Kevin Fitzgerald
The legendary Oak Ridge Boys were a Stagecoach Day 3 highlight. Credit: Kevin Fitzgerald

It was another great day in the Palomino Tent at Stagecoach on Sunday, April 26, when the audience got to enjoy both new talents and familiar faces.

Starting things off at 1 p.m. was singer-songwriter Andrew Combs. “We haven’t had anything to drink yet, so this is rough,” Combs said to the small audience. Combs’ songs, a mix of country-rock and folk, were deep and sentimental. He announced his ballad “Suwannee County” was “a song about a conversation I had with an older gentleman about fishing and God.” Before noting the beautiful landscape and departing, he played “Emily.” The chorus was catchy: “E-m-i-l-y, why, why, why, tell me why, Emily.”

Following Combs was a rising talent in Nashville: Logan Brill. She gave a nod to Andrew Combs and his song “Month of Bad Habits,” asking, “Can you keep the party going one more day? I want to see bad habits until Monday morning.” The highlight of Brill’s set was an electrifying cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”; her lead guitarist played one hell of a solo. She ended her set with a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” While her original songs were quite mainstream, Brill was an upbeat and fun performer to watch. Her energy is incredible.

Following Brill was another rising Nashville talent, Chris Janson. Janson explained he was a successful independent artist who, after a lot of iTunes sales, finally nabbed a record label. He played a mean harmonica, and managed to draw quite an impressive crowd. Many of his songs embrace the stereotypes of country music—in other words, referencing things like hotrods, trucks, boats, hunting and trailers. In fact, he talked about being in his artists’ trailer, saying, “They make trailers a lot nicer now than when I grew up in one,” before playing his song “White Trash.” He also led chants of “TRUCK YEAH!”

Speaking of the Rolling Stones: A group that opened for the Rolling Stones in the ’70s, Outlaws, followed Janson to the Palomino stage—and the band brought a triple ax attack! The crowd thinned after Janson finished, but throughout the Outlaws’ set, the crowd grew—as did the volume of the reception the band received after every song. Outlaws’ Southern-rock sound is still strong today; the band was marvelous.

If there was one performance that seemed a little out of place at Stagecoach, it was the show by Eric Burdon and the Animals. Burdon and the Animals were key figures of the British Invasion, and have a heavy psychedelic-rock bent. Still, Burdon and the Animals put on a worthy performance. Some of the best songs were “When I Was Young,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” During most of the performance, a sweet smell was blowing around in the air, if you know what I mean.

It was fantastic to see the large, intergenerational crowd that gathered for the Oak Ridge Boys after Burdon. The country legends were in a spot similar to that of AC/DC during Coachella: They played to many younger fans who grew up listening to them thanks to their parents. The Oak Ridge Boys declared that they love Stagecoach, saying it had the best country audience in the world, because attendees support all the musicians, ranging from the younger, independent acts doing something different, to the big names on the Mane Stage. When the Oak Ridge Boys finished their set, the almost-overflowing Palomino Tent crowd gave them a loud ovation.

The act that closed out the Palomino Tent for 2015 was George Thorogood and the Destroyers—and the group sounds like Thorogood grew up playing guitar while using an idling motorcycle as a metronome. While Throrogood may be written off by some as just another white boy playing the blues, he’s pretty damn good at it. “I promise all I can do to go to jail tonight, and if anyone is going to jail for rock ’n’ roll, it might as well be me,” Thorogood told the crowd in between songs. Some highlights were “I Drink Alone,” “Get a Haircut,” and, of course, the closer, “Bad to the Bone.”

’Tll next year, Stagecoach!

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Brian Blueskye

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Brian Blueskye moved to the Coachella Valley in 2005. He was the assistant editor and staff writer for the Coachella Valley Independent from 2013 to 2019. He is currently the...