I photographed a landmark event at Wembley Arena – the return of The International Country Music Festivals, featuring a menagerie of local and international country acts at Wembley Arena – amazing performances by big names such as Lonestar and Reba McEntire, along with some incredible upcoming talent – Will Banister, John McNicholl and the gorgeous Ali Isabella from New York to name but a few.
Sunday February 26th 2012 – the sun shining, and Wembley Stadium hosted the Carling Cup Final and next door, Wembley Arena played host to the return of the International Country Music Festival after a 20 year absence.
The festival ran for 23 years from 1969 to 1991 at Wembley Arena. The shows, promoted by the legendary Mervyn Conn, were the first to introduce country music to the British public and featured a host of (now) legendary artists including; Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, Jerry Lee Lewis, Crystal Gayle and many more. This year’s return proved an exciting proposition for both lovers of the genre and the artists. An almost capacity house were treated to a great blend of country, roots and bluegrass music from across the pond as well as local acts. And how refreshing it was. Sixteen year-old Ali Isabella from New York was simply mesmerising and showed tremendous poise – not to mention her pitch-perfect angelic vocals. Texan George Ducas blew the house down. Locals Tim McKay and John McNicholl really got the crowd excited to see such great homegrown talent. And amongst the legends, which included Ricky Skaggs, George Hamilton IV and Raymond Froggatt, were the big names of today – Asleep At The Wheel, Reba McEntire and Lonestar, who welcomed back their original lead singer Richie McDonald.
After being issued with a press pass, I made our way to the pit and relished the opportunity to capture these acts performing at their very best for our good friends down at 2country.net.
A selection of the event’s photos are up on our Facebook page.