Which artists spring to mind when you think of country music?
Dolly Parton? Patsy Cline? Johnny Cash? Willie Nelson?
These artists are among the many legends of the music world that define the word, but these days there is a massive resurgence of modern-day country that is taking the world (and the UK) by storm. Traditional country music still exists, but now a bucket load of (usually younger) artists are breaking the traditional mould and introducing a whole generation to a new sound.
Country is a new sound for me
My journey started out two years ago at Jimmy's Farm, where Jill and I were attending the annual Sausage and Beer Festival where, surprise surprise, you have the opportunity to drink beer, eat sausages, and listen to some great emerging talent from the British music world. Step up The Shires - an understated country duo from the home shires of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Now you would be forgiven for thinking, 'how on earth can a band from the UK be making country relevant?' - but they did. This music has always been about great storytelling and melodies, and these two were doing just that in a small field on a farm near Ipswich.
The Shires are one of my favourite British bands right now, and their 'about' page on their website pretty much sums up why:
Powered by Crissie’s powerful but subtle and supple vocals and Ben’s perfectly complementary tones and acoustic guitar, The Shires have literally found a piece of country to call their own. They love American music, but they’re proudly British and intensely keen to add some real indigenous flavour to the pot. The song ‘Made In England’ is a perfect example, a real celebration of all things British.
Since that sunny day in June 2014 I have seen them perform a number of times at various gigs and festivals, along with a whole host of other new country artists that I'll be covering in future blog posts. My country journey started with their début album 'Brave', and you can listen to it or even buy it by clicking the album cover below - I highly recommend it.