Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Matt King

Fans of A Tribe Called Quest are familiar with the group’s genre-melding sound—including creating rap beats using jazz music.

The Midnight Hour, the latest project from Ali Shaheed Muhammad, a founding member of ATQC, offers a similar sound—just without the rapping.

Muhammad has joined composer Adrian Younge for this new jazz-fusion group that will move and groove you in the ways the jazz bands of old could do. On the group’s self-titled debut album, Muhammad and Younge are surrounded by a full orchestra, and have a few special vocal guests on duty. Stand-out tracks include the instrumental “Black Beacon” and the lead single “Questions,” which features CeeLo Green on vocals.

The Midnight Hour will perform this Saturday, Nov. 16, at The Alibi Palm Springs.

“Ali and I met when I was working on a project for (hip-hop group) Souls of Mischief,” Younge said during a recent phone interview. “I was a fan of his from A Tribe Called Quest and onto his solo work and stuff that he did with Lucy Pearl. It was a mutual thing. I asked Ali to be a part of the (2014 Souls of Mischief album, There Is Only Now), and he said yes.  He came to my studio, and we started working, and I just felt a real kinship with him. It was as if we had been in a group for years, and from that point, we just started making music. That’s how The Midnight Hour came together.”

Before The Midnight Hour project became an official release, the duo worked together to provide the soundtrack to Luke Cage, a Marvel series on Netflix. Younge talked about his soundtrack process.

“Basically, you look at the scene and see what you can do to enhance the visuals,” said Younge. “You are there to make the picture look better, so you need to see the picture in order to enhance the mood. Certain projects are harder, because you have to be in line with what the director wants. Sometimes the director's vision may not be your vision. As long as you guys are on the same page, then it’s an easier project, but then at that point, it is just based on how much work you actually have to do. Some directors don’t want that much music, and some directors want a lot of music.”

The Midnight Hour’s sound reminds of great jazz artists, such as Coltrane or Miles Davis, while adding a splash of funk. These two sides of the coin blend beautifully together, creating a sound that both honors the group’s heroes and shows off a unique personal sound.

“We’re inspired by Idris Muhammad, the Mizell Brothers, Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers—a lot of these jazz pioneers who served as a lot of the bedrock for hip-hop,” Younge said. “We’re getting inspired by those guys, but we are also doing our own thing that started decades ago. We are always going to have our own signature—always.”

After listening to the music, it’s hard to think of a more appropriate title for the group than The Midnight Hour. Younge agreed.

“It was just the feeling of the music,” Younge said. “The kind of music that we make just resonates in that midnight