Headliner Willow Hill talks falling in love with country, not fitting into rock, ahead of Ladybug Fest on Sept. 21.
Where many music festivals feature male-dominated lineups, the Ladybug Festival bucks that patriarchal trend and shows women some much-needed love, with lots of female-led acts on the bill.
This free celebration of the musical matriarch is a block party that’ll return to downtown Milford Saturday, featuring country-pop headliner Willow Hill. The festival come to Milford for the first time last year, attracting around 2,500 to 3,000 people.
The event will feature 41 performers spread across 13 venues such as Causey Mansion, Park Place Restaurant & Lounge, Arena’s Milford, Irish Rose, Nancy’s Cafe, Lifecycle, Mispillion Art League, Gallery 37, My Sister’s Fault, Dolce Bakery & Coffee Shop, The Music School of Delaware and Milford Public Library.
The Main Stage will be at North Walnut Street and Park Avenue, featuring Stacia LaChole (3-3:30 p.m.), Frantastic Noise (4-4:45 p.m.), Hoochi Coochi (5:15-6 p.m.), Christine Havrilla & Gypsy Fuzz (6:30-7:30 p.m.) and headliner Willow Hill (8-9 p.m.).
Ladybug Festival, presented by Gable Music Ventures, will offer music ranging from folk and indie blues to rock, plus more.
Willow Hill is a Nashville/country-pop duo comprised of Alexandra Naples (frontwoman) and her husband, C.T. Fields (lead guitarist).
Naples, who fronted the longtime rock band Lovebettie, dished on making the shift into country music, how attending the Delaware Junction music festival in 2015 inspired her band, the need for the Ladybug Festival, and why she didn’t fit in with the rock scene.
How did Delaware Junction influence your band’s early music?
The country music scene is so different than the rock scene we had been in. For instance, at Junction their backstage is a big, giant hospitality tent with super yummy options. In the back they had a big bar they built just for the artists to use. They had a giant swimming pool because it was so hot. To me I was like, “Oh my gosh! This is the way you treat your musicians?!” More so than any of that, everyone is so friendly. It’s a positive and happier to place to be around.
What led you to leave rock to start a country band?
I’ve been begging C.T. to do some country stuff with me for a long time. He said, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m not really sure if that’s where my talents and inspirations lie.” It wasn’t until we kind of went to Junction where he got to see some shows. Jason Aldean had such a rock foundation to his music. [After seeing] Jason Aldean, Cadillac Three and Toby Keith -- C.T. was watching them and was like, “Oh my gosh, this is rock.”
It was good-hearted because we’d been doing rock for so long and it was a fairly negative (I think) mindset sometimes. It just wasn’t working for me anymore. So when he got to experience Junction and the fans at country music festivals -- and how much fun they are and how much they’re into it, and they’re there to enjoy life and celebrate a good time -- he said, “I get it now. This feels good. I want to be a part of this world now.”
Why didn’t you fit in with the rock crowd?
Rock people are like, “You wear all black and [that’s] rock ‘n’ roll.” I never fit into that. I’m a weird art kid. I love color. I love ridiculous things and vintage clothes, and all of that stuff. But there’s no place for that in rock. I never felt like I belonged in it. If you play with hard-rock bands, you’re not hard enough. It made me feel uncomfortable.
How important is the Ladybug Festival?
It’s incredible, because there’s so many more men in this field than there are girls. We’re judged much more harshly than guys are, to be honest. We’re judged on so much more than our music. We’re judged on everything. I think it’s so important that as women we support each other and nurture each other, because if we don’t, no one else will.
What things are female artists judged on outside of playing music?
There’s appearance, for a start. Is she pretty? Is she wearing too much makeup? Is she not wearing enough makeup? Is she showing her body? She’s not showing enough of her body. How does she move on stage? There’s all these things.
So much goes into it that it’s not about the music per se. Whereas with the guys, how much do you think about that? Is he attractive or not? That’s not going to determine whether or not you’re going to see him. I feel as women it’s a gift and a curse to be a woman, because women are beautiful creatures. You want to look at them, but sometimes I feel like it’s important to see past that. That’s just the wrapping around the present. It’s really about what’s inside the box.
Where does the name Willow Hill come from?
We’ve been playing music for a very long time and everyone goes, “Are you going to have children? When are you guys going to settle down? What are you going to do?” We’ve always said someday we’re going to have to decide what we’re doing with this. I hit a certain age where we had to decide: are we having kids? Are we going to stop touring? Where are we at on this?
We both love children. If there’s a kid in the room, guaranteed we’re there hanging out with them. But to have our own kids, I think, would be selfish because we really like what we’re doing and I think it would be unfair for a kid to grow up in the way we live right now.
I really prefer borrowing children and giving them back. I’m every parent’s dream aunt, because we’re around and we want to hang out with the kids. The people around us don’t really want us to have kids now, because then they won’t get free babysitters.
So anyway, it came to that point and I said, “I don’t want to have kids, but I would like to have a country band.” Instead of settling down, we decided to add another band to the mix.
I always thought Willow would be a really beautiful name for a child. So I named my band what I would’ve named my child.