Writer Paul Sammon reflects on his time at TLR.
I hate camping. I knew it before but now it’s official. How on earth are four people meant to fit in THAT thing? AND there was only two of us….bigger tent next year. And we WILL be going again after this year’s success. The toilets weren’t great, and the bar staff were less than knowledgeable about, well, staffing a bar. BUT we still went to the loo, and we managed to buy our drinks.
This year’s The Long Road was made all the more special by people. Not the acts or the activities, but the country music loving people we caught up with or met for the first time.
Don’t get me wrong, Drake White smashed it. I’ve seen him climb in rafters and literally sing from the ceiling. We’ve then seen his voyage of recovery through his Wednesday Night Therapy shows and last Friday I was honestly very emotional as we saw him limp around the stage while giving the performance of his life to the most receptive crowd, including some newbies.
Morganway and Gangstagrass were my two fave discoveries. The energy from the former as they rocked Buddy’s Bar was overwhelming and, loving a bit of hick-hop as I do, hearing rap over bluegrass was pretty cool. It was great to see the crowd react so well as some of them learned country music has actually moved on from Dolly, Johnny and Garth and it was great to finally see Kyle Daniel perform with the love and passion we already knew he had.
Sunday’s LOCASH and The Cadillac Three topped the performance cake off a treat for me, totally rocking it up. (Sure, some left because it’s not their thing, but we’re all one big country song really.)
I was lucky enough to catch up with The Cadillac Three boys face-to-face and you can read about that soon enough as well as my time with Canadian singer-songwriter Tebey. But y’know what was pretty cool? When I introduced myself to Baylen Leonard and he was like, “Yeah, I know who you are. You’re Paul from Birmingham.” He was referring to when I fluked some time on stage with Keith Urban earlier in the year and sang with him in Birmingham.
I later bumped into Bob Harris and that gave me the opportunity to personally thank him for paving the way in the UK, so Baylen even had an audience to cater for in the first place.
BUT, as I said, “people” – My other half lost her phone and managed to track it just as someone was handing it in to security. So, thank you. Thank you to a man called Liam that we chatted with in the TC3 signing queue. Thank you to friends we caught up with at the karaoke on the Thursday in Rugby that sang their hearts out. (Big up to Roy, Willie and the gang from the Scottish Country Mafia).
Thank you to Tom Franklin (Wood Burnt Red) for remembering me from three years prior when we sang together on the Countryoke. (Those live band karaoke guys are great by the way.) Thank you to Lloyd and his Drake White Story at the hat stall. Thanks to James that lent me his power pack to charge my phone. I may have forgotten some folks but the lack of pics on my phone tells me I actually enjoyed myself rather than showing the world on socials pictures of me appearing to enjoy myself, if that makes sense?
Basically, what I’m saying is, anyone reading this will already know the music and the activities were pretty great, but I wanted to share my confirmation that the country music loving community includes some of the BEST PEOPLE within it. So, again, thank you all.
Here’s to next year….