April 25th, April 26th
Little Big Town
Jerry Jeff Walker
Kevin Costner & Modern West
Zac Brown Band
+ 26 others
Deep in California’s armpit lies the hot and uninviting town of Indio, host city of Stagecoach, California’s largest country music festival for three years running. Stagecoach is Country music’s answer to the Coachella music festival (the former taking place just a week following the latter). Stagecoach for the past two years has brought together more heavy hitters than the Mitchell Report. Last year boasted Deirks Bentley, Tim McGraw, Big and Rich, Gretchen Wilson and a wide variety of A+ names in current country music, 2009, however was an exception. Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Reba, and Kid Rock were the biggest names brought to play this year. There is no doubt that Kenny and Brad are superstars in the country world, but in the previous years those names would have just been 2 of many chart toppers scheduled to play. The lineup looked weak, but still Stagecoach always has good times in store for its patrons.
Stagecoach is not just about the artists performing as much as it is the event. Its like one grand costume party for California’s pseudo cowboys and cowgirls. It gives everyone a welcome excuse to come out with their boots, cowboy hats, and like hawloween, allows the girls to wear really short shorts and dress like harlots. All this is done in no shame, and we are all the happier for it. So the event gives you drunk people running around half naked, beer gardens, vendors, and booths (all in carnival like fashion), all set to the music of country one hit wonders, resulting in the frat party of the year. And it is for these reasons that the music isn’t always that important. And now we return to the jams.
My first stop was over at one of the smaller stages to catch Dancing With Wolves’ star, Kevin Costner and his band Modern West. I didn’t even realize that ol Kev was in a country band, much less that his band was to play Stagecoach, so I was pleased when I arrived in time to catch Kevin Costner and Modern West. There was probably about 400 people watching Kevin and his orchestra (4 guitarists strong) blast out really bad country tunes, and listening to his Paula ABdula like incorehernt monlouges in between songs. But please, don’t get me wrong, I was entertained. Kevin seemed like a nice guy, it seemed like he loved the music he was playing, and that is infectious. By far the highlight of the set was his final words to the audience of “See you in the movies.” O Kevin, I love you man.
Next up for me was the Zac Brown Band. They opened up with a pretty right on version of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which was a little ironic because Charlie Daniles would later, over at a lesser stage, be playing. So the ZBB played their set, nobody really knew their tunes except for their current hit (and it is a hit!) “Chicken Fried” which was received whole heartedly by the crowds. I see good things in the future for Zac Brown and his band.
I then found myself watching Nashville playboys “Lady Antebellum.” These guys were manufactured by their label, they are pleasing to look at, the girls have expenseive denim on, the boys wear shirts that show their chests, and they are boring and bland.
Next was Little Big Town. Talent, nice melodies, dynamic songs and perfect harmonies. A few hits resinated with the crowd, especially THEIR HIT?????.
Earl Scruggs, who was one of about 4 artists that I came to the show actually excited to see, was playing at the smallest stage, so I made my way to the corner that they threw the father of bluegrass banjo on. There was only maybe about 150 people watching Earl and his band (2 of the members were his sons). I had seen Earl a few years ago and he was old then, but at Stagecoach I saw that we don’t have much more time to go see Earl. He sat center stage, with a full band around him, but he didn’t even really speak, It was actually pretty sad. But it was amazaing that he could still roll his fingers faster than his 1939 FORD VICKEY ROADSTER. If you have a chance to see eall live please do because he is a true American innovator and is the father of so much music that we are surrounded with.
That was all I saw for day one, however I was able to hear pseudo country singer Darius Rucker from the line of a BBQ sandwich vendor, and yes, he did end his set with “I only want to be with you.”