The line-up for the 12th annual Stagecoach Country Music Festival has finally been announced. Though word leaked out a bit early, it is confirmed that five-time CMA entertainer of the year and country music icon Garth Brooks will headline Stagecoach for the first time ever, closing out the festival on Sunday, April 29, at the Empire Polo Club in Indio.
“I think sometimes in life it’s just all about timing and the stars just aligned for us this year,” said Stagecoach talent buyer Stacy Vee of Goldenvoice, the concert production company that puts on Stagecoach and sister event the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. “Rather than ask ourselves why and how, I think we’re too busy being completely thrilled with the fact that he confirmed the show and we’re just too busy and too excited to ask questions.”
Vee also revealed that rapidly rising country music duo Florida Georgia Line will headline the three-day festival on Friday, April 27 and guitar virtuoso Keith Urban will take over on Saturday, April 28.
“They’re two of the nicest guys in country music so that starts things off right,” Vee said of Florida Georgia Line, which first played the early day slot on the Mane Stage in 2013. “They’ve done the craziest thing. They’ve sort of returned to the basics of country music while at the same time pushing the boundaries in like every direction possible, like collaborating with Backstreet Boys, Nelly and the Chainsmokers. They’ve grown into a stadium act in some parts of the country and they’re just playing by their own rules, carving their own path and having fun and I respect that.”
“The first time we played Stagecoach it was hot as hell in 2013 and we pulled in from somewhere else and I was just blown away by the venue and the whole landscape, the backstage set up and the overall vibe,” Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line said during an interview backstage at the duo’s headlining turn at Honda Center in Anaheim last week. “We had a quick 45-minute set and it was super hot, but we loved it. There was this sea of people and we got to hang out with everybody and it was a good time for sure. We definitely drank some beer that day.”
Kelley, along with his music partner Tyler Hubbard, said they’re not quite sure if they’ll bring out any of their superstar friends from other music genres to perform live at Stagecoach (wink, wink), but they’re hellbent on getting the party started right on Friday night.
“We don’t get all the hung over people,” Kelley said with a laugh. “We get them fresh and we get them drunk and then everyone else has to deal with the party we threw. We’re super blessed. It’s going to be wild all three nights like it always is so we’re just excited to get back there and feel that energy. It’s insane. You have people coming from all over, not just (Southern California) and you get all of that energy going and it’s going to be epic for sure.”
Urban, who just received nominations for the 2017 Country Music Association Awards, will be returning to Stagecoach for the first time since headlining in 2010.
“Last year when I was doing research on who to book, “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” just wouldn’t leave the charts,” Vee said. “Keith is so authentic and he’s going to go down as one of the greatest guitar players in music history. He’s endearing, he’s real and he hadn’t played since 2010 so yeah, we needed to have Keith back this year. He cleaned up with CMT Awards and now he’s nominated for five CMAs? It’s the perfect time to have Keith back.”
Passes for Stagecoach will go on sale at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 22 and start at $329 for three-day general admission passes and $389 for three-day general admission with shuttle combo (for tier one pricing). Three-day corral standing pit is $1,199; Three-day corral C1 reserved seating is $1199; Three-day corral C2 reserved seating is $899. All passes will be available at StagecoachFestival.com.
Who else is playing?
Each year, Stagecoach puts some of the hottest acts in later-day slots up on the Mane Stage, while honoring genre greats and true trail blazers over on its Palomino and Mustang Stages. The fest has also served as an important launching pad for a lot of up-and-coming artists, many of whom have earned their way from early afternoon sets to Stagecoach headliners.
Next year, actor and pioneering singer-songwriter Dwight Yoakam will light up the Palomino alongside Canadian folk and country singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot and the Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers who is currently out on his farewell tour. Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real will share the Palomino stage with artists such as 2017 CMA album of the year nominee Jason Isbell, influential country star and pianist Ronnie Milsap, outlaw country songstress Tanya Tucker and many, many more.
“I’ve been after Gordon Lightfoot for years so when we got that confirmation I was so excited,” Vee added. “Kenny Rogers is also playing the farewell concert at Bridgestone Arena (in Nashville) with Dolly Parton soon and I’m hoping he’ll whisper in her ear about how excited he is for Stagecoach so she’ll come play next year. I’ll see if Kenny can put in a good word for us.”
As far as up-and-coming acts featured on the bill, Vee said to look out for Jack White’s fiddle player Lillie Mae, who has recently gone solo, as well as a group of guys – including Cody Jinks, Colter Wall, Tyler Childers and Paul Cauthen – that she calls “future country legends.”
The three-day event will also see sets by Aaron Watson, Ashley McBryde, Banditos, Brett Young, Brothers Osborne, Carly Pearce, Chris Janson, Chris Lane, Granger Smith, Jade Bird, Jade Jackson, Jake Owen, Jillian Jacqueline, Jordan Davis, Joshua Hedley, Kacey Musgraves, Lee Brice, Lindsay Ell, Midland, Molly Hatchet, Morgan Wallen, Muscadine Bloodline, Runaway June, Seth Ennis, Temecula Road, the Georgia Satellites, Walker Hayes and Walker McGuire.
What’s new for 2018?
The folks behind Stagecoach have been diligently planning and putting together a lot of new things for next year including the addition of car camping. Much like its sister fest, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Stagecoach will now offer car camping within the RV resort.
“It’s not actually camping in your car, you pitch a tent next to your car,” Vee clarified. “We wanted a way to give options for everybody. Not everyone has access to an RV, but there are probably lots of people who would love a lower budget option to stay closer to the site and to the action and we wanted to make Stagecoach more available to everybody. They will be located within the campground with access to the showers and all of the other amenities.”
There will also be a new smaller stage located just behind the mixing board of the Mane Stage and facing general admission where the early day acts will play from about noon-4 p.m. This will eliminate the “great divide” between the early-day acts and the general admission crowd, who don’t have access to the sprawling corral pit which fills up for the later performers.
“We’re bringing those artists to the fans this year,” Vee said. “The fans are going to love it and these developing artists, we thought they needed that more up-close-and-personal and intimate experience.”
There will also be major upgrades to the art installations and on-site visual experiences as brand new elements are currently in the works to be ready in time for the festival.
“We’ve worked really hard over the past year to focus on and celebrate the personality of the show so we’re doing some fine tuning and the show is really going to look even more spectacular than it has ever looked,” Vee teased. “You’re going to be able to feel that energy wherever you are on that field.”
The Honky Tonk hours will now be extended until midnight and the programming will be beefed up to feature even more male and female DJs. The food program is also being completely reinvented and the barbecue experience will become much more elevated and upscale.
“There will be tons of food available and we’ll be celebrating barbecue fare from all regions of the country, giving the food itself more of a festival feel with featured chefs and new on-site restaurants that you can actually sit down at and enjoy your meal,” she said. “We’re going to make it a high level, decadent experience.”
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