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Keith Urban may be from New Zealand, but his brand of country music is as American as it gets.

On Saturday night, Keith Urban returned to Stagecoach for the first time since 2010—a day after releasing his new album, Graffiti U.

Despite blustery winds on Saturday night, Urban put on a magnificent performance. When he started his set by playing the first few chords of “Somebody Like You,” the excited welcome from the Stagecoach crowd was just as loud as the music.

The wind was a challenge for Kacey Musgraves, who performed just before Keith Urban and appeared frustrated a few times—but the wind didn’t seem to faze Urban. As the wind blew Urban’s hair all over the place, he joked with the audience, “This was exactly what I was looking for tonight, Stagecoach.” He added a little later that it “smells like it’s pretty cool down in the front,” before singing a few lines of the Brothers Osborne’s “Weed, Whiskey and Willie” a cappella, and then playing “Never Coming Down.”

While the daytime heat and the intense winds that came on early in the evening hindered the day for some, it couldn’t stop the beer-drinking, barbecuing, dancing and great music that took place throughout the day and into the night.

Here are some other highlights from the day:

• Ronnie Milsap’s afternoon performance in the Palomino tent was sort of bittersweet. While it was a delight to see him, his voice is simply not what it used to be; it was difficult for him to the hit high notes in some of his songs. He told the audience that a recent CD compilation included a lot of his hit songs from the ’70s and ’80s, and said, “My life is condensed into 21 CDs, or 100 8-tracks.” Personally, I loved his performance of “What Goes on When the Sun Goes Down.”

• When Jason Isbell appeared in the Palomino, he told the nearly packed house, “Personally, I feel like we’re playing on the best day of the festival,” noting that Dwight Yoakam would be playing later in the evening. Isbell talked about touring with Yoakam, saying that he couldn’t wear tight jeans, because Dwight was better than him at that. “I don’t have an airbrush, so I’m not going to beat him,” he quipped. The former Drive-By Truckers guitarist has definitely gained much-deserved appreciation among the rock and country crowds. His wife, Amanda Shires, backed him on violin, and really shined.

• Dwight Yoakam packed the Palomino tent beyond capacity and put on the best live performance I’ve ever seen from him. He paid tribute to the late Merle Haggard and performed “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down.” Of course, he also performed his collaboration with the late Buck Owens, “Streets of Bakersfield.”

See some photos from Day 2 below, from Kevin Fitzgerald.

Published in Reviews

Coachella and Stagecoach are just around the figurative corner—but March is bringing local music fans a lot of amazing shows to tide them over.

The McCallum Theatre’s fantastic season just gets better: The theater is dark just two days in March. At 8 p.m., Monday, March 6, you can experience Benny Goodman’s legendary 1938 concert with the Salute to Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall. This all-star tribute features some of today’s most talented jazz musicians. Tickets are $37 to $77. And now for something completely different: At 3 and 7 p.m., Sunday, March 12, John Cleese of Monty Python fame will be appearing. The comedy legend will be telling stories from his autobiography, which also covers some of his best work, such as Life of Brian, The Holy Grail and A Fish Called Wanda. Tickets are $57 to $97. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 31, Art Garfunkel will be performing. In 2014, I attended his performance at Fantasy Springs and enjoyed his mix of poetry, solo songs and well-known Simon and Garfunkel hits. Tickets are $47 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

