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Brian Blueskye

When you examine the career of Gregg Allman and the Allman Brothers Band, one word comes to mind: longevity.

After largely taking 14 years off from his solo career, Allman, now 65, blew off the dust to record Low Country Blues, and he’s finally taking it on the road after its 2011 release, including a show at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Saturday, May 25.

Thanks to a career that is approaching five decades, Allman is an icon, both as the front man of the Allman Brothers Band and on his own. There have been lows as well, such as his well-documented battles with addiction, lifelong health problems, band disputes, and the death of his band mate and older brother Duane Allman in 1971.

Despite the hardships, he’s continued on, racking up hit records and playing sold-out concerts around the world.

When the Allmans founded the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, Gregg was uncertain about his future as a musician; he originally intended to become a dental surgeon, but Duane convinced him to give music a try, and he hasn’t looked back since.

When I asked Allman in a recent phone interview why it took 14 years to hear him on his own again, following 1997’s One More Try: An Anthology, Allman said it was mostly due to the death of longtime Allman Brothers Band producer Tom Dowd in 2002.

“He was more than a producer; he was a father figure,” he said. “After he died in 2002, when the idea of recording would come up, I would just change the subject.”

However, when the opportunity came to work with T-Bone Burnett in the producer’s chair, Allman decided to give it a try—although he was hesitant at first.

“Of course (Burnett) is famous for all this other stuff, and you can take all of that into consideration before you work with the guy, but it’s how the two of you get along musically and socially,” he said.

Allman was satisfied with the results.

“He was a wonderful producer. He was so much like Tommy (Dowd), but different in his own way.”

Low Country Blues became Allman’s triumphant return to solo recording, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and receiving a Grammy Award nomination for Best Blues Album. He also released his autobiography, My Cross to Bear, in 2012. The reviews for both were mostly positive.

However, Allman was too busy to celebrate: He was dealing with the after-effects of a liver transplant that he underwent before the album’s release.

“I had never dreamt that anything could be so horrendous and painful. I couldn’t play or tour,” he said about the June 2010 transplant.

In time, however, his strength returned.

“I had a tour booked the day after Christmas in 2012. When I woke up on Dec. 23, something had changed. I had strength; I had motivation. I felt like my old self, and I still feel that way. I’m so thankful to God that he gave me another chance.”

When I asked him what his future looks like, he told me that he has another solo album currently in the works, but didn’t reveal any other details. There’s also a biopic that’s in the early stages based on My Cross to Bear.

When I asked him if he’s excited about a rare appearance in the Coachella Valley, he said: “Absolutely!”

“I think that the Allman Brothers have slighted the West Coast of America terribly,” he said. “In the next three to four years, I plan to make up for all of that. I’m going to bust my ass now that I feel like the old me. I’m going to be doing some extensive touring over the next 10 years, I hope.”

Gregg Allman performs at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 25, at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. Tickets are $29 to $69. Call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com for more information.

Berkeley resident Sascha Altman DuBrul has accomplished much as a community organizer and punk rocker, inspiring many who subscribe to the philosophies of Noam Chomsky or punk-rock ethics.

And he’s done so despite struggles with bipolar disorder.

In his book Maps to the Other Side, he offers a journey through his writings over the years, covering subjects such as train-hopping, political activism, community gardens and his struggles with mental illness. “The stories in this book are the personal maps through my jagged lands of brilliance and madness,” he writes in the introduction.

DuBrul starts by talking about his childhood. He was raised in a chaotic home by two parents who consistently fought while he was being raised by the television. He talks about the Live Aid concert in 1985, saying he was disappointed by the much-anticipated concert, and calling it as a gathering of coked-out rock stars who got together to sing “We Are the World.”

As DuBrul grew older, he became more influenced by punk rock and set out to change the world, inspired by Noam Chomsky and the punk-rock style of activism. Oh, yeah, and he listened to Chumbawamba during their early punk-rock days before we all heard “Tubthumping” on repeat.

He traveled the country via train-hopping, listening to the stories of migrant workers and hoboes; he eventually fell into the world of community gardens and took part in protests against NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. He spent a lot of time in Northern and Southern California working in community gardens and organizing punk rockers to take up political causes. He even set up California’s first seed-exchange and seed-preservation network, known as BASIL. Author Ruth Ozeki was inspired by him and based a character on him in one of her novels.

While DuBrul was an inspiring figure who worked tirelessly for his causes, people around him were beginning to notice he was coming apart. He describes various episodes while off medication, such as scaring his friends with his rants and making scenes in public, including an interesting encounter with the Los Angeles Police Department. “For brevity’s sake, I’ll spare the details, but let me just say that I’m lucky I didn’t end up with an LAPD bullet in my chest,” he writes.

His struggles with taking his daily regimen of prescription drugs while trying to stay productive are at times heartbreaking, but inspiring when he manages to pull himself together and keep moving on. By founding the Icarus Project, he became an alternative-information source on the subject of bipolar disorder, while giving people the ability to express themselves through the arts and collaborate as a collective on the subject of mental illness.

Despite being derailed at times by bipolar disorder, DuBrul offers a unique perspective on what it’s like to lose one’s mind, yet still manage to make a difference. Maps to the Other Side also offers a unique look into the world of collective-based activism that was going on long before Occupy Wall Street came along—as told by someone who has dedicated his life to social justice.

Maps to the Other Side

By Sascha Altman DuBrul

Microcosm

192 pages, $15.95/sliding scale at microcosmpublishing.com

Wade Crawford and the Country Trash will play anywhere, for anyone.

In the midst of gigs all over California, and time spent recording their first full-length album, he and drummer Terence Dunn are playing a show at Playoffs Sports Bar in Desert Hot Springs on Saturday, May 18.

When I ask the 28 year-old Banning resident, during a recent phone interview, to define the band’s sound, Crawford offers an amusing definition: “California country trash.”

