Two veteran headliners of the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio will return next year and they will welcome a newcomer — Sam Hunt — into the rarefied company of acts chosen to top the bill at the world’s largest country music celebration.
The “Body Like a Back Road” singer makes the jump next year from support act to marquee one, sandwiched between returning headliners Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan for the 13th edition of the gathering, which will take place April 26-28 at the Empire Polo Field.
How does a performer qualify for such a promotion?
“There are so many different things,” Stacy Vee, director of festival talent for Goldenvoice, the promoter of Stagecoach. “It’s a feel thing. His performance last time he played a few years ago remains a very talked about performance. I watched ‘Body Like a Back Road’ be the No. 1 streamed song for so long, and the No. 2 song was such a distant No. 2. And I see people’s reaction to him.”
Beyond the testosterone-heavy trio topping the lineup next year will be the usual disparate mix of mainstream country, Americana artists, bluegrass acts, rock, folk and the now-standard classic-rock groups that have come to be a regular facet of the Stagecoach experience.
Although no female act is headlining next year, Vee remains committed to crafting a bill that gives a greater percentage of performance slots to women, this despite the overwhelming dominance of male acts in recent years on the country sales charts.
Among the women coming next spring are Ashley Monroe, Cam, Lauren Alaina, Danielle Bradbery, Terri Clark, Rita Wilson, Ruby Boots, Abby Anderson, Dawn Landes, Rachel Wammack and Jessie James Decker.
Female headliners from years past have included Shania Twain, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood.
In 2019, Stagecoach’s classic rock-leaning camp will consist of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, hard rock-turned-country singer Bret Michaels and Welsh rock-soul-R&B-gospel singer Tom Jones.
Vee also is further testing the waters for festival-goers’ interest in country acts that were big in the ’80s and ’90s, a class represented next year not only by Clark but also Mark Chesnutt, Joe Diffie and Sammy Kershaw.
Others on the lineup include Parker Millsap, Luke Combs, Cole Swindell, Jordan Davis, LANCO, Old Dominion and Scotty McCreery.
One presentational innovation from last year will return with the SiriusXM Spotlight Stage, which gave newer acts that play ahead of the evening’s big names a platform placed closer to fans in front of the massive Mane Stage that draws the bulk of Stagecoach attendees’ attention after sundown.
“We’ll have a lot of up and coming talent on the Spotlight Stage,” Vee said. “Last year we did six acts per day; this time we’ll have five a day. I think I pushed it a little bit last year. We need to give people a little more time between performances.”
Tickets will go on sale Friday, Oct. 19, and three-day general admission passes will cost $349, the same price as last year. Other ticket packages featuring camping access or other amenities will be available at higher prices.
Complete lineup and ticket information is available at the official Stagecoach website.
Ticket sales were capped last year at 75,000 per day, making Stagecoach easily the highest attended country music festival in the world. Vee said she and other Goldenvoice officials have not decided yet whether to increase that ceiling for 2019.
Along with the music, Vee is bringing back celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s Stagecoach Smokehouse barbecue tent featuring a variety of food and beverage booths. Roots rocker and fashion plate Nikki Lane also will bring back the Stage Stop Marketplace merchandising area, and country DJs will spin records in the HonkyTonk Dancehall.