If you thought Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s February lineup was great, the events in March are just as spectacular. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 4, singer-songwriter Paul Anka will be performing. “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” “My Way,” and “(You’re) Having My Baby” are just a few of the Canadian crooner’s hits. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 24, Saturday Night Live alumnus Dana Carvey will take the stage. Carvey is also well-known for the sketch-turned-film Wayne’s World and a handful of other comedy movies. Party on, Garth! Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 25, you’ll be happy to know that former Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers will be returning to the Coachella Valley. Rodgers was also part of Free, as well as The Firm, and performed with the surviving members of Queen. Tickets are $49 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 31, smooth-jazz superstar Kenny G will break out the sax. Kenny has sold 45 million records, and if you’ve ever been in a dentist’s chair to have a root canal, you’ve heard Kenny G. Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente has a packed March. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 3, Southern-rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd will be performing. After losing three members in a plane crash in 1977—including original frontman Ronnie Van Sant—Skynyrd kept going and found new life when Van Sant’s brother, Johnny, took over on lead vocals. Sadly, the band has continued to tragically lose original members, and guitarist Gary Rossington is now the only one left. However, the band is still fantastic and puts on a great show. Tickets are $96 to $126. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 24 and 8 p.m., Saturday, March 25, country great Alan Jackson will take the stage. Jackson has had a string of hits, and he’ll always be remembered for his post-Sept. 11 song, “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” Tickets are $130 to $160. At 7 p.m., Monday, March 27, Placido Domingo will be performing with the L.A. Opera Orchestra. Domingo has made more than 200 recordings, and is one of the world’s most popular opera tenors. Tickets are $65 to $400. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

It’s a trend: Spotlight 29’s March is also filled with great shows! At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 11, heaven help us all, because Michael Bolton is back. Wasn’t he just here? Anyway, tickets are $56 to $86. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 18, country singer Martina McBride will perform. She’s had six No. 1 hits and has sold more than 18 million records. Last year, she released her 13th studio album, Reckless. Tickets are $99 to $139. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 25, get ready to dance, because Kool and the Gang (above left) will be stopping by. After 45 years in the business and 70 million records sold, they are still fantastic. At one of my former workplaces, we had a saying: It wasn’t “That’s cool”; it was “That’s Kool and the Gang!” Tickets are $45 to $65. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 31, country singer-songwriter and actor Dwight Yoakam will be coming back to the Coachella Valley. I admit: I’m a big fan. You must listen to his Dwight Sings Buck, his tribute album to the late Buck Owens. Tickets are $55 to $75. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

While Morongo Casino Resort Spa’s lineup is not as insanely good as those at the other local casinos, it sure isn’t bad. At 10 p.m., Saturday, March 4, P.O.D. will be stopping by. P.O.D. was one of the first Christian-metal bands to receive significant acclaim. The video for “Rock the Party” went to No. 1 on MTV’s Total Request Live back in 1999, and the band toured as part of OzzFest in 2000 and in 2002. After the success peaked, the group went back to making music for a more conservative Christian crowd. I don’t know what Jesus would say about playing a show at a casino, but rock on! Tickets are $20. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some fine shows leading up to the craziness of April. At 9 p.m., Saturday, March 4, queen of the high desert Jesika Von Rabbit will be performing; also on the bill are the Yip Yops. Von Rabbit, chosen as the Best Local Musician by Independent readers, has enjoyed more widespread success recently thanks to her new single, “Going Down,” being played on KCRW. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 10, pop-punk band Joyce Manor (below) will be performing. The Epitaph Records band has become quite popular after the 2014 record Never Hungover Again became a hit. A new album, Cody, dropped in late 2016. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 24, and Saturday, March 25, Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. The entire band backed Neil Young on a recent tour, which included both weekends of Desert Trip. Lukas and his brother, Micah, are Willie Nelson’s sons; do you need any other reason to go to this show? With or without Neil Young (and who knows when he’ll show up?), Lukas and the boys are great. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Meanwhile, in Indio, The Date Shed has a couple of events on the slate. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 11, Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band Righteous and the Wicked will be performing. I’m not a big fan of tribute bands, but they can be fun sometimes—and any band willing to take on the Chili Peppers songbook must be pretty cool. Tickets are $10 to $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 31, Date Shed regulars Fortunate Youth will be back. Tickets are $20 to $35. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

It’s January. That means the holiday season is over—and it’s a brand-new year! That also means the busiest portion of season is here—and there are some great events going on throughout the month.

