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Monday, 28 April 2014 11:55

Stagecoach 2014: Shovels and Rope Amaze; Wanda Jackson Wows; Michael Nesmith Bombs; Luke Bryan Is on Fire

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Luke Bryan had the largest crowd of any Stagecoach 2014 headliner. Luke Bryan had the largest crowd of any Stagecoach 2014 headliner. Kevin Fitzgerald

The final day of Stagecoach on Sunday, April 27, closed out three weekends of Coachella/Stagecoach awesomeness with more great music—and a notable dud as well.

Kicking things off, on the Palomino Stage, was I See Hawks in L.A., a band with a traditional country-music sound that hearkens back to the late ’60s and early ’70s. Frontman Rob Waller has a voice that is similar to that of the late Waylon Jennings; the lap-steel guitar and harmonies felt like a throwback to the legacy era of country music.

When I recently interviewed Shelly Colvin, she spoke about the influence of Emmylou Harris, and explained how being raised in a Southern Baptist household tinged her music. Her performance on Sunday afternoon certainly showed those influences: Gospel music and a rustic country sound were mixed with Colvin’s stunning vocals. She didn’t sing any of her songs like she sang them on her debut album.

Bangles member Susanna Hoffs took the Mustang Stage after Colvin. She performed the Stone Poneys’ “Different Drum” and followed with the Bangles’ “Manic Monday” early in her set. While she is primarily known for her pop/rock sound, her set did have a country feel. She was an interesting addition to the Stagecoach lineup.

People who were lucky enough to be inside the Palomino tent around 3 p.m. were blown away by Shovels and Rope. The duo—consisting of Cary Ann Hearst and her husband, Michael Trent—is like a country-Americana version of the White Stripes. Hearst’s voice is beautiful, yet gritty and powerful when it needs to be. They played both acoustic and electric, and switched positions between guitar and drums. Their performance was the most interesting and entertaining of all the sets I saw at Stagecoach, thanks in part to their excellent energy and stage presence.

Wanda Jackson a highlight of the late afternoon. She explained during her set that she’d undergone shoulder surgery about three weeks ago—around the same time she was added to the Stagecoach lineup. She opened her set with “Riot In Cell Block No. 9”—which, simply put, was awesome. She said the dust in the air was causing her some problems, yet her voice was incredible. She went through hits such as “Funnel of Love” and “I Betcha My Heart I Love You,” and talked about her relationship with Elvis Presley in the mid-’50s. She said he gave her a diamond ring before he became wealthy, and that she had the ring checked out; the diamonds were indeed real. In a nice bit of showmanship, she performed a cover of Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” after the story. One interesting moment came when she talked about a Sunday afternoon in 1971 when she was sitting in a church in Oklahoma and realized she had everything she needed—except for a relationship with Jesus Christ. She followed with the gospel song “I Saw the Light.” She closed out her set with a cover of the song that made Jerry Lee Lewis famous, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On.”

Michael Nesmith of the Monkees followed Wanda Jackson on the Palomino Stage—about 10 minutes late. Wearing a white sport jacket, he told the crowd that he was only going to perform songs that he had written personally—which led to a good number of people leaving from his already somewhat-dismal crowd. His performance of songs from his solo records in the ’70s didn’t impress, and neither did his showmanship; he basically made hand gestures and sang lyrics from the iPad attached to his microphone. He ended his performance by saying: “I’M SO OUTTA HERE! GOODNIGHT!”

There was one positive outcome to Nesmith’s performance: He cleared out plenty of space for people to get good spots to see John Prine, who closed out the Palomino by opening with “Spanish Pipedream.” Prine recently had lung surgery, yet he still managed to sing well. He didn’t socialize much with the crowd, and instead let the music do most of the talking. After performing “Six-O’Clock News,” he told the audience, “I hope it wasn’t too loud for you,” which got some laughs, considering the song’s slow pace. Highlights of his set were “Iron Ore Betty,” and “Lake Marie.” After a brief encore, he returned to perform a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Paradise,” which was a perfect way to close out the Palomino for Stagecoach 2014.

Before headliner Luke Bryan took the Mane Stage to close out the festival, the lights went dark as a video played of him lighting the end of an arrow on fire and shooting it with a crossbow. The stage then had a trail of fire as Luke Bryan blasted into his opening number, “That’s My Kind of Night.” Bryan had the largest of crowd of any Stagecoach 2014 headliner, with few people leaving during his performance.

And with that, Stagecoach 2014 was a wrap.

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3 comments

  • Comment Link Shadrack Jackson Sunday, 04 May 2014 13:38 posted by Shadrack Jackson

    Pathetic and inaccurate reporting. Shame on anyone that would write this stuff with so little concern for the facts. John Prine performed "a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Paradise" ??? I was sorry to find out about Prine's recent lung surgery, especially after having throat surgery ... Although I feel that Nesmith show may have been misplaced at the Stagecoach event, the quality of the music and bands performance are beyond reproach.
    Brian Blueskye embarrassed his profession with this review.

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  • Comment Link Shalan M Tuesday, 29 April 2014 17:34 posted by Shalan M

    Epic fail of a review.

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  • Comment Link Sherri Hansen Tuesday, 29 April 2014 17:01 posted by Sherri Hansen

    I find it quite disturbing that you would not have caught the fact that Michael Nesmith wrote and then performed his song "Different Drum" at the festival before writing this review. Linda Ronstandt and the Stone Poneys did record the song and made it a hit.

    Do you not think that Susanna Hoffs performing the song when Michael Nesmith was planning on performing it was not uncomfortable for the man?

    Before you write such a derogatory review, you should make sure you know what you are talking about. Not to mention it seems clear in your review that you did not seem to really watch his set as you did not comment on the music but instead reviewed anything but that.

    Michael Nesmith paved the way for country rock music. Give the man a little credit and respect.

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