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And the Sun Sets on Stagecoach Fest 2016

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Just as the sun began to set on Stagecoach, legendary rock band the Doobie Brothers took the Palomino stage for an hour long performance. Storms had threatened the area just prior to their set and as the techs taped down set lists and fine-tuned guitars, a small rainbow appeared between the mountains, almost as if it was a sign of the magic about to happen.

For nearly 50 years, the Doobie Brothers have entertained the masses with some of America’s greatest songs, and tonight they proved they are as magnificent as ever.

As an act that has transcended generations, eager fans of all ages flocked to the far tent to catch the iconic group’s performance, kicked off with the classic “Jesus Is Just Alright,” a power ballad riddled with guitar and keyboard solos.

Other notable hits and highlights included “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” “Long Train Runnin’” and “Black Water.” They ended their epic set with “China Grove” and “Listen to the Music,” leaving attendees awestruck with the surreal experience of witnessing this legendary band live.

Little Big Town Left ‘Em Wanting More

Little Big Town hit the Stagecoach Mane Stage at 7:45 p.m., right before festival headliner and current touring mate Luke Bryan.

The foursome somberly emerged on the edge of the stage where they were swathed in purple lighting, and sang a capella a quick snippet of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” Members Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet have truly mastered harmonizing their voices, and this a capella moment set the tone for the powerhouse vocals and seamless harmonies displayed throughout the set.

There was just a brief moment of silence following the intro, and then the quartet fired up their first full song in  the sassy “Little White Church.” Fairchild immediately directed the crowd to put their hands together for the upbeat, sing-along track, which appeared on 2010′s The Reason Why.

The group wasted no time jumping from there to their smash hit “Pontoon,” which got the sea of fans grooving and raising their beer cups high in the air.

The bandmates all took turns taking lead on vocals throughout the set. Schlapman sang “Sober,” Sweet took “Front Porch Thing” and Fairchild delivered their Grammy-award winning hit “Girl Crush,” which launched the band into super stardom last year. The crowd had definitely been waiting for that big moment, and its refrain echoed across the field as tens of thousands of voices eagerly chimed in.

And as hugely popular as “Girl Crush” is, it seemed Little Big Town had a more upbeat finish in mind.  The group ended their show-stealing set with the Westbrook-led “Boondocks,” leaving a predominantly drunken field of fans clamoring for more.

Luke Bryan Closes out the Bash

LBT had noted during their set that they were warming up the crowd for the biggest “hip shaking” guy in the business.

They obviously know him well.

Luke Bryan gyrated and shimmied across the stage, delivering his interesting brand of country, which incorporates elements of hip-hop, hard rock R&B and vintage pop country.  Not to mention, plenty of hits — 11 of his last 13 singles have hit No. 1, and he played “Rain is a Good Thing,” “Kick the Dust Up” and “Crash My Party” early in the set.

He also came out promising the Stagecoach crowd he was going to play as long as he wanted Sunday night. God bless him, because when he performed “Drunk On You,” crooning, “Girl, you make my speakers go boom boom …”  Well, we boom boom boomed right on outta there!  Even as we reached the far, far, far away parking lots, he was in fact, still going strong.

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Stagecoach Roundup: Sunday Funday

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It seemed like folks were dragging a bit early Sunday afternoon at the Indio, California Empire Polo grounds for the final day of Stagecoach, but that wasn’t slowing down any of the artists.

A handful of ladies just so happened to be slotted in the earliest set times, and they were a delight.

Such as singer/violinist/guitarist Amanda Shires, who has worked frequently with her husband, the critically-acclaimed Americana artist Jason Isbell. She’s got amazing talent in her own right, showcasing a terrific voice and her fiddle chops during “Look Like a Bird.”

Meanwhile, over on the Mane stage, Nashville based artist Lucie Silvas was enjoying her first-ever American festival, saying that it was “a wee bit overwhelming actually.”

Born in the U.K. and raised in New Zealand by her Kiwi dad and Scottish mother, Silvas has an interesting background. She grew up listening to the likes of Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, James Taylor and Roberta Flack and started writing songs at age 10. She got her first real taste of the music industry when she went out on the road at 17 as a backing singer for British singer/songwriter Judie Tzuke and hasn’t looked back.

