The Shires
Formed last year in the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire countryside, due to their shared love of the classic ‘Nashville’ country sound, The Shires – two young songwriters, Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes – have swiftly become one of the real buzz bands of 2014. With only a handful of live dates under their belt, this duo have already secured the support of a host of industry tastemakers, and were signed to Decca just before their official live London debut at the event that confirmed the wave of interest in the country genre, the second annual Country 2 Country Festival at London’s 02 Arena. 24 hours later, they were performing at a prestigious London reception held jointly by BBC Radio 2 (who have declared their enthusiastic early support for the duo), and the Country Music Association. The following morning, they were on a plane heading for their first songwriting sessions in Music City USA itself, Nashville. Two days further on, Ben and Crissie were featured in the Radio 2 documentary ‘Nashville UK,’ celebrating the rise and rise of country in this country. The thoroughly refreshing debut single ‘Nashville Grey Skies’ is a heartfelt anthem to living the country lifestyle and bringing a little of that spirit to their home here in England. Both Ben and Crissie are self-declared admirers of the craftsmanship of country songwriting, but are far from being a twangy tribute act. Powered by Crissie’s powerful but subtle and supple vocals and Ben’s perfectly complementary tones and acoustic guitar, The Shires are young, fresh and have a message of their own. It seems that The Shires have come from nowhere, overnight, but behind that first impression lies the story of two musicians who have been working towards this moment for a long time. Crissie has been singing her whole life, and came to love country music through artists like Dolly Parton and Faith hill, whereas Ben has toured as a singer/songwriter with the likes of K.T. Tunstall. Introduced by a mutual friend after a comment from Ben on Facebook, the pair instantly felt a musical connection, and discovered that they both lived near each in “the Shires”. Their respect for the music has already been returned by Nashville itself, with them having already sat down to write with the likes of Steve McEwan (Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood) and Play Productions (Rascal Flatts). The Shires are currently writing and recording their debut album in Music City to be released later in 2014.