REVIEW: Stagecoach Band still fresh

By on March 25, 2013
Derek Huffsmith and Bill Briggs rock another Sunday night at The Coach. (photo Judd Grossman)

Derek Huffsmith and Bill Briggs rock another Sunday night at The Coach. (photo Judd Grossman)

As I pull up to the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson on Sunday night I see the cars parked on the street and my innate fear of crowded bars filled with people who are cooler than me, and who know how to have more fun than I do, wells up. My snarky, hypercritical defense mechanism kicks in: What am I doing here? I don’t want to hear some ragtag conglomeration of musicians playing a bunch of hokey songs for rich, transplanted Westbankers dancing with their wanna-be-native cowboy hats and boots. I put in my earplugs and timidly squeeze in the door.

Oh crap. Wrong again. The Coach is comfortably crowded with plenty of room to dance if you keep your swing moves tight (If there’s too much room on the dance floor you’re probably in the wrong bar). The songs are tasteful and danceable. The band is sounding good. Dammit.

Kenny Bradberry is looking badass on bass with his eye patch, slamming out a very solid “Your Mamma Don’t Dance.”  Derrik Hufsmith is tearing it up on a hollow body electric.  Where did that come from? Bill Briggs looks the same as he did 25 years ago when I was a fairly regular in the band (before my personality and guitar playing disorders were discovered).

Remember when the Eddie Bauer outlet was a wax museum? I think Briggs escaped from there, and now Sunday night at the Coach is kind of like “Night at the Museum.” Mike Calabrese is steady and tasteful on the drums.
Ah-ha! There’s a harmonica in the band. St Louis Slim is playing it pretty well, but at least I have something to complain about.

The crowd has a refreshingly large percentage of longtime locals. The ones that you thought didn’t go out anymore until you see them at the ‘Coach or the Firemen’s Ball. Here they are pulling a split shift and saving the soul of Jackson Hole. This isn’t the overheated Disco Night pheromone fest. These are people who are honoring some of the unique qualities of Jackson Hole that seem to be disappearing, but are apparently still perceptible at the Stagecoach on Sunday nights. Live music, lack of pretention, organic regional soulfulness.
The Stagecoach Band is a Jackson Hole institution, yada yada. Playing for something like 100 billion consecutive Sundays. They are like a weird organism that starts out old, never gets older, and never dies. Everyone in the band trades off songs, round and round, all night, all year, all millennium. The legendary Briggs is the anchor, sounding a little more hoarse than he once did, but that’s just a matter of degree.

And now the whole damn deal is smoke free. I was young and charming 25 years too soon when the smoke still billowed and choked us.

Rock on boys! Might have to come back again with my wife.

About Judd Grossman

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