Alternating between mandolin, percussion or keys, Silvas entertained the crowd with highlight tracks such as “Unbreakable Us,” “Smoke (Somebody Stop Me)” and a song she wrote just a few weeks ago called “When It Comes Down To It.”

Iowa folk roots troubadour William Elliot Whitmore held court at the Mustang stage during the 3 o’clock hour, with just his banjo, acoustic guitar and snare drum.  Whitmore joked that he drove all the way from Lee County, Iowa, for 3 ½ beers, and then launched into a humorous tune about the town drunk called “Old Bill Jones.”

It was an endearing set showcasing his extensive catalog or originals, as well as a cover of the beloved country song You Don’t Have To Call Me Darlin’.”

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Susto Introduces Stagecoach Audience to Its Version of ‘Country’

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Susto is an emerging band from Charleston, South Carolina and although the crowd was light with one of the earliest Saturday slots, the quintet proved they are definitely an act worth getting up for early to see.

Lead singer Justin Osborne, who spent time playing solo in South Carolina and Cuba, is the brainchild of Susto, a term that in Latin America refers to “fright sickness,” and is described as an out of body experience in the form of a panic attack.

Dark lyrics definitely drive Susto’s songs, and given their name, it’s almost as if music serves as a cathartic outlet to release some of life’s anxieties.

Osborne is joined by guitarists Johnny Delaware and Corey Campbell, bassist Jenna Desmond and drummer Marshall Hudson. Those assignments aren’t too strict, though, as Delaware, Campbell and Osborne all take turn on the keys throughout the set.

Finding a music genre box to put them in isn’t clear cut either. It’s an eclectic mix that’s been tagged as indie, alt-country, country rock and even, on their Facebook page, as gospel. The Nashville Scene likened their sound to “mid-’60s Everly Brothers records, complete with Glen Campbell-esque guitar parts.”

Their music ranges from eerie, sedated melancholy to faster, up-tempo power chords that combine with Osborne’s lyrics to tell tales of love lost and the highs and lows of small-town living.

As those who did shake off Friday’s hangover fast enough to get to the festival grounds for Susto can attest, there’s just something about their subtle stage presence that sucks you in and leaves you wanting more.

The band opened the set with the moderately paced song “County Line,” and then later kicked it into a higher gear with the yet-to-be released catchy track “Cosmic Cowboys,” which is scheduled to debut on their new album­­ (release date TBD).

The keyboard-driven “Dream Girl” is another slow and steady tune, and despite its creepy and dark lyrics, Osborne’s husky refrain is supremely catchy.

“Well, I don’t know her even if she knows me and when I look up to see her I see something gruesome, she’s gonna eat me alive…with my skin in her teeth and my blood on her blue eyes.”

After playing “Black River Gospel,” “Friends, Lovers, Ex-Lovers… Whatever” and “Smoking Outside,” Susto brought the short set to an energetic finish with “Cigarettes, Whiskey & Wine.”

Signed to the South Carolina-based independent label Hearts and Plugs, Susto was one of the only independent acts to appear on the Stagecoach lineup. As Osborne shared with us later in the afternoon, the appearance marked the first major festival they have played, also helping to make a west coast tour possible.

“It’s been a blast,” said Osborne.” We are having a great time. It’s a real honor to be on a lineup with such iconic people.”

We look forward to seeing what’s next for this young band, and recommend you try to catch them during their North American tour. Dates here.

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Stagecoach Roundup: Saturday Sizzles with Sam Palladio, Chris Stapleton, John Fogerty & More …

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Although temperatures cooled quite a bit in Indio, Calif., for day two of Stagecoach,Saturday’s lineup of country music artists sizzled.

Nashville‘s Sam Palladio Pursues Real Life Solo Career

Sam Palladio was a hot press item over in the festival’s media tent during the afternoon, thanks in large part to his starring role as heartthrob Gunnar Scott on ABC’s hit drama Nashville. On the show, his band The Exes with Scarlet O’Connor seems to be on the verge of breaking it big, and the Brit actor/musician is hoping to find equal success with his own solo career in real life.

