The Shires at Larmer Tree

It’s country Jim…

But not as you know it.

The Shires may have recently become the first British band to get a top ten country album in the UK but that doesn't mean that it's all cowboy boots and sixguns.

These guys play a mixture of soft country folk and poppy uptempo songs where their British roots are front and centre.

I was lucky enough to experience their set at The Larmer Tree festival near Salisbury yesterday and caught up with Ben later.

The omens for the early evening gig were certainly good as unlike their corresponding Tuesday night set there was an absence of rain and they weren't interrupted by an unruly peacock!

The audience definitely got good value as the large Tom Jones crowd waiting on the lawn zoned in on a massively enjoyable hour long set.

Seeing the somewhat meteoric rise of The Shires in such a short space of time one could be forgiven for thinking that they have had it easy, but as Ben explained he'd fallen somewhat out of love with performing music by the time he discovered country and met Crissie.

It was almost fateful... the first person I spoke to was Crissie and we lived twenty minutes from each other! 

Ben gives full credit to his bandmate in that she introduced him to a wider world of modern country music that hadn't registered before.

The guys have a real chemistry on stage that shines through and it turns out that choosing the band was almost kismet too. Each member chosen was the first that auditioned for the spot.

Although it might seem an unlikely turn of events, songwriting led to demos which led to gigs and before long they were signed and off to Nashville to record their amazingly successful debut album "Brave", released in March this year.

I asked Ben about the process of making the album in the heartland of country and he explained how, despite the odd 'whoosh' (which I think is a technical musician term) the whole album was recorded with a live band. "it adds so much" he continued "you can't replicate the sound of a live band, they bring so much and bring the songs to life".

The Larmer Tree crowd really did appreciate the work of The Shires and they were given a rousing reception. As Ben went on to say "It meant so much that people were really sitting and listening to our songs" and working my way round the crowd looking for photo ops it certainly did seem to be the case.

 "we pinch ourselves every time when we are playing to thousands of people, it's all we ever dreamed of".

This is the first Festival season that The Shires have done and it's a packed itinerary to be closely followed by a tour in October concluding with a gig at the legendary Shepherds Bush Empire.

And the future? "We've already got 14 or 15 songs written for the new album and we'll be looking to go out to Nashville again to record later in the year".

If you haven't experienced The Shires yet then take a trip over to their site and you can hear their stuff on soundcloud too

Meanwhile The magnificent Larmer Tree festival continues till Sunday and is well worth a visit. Check it out here


The Shires play Larmer Tree 2015
The Shires play Larmer Tree 2015
The Shires play Larmer Tree 2015
The Shires play Larmer Tree 2015
The Shires play Larmer Tree 2015

The Gallery

It always makes it easy to shoot photos when you have a group that have chemistry and look good so this shoot was easy peasy lemon squeezy.

no stealing people!

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