INDIO—The Stagecoach Festival roared through the Empire Polo Club from Friday, April 28 to Sunday, April 30, and delivered great country music. Dierks Bentley headlined the first night and dropped in on the festivities via helicopter opening one of the most popular shindigs in the country. The previous two weeks Lady Gaga and Coachella twenty somethings ruled these same grounds; not to be outdone, the Stagecoach crowd was loud and dancing the whole weekend.

The highlight of the three day festival was Shania Twain. She turned Stagecoach into a sing along Saturday night, even more impressive was that it was her first appearance at the festival, she tore the Polo grounds up. Her jaw dropping two hour set featured her greatest hits, including, “You’re Still The One,” “Whose Boots Have Your Bed Been Under,” “Gonna Getcha Good,” and “I Feel Like A Woman.”

Shania is back. Besides debuting her brand new single, “Life’s About To Get Good,” the country megastar welcomed singer songwriter Kelsea Ballerini, (remember that name), onstage for a rousing,”Any Man Of Mine,” as well as pop star Nick Jonas, who sang “Party For Two.”

Sundays headliner, Kenny Chesney, is no stranger to the Stagecoach Festival, it was his fourth time headlining. He closed the weekend with a strong performance, steadfast and reliable. He remains one of the most popular and enduring live artists of this generation.

Tegan Marie and her signature "Pink guitar."  Photo by Michael C. Floch.
Tegan Marie and her signature “Pink guitar.”
Photo by Michael C. Floch.

StageCoach is sprawling with talent amidst the heat and dirt. No where was this any clearer than the Halfpint Hootananny stage. Thirteen year-old sensation, Tegan Marie, is entertaining the crowd with her hit, “Lucky Me.”

Marie rose to fame with help from the Marina Del Ray website Sweety High, launched in 2011. The site describes itself as,”the cultural destination for teen and tween girls, we’ve built a positive interactive community around everything girls love.”

Tegan became a fixture on the site, culminating with her inspiring version of Florida Georgia Line’s “H.O.L.Y.,” which garnered 17 million hits on YouTube. Canyon News caught up with the aspiring star just minutes before her performance.

“I got to duet with one of my heroes, Kelsea Ballerini, perform on Good Morning America, and this whole weekend has been amazing,” said Marie. Her instincts are remarkable for any singer or perfomer, much less a 13 year-old. The crowd shot up from their haystacks when she belted her heart out,strumming her glittery pink acoustic guitar.

Miss Marie hails from Flint, Michigan, and dedicated proceeds from her recent single to raise funds for the Flint water-crisis relief. Her plans for the future include her new album, songwriting and Algebra.

“I am just trying to stay focused, take classes online and grow as a singer. Sitting with the other producers playing guitar has been fun,” said Tegan.

Other highlights of the weekend included East Los Angeles Legends Los Lobos, who thrilled the crowd-Willie Nelson who had Neil Young join him on stage to celebrate his 84th birthday. Perhaps the most talked about band was the Hillbenders, a Missouri based band who did a bluegrass version of the classic rock opera “tommy” to much cheering and genuine admiration from the crowd for pulling off such a difficult feat.

Canyon News caught up with bandmember Jimmy Rea in the media tent backstage and he explained how “we fiddle with pedals to replicate the percussion, but no one can sound like Keith Moon.” Jimmy also spoke at length about the concert promoter goldenvoice stating that “we do alot festivals that are confusing and not well run, but this is perfect.We could not have been treated any better.” The band played the set on Friday night, and the crowd was still buzzing about the performance on Sunday.

StageCoach 2017 was a resounding success. Like fine wine,Stagecoach seems to improve every year. YEEHAW!