A new three-day celebration of all things country music is coming to Portsmouth this weekend.
Country on The Coast is the brainchild of rising scene star Lily Garland and Gaiety Bar owners Jack Edwards and Trevor Bratty.
There’s more than 20 acts lined up to play, including British Country Music Association award-winners Kezia Gill and The Southern Companion, Country to Country performers
Winters Hill, Square One and Morganway, iTunes Country Chart-toppers Gasoline and
Matches and Danny McMahon as well as many more BCMA and UKCMA nominees. And Express FM’s Country Music Show host Russell Hill will be DJing between sets.
Lily, from Portsmouth, and a former Guide Award-winning Best Solo Act says: ‘I am nervous – it all seemed like a good idea at the time, then the reality starts to creep up. But the support has been brilliant and the artists who are coming down to play are fantastic.’
Thankfully, with the whole event undercover, you don’t need to worry about the weather.
‘As you know from Victorious last year, even when you might expect nice weather, you don’t always get it.
‘I think it might have confused people calling this a festival, but it is a festival – it’s going to have that vibe, it’s just that’s all indoors. At this time of year, you never know!’
Putting the bill together has been something of a dream project for the the singer-songwriter.
‘Initially my thought process was just to contact people who I knew hadn’t performed right down in the south. I wanted to bring people who maybe had only been as far as London, I wanted to show a country audience in Hampshire these amazing talents, but also to combine it with local talent and really mix it up.
‘Luckily, pretty much everyone said yes. Then I started getting messages from people who had heard about it and the line-up was completely full but I was still getting people asking to perform which was amazing. With a brand new idea it’s always a bit risky.
‘Everyone performing I absolutely adore and admire, so to get them all under the same roof in the same weekend is going to be explosive.
‘There are so many incredible artists out there that we could probably put on a festival that would last two weeks, but it does represent the diversity and also the talent that’s out there in the independent unsigned market.’
And the team hopes Country on The Coast will fill a gap in the market.
‘There’s a few other country festivals, but they tend to be up north - there’s Buckle and Boots, and various bits like that. Between Country to Country at the O2 in London in March there isn’t really anything for a couple of months.
‘I wanted people to travel and come to us, and it seems they are, I know we’ve got people coming from Wales and the Midlands, as well as our local audience.’
And of course Lily will be playing, on Saturday evening.
‘I keep forgetting that I’m actually performing! Somebody reminded me the other day and it made me think that I’d better sort my set out and my band out.
‘I’ve taken a few months out for family stuff and spending some time with them, but I’m making plans for new music – I’m in talks with a few different prospects about taking my music forward.
With two acclaimed EPs under her belt, Lily was nominated for Female Singer of the Year and Artist of the Year at the UK Country Music Awards 2017.
‘It should be really fun and it will be nice to get the band back together again!’
COUNTRY ON THE COAST
The Gaiety Bar, Southsea