Stagecoach fest corrals the Eagles

Times Staff Writer

The Stagecoach Festival now has the Eagles and an unofficial new motto: "Don't fence me in."

Organizers of the huge country festival in Indio have announced a surprise third day of music and, by booking the bestselling country rock band ever, the May event is broadening its fan base and genre embrace. The newly announced day, May 2, will also feature performances by John Fogerty, Trisha Yearwood, Shelby Lynne, Glen Campbell and newcomer Rissi Palmer.

The Festival's previously announced lineup for May 3-4 includes a reunion by the Judds along with Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Big & Rich, Dwight Yoakam, George Jones and Earl Scruggs.

The Stagecoach Festival premiered last year as a country cousin to the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, the rock and electronic franchise that has become a signature West Coast event. Coachella also began as two-day affair but didn't add a third day of programming until its eighth edition, in 2007. Last year, Stagecoach averaged 26,000 fans over two days, while Coachella pulled 60,000 a day. Promoter Paul Tollett, the architect of both festivals, said he expected Stagecoach to grow rapidly.

"We didn't expect the third day this year but the timing worked out and there was a chance to book the Eagles, and there was no way we could pass that chance up," Tollett said Wednesday. "This is a very special booking and it's pretty exciting for us."

The Eagles hit No. 1 on the U.S. pop charts in November with "Long Road Out of Eden," the group's first full studio album since the Carter administration. The sprawling double album pulls together a wide range of the band's different sounds and gives all four longtime members -- Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit -- turns on lead vocals.

The debut single from the album, "How Long," got considerable airplay at country radio, and on Sunday snagged the group a Grammy for duo or group country performance.

The RIAA ranks the Eagles as the fifth bestselling act of all time, with 98 million albums shipped to stores

The other Stagecoach additions are eclectic and intriguing. Fogerty also has strong classic-rock credentials as the voice of Creedence Clearwater Revival, while Yearwood is one of the steadier stars and more respected voices in country. (Her booking at Stagecoach will immediately begin rumors that her husband, the resurgent Garth Brooks, will make his way to the low desert festival). Lynne, winner of the Grammy for best new artist in 2001, will have the challenge of performing her new album, a spare tribute to Dusty Springfield, in a huge outdoor setting. Pittsburgh singer-songwriter Palmer's "Country Girl" made her the first African American female in two decades to make it on Billboard's Hot Country chart.

Fans who have already bought two-day tickets to Stagecoach will be contacted directly about also purchasing a $65 advance, general-admission ticket for Friday or a $165 reserved seat. Three-day general admission festival tickets ($249) are also on sale now while three-day reserved seating passes go on sale Tuesday.


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