The McCallum Theatre has some fine shows in January. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli (right) will be performing. Known for his modern interpretations of songs by John Lennon, Gershwin and Antonio Carlos Jobim, he’ll definitely put on a good show. Tickets are $37 to $77. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26, Burton Cummings will be stopping by. As the former lead singer of The Guess Who, he’s known for his golden voice—and for writing some huge rock hits, including “American Woman.” Tickets are $37 to $57. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has quite a lineup in January. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 8, the resort will host some much-loved teen idols … from the 1950s. The Golden Boys, consisting of Bobby Rydell, Fabian and Frankie Avalon, are all still big names in the music industry. If you’re a fan of the ’50s and ’60s heartthrob era, you’ll want to be here. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, Kathy Griffin will be bringing her “Like a Boss” comedy tour to Fantasy Springs. Griffin is a two-time Grammy winner and pulls no punches when it comes to her routines. Tickets are $39 to $69. You’ll be thrilled to know that Tony Bennett (first below) will be coming back to Fantasy Springs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 16. I saw his excellent show last year, and I can say you do not want to miss Bennett when he comes to town. Tony Bennett has truly done it all in the music industry. Tickets are $49 to $99. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 22, Mike Epps (second below) will be bringing his comedy tour to Fantasy Springs. One of my favorite performances by Epps was in Next Friday. I still can’t contain my laughter when his Day-Day tells Ice Cube’s character, Craig, the story of “Baby-D.” Tickets are $39 to $79. If you need another reason to love Fantasy Springs in January, Heart will be performing at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29. Remember during the 2008 election when Sarah Palin stole the song “Barracuda” as her theme? Heart was not pleased. The members of Heart are legends and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members. Tickets are $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente has two excellent events scheduled this January. First, there’s Styx, which you can read about elsewhere in this issue. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, the red-headed stranger himself, Willie Nelson, will be appearing. Willie has made stops in the Coachella Valley in each of the past two years, proving he’s still a fantastic draw. Tickets are $95 to $125. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has an excellent January calendar. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, you won’t want to work; you’ll want to bang on the drum all day when Todd Rundgren stops by. I once read that Rundgren was asked by punk band Bad Religion to produce the The New America album. It was not a good experience, according to bassist Jay Bentley. Tickets are $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 23, get ready to honky-tonk harder than you’ve ever honky-tonked before, because Dwight Yoakam will be coming back. After seeing Yoakam perform three times now, I can tell you he’s consistently spectacular. I still can’t stop talking about his performance as Doyle, the alcoholic boyfriend, in Sling Blade. Remember, “Stuart Drives a Comfortable Car.” Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino has some intriguing stand-up shows this month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 8, Sinbad will be coming back—not too long after a performance a few months ago at Spotlight 29. The star who was all over television in the ’90s is apparently doing stand-up again after hitting hard financial times. Warning: The reviews of his recent shows have not been excellent. Tickets are $29 to $39. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29, Bob Newhart will be stopping by. Newhart is a legend from the golden era of comedy. Tickets are $35 to $45. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has one event worth noting that we know about at this time: At 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 23, T.S.O.L. will be appearing. If you’re not familiar with T.S.O.L., it is only one of Los Angeles’ most notorious punk bands. Frontman Jack Grisham has spoken extensively about how much mischief he got into, and how bad of an addict he once was; he tells some truly insane stories about how bonkers he can be when he’s under the influence. At the same time, Grisham’s honesty and sobriety has been an inspiration for addicts; it’s been said that he’s given some talks at the Betty Ford Center and other rehabilitation facilities. Tickets are $12. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Copa Palm Springs has a lineup that will attract American Idol fans for sure. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 16, and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 17, Frenchie Davis will perform. Davis has been seen on American Idol and The Voice. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 22, and Saturday, Jan. 23, former American Idol contestant Melinda Doolittle will be appearing. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

The Date Shed has one event on the schedule that we know of: At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29, the acts of Puro Oro will be performing. Puro Oro is the local coalition of artists including J. Patron, Thr3 Strykes, Slum the Resident and many others. Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

May is here, which means the Coachella Valley is quieter, with less traffic and temperatures starting to rise. However, locals know the truth: The Coachella Valley never sleeps, and there are plenty of great things going on to see and do.

