Stagecoach Fest 2016: 13 artists to see + streaming schedule & pics
Stagecoach's winning formula is apparently harder to replicate than it looks. In a recent Billboard article titled "Is the Country Festival Business Past Its Peak?" writer Ray Waddell pointed out that at least six major country music festivals canceled their 2016 editions, including Dega Jam and Big Barrel, both produced by Goldenvoice's parent company, AEG Live, and FarmBorough, a co-production of Founders Entertainment and Live Nation, which was to take place in New York City's Randall's Island Park. The market is oversaturated, and the hefty fees festivals must shell out for top-tier talent can cripple a fledgling operation, even one with a corporate concert powerhouse behind it.
But unlike its competitors, Stagecoach is thriving. After raking in $21.8 million in gross ticket sales in 2015, the festival can afford to secure popular headliners, and it continues to celebrate the various sounds of the genre and outliers with true talent, instead of casting a mold and booking accordingly. It takes an approach that has worked for massive, multigenre festivals such as Coachella and Bonnaroo and applies it within a smaller scope. [LA Weekly]
With Coachella behind us, the festival's organizers Goldenvoice will take over the same location in Indio, CA this weekend for their country music festival Stagecoach. Like a lot of country music festivals, there's some Top 40 stuff we don't care to see (Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan), but there are plenty of genuinely interesting artists playing too. We put together a list of 13 artists we'd go to Stagecoach this weekend to see (a few of them will also be streaming live. full streaming schedule below the list).
Read our list, in alphabetical order…
Rodney Crowell: Rodney Crowell's two most recent releases have been collaborations with another artist on this list, Emmylou Harris, and yet another artist on this list, 2015's country breakout star Chris Stapleton, has paid tribute to Crowell by covering one of his compositions from 1978. So it's no surprise that we'd like to see him about as much as those other two. And like his collaborator Emmylou Harris, Rodney's a veteran that put out one of his best albums -- 2001's The Houston Kid -- later in his career.
John Fogerty: As the frontman of Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty had an insanely prolific and virtually flawless career from 1968 to 1972, the four-year period that CCR put out seven albums which still sound great today. Fogerty has of course remained a solo artist in the time since then, and recent live sets have him busting out tons of CCR classics. If you're into folk rock, blues rock, etc, there's not another artist on Stagecoach with this many foundational songs.
Emmylou Harris: A few artists on this lineup need no introduction, and Emmylou Harris is of course one of them. She's a true lifer, with music dating back to the '60s, certifiable classics released as recently as 1995's Wrecking Ball, and new music as recent as last year's collaboration with Rodney Crowell (who we just talked about). Music festivals are always a good place to cross some veterans off your bucket list, and Emmylou is definitely one who's not to miss.
Pokey LaFarge: Once a recording artist for Jack White's Third Man Records (but now signed to Rounder), Pokey LaFarge revives old timey folk with not many influences that are less than 60 years old. Certain popular artists may look that way, but Pokey stays true to sounding like it and it's pretty out of step with most of what's going on in the folk world right now.
Lucero: Probably the only artist on Stagecoach this year to have also played Riot Fest and Warped Tour, Lucero have been appealing to punk and country fans for over 15 years, and they continue to be great. Last year's All A Man Should Do was one of the band's most appealing records in years, and their live shows remain unique and always a good time. They're equally interested in stripping down for bare-bones acoustic stuff as they are in causing a drunken, rowdy mess.
Sam Outlaw: Sam Outlaw (he was born Sam Morgan but Outlaw is actually his mother's real maiden name, no gimmicks) resides in LA and refers to his music as "SoCal country," though he takes a clear influence from the sounds coming out of places like Tennessee and Texas in the '60s and '70s. His debut album Angeleno came out last year on Six Shooter Records, and it's a solid listen.