Various musicians these days are inspired by Americana and the outlaw country sound; Wade Crawford and the Country Trash are expressing their inspiration in their own unique way. Crawford’s two main influences—Jim Morrison and Waylon Jennings—inspire his vocals and his songwriting, leading to a unique blend of rock music and outlaw country.

“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘I don’t normally like country music, but I really like your style of country music,’ and I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘You’re not country at all.’ So it’s really whatever people get from it,” he said.

As for where the name “the country trash” came from, there’s a bit of history. Originally, he went by “Peoria Traverse” (a combination of the U.S. cities Peoria, Ill., and Traverse City, Mich.), a tribute to the hometowns of his paternal and fraternal grandparents; however, there was some confusion with the name, and people had a hard time pronouncing it. So Wade went in a different direction.

“I wanted something that sort of caught people’s attention and told them what we were about without them having to hear us. I wouldn’t necessarily say we’re trashy, but I’ve had some people tell me my lyrics could be a little trashy. So, it sort of sums it up with ‘country trash,’” he said.

While Crawford and Dunn play as a duo, Crawford has plans to expand the band. They’re currently seeking a bass player and a slide-guitar player. In other words, they hope to add some more trash.

Crawford admits that he was intimidated by opening for Reverend Horton Heat at the Date Shed this past March.

“When I got there, I saw the big bus. And when I walked in, and I saw (Jim Heath, aka Reverend Horton Heat), I started getting those butterflies. I asked myself, ‘How are we here right now? How are we opening for these guys?’ I got nervous, and I called (Terence Dunn).”

But after some pre-show preparation, and with a positive mental attitude, Crawford was ready to go.

“I had a few beers to calm myself down. My whole motto is to get up there and act like everyone is there to see me. I had to make (the audience) believe. After three or four songs, I’m like, ‘We got this.’ It felt really good. We got a really good response. Reverend Horton Heat and his guys all seemed to really like us. I put it up there as one of the best shows we’ve played.”

Other people have taken notice of Crawford’s live playing ability, including the management of Playoffs, where the band played a very successful hillbilly-themed benefit show for the Coachella Valley Derby Girls.

“We had a good time there,” he said. “When we were playing, we took a break, and the owner told me, ‘We don’t normally book bands, but whenever you guys want to come back, let me know.’ So I gave it a few of months and called him and set up another show. I’m looking forward to it.”

Wade Crawford and the Country Trash will appear at 9 p.m., Saturday, May 18, at Playoffs Sports Bar, 12105 Palm Drive in Desert Hot Springs; admission is free. For more information, call 760-251-2644.

When I decided to attend Coachella and Stagecoach on behalf of the Coachella Valley Independent, editor Jimmy Boegle and I had some concerns about my physical limitations. A back injury that I suffered in 2011 has left me with problems with standing and sitting for long periods of time.

While I was indeed concerned, I was confident that I was up to the task. However, by the third day of Coachella's second weekend, I was starting to really feel my physical limitations.

I decided to visit promoter Goldenvoice’s ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) Access Center, located in the lobby area of both Coachella and Stagecoach. I was given an ADA wristband, which allowed me access to the handicapped areas, where I could sit and watch each band from a comfortable distance.

One of the things I’ve always loved to do is attend concerts. It’s an amazing experience to be able to experience live performances by bands and performers you’ve enjoyed for years, and to experience new artists you aren’t familiar with. However, I’ve been nervous and hesitant to do since 2011, given the issues I have with both sitting and standing.

Government statistics say that about 20 percent of Americans have a disability—so how do you accommodate those who have a disability at a music festival?

Goldenvoice employees have been trying to answer that very question since they created the ADA department, and have been making improvements every year—from how they design the layout of the grounds, to how the staging areas are set up.

“It’s a never ending commitment,” said J.B., an employee of Goldenvoice who is affiliated with the ADA Access Center (and who declined to give his last name). “We are constantly refining everything in every aspect of the festivals. We’re working hand in hand with every department.”

The department has a broad range of services available for handicapped patrons.

“We cover everything from the parking lot and designated wheelchair and companion areas to sign-language interpreters on the stages,” he said.

While the ADA Access Center does try to accommodate each case on a per-need basis, they have no control over some parking-lot access issues, he said; that is handled according to the DMV and law enforcement rules, meaning placards or license plates are required for handicapped-access parking.

For those who have a disability and have been hesitant to attend Coachella or Stagecoach, I can say that Goldenvoice has you covered.

“Ultimately, I would say the numbers (of disabled attendees) grow every year,” he said.

He also offered an inspiring thought after providing access to disabled patrons over the years.

“(By) providing ADA services here at the festivals, we are opening up to a broader audience that perhaps never thought, ‘Hey, I could go to a music festival,’ and now they’re seeing they can go in their wheelchair and enjoy it as much as any other able-bodied person.”

As someone who sought services from this department over two weekends, I can say that the ADA Access Center does a good job. As I was leaving the Access Center at Stagecoach to go catch John C. Reilly and Friends, J.B. told me something that almost made me choke up: The department has provided services to terminally ill patrons who have told them that it might be their last Coachella or Stagecoach.

I’d personally like to thank Goldenvoice for providing me with ADA access; without it, I don’t know how well I would have been able to hold up and cover the festival as I did.

There were two rules for Stagecoach 2013’s third day, spelled out on video monitors and texted to attendees who downloaded the Stagecoach app: Drink water, and find shade for your health and safety.

While water was supplied by vendors and free refill stations, shade is limited at the Empire Polo Club.

The official sponsor of Stagecoach—Toyota—offered a bit of shade inside their exclusive tent on the right hand side of the “Mane Stage.” The Toyota tent became the “Toyota World of Wonders” this year, featuring an interactive vintage carnival theme, with a milk-jug throw, a ring toss and even a professional palm-reader—seated, of course, in a 2013 Rav4.

Over the weekend, Toyota revealed the brand new 4Runner model, which featured an acoustic performance in the Toyota World of Wonders from Dierks Bentley.

