YLIAS American Road Trip Diary: August 21st

flag-1127885_960_720“It was our first week, Myrtle Beach, where it all began. It was 102, nothin’ to do, man it was hot so we jumped in….” Dan and Shay set the scene but unfortunately we couldn’t stay for the week. Soon after the Josh Turner show, we were off to the next destination.

Next stop was Charleston, home of the delightfully named 103.5 WEZL, “Charleston’s #1 for New Country”. It was another iHeart owned station playing the usual 25 songs but you don’t often hear a radio station proudly inviting us to “stay tuned to the weasel”.

Charleston’s a lovely city with good beaches. It’s also Darius Rucker’s home town. He’s on tour so no chance of a meeting but we checked out the Windjammer where he filmed his CMT instant jam last year, and where he actually started out with Hootie and the Blowfish. He still pops in occasionally but sadly not the night we attended. You can’t win them all! Great setting though and a very busy music bar.

Another 200 miles on the US freeways took us back to Charlotte and more specifically the PNC Music Pavilion, which is situated about 8 miles from downtown Charlotte and is the home for many huge country concerts.

Last week Brad Paisley played there. The week before, the Dixie Chicks. The schedule for the next few weeks includes Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Darius Rucker and Zac Brown Band. Not bad is it?

We were there for the Ripcord World Tour. Keith Urban, Brett Eldredge and Maren Morris were in town. Keith’s absence from the UK stages meant that we just had to make the effort to visit him and we are sure glad we did.

To try and paint the picture, PNC Music Pavilion is a venue that is a huge outdoor bowl with a canopy that covers the stage and a large percentage of the seating. The back of the venue is grass where lots, and we mean lots, bring their chairs and set up for the night.

The venue can hold 18,000 but there were about 12,000 for the Keith Urban gig. Careful planning and the fine assistance of the promotional and management guys for Brett and Maren meant that we were allowed backstage pre-show for interviews.

This was the first time that we had experienced the sheer scale of ‘premier league’ country music, US style.

Nothing compares in the UK. Yes, we have C2C that has grown year by year but no country artist tours the UK with the scale that we saw here. Keith had seven tour buses, Brett had two and Maren had one.

There were an army of crew members backstage and a whole host of management guys. Dan’s interviews are on the site – thanks to everyone who helped us to achieve this. They were all keen to accommodate us and made us feel so welcome. A massive thrill and a big shout out to Brett and Maren.

Let’s not kid ourselves. They don’t need UK exposure. They are both becoming major stars in their own right here in the US and they are always on country radio. Both were fantastic to us and were very complimentary of the UK country fans.

Why no interview with Keith we hear you ask? We tried. We were backstage 3 hours before he was due on stage and he wasn’t there yet! Maybe next time. We did get to meet Edgar though, Brett’s dog!

The show started at 7.30 pm and finished at 11.00 pm. Damn good value for money.

It’s been a fun way to spend the last two and a half weeks. We have only skimmed the surface music-wise but got to see Keith Urban live for the first time and that was worth the trip in itself. Back to the UK now for a very busy late summer, early autumn for country music concerts.