Live in the Vineyard Goes Country 2019 brought country music’s brightest new talent and longtime favorites to the sweeping hills of Napa Valley. The second edition of the country-meets-California festival saw the likes of Little Big Town, Brad Paisley, Brothers Osborne and newcomers Tenille Townes, Hardy, Ingrid Andress and more in a series of serene performances at Napa’s sunning wineries, with awe-inspiring views of green vinery serving as the backdrop.
Here are five of the best moments we experienced at 2019 Live in the Vineyard Goes Country.
If LITV proved one fact, it’s that country music’s future is safe in the capable hands of several new artists. During the festival’s kickoff dinner at Hall Winery, Townes, Australian duo Seaforth, Teddy Robb and Brandon Ratcliff enamored the crowd with an engaging songwriters round. Townes brought the evening to a sobering standstill with the story of visiting a high school in New Brunswick, Canada and seeing the jersey of a late student hanging from the rafters inspired “Jersey on the Wall (“I’m Just Asking)” before ending her set with a powerful rendition of “Somebody’s Daughter.” Meanwhile, Seaforth, the duo of Tom Jordan and Mitchell Thompson, demonstrated their silky harmonies on tracks like “Taken Your Picture” and “Talk to Me.” Robb and Ratcliffe also proved to be compelling songwriters with such personal numbers as “Really Shouldn’t Drink Around You” and “Rules of Breaking Up,” respectively.
Additionally, Hardy, Hammack, Andress and Chris Lane made for a dynamic round at the gorgeous Round Pond Estate Winery. Hammack proved she carries her spitfire spirit into her voice, seamlessly transitioning from the fiery “Redhead” to the riveting“Looking For a Lighter.” Hardy also proved his range as a songwriter with the stirring “Signed, Sober You” written as a word of caution to himself after a night of drinking, while closing the set with a haunting rendition of the Blake Shelton single he co-wrote, “God’s Country,” sending chills through the audience. Andress continues to solidify herself as one of the genre’s most bold and captivating new acts, a voice polished like that of a seasoned performer, which she demonstrated alongside her high caliber songwriting on the gripping “Both” and “More Hearts Than Mine.”
Many of the artists used their time in Napa to introduce new music, which is the case for Paisley and Walker Hayes. In between hits like “Letter to Me” and “Mud on the Tires,” Paisley proved he still has a talent for penning novelty songs by introducing “No I in Beer,” whose lyrics celebrate the “more redneck of beverages,” he joked, singing in the chorus, “we’re all in this together, it’s why God put us here, drinkin’ outta be a team effort, there’s no I in beer.” While Paisley brought the humor, Hayes delivered a wave of emotion over the crowd with his new single “Don’t Let Her.” Written while on tour with Old Dominion in the UK and missing his wife Laney and their children back home, Hayes shared that he wrote the song as a playbook to the person who would take his place in the event of tragedy, describing all the details of Laney’s character, like how her favorite flower is an orchid and home is her favorite restaurant. “If she ever misses me, please don’t let her,” he sang touchingly.
The duo of John and TJ Osborne brought their sharp-tongued lyrics and craft musicianship to LITV with a 40-minute set at the historic Uptown Theatre in downtown Napa that had the audience on its feet for most of the duration. They came out blazing, lighting up the crowd with “Shoot Me Straight,” the Brothers’ fierce guitar outro setting the tone for the rest of their set. The duo held a commanding presence over the audience with “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You),” “Weed, Whiskey and Willie” and fan favorite “21 Summer.” Beloved hit “Stay a Little Longer” brought the room to its feet and they kept the energy high with “It Ain’t My Fault,” which culminated in an intoxicating guitar solo, bringing to an end a show where they were lost in the music and took the audience on the journey with them.
Though Johnson spent more than a decade as an independent artist, it’s clear mainstream audiences fully embrace his Texas style based on the support he received during LITV. Backed by a fiddle and his melodic songs, Johnson brought authentic, traditional country to Uptown Theatre, warranting a passionate response from the crowd with the first song in his set, “With You I Am.” His smoky vocals continued to simmer on “Monday Morning Merle” and a sincere cover of Brooks & Dunn’s “Red Dirt Road.” He demonstrated he’s a true lyric smith by calling on imaginative wordplay for “Nothin’ on You” which continued to win over the respect of the crowd, as did the poignant “Dear Rodeo” and debut single “On My Way to You,” proving that his brand of country is resonating with vast audiences.
Little Big Town
The beloved foursome closed out the night at Uptown Theatre by exuding their bright personalities from the moment they took the stage with “Front Porch Thing.” They stayed in this energy for the upbeat “Pontoon,” the intimacy of the venue allowing them to get close to the audience, with Karen Fairchild shaking hands of people gathered in the front row while Kimberly Schlapman impressively harmonized while posing for photos, ending the night of incredible music on a perfect note.