Review: Little Mountain Country Music Festival - August 2017

Review by Nutty Norah

This festival was organised by the family trio Blue Genes and got underway with a Welcome Party on the Friday night at the Golden Lion at Coedpoeth, just down the road from the main venue.  Emma Moore started off at 8:00pm followed by Samatha Lloyd, Alex Green and finishing off the night were the Ash Cooper Band. 

Saturday August 26th 2017 - Full Band Day
The main event took place at the Tyn y Capel pub at Minera, near Wrexham, North Wales.  At just £20 for the full weekend, the Festival was excellent value for money and was set in a delightful location on a hill side with the Little Mountain as a backdrop to the stage area.  Luckily the weather was perfect and everyone enjoyed the weekend and said they would be looking forward to next year's event!

TC Country

T C Country got the Festival underway, performing as a trio, they treated us to some modern country numbers which were well received by the audience.  Next were the family group, also from Wales, "Little Folk" who specialised in the more traditional style of country. and write their own songs as a family too.  Singer, Lucy, was resplendent in her 1950s style dress. wearing flowers in her very long hair!

Little Folk

One of my favourite singers was on next, Amy Westney and her amazing band!  This girl has so much energy and positivity, performing her songs so joyfully, you can't help but join in!  The stand out songs for me were "Redneck Woman" and the Dolly Parton classic "Nine To Five" with which she closed her part of the show.  Just a quick mention for Amy's band - they are all fine musicians and have very fine beards and moustaches to match!
Amy Westney

Journey Home were on next, a four piece Country Rock band, who have evolved from the band Acoustic Journey.  Having gone as far as they could with the previous band a change of direction has put Journey Home right up there with the modern country bands of the moment.  Their self-penned song "Ain't Quite A Truck" was a favourite with all, especially Allan Watkiss, who hasn't stopped singing it since then! 
Journey Home

Robbie Cavanagh was on stage next with His Band - not actually "his" band, but the band had named themselves "His Band"!  Another wide selection of songs from excellent musicians, with Robbie's voice adding depth, colour and emotion in just the right mix. 
Robbie Cavanagh

A change of style next with Izzy Walsh and her band, leaning towards Bluegrass, but with a dark edge that I think Graham L Hall would appreciate! Asked to describe the genre, I said it was Gothic Bluegrass, some great songs, covers and self-penned.  Izzy is a very slim, small, lady, but her voice is amazing, strong and sensuous, compelling everyone to listen to her.  She wore a black leather dress with red lace sleeve inserts, very Gothic! 
Izzy Walsh

Another contrasting style came from the organisers of the Festival, Blue Genes who were on stage next.  A family trio from Wales (with an added keyboard player) mum Kay, dad Stephen and fourteen year old Megan Lee.  Again a mixture of covers and songs that they have written together, all with great vocals and harmonies, an absolute pleasure to listen to them, and as you watch them you can tell they really love what they are doing - big smiles all round! 
Blue Genes

Originally from Georgia USA, but living in England now with his English wife, Lars Pluto was on next, with a drummer and double bass player, plus Stephen Lee on guitar.  So right from the off, noting the line up, it was traditional country.  Lars hasn't much love for the current Nashville sound and earns a living doing Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard tribute shows, and he does sing their songs exceptionally well.  A great entertainer and fun to watch, the USA's loss is our gain.
Lars Pluto

As night began to fall and we all reached for our jackets and watched the moon creep over the Little Mountain, The Most Ugly Child took to the stage which was now lit with coloured lights.  This was their last gig before taking a break to allow Stevie to produce her baby!  I did wonder if it might happen on stage, but all was well.  Daniel Wright and Stevie-Leigh Goodison are a formidable song writing duo. Although they are young, their music is very traditional but fresh, a little bit folksy and a lot country.
The Most Ugly Child

As night fell and the moon rose higher in the sky, the last band to come on stage were Angels With Dirty Faces to close the show.  As usual they put on a great rocking end to the show, but included slower numbers, and of course their current single "Shatter Like Glass".  The audience in the car park had dwindled due to the coolness of the evening, but they had only moved indoors to the nice warm pub where they could still hear the music.
Angels With Dirty Faces

Finishing off the night was our own Karl Shoemark with his Disco inside the pub and the party continued to midnight and beyond!  There is an advantage to being in a remote rural location!

Sunday August 27th 2017 - Acoustic Day
This was held in a room inside the pub, specially laid out for an audience and suitable for the musicians.  A showcase for singer-songwriters and solo acoustic artists.  First on was Jay Johnson who writes his own songs and performs them beautifully with the help of a loop pedal, which makes it sound as though he has someone else playing along with him.  All very clever and technically 'way over my head!
Jay Johnson

Next Lars Pluto entertained with some Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard songs along with some of his own songs and told us a little about the tribute shows that he does. 
Lars Pluto

Following Lars it was the delightful Emma Jade Garbutt who was accompanied by Robbie Cavanagh on guitar.  Also joining Emma were Megan Lee on guitar and sharing harmony vocals with Kay Lee.
Emma Jade Garbutt

It was disappointing that The Southern Companion had had to cancel due to illness as I was looking forward to their performance.  Next up was Matt Sayers, a very passionate and articulate singer-songwriter, aged just 19, his music is mature and very listenable.
Matt Sayers

In complete contrast was Stuart Landon, lead singer of Angels With Dirty Faces, and with a wealth of musical experience behind him.  As a solo artist Stuart would be hard to beat and it was no surprise that he was a big hit with the audience. 
Stuart Landon

Doing her very first solo performance was Megan Erica Lee, aged 14, and she oozed confidence and did a great set of songs, some she had written herself or with her mother, Kay.  Later in her set Megan was joined by Robbie Cavanagh on guitar and harmony vocals. 
Megan Erica Lee

Another well established artist was on next, Keith Urban look-a-like, Ash Cooper; who, along with his band, had headlined the Friday night Welcome Party at the Golden Lion.  Ash and his band were appearing at another nearby festival on the Saturday night and he just about made it to his spot on the acoustic stage the following day.  Mostly doing his own songs, Ash was well received by the audience and he is very passionate about his music and puts his heart and soul into his performances.
Ash Cooper

Roni was last on the acoustic stage and sang some of the many songs she has written, including "Baby Bird" and "Nothing Less Than This".  Roni's voice is clear and strong and suits her acoustic guitar style of backing. 

The session over, people were reluctant to leave, so Megan Lee and Robbie Cavanagh took the stage once again to play a few songs before the event was brought to a close. 

A small but well run and organised Festival, this can only grow as word gets around.  Top quality bands and acoustic artists and an ideal setting with facilities close at hand, food and drink available inside the pub and with the Little Mountain as a backdrop to the stage.  Well done to Blue Genes for putting on such a lovely friendly Festival.