Megan O'Neill

• IRISH BORN SINGER SONGWRITER •

Buckle & Boots Festival - June 2016

The tour bus winds through stunning Northern English countryside.

Staunch Glaswegian skulking in background

Staunch Glaswegian skulking in background

Keshav, bass player, Common Thread, staunch Glaswegian and lifelong city dweller, does not care for country life. My shabby transcription of his trademark Weegie brogue includes apologies to All Of Scotland, and Irvine Welsh.

"Why lev in the countryside?! It's fucken borin'. People say ye’ll enjoy the view, don’ gimme that. How long ken ye enjoy a view fir? Ah'll tell ye. Two minutes!"

He jabs the air with two indignant fingers.

Ale, our unflappable Italian drummer, a man whose every remark is the verbal incarnation of an unruffled shrug, nonetheless quietly persists in appreciating the outstanding natural beauty.

“It’s nice, all the fields…there’s green, then yellow…”

Kesh interrupts.

“Ye want green then yellow? Get on the fucken District Line, then get on the Circle Line!”

Our rhythm section’s Scottish yin and Italian yang somehow balances into equilibrium.

We’re en route to the delightfully named Buckle And Boots Festival, a country music hoe-down near Manchester which is exactly what it sounds like. The main stage we grace later is in a huge barn, Stetsons are worn without irony and there is line dancing.

The set is warmly received though, and it’s nice to see both an initially sparse crowd growing to capacity as people flock to hear us, and a lot of people we’ve never met loudly singing our lyrics. People seem to actually know our songs!

Afterwards as we pack the gear into the tour bus ready for traditional après-festival activities (getting steaming drunk), Kesh promises (threatens) to mix me a “Scottish Cocktail”.

I am intrigued as to which exotic Highland specialities will be delicately blended to subtly tickle my sophisticated gastronomic sensibilities.

“Get that down ye.”

He hands me a plastic pint pot filled with a dubious warm luminous orange fizz. It looks like something that’s come out of an ill farmyard animal. I sniff at it tentatively.

“Errr…what’s in it?”

“Irn Bru and whisky.”

I can report this delicacy leaves a bit to be desired on the flavour front, and possibly contributed both to the long gaps in my memory of the remaining evening, and to the thundering force 12 hurricane of my hangover the next morning.

Things I cannot remember but which I’m assured happened subsequently:

1.     The headline set by Ward Thomas, who’ve just signed to Sony

2.     Tom receiving practical instruction in line dancing by an octogenarian rockin’ grandma who took on guru status in the eyes of her fellow line dancers

3.     Ale dancing in a massive Stetson whilst holding an umbrella like a walking stick, leading Mairéad to pronounce him a “hillbilly Charlie Chaplin”

Anyway, onwards and upwards.