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The Long Road 2022: The Big Bad Review – Day 3

Our third and final day at the festival again found us headed to the Front Porch stage early doors. We heard Tim Prottey-Jones on the YETI Tailgate Bar while we waited for James Riley to come on with his 90s Nashville set. Both artists were good and helped set the tone of the day pretty well, much like before. Whether it was the solo acoustic act or the full-on country/bluegrass band, they were both good to sit back and relax too after queuing far too long for a coffee.

Lauren Morrow grew on me a lot throughout her set. While the whole singer and acoustic guitar setup had grown a little thin on me by this point in the weekend, Lauren was such a nice, wholesome person that you couldn’t not have a good time. Whether it was the fun stories she told behind the songs or getting genuinely choked up about finally getting to return to the UK, it was a real pleasure to watch. She has clear Dolly Parton inspirations and ‘Barbara Jean’ is one of my favourite tracks of the whole weekend, honestly.

Next up were Gangstagrass. My god, hold my beer. Remember on the last day when I said that there were a few contenders to set of the weekend? Well, this is another one up there with Hudson. They are a unique blend of Bluegrass and Public Enemy style rap which honestly should work nowhere near as well as it does. This was a rock show in everything but sound. The guys owned the stage and the crowd and honestly tore the roof off the whole festival. They had such a presence about them that made it impossible to take your eyes off them, whether you are into the genres or not.

Check out more country here.

And, surprisingly, the tent was PACKED. Given the rap element, I kind of expected the band to be more niche. But nope, the crowd was the biggest I’d seen in there and they were bouncing around, singing and doing whatever the band asked them to do. And they’re all so talented, both at their instruments and the insane 5-part harmonies. And the lyrics were actually meaningful and profound, too. Man, I cannot gush about this band enough. They should and will be massive. put them on any stage at any festival and they’d go down a storm. SEE THEM.

We headed back to the main stage then for Kyle Daniel. We actually saw him twice, once with his band and once on his own acoustically later on. Both sets were great, and very different. Being rockier than most on the bill and sounding like a fun combination of Blackberry Smoke and Chris Stapleton, it was right up my street. Plus, his voice was so amazing that it translated amazingly over to acoustic. Two great sets from a guy that I definitely need to check out more. He could be massive over here, given the sucess of bands like Black Stone Cherry and The Cadillac Three.

We got to see a full set from Sunny Sweeney next. It felt a little like Stevie Nicks doing country, that’s probably the closest thing I can think of to describe it. It was a good, fun, set and another that was nice to chill out to. Much like Brandy the day before, very typical country music, but with a little more of a pop edge. She’s a good frontwoman and everyone did their parts well.

We caught the all-female bluegrass band Della Mae next and had a lot of fun. I mean, how can you not have fun seeing bluegrass live? They were pretty polished which is sometimes rare in the genre and played a good set to a loud, supportive crowd.

Then it was back to the main stage for the final run of acts. Lindsey Ell was great, but man does she have a lot of energy on stage. Like that isn’t a bad thing at all, but she was almost hyperactive between songs and could have been slightly off-putting at times. Still, she has a fantastic back catalogue of pop-rock-country songs and played a great set showing of a lot of them. Her band were great too. I couldn’t help but enjoy myself watching her and she’s another artist I’d love to catch again.

Next up were Locash, the third in the tie of best performances of the weekend. The most bro-country band to ever bro-country. It’s so easy to love them just as much as it is for some to inevitably hate them. I found myself struggling when they first came on, and it seemed like the crowd were sharing my sentiment. However, as soon as they started to interact with the crowd and their personalities came out, they quickly turned the tides. By the end of the set they had everyone swaying and jumping around.

Whether it was their big hits like ‘I Love This Life’ or ‘Beach Boys’ or covers of Backstreet Boys and Fountains of Wayne, they owned that stage and the crowd watching them. I don’t have a bad thing to say about them. Both brothers are phenomenal frontmen and the band behind them were excellent. Heck, the lead guitar was far too over-qualified. I wasn’t expecting to hear any sweep-picking at a country festival, never mind multiple solos with it! I cannot wait or these guys to announce a UK tour, I’ll be there in a heartbeat. A HUGE highlight of the weekend.

Then we reached the headliner of the night, the mighty Cadillac Three. They’re the main reason I wanted to go to the festival aside for Chris Young. I’ve seen them a handful of times already but not too recently, so I was excited to see their new stuff.

I loved it, but unfortunately there seemed to be a bit of a disconnect with some of the crowd. Don’t get me wrong, their bigger tracks like ‘White Lightening’ and ‘The South’ won people over by the end and everyone was interacting. However, they opened on a lot of their newer stuff and did a whole ‘Tabasco and Sweet Tea’ section that even bored me a little. I love COUNTRY FUZZ and hearing stuff off that was great. However, maybe at a festival where it seems that not as many people are into the heaviest band on the line-up playing a bit more of their older stuff may have helped. And while I loved the THICC guitar tone, it made them sound even heavier and clearly scared a few people off. It was a great set overall but maybe the wrong one for the crowd they had.

