It’s rare that a new artist comes along and stops you in your tracks. It’s even more rare when that artist is a young, British woman, singing country music, but Sasha McVeigh does just that. She opened her set at the September Yeehaw festival with Jolene – a gutsy move if ever there was one. Everyone there was a country music fan, which equates to everyone knowing Jolene like the back of their hand, but her bluesy vocal made her stand out head and shoulders above the rest, and it is safe to say that it was not the only Jolene cover of the festival.
She truly owned the stage, with nothing but her acoustic guitar and voice. She has woven the true stories of her life into her songs, and the passion and enthusiasm that the young artist exudes, is palpable. The stand out song was Mr Brown Eyes, based on truth, of course, telling the tale of a romantic interest, beginning in Margaritaville (the bar in Nashville) and by some small miracle, is rediscovered in Florida. The melody is catchy and displays the artists range beautifully, and it is just an introduction to the talented Sasha McVeigh.
Amongst her original songs, her set also included a medley of That’s Alright Mama and Folsom Prison Blues, again emphasising the bluesier quality of her vocal, that makes Sasha the perfect for the country genre. She also dropped in a couple of contemporary country numbers, Lady Antebellum’s Bartender and Zac Brown Band’s Lance’s Song, complimenting her own work, and giving any newcomers to her music some common ground.
Since Yeehaw, Sasha has been touring the UK, including playing at Fort San Antone festival this weekend, and working on a kickstarter campaign to record a full length album with her band. I was able to catch up with the artist during her busy schedule.
Yeehaw was her first UK Country Music festival, but it will be the first of many: “Originally I didn’t know if I was going to get to do many songs. I only got back from the states 3 weeks before the festival, but when I found out about it, I was like ‘Oh my god! I can’t miss an opportunity to do a country festival here in the UK, we have to try!’ With the radio guys there, and the whole setup, it was just incredible.”
She didn’t play at C2C festival this year, but had a very good excuse: “I was supposed to be there, but I ended up being booked for the ACM kick off party in Vegas.” Thats a pretty huge feat for a UK country artist, sharing the stage with artists such as Cole Swindell, Hunter Hayes, and many other country stars. “It was a dream come true. The night before we ended up on the the Las Vegas strip, we had a meal at the Venetian, and my friend came running into the restaurant, you’re face is on a massive billboard on the Las Vegas strip! We all fled the restaurant, and there was a 100ft billboard television screen, with photographs of all the people in the show, I thought, ‘I can’t be up there,’ but I was!”
Sasha has spent a considerable amount of time touring in the States, so how did they receive a young woman from Britain playing country music? “Everyone responded really well, that’s what I was worried about, it’s in the back of my mind when I do shows over there, because I am British, Americans have the sense that country is their genre. Keith Urban always said that when he was starting out. There was a slight bit of: ‘you’re Australian and you like country music.’ Especially because of him, and things that have happened in recent years, they’re more accepting of other countries doing country music. I’ve found that If you’re a country music fan, then you’re family.”
There are struggles that come from touring in this country too, with regards to our growing country scene – “I think it’s great, once you actually find it. It can be awkward if you’re doing a show and there’s maybe one person in the audience, and everyone else is wondering, ‘Who’s the Zac Brown Band?’ But there’s always one or two people who get it, and that’s amazing. We don’t have many country radio stations over here, no dedicated tv channels, so country fans are my people!”
So why country music? “I love song’s that tell a story, which is probably one of the reasons I like country music so much because the song’s are very real. Also, being a songwriter myself, I love artists who write their own songs. One artist who I’m very much a fan of is Brantley Gilbert because he’s such a talented songwriter. The song “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” is one of my favourite song’s, it’s just so relatable to me, honestly all you need to do is change the “her” to “him” and you’ve got my relationship with this guy I was with in high school.”
“Zac Brown Band are also one of my favourite artists,, the reason I like them so much is because they’re all such talented musicians and artists. I can listen to their albums over and over without skipping any songs! One of my favourite songs of theirs is “Martin”, Zac wrote it about a D-28 Martin his Dad gave him and seriously when you first listen to that song you’d think he wrote it about a “human” friend not a “guitar” friend! That song is one of the things that lead me to buy my Martin guitar.”
“One of of my aims through all of this is to not only bring country music back, fully, in the UK and make it as prominent as other genres, but also to inspire others to follow their dreams despite whether or not they have money, connections etc. When I started this journey I had just finished at Hereford Sixth Form College and I had 5 university places but I told my parents (what they’d always known) that I wanted to pursue my music. My parents are both pensioners and they sold everything (except our house) to help me follow my dream, and there aren’t words to express how grateful I am or how it makes me feel knowing they believe in me so much! Lots of people in this industry get where they are, because they have money or they know someone, and that can be very disheartening, I want people to know my story, and see that if you’re dedicated and you keep pushing, it’s possible to get where you’re going without those things!”
There is no doubt that Sasha will make big waves in our little UK country music scene, and she has already received huge positive attention in the States. She is an artist with such raw talent and passion, that there is no way she will go unnoticed. Catch her on tour, and check out her kickstarter project, I can promise that you will not be disappointed.