tourism and that in turn has no doubt encouraged British Airways to now offer direct flights to Nashville. Arguably, the TV show alone is the main reason that a large part of the C2C audience is relatively young, and that ‘new’ audience will enthusiastically ‘claim’ anything they album Cartwheels enjoyed a #1 placing on the all-genre chart, marking the first time a home-grown country act had achieved that feat but the numbers were not enough for it to make the Top 100 sellers of the year. I wonder if they’d trade that for a placing on the Billboard Country Album Chart such as was achieved by UK band The Hillsiders in 1967. A recent addition to the festival circuit, and something used as an example of how big country is right now, is The Long Road Festival. Starting last year, The Long Road promised some big names in its midlands location, among them The Shires. Is it any wonder when the festival is backed by the Universal Music Group, parent company of the UK act’s Decca label, effectively making the festival a marketing tool for the Universal Music Group. If that doesn’t bother you, then it ought to. Especially when the country TV channel launched last year - Total Country - has an almost identical logo to that of the Long Road fest, and is - yep, you’ve guessed it - financed by UMG. No wonder they have The Shires receiving lots of showings and presenting their favourite country hits amongst the channel’s shows. It might as well be called ‘Shires TV’ but you should probably expect to find ample showings of any video by Decca’s other signings The Wandering Hearts. Other UK festivals that have appeared in recent years include Buckle & Boots, Nashville Meets London, Millport etc. Their longevity has yet to be proved but the sheer number and quality of US artists on offer doesn’t get close to those that played Peterborough’s Festival of Country Music (eg Bobby Bare, Hank Thompson and Johnny Cash) or Americana International (eg Gene Watson). And the Peterborough country festival grew into one of the largest festivals of its kind when it attracted 210,000 people in 1987. “Peterborough’s country festival grew into one of the largest festivals of its kind when it attracted 210,000 people in 1987.” perceive as country for their own whether it be a Kylie Minogue record cut in Nashville or a reboot of A Star Is Born. However, the Beeb have even axed what was once annual coverage of the CMA Awards on terrestrial TV. Canny marketing such as ‘extra-long pre- ordering’ periods and sneaking them out on a quiet week has ensured album chart success, albeit short-lived, for home-grown artists The Shires and Ward Thomas, and historically there is not a British country artist that could compete, although Elvis Costello’s #7 UK album chart peak in 1981 with Almost Blue (a bona fide country album) should not be sniffed at when album sales were so much greater then than they are now. The 2016 Ward Thomas L 24 cmp - MARCH 2019 ady Antebellum were ahead of the curve with Need You Now making inroads as far as #15 on the UK pop charts in 2010 but can’t even get close to Shania Twain’s nine Top Ten pop singles between 1998 and 2004, let alone her two chart-topping albums. These days nobody seems to pay Cancelled by ABC in 2016, the TV series ‘Nashville’ was save d by CMT and funding to the tune of $11 million of incentives.