Friday, January 25, 2008

Stagecoach readies a cross-country mix

With Goldenvoice making news on the Coachella front, as well as with its newly announced All Points West festival, this is a good time to catch up the lineup news for Stagecoach, the company's country music festival that runs a week after Coachella on the same site in Indio CA.

We covered Stagecoach 2007, its first year, and found it to be an amazing production, but one with a split personality. (See links below for 2007 coverage.) Primarily Stagecoach is a big-time mainstream country music festival, featuring a long list of Nashville's biggest names. Most of these acts perform on the main stage (or Mane Stage as the cowboy-themed festival labels it). Ninety percent of the audience comes for the these artists.

This year, the big Nashville names are Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, The Judds, Carrie Underwood, Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Dierks Bentley, Trace Adkins and more. If you listen to mainstream country radio, this is hog heaven.

But the festival has three more stages arrayed around the grounds of the Empire Polo Club. Looking at the lineup, it appears the same kind of genre stage assignments will be used as last year.

Palomino features alt-country, Texas country, and roots rock. This year, look for Shooter Jennings, Michael Martin Murphy, Billy Joe Shaver, The Kentucky Headhunters and more. Some of the big Nashville names also spill over to Palomino, where I expect to see George Jones and Dwight Yoakam.

Appaloosa is bluegrass and newgrass, and wow, there is a stunning lineup of artists set for that stage. Start with the old timers, Earl Scruggs and Ralph Stanley. Then the next generation: Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, J.D. Crowe and Dan Tyminski in his breakout year as a bandleader. Finally, some of the best of the young generation: The Greencards, Cherryholmes, Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Isaacs.

That's a whole festival by itself.

The Mustang Stage is intriguing, holding up the western end in the old definition of country western music. This year's cowboy music lineup is also impressive: Ian Tyson, Riders in teh Sky, Red Steagall, Waddie Mitchell and Wylie & The Wild West. In my festival tours, I may see one of these acts during an eclectic roots festival. To see two days of cowboy programming is unusual and refreshing.

I only hope that some of the masses of people who will be swarming the Mane Stage will spread their time among all the stages. If they do, they will find some amazing music that they might like more than they expect.

2007 Articles
• Saturday photo gallery
• Stagecoach runs like clockwork
• Robert Earl's party goes on
• Older, wiser country rockers: Chris HIllman and Richie Furay
• Sunday photo gallery

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