INDIO (CNS) - Stagecoach is about to be a house party for all the free birds with Sam Hunt headlining the world's biggest country music festival tonight alongside Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Sam Hunt, a Georgia native, is expected to serve country fans his unique blend of country and pop music at 10:15 a.m. on the Mane Stage, according to organizers. In 2015, Hunt shot into mainstream fame with his hit “House Party,” and later released “Body Like A Back Road” -- another pop- country hit -- two years later.
The more musically diverse Hunt will play about an hour after Lynyrd Skynyrd is expected to finish their set on the Palomino stage. The Rock-n-Roll Hall of Famers have been icons of Americana since they released “Sweet Home Alabama” in 1974.
In 1977, four years after the release of their debut album, three of the bands original members died in a plane crash in rural Mississippi.
“By 2001 only two original members, Gary Rossington and Billy Powell, were left in Lynyrd Skynyrd,” according to the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame website. “However, they'd become a virtual Southern-rock supergroup with the addition of guitarists Ricky Medlocke (Blackfoot) and Hughie Thomason (Outlaws).”
Actress Rita Wilson and Luke Combs are also set to play at the festival Saturday with highs expected to hit triple-digits nearing 101 degrees, adding to the western aura of the country festival. More than 80 stars are lined up to perform over the weekend after one of Nashville's biggest stars, Luke Bryan, kicking off the festival Friday night.
Jason Aldean will lead the festival on Sunday with 78-year-old Welsh R&B superstar Tom Jones featured alongside electronic DJ Diplo.
For country fans more interested in the ambiance of the desert festival, amenities such as Honkytonk Dance Hall and Nikki Lane's Stage Stop Marketplace, which debuted at last year's festival, will return this year, along with old favorites such as the Half-Pint Hootenanny, the Budweiser Clydesdales and Guy Fieri's Stagecoach Smokehouse.
General admission passes for the country festival priced at $349 are sold out, while general admission and shuttle pass combos are available for $409.
Honkytonkers trekking into Indio should be aware that despite the availability of the Any Line Shuttle, which can carry festivalgoers between the grounds and area hotels, major congestion is still anticipated on multiple routes.
Travelers motoring through the desert should expect traffic delays today and continuing through Sunday on the following stretches:
-- southbound Jefferson, Washington and Monroe streets from the 10 Freeway to Avenue 52;
-- Avenue 48 between Jefferson and Jackson streets;
-- Highway 111 at Jefferson and Monroe streets; and
-- eastbound 10 Freeway exits at Jefferson, Monroe and Washington streets.
Several significant road closures are also planned Friday through Monday:
-- Avenue 49 between Hjorth and Monroe streets;
-- Avenue 50 between Madison and Jackson streets;
-- Hjorth Street between Avenue 49 and Avenue 50; and
-- Madison Street between Avenue 49 and Avenue 52.
For motorists traveling north- and south-bound, city officials suggest taking Washington, Jackson and Calhoun streets as well as Golf Center Parkway; while east-west travelers should use Highway 111, Fred Waring Drive, Miles Avenue, Dr. Carreon Boulevard and Avenue 54.
Around 40,000 festival attendees will spill out of the desert fairgrounds Monday, prompting authorities to warn of significant traffic on the 10 Freeway. The 10 and the 60 freeways are also expected to experience serious congestion over the weekend.
“Motorists who plan to use Interstate 10 between Beaumont and Indio or state Route 60 from Moreno Valley to Beaumont during these events will experience traffic delays during peak travel times,” Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga said.
Traffic will be heaviest for westbound travelers Sunday for motorists.
“Avoid delays by leaving early mornings on those peak travel days or wait to travel the day after the peak travel day,” Kasinga said.
A special traffic warning also was issued for those coming from Temecula via the 15 Freeway because state routes 74 and 243 are closed for repairs, Kasinga said. Rather than enduring delays on the closed and partially closed freeways, travelers should exit the 15 Freeway at Interstate 215 northbound and then travel east on either the 10 or 60 freeways.
Indio officials encouraged Stagecoach attendees to take advantage of the Any Line Shuttle, which costs $80 for the weekend and services hotels in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indian Wells and other local resorts.
Information on the Any Line Shuttle is available here.