Then we got a real treat. Everette opened the after-party in the Insterstate, and it was amazing. They played the same sort of set but in a completely different environment than the previous set it was so interesting. The tent was pretty packed and everyone was loving it, dancing around and singing when they could. Also, my god do the band do a FANTASTIC cover of ‘Rocketman’. And bringing on Jared and the boys from TC3 on at the end was just the icing on top of the awesome cake. What a great way to close a great weekend!

And there we have it, our review of everything we saw at The Long Road 2022! We loved every minute of it, having discovered loads of new amazing bands and artists to listen to. I want to see a lot of the bands we saw again and we’ll definitely be back next year!

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The Long Road: The Big Bad Review – Day 2

We spent the morning of day 2 wandering around the arena, taking in what other things it had to offer aside for the live music. There was plenty to do. From a great classic US car show to traditional games like Cornhole and Horseshoe, we had great fun killing some time. The festival really gave you your moneys worth, with axe throwing on offer too as well as various events like hotdog and wing eating, cowboy Olympics and barn dancing.

I also just wanted to take this opportunity to speak about how fantastically organised this festival was. It had such a warm and friendly atmosphere throughout, with plenty of families bringing their kids and dogs. There was a place for kids to play and a whole field closed off where the dogs could be taken to run around. And because there were bins everywhere the place was so clean. I’m so used to rock festivals being just music and that’s it and generally the crowd littering more, so being somewhere like this was great.

As we were wandering around we caught Benjamin Francis Leftwich on the Front Porch. Hearing a British person performing at the festival was a little odd but he did a good job. He had a cool folk vibe to his acoustic singer-songwriter presentation. It fit in well with the rest of the music there. Honestly, I feel bad for not knowing him beforehand as he seems like a pretty big name. Much like Kevin Daniel, he was a slower, stripped-back way of opening the day for us. It was the perfect way to set the scene.

Next up were one of my highlights of the weekend, Everette. I could have watched them play all day and was so glad they did two sets across the weekend (more on the other later). This one saw them far too early on but on the Front Porch, which felt like a perfect setting for the duo. Opening on crowd (and personal) favourite ‘Dang the Whiskey’, the two whisked through a far too brief set of their greatest hits, and a couple of brand-new ones thrown in for good measure. They held the crowd’s attention throughout and are another that are going to be the future of the genre.

Check out our last big review here.

Then we had the awesome pleasure of seeing Jess again. This time it was at a more intimate setting of the Buddy’s Good Time Bar stage. While playing a muchly similar set, it was nice to be able to sit down and see everything a little better and relax, instead of bouncing around and singing. The Good Time Bar had a pretty chilled out feeling all weekend. There was little crowd interaction, just appreciating the music, and that’s exactly what we all did here.

We headed back over to the Interstate stage, this time for an Irish band called Hudson Taylor. I had them circled on my app as ones to check out but couldn’t remember why. I’m so glad I did. They put on maybe one of the best performances of the weekend. At least on parr with a couple of the bands from Sunday.

The brothers fronting the band again put in their all and had the talent to back it up. And of course their band did their part to perfection too. It’s another act that I feel disappointed in myself for not knowing, especially given that I generally love the alt-folk kinda sound they play. They also had that pop edge to them that reminded me of the 90s US pop rock bands like Hanson and Matchbox Twenty. Whether it was their older hits or tracks off their 2022 album, they performed it all amazingly and the crowd loved every second. They have a new, big fan in me! Hopefully they come back nearby soon!

We finally headed over to the mainstage for the first time that weekend to see the amazing Seaforth. Being such a big name, I’d heard a couple before. But have to admit, I wasn’t that fussed on track. They brought it live thought, and more than won me over. It’s all very polished and pop, right down to the Sean Kingston samples, but it was good to watch live. The guys are consummate professionals and I’m honestly shocked they haven’t broken out over here massive already. ‘Good Beer’ is a catchy, poppy, radio-baity hit and I have found myself humming it a bunch over the last few days.

We went for some food and caught the back end of Camille Parker on the Front Porch. She was okay, but even more pop than Seaforth. It didn’t quite fit with the feel of the festival in some ways. Then it was back over to main for Cassadee Pope.

One of the most rock artists of the weekend, Cassadee leaned into that distinction with a set that wouldn’t seem out of place opening for P!nk or Orianthi. Obviously her formerly being the vocalist of Hey Monday influences her current sound a fair bit, which is great. It was definitely my sort of pace and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The band did a great job and the crowd were surprisingly into it quite a bit. She threw in a Monday song or two with the more country tracks. But, honestly, tracks like ‘Tomorrow Night’ would have fit right at home with her old band. It’s rare to hear so many genres blended together so effortlessly, and it made for one hell of a set from Cassadee.

