and a popular spot it was for delighted festival goers who settled down for 10 hours of music each day. The Sundown Stage was set in the "Smokery", an area to the south of the main arena. Surrounded by Axe throwing and Nail and Hammer attractions plus a Fire Pit area for food demo's and other food stalls and tents, this area had its own vibe and was an oasis, celebrating good food and good music.

It's never easy opening a stage but that responsibility was given to one of the UK's hottest live Country acts, Hannah Paris and her band. Playing her signature Pop-Country, they set about creating the perfect tone for the day. And with the lunchtime sun appearing from the dark clouds, she captured the attention of hundreds of eager early bird festival goers with a 9 song, 45 minutes set.


A notable highlight of Hannah's set was her Americana rendition of "Havana," which brought a fresh twist to this well-known track and then the climax of the performance coming with her mega revenge anthem "Just You Wait," strategically saved for the end. The crowd's response was nothing short of rapturous, reflecting their appreciation for Hannah's dynamic stage presence and her ability to deliver powerful and impactful songs to a live audience.


For many attendees who hadn't been previously exposed to this London-based artist, Hannah Paris's performance would have left a lasting impression, successfully kickstarting the days festivities on a high note, setting a high bar for the musical acts to follow.


Up next was Ida Mae, a captivating acoustic alt-folk duo, hailing from Norfolk and is composed of the talented husband and wife duo, Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean.

Having spent the last 5 years in Nashville, they were a little bit of an unknown quantity but their ability to craft romantic and atmospheric songs soon had the crowd swaying. Their music is characterized by resonant guitar melodies and passionate vocals that strike a chord with listeners. Their unique musical style draws inspiration from the rich tapestry of Americana and the evocative sounds of Deep South blues-rock and Chris made that 100 year old resonator sing.


Then just after Ida Mae had finished their set, the heavens opened, as the big black clouds that had been circling the Big Feastival all day finally dropped its load. For 15 minutes the venue was awash and the stage was soaked and some frantic mopping began before any further action could take place. Fortunately we were able to take cover.


Once the rain had abated, we took the chance to take a little look around the rest of the Feastival and catch some more of the action and have a bite to eat. One attraction that stood out was the "DJ-BBQ" stand. We heard it before we saw it, but imagine if you can, a BBQ van a small live stage and a DJ setup. Well the DJ-BBQ had it all.


When we arrived it was just after the downpour and their was a bloke on stage (Chris-chops-Taylor) miming his heart out to "Don't wanna miss a Thing" Aerosmith and he was wringing wet. It didn't stop him or the large crowd enjoying his "performance". It was a true highlight of the day. He was also serving up the food when he wasn't performing with his shovel "Guitar".

After some food and a stroll about, we headed back to the Sundowner Stage to catch "Old Dirty Brasstards" perform Bit-Pop, if we could get close enough, as the hundreds that were watching the earlier acts had swelled by this time to many more. As advertised they were a brass band that played Brit-Pop tunes including some Blur and Oasis hits amongst many others that went down very well with the audience.


U.S. artist Jess and the Bandits had the 4PM slot so followed on soon after the Brass band as the crowds began to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine after the earlier shower. I have had the pleasure of seeing Jess and the Bandits before. Jess is a highly talented performer who has been over to the UK on multiple occasions and she is someone that always delivers 100% and today was no exception. The 4 piece band (including Jess) went through many of her back catalogue of tracks and then treated the crowd to some new ones from a forthcoming album.


Following Jess at 5.30 pm were a band called "The Rising" from Northern Ireland. Now we know them pretty well, as they headlined one of our NC shows back in the autumn of 2022 and after the long trip across the Irish Sea, they were ready to rock. With Chantelle McAteer on vocals and Chris Logan on lead guitar and the rest of the band, they played their way through a string of their recent radio releases to the hundreds of people now stretched out enjoying the warm afternoon. Then engaging the crowd with their latest release "Endless Summer" and the super charged "Highway to the Lost and Found" getting some of the crowd to their feet.


At this point we decided to take another wander about to stretch our legs. We made it to the main stage via a few bars and food vendors that line the Big Feastival. Its a pretty big venue spread out over several vast fields and its certainly in the big league when it comes to the major festival players but in a manageable way. Whoever organised the logistics for the festival, must really know what they are doing, as they got everything dead right.


After visiting the main stage for a while, watching Katy B, we headed back and caught the last few songs from "Two Weeks In Nashville". The 4 piece band proved to be high energy and played a bunch of high tempo songs that had the crowd lapping up every word. This included some of the younger female element of the crowd as they crowded the front of the stage near the end of the set. The band signing hats, etc and chatting with the audience after the set.


The final act that we took in on the Saloon Stage were the "First Time Flyers", a newly formed 4 piece, comprising Tim Prottey-Jones, Poppy Fardell, Vicki Manser and Jake Morrell. We only just recently reviewed their last single that dropped on Friday, so we know the band reasonably well. They have been labelled something of a "super group" by one of the UK Country websites as they are a collection of solo artists that have been playing around the UK Country scene for a few years and at some point decided to join forces and it works.

The four artists have great on stage chemistry and with four strong voices too that offer something different. By now dusk was setting and although some of the earlier crowds had moved on to the main arena, the 200+ strong crowd that stayed were treated to some lovely original country music from the quartet. With Tim stamping out a steady beat on a kick drum, the stage was set for a magical hour. A superb rendition of Fleetwood Mac's Chains was a real highlight and delighted the audience. At the end, it was time for us to move on to the main arena ourselves for the awesome Tom Grennan and what a show that was.


Thank you Big Feastival, what a Saturday you cooked up for us. We left at 10.45 pm very exhausted but very very happy. So congrats to everyone that brought together this wonderful feast of music and food, it was epic, bring on 2024

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