If there was going to be any artist at C2C Festival that was going to prove the doubters wrong then it was going to be Walker Hayes and he did exactly that.
Walker Hayes had been quite the topic of controversy between C2C attendees; is he country? Isn’t he country? But one thing is for sure, Walker proved that it doesn’t matter. Good music is good music and Walker stunned audiences with his multiple talents on stage across the weekend.
Walker played without a band, just him, his guitar and his loop pedal for beats and so on and of course his wicked vocals and rap skills. Out of the entire weekend, of every artist I met, Walker was one of the nicest and I just love his accent. I was hoping the crowd would embrace him and they did.
The first show that I caught from Walker was on The Spotlight Stage inside the arena playing before Little Big Town. Walker had hundreds gathered around his stage and as I mentioned above, it was just him, his guitar and what I believe to be called a pedal loop. Walker started his two song set with hit single You Broke Up With Me, a song to throw a bit of shade against fair weathered friends in the disguise of a relationship break up. Walker combines country music with a bit of hip hop and what on paper sounds like it shouldn’t work, it really does, especially live. Walker is a natural talent on the stage and his recorded music doesn’t do him enough justice.
The second track on The Spotlight Stage was a song dedicated to his wife titled Beautiful. At this point, Walker had the audience in the palm of his hand and got the crowd to sing back to him which was a wonderful moment to not just witness but to be a part of. Everyone cheered, and Walker was the right person to warm up the crowd before the weekends closing set from Little Big Town.
Walker played the final after party at the Indigo straight after the main arena had closed its doors for another wonderful C2C weekend. This was one of the shows that I had been looking forward to all weekend. I love Walkers album boom. Again, Walker took to the stage with his guitar and pedal loop in front of a strong crowd who were all eager to see him. I had heard throughout the weekend various people saying how he won them over as was amazing at The Bluebird Café session and proved his talents as a songwriter. This is very true, if you really listen to the lyrics behind Walker’s music you will hear deep and meaningful stories. Songs such as Beer In The Fridge where he speaks of his struggles with alcoholism and leaving that one beer untouched and what it symbolises.
Walker has six children with one on the way. Two songs he performed during the after party were about his children. He played Beckett, a song on boom. which is about the innocence of childhood and how he wishes he could be like his son who only cares about fruit loops, planes and other childhood fun stuff. The other was a favourite of mine Lela’s Stars which was available on his EP 8 Tracks Volume 2. This more down tempo song is really quite beautiful and the story behind it is beautiful. Needing thumb tacks to fix the liner on a roof of a vehicle and not actually having any thumbtacks, he uses his daughter Lela’s who has pink and purple ones and she looks at the roof and calls them stars.
Walker commanded his stage with just himself which was astonishing and you never would have known he had no band if you were just listening. Walker played songs such as Shut Up Kenny which is about Kenny Chesney playing on the radio amidst an argument between Walker and his wife and Kenny’s lyrics singing out everything his wife was feeling which at the time didn’t help.
Another song which I was over the moon he played was Your Girlfriend Does which is another song off his EP and not his album, although it should be. Written with Old Dominion, this song is a funny tune throwing back at the haters, you must listen to the lyrics as they are very clever. Your Girlfriend Does was my introduction to Walker so this was a very loud sing along moment for me.
With a request from the audience, Walker sang his moving track called Craig which is about a friend from church who helped him when he had nothing, he even gave Walker and his family of eight a big enough car for them to fit in as they didn’t have one nor could they obtain one at the time. This act of kindness stayed with Walker and is a story he is keen to share wherever he goes.
Dollar Store was another great sing a long moment and he made the audience laugh by saying we call it poundland and he said he tried to fit it into the song but it just didn’t work.
Just like the Spotlight Stage set, Walker also performed You Broke Up With Me and Beautiful.
I would have loved to have heard Halloween and when Nicolle Galyon was announced for the CMA Songwriters I had hoped she would be at C2C all weekend and would lend her voice again for the live version but alas, that didn’t happen. However, Walker was as fabulous as I imagined he would be and I was absolutely thrilled that he won over any doubter. Walker is an amazing artist with a lot to offer and I hope he doesn’t leave it too long before he returns to the UK.
What a showman, what a gentleman what a storyteller.