Around 1 p.m. on Sunday, the Budweiser Clydesdales—who made an appearance on El Paseo in Palm Desert earlier in the week—trekked through the lobby area of the festival, making their third appearance at Stagecoach.

“We enjoy a big crowd,” said Budweiser representative Dennis Knepp.

As far as finding shade was concerned, fans were finding it in the Mustang and Palomino tents.

Waddie Mitchell, a “cowboy poet,” offered a reading to a large group of attendees—some of whom sat with their backs turned, uninterested and conversing among themselves. I spotted one woman sleeping on one of the bales of hay. When he ended his 70-minute act, he said, “I think I’ll go start some supper now. Thanks for the ride.”

Riders in the Sky followed Mitchell at 3:50 p.m. Riders in the Sky’s performance at Stagecoach was their 6,419th performance over 35 years, as well as their third appearance at Stagecoach. The group’s performance had a diverse, interested audience of all ages, including children.

During the performance, Fred LaBour and the rest of the group performed solos—slapping the sides of their face making “clacking” noises. Paul “Woody” Chrisman dumped cornmeal on the stage and performed a fiddle solo while dancing on it.

The part of their performance that stood out the most was a cover of the theme to Rawhide, which had many of those in the audience singing and clapping along. Children in the audience got to hear “Woody’s Roundup” from the Toy Story 2 soundtrack, along with “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”

In a way, the Riders in the Sky are the cowboy Rat Pack. Consider Douglas “Ranger Doug” Green’s vocals slightly echoing Frank Sinatra’s during “Trail Dust,” as well as the group’s comedy, which never stops during their performance.

Fans of John C. Reilly—known for his roles in Boogie Nights and The Aviator—were treated to the actor’s musical performance after Riders in the Sky (who took a few comedic shots at Reilly during their set). During sound check, Reilly addressed the large crowd who packed the front half of the Mustang Tent.

“It’s called a rolling festival sound check,” he said, gaining applause.

“I’m John Reilly, and these are my friends. On this hot day, so are you,” he said, before going into his first number. He played the guitar he used in the movie Walk Hard. People at the rear were slow-dancing, as if the Mustang Tent had been turned into a honky tonk. At times, it felt like a performance suited for A Prairie Home Companion. Nice job, John!

Mustang headliners Katey Sagal and the Forest Rangers took the stage around 10 minutes late. Sagal was yet another Hollywood figure performing at Stagecoach; she was a recording artist before becoming an actress in roles such as Peg on Married With Children and Gemma on Sons of Anarchy. The Forest Rangers have been contributors on the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack throughout its five seasons, with various vocalists.

A few Sons of Anarchy and “SAMCRO” T-shirts were scattered throughout the decent-sized audience, and as the Forest Rangers took the stage, Sagal was missing. The group performed alone with what they called “guest vocalists” at first. Through bluesy/southern rock performances of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” and Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” it seemed as if they were trying to shrug off a possible absence.

Sagal finally walked onstage to a deafening ovation. When she began to sing a cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” fans got to experience her magnificent singing ability. She then did a beautiful cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” and a cover of Steve Earle’s “Come Home to Me.”

She turned over the vocals to Curtis Stigers for a performance of “John the Revelator,” which was just as impressive as it was during the Sons of Anarchy season 1 finale.

While Sagal was obviously the major attraction, the Forest Rangers—along with their guest vocalists—were quite a sight to see, and it was a real treat for those who attended.

As Katey Sagal and the Forest Rangers were finishing up, a large crowd in the Palomino Tent was awaiting the Charlie Daniels Band, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Daniels and the band took the stage about 15 minutes late; to be fair, the sound check appeared to be quite extensive. For a man who recently had heart surgery, Daniels appeared to be extremely energetic. The Southern-rock icon was twirling his bow and playing a mean fiddle during their opening song, and seemed to joke with his guitarist by slapping him with it.

“I do believe it’s party time in the desert!” he said after his first song.

While Daniels’ performance was strong throughout, his scaled-back set contained two long instrumentals and left no time for Daniels to play his established hits. Daniels bragged that his current band was the best he’s played with, and while there’s no doubt that’s true, people seemed as if they were ready for the long guitar solos and repetitive bass lines to end. Nevertheless, Daniels’ performance included spectacular lighting, and there was no better way to close out the Palomino Tent for Stagecoach 2013 than with “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

The Zac Brown Band closed out the Mane Stage and were the last act to play at Stagecoach for 2013. The band’s first song, “Keep Me in Mind,” was a delightful opener. Hearing some Americana, acoustic-driven country thrown into the mainstream Nashville sound that’s usually featured on the Mane Stage was a unique experience.

The highlight of their show was a cover of Dave Matthews Band’s “Ants Marching,” which was something I didn’t expect, and it sounded wonderful when played with their signature sound. The Zac Brown Band was not as flashy as Toby Keith or Lady Antebellum, and the group had a more-laid-back approach. Instead, it was all about the music. It was another wonderful night for the Mane Stage, and a lovely conclusion to Stagecoach 2013.

Despite blistering temperatures, fans enjoyed the three days of the most unique country music festival in the United States. It’s the only place where you will see Americana, bluegrass and alternative country, as well as groups like the Honky Tonk Angels Band, plus actors and actresses performing country music, and the thundering sound of modern Nashville mainstream—all in one place.

Photos by Erik Goodman

With the temperature surpassing 100 degrees, the Empire Polo Club was a challenging place to be during day 2 of Stagecoach 2013. Nonetheless, the people showed up ready for another day of country music … but that music came a bit belated.

While the gates were supposed to open at 11 a.m., general-admission attendees were held at the entry gates until noon on the dot. Nobody announced why fans were held up for an extra hour, but from the sound of it, sound checks were running late.

“Taps” played throughout the festival grounds as fans finally made their way in.

