Country 2 Country Festival (C2C)

Country 2 Country – C2C Festival 2023: The Bluebird Café featuring Madeline Edwards, Adam Doleac and Amanda Shires – Review

Photo Credit: Ruby Gaunt

The Bluebird Café sessions at C2C Festival are without a doubt some of the best and most intimate shows you will see across the weekend! Ticketed separately so not included in your weekend Arena ticket, the event is less than £30 and is a ticket that is well worth the money!

Nashville’s Iconic songwriting haven is transported across the pond to London’s O2 inside the O2 Blueroom and is hosted by The Official Bluebird Café president Erika Wollam Nichols. Known artists are then sat in style of a typical songwriters round in front of a small, seated audience where they share the stories behind their songs and play them acoustically.

I can’t imagine there ever being a Bluebird session that isn’t worth going to. These events are so incredibly special that you really get an experience you won’t get again. Past C2C Bluebird sessions have included Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Jessie Alexander and more! So if you see an opportunity to go to one, don’t beat about the bush, just go!

Various sessions took place across the weekend however, we opted for the 10am Saturday session which featured Madeline Edwards, Adam Doleac and Amanda Shires.

Photo Credit: Ruby Gaunt

Sat comfortably within the O2 Blue room. The stage was set up with three microphones, a keyboard and four stools.

Sat on the far right (from audience perspective) was Madeline Edwards, in the middle Adam Doleac and then Amanda Shires and her guitarist Zach Setchfield.

Madeline was up first. Having recently released her sensational debut Crash Landed, Madeline performed the title track to that album first.

A raw vocal with a uniquely gravelly, beautiful tone, Madeline set the bar high with her performance and reminded the audience just how special these kind of shows truly are. Madeline is a rare artist who has so much authenticity and so much vulnerability in her writing, vocals and personality that you are completely invested in her stories, her performance and her progress.

Adam Doleac was an artist I was excited to see and what better way than in this setting. Performing his song Solo, Doleac tells us the song is inspired by an apartment building in front of his porch and how you can pretty much see what is going on inside those apartments. So Solo is about what goes on inside!

Amanda Shires was without a doubt one of the most exciting names on the entire C2C Line up, well for us anyway! Having the opportunity to watch Shires in a Bluebird type setting was something we were likely never going to experience again so we had to be there! Accompanied by her guitarist Zach Setchfield, Amanda explains they are playing a song that she has not played in a long time. This Song, she says, was written when she driving away from her boyfriend’s house and how bats appeared? (I wasn’t too clear on that part! ) Unfortunately I also didn’t get the name of the song so if anyone is willing to enlighten me then please do!

Photo Credit: Ruby Gaunt

Back to Edwards, she tells us how she is going to perform an unreleased song that she wrote with Devin Dawson and Ross Copperman.

She explained that when you walk into a write, Devin wants to know everything about you! She further tells how it takes a lot of walls to come down before she shares and she just tells him where she is from and so on and he is like “No I really wanna know your story”. She then touches very briefly on her life and says he then says “No I REALLY want to know your story”. To that she explains she replied with “ I get f***ed over a lot and been through a lot and I am human too”.

This song, she explains “is a deep song about being betrayed”. It has no title but wants to release it soon and for now its called The Bed He Made.

After performing it. Madeline laughs “This song is a bit of an intense song for 10.30 in the morning”

It’s intense for 10:30 at night” Doleac laughs!

Mom and Daddy’s Money was the next song from Adam Doleac and he says it will make people more likely to cry than laugh! He goes on to explain that having good parents can take 20 something years for kids to realise. He continued that his Mum and Dad’s money wasn’t just paper on a counter but what they gave him in general!

Shires, a strong advocate for female artists talks of a time in 2016 when she was Calling radio stations as no women were being played on radio and she would hear 25 songs of men in a row!She went on to say “What would it be like for my child who wanted to go into that type of music? The top 40 country charts?” She then told us that is when she thought “Im gonna start a band called The Highwomen! It took two years to tell people about it!”.

Forming the band with Brandi Carlisle, Shires talks of the title track and how she re wrote the lyrics to the original Highwaymen track. Brandi asked Jimmy Webb for permission after they had recorded it, but he was ok with it!

Performing Highwomen from their debut release with the same title, Shires delivered an incredibly powerful and emotional rendition of the track. Usually split between herself, Brandi Carlisle, Natalie Hemby and guest artist Yola, Shires took on all parts which represent various women across the years who were shunned/killed for their skills/race that back then, threatened the men’s place in society. Well, that still happens….

Shires had such a raw and emotional tone in this song that I have never experienced in a live setting before, not like this. It immediately made me cry! I wasn’t the only one either! Madeline said she didn’t know how she was going to continue after hearing that!

She did though and performed her track Hold My Horses. She explains it usually has sick guitar riff but she is here with just the keyboard so she cant do it justice. She explained that people think the song is written by men but it’s actually written with two other women and is about being unhinged!

Adam’s next song had a great story! He talks of playing 200 shows a year and that he regularly played a Biker bar in South Alabama. He laughed about singing love songs and looking like he does in a biker bar! He tells us that he was taking a break one evening and he sat next to a biker. On the bikers right arm was a tattoo of a puzzle with a piece missing. Adam says he asked him why?Just then a woman walks out of bathroom. She has no tattoos except one puzzle piece that is in the same place where the man’a piece is missing!

I didn’t know bikers could be that sweet” laughed Adam! “ I wrote this the next week!” Then he played Puzzle of Us.

Amanda speaks of how she likes to write songs with her friends. The song Don’t Be Alarmed was written with Ruston Kelly and Liz Rose and was written one beautiful sunday morning . Like most of her tracks, Shires plays her fiddle which beautifully accompanies her stunning vocals. Shires is such a unique performer and really sings from the soul. Every note sung is beautiful and sometimes it’s so raw that it’s imperfections are flawless.

Edwards’ last track from her album Crash Landed was How Strong I Am that she wrote with Ross Copperman and Kate York. She explained the song is “positive after dark”.

Madeline laughs how she has sung songs about being an alien, murder and being unhinged!

On a more serious note she explained how therapy and good community helped her get through trauma and how the song is birthed from that. She hopes people feel encouraged to do the hard work from her songs.

Adam leaves us with a song about drinking whiskey. He says that Sirius XM Highway had someone believe in his song. At one point Doleac had a full ride to play golf. He also took a baseball scholarship but moved to Nashville to try music instead.

This song started everything for me” he says!

Amanda closes her round by saying that she brought her mum today for her first trip to the UK. Shires explains how she doesn’t have many “happy” songs and that this is the second best closest to happiest she has. Written for the Highwomen record, she performs Don’t Call Me.

What a special show! 10.30 am or 10.30 pm this writer’s round would be exceptional at any time. Limited tickets available, I felt privileged to have been in the audience for this unforgettable moment!

There is nothing quite like a writer’s round. C2C bringing over The Bluebird Sessions was a stroke of genius and truly brings the heart of Nashville to the UK. We don’t get to have these moments often. I would urge anyone to grab a ticket to any Bluebird Session at C2C in the future. Even if you are unfamiliar with the line up you can pretty much guarantee a good time!

We love songwriters here in the UK, and hearing the stories behind those songs and hearing them acoustically is just magical!

The Bluebird Sessions are the perfect way for both artists and fans to celebrate their love of music together and in a rare intimate setting that is as if you are all hanging out in the living room!

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