Now that the dust of Coachella has settled, and the fresh green grass of the Empire Polo Fields is long gone, we’re just getting started: it’s Stagecoach time. Just as we’ve loved seeing Stagecoach rising stars graduate to the big leagues of Indio’s “other” main stage – shout out to the indelible queen of 2019, Kacey Musgraves – this year’s Stagecoach lineup welcomes dynamic voices, heartfelt sounds, and a new era of women pushing the boundaries of country music.
Call it what you want, but as we spend our third week in the heat of Palm Springs, we are thrilled to see the 2019 Coachella gems such as Maggie Rogers, Hurray For The Riff Raff, and The Interrupters passing the torch to the ones we recommend you peep at Stagecoach this year.
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Photo: Aly Fae
It’s only been a few short years since Ruby Boots (née Bex Chilcott) made the valiant move to Nashville, unfazed by the challenge of Music City; she just wanted to work. Within two years, the native Australian released two full LPs: 2016’s Solitude and 2018’s much acclaimed Don’t Talk About It. But don’t let her outback roots fool you: not unlike another Aussie lass guitarist, Ruby mixes Americana and nouveau indie-rock. There’s a grit and soul in her voice that speaks to the rocks – and the sand – in her boots. With lyrics that pierce right to the bone – paired with melodies high and low – Ms. Boots honestly cracks open her heart and let’s the yolk run all over her brand of rock-meets-folk.
Photo: Hannah Burton
Touted songwriter and former Pistol Annie, Ashley Monroe, has been a staple in the Nashville singer-songwriter scene since she moved from Knoxville in her late teens. Still, despite her accomplished and eclectic roster of collabs – from Blake Shelton to Jack White – there really is nothing that compares to this woman speaking of what if’s and unrequited love. From “Hands On You” to her breakout “You Got Me,” Monroe’s voice is a bewitching mix of shaky and smooth – exemplifying the rawness of her lyrics. She is fearless in the face of her own vulnerability, best seen in this year’s stripped-down Sparrow where she opened her heart on the loss of love and her late father. One to catch this weekend indeed.
Photo: Zachary Gray
Becca Mancari’s Good Woman is a triumph of Americana meets folk – she’s rooted into her own sound, but by no means embraced any convention. Defying genre norms, her song progressions ebb and flows in free fall: she’s on a journey with no destination, and that’s just fine. Mancari wastes no time revealing the emotional rollercoaster of her experience – and uses her guitar pick and tonal riffs to cue us as to each switchback. Though her scope may seem narrow, like any sharp storyteller, she is quick to pull the lens back and quickly reveal the larger picture at hand be it happy, sad, or yet-to-be-determined.
Rachel Wammack is a country classicist in the best way – an undeniable disciple of the ladies this ‘90s baby surely heard in her formative years. With a voice ready to fill stadiums, Wammack still stays in her lane: delivering anthems to her former self or former lovers as the case may be. Still, she paves a new road for ladies in this genre with staples like “Enough” and “My Boyfriend Doesn’t Speak for Me Anymore.” The future is female, according to Rachel Wammack, and we are here for it.
We’re all about Devin Dawson; we always have been. He may not be a female, but he certainly celebrates the ladies in his life, and that is something we can get behind. Dawson had us at his hello – opening his heart to world with “All on Me” – and continuing to lay his truth down with every track he recorded from there. No stranger to darkness, Dawson’s delivery of gritty tones over smooth melodic cords make each of his uniquely personal experiences speak to universal truths. With a punch of James Dean brooding and sleeves of tattoos to boot, we can’t wait to see this distinctive mix live.
Ever the eternal optimist, Brandon Lay revs up for every song ready to fall in love. His heartfelt mix of romantic ideals and big country sound are beautifully, endearingly carried with his smooth melodies and indisputably catchy choruses. However, the softer he plays, the louder he shines: in “Break Down On Me” his true heroism is revealed when he steps us as the shoulder the proverbial shoulder you can cry on. The modern countryman has evolved and Mr. Lay is paving the way.