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Stagecoach has changed in the past couple of years; the lineup is shorter—but Goldenvoice is still including smaller Americana bands and classic country acts while Nashville’s big stars take to the Mane Stage.

Here’s a list of acts I certainly won’t miss at Stagecoach.

Friday, April 26

Cordovas

When I listen to Cordovas (right), I picture them playing in one of those smoky country-Western bars shown in films during the ’70s and ’80s. The band performs country music with a bit of the Grateful Dead and the Band thrown in. Cordovas will help you start off Stagecoach right—along with a cold beer and a comfy seat on a blanket or in a lawn chair.

Cody Johnson

There’s something enjoyable about many country singers from Texas—and Cody Johnson definitely has that certain something. On just about every album of his, you can hear the rodeo, and you can hear the honky tonks. Many of his songs have some grit, while his ballads can bring a tear to your eye.

Bret Michaels

Poison was one of the hardest-partying bands in the ’80s glam-metal scene—and the band is still going fairly strong. While Poison is known for anthems about partying and bagging chicks, there were moments later in Bret Michaels’ career when he showed a softer side—almost in the form of country or honky-tonk ballads; heck, he’s even started to adopt a more country-style appearance in recent years. It’s no wonder, then, that he’s also put out country songs as a solo artist and appeared on recordings with country stars such as Kenny Chesney. Bret Michaels took a long time coming to Stagecoach—but he should fit right in.


Saturday, April 27

Charley Crockett

Charley Crockett has said that he prefers timeless songs as far as songwriting goes. When you listen to him, you’ll hear some of that vintage Hank Williams sound, some old rock ’n’ roll, and even some ’70s-style country. He will be performing criminally early—at 12:30 p.m.—on the Palomino Stage, so be sure to arrive in time to catch his set.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

This will probably be the last time you’ll see the famed Southern-rock outfit play at Stagecoach, because the band is on its final farewell tour—and unlike most of the bands that do these types of tours, it seems as if Lynyrd Skynyrd is really ending for good. You probably know the band was in a plane crash in 1977 that killed original frontman Ronnie Van Zant, as well as guitarist Steve Gaines and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines. Since then, all the other original members of the band have left, save one: guitarist Gary Rossington. He’s kept the band going with Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother, Johnny Van Zant, but it feels like this is the right time for Lynyrd Skynyrd to bow out. If the band indeed calls it quits, this will be your last chance to sing along to “Freebird,” so don’t miss it.

Cam

Cam’s country-music roots come from right here in California: She was born in Huntington Beach and spent time in San Francisco and Oceanside. Her career has been consistently on the rise since she started in 2010; she’s also written music with Sam Smith for his album The Thrill of It All. I highly recommend checking out her 2015 album Untamed for an idea of what to expect.


Sunday, April 28

Jimmie Allen

Jimmie Allen’s music career was bumpy before he really got started. He was struggling so much that he was living in his car; he auditioned for America’s Got Talent and didn’t make it past the preliminary auditions; he auditioned for American Idol and didn’t make it to the live-voting rounds. But the man’s work and talent has finally paid off. He released his debut album, Mercury Lane, in late 2018, and his career has nowhere to go but up after finding success on country radio.

Tom Jones

This is a bit of an odd fit for Stagecoach, but considering The Zombies, Michael Nesmith of the Monkees, and Eric Burdon of the Animals have all played at Stagecoach … why not? Jones should have no problem winning over the crowd at Stagecoach—plus it’ll be interesting watching people in Stetsons and denim swaying to “It’s Not Unusual.”

Diplo

Yep, that’s right … I’m saving the most interesting Stagecoach act for last. The man behind Major Lazer and his own EDM material is stepping out of the dance-music to perform at Stagecoach’s “Late Night in the Palomino” at 10:55 p.m. Sunday night. Having seen Major Lazer at Coachella, I must say: It’ll be interesting to see what Diplo does for country fans at Stagecoach.

Published in Previews

In 2015, Cam lit up the country-music charts with her album Untamed—and she may very well do so again next year, when she releases a new album.

In the meantime, she’s bringing her small-scale West Coast tour to Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Dec. 7.

Born in Lafayette, a Bay Area suburb, she decided to pursue a music career after attaining a degree in psychology from University of California, Davis, and working in research labs.

During a recent phone interview, Cam discussed her new single, “Diane.”

“It’s basically the mirror image of the Dolly Parton song ‘Jolene,’” Cam said. “In this story, the other woman is coming forward saying that the guy she is with—she didn’t realize that he was married. When she finds out he’s married, she goes to the guy’s wife, tells the truth and apologizes. But it’s all wrapped up in this kind of ABBA-meets-Fleetwood Mac, dance-music, up-tempo vibe. You’re kind of dancing along and singing, ‘Diane, I’m really sorry I didn’t know he was your man,’ and you’re having a lot of fun, and then it’s, ‘Oops, wait. What is she saying?’”

With two albums under her belt, Cam said the upcoming album was easier to record—and that she had more resources to work with.

“There’s always the challenge of art—when you get in your own head and … you go through the process, and suddenly everything you have is horrible,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just wading through inner turmoil to figure out what you want, in terms of the process, and it was a lot easier this time around. When I first started in 2010, I was still doing psychology research, and when I first went into music, I started from scratch and was still learning how to write what I wanted, and how my voice should sound. I did it all on a Kickstarter budget.

“This (new) album, after winning a Grammy nomination for the last one, I have a bigger budget and things like strings on this album. I recorded it at the Capitol building in Los Angeles. The songwriters who wrote ‘Girl Crush’ are on it, and it was much easier.”

While songwriters helped with the album, Cam said she writes the vast majority of her material herself.

“It’s a very rare instance where I don’t (write all of it), and that may happen on one song on this next album. But I generally always write it,” she said. “For me, it has to touch base with the emotional part … by writing about the experiences that define you. It has to touch you with some kind of emotion behind it. That’s worth all the work and effort that goes into it. I have to feel pretty intense about it, and that includes me feeling very vulnerable when I’m writing.”

Speaking of songwriting: Cam wrote a song on Sam Smith’s new album.

“I felt like, sitting down with Sam, he already heard some of the new album and liked it, but he knew what he was going into and said, ‘I want to write with her,’” she said. “We sat down, and it was like there was a similar concept that’s floating between you, and you both identify it. If you don’t speak the same language or you’re not on the same wavelength, then it doesn’t work.”

As a Californian, Cam said she struggled when she first arrived in Nashville.

“People definitely have a way of doing things … and tell you, ‘That’s the way it’s done,’” she said. “… Sometimes, when you get into Nashville as a new artist, people are like, ‘Here’s the big-hit producer; here are the big-hit musicians you have to use; and here’s the big-hit writer!’ You just kind of get pushed into the factory line, but then in the end, you get music that sounds like everyone else’s, and it feels like it could be replaceable.”

Cam is currently touring smaller West Coast venues. She said she wants to show appreciation for the West Coast while introducing songs from the upcoming album in intimate venues.

“I lived in Portland at one point in my life. I was raised in the Bay Area, (lived in) Los Angeles at one point, and I got married in Pioneertown. These are all places that I love,” she said. “For me, bringing a show to an intimate place after playing big shows—it’s really cool to be in a venue where you can see people and their faces at an intimate level. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do in my life: play music in the places where I want to play and for the people I want to play it for.”

Cam will perform 9 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 7, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews