Author Archives: Chrissy Mauck

The Malpass Brothers Wave the Banner for Pure, Traditional Country Music

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Traditional, pure country was revitalized opening day at Stagecoach thanks to the Malpass Brother’s outstanding performances of legendary covers and original songs dedicated to their heroes.

These good ‘ol boys brought their Southern roots and love for all things retro to the Palomino stage in Indio, Calif., during a midday set on Friday.

Lead singer Christopher Malpass introduced the band to the audience by sharing two questions they get asked the most:

“Do you really talk like that and is that your real hair?”

So of course, Christopher drawled the answer to both, explaining that “We’re from North Carolina. And yes, this is really our hair. Yes, this is how we really talk.”

Christopher and Taylor Malpass are as authentic as it gets, and stay true to the deep love they have for the traditional country music first introduced to them on their granddaddy’s phonograph records. From their ’50s throwback pompadour hairstyles and mutton chops to their western outfits and infamous Elvis-like hip swivels, these siblings proudly wave the banner for traditional country music, and they are adamant about preserving the art.

“My brother Taylor and I do the type of music we do because this music speaks to us, and speaks to the souls of its listeners,” said Christopher. “For us, traditional country music is the ‘real deal’ – every song portrays life’s joys, heartaches, problems and happiness. It comes from the heart, and has depth and truth. Nothing is sugar coated. Our goal, really, is to see this music be revived, to help ensure it doesn’t fade away.”

During their mid-afternoon set, the brothers preached that gospel by performing several covers to honor a few of their country pioneers.

Christopher perfectly captured his music idol Johnny Cash with flawless renditions of “Folsom Prison Blues” and his personal favorite “Luther Played the Boogie.” When taking over singing duties for a cover of the Faron Young/Willie Nelson track “Hello Walls,” Taylor’s bellowing vocals also nailed the command and presence shared by those greats.

Other notable covers included Nelson’s “If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time,” Jimmy Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel No 4 (California Blues), where Taylor ripped off stellar leads on his Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gent guitar, Marty Robbins’ “Begging To You” and Merle Haggard’s “Working Man Blues.”

Haggard’s recent passing has hit the brothers hard, as the country outlaw legend was a huge champion of the Malpass siblings.  The duo spent more than 7 years working with Haggard, touring with him and even recording torch track “Memory That Bad” at his studios.

And when it comes to creating original material, the duo firmly upholds the musical styling and qualities that would make their idols proud.  Taylor’s guitar work on “Memory That Bad” perfectly accentuates Christopher’s sincere vocals and lyrics, resulting in a single that already seems country timeless.

The brothers planned to end their set with an homage to Cash via their original number “Man In Black Is Wearing White,” and had even begun to unplug their instruments at its conclusion.  But the crowd was so pleased with the set that they began asking for “just one more.”

So instead, they threw up another song in honor of Haggard with “Working Man Blues,” thus concluding an outstanding west coast showing for this southern duo. But thanks to the Malpass Brothers, the audience got to take a journey of its own, as it was like opening up a time capsule and rediscovering some of country music’s best offerings.

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Stagecoach’s Friday Roundup: Kristian Bush, Dale Watson, Lucero, Eric Church & More

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The hipster, celebrity crowd that came out in hoards the last two weeks to the Empire Polo Club grounds in Indio, Calif., for Coachella has been totally transformed for this weekend’s Stagecoach festival. Western hats, boots and Daisy Dukes are now abound as country fans flooded the grounds today for the annual three-day festival.

Here are some highlights from our Friday roundup:

Most Self Deprecating & Most Ready to Have a Good Time

Kristian Bush had to take the trophy for self-deprecation on Friday, immediately walking up to the mic on the Mane stage mid-afternoon and saying to the crowd:

“Oh, it’s that guy from Sugarland; I didn’t know he could sing.”

A few songs later, he remarked, “This is my third time playing here – first time singing.”

All was delivered with a huge grin on his face, though, and Bush was definitely ready to party. “Hearse With a Trailer,” his debut solo single, was a mega crowd pleaser, made even more entertaining with his band’s choreographed “dance” moves. (Anyone out there re-watch the film, Purple Rain, in the last week or so? Bush and band’s synchronized turns and moves with their instruments called to mind those by the flashy Morris Day and his group, The Time in their final performance in the film.)

Bush also riled up the crowd with a few Sugarland hits, too, including “Stuck Like Glue” and “Baby Girl.”

“My rule is if I wrote it, I’ll sing it,” he said of the latter. “I wrote this when we weren’t even really a band yet. I think it was a Tuesday.”

Debonair Dale

Austin, Texas country artist Dale Watson may be downright old-style honky tonk, but he does so with such finesse that he exudes a sense of sophistication. Dressed to the country nines, Watson and his Lone Star band rolled through an exemplary set that had those at the Palomino stage eating out of his hands.

Like literally. Gals and guys repeatedly yelled. “We love you Dale!” particularly after his boisterous “Exit 109.” He followed up that fun, high-speed number with a moving tribute to the late, great and legendary Merle Haggard with “Here in Frisco.”

Jana Kramer Jolts

A familiar face from her role on CW hit show One True Hill, Jana Kramer is also making a name for herself in the country scene.

Sporting a Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers T-Shirt, Kramer sizzled with confidence jolting the audience wide awake straight out of the gates with sing-along “Pop That,” “One of the Boys” and “Don’t Touch My Radio.”

