INDIO, Calif. -- What was
Crow wasn't added to the bill until early April, and it wasn't as if they needed her name value to juice ticket sales since Stagecoach sold out its entire supply of 55,000 passes back in early January. Why the bonus?
It became clearer Sunday evening (April 29) that it probably had something to do with the closing night's headliner,
"I've been trying for years to make a country record," Crow told the vast crowd at the main stage during an instrumental breakdown in the middle of "Can't Cry Anymore."
"I get closer and closer in my own weird, strange way of making country music," she said. "I'm getting ready to [really] do it, though. I've got the best friend a girl could have in country music. I've got Brad Paisley, who's gonna help me do it. Does that sound good?"
A few numbers later, Crow brought "good friend" Paisley onto the stage to play a blistering lead guitar on "Real Gone," a tune she recorded for the 2006 Cars film soundtrack that was the only semi-obscure number in her otherwise hits-filled set. Paisley seemed to want to use the moment to diminish expectations about his role on the Crow album. (The P-word, "producer," was never mentioned, although that seemed to be what Crow was implying).
"Sheryl's in the studio finally making a country album. I am a small part of it," Paisley told the cheering throngs, before seeming to regret using the word "small" in any context, adding, "No, I shouldn't have gone like that."
"Large part!" countered Crow, cheerfully contradicting Paisley. And then they were off to the races, as it were.
Crow wasn't just in a collaborative mood when it came to Paisley. Early in her set, Crow bowed to the performer who preceded her on the main stage, saying, "I've got a lot of nerve following up
Making good on her reverence, Crow ended her set by bringing out "one of my favorite singers on this whole planet" -- McBride, that is -- for a house-bringing-down duet of "You're No Good" that paid homage to
You might've expected Crow would come back out again to join Paisley for his festival-closing set, but you would've expected wrong. There were no communal moments to rival the ones from Stagecoach's previous night when
Paisley did duet with a female country star,
Still, for anyone who hasn't seen the standard iteration of Paisley's touring show in recent years -- complete with a laser light show, a steady stream of elaborate background videos and still more prerecorded collaborations with
Fest-goers were faced with a tough choice earlier in the evening as Crow's performance mostly overlapped with one by
"I'm so excited to be here tonight because every song I'm gonna do is a hit," Rogers promised. "So you can expect that."
Anyone partial to Kenny Rogers' deep album cuts was surely crestfallen at that moment, but everyone else thrilled to the notion, even if some of the smashes would end up being performed in truncated versions.
Rogers did actually break from the nothing-but-hits vow to sing one non-smash he said had been requested backstage --
Rogers is so enduringly beloved that he can even get away with insulting the crowd, as he did when a singalong of "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" failed to meet his expectations.
"I will not soon forget that," he said, singling out one portion of the crowd that was apparently particularly out of tune. "To put it in perspective, they sang that better in Quebec. They don't even speak English in Quebec."
But, hey, the audience in Quebec probably wasn't wrapping up three solid days of drinking, as many of the attendees at Stagecoach were.
Rogers was preceded on his stage by another sentimental favorite,
Setting up the climax of his set, the multi-instrumentalist Hee Haw star put down his guitar and announced, "Now I'm gonna do something that's gonna hurt me a lot more than it's gonna hurt them," referring to his band. "The main reason I do this is to let these young people up here know that I can still get it done. It may take me three trips, but I can still get the load. Bring me my fiddle. I know you've heard this a million times, but you've never heard the complete, unabridged version of 'The Orange Blossom Special.'"
Indeed, that bluegrass standard had been played at least twice before at this year's Stagecoach during
The Palomino Stage where Roy Clark and Kenny Rogers played wasn't only reserved for veterans. Preceding Clark was unlikely crossover star
Lewis also sang his new single,
While Lewis played that side stage,
But '70s rock continues to be the major touchstone of modern country as we know it. McBride closed her set with a rollicking, raunchy "Stay With Me," however hard it is to believe she would kick a conquest out of bed in the morning if he told her he loved her. Of course, "Stay With Me" used to be a nightly staple in Miranda Lambert's set, as well as