Ray Cammack Shows, which operates the Ferris wheel, was kind enough to allow photographer Erik Goodman and I to start off the day with a ride. With a grand view at close to 200 feet, we could watch attendees entering the grounds, with a stunning view of the mountains and most of Indio in the distance.

How many people have ridden the Ferris wheel during the three festival weekends?

“As of today, it’s approximately 31,500 people,” said RCS’ social media representative, Daniel Mejia. “It will be approximately 35,000 by the end of Sunday.”

The Ferris wheel—one of Coachella and Stagecoach’s most popular attractions—is especially in demand after sunset.

It’s a fun experience for the people who work for Ray Cammack, too.

“It’s crazy that we get time away from our carnivals that we go to each year and get to come to this spot and be like the main part of it. It’s pretty awesome,” he said.

For festival attendees who feel a patriotic duty to support American products and jobs, Keep America has them covered. Founded by CEO David Seliktar, the company has been in operation since March 2012. Keep America’s small tent in the festival lobby offers an array of products, from American-made sunscreen and T-shirts to can cozies.

Dina Rezvanipour of Keep America expressed passion about the business’ purpose.

“We decided to come here because we’re country-music fans, and we know that everyone here truly believes in what we’re here for and what we stand for,” she said.

She also makes a suggestion for consumers to consider.

“If every consumer were to spend $30 a month (more on American-made products), we could create over 1 million jobs here. That is the message we are trying to get out—simple numbers.”

As for the music, the Americana presence was strong on Saturday.

The festival kicked off with an energetic performance at 12:45 p.m. in the Palomino Tent featuring Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants. Shiflett, a member of the Foo Fighters, had only a small crowd at first due to the late entry, but people continued to show up through the beginning of his set. In what sounded like a mixture of the mainstream Nashville sound combined with Americana, he started his set with “Guitar Pickin’ Man."

Shiflett was playful with the audience, pointing out two fans.

“You guys are my favorite Stagecoach people; (tattooed)-guns-on-chest guy, and mustache man,” he said, with much laughter among the crowd.

Shiflett was also honest about the heat.

“I promised myself I wouldn’t complain about this heat, but we could really use some of those little fucking misting fans right now,” he said.

He closed his set with Waylon Jennings’ “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” Shiflett may be a guitarist for one of the world’s biggest rock bands, but he proved he’s one heck of a country performer as well.

For fans of Americana and a little something different, the Palomino Stage was the place to be, featuring some of the biggest names in alternative-country subgenres and Americana.

The Inland Empire’s Honky Tonk Angels Band took the stage after Shiflett. With a thunderous intro that proved the band’s set would get crazy and loud, the Angels proved themselves to be a band that could play either Stagecoach or Coachella.

Oh, and you could really hear that cowbell in their opening number!

The Honky Tonk Angels Band is a talented group of performers with great guitarists. The best way to describe their sound would be if the Supersuckers and the Black Crowes teamed up. Kurt Ross, the group’s vocalist, has one hell of a stage presence that got all of those in attendance riled up. There was even a group of people line-dancing on the left side of the stage.

The band announced they were celebrating their 25th anniversary as a band.

“We have three rules to be in this band,” Ross told the audience. “You have to like George Jones; you have to like the Rolling Stones; and you have to like tequila.”

This band is one hell of a good time, and it’s amazing that after 25 years, they seem to be off the radar. This gig was well-deserved.

When I later asked Ross how he felt about the group’s performance, he was speechless.

“I’m at a loss of words. It was amazing,” he said.

After the Honky Tonk Angels Band, Justin Townes Earle—the son of Steve Earle—took the stage a few minutes late. Earle, wearing a white suit, was a perfect fit, continuing the Angels’ momentum in a slightly mellower way.

His sound at times sounded like vocal jazz with a bit of the blues. He paid a tribute to his mother, declaring that she likes to go home early and that young people are up to no good if they’re out after the sunset, before covering Wolf Parade’s “You Are A Runner and I Am My Father’s Son.”

Before playing “Harlem River Blues,” he talked about how fans have told him they want to jump into the Harlem River. He advised against that, given how polluted it is.

Following his performance, Earle said the show felt good.

“I seem to have a really good feeling playing when it’s really hot,” Earle said.

And speaking of hot, Nick 13 of Tiger Army took the stage after Earle, wearing a light-green, embroidered suit. The anticipation of Nick 13’s performance could be felt throughout the day, with fans wearing his T-shirts congregating in the tent during previous performances.

The upright bass sound and the Americana style made Nick 13 a popular sight; he’s a serious performer who has never considered himself a novelty act. He played his single “Carry My Body Down,” announcing that the music video was shot here in the Coachella Valley.

Before playing “101,” he made a special dedication: “I’d like to dedicate this song to everyone who still listens to real country music,” he said.

He played an Americana-sounding “In the Orchard,” from Tiger Army’s catalog, dedicating it to the late George Jones. He also played his new single, “Nighttime Sky,” having just released the video earlier in the week.

When I caught up with Nick 13 after his performance, I asked him if he was annoyed by the heat—especially in the suit he was wearing.

“Nope, mind over matter,” he said with a smile.

For fans of the Bakersfield sound, Dwight Yoakam took to the Palomino Tent 10 minutes late, at 6:55 p.m.

Yoakam wore a blue denim ensemble that included his trademark skin-tight jeans, while his band members were in flashy, sparkly black suits. He opened with an unrecognizable song that was played at a fast pace while they were obviously still mic-checking. When he followed with “You’re the One,” he already had the audience rocking, and that would continue, with a fast-paced take on every song he performed. Even the slow numbers had energy behind them.

During “Streets of Bakersfield,” he stopped the song halfway through.

“That’s not right. … I spent time some time in San Bernardino. … I spent some time in Coachella!” he said, which resulted in an eruption of applause as he resumed the song.

The spirit of the Bakersfield sound was alive for the rest of the performance. Unfortunately, Dwight didn’t play “Stuart Drives a Comfortable Car” like I was hoping he would.

