Monday, April 25, 2016

Stagecoach preview: Emmylou Harris, John Fogerty, Chris Stapleton

With two full weekends of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival having just ended, the Empire Polo Club in Indio is now set to host California's biggest country music event, Stagecoach. The annual festival runs April 29 - May 1, 2016.
Billy Joe Shaver is coming to Stagecoach.
Photo: Jim McGuire

The three-day festival always draws a diverse lineup of legendary tastemakers and groundbreaking newcomers, and this year is no exception. There are modern-day hit makers (Eric Church, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan), traditionalists (Luke Bell, Dale Watson, Marty Stuart) and Americana favorites (SUSTORodney Crowell), as well as classic rockers (John Fogertythe Doobie Brothers, the Marshall Tucker Band) whose sounds have heavily influenced contemporary country music icons.

Here is a preview of some "must see" names coming to Stagecoach this weekend.
Emmylou Harris, seen here in
2005, performs on day 1 of

Friday, April 29
Few country music singer-songwriters to emerge in the 1970s have displayed the timeless artistry and profound influence of 13-time Grammy winner Emmylou Harris. The Alabama native rose to fame singing with the late Gram Parsons, and has continued to champion emotional songcraft whether recording alone or with the acclaimed likes of Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Linda Ronstadt, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young and Willie Nelson. Her 1977 album "Luxury Liner" and 1995's "Wrecking Ball" rank as several of country music's most beloved LP releases.

Austin, Texas-based favorite Dale Watson is a bona fide honky-tonk hero and will bring a solid dose of traditional country music to Stagecoach on the first day of the festival. He hits Stagecoach armed with wonderful songs off his latest album, "Call Me Insane," which has earned Watson praise for its connections with the Lone Star State's rich country traditions. Among the highlights on that disc is the fast-paced "A Day at a Time," and "Jonesin' for Jones," the latter an infectious tribute to the late George Jones.

Another great reason to arrive on day 1 of Stagecoach is Texas singer Billy Joe Shaver, now 76, who brings his long and impressive parade of authentic outlaw material to Indio. His 1970s albums remain essential affairs, with tracks such as "Gypsy Boy," "Honky Tonk Heroes" and "You Asked Me To" among his best-known recordings. His hit "Live Forever" (co-written by his son Eddy) was performed by Robert Duvall in the movie "Crazy Heart."
John Fogerty, seen here performing in May 2007,
is returning to Stagecoach in 2016.
Photo: Robert Kinsler

Saturday, April 30
The last time rocker John Fogerty performed at Stagecoach, it was in May 2008 and he performed on the Mane Stage right before the Eagles. It was Fogerty who killed it that day, unleashing one classic high-powered hit and emotional high after another. Opening with "Born On The Bayou," his hour-long set included the likes of "Who'll Stop The Rain," "Fortunate Son," "Keep On Chooglin," "Bad Moon Rising" and set-ending "Proud Mary." Expect the singer-songwriter-guitar great to deliver the goods again this weekend. One of rock 'n' roll's true greats. 

Fans of Dawes and Band of Horses will want to catch Charleston, S.C.-based SUSTO. The band's self-titled 2014 debut featured a slew of compelling alt-cosmic country gems including the uptempo "Acid Boys" and introspective "County Line." The group is set to release its sophomore album this year, and that disc's first single "Cosmic Cowboy" tackles the cliches of Southern tradition against a compelling soundscape mixing several roots styles. 

If you missed Chris Stapleton when he performed at Coachella, the good news is the acclaimed singer-songwriter is going to perform at Stagecoach too. It's no surprise that Stapleton won six awards at the 51st Annual ACM Awards - his debut solo album "Traveller" is that great. Don't miss Stapleton when he performs favorites such as the aptly-titled "Fire Away" on Saturday.

Sunday, May 1
The Deslondes hail from New Orleans.
Photo: Sarrah Danziger 
Last year was a good one for the Deslondes; the New Orleans country-folk troupe's eponymous 2015 album received plenty of well-deserved attention and spawned the rousing hit "The Real Deal." American Songwriter magazine listed the album as one of the "Top 50 Albums of 2015," and now the New West Records artist will perform their infectious old time material at Stagecoach.

I caught RaeLynn when she opened for Rascal Flatts at Irvine Meadows in October 2015, and the young singer impressed with the acoustic-flavored "For a Boy" and even more catchy "God Made Girls." Now the 21-year-old Texas native who rose to fame during the second season of NBC-TV's "The Voice" gets to showcase her country pop in Indio.

Since forming in 1970, the Doobie Brothers have sold more than 40 million albums thanks to recording a string of amazing hits including "China Grove," "Listen to the Music," "Jesus Is Just Alright" and "Take Me In Your Arms." There is little doubt a large festive atmosphere will greet the Doobie Brothers when they take the stage on Sunday in Indio.

For more information, visit

Robert Kinsler

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