Craponne Festival 2008





It is with pleasure that I have the honor of writing the first report on country music. And yes, at the same time I had to do it one day. I must admit to being a big fan of this genre, I was rather skeptical at the idea of visiting a country festival in France. I am always surprised to see our distorted culture, or poorly transposed in France. So, when my small team and I went on a mission to Craponne 2008, it was with some concern that I undertook the weekend.


First of all I am thankful for having a GPS, because the roads "made in France" are definitely for the French and not for all of us (the common man). I must admit that the visit of the surrounding area of Craponne-sur-Arzon reminded me of our woodland north to the border with Canada. I remember the laughter of a convenience store cashier at the exit of the motorway wondered whence came this little Franco-American company, when we asked her seriously in which part of France were we: "The Auvergne “ she responded. My French comrades agreed. I did not dare tell them that I associated this region to the city of Auxerre. You will excuse the inaccurate geography of an American.


Since we got here, unfortunately in the rain, we noticed some bikers turning back. Is this a bad omen? Hopefully not. First, I have to warn the average person that the site of Craponne-sur-Arzon is quite remarkable. Singular  as it offers a deep landscape of the french countryside. Let me explain. Imagine a place surrounded by fields as far as the eyes can see, a country of cows and hay bales. Besides, I think I've never seen so many in my life, but you will forgive my rudeness for not counted them. But back on topic, or rather our cows, anyway ... A Smallville’s landscape, an America where I come from, the one between the two coasts, with a typical French village in the middle, buildings old stone buildings, roads made for scooters, very beautiful  and the contrast .... So many US flags, people with Cowboys hats. For a moment I had fun making a humorous comparison with D-Day. If there had been no European flags, Confederate and some French, I would have believed it was the Fourth of July at home. A first good surprise.


I will skip the details of our arrival to talk about the  festival. But it seemed important to me to share those impressions.

First of all I was able to verify that the festival was based on many volunteers and also proposed a very tempting program. On the other  hand  the management is always "made in France", I advise you to be dressed either like bikers or either real cowboys for more freedom of movement on the site. But hey, let's go.

The site is enough big for a French festival, it's a good surprise. Once past the entrance, the first thing that surprised me was the countless shops on site, the whole in a rectangle with a small square in the middle. Not bad for some French!

A festival or an open patriotic supermarket? Don’t worry, the presence of shops does not take anything away from this festival. For having explored all the shops and spent 10 minutes minimum for each one, much to the discontent of my colleagues, I have to admit that there really were very good things. Of course, some items did shock me, prices have stunned me (Please reassure me, is our Dollar stronger or weaker than your Euro?). But what came out of these visits was the kindness of people, and the passion for our culture. Some people have impressed me with their knowledge and their goods. I was stunned when I some caps of my favorite college team, the Texas Longhorns (Austin for those who do not know). Omg the whole collection. I, who was planning to ask someone to send me one, I take it, I'll take that. I even find  a colleague buying a PBR. PBR and NFR, hum, there are good things. Only the big Heineken stand shocks me, where is our Bud?




Here is the Saloon at the entrance of the Festival




The Gate Festival




Shops as far as our eyes can see





            But let’s come to the main theme, the country music, normal for this kind of festival. If I have to say I've never understood the awarding of the term “Country” in France, because the vast majority of festivals called themselves country, but just a few names attract me on the weekend program. Three so to speak: Mary & Co, Asleep at the Wheel and surprise, Dierks Bentley! Concerning the first group, unfortunately, I barely missed them, it’s with regret that I still was not able to attend this French country music band. Please stop smiling. Yes you read it right, a French country music band. At the same time, you might say, I find myself in the middle of Auvergne surrounded by bikers and cowboys, then nothing surprises me anymore. I liked their first album rather promising that I reviewed some time ago. Despite a last-minute cancellation of the artist Brandon Rhyder (replaced by the Honky Tonk Farmers band), it will be the other bands that caught my attention.






At Last


Of course, I must say that the only one who really caught my attention is Dierks Bentley, because it’s a great artist at home and bring him among your hills is a great move that I must concede. The crowd was just out of control after the announcement of the next singer. Before we had the usual advertisements for the organizing association (logic), and a commercial for a new CD/DVD compilation, created by the same association. Hum, Would Totally Country and Cream of  Country have to worry ? We shall see …

The light was switched off, Dierks Bentley finally arrived. He came to the stage, wearing a simple jeans and a classic western shirt as we say back home. I feel the excitement growing among the crowd. Here he is, taking a paper in a funny way, trying to say a few sentences in French! In less than a minute, the audience is in awe. The live begins there, the crowd goes crazy.



Let’s Speak French !


The artist will perform the greatest hits from his repertoire such as Free & Easy Down The Road I Go (the opening song it seems to me), Come a Little Closer and his blue lights creating an idyllic romantic atmosphere. Later, during the concert, I saw a person looking into the crowd, a person wearing a white top, a little white tank top (What Was I Thinkin) and off you went back for a ride.







Free & Easy down the Road I go








The artist offers us a very good performance, without a hitch. He showed he could play both acoustic and electric guitar. But do not talk about the musicians who accompanied him would be a crime. Their performance was; a BLOW! Perfect! The two guitarists present with Dierks were fantastic. The singer even joked with the audience, offering the glass of wine from one of his guitarists to a female person in the crowd, offering only water to his musician (hard anyway). It will catch up on the glass of beer that will be giving to them later during the concert.

Dierks made many tributes to some great country music singers such as Hank williams, Johnny Cash, god bless them all. Outstanding performance, great music, good atmosphere, a real show. Translation: a good concert of country music. The live goes well, but unfortunately coming to an end. Dierks Bentley will take the drumsticks and throw them into the crowd, giving us a brief funny scene between the singer and the drummer. And then it was an encore.

The language barrier was an obstacle to the humor of the artist, 2 or 3 times his jokes went unnoticed for a pure Francophone. It was a good performance by the artist anyway, and a remarkable reception from the French public.

In fact, the only thing that have shocked me is to see people line dancing while Dierks was on stage. I had been warned of this French tradition. The singer also seemed surprised, joking about the fact that some people were still dancing in the night during the concert. You won’t see that in the U.S for sure. Anyway, I must admit that the crowd line dancing was probably the most diverse of the festival. I even think I have seen a slight male presence deficit. Is it a sign? Don’t worry, not tonight.

For those who had the courage, like me, to stand in line, we were able to have Dierks Bentley’s autograph, like all the artists of the festival. Good news for the fans that we were, the shop is next to the signing place, this can help you decide. I also found two other albums of the band Mary & Co and decided to make me happy. Concerning Dierk Bentley, it was already done a long time ago. If I was a little disappointed with Bonnie Bishop, because of a few false notes, it seemed pretty good to me. Attention such a festival has nothing to do with those we have in the US, unfortunately the comparison would be disastrous for Craponne. And I'm not talking about the CMA Music Festival (Fan Fair), but just a simple festival. It is not unusual to have Miranda Lambert or Sugarland opening a Brad Paisley or Keith Urban concert, for about 40 $ on a tour in the US. But for a European festival, I find the schedule very nice this is probably one of the best in Europe with Gstaad (Switzerland) and Equiblues (France).




















A person wearing a small white top






Come a little Closer





Country Music Planet Sheppard and Dierks Bentley






Sheppard and Dierks Bentley