Every year since the first ever Bluebird Café sessions at C2C (2016) the venue has upgraded due to its immence popularity. The first year was held in a small venue where very few could attend and were lucky to see the likes of Maren Morris, Jessi Alexander, Lori McKenna, Shane McAnally, Barry Dean and Old Dominion sing acoustic versions of their songs and share the stories behind them.
This year, the event was held in the O2 Blueroom. Arriving to a massive long queue at 10am on a bright Sunday morning on March 10th, it was clear this show was a sell out and it wasn’t hard to see why. With an artist such as Michael Ray and his ever growing high status, this was an opportunity that we in the UK are unlikely to ever experience again unless we went to the US and even then, Ray may not play these type of sessions anymore.
Adam Hambrick at this point of the festival was fast becoming a favourite for many. His charm, wit, unique voice and quality songs that he had written for other artists and for himself were really resonating with the UK fans and they had embraced him with open arms. This show was only going to make that relationship stronger.
Adam, Kelly and Michael sat in a line on stage in exactly that order. The audience on sofas and armchairs to give it a real comfortable living room feel.
Starting the session off, Adam Hambrick kicks things off with his own song he cut himself All You, All Night, All Summer. Fans were already singing along and the mood and atmosphere was perfection for a Sunday morning on the last day of the festival weekend.
Kelly Archer, a well established Canadian Songwriter was next and was fun to listen to her banter too. Having written with Hambrick a few times, she talks of the song they wrote together for Justin Moore called Somebody Else Will which he took to number one.
Michael was next and seemed rather hungover or just exhausted from the night before as he had played the after party in the Indigo. Either way, this was real and we love seeing artists as they are and despite being tired, Michael was fun and engaging and this was a really rare opportunity for Michael Ray fans. He began wih Kiss You In The Morning and it was nice to hear the song in an acoustic style with just him and his guitarist next to him on stage.
Back to Adam Hambrick. He talks of how his next song was on hold for a really long time and how the song (How Not To ) was originally held by Rascal Flatts but it was never cut. The song in fact was almost not meant to be as was a session Hambrick had forgotten he arranged and was a day before he was going on holiday. However, the song was written, then eventually cut by Dan + Shay as a very last minute addition to their album Obsessed. Adam hit the difficult notes perfectly and Michael later says how he could never pull that song off himself and jokes about it a little bit.
Kelly Archer shares a story of how one of her songs was featured on the hit show Nashville and was used in all the promo. She laughs about how she expected the song to be sung by Connie Britton’s Character but as she sat down for the premiere she was shocked (in a laughable way) that her song was interpreted as somewhat of a joke. Check out the video below to hear the hilarious story around Love Like Mine.
A song I really came to love this weekend was Michael Ray’s Her World or Mine which was written by Travis Denning who was also at C2C. The song, an emotional ballad sees a really strong vocal from Ray and in this intimate setting, it was really special. Earlier in the show, Adam Hambrick had joked that when picking a single, you want to make sure you pick a song that will piss off the least amount of people and Michael laughed in response saying how true that was.
Quite a bit of hilarious banter went back and forth between the artists and I wish I could remember it all. Michael joked about how he felt a bit left out as Hambrick and Archer had written together often.
On the last round, Hambrick asked if this was the last song to which he was told yes. Apologising to his friend Hannah (yep, me, woo hoo haha) with whom he had promised another song (Waiting On You written with and recorded by Lindsay Ell) Hambrick explains how he will play it in his Indigo set and will have to come back. As I had interviews during his Indigo set, I really hope he does come back and soon. Adam ended his session on his single Rocking All Night Long which is a great catchy number and well written. This kind of made me sad though as I really wanted to hear more and especially a song he previously told me about called Kill A Man about how parenthood makes you very protective.
Archer closed her session with the song Sleep Without You recorded by Brett Young. This song went down very well as there were many Brett Young fans in attendance.
Michael Ray ended his set on Think A Little Less and proved his worth as a well established artist who is going places. In fact, I think he very much deserved to beon the main stage and would have given us one hell of a killer performance but I won’t complain at seeing him in such a special show and all weekend in fact.
The entire Bluebird session was incredibly spectacular and a real highlight of the Festival weekend and I encourage people to attend these sessions every year. These sessions help you get to know the artists a bit more and see them in a more relaxed environment where they can be themselves. What is also nice is that sometimes this is the first time they have ever performed together or heard each other live and then new relationships are born and out of those new relationships new songs are created and we certainly cannot argue with how great that will be.
Here is to next years Bluebird Events, I for one cannot wait.