Billy Joe Shaver: Another artist on Stagecoach this year that's a good one to cross off your bucket list is Billy Joe Shaver. His 1973 album Old Five and Dimers Like Me is beloved in certain circles and an early example outlaw country. (It came out the same year as the outlaw classic Shotgun Willie by Willie Nelson, who Billy collaborated with on his 2014 album.) Recent live videos show he's absolutely still got it well into his 70s, so there's pretty much no reason not to take the chance to see him if you'll be at the fest.
Amanda Shires: Violinist/guitarist/singer Amanda Shires has worked frequently with Jason Isbell (who she's married to), and she's also got plenty of her own material dating back over a decade. If you like Jason but haven't checked out Amanda, that's worth changing. She's got a great voice and a similar soft-yet-powerful delivery to her husband. Check out her excellent 2011 NPR Tiny Desk Concert to get an idea.
Langhorne Slim & The Law: Longtime NYC residents may remember the days in the early 2000s when Langhorne Slim used to play the anti-folk breeding ground Sidewalk Cafe every Monday night, but he's clearly continued to progress and is now often seen on bills with very popular bands like Old Crow Medicine Show and The Lumineers. His most recent album, 2015's The Spirit Moves (on Dualtone), is part bluegrass, part indie rock, part melancholic country, and more. It's good stuff.
Chris Stapleton: It's no secret that just about everybody has been loving Chris Stapleton since his breakout 2015 debut album Traveller came out. He's been killing it in the mainstream country world and picking up tons of awards, but he's also fully crossed over into the "indie" world too. He's the only artist on Stagecoach that also played Coachella this year (not to mention he's playing Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza). We love him too -- the often-melancholic and always-pleasing sounds of Traveller make for an album you can throw on at just about any time. Check out all his tour dates including Forest Hills Stadium in Queens too.
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear: Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear are a duo from Missouri with quite an interesting backstory. Mama Bear, aka Ruth Ward, is in fact Madisen's actual mother, but Madisen didn't grow up playing music with her his whole life. "People usually assume that I was three years old, playing on the porch with my mom, with a ukulele or something," he told NPR, but in fact he didn't even pick up guitar until he was 19 and started performing with his mom a couple years later (he's now in his late 20s and she's in her 60s). The duo, who have toured with Sufjan Stevens, The Tallest Man on Earth, and others, released their debut album Skeleton Crew on Glassnote last year. Check out a pro-shot full-set video of a recent show, spliced with interview footage.
Dale Watson: Dale Watson has been called "Austin's answer to Johnny Cash," and that's a pretty apt comparison. He's got a deep resonant voice, honky-tonk sound, and an abundance of truck-drivin’ songs. (He sounds more than a little like Waylon Jennings, too.) He's been putting records out for over two decades now, most recently releasing Call Me Insane in 2015.
William Eliott Whitmore: While we said Lucero are probably the only band on this festival who have also played Riot Fest and Warped Tour, their past tourmate William Elliott Whitmore has also always had a punk side. He reps the Misfits and Bad Religion (whose Brett Gurewitz runs Epitaph, sister label of ANTI- which William is signed to). William's latest album, 2015's Radium Death, honors those rougher influences with more distorted electric guitar than he usually uses.
PICS FROM THE FEST:
STAGECOACH STREAMING SCHEDULE
All set times below are Pacific Time. Schedule and some artists may change.
3 p.m. The Malpass Brothers
3:45 p.m. Kristian Bush
4:30 p.m. Dale Watson
5:15 p.m. Jana Kramer
6 p.m. Lucero
6:45 p.m. Robert Earl Keen
7:35 p.m. Eric Paslay
8:30 p.m. Sam Hunt
9:20 p.m. Chris Young
10:20 p.m. Eric Church
6:30 p.m. Caitlyn Smith
7:30 p.m. Mo Pitney
8:25 p.m. Joe Nichols
9:15 p.m. Lee Ann Womack
10 p.m. John Fogerty
11:15 pm. The Band Perry (partial set)
6 p.m. Old Dominion
6:45 p.m. The Marshall Tucker Band
7:30 p.m. The Turnpike Troubadours
8:20 p.m. Dustin Lynch
10:15 p.m. The Doobie Brothers