May 4th, 2008
05:53 PM ET

Mother and child reunion, live

Notes from Stagecoach, Day 2:

Relationships between mothers and daughters are often complicated when they're played out in the privacy of their own homes. When those loving, but intense, conflicts are set to song and displayed in front of an audience of about 40,000 people, you have a reunion of The Judds.

Naomi Judd and her daughter Wynonna were the darlings of country music in the '80s and '90s, but stopped touring and recording as a duo in 2000, after Naomi was diagnosed with hepatitis C. Saturday night, they played their first show together in nearly eight years at the Stagecoach music festival in Indio, California. It was an emotional set - kicking off with "Girls Night Out" and finishing with an encore of their signature song, "Love Can Build a Bridge."

"I think my parting words were, 'The show's dedicated to therapists across America,' " Naomi told us aboard her tour bus, still in stage makeup and sparkles after the concert. "Hey, maybe we'll get a free session!"

Naomi is impossibly kewpie doll-cute at 62 - or "sex-ty two," as Wynonna calls it. At 43, Wy continues to be the brassy and strong-willed teenager. Theirs is the classic story of the talented daughter and the charming stage mother who can't seem to cut the cord, try as they might. When the performed together Saturday night, it seemed to re-open - as well as heal - old wounds.

"I'll have to say the pressure today was almost painful, and that's not like me," Naomi confided. "I mean, I used to work in ICU as an R.N. But I do really well when there's a crisis. Hey, I raised Wynonna and Ashley Judd, so nothing scares me anymore!"

The Judds performed half a dozen songs together before Naomi went backstage for a costume change and Wynonna took the stage alone. It was an interesting contrast. Without her mother's taffeta skirt to hide behind, she was less demure, much more raucous and commanding. Even a cover of Foreigner's 1985 pop ballad, "I Want to Know What Love Is," sounded like a gritty gospel-blues sermon delivered from a church somewhere deep in the Delta.

Naomi re-joined her daughter for a handful of songs, including their early hits, "Why Not Me" and "Mama, He's Crazy." After their encore of "Love Can Build a Bridge," they walked off stage, hand-in-hand, visibly moved.

Next Sunday is Mother's Day, and Naomi can already picture the chain of events back home in Tennessee.

"I won't look anything like this," she said, referencing her rhinestone-laced gown. "I'll have on no makeup. Probably elastic-waist pants." She laughed. "Barefoot in the kitchen cooking, and my dogs and my husband - and hopefully, Wy and Ashley."

-– Denise Quan, Music Correspondent/Senior Producer, CNN Entertainment


Filed under: Uncategorized
May 3rd, 2008
07:19 PM ET

Eagles in the desert, lots of love backstage

Notes from Stagecoach, Day 1:

It was the cover of the Eagles' 1976 album, "Hotel California," brought to life.

There they were - Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh - silhouetted against a desert oasis, surrounded by gently swaying palm trees and a crowd of 40,000. But this was no flashback mirage. This was opening night of the second annual Stagecoach festival in Indio, California - a three-day country music event just outside Palm Springs.

"We thought it would be a good chance to broaden our horizons in terms of our audience," said Henley. "Maybe there's some country fans who haven't really heard us before. California figures prominently in our history, as does the desert. So we're glad to be here."

Some of the 14 other musical acts on Friday expressed excitement at sharing a bill with the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. Michelle Branch's parents made the trek from Arizona to catch her set - but not before asking, "Hey, can you get us tickets to see the Eagles?"

"First, they want to see the Eagles, then their granddaughter, then me. I'm not even sloppy seconds. I'm sloppy thirds!" Branch laughingly complained, as her 2-year-old daughter, Owen, ran around the artist compound - a little mini-me in a sundress and pink sandals.

Henley chuckled when informed of Branch's comments. "I gave her a guitar when she was starting out. Tell her I said hi."

Backstage was a big mutual admiration society for the artists. Henley interrupted his interview for a moment when Trisha Yearwood's elegant vocals came soaring through the window of his dressing room trailer. "I hear Miss Yearwood singing. Her voice is unmistakable. God, she's good."

John Fogerty - a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer himself with Creedence Clearwater Revival - admitted, "I'm a huge fan of the Eagles, and I just ran into Glen Campbell."

After his set, Shooter Jennings also caught up with Campbell, who was friends with Shooter's late father, Waylon, back in the day. "It's been great seeing you grow up," Campbell told Shooter affectionately.

"I'm trying, man!" the younger Jennings replied. "I'm hanging on like a hair in a grilled cheese sandwich!"

The two embraced briefly. As Waylon's son left his trailer, Campbell spontaneously burst into a Foo Fighters song. "It's times like these you learn to love again!"

Outside, a roadie brought a dual-necked guitar onto the main stage. That could only mean one thing. The Eagles were just about to launch into "Hotel California." In the '70s, it was a metaphor for decadence. But on this night, it stood for camaraderie within the country rock community. Henley's poignant voice rose above the crowd, which had joined him in singing, "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave!"

A cheer rose, as the familiar guitar solo wailed and palm trees danced against the desert backdrop. For a brief moment, Hotel Calfornia was once again filled to capacity.

- Denise Quan, Music Correspondent/Senior Producer, CNN Entertainment


Filed under: Uncategorized
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