Lady Antebellum managed to pull in an even larger audience than Toby Keith did the night before the “Mane Stage.” They’re one of the hottest groups in country music, and the performance was sort of a homecoming for the group, who played on the Mane Stage at the 2009 festival, but not as headliners.

The group’s flashy intro played on the video wall, and was followed by the intro to their song “Downtown,” leading to a roaring ovation as the group took the stage. Vocalists Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley worked well together throughout, despite technical difficulties during a stretch of songs; the sound was barely audible for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on where you were standing.

“Our Kind of Love” nonetheless offered a perfect performance. The group also sampled a new song off their upcoming album, Goodbye Town. Lady Antebellum proved to be solid headliners throughout, not letting the technical difficulties sidetrack them.

As for the death of George Jones, it was still a relevant and hard-to-avoid subject during day 2. Many of the artists paid tribute to him in some way. 

Photos by Erik Goodman

It’s definitely another hot weekend at the Empire Polo Club.

The Stagecoach Music Festival kicked off on Friday, April 26, with a mellower, laid-back vibe compared to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival’s two weekends. Beautiful women clad in Daisy Dukes and Western attire and a lot of shirtless men in cowboy hats braved the hot weather.

The sun didn’t bother a couple of fans in attendance, who appeared happy as they exited the beer garden next to the Mane Stage. (That’s not a typo; that’s what the main stage is called.)

“I’m having an awesome time,” said Zack Lindsay of Palm Springs.

When it came to the sun, Lindsay came prepared. “I’m not bothered by the sun. That’s why I have a hat.”

Larry Owen of La Quinta wasn’t bothered, either, going shirtless and displaying good spirits. He shared what excited him the most about the festival.

“It’s definitely the acts, and some of the old country acts playing on some of the other stages. It’s great,” Owen said.

Before the gates even opened, the news of George Jones’ passing set a somber mood among some of the older country-music fans, as well as many of the artists. Robert Ellis, who performed a set in the Palomino Tent in the afternoon, toured with Jones recently.

“I would hope that people would be honoring his memory today,” Ellis said. “I think there’s a chance that the younger folks here at this festival might not know who he is, which is kind of a shame. I mentioned it onstage, and a couple of the older guys “wooed” really loud. But most of these people are probably 18 or 19 years old; they’re going to see Toby Keith, and they don’t have any idea who George Jones is. You would hope at a country festival that it would be earth-shattering news,” he said.

Nonetheless, Ellis said his set.

“My show was cool. It was a lot of rednecks, a lot of people without shirts on. It made me feel right at home—I’m from Texas,” he said with a laugh.

The Haunted Windchimes took the stage at 1:30 p.m. in the Mustang Tent. The Windchimes are known for being perfectionists in the art of harmonies, and their performance started off as an intimate show for just a few people. The bluegrass and folk sound of their opening number “Waiting for a Train” was stunning. Desirae Garcia mentioned the scantily clad ladies and gentlemen, and during the group’s set, they dedicated a heartwarming performance of Leadbelly’s “Old Ship to Zion” to George Jones. The band’s mellow and laid-back set felt like a show by genuine old-time country band in an era that has long since passed.

Hayes Carll was fired up through his sound check in the Palomino Tent, with “Check, check, 1-2, how are you?” leading to a small ovation a few minutes before his scheduled 2:50 p.m. set. Carll, ever the literary troubadour, played his signature songs that resemble the sound of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, combined with a little bit of Southern rock. His all-over-the-place beats had the crowd dancing and laughing. During a long-winded speech addressing his hectic and somewhat unique touring schedule of rodeos and honky-tonks, Carll thanked the crowd for attending. “I know we’re in a recession or a depression, but I want to thank you for spending your hard-earned money to come out and support country music,” he said, to a loud ovation.

Carll decided to take a break from the normal Southern rock sound of “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart” by performing it in a Americana style, which made the song stand out and become a little bit more … country. Toward the end of his set, he announced he was going to play a song about the political divide in America. His description: “If Rachel Maddow and Ann Coulter went on a blind date with an open bar tab.” “Another Like You” reflected Carll’s unique and amusing take on a variety of subjects. He also performed a great cover of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Drunken Poet’s Dream.”

If there’s one thing you can say about Hayes Carll, it’s this: Anyone who despises country music would love him.

For fans of Americana, Old Crow Medicine Show’s headlining performance in the Mustang Tent was a real sight to see. The tent was nearly full, as the group attracted a unique audience of both older and younger attendees. When the band began playing, it looked and sounded like the biggest hoe-down ever seen. Cowboy hats bounced up and down as people danced country-style. Each time one of the members would address the audience, the crowd cheered so loudly that the members’ words were barely audible. Covers of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin” were a perfect fit. Considering other songs in the set such as “Alabama High Test,” “Take It Away” and “Wagon Wheel,” fans of Americana should celebrate the fact that Americana is back on the up and up.

The main stage was graced with the presence of Bocephus himself, right as the sun went down. His intro—a mix of Kid Rock, Gretchen Wilson and other various artists who mention him in songs—received a thunderous applause, as did his opening number, “I Like to Have Women I’ve Never Had.”

One thing is for certain: Hank Jr. is not that great of a singer; his late father and his estranged son Hank III surpass him when it comes to singing. He sounds like Waylon Jennings at times when it’s mellower, but when he tries to sing to a beat, he goes out of rhythm and out of tune. His band, on the other hand, is excellent.

When he started his second song, he stopped and said he instead wanted a little bit of “Keep the Change.” The song—a verbal lashing of the Obama administration featuring lyrics declaring, “I’ll keep my freedom, I’ll keep my guns,” and, “We know who to blame: United Socialist States of America”—had fans cheering and clapping. In a surprising move, his most popular song, “All My Rowdy Friends,” was third on his set list.

