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Review of FSA Fest Weekend

This was undoubtedly one of my favourite weekends of the year. This is the 5th year in a row we have been to FSA fest. It is centrally situated in a large hangar at Newark Showground. The stage is built about a quarter of the way up the length of the hangar and it is decorated with items and pictures from Fort San Antone. Hay bales are set out for people to sit on and the trading post selling boots, hats and shirts is near the entrance. In fact you have to walk through it to get to the stage area.

We arrived at the camp ground, which is situated right opposite the venue, at about 1.30 in the afternoon and having pitched our tents on one of the hottest days of the year, we went and grabbed a shower and a well needed drink.

Our colleague Ian Hall from IV Studios arrived at about 3pm so Anthony, John, my Ian and I went to set up the room we were using to film our acoustic sessions in. Wayne had very kindly set aside the room for 3-4 hours until they needed to set up the disco equipment for the aftershow parties. We managed to get 2 very good sessions filmed but because of the traffic (the M6 had been closed) it caused havoc with peoples arrival times and in some cases was doubling peoples travelling time so we had to cancel 3 sessions. We did manage a session with Curran by our tent before it rained though.

Friday nights line-up was amazing. It was great to catch up with Sam Coe and the Long Shadows again. Always a pleasure to see Mel Greggain and of course the lovely Simon James who not only played his own set with The Deep River Pilots but he also accompanied Mel and became an honourary Long Shadow too. Backwoods Creek again blew the roof off the place and the evening ended with a lovely set from Philippa Hanna.

We didn't go to an aftershow party that night but it went on very late. I didn't get to sleep until 4.30am ish then was up again an hour later so I decided to have a shower and get myself organised.

We cooked our own breakfast of pancakes, bacon and maple syrup that morning. It set us up for the day because I didn't actually think about food again till past 5o'clock.

On Saturday morning Wayne moved us to the Green Room for the remainder of our acoustic sessions. We did have a couple booked in but it was mainly a case of when an artist came off stage we went and grabbed them. I hadn't met a lot of them before but everyone was up for it. I thank you all for your time.

First main stage act on Saturday morning was Megan Lee who is a 14 year old amazing singer songwriter. Many of you will know her from Blue Genes but she is now branching out on her own which is fantastic news as she will undoubtedly be a major talent in the future. Next up was Alan Finlan. Most of you know him. He goes to FSA every year but never before as a performer and wow what a voice. He made his ukcm scene debut at FSA and he was fantastic. I don't think we saw another act in its entirety on the main stage until Darcy that evening. As artists left the stage after performing I went to get them for an acoustic session. It was like we had our own private show. It was so wonderful. Some firm favourites and some artists totally new to me and they hadn't even heard of Forever British Country but they still came and performed for us. They all sounded amazing too. I love it when a band rocks it out but there is something special about an acoustic performance.

We made sure we were at the main stage for Darcy. They were an acoustic 4 piece today. They like to mix it up a bit and I am never disappointed with the format of this band. Jess and the Bandits headlined on Saturday. Bringing us music from both albums. We decided to go straight to bed after her performance. We had all been filming, taking photos and running around for the previous 18 hours.

Sunday morning saw us all up at the crack of dawn again. We only had the Green Room until 4.30 as The Wandering Hearts needed it before they headlined at 7:30. We didn't have Ian from IV Studios with us today but we still managed to get 9 sessions done. The last one was Kevin McGuire at 4pm. When he finished we had 3 minutes to get all our stuff put away before The Wandering Hearts took over the room. We managed it though.

And breathe. I had finished my work but Ian was still taking photos and Anthony was still filming for the remainder of the festival.

Emma Jade was performing before The Wandering Hearts. She was phenomenal. She has written an EP and it is really great. She has just made a massive leap with her writing and her performance.

The Wandering Hearts were up next. They were awesome. I think they will undoubtedly be the next British breakthrough band.

My lovely friends The Emma Swindells band were almost the last to perform. It was a bittersweet performance because it was the last time that Bassist Richard Hockney would play with them. All I can say is I will miss you Rich. Emma you will have to train your new bassist to perform The Chain because I love the way you do it.

It is a shame this year that Nashville Meets London was the same weekend. A lot of the people who would normally go to FSA went to London instead but to be honest the atmosphere at FSA was as great as ever. The line-up was as wonderful as it has been in previous years and it was still one of the best weekends ever.

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