Welcome to our new festive feature where the Belles and Gals team get together to bring you the highlights of their year. Today Megan Roberts (twitter.com/megwritesalot) speaks about her three favourite events from 2018!
12 Days of Christmas: Megan’s 2018 Highlights
Picking one highlight from this year would be an almost impossible task as I’ve enjoyed every part of it so much! I’ve decided to share a few of my best music moments instead.
Catherine McGrath’s first headline show
I first discovered country music in 2008, with Taylor Swift’s Fearless album being my first memorable listen. Whenever I mentioned that I liked the genre, my friends would stick their noses up with the assumption that it was all cowboys, beer and trucks. I actually felt a bit isolated in my music taste as everyone else seemed to be listening to chart music.
Fast forward a decade to March of this year, at Catherine McGrath’s headline show. This was my first country gig. It was intimate, with 200 people at the most in the audience. I joined a group of strangers at a table and at first I was shy, but everyone was talking about their favourite songs, and we all just clicked. This was my first discovery of the close-knit country community we have over here in the UK.
Lyrics from songs I had listened to alone in my bedroom were now being sung around this small room by hundreds of people, it was such a surreal feeling. It was also a special moment seeing Catherine’s face light up at that moment, as I’ve proudly watched her career grow from 100 subscribers on YouTube, to playing the Spotlight Stage at C2C next year. It was just a heart-warming moment, and the beginning of a friendship with some of my closest friends today.
The Shires’ Accidentally on Purpose Tour
I was so pleased that The Shires were coming to my home county of Suffolk, as I usually have to travel to London to go to concerts. I could finally take my mum to a gig with me, one of my parents who had brought me up with Shania or Faith Hill playing in the background, probably influencing my love of country in the first place.
At the end of the show, Ben and Chrissie surprised us with a three-song encore. One of the songs was ‘Islands in The Stream’, made famous by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers. My mum’s face instantly lit up, and seeing her have just as much fun as me singing along and dancing all night was the best thing.
One of my pet hates at concerts is when people talk over the support acts, I can’t stand it when people don’t give hardworking artists recognition, when they could be playing the biggest gig of their lives so far. However, Sinead Burgess had the crowd at The Shires covered in goosebumps and watching in awe.
Her performance of ‘Wildflowers of Colorado’ was simply breathtaking and I still remember the sound of her voice echoing through the theatre. Sinead quickly became one of my favourite artists after this and I still have her album on repeat to this day.
Maren Morris’ Acoustic Revival Show
When I heard Maren Morris was coming to the UK to perform in such a small venue, I knew I had to get tickets. I was unsuccessful when trying to buy tickets myself, as they sold out in as little as one minute. Fortunately another Belles and Gals team member had a spare ticket (thank you Lesley!) and I was able to go.
Maren was absolutely fantastic, and I felt incredibly lucky to get to see her in such a small venue surrounded by other fans. This was one of my last shows this year, and her last song of the evening, ‘My Church’, really summarised my year of Country gigs and ended it on the best note possible. The whole room erupted into chanting the country anthem it has become today, what an experience!
After seeing Chrissie Rhodes (The Shires) at the bar and chatting briefly about the Ipswich show I talked about above, we waited outside for Maren and she was kind enough to speak to our group and take a photo.
There’s a famous Tim McGraw lyric that says “I know you’ve got mountains to climb, but always stay humble and kind”, and that’s exactly what the artists I’ve been fortunate enough to meet have been this year. Everyone, artist or fan will most likely take the time to talk with you, and I really think that is what makes our community so unique and special.
I feel so proud to be a part of not just our team here at Belles and Gals, but our UK country family also. Roll on 2019!