Cory Courtney
The designated survivor ... uh, we mean Jack Bauer ... uh, we mean Kiefer Sutherland performs at Stagecoach. Credit: Cory Courtney

The 11th edition of Stagecoach is a wrap—and there was no better artist to close out the festival than Kenny Chesney … even if his fashion choices on Sunday were rather suspect.

Chesney made his fourth appearance at the festival—and it was his third time as a headliner. Considering that his Blue Chair Bay rum is selling well, and he writes songs with which every Stagecoach attendee can relate (Beer! Trucks!), he was probably the most anticipated headliner of the weekend.

When he took the stage on Sunday evening, he started off with “Beer in Mexico,” which was loud and electrifying. Chesney probably has more guitarists in his band than he needs, given most of the song consisted of guitarists trading solos.

While Chesney likes to portray an image of a true-blue country musician, he performed in a pair of shorts and what appeared to be skateboard shoes, as well as a baseball cap that said “SURF MAUI.” I was not aware that country boys surfed so much.

There were rumors circulating that Chesney would bring out pop artist Pink for a song or three, but it didn’t happen. Still, the crowd loved Chesney—and he seemed happy to be back at Stagecoach.

Other highlights

• While the Hillbenders were blowing a decent-sized crowd’s minds by performing The Who’s Tommy, bluegrass-style, in the Mustang Tent, actor and musician Kiefer Sutherland packed the Palomino Tent.

• Late in the afternoon, the Cowboy Junkies closed out the Mustang Tent with their honky tonk-meets-psychedelic rock sound, and were well-received. Front woman Margo Timmins remarked that Stagecoach was probably the best-maintained festival she had ever seen. “Everyone is so nice, even in this heat,” she said. The band played a fantastic cover of the late Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane,” which seemed to get those in cowboy boots dancing around and swaying.

• Ever since the lineup was announced, I was curious to see how East Los Angeles’ legendary Latin rockers Los Lobos would be received by the Stagecoach crowd—especially since the set preceded Palomino Tent headliner Travis Tritt’s set.

Los Lobos has built a career on Latin-meets-rock music, with some jam-band covers thrown in. The group’s sets often vary; they can be heavy on jams, or they can be heavy on rock and Latin songs, often sung in Spanish.

What happened? Well, Los Lobos turned in a performance that included some of their most well-known material, such as “One Time, One Night,” which I was personally thrilled to hear—but the only song from the band’s Latin-music repertoire was the always-saved-for-last “La Bamba.” Los Lobos was generally well-received, but the band didn’t exactly pack the Palomino Tent. I was hoping for some Latin music diversity to hit Stagecoach—but alas, that did not really happen.

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...