Brandy Clark was up next with an almost completely different set and sound. Having a lot more of a traditional country setup with a double bass and other strings, it was a more chilled out set that seemed to perfectly bridge the gap between Cassadee and the nights headliner. Tracks like ‘Get High’ and ‘Big Day in a Small Town’ of course went down a storm. The crowd were clearly, for the most part, big fans of her work. She’s got such a stage presence and swagger, as well as a great back catalogue, that you’d expect her to have been going much longer than she has been. I’d love to see her again, and may have to soon.

Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives to close out the night. Yep, that’s right, MARTY FUCKIN’ STUART LADIES AND GENTS. And, for a guy in his 60s and who has done it all, the guy did not disappoint one single bit. Whether it was playing his fantastic own songs or diving back into his history of playing and collaborating with other artists with covers of ‘Ring of Fire’, ‘Wipe out’ and ‘I’ve Always Been Crazy’, he and the Superlatives smashed it all out of the park.

Due to being a very late bump up to headliner due to Chris Young having to drop out due to Covid, he brought on some fantastic guests too. Whether it was Andrew Coombs, Sunny Sweeney or Kezia Gill, each made it count and you could tell they had a blast. Oh, and did I mention that each of the other three band members had their time in the spotlight, fronting for a couple of songs each (all of which were great, by the way). This was as masterclass and a history in country and bluegrass music and I was hooked from the start to the very end. What a fantastic way to close out the night.

The Long Road: The Big Bad Review

Yep, you read that right. Overtone crashed a country festival. And, spoiler alert, it was fucking awesome. The Long Road 2022 celebrated the best of country, Americana and roots music, as well as having plenty of US pastimes as well on top of it all. We tried to soak up as much as we could of this fantastic, family friendly festival. And, we wanted to let you know just how much we enjoyed it!

After setting up and getting a quick lay of the land on the Friday, we found ourselves at the beautiful Front Porch stage watching Kevin Daniel. The North Carolinan/Brooklynite Americana songwriter did a fantastic job playing so early on and opening the festival for a fair few people. He rattled through a fantastic 40-minute set of some of his biggest hits. It was a great, chilled out way to start us off and ease us into an environment we hadn’t really experienced before.

Next up we ended up at the second stage, The Interstate, for Canadian pop-country Breakout star Jess Moskaluke. This was a little more of my sort of speed as she had a full band behind her and it had a rock edge, even if it was very pop. She reminded me a lot of Shania Twain, especially in her most recent single, ‘Knock Off’. She went down a storm in the tent for her entire set, having everyone dancing around and joining in. It’s very clear to me why she’s getting so big and she definitely has a new fan in me. I’m pretty sure each of the tracks she played has made it onto my Spotify, so that should say something!

More country here.

After taking in a few of the stalls, we headed back to the Insterstate stage for Priscilla Block. While she was still very good, she felt like a slight bit of a comedown after Jess. She’s a little slower and more ballady, which definitely isn’t an issue, but a quicker track or two might have been fun! Still, the stuff off her February album, ‘Welcome to the Block Party’, went down a storm. Plus, ‘Off the Deep End’ is a tune and everyone in the audience loved it. I’ll definitely be listening to her more of her moving forward.

Next up on said stage were the folk/indie rock band Fruit Bats. While they were even slower than Pricilla, they brought a fair amount of energy and stage-presence to the set. They gave it their all and, in turn, so did the crowd. I didn’t know them heading into the festival but, even though I’m not a huge fan of the genre, I’ve found myself listening to them a fair bit in the couple of days since. I’d love to see these guys again.

And now for something completely different (for Overtone, at least). That is a sentence I feel like I’ll say quite a lot in this write-up. Noble Jacks played an Americana set that I loved, and it’s opened my eyes properly to a whole new genre. Yes, I’d had a fair bit to drink at this point, but they were a lot of fun to listen to. The mostly seated crowd at the Front Porch were loving it too. A great way to spend a night, sitting around a fire, learning American Folk songs and getting drunk. What’s not to love?

Then we reached the headliner of the night, Drake White. One of the acts I was most excited for heading into this, he didn’t disappoint one bit. Whether it was his biggest tracks like ‘Livin’ The Dream’ or ‘Power of a Woman’ or snippets of covers of the likes of ‘Hard to Handle’, ‘Use Somebody’ or even Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’, the setlist was packed full of fantastic songs. His band were top notch and Drake had the crowd in the palm of his hand from start to finish. It was one of the busiest times I’d seen the tent stage for a band, and I cannot imagine a single person came away disappointed. The Optimystic has been on a lot on my Spotify since this set and for very good reason. Drake White is the future of country music, and I’m sure you haven’t heard that here first.