Palladio recorded his first EP right before Christmas this past year, and gave festival attendees a taste of his new music and style with a late afternoon set on the Palomino stage. And just like his media session, Palladio drew an avid and extensive audience.

But it was an interesting juxtaposition. For fans of the show – and based on the number of collective female shrieks, there were loads in the Stagecoach crowd, Palladio’s real-life look and music seem much edgier than the sappy and moving love duets that he’s well-known for in the television drama.

Dressed in a flowery Hawaiian shirt, black jeans with a handkerchief hanging out of his back pocket, and noticeable silver hoop earring, Palladio delivered a fun, high-energy set at what was apparently his first-ever American festival.

He used the short set time wisely, highlighting his new material, like “Heartbreak Blues,”  “Headed to the Fire” and “Faster Than a Bullet,” while also serving the Nashville masses with fan favorites like “Fade Into You” and “You Can Count on Me.”  Since his co-star was absent, Palladio kindly invited all of the ladies to sing her parts.

While actress Clare Bowen may have been absent, Palladio’s other former television ex, Zoey Dalton, played by Chaley Rose, was there to cheer him on.

Not that he was short on adoration.

Stapleton’s Star Continues to Shine

Chris Stapleton has swept just about every awards show in the last year, including picking up two Grammys for Best Country Album and Best Country Solo Performance. His star is so bright, and with such crossover appeal to boot, that the Kentucky-born singer/songwriter/guitarist was invited to play both Coachella AND Stagecoach.

Indeed, Stapleton’s solo album Traveler really doesn’t have a throw away song on it, making his early evening set time a must for most Stagecoach goers.

He kicked off the set with “Nobody to Blame,” getting a mega assist from an enthusiastic audience ready to sing along.

Stapleton was outstanding, per usual, on “Traveler,” “Might As Well Get Stoned,” “Fire Away,” and of course “Tennessee Whiskey.”

And while one festival-goer insisted that Justin Timberlake was going to be a surprise guest (remember that epic CMA moment when the two paired up?), Stapleton kept things in-house.   He used the song’s melody to instead introduce his tight band, including his wife Morgane (tambourine and vocals) whom he sang to: “Love me, love me, love me my wife. Love of my life.”

The married couple shared many tender moments between them onstage. With the wind in full force, Morgane stole his cowboy hat for herself before passing it off to a tech. She tried to then keep her husband’s long locks at bay, and although a futile effort, the subtle interplay did not go unnoticed.   As one person commented, Chris Stapleton and his wife = #lifegoals.

I Hope You Dance

For more than 15 years, Lee Ann Womack has heard stories about how her song “I Hope You Dance” has changed lives and marked pivotal milestones.  It’s got to get old. But, we’re not going to lie. We sprinted over from Chris Stapleton’s set at the Mane Stage to the Palomino tent, just hoping to catch this ONE song.

Played second to last, Womack was joined by thousands of voices for a truly epic sing-along moment.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I hope you dance …

I hope you dance.

Rodney Crowell Rolls Through Set

Just next door to Womack, Rodney Crowell was holding court in the Mustang tent and we were able to catch a bit of “Even Cowgirl Get the Blues” and his excellent cover of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.”

Crowell is always masterful and tonight’s set seemed no different.

Fogerty … Still Fantastic

Prior to John Fogerty taking the Palomino stage on Saturday night at Stagecoach, a mini documentary about the legendary singer/songwriter and his journey with Creedance Clearwater Revival aired on the side screens.

Anticipation built throughout the film as Fogerty recalled his experience at Woodstock and how 1969 was such a monumental year 1969 for him as a musician and influencer of his generation.

Finally, as Fogerty kicked his set into high gear with “Travelin’ Band,”  fans began rushing over to a tent that was already bursting at the seams. That didn’t stop fans from spilling wide and far into the fields, or erupting into the chorus for “Green River.”

“Who’ll Stop the Rain” was a set highlight, a song he introduced by explaining that he wrote it right after coming home from Woodstock. Throughout the tune, psychedelic ‘60s images flashed on screen, along with shots of places like San Francisco’s Haight/Ashbury, which perfectly captured the essence of the song.

There was also no shortage of Fogerty’s soaring guitar solos over long stretches of purely instrumental pieces, thanks to his very talented band.

