The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival will expand to a three-day event for the first time in 2007 when it overtakes the Empire Polo Field in Indio, Calif. on April 27-29. The following weekend (May 5-6), Coachella promoters Goldenvoice will launch an as-yet-unnamed country music festival at the same venue, featuring George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Sugarland and Willie Nelson.
According to a spokesperson, the new event will sport four performance stages: the main stage, an “outlaw” stage, a bluegrass stage and a “storytelling” area, the latter of which will feature appearances by “Prairie Home Companion” creator Garrison Keillor and Texas poet laureate Red Steagall.
Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, Nickel Creek, Ricky Skaggs, Earl Scruggs and Sparrow Quarter featuring Bela Fleck will also perform at the inaugural festival, which was booked by Coachella producer Paul Tollett, Louis Messina of TMG/AEG Live and Steve Moore of AEG Live Nashville.
“Kenny and George committed immediately and they love the idea,” Messina tells Billboard.com. “This is the first year, and I think this is soemthing that’s going to be around for a long time and grow into something really special. This is Paul’s dream, and I’m just happy to lend a hand.”
Ironically, while country music is a consistently strong seller in southern California, the area’s lone country station, KZLA, abandoned the format in favor of a pop playlist earlier this year.
The expansion comes eight years into Coachella’s existence, during which time the event has become the premiere yearly musical destination for thousands of fans around the world. The lineup for the 2007 edition of Coachella will not be announced until late January or early February, but Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela recently confirmed to Billboard.com they would be participating.