While Bocephus’ singing may be weak, he’s a brilliant instrumentalist. He showcased his ability to play guitar solos, teasing the audience with a few covers that he didn’t sing (thank God!), such as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Two Steps” and Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See?” One cover he did sing, quite terribly, was Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.”

He later took to the piano and told a story about how he wanted to “boogie woogie” when he was a kid. He played a cover of his late father’s “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On.” Toward the end of his set, he included “Family Tradition.”

While Hank Jr. might not be able to sing like his father or his son, he knows how to work an audience; his fans love him.

Headliner Toby Keith (the Independent was not among the media outlets authorized to photograph him) had the entire festival’s attention when he showed up on the Mane Stage at 9:30. The intro was AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” until the song stopped, and a video started to play of Keith driving a Ford truck through the desert. In the video, he picks up a mysterious woman who leads him to a ramshackle bar that’s empty; it’s a mirage sequence of some sort.

All I saw was: “Ford truck commercial.”

Toby’s opening of “American Ride” was all-American display of loud country music set to pyrotechnics and an impressive light show. He kept his patriotic vibe going with “Made in America.”

“Let’s get drunk and be somebody tonight!” Keith said, holding up his red plastic cup, before starting “Get Drunk and Be Somebody.” He then asked the crowd, “Anybody drinking here besides me?” before telling the audience that he was trying to remember how long it had been since his last trip to Palm Springs. “1,452 beers ago,” he said, before starting the song with the same title.

Keith, like many performers throughout the day, mentioned George Jones.

“He was the face of country music that everyone wants to be,” said Keith, before covering “She Still Thinks I Care” and “White Lightning.”

During “I Wanna Talk About Me,” Keith’s microphone seemed to suffer from technical issues, but the performance was still solid. “I’ll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again,” Keith’s story about trying marijuana with Willie Nelson, led to the stench of marijuana going in the night air.

Keith’s patriotic set couldn’t have left out “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” his controversial anthem recorded shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Keith delivered a strong performance and closed out Day 1 on a high note.

Even with George Jones’ death on the minds of many—some performers even choked up while mentioning his passing—Stagecoach went on and paid a warm tribute to the late country legend.

For those who are not able to attend Stagecoach, AXS TV is offering live coverage from 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Photos below by Erik Goodman.

While Stagecoach is known for showcasing a wide variety of alternative-country, traditional country and Americana, there’s still plenty of room for the Western music of Riders in the Sky, who will be making their third appearance at the festival, taking place April 26-28.

The group’s lineup—Ranger Doug (Douglas B. Green), Woody Paul (Paul Chrisman), Joey the Cowpolka King (Joey Miskulin) and Too Slim (Fred LaBour)—has never changed and has remained more or less intact since their founding. When the group came together in the late 1970s in Nashville, Tenn., they decided to wipe the dust off the Western music sound that was pioneered by Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Throughout their 35-year career, they have become the first “exclusively Western” music artists to join the Grand Ole Opry, and the first Western music artists to win a Grammy (they’ve won two, in fact). They have performed at Carnegie Hall and the White House, and have 36 albums to their credit.

In other words, they have arguably reached heights higher than the people who influenced them, which is impressive for group playing a genre of country music whose time has long since passed.

“It’s been a long and wonderful ride,” said Ranger Doug in a recent phone interview from Nashville.

While the group’s focus has always been on Western music, they’ve never been afraid to produce a few laughs during their performances, too. “It was just sort of homegrown and organic. We all thought we were fairly funny guys and enjoyed cracking each other up,” he said. … “The things that cracked up the audience, we kept in the act. Suddenly, we became known for the comedy as much as the music.

“It’s been a good combination over the years. It gives us two different audiences and entertains as much as it preserves the music.”

They have also been known for being entertainers to children. The group’s self-titled TV show on CBS replaced Pee-wee’s Playhouse in 1991, after Pee-wee Herman’s indecent-exposure arrest. They also recorded “Woody’s Roundup” for the Toy Story 2 soundtrack, which led to the group recording two of their five children’s-themed albums for Disney’s music label.

“We didn’t start out to entertain children. We still don’t think of ourselves as a kids' act, per se, but people were bringing their children to the shows. It’s been a big part of who we are. The kids have always loved the outfits. There was something about cowboys where everyone wanted to be one for a while,” he said.

“Now kids want to listen to rap. Maybe (cowboys) will come back.”

Riders in the Sky keep busy with touring and have performed more than 6,000 shows. When Ranger Doug looks back on their grueling tour schedule, he simply takes it all in stride.

“You lose sleep sometimes, but there’s not an act out there that doesn’t, I suppose. It’s just part of the business,” he said.

Along with lack of sleep, there are other downsides. “There are definitely days when that hour and a half onstage is the happiest hour and a half that you have, but we don’t have plans to slow down, and we love doing it.” 

The future is bright for these hard-working, yodeling cowboys. They have a new album titled Home on the Range coming out in two weeks; it’s a collaboration album with … Wilford Brimley?

Wait. What? When I asked if Ranger Doug meant the Cocoon actor and the subject of several Internet memes spoofing his diabetic-supplies commercial, Ranger Doug said yes and assured me of Brimley’s talents.

“He’s actually quite a good singer!” he said.

When it comes to the group’s third Stagecoach performance, Ranger Doug said he is happy to be coming back.

“It’s great that they save a corner for the traditional Western music. I think that’s a tip of the hat to where our music came from. We’re honored every time (Goldenvoice asks) us. It’s just means a lot to us that we’re allowed to come out and keep our traditional sound alive to entertain some people, and maybe some kids too while we’re at it,” he said. 

Riders in the Sky play on Sunday, April 28, at Stagecoach. The festival takes place Friday, April 26, through Sunday, April 28, at the Empire Polo Club, 81800 Avenue 51 in Indio. Passes for all three days start at $239. For tickets or more information, visit www.stagecoachfestival.com.

They saved the best for last.

Day 3 of Coachella 2013’s second weekend started off with blistering temperatures, but attendees came prepared. While a windstorm put a damper on the closing events of Coachella’s first weekend, the winds on the second Sunday remained relatively calm.

