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John Prine
Stagecoach 2014: John Prine and Michael Nesmith's smart country
Stagecoach 2014: John Prine and Michael Nesmith's smart country

Despite a wealth of party-ready anthems on offer, it was difficult to enjoy much of anything on the Mane Stage as the three-day Stagecoach Country Music Festival drew to a close on Sunday. I blame John Prine. And Michael Nesmith. In the early 1970s, these two veteran singer-songwriters made records built around some of the most skillfully literate songs in pop music. Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and others certainly made their own contributions, but in the world of country and folk-rooted music, Prine and Nesmith spoke powerfully about what was possible in the genre. So hearing the good-time sounds spilling from Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Eric Church served up little to...