Hustling across dusty parking lots, a campsite filled with beer-drinking folks lounging in tents, and an expansive field to watch Rissi Palmer sing, this reviewer saw enough cowboy hats, cowboy boots, and women of various levels of physical fitness in bikini tops and micro-shorts to last a long lifetime.
The venue was the Empire Polo Field in Indio, California, and the occasion was the second annual Stagecoach Festival, a three-day country music concert. Approximately 120,000 fans showed up over the weekend to hear artists like Taylor Swift, Trisha Yearwood, Tim McGraw, The Eagles, John Fogerty, Glenn Campbell, The Judds, "American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood, and Gretchen Wilson perform across three stages. Last month, Prince lit up the same desert with a rocking show that featured an inspiring cover of Radiohead's "Creep" at the alternative rock-oriented Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Performing on the Mustang Stage was the lovely Rissi Palmer, an up-and-coming guitar-playing country singer who made her first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry last summer. By the time I reached the stage, she was halfway through her 45-minute, 11-song set. But 20 minutes was more than enough time to form a favorable impression of the 26-year-old.
Inspired by artists like the late Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, and Prince, Palmer's style of country blends traditional and contemporary. Looking good (overall shorts, white tank top, high heel sandals, and bouncing and behaving hair) and sounding sweet, Palmer confidently strutted across the stage as she played songs mostly from her self-titled debut album, including signature song "Country Girl," "Mr. Ooh La La," "Anybody Out There," "Hold On To Me," and "Flowers on My Window Ledge." Watching her live brought a different level of excitement to her music and renewed appreciation for her strong voice. (Read the album review)