She also showcased her softer side with a cover of Brad Paisley and Alison Krause’s “Whiskey Lullaby,” one of the saddest country ballads ever.

Just Try Not to Grin

Although perhaps not a “household name,” Billy Joe Shaver is hugely respected as a writer within the genre. And with an infectious grin, you just can’t help to love him or his real-deal country music.

The Mustang stage crowd ate up his late afternoon set with whoops, cheers and laughter. Even Shaver couldn’t hold back his chuckle during his performance of
“That’s What She Said Last Night.”

“Got a brand new cellphone — AT&T,” he sang. “It was a little bitty thing, just right for a country boy like thing. My girlfriend took a poke at the thing. Then she threw it away.She said Billy I know you’re attached to that thing, but it’s too small for me.”

Whiskey Drenched and Wonderful


Call them southern rock. Call them punk. Call them alt-country. We’ll just go with plain ‘ole good. Lucero shined with their soulful blend of lyrics, vocals and musicianship during their near hour-long set.

Singer Ben Nichols sounds like he just downed a bottle of whiskey, and that’s a great thing. On “When You Decided to Leave,” you can just feel his sincerity and regret as he he sang the lyrics:

“I try to be a good man/But I’ve done so wrong for so long/I don’t know if I can help but be a bad man.”

Midway thru the set, the rest of the band took a break as Nichols played a brand new song he wrote about a month ago.

“My brother did the movie Mud with Matthew McConaughey and he’s working on another one,” Nichols told the crowd. “I’m hoping he uses this one in the soundtrack.”

And it seems that maybe he’s found a way to be a good man.

“One more night here without you, and then to you I will come back.
They ain’t never take me a way again.
I’ve had enough of that. I’ve had enough of that.
I can tell my loving,
I can prove my heart is true.
Might not be good enough for them, but I just wanna be good enough for you
I wanna be good enough for you.
Remember how it felt the first night, it’s love we can’t afford to lose.
I’ll take care of you the rest of my days if that’s enough for you.
If that’s enough for you.”

Creepin’ with Eric Church

Nashville’s rebel rouser Eric Church had a sea of country diehards ready to continue the  party by the time his 10:15 p.m. headlining set rolled around on Friday night.

Although his latest hit is titled “Mr. Misunderstood,” there was no discord happening at Stagecoach as Church followed Chris Young’s upbeat set  and closed out the night in stunning fashion. Fans sang along with the country crooner, toasted along to “Drink In My Hand” and buzzed with anticipation as percussive shakers helped intro “Creepin,” giving the cut a swampy, southern vibe.

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Emmylou Harris Brings Storytelling and Sweet Harmonies to Stagecoach

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Sweetest harmonies of the first day of the 2016 Stagecoach Festival in Indio, California?

We’re going to have to bestow that to the magnificent songstress Emmylou Harris and her bandmates, Pam Rose (guitar, vocals) and Mary Anne Kennedy (vocals, percussion, mandolin). Their voices blended magnificently in an early evening set on the Palomino stage, providing the perfect balm for a weary sunburnt crowd.

The set was highlighted by lovely songs such as “Sorrow in the Wind,” “Michelangelo,” “In My Dreams” and “The Boxer,” but also by her storytelling between the songs.

By sharing that she had such a good childhood, she had to “make sad shit up,” or that she wrote a song for her kids because even when they are grown, “you still worry,” it somehow made the jam-packed tent seem more like an intimate living room performance.

Early on, Harris recollected her 1985 concept The Ballad of Sally Rose, using the story as a way to thank her fans for the mega support.

“That album almost bankrupted me but I’m still here folks – because of you,” she stated. “You don’t care if we are on the radio or not. You are still gonna come see us.”

Harris’ contributions to folk and Americana music are legendary, but she spent a good portion of her set signing the praises of others. Like when she introduced a cover of “Spanish Dancer” by Patty Sciala off album Rumble Doll.  Harris noted that perhaps Sciala is somewhat overshadowed by husband Bruce Springsteen, but that she’s actually an incredible songwriter who deserves more recognition.

Or when she left the stage and invited Kennedy and Rose, who also comprise country duo Kennedy Rose, to take over and perform their own track “Love Like This.”

“This song was alt when alt wasn’t cool,” said Rose.

Although hampered by a few technical difficulties, Harris and team powered on like the road stalwarts they are, providing a perfect wind-down to the first day of Stagecoach festivities.

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View Lord Huron’s Coachella Performance

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L.A. indie rock band Lord Huron offered those out on the lawn a breezy set to enjoy during their late-afternoon Friday slot at back to back weekends of Coachella.

And the festival has also made a glimpse of their set available for everyone by sharing a clip of “Way Out There” off 2015′s Strange Trails.

Check it out below.

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See Brandi Carlile Perfom on ‘Seth Meyer’

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Earlier this month, Brandi Carlile was scheduled to play New York’s Madison Square Gardens, but first she took her incredible vocal chops by Late Night With Seth Meyers where she performed the throttling “Mainstream Kid” off 2015′s The Firewatcher’s Daughter as well as her unforgettable single, “The Story.”

Not to be biased, but those of us at Gretsch particularly love on the latter, when midway thru, Carlisle exchanges her acoustic for her orange Gretsch Chet Atkins guitar, marking a dramatic and impactful shift in the song’s tempo.

Watch both clips below …

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