INDIO -- With its elaborate network of traditions and signifiers, country music provides great cover for moonlighters eager to escape into a ready-made sideline. Quite a few part-timers are on the bill at Stagecoach this year, including the pop-jazz superstar
And on Sunday night, the main stage will feature Darius Rucker, who's a full-time country act these days but reached Nashville only after scaling the pop chart with Hootie & the Blowfish.
Doing material from his self-titled 2011 album and from the 2009 film "Crazy Heart" (in which he played a washed-up country star), Bridges sounded fine Friday evening on the Palomino Stage, his craggy vocals a good match for the atmospheric grooves churned out by his four-man band, the Abiders.
But nothing about the set felt exceptional in a musical sense; Bridges was merely hitting a bar that all of the acts at Stagecoach seem capable of hitting. What lifted the performance above business as usual were the bits that drew on his Hollywood background: the stories he told about working with Kris Kristofferson on "Heaven's Gate" and with T Bone Burnett on "Crazy Heart." And his lengthy do-gooder's monologue on how too many American children are going hungry "even in this land of plenty."
It didn't hurt, either, when he introduced John Fogerty's "Lookin' Out My Back Door" as "a little Creedence from the Dude," channeling his indelible character from "The Big Lebowski."
Jones was more distinctive later Friday night with her country cover band, the Little Willies -- that's what happens with a voice as readily identifiable as hers. Yet the group's performance, with versions of traditional material such as "
Singing Dolly Parton's "Jolene," about a woman beseeching the title character not to take her man, Jones wasn't begging so much as she was making a polite request.
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