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Stagecoach 2009: Kevin Costner, Lynn Anderson

April 25, 2009 |  6:12 pm

Backstage at Stagecoach:

Costner_stagecoach_300 Who says you have to look like a young movie star to get any attention in country music today?

Middle-aged movie stars do just fine too, judging by the rapturous turnout for Kevin Costner and Modern West this afternoon.

To his credit, Costner takes to the guitar and microphone as naturally as, well, picking up a baseball bat. Fortunately, he also has a longstanding relationship with a solid songwriter and musical partner in Modern West’s John Coinman, so the songs on their recent debut album, “Untold Truths,” give him a respectable musical foundation.

It’s not groundbreaking stuff, but earnest and, by all appearances, truly heartfelt. Introducing “Five Minutes From America,” which grew out of his experience on a film shoot in Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina hit, he described the choice that faced him: shifting the shoot to another site, or staying put. “These people had lost their homes,” he said, “they didn’t need to lose their jobs too.”

It was the kind of personal touch that helped elevate material that in and of itself is competent. He similarly pumped up “Long Hot Night,” “Backyard” and “90 Miles an Hour” with engaging autobiographical intros.

Before taking the stage, he exchanged greetings with ‘70s country star Lynn Anderson, who preceded him on the Palomino Stage with an upbeat set that culminated in her signature hit “Rose Garden,” one of the quintessential results of the pop-minded countrypolitan sound Nashville favored at the time. The country veteran and the relative newcomer posed for a quick photo op on the stairs leading to the stage, while Costner’s wife, Christine, and son Cayden (outfitted with heavy duty ear protection) looked on from the side of the stage.

Anderson, in a knockout pink cowgirl hat, talked to me briefly of growing up in Northern California, around Sacramento, and of her fascination with the nascent country-rock scene of the ‘60s as her career was taking off, which made Poco’s scheduled reunion appearance on Sunday particularly attractive to her. “I’m sticking around an extra day so I can see them,” she told me backstage. “I sure hope they’ll let me sing some harmony."

--Randy Lewis

Photo credit: Getty Images