"Last time he played in 2016, he brought out Snoop Dogg as a special guest," says Stacy Vee, Goldenvoice's director of festival talent and longtime programmer for the annual concert. "We're seeing so much crossover now in country, whether it's Maren Morris and Zedd or Florida Georgia Line with Bebe Rexha, we've entered this new time when country is driving huge pop songs."
As always, this year's festival features plenty of ascendant country acts poised for a possible future as a headliner, with Cole Swindell and Kane Brown, who just took home three American Music Awards, performing Friday, and emerging country stars Luke Combs and Cam holding it down Saturday night.
"Combs and Cam are very different, but I think they're gonna compliment each other really well," Vee tells Billboard. "It's country A to Z with those two together."
Sunday night features Old Dominion, who first played the festival in 2016 and have seen their stars rise with their popular 2017 album Happy Endings, as well as ongoing support from Goldenvoice who featured the band on their 2016 Stagecoach Spotlight tour.
As always, there are a few surprises every year — legendary singer Tom Jones is making a trip to the desert for a Sunday night set.
"He attended when Jerry Lee Lewis played a few years ago," Vee said. "He must have had a good time because his agent later called me to ask about performing and it took me half-a-second to enthusiastically say 'heck yes.'"
Vee said this year's Stagecoach highlights a number of rising women in country music including Lauren Alaina and Jesse James Decker telling Billboard "I'm working so hard to help develop these incredibly talented women," she says. "There's just an abundance of female talent out there right now and I'm trying to do my part for artists like Abby Anderson and Rachel Wammack who are incredible."
Old Dominion will appear on Ellen later today to announce the lineup. Tickets go on sale Friday (Oct. 19) at 11am Pacific at stagecoachfestival.com. Three-day general admission passes start at $349.