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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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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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Cheap Trick Rock the ‘Today Show’

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Weather forecast brought to you by Cheap Trick’s Tom Petersson and his 12-string bass? Hell yes!

The newly inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band  rocked the New York set of the Today Show last week, showcasing both a classic hit and a brand-new tune.

Watch after the jump as the legendary act performs “I Want You To Want Me” and new song “When I Wake Up Tomorrow” off  17th studio album Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello.

(more…)

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Israel Nash Hosts Triumphant ‘Live From the Hills with Love’ During SXSW

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“A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet,” Israel Nash told those who had gathered out at his Plum Creed Sound studios in Dripping Springs, Texas, on Thursday for “Live From the Hills With Love,” an afternoon of good old southern hospitality, outstanding performances and free beer.

About 45 minutes away from the madness of South by Southwest musical festival in what’s called Texas Hill Country, sits Nash’s labor of love.  And for those who scored a ticket to the intimate hang and ventured down an old gravel road to the studios on the side of a hill to watch sets by Nash, Bee Caves, Kirby Brown, T. Hardy Morris, Eric Pulido (Midlake), Matthew Logan Vasquez and the Wild Reeds, they were definitely treated as newfound friends by a very welcoming host.

Originally from the Ozarks in Missouri, Nash and his wife transplanted to the Austin area from New York in 2011, after falling in love with the scene during the annual SXSW fest.

Critically-acclaimed 2013 breakthrough album Rain Plans was inspired by country life on his new 15-acre ranch, and Nash and his top-notch band  (comprised by Joey McCllelan on guitar, Eric Swanson on pedal steel, Aaron McCllelan on bass and John Fleischman on drums) made sure to perform a few of its tracks during their Thursday night headlining set. Rootsy sing-along number “Rexanimarum” earned instant cheers from the crowd with its downright country lyrics:  “Oh, my baby, settle in. Take your worries and put fire to them. Pour me out just like sour wine. Got the money if you got the time.”

Nash shared stories throughout the set, revealing the stress and team effort that went into converting an old barn into a studio to record 2015’s Silver Season, a masterful blend of psychedelia and country that was produced by Grammy-award winner Ted Young (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth).

As Nash recalled, just as everyone had arrived to get to work on the album in May 2015, Austin was pummeled with historic flooding, and instead of laying down tracks, the guys were sandbagging and building a trench around the studio.

And although rain drizzled for most of Thursday morning, there was nothing but blue skies and a glorious sunset as Nash and company immersed themselves and the audience in Silver Season cosmic-sounding cut “Strangers,” the beautiful harmony-soaked “LA Lately” and the Neil Young-ish like ode “Parlour Song,” which Nash was inspired to write after the Sandy Hook shooting.

Nash’s on-stage swagger is undeniable, yet he also showcased a special humility and true appreciation for his family, bandmates and the fellow artists who came out to play sets throughout the afternoon.

The intimate event felt every bit like a communal and triumphant celebration for Plum Creek Sound, and indeed, if you arrived a stranger, you felt like you left as a friend.

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We missed catching Kirby Brown’s live set, but we sure enjoyed the Texas-born, New York based artist’s front porch pickin’ and strummin’ on our Gretsch Roots Honey Dipper Resonator.

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Eric Pulido of Midlake has been working on a debut album with newly formed supergroup Banquet, featuring fellow Midlake bandmates McKenzie Smith, Joey McClellan and Jesse Chandler, as well as Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle and Travis’ Fran Healy.

Joined by McClellan (on a striking Silver Jet) and Chandler on keys/flute, Pulido gave a sneak peek of one of their new songs, recorded a few hours away in Denton, Texas, and well, let’s just say, we can’t wait until the album drops.

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Matthew Logan Vasquez of Delta Spirit, who is a fellow Texas Hill Country resident, played what he introduced as a “long song about doing drugs, finding religion, moving back to Austin, and meeting his wife in Fresno.” He wasn’t kidding about the long – the song sprawled  a good 15-20 minutes.

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T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate) kept it simple, just a man and his guitar as he played songs off his 2015 album Drownin On a Mountaintop, which was described by Pitchfork aswild, prickly, and unsentimental. The twang remains, but this time grunge and punk are the driving impulses.”

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Brian Fallon Performs New Single on Colbert

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Brian Fallon celebrated the release of his solo debut album, Painkillers, with a stop by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he performed the instantly likable track, “A Wonderful Life.

During his time with the Gaslight Anthem, Fallon recently drew comparisons to fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen, and this number certainly feels very Springsteen-ish. It, and the rest of the album, also boast the wizardry of famed producer Butch Walker.

Watch Fallon live below, backed by several musicians including Gaslight Anthem guitarist Alex Rosamilia, the Horrible Crowes’ Ian Perkins (on a Gretsch 12-string), Jared Hart of The Scandals and Frank Marra.

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