While Saturday’s schedule was heavy on the EDM, on Sunday, it was mostly about the rock. Throughout the Coachella’s history, Day 3 has always seemed to feature the biggest acts.

The Gaslight Anthem took to the main stage at 3:30 p.m. One figures the New Jersey punk outfit would attract a sizable crowd, but the attendance was quite thin.

The band walked onstage and began performing without an intro and without addressing the crowd—and they suffered through technical difficulties throughout the set. Guitarist and lead vocalist Brian Fallon’s microphone didn’t appear to be loud enough; the guitar solos were low volume and barely present. Overall, the band’s performance seemed … dull. The band—notable for being the closest thing to Bruce Springsteen within modern music—decided for some reason to cover Stone Temple Pilots’ “Interstate Love Song” toward the end; they closed with “The Backseat,” which was probably the best song of their set.

Too little, too late.

“I like them; they were on my list of bands that I wanted to see,” said Karen, who came all the way from Toronto.

However, she was honest about the band’s performance.

“I enjoyed them, even though the sound wasn’t perfect. It was still worth seeing.”

The eccentric and renowned Dinosaur Jr. performed on the Outdoor Theater stage at 5:10. The Massachusetts band—known for lead guitarist and vocalist J Mascis’ perfection of the art of feedback—offered a variety of songs from throughout their career. The band’s sound—which could be described as a combination of hardcore-punk, metal and psychedelic rock—made them a perfect act to follow Kurt Vile and the Violators. Mascis’ Marshall stack amps were arranged in a feedback zone that he moved in and out of between vocals; on couple of songs, he ceded lead vocals to drummer Murph and bassist Lou Barlow. Toward the end of their set, Dinosaur Jr. played a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” in their own unique sound.

Rodriguez—the subject of the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, which won Best Documentary Feature honors at this year’s Academy Awards—took the stage in the Gobi tent at 6:35 p.m. to an audience of die-hards excited to hear the newly famous Detroit musician, whose music became the soundtrack for the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, unbeknownst to Rodriguez. Rodriguez’ folk sound, however, presented a problem: At the same time, Social Distortion was blasting throughout the entire festival; Tame Impala was performing in the nearby Outdoor Theater; and James Blake was performing in the neighboring Mojave tent (with Rza of Wu-Tang Clan making a special appearance during Blake’s set).

When Rodriguez walked on to the stage, he was guided on each arm to his guitar and microphone due to the inoperable glaucoma that’s causing him to go blind. When Rodriguez began his performance, the other bands easily drowned him out. Still, his fans got as close as they could to try to hear him. His performance of “I Wonder” early in his set led to loud applause when fans heard the opening bass line.

Despite all of the noise, Rodriguez and his backing band were on the ball. Fans began to trickle in after James Blake and Social Distortion were finished, just as Rodriguez began “Sugar Man,” which sent smartphones up into the air to capture video or shoot photos. After a folk-sounding cover of Little Richard’s “Lucille,” Rodriguez began to lose a portion of the audience to some of the other performers about to go on stage, but nonetheless, Rodriguez delivered a strong performance until the very end.

Regarding the art exhibits of Coachella: When the sun sets, the night time is the right time, because many of the exhibits have lighting that makes them visually stunning. On Sunday night as Vampire Weekend played on the main stage, the exhibits in the areas closest to the main stage came alive for one last night.

The Balloon Chain looks more impressive at night as it moves through the festival with balloons lit and streaming across the night sky. Mirage lights up at night, putting an impressive accent on the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired structure. The Do LaB’s teepee-style tents glow at night, bringing out the different shades of the fabric.

One exhibit that grabbed attention throughout the weekend was the Poetic Kinetics’ PK-107 Mantis. A cherry-picker-like structure with wings that look like they came off a jet fighter, Mantis moves up and down, looking like a giant, robotic praying mantis.

Lindsay, attending the festival all the way from Ireland, stood and watched it with curiosity

“It’s quite spectacular. It really stands out at night time,” he said.

Another attraction that could be seen moving around the festival at night were the Electric Butterfly Effect butterflies. They were illuminated in neon colors and looked like they were really moving.

In the evening, nothing is better than a ride on the Ferris wheel—one of the festival’s most popular attractions. Despite an $8 ticket price, there was a long line on Sunday night.

A couple offered a very sentimental take on their Ferris wheel experience, stating that from up above, you can see the diversity of the festival. “You can see music bringing everyone together,” said Karen from Pasadena.

Her friend, Matt from Palm Desert, agreed.

“It’s such a great thing to get all these people together. It was kind of epic seeing everything up there going on at once,” he said.

When it came to the last of the musical performances, the main stage seemed to lose a large percentage of the attendees’ interest.

After the sun went down, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds took the stage, at 8:40 p.m. Cave’s dark songwriting—referencing the Old and New Testament, plagued characters, and sometimes heartfelt sentiments—make him an unusual performer, and several people didn’t know what to make of him. As he walked onto the stage—backed by a children’s choir and with a woman doing sign language in front of the video monitor on the right side of the stage—he didn’t have much of a crowd. As he started his first song, “From Her to Eternity,” the choir provided a drone to Nick Cave’s howling of the lyrics.

While performing “Deanna,” the crowd sang along to the chorus of “Oh, Deanna, D-e-anna,” giving Cave the crowd participation he deserved, before a good chunk of his audience moved over to the Outdoor Theater to wait for Wu-Tang Clan.

If there was one important lesson to be learned during Coachella 2013, it’s this: Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to … mess with.

Wu-Tang attracted an audience at the Outdoor Theater that went into to the Main Stage area, around The Do LaB, and near the Gobi tent. Wu-Tang, backed by a large orchestra, rocked the audience with their hard-core hip-hop anthems from their legendary Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) album. Wu-Tang’s energetic set ran into the end of Nick Cave’s set and into the beginning of Red Hot Chili Peppers set, holding the audience even as the Peppers took the stage. After Wu-Tang finished their set and wished the fans a happy late 4/20, the crowd at the quickly moved to the main stage area.

