FRIDAY, 16 MAY 2014
First ever Blog, first ever review
I will start this off by saying that in general I am a huge Country Music fan but only for the last 7 years and to be honest, most of the artists I listen to have only been around during those 7 years with a small amount for longer. Although I say I am a massive Country Music fan, I never really sat down and listened to many UK artists, apologies. So when I heard about a new UK Country Duo called The Shires for some reason I was very intrigued. I think the title of their first single “Nashville Grey Skies” also tapped into my curiosity and I had to go ahead and listen. I went in blind and not expecting to like it as much as I did as I don’t like every Country Artist out there but I have to say I was instantly hooked.
I can’t exactly pinpoint what it was about the song and The Shires that captivated me but I think the fact that there was so much to like, it could not really go wrong. The intro to Nashville Grey Skies is already an uplifting start and we hear the vocals of Ben and Crissie together from the beginning and their voices blend together so beautifully. Any UK country music fan can relate to this song as let’s be honest, we would all Love our own Nashville here and it really is about time. The official video for Nashville Grey Skies is also really very good with The Shires arriving in Nashville and watching snippets of their Journey over there.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OwYVg4n1Qk Since then, I have been listening to the brilliant Bob Harris Session with The Shires and Watching you tube videos and downloading their song “I Just Wanna Love You”, which by the way, you can download for free here http://zaphod.uk.vvhp.net/vvreg/8986-337197 . After about a week, I decided that The Shires were a band that I simply could not keep quiet about. So I did something I have never done before or never even thought about doing before and decided to create a twitter fan page and I had and still have no idea what I am doing as I barely know anyone to get followers but thought, hey, what’s the harm? So @TheShiresFans was born. It was then on Twitter that I heard about Sounds Like Nashville hosting a Showcase for The Shires. Thinking at first that there was NO WAY I would be able to attend as currently in Temp Work and had so much time off being Ill over the last month and us temps do not get paid for time off, I then thought Sod it. I want to go, it has to happen, life is far too short and life should be about the things you love right? So a fake Doctors appointment later the time was booked off.
Then came the sign up sheet for the event and the not knowing if we were going feeling. A little while later I was then very privileged to earn a spot for myself and my husband and am Still very grateful and honoured for The Shires making it possible. I was also lucky enough to win a meet and greet with Cassadee Pope who was later announced to be playing at the showcase. The day of the showcase I finished work at 2pm, drove like a speed demon to get home to meet my husband and I am pretty sure there must have been some sort of Cyclist Convention going on as they just appeared out of nowhere and stayed in front of me for my whole trip home. But hey, we made it in time.
As we queued up we were probably 6th in line as some Cassadee fans had been there all day. We were later joined by a few of our friends. Some people were being interview and I was praying I wouldn’t be asked and was just about to fake being a mute but luckily they weren’t interested in us ha. About an hour later we were taken inside for the Cassadee meet and greet. The Shires walked past us but being British, we were far too polite to bother them.
We were taken up a few flights of stairs which proved just how unfit we all were (well me anyway) and taken past many rooms full of Guitars and into a large room with a Sounds Like Nashville back board and a wall of guitars. I was Slightly tempted to just pick one up and be the entertainment whist we waited for Cassadee but seeing as I can’t actually play, I am not sure it would have been appreciated but I can at least promise it would have been entertaining. Then Cassadee arrived. She was so tiny and lovely. I was first up which I didn’t really want to be as get nervous but hey ho. She was very chatty and we spoke about CMA Fest which I will be attending in a few weeks and Cassadee will be performing. She signed and took photos with everybody and hung around for a while chatting.
After the meet and greet we were all taken downstairs to where the event was to be held. We grabbed a table and were settling down when we saw Crissie. We all decided to go and say hello and to ask for a picture. She was more than happy to do so and I said how excited for the show I was and thanked her for following me on Twitter. She asked who I was and when I told her I was TheShires Fans she said Oh wow fangirl, we call you fangirl and thanked me for running it. I told her I had no idea what I was doing and I hope I do it justice. She said her and Ben were very grateful and were so happy that I was doing it that they wanted to make sure I got in to the event. I told her I was very grateful and they didn’t have to and it was a very kind thing to do. I was a bit nervous that I didn’t say too much and as my friends were also there I didn’t want to take up all her time so I kind of walked off to save a table which I then realised may have come across as rude but I panicked a bit and it gave my friends time to take photos etc.
