Video: Young guns hit the road to spread Harvest festival word
IT’S 7.30am on Wednesday and the Harvest tour bus is purring outside the Airport View Hotel at Blake’s Cross in Lusk, Co. Dublin.
For the next two days, the plush coach will be home to two of the 40 performers who will entertain the crowds at the Harvest 2017 festival in Westport and Enniskillen on August 26 and 27.
Stunner Cliona Hagan and young heart-throb Jake Carter have been chosen as ambassadors for the new festival, which will be the biggest ever staged in Ireland.
In the hotel dining room we find Jake tucking into breakfast as he gets set for the first leg of the journey from Dublin to Donegal, stopping off at five Applegreen stations for pop-up performances along the way.
Cliona and Jake stayed overnight at the hotel after arriving in from gigs the previous evening, but they were singing into the early hours, entertaining some happy American tourists with an impromptu country music session in the resident’s lounge.
Both Cliona and Jake are looking forward to hitting the highways, doing mini-shows and meeting fans in the build-up to Harvest.
“I can’t wait,” Jake says. “It’s going to be very diverse. There’s a big range, from Irish country to more modern country. Charley Pride will be there for the more mature ones in the audience.”
Looking super-tanned after a week’s holiday in Benidorm with his brother Nathan, Jake has pin-up good looks to rival his older sibling.
“The headline acts are Miranda Lambert and some fellah called Nathan Carter. I think he’s alright,” he jokes.
The 40 artists appearing at Harvest will perform across four stages over two days, with Westport’s Saturday line-up moving to Enniskillen the following day, and vice versa.
Nashville singer-songwriter Kip Moore, Texas and Oklahoma duo Maddie & Tae, Nashville duo Dan + Shay and Illinois singer Mo Pitney are just some of the acts performing.
Harvest is set to be a country music universe with camping options, a food village, market stalls, a funfair and bar facilities. There will be dedicated dancing sessions and fans can get up close and personal to the songwriters at the Harvest Café.
“There’s never been a festival like it,” Jake says as our bus makes its first stop at Applegreen in Lusk. Inside, the Harvest crew quickly assemble a mini-stage as curious customers look up from their breakfast.
Within minutes, Jake gets the party started with a couple of songs, and then Cliona takes over as he is asked out on the dance floor for a jive by 18-year-old Orla Hoey from Skerries.
Then it’s back on the bus where the experience will be repeated everywhere from Castlebellingham, Lisburn and Lifford to Swinford, Athlone and Enfield.
“I love meeting people, so this is great fun for me,” Cliona says. A native of Ballinderry, Co. Tyrone, the singer first shot to fame on The All Ireland Talent Show on RTE TV in 2009 and last year launched her own country band.
“It’s not easy to run a band on the road and it’s more difficult for female singers because girls tend to follow the guys, but I can’t complain because I’ve had an amazing year,” she says.
Harvest, she adds, will be the highlight of her year. “I couldn’t believe it when the promoter Peter Aiken invited me to be one of the artists,” she says.
Meanwhile, Jake reveals he has now set up home in Enniskillen with his brother, Nathan.
“We are house sharing, it’s a messy house,” he says. “We don’t actually see each other that much because he’s gigging and I’m gigging.”
So who is the messiest?
“Definitely Nathan,” he says. “I’ve started to use a washing machine and ironing board and he throws his clothes in with mine. I’m going to have to start charging him for those services.”