Last week’s performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was plagued by a windstorm, and it seems that last week’s attendees didn’t get to see the full stage show by Hall of Fame inductees. The band’s full stage show, with video monitors and much more colorful lighting, seemed to help the band perform a little better. Unfortunately, the set list didn’t offer much of their early ’90s classics other than “Give It Away.”

While the Coachella 2013 lineup seemed a little lackluster, and too many performances were plagued by technical problems, scheduling problems, and various other problems, the event was nonetheless solid and a full experience for those in attendance.

It’s definitely hot out here.

The second day of the second weekend of Coachella 2013 featured high temperatures in the 90s by mid-afternoon. But despite the heat, most of the attendees were having a good time.

Still, many sought shade under the Mirage art exhibit, designed by Paul Clemente of Los Angeles. Mirage, a Frank Lloyd Wright-looking housing structure, was crowded in the open spaces under the roof.

“It’s pretty hot, but not too unbearable,” said John, from Santa Monica. “It bothers me a little bit, especially right now.”

The Helix Poeticus—a large mechanical snail that moves around—was close by, attracting the curiosity of attendees who were snapping photographs and touching it as it slowly slithered around the main stage area, close to Mirage. Eric Hendricks, from Orange County, was in awe.

“I love it; I love the interactiveness of Coachella with the people,” he said.

However, there was a potential downside.

"It’ll run you over if you’re not paying attention,” Hendricks said.

The Do LaB, a long-running exhibit at Coachella, features live DJs in an area within teepee-like structures. “The vibe is great, and there’s a lot of bass,” said an Indio man coming out of The Do LaB. The dance floor and the DJ stage resemble a smaller version of the dance parties once shown on MTV’s Spring Break.

On the subject of electronic dance music, Saturday’s lineup of EDM artists was featured in the Mohave tent as well as the large EDM-featured Sahara Tent.

Major Lazer took the Mojave stage at 6:25 p.m. on Saturday to a full house that extended to areas around the stage. Jillionaire and Walshy Fire jumped around, barking orders to the crowd to jump, put their hands up, and remove their shirts and toss them into the air. The people obeyed, sending a collage of various colored shirts into the air. Diplo stayed at the mixing board, offering remixes of songs from Nirvana, Damian Marley and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Toward the end of the set, the group was joined by 2 Chainz, who performed earlier in the day.

The EDM in the Mojave and Sahara tents drew a large chunk of the crowd, trying to get a peek at artists such as Grizzly Bear and Fedde Le Grand. The main stage and the outdoor theater saw drops in crowd sizes between 6 and 8:30 p.m.

The ‘80s British ska band The Selecter took the stage at 7:10 in the Gobi tent to a small crowd. Many of the attendees had most likely never heard of the group, yet were dancing and bouncing around to the band’s anthems such as “On My Radio,” “Missing Words” and “Too Much Pressure.” The crowd had very few people “skanking”—a signature dance move done by ska devotees. But regardless, attendees couldn’t resist dancing or bouncing.

Punk icons the Descendents took the outdoor theater stage at 9:05. Milo Aukerman walked on and started playing “Everything Sucks” with some technical difficulties (the volume was too low) to a smaller-than-expected crowd. The band only plays a few shows a year due to Milo’s gig as a “plant researcher” at DuPont, and he chooses his vacation days wisely when it comes to touring. Still, the band had incredible energy and managed to pull in an audience that increased in size throughout the entire set. Milo read off a list if “punk commandments,” some of which were “thou shalt not commit laundry” and “thou shalt not take the van’s name in vain.” During what seemed to be a longer set than last weekend’s show, the Descendents looked happy and energetic.

The EDM presence remained strong through the evening. Moby … ahem, DJ Moby was performing at the Sahara, which was packed to capacity with an overflow. Moby, dressed in a Black Flag T-shirt, jumped up and down to pump up the crowd. He moved between fast-paced beats, ambient, trance, dubstep, and even a few cuts from his own albums. The visuals that flashed through the video screens were at times psychedelic, somewhat chaotic, and breathtaking. 

As The xx prepared to take the main stage, with Franz Ferdinand scheduled to play in the neighboring Mojave tent, DJ Moby’s audience began to thin out.

While Phoenix played on the main stage, New Order headlined at the Mojave tent. For a moment, it felt like a Metallica concert: New Order used the same intro as Metallica, Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold.” When Bernard Sumner and the rest of the band took the stage, Sumner addressed a technical difficulty, thanking the sound engineer for failing to fade properly.

While Sumner (guitar and vocals) and Stephen Morris (drums) both look like they have aged into AARP status, make no mistake: They still rock! While Peter Hook is sitting out this reunion (and took a shot at the band in the press by referring to them as a “tribute band”), Tom Chapman fit in nicely on bass guitar.

Throughout the set, Sumner took shots at main stage headliner, Phoenix. “Thank you for being here instead of over there,” he said. Later on, he said—while experiencing technical difficulties in between songs—that they were out to prove to Phoenix that louder doesn’t mean better.

New Order played songs from throughout their career. “Your Silent Face,” from 1983’s Power, Corruption and Lies, featured a makeshift film in the background that made light of mankind’s destruction, showing shipwrecks off the shores of beautiful islands, helicopters flying over ravaged cities, shanties in parts of Los Angeles, and a big tidal wave hitting homes on the L.A. coast line. The band’s performance of “Blue Monday,” their hit single that was later covered by Orgy in the late '90s, delighted the audience. The former Joy Division members paid tribute to the late Ian Curtis with a portrait of him appearing on the backdrop as they played “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

While I was leaving, I had one question in mind: Phoenix who? Performances on other stages stole the show from the early evening until the very end.

Photos by Noelle Haro-Gomez