At 1 p.m., Saturday, May 2, the Desert Daze festival will be taking place at the Sunset Ranch Oasis in Mecca. The bill includes Warpaint (right), RJD2, Deap Vally, Minus the Bear and many others. General admission tickets are $55. Sunset Oasis Ranch, 69520 S. Lincoln St., Mecca; desertdaze.org.

The Joshua Tree Music Festival is back, coming Thursday, May 14, through Sunday, May 17 to the Joshua Tree Lake Campground. The Last Internationale, The Floozies, Airtist and many others will be performing. Single-day passes start at $60 to $90; it’s $180 for a four-day pass. Joshua Tree Lake Campground, 2601 Sunfair Road, Joshua Tree; www.joshuatreemusicfestival.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is rocking into May. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 9, you’ll be yelling “Timber!” when Pitbull takes the stage. The rapper has racked up a bunch of hits since his career began in 2001; it’s been said on the interwebs that the new formula for a popular song involves collaborating with Pitbull. Tickets are $69 to $129. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 15, you can enjoy some family tradition with Hank Williams Jr. The son of Hank is quite popular with country-music audiences, but in recent years, he’s pissed off a lot of people with his controversial statements—including his former friends at Fox News, whom he scorned in one of his recent songs, “Keep the Change.” Tickets are $49 to $109. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 23, R. Kelly will be stopping by. It’s no secret that R. Kelly was the subject of a lot of news back in 2002 when a video surfaced of him … um … well, let’s just say it was a dirty video that supposedly showed him with a minor. (He was acquitted of charges, by the way.) Fun fact: R. Kelly was a talented basketball player; he even played in the USBL from 1997 to 1999. Tickets are $49 to $109. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is hosting some events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 16, it’ll be a magical night with Kalin and Jinger. This couple has left audiences speechless with their magic show and has enjoyed numerous television appearances. Tickets are $30 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 23, you won’t want to miss Lynda Carter. The star of Wonder Woman is also a talented songwriter, as well as a gay-rights activist. She’s sure to impress. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 6 p.m., Sunday, May 31, you will be happy to know Theresa Caputo, the “Long Island Medium,” will be back at The Show. She’s received praise from a large fan base and criticism from figures such as James Randi; in any case, she’s a star: She sold out The Show the last time she was here. Tickets are $85 to $125. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a couple of events you won’t want to miss. Dwight Yoakam will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 9. Yoakam is also an accomplished actor who appeared in the movie Sling Blade, with Billy Bob Thornton, as the foul-mouthed, drunken boyfriend, Doyle. Yoakam’s Bakersfield sound is a throwback to the era of Buck Owens, and he’s a master performer. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 16, there will be a Mariachi Festival, featuring Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez, Graciela Beltrán and Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. Tickets are $20 to $40. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

After a packed April, Morongo Casino Resort Spa has at least one must-see show in May. You heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend that at 9 p.m., Friday, May 15, REO Speedwagon will be performing. The ’70s and ’80s were good years for this arena-rock band, and they’re still going strong, having done several tours with Styx and other bands from that period. Tickets are $60 to $70. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is operating at a slower pace after a crazy round of Coachella-related shows in April. There’s a sold-out Neutral Milk Hotel show taking place in late May. Beyond that, at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 7, there will be a performance by Mojave Sky. Mojave Sky is local to the Joshua Tree area and includes Pappy’s security man David Johnson, who plays bass. Admission is free. At 7 p.m., Friday, May 29, there will be another performance at Pappy’s by JD McPherson. McPherson’s vintage rock ’n’ roll sound, combined with a little bit of Americana, has been a hit; he played Stagecoach in 2014. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Copa in Palm Springs has a special music event coming in May. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 8, songwriter Crystal Bowersox (below) will be performing. She was a runner-up on American Idol in 2010 and is remembered for her struggles during the show with Type 1 Diabetes. Tickets are $25 to $35. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

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

Published in Reviews