#Chills.

The Band Perry Invites Crowd to Get Wild, Crazy & Loud

Playing Stagecoach festival for the second year in a row, the Band Perry brought their pop country performance to the Mane Stage Saturday night, making every attempt to turn the evening into a dance party with their hit songs and a few unexpected covers.

Kimberly and her brothers, Reid and Neil, have mastered their highly-choreographed set list and the fine art of interacting with their fans. The sibling Perry trio launched their hour-long set with  a dramatic drum roll to intro “Better Dig Two,” and a few songs in, Kimberly insisted that her audience “Get a little bit crazy. Get a little bit wild, and get really, really loud!”

They rolled through “Chainsaw,” “You Lie” and new songs “Best One Yet” and “Stay in the Dark” before transitioning into a series of covers. All three member’s voices came together in harmony for Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” and then a unique mashup of the Eurthymics “Sweet Dreams,” Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back” and CeeLo Green’s “Crazy.” Naturally, the fans were singing along and getting loud, just as Kimberly requested.

Following the series of covers, the band played another new song titled “In It Together,” which interestingly, was written on their tour bus the night they left Stagecoach a year ago.

Of course, the band performed their famous hit “If I Die Young,” but Kimberly started it off with a twist, slowing it down and softly singing the chorus line before her brothers joined her on the same mic to sing it the way fans know and love.

The slow, heartfelt number is a bit somber, but the Band Perry soon cranked it right back up with a countrified version of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” which through the well liquored up crowd in dancing frenzy.

Get a little bit crazy. Get a little bit wild. Get really, really loud? Mission accomplished.

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Jamestown Revival Spreads Their Movement at Stagecoach

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“Jamestown Revival is more than music.  It’s an idea, and it’s a movement.  It’s grass roots, and it’s back porch.  Our strength is in numbers, but our individuality is ever present.  We appreciate the simpler things, and we know where we came from.  We value timelessness over trendiness, and quality over quantity.  We are Revivalists…”

So reads the band’s description on their YouTube page, and during a nearly hour-long midday set at Stagecoach’s Palomino Stage on Saturday, Jamestown Revival proved that their blend of southern country, Americana and rock is stirring a movement.

“Wow.” “Killing it.”  “Unreal.”

Those were just a few examples of the praise that quickly found its way to the twitter universe, along with some live streams on Periscope.

Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay became friends at age 14 in their hometown of Magnolia, Texas.  By 15, they had written their first song together, but it wasn’t until years later when the then-college roommates got serious about making music as a duo.  But eventually, while spending time on Texas ranch land owned by Clay’s family, the pair sat out on an old back porch with guitar and keyboard and started to write music.

“We wrote them with a different mindset, with a duo mindset, and they were built around harmony and they just had a different vibe. That was really the start of Jamestown. It started that day,” Clay said in an interview with windupmagazine.com.

The childhood friends borrowed their band name from the Jamestown settlement in Virginia, with the idea in mind to leave behind the old and head out on an adventure. (They also note Credence Clearwater Revival as a huge influence.) So they took their dream and headed west to Los Angeles, where they found inspiration for the songs that appear on debut album Utah.

Its track “California (Cast Iron Soul)” earned an immediate and hearty reaction from the audience, which led quickly to a clap, sing and stomp-along from the Stagecoach crowd.

California, I don’t even know you.
You’ve taken me away from home.
Old Magnolia I’ll never get over you.
The feelings running straight to my bones.
Someday I’ll be coming home.
Someday I’ll be coming home.
With a cast iron soul.

The boys did return home, or close to it, anyhow.  After recording Utah, (named after the cabin in Utah’s Wasatch mountains where they made the album), JR would eventually opt to move to Austin, about 200 miles away from Magnolia.

JR also paid tribute to home during their Stagecoach set with a “song they wrote about the good ol’ boys” called  “Head On” that saw them working the stage and at times, sharing a mic to blend their voices, which only added to the communal sense of the performance.

Another set highlight included a shout-out to Merle Haggard as JR gave a poignant cover of “Silver Wings.”

It was an overall emotive and awe-inspiring performance, and we’re betting that the “movement” grew exponentially after Saturday’s solid showing.

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