Stagecoach Band's 2,500th Sunday Church

John Sidle toasts to Clair Hillman on his 85th birthday during the Stagecoach Band's 2,500th performance at the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson. The Jackson based musician will appear in the first of the Wyoming Singer-Songwriter Competition's "Home Fest" virtual concert series at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Just as folks were starting to don their boogie shoes again, a shock rang through the swing dancing community.

The Stagecoach Band, a Jackson staple for more than 50 years, announced Thursday it will not be returning for Sunday shows at the Stagecoach Bar in downtown Wilson.

The decision was not made by band members, but by bar owners, who told the band in an email that the partnership doesn’t make the bar enough money.

“They feel they can make more money in a different way, I guess,” said Bill Briggs, the band’s 88-year-old front man who has performed over 2,500 shows at the ’Coach. On Monday, he got a simple note from bar manager Wayne Johnson saying the music would have to stop.

Briggs said he tried to negotiate a workaround, but “there’s no word back on that right now. As it stands, it would be no more.”

For many, including Briggs, the news came as a shock. He was planning to resume Sunday night sets May 30 with a lineup already arranged through June. Now he’s left searching for other venues, a strange position for a band named after its home stage.

Longtime bandmate and lead guitarist John Sidle, 87, met with Briggs for lunch Friday to discuss next steps.

“I don’t think the Stagecoach Band is dead,” Sidle said. “The best resolution would be to have it resolved and keep it at the ’Coach. And that is still a possibility. Well, Bill’s working on it.”

Lots of folks have already reached out to propose a finale show for this summer, even if it had to be held in the Stagecoach parking lot. Band members said they’d be open to that, bittersweet as it may be.

But Sidle said it can’t end like this: “That would be an ignominious end to a proud Jackson tradition.”

Since negotiations are still in the works, fans should stay tuned for updates in the weekly Jackson Hole News&Guide.

Clarification: This version of the article has been edited to change the word "management" to "owners" in the third paragraph. Although the bar's manager sent an email to the band, the owners made the decision to cease the gig. — Ed.

Contact Evan Robinson-Johnson at 732-5901 or ERJ@jhnewsandguide.com.

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(1) comment

Mary Coyne

How sad for our community, and short-sighted of the Stagecoach owners to not realize the lore of the Stagecoach Band draws visitors to the bar locally and from afar not just on Sunday nights. Disheartening indeed: the Stagecoach would rather be empty and quiet on a Sunday night?!

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