CVIndependent

Fri12042020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Matt King

Is there anything as cool as that good ol’ rockabilly sound? The old greats really knew what they were doing … but we haven’t heard much of that classic sound recently.

Then again, maybe we just haven’t been looking in the right places: If you’ve got the no-blues blues, check out Molly Hanmer and the Midnight Tokers. Debut record Stuck in a Daydream covers all the bases of blues essentials. “Take a Walk with Me” kicks off the record with a rockabilly jam that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Johnny Cash record, while the title track is a soft, somber, slow-burning blues song that’ll rip your heart out with a tale about a lack of confidence. Hanmer’s voice is perfect for these different scenarios; it sounds so meaningful on the slower tracks—and playful, yet sinister, on the faster ones.

The group will perform at Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Jan. 23.

“My love for music started when I was a kid,” Hanmer said during a recent phone interview. “My mom and dad were always playing music around the house. My dad listened to The Beatles, The Beach Boys and the Grateful Dead; my mom was more into Etta James and Aretha Franklin.”

I could hear bits of these inspirations sprinkled throughout the album, with a little Etta on “Outlaw Blues,” and a little Paul McCartney on “Dead Happy.” Hanmer explained how she started to be more of a music-maker, and not just a listener.

“My dad always had this guitar lying around the house,” said Hanmer, “a Lyle Dove, which was a copy of a Gibson Dove. He would play around just for fun on it, and I started to get interested in it. He showed me some basic chords—C, F, G. Then he got me lessons, but I was only 9 years old at the time, so I ended up not being able to hold enough attention. When I turned 13, though, I got my first electric guitar, and things took off from there.”

Another of Hanmer’s inspirations is Bob Dylan. You can hear this love for him on her “Mama’s in the Spirit World Now.”

“I wrote my first song when I was 17. It’s called ‘Song to Bob,’ and it was a play off of Bob Dylan’s song to Woody Guthrie,” Hanmer said. “After that, I didn’t write songs for a couple of years; I just didn’t have the self-confidence to do it. I met my friend Claudia Miles, who is my manager now, and she got me back into writing, and helped me figure out how to approach it—to just sit down and write whatever comes out. Once I tried that, I wrote a song called ‘Little Song,’ which is on my first EP.”

Hanmer went on to play and write more, steadily increasing her musicianship skills and confidence, before the inception of her current band.

“In high school, I didn’t really want to sing,” Hanmer said. “I mostly considered myself a guitar player. But then I realized: I really didn’t have anyone who could sing, so I had to start doing it myself. For a few years, I was just playing at home, but after I turned 21, I started going to open mics around San Francisco, where I lived at the time. I played mostly covers and a few originals, until I moved to L.A. and met my band.”

The move to Los Angeles shifted Hanmer’s dream into high gear.

“I was a little wary about moving to L.A., because everyone in Northern California has this negative stigma about Los Angeles; I think they’re just jealous of the sun,” Hanmer said. “My manager convinced me to move to L.A., so I did, and met John Bird, my keyboard player, and Keith Palmer, my drummer, through a friend of my dad. I met our bass player, Alex U’Ren, at a bar three years ago, and he’s been playing with us for a year. I was kind of nervous to ask them to play with me at first, because they’re older and more experienced, but they were more than happy to play with me.”

As for the name, Hanmer explained that an unintentional bit of plagiarizing proved fateful.

“When I first moved here, I was trying to figure out what a cool band name would be,” Hanmer said. “After brainstorming a few names, I came up with the Midnight Tokers. I thought it was a great name and that I was so clever, but when I presented it to the guys, they said, ‘Like the Steve Miller Band?’ and I realized I subconsciously stole that. But it really fits the vibe of the band, so we’ve stuck with it.”

Blues music has always been popular in some circles, because everyone has experienced pain—and sometimes, it helps to just sing about it.

“The blues is a very authentic and genuine genre,” Hanmer said. “You’re just laying out life and the struggles that everyone goes through, and putting it to beautiful music. That’s really what I love about it.”

Molly Hanmer and the Midnight Tokers will perform at 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan 23, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

January is bringing a brand-new festival to the land of festivals!

4xFAR, presented by Land Rover, is a brand-new music, food and adventure festival coming to Empire Grand Oasis in Thermal on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19. It will feature music with headliners Anderson .Paak and Mark Ronson, as well as a plethora of adventure activities, such as mountain biking, climbing, fly fishing and off-roading! General-admission tickets are $95 for one day, or $185 for both; head to 4xfar.com to get ’em.

The illustrious McCallum Theatre is featuring wonderful events throughout January. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, double-trouble actor and singer Jack Jones will grace the McCallum stage. He has more than 50 years of jazz and pop performances under his belt, so it’s no wonder The New York Times said that “he is arguably the most technically accomplished male pop singer.” Tickets are $40 to $90. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14, put on your green duds, and head to the McCallum to enjoy the Derina Harvey Band. This Celtic-rock group is described in press materials as being like “a rockier version of Canada’s Great Big Sea, if fronted by Adele.” Whoa! Tickets are $25 to $55. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs is hosting a plethora of big acts to start off the New Year. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, George Thorogood and the Destroyers will bring 45 years of hard rock to Indio. While the weather may be freezing you to the bone, come and get “Bad to the Bone” with bona fide rock legends. Tickets are $39 to $59. If you’ve been missing the classic sounds of the Motown era, you’re in for a real treat on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., as both The Temptations and The Four Tops are returning to town. Both groups’ hits have been tugging on your heart strings for more than five decades. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, the legendary Tony Bennett will bring his “I Left My Heart” Tour to the Fantasy Springs stage. He’s been performing for nearly 70 years, with more than 50 million records sold; come witness one of music’s living icons while you still can. Tickets are $49 to $109. If you don’t want to bother paying for heat in your own home, come out at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, when 98° promises to set the stage on fire. If the ’90s is what you’re longing for, both music-wise and temperature-wise, this show is for you. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 is showcasing a few festive events in January. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, Mexican singer-songwriter Pancho Barraza will return to Coachella. Do you really need more of an excuse to go dance? Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, Spotlight 29 is featuring a very unique event titled ¿Y Si Me Caso? This “musical wedding” promises to be as musical as it is dramatic, as one man decides which woman he should marry. Tickets are $25 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Agua Caliente intends to turn the heat up on those cold winter nights.At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, the one-and-only D-O-double G is coming to town. That’s right, Snoop Dogg, with openers O.T. Genasis and Warren G, is bringing that West Coast gangsta rap to Rancho Mirage, and you’d be a fool to miss out. Tickets are $85 to $115. If R&B is more your speed, then on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., make sure you catch Boyz II Men. Since the ’90s, the boyz have been putting audiences in their feelings with emotional ballads and sweet harmonies, so be there! Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, the Long Island Medium herself, Theresa Caputo, will return to The Show. This night will include Caputo’s stories about her experiences as a medium, and will feature interactions with some of the audience members. Tickets are $75 to $120. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

At Morongo, you can catch a few fun performances this month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, enjoy Baby Bash performing for Jimmy Reyes’ Birthday Bash. Come get your 2000s rap fix and celebrate a birthday at the same time! Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, Hollywood Medium Tyler Henry brings “An Evening of Hope, Healing and Closure” to Cabazon. This is a brand-new live show, that, of course, includes an audience Q&A and readings. Tickets are $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s is the home of more than a few rockin’ shows this month. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, Pappy’s will host the Americana-folk of Justin Townes Earle (below). The son of Steve Earle, who was named after the legendary Townes Van Zandt, has more than lived up to his impressive musical pedigree. Jonny Two Bags opens, and tickets are $25. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 16, indie surf-rock group Surf Curse will jam the night away. This is one of my favorite bands right now, offering an extremely dance-y and catchy vibe across songs that are sure to make any one with ears wanna jump around. Tickets are $16 to $18. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Toucan’s has some appealing LGBT-slanted events on the January docket. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 4, country-music man Ty Herndon returns to Palm Springs for a night of country hits from his late ’90s heyday, with newer songs as well. Tickets are $30 to $40. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, Jai Rodriguez kicks off his 2020 cabaret tour with “Tales of an Aging Twink.” He’s appeared on Broadway in Rent, and was part of the original Queer Eye cast, so it’s safe to say this night will be one to remember. Tickets are $25. And on Friday, Jan. 31, at 7:30 p.m., drag queens Jackie Beat and Sherry Vine will bring their comedy show “Best Frenemies” to Toucan’s. Tickets are $25. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; www.reactionshows.com.

The Purple Room promises to entertain with a packed January schedule. At 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, catch two-time 2018 Grammy nominee Clint Holmes sing both hits and originals with his jazz vocal stylings. Tickets are $60 to $65. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, Amanda McBroom will return to the Purple Room—this time performing songs from noir films! Tickets are $35 to $40. And on Friday, Jan. 31, at 8 p.m., witness the Black Market Trust combine jazzy hits with Django Reinhardt-style guitar-playing into one magnificent show. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

If you’ve been itching to support local talent, get thee to The Date Shed at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, to catch local rappers Provoked Poetry, Willdabeast, Thoughts Contained and DJ ODC for Provoked Poetry’s album release. Tickets are $10. And on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m., you can see three of the valley’s best young rock groups: Pescaterritory, Israel’s Arcade and Instigator, at Pescafest. Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

Imagine this: You’re at a concert. It’s finally time for the curtains to roll back, and you see … four middle-age dudes, with a piano and a cello?

Yep. Before you can turn away, you’re hit with the piano melody of one of your favorite songs. One man is playing the piano while the other guys are making drum beats on the sides, or even pulling the strings of the piano, to create all the parts of that song.

The Piano Guys are doing what they do best—and you just can’t help but be amazed. See them for yourself on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 17 and 18, when they perform three shows at the McCallum Theatre.

Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson and Al van der Beek are four Utah dads who—with a little charm, luck and what they call blessings from God—have been winning the hearts of audiences as The Piano Guys since 2010. Their unique approach to creating music—performing covers of modern hits in a classical style—as well as their astonishing filming locations, including the Great Wall of China and the Christ the Redeemer statue, have made them viral-video sensations, resulting in more than 6.6 million YouTube subscribers and close to 2 billion views.

“It’s kind of serendipity, one of those happy accidents,” Schmidt said during a recent phone interview. “God brought us together. I really don’t know how else to explain it. Paul was doing his piano store, and had an interest in videography. I was doing a solo piano act and had eight albums of my own piano compositions, with a small following. Steve was doing music, and Al had his own recording studio that he was producing stuff in.

“Steve played a song with me at a gig one day, which turned into more songs, and collaborations in the studio. Then we gave him a microphone—which was one of the greatest decisions that I ever made: He’s got a world-class sense of humor, seriously a comic genius, and that added this sort of Smothers Brothers element to our show that was really cool and unforeseen. I would act like a goofball at my shows before, but when he joined, we were just put on a whole new level, and audiences love it. My favorite thing is when someone in the audience yells something random, and he’ll turn it into something so hilarious in a flash.”

Schmidt and I discussed the mysterious ways in which musical inspiration occurs.

“I think the music chooses us,” Schmidt said. “We’ve tried to work on stuff that makes (logical) sense, but you just don’t feel it. You know within an hour that something will never work. I’ve heard it compared to sculpting, where sculptors just have to look at the marble and can tell if it will be worth it to go in that direction or not. Concepts are rarely introduced; they just kind of hit you, and you know it’s worth it just by how it feels.”

The Piano Guys’ distinct creative process helps make them unique. You probably never knew you needed to hear “Let It Go” from Frozen in the style of classical music—yet you adore it once you hear it.

“When I was a teenager, I had a brother—12 years older than me—who was always trying to find music to show me,” said Schmidt. “It didn’t matter the genre—classical, Janis Joplin or choral music. But one day, he showed me this new album from a group called Mannheim Steamroller. It wasn’t their Christmas covers; it was their early originals. They mixed classical and rock ’n’ roll, and that captivated me, because growing up, my German immigrant parents would always be playing classical music. I was immersed in classical music at home, and when I was with my friends, I’d listen to the radio—so this Mannheim Steamroller group brought both those worlds together in such a cool way. When I started writing my own original music, it was in that style. I tried to rock-ify and modernize my classical piano training. Steve, our cellist, had the same sensibility, so we sprinkle classical all over our originals and even our covers. … People are intrigued when you mash up two appealing elements into one work.”

If The Piano Guys’ music wasn’t intriguing enough, each of their videos also features a beautiful backdrop. The guys have gone everywhere from various wonders of the world to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

“Paul really has a great mind for this project,” Schmidt said. “… He has a piano store, friends with helicopters and a great can-do attitude. My favorite place to film was the Iguazu Falls in Brazil. … Pretty much everywhere you look, you’ll see waterfalls and green. It was such an amazing place to make music. Another great place was the Lincoln Memorial. It’s one of those moments when I’m glad my parents made me practice.”

The Piano Guys first found success on YouTube—but weren’t sure their songs would translate in a live, theater setting. But they’ve been taking chances their whole career, and going out on tour was just another leap of faith.

“The thing that blows me away is that booking managers will tell us that we’ve been the greatest show they’ve ever seen,” Schmidt said. “It always fills me with wonder. Steve and I will walk out onstage and think, ‘Do these people realize this is a piano and cello concert?’ I really don’t understand it; it’s not a likely scenario. We’re not shredders by any means, but we just pray that we can put on a show where people can feel the love of God—and somehow, it just works.”

The Piano Guys will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 17; and 2 and 8 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 18, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $65 to $125. For tickets or more information, call 760-340-2787 or visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

There’s a reason you don’t often see the “bored-bassist” look on the faces of our valley’s musicians—and that reason is the leadership of Dan Dillinger, who has been moving, jumping and kicking all over Coachella Valley stages and beyond for more than a decade now. He performs with punk-rockers The Sweat Act (facebook.com/TheSweatAct) and the more-alternative collective Black Water Gospel (facebook.com/BlackWaterGospel). Dillinger is the latest to take The Lucky 13; here are his responses.

What was the first concert you attended?

I went to the Orange Show in San Bernardino to see Good Riddance, Dead Kennedys and Strung Out. I've still got the stub. I'll never forget the bruises. So much fun.

What was the first album you owned?

When I was 4 years old, my baby sitter gave me a Young MC tape and a Kris Kross tape. I loved those tapes, ha ha. But the first albums I bought (together) with my own money were Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill and Green Day’s Dookie when I was in the fifth-grade.

What bands are you listening to right now?

In the car, I've had Bracket’s Requiem on repeat for about three weeks, but my go-to just about any other time has been both the "Angsty Pants" playlist I put together compiling all the skate punk bands I've been into for the past 20-ish years; and the "Behind BARS" playlist, compiling a handful of hip-hop tracks I can't get enough of. There's too much radness to choose just one thing at a time.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I get it all. Just because I don't like it, that doesn't mean I don't get it. If it makes you feel something, then that's all that matters. I listen to plenty that others don't like. That doesn't make what I'm into good or bad. It just makes it my thing. Same for anyone else's interests. So what's not to get?

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I'd take a kick to the junk to see The Dillinger Escape Plan just one more time. That's probably one of the most satisfying bands I've ever seen.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

No music is a guilty pleasure.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Hard choice. The El Rey and The Wiltern have been a couple of my tops, but … I'm less concerned with the venue and more interested in who I'm going to see.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

"Sometimes a knife right through your heart is exactly what you need. Sometimes the things that you're ashamed of make you who you're supposed to be," “Tapestry,” Protest the Hero.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Everything I love has molded my life. I am the music I love.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Gene Simmons: "What's it like knowing you've had sex with pretty much everyone's moms?" Ha ha ha. No, seriously, I have no idea.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Dynamite Hack, "Laughter." Because, damn, I had fun. Smile for me.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

A Wilhelm Scream, Ruiner.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Whatever song makes you feel the best you can, right now. Listen to it loud and proud. Scream it. Get on that vibe.

The band Saints and Rebels has gone from occasional cover-song performances at The Hood Bar and Pizza’s open-mic night to frequent gigs around the valley—all within a matter of months. Catch Saints and Rebels at The Hood on Saturday, Dec. 14, opening for punk legends Guttermouth. At the helm of the group is Austin Lawrence, an eccentric frontman and bass-player who knows how to give a great performance. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/saintsandrebelsofficial. Lawrence recently answered The Lucky 13; here are the results.

What was the first concert you attended?

Lynyrd Skynyrd, when I was 7. I hated it.

What was the first album you owned?

A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out by Panic! at the Disco; and Move Along by The All American Rejects.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Mom Jeans, Remo Drive, McCafferty, I Hate Sex, and Joyce Manor.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Anything on the radio.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Grant McDonald.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I don’t have guilty pleasures, because I love what I love … but I guess “Barbie Girl” by Aqua.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The House of Blues in Anaheim.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Trash hangs with trash, and I’m the worst of the worst,” from “Trailer Trash,” McCafferty.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Streetlight Manifesto, because they told me that they “guarantee I’ll wake in a better place in a better time.”

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

To every ska band: Can I play trombone for you?

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“All Star” by Smash Mouth.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Talon of the Hawk by The Front Bottoms.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Ram Ranch” by Grant McDonald. Do it. You won’t. (Scroll down to hear it! Warning: explicit lyrics.)

Canadian rock-band Black Mountain is on its 15th lap around the sun—and each year has seemingly been different for the group.

The members have constantly explored different genres—including hard rock and long psychedelic jams—and founders Amber Webber and Joshua Wells are no longer with group. Still, the band plays on, releasing its fifth album, Destroyer, in May of this year.

Black Mountain will perform at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday, Dec. 6. The band got a taste of the high desert earlier in May when it played at a famous desert-rock festival.

“We recently played at Stoned and Dusted, and thought it was a beautiful zone,” said keyboard-player and founding member Jeremy Schmidt. “We’ve never played at Pappy and Harriet’s, so we’re excited for the debut.”

Black Mountain recently performed at the Levitation festival in Austin, Texas.

“I wouldn’t want to just do festivals, and I wouldn’t want to just do club shows. I like the variety,” Schmidt said. “Festivals can be a little hectic in terms of the scheduling, and you don’t have as much time and attention that you’re used to when setting up. Often, it is a bit of a mad rush to get everything set up and then get everything off stage. That part’s not fun, but otherwise, I enjoy them. It’s cool to get to go see a bunch of other bands—but it sucks when you playing at the same time as one of your favorite bands. That has happened before. Or if you arrive at the festival, and someone you really want to see is playing on a day that you are not going to be there. That has happened before; it’s kind of frustrating.”

Black Mountain’s name has been on many, many bills over the last decade and a half—and that name is pretty badass.

“There’s not really any great story behind it,” Schmidt said. “There are a few stories out there about how we came up with the name, and we just kind of left those floating around. I mean, there are a few places called Black Mountain, but it was just an obvious name that for some reason hadn’t been used yet. We haven’t really thought too much about the story behind the name, because when you’ve been toiling under that name for many years, you kind of forget.”

Over the years, Black Mountain’s music has traveled into and through many different genres, from the alternative/stoner-rock grooves of the debut self-titled LP, or the long space-rock jams from the album IV.

“Our tastes don’t adhere to any one genre,” Schmidt said. “We don’t deliberately try to move around to different genres; we just assimilate different things since we’re drawn to such different things. But it always ends up sounding like Black Mountain somehow. Whatever sticks to the wall after we throw everything in the pot sounds like Black Mountain in some way.”

Destroyer takes the Black Mountain sound and puts it in the speakers of a car during your first road trip—literally: The car-centric album revolves around frontman and founder Stephen McBean’s first time behind the wheel, after he waited 40 years to get his driver’s license. There is something for everyone to enjoy on the LP, as McBean and Schmidt take the genres they’ve loved throughout their careers—and make things a little heavier. Standout tracks include “High Rise” for the headbangers, and “FD’72” for the fans of David Bowie.

All of Black Mountain’s records include wonderful album art to gaze at while listening. Schmidt shared some insights about Destroyer’s cover, which depicts a gigantic speaker towering over an ocean front, with a rock formation in the background.

“I’ve done the art for all the albums,” Schmidt said. “With the artwork, I try to think of the record in some abstract way. That one was kind of quick, as I thought that both images went well together, and the stormy scene goes well with the name of the album. I didn’t want to use something that was obviously connotating destruction, but something that had the same energy as that, like a stormy aura.”

Black Mountain will perform with Ryley Walker at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

The holiday season is here! It’s December in the Coachella Valley—which means venues are hosting a whole lot of events that’ll put you in the holiday spirit. Here’s but a sampling of the offerings local venues have in December.

The glorious McCallum Theatre has a packed schedule of shows that’ll get you in the Christmas mood. On Sunday, Dec. 1, at 3 and 7 p.m., come experience one of the greatest musical groups ever: The Beach Boys. While the group is famous for surfing hits and the visionary masterpiece Pet Sounds, the band is coming to Palm Desert on the “Holiday, Harmonies and Hits” tour; expect songs spanning the Boys’ entire career, as well as some holiday greats. Tickets are $68 to $118. This is the giving season, so it makes sense that the McCallum is hosting its 2019 McCallum Theatre Annual Gala, featuring legendary singer Seal. Proceeds from the gala help fund theater operations and arts-education programs across the valley. It takes place at 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 5. Tickets are $100 to $125. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs’ lineup this month has shows for lovers of all sorts of different genres. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, Old Dominion—with opener Ryan Hurd—will bring its “Make It Sweet” tour into town. Grab your cowboy hat and boots, and go square-dance the night away to the critically acclaimed country stylings! Tickets are $49 to $129. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, witness the Peanuts gang come to life at A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage. Enjoy holiday cheer with Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and more! Tickets are $39 to $69. Fresh off of Queen’s summer tour, where he again did an excellent job of filling the late Freddie Mercury’s shoes, Adam Lambert comes to Indio at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 20. Come enjoy an evening of Lambert’s pop hits—and perhaps some Queen covers. Tickets are $59 to $99. Legendary soul and gospel singer Dionne Warwick will bring her “A Holiday Celebration” tour to town at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21. The night will be filled with holiday and pop classics, and will feature Warwick’s signature voice backed by a 14-piece string section. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 is featuring a few fun events in December. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, The Dan Band will bring comedic interpretations of pop songs and hilarious stage banter to the Spotlight Showroom stage. This is the band featured at the end of The Hangover. Tickets are $20 to $30. Also coming to Spotlight: Femmes of Rock, rock violinists who cover your favorite classic-rock tunes, from AC/DC to ZZ Top. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, come find out what your favorite classic-rock song would sound like played by four violin-istas! Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Agua Caliente will host legendary recording artist Chris Isaak at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13. Best known for his song “Wicked Game”—one of the most covered songs in music—Isaak is bringing his rockabilly sound to Rancho Mirage for an entertaining night of songs. Tickets are $50 to $275. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino is showcasing a festive lineup of music and comedy acts throughout December. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, The Charlie Daniels Band is coming to Cabazon looking for a soul to steal. Country, Southern rock, and badass solos and beards—what more could you ask for? Tickets are $49. If you’re looking to laugh until you cry, come to Morongo on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 7 or 10 p.m., to witness one of the funniest comics of our time, Gabriel Iglesias. With numerous of specials, and his own series on Netflix, Iglesias is at the top of his game. Tickets are $69, and were close to selling out at press time. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet's features a plethora of bands to warm you up during cold Pioneertown nights this month. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, psych-punk outfit KOLARS will grace the Pappy’s stage. Considering the band’s ability to combine vastly different genres into one live set, the show will have something for everyone. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 28, The Evangenitals will return to Pappy’s for a night of alt-country and fun! The show is free, so why not go and enjoy it? Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Toucan's Tiki Bar and Cabaret Lounge is hosting a couple of December events. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, Joel Kim Booster (pictured below) will come to Palm Springs for a night of comedy. He has written for shows such as Big Mouth, and has had specials on Comedy Central. Tickets are $25. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13, Frenchie Davis brings her Soulful for the Holidays show to the desert. Davis has done both Broadway and the televised singing-competition shows during her career, so it’s safe to say: She can sing. Tickets are $35 to $45. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; www.reactionshows.com.

The Purple Room promises to keep you entertained this month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, Levi Kreis brings his annual Home for the Holidays show to the Purple Room. Go watch as Kreis infuses gospel, country, rockabilly, jazz and Christmas hits into one show. Tickets are $40 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, Scot Bruce returns to the Purple Room to become Elvis for the Elvis: Blue Suede Christmas show. If you weren’t around during Elvis’ day, or even if you were, go see the next best thing! Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27, Palm Springs JUMP! will pay tribute to some of the best artists who lived and performed in Palm Springs. This event will feature tunes from Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and others. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Ace is home to a lot of fantastic December happenings. From Friday, Dec. 20, through Sunday, Dec. 22, experience a weekend of comedy, music, movies and more at the Old St. Shtick festival. A plethora of comedians will be featured, such as Guy Branum, Billy Wayne Davis, Chris Estrada and others. Admission is free on Friday; tickets are $15 the other nights. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 26, gather for a night of tales at Campfire Stories With Desert Oracle’s Ken Layne. He was the subject of our September cover story. This is a perfect time to warm up by the fire and hear conspiracy theories regarding the monsters that surround our desert. The event is free! Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

DJ Galaxy—aka Vincent Corrales—is a ubiquitous name at clubs and events all over the Coachella Valley, and he has performed at pride events all over the United States.

How ubiquitous? He doesn’t just have one residency … he has four: in Palm Springs at Wang’s in the Desert, Oscar’s and All Worlds Resort, and in Cathedral City at The Roost Lounge. Oh, and he does the lunch-hour mix several times a week on KGAY 106.5. During any given performance, you can dance the night away to his unique set of today’s hits, throwback jams and custom DJ Galaxy remixes.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that the readers of the Independent have voted for DJ Galaxy as the Best Local DJ in our annual Best of Coachella Valley poll. I recently talked to Corrales about his history as a DJ, and what it means to be voted Best DJ.

“I’ve been DJing for about 29 years,” Corrales said. “I have a lot of music in my family. My brother was actually a DJ when I was a kid, and I started learning from him when I was 13. Then I began playing in bars and a lot of places around Palm Springs when I was 16. I played a lot in the Coachella Valley, and would sometimes go spin in New York, Miami and Las Vegas. I do some tours from time to time as well.”

DJing is not the only thing Corrales excels at; you may have heard his voice on the radio, or seen one of the products of his production company.

“I currently have my own radio show on 106.5 KGAY, which is on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It's the Noontime Retro Lunch Show that runs from noon to 1 p.m.,” Corrales said. “I also run a video-production company called VJC Productions, which I’ve had since 1993. I do a lot of video production, graphic design and nightclub consulting for stage and sound design. That’s my side job, and I DJ five nights a week. I try to make it my main job.”

As for his DJ name, the choice was simple for Corrales.

“I’ve always been interested in space and astrology, so when someone asked me for my DJ name, I just thought ‘Galaxy’! So I became DJ Galaxy,” he said.

Often included with his DJ name is DJ Galaxy’s motto: “Peace, Pride, Love.”

“The music I spin revolves around those three words,” Corrales said. “My goal musically is bringing love and fun energy to all the places I play at. I don’t play any negative or offensive music.”

He aims to have people leave violence at the door, and have a good time on the dance floor. His creation of safe spaces and the usage of his platform to fight for equal rights are among the reasons DJ Galaxy has gained such a broad following of fans.

“Thank you for all the support and continued love that I get at each event I spin at!” Corrales said. “I’m very honored to get this award and ask for your continued support!”

When the Big Rock Pub organized a songwriting competition to benefit Coachella Valley Sexual Assault Services, many local musicians went all out to create and showcase a song that would raise awareness about the terrors of sexual assault and human trafficking.

There were some beautiful and heartwrenching songs—yet it was a performance by 16-year-old Mikayla Fazzone that won over the judges and audience.

Her song “Stronger Than Me” is a rallying cry for a group of broken individuals to fight back—and it will be released on Thursday, Nov. 28, via the various streaming services, like Spotify, iTunes, etc.

“Music has always been in my life. I’ve always loved doing it,” Fazzone told me. “The first instance of my love for music came when I was a toddler, and my parents took me to Old Town San Diego. They bought me this little toy purple guitar, and then happened to lose me in the crowd. They finally found me onstage playing with a mariachi band. It’s just something I’ve always loved the art of.”

Fazzone is currently a part of the Academy of Musical Performance, which is helping transform her from a student of music into a rock star.

“In ninth-grade, I went to AMP’s Summer Showcase, and walked away depressed, thinking that I could never be as good as these kids,” Fazzone said. “It inspired me to start getting better over the rest of the summer, and I went on to audition for AMP in the fall. I made it in and haven’t looked back since. It’s is a great program for getting introduced to the music scene. You get to meet a lot of very important people in the local industry—like Will Sturgeon, Abie Perkins and Courtney Chambers, to name a few. AMP is great for leadership skills and musicianship skills, and shows you how to work with other people, along with giving you live performance experience—all in one!”

Fazzone sets herself apart from many other artists in our scene with her desire to use music primarily as a helping hand to anyone who might need it. Her lyrics exude inspiration and empathy for her listeners.

“Whenever one of my friends is going through a hard time, I write songs for them, and they turn into cool songs that I enjoy playing,” Fazzone said. “Helping people has always been at the core of my music. I write songs not just for me, but for specific audiences. People always tell bands that a certain song saved their lives, and I’d love to be able to have that effect on people.

“When I heard about the competition raising awareness for human trafficking, I knew I had to do it! (I thought), ‘It’s a great opportunity to help people. It’s going to be a great experience, and I’m going to be able to meet a lot of people. If I win, I’d be able to go out and become an advocate for the people who really need it.’”

One of the perks of winning the competition was having the song recorded by Will Sturgeon in “The Sturdio.” Fazzone already knew Sturgeon from AMP, and he helped “Stronger Than Me” reach its full potential.

“Recording is such a cool thing,” Fazzone said. “Most of my songs are just me and my guitar, so when I got to hear all the musical layers I think of in my head come to life in the speakers, it was just incredible!”

Few bands in the Coachella Valley can match the power and intensity of Instigator. The band’s hard-hitting thrash sound and eccentric stage presence often lead to epic music performances that may just rob you of your hearing for a few hours. At the helm of Instigator is Mark Wadlund, whose electrifying lead lines and powerful vocal chords contribute to a mature sound, even though the group’s average age is 19. For more information, visit facebook.com/instigatorofficial or @Instigatorband on Instagram. Mark Wadlund is the latest to take the Lucky 13, here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

AC/DC at Coachella when I was 15. I waited four hours to see them front row!

What was the first album you owned?

Rust in Peace by Megadeth. Still the best album I own.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve got some Misfits, Def Leppard (the old, good stuff lol), Faith No More, and Extreme, among others.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

People being in the trend of fashion and looks over raw musical talent and performance. Drop the fucking look, and hone your craft. This would literally make the world a better place to enjoy (with) creative freedom and expression.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Pantera, hands down. I would give my legs to resurrect Dimebag and Vinnie Paul … just not my arms. HA HA HA HA!

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Jaxon Fischer (Instigator rhythm guitar). I listen to various amounts of old school rap: Dr. Dre, NWA, Snoop Dogg, etc.

What’s your favorite music venue?

It depends: Locally or everywhere? Playing or watching? Generally, I'd say The Date Shed.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

"I look around, my room is filled with candles. Each one a story, but they end the same,” “The Mission,” Queensrÿche.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Megadeth. I heard “Holy Wars ... The Punishment Due” when I was about 14 or 15, and I didn't really know that it was possible to play guitar like that. I knew about guitar solos from Van Halen, but the riffs! The riffs of that song changed my life.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I would ask Dave Mustaine how to resurrect the metal scene for the entire world. The world needs metal; the world needs a hero.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Sea of Red,” Judas Priest.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Peace Sells … but Who's Buying? By Megadeth. I know I talk about Megadeth a lot, but this band changed/built my entire life.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“The Laugh,” by Armored Saint. Outstanding song, outstanding musicianship, outstanding message. (Scroll down to hear it!)