We then went back to the table and a plate of Nachos appeared which was good as I had not eaten all day as had no time. So as I happily munched away as my stomach had been doing most of the talking all night and it needed to stop. We then discovered the bar was free so naturally, I got a glass of wine and beer. With my empty stomach I was tipsy after one drink, shameful I know but also hilarious. There were also staff bringing around mini hot dogs and burgers which I tucked into with no shame. I was then approached by a girl who asked me if I ran TheShiresfans twitter page, I replied with a very confused yes and had no idea how she knew. She then told me she was Bens girlfriend and how happy he was that I made it. I was totally shocked and said how nice it was to meet her and we spoke about the music for a while and I said how Nashville Grey Skies had just really influenced me.
After everyone was let in we were given a quick introduction by I believe The Shires manager and then came on The Shires. They came in and said hello and they were happy to be here .
Brave was the first song they performed. I had seen this on you tube and was already a fan but to hear and see it live was a totally different experience. The thing I love about a British audience is we are generally quiet and you could hear every detail in their voices and the vocals were flawless. There was so much passion for the song on stage and emotion in the performance, two things that you can never be taught as is a performer’s skill that not all artists have. There was also great chemistry between Ben and Crissie. A fair few people were singing along which I know they appreciated. For those who are not familiar with the song Brave, I suggest you check it out
Next up was their first and current single “Nashville Grey Skies” which has recently got a lot of airplay on BBC Radio 2 so much so that it is now on their A List/Playlist as it should be. The audience sang along and at one point I got Country Boys and girls the wrong way round right when they looked in my direction so I hope it wasn’t noticed ha, I know all the words too but it’s just one of those things. I blame the wine. It was really great to get to see this song live finally as has played a big role in my life for the last few weeks. It was great to hear other people singing along and I felt a sense of pride for The Shires. Throughout their performance they looked on into the crowd with admiration and were overwhelmed with the amount of people singing along with them. Ben then took to the Piano and started off the vocals to “I Just Wanna Love You” The song reminds me very much of Lady Antebellumonly better. I was surprised how much of the song I knew but it was almost criminal to sing along and so I just mimed along appreciating the vocals. This is a really beautiful song, which is also available to download for free via their Twitter page on a pinned tweet.
The last song they performed I had never heard before and was unsure of the name but have since been told it was called Tonight. They got the audience involved with Ben’s half singing a different part to Crissie’s side. I was on Bens side and sorry to say it but we totally won that one, we were definitely a lot louder or was it the Wine again?
The Shires seemed in awe by the response they got throughout the evening and definitely exceeded our expectations at the same time as winning over new fans, my husband being one of them who is hard to please and has today spent the day listening to their music. The Shires then told us how they had known for a while who the surprise guest was and how it was hard to keep it quiet and how lucky they felt to share the stage with Cassadee Pope.
Within seconds Cassadee and her band mates came on stage. She was very sweet and thanked us for having her and told us the release date of her album Frame by Frame which is released on Monday 19th May. She was happy to be back in the UK as had toured here with her band ‘Hey Monday’. Cassadee started off with the song Champagne playing the guitar too. She has great vocals which I find similar to Michelle Branch. There were a lot of Cassadee fanatics at the front. She then sang her current single,” I wish I could break your heart”. As a new fan of Cassadee I was only familiar with this song and “Wasting All my tears” and about 4 more which she did not play. She did however perform a song she co wrote called “Eleven” which was about her parents divorce and living through it. It was a really lovely song and you could tell it meant a lot to her. She even said people singing along made her feel like she was going to cry. The last song was “Wasting all my tears” which I was really happy she did as this was the first song I had ever heard of hers.
When Cassadee finished she said she would hang out with everybody and that she would hope to return to the UK at the end of the year. I hope she does, perhaps supporting Darius Rucker? When it all ended my friends and I managed to approach The Shires. They were taking photos with fans and Ben looked over at me and said Hannah? I was very shocked that he knew what I looked like but it was really nice that he did. I didn’t expect it at all. Obviously a lot of people wanted to speak to them so I didn’t mind waiting before saying Hi properly and getting a photo. I told Ben how much I enjoyed the show and their music and he thanked me for the twitter account, again I said I hope I can do it justice. I then got to have a photo with them and talked about how far we travelled and about where we were from. Crissie was telling me about Cornbury Festival which they are playing at In July which I hope we can get to but sadly tickets have to wait till we get back from Nashville. I did tell them we are excited to see them with Striking Matches as we were going anyway so it’s a really nice bonus. We are also going to The Troubadour show in July.
Ben and Crissie were really nice, sweet and appreciative people and they took so much time interacting with the fans and I feel so lucky to have had such a great night and to have been treated the way I was, I really didn’t expect it as just a fan wanting to spread the word about their music. I look forward to their other shows and of course the album. I predict great things for The Shires and as my husband says, They deserve to be up there with the big names in America.