Stagecoach, the California music festival known as Coachella’s country cousin, is still seven months off, but Goldenvoice likes to get the word out a lot sooner than they do for the indie-rock gathering that immediately precedes it. The promoter puts passes for the April 2019 gathering on sale Friday and is giving attendees plenty of time to whet their appetites, announcing a lineup led by three of the most reliable chart toppers in country, Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt and Jason Aldean.
Among those billed in the secondary tiers are two commercially significant artists who still have just one freshman album to their credit so far: Kane Brown and Luke Combs. Brown releases his second album Nov. 9 and it’s expected to be one of the biggest country releases, if not the biggest, of the fourth quarter. Brown’s a rarity among Stagecoach artists, as someone who is being invited back for a second consecutive year, after making a big impression last April in a lower-down slot on the main stage.
Country as a genre can’t claim very many women as actual marquee names in the late 2010s, but Stagecoach has made a point of striving for gender representation, so there are far more female names on the lineup than at any comparable festival, even if none of them is among the three nightly headliners. Lauren Alaina and Cam are the two main-stagers of significance. Further down the bill are Danielle Bradbery, who’s having a current chart resurgence, along with critical favorites like Ashley Monroe and Aubrie Sellers.
A few elements that have traditionally been part of Stagecoach are in shorter supply this year. The festival has done well putting some classic rock acts with loose ties to roots music in the tents, but the only artist who really qualifies in that regard this year is ‘60s heartthrob Tom Jones, whose recent albums have taken a soulful-Americana turn. Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bret Michaels also technically qualify as coming from outside of country, though their audience and country’s are fairly synonymous at this point.
Old-times are in shorter supply than in past years, although that may simply be because some of the greatest legends Stagecoach has presented have passed away in recent years. For heritage acts this year, they’re mostly looking all the way back to… the 1990s, with Sammy Kershaw, Joe Diffie, Terri Clark, Mark Chestnutt representing for country gold.
Unlike past year, there are none of the leading lights of Americana headlining the side tents, a la Jason Isbell last year, although names like Parker Millsap still provide bait for that audience. Last year’s festival saw the cessation of the bluegrass tent, which tended to draw very tiny, if enthusiastic, crowds. This year San Tyminski is on the bill, although it’s unknown if he’ll be performing bluegrass or with his more contemporary side project.
Other current hitmakers scheduled for the main stage include Cole Swindell, LANco, Old Dominion, Michael Ray and Scotty McCreery.
Two popular areas introduced last year, a Guy Fieri smokehouse section and a Nikki Lane-curated artisan boutiques, will return for 2019.
Three-day general admission passes for the April 26-28 festival run $349. Passes for the standing-room pit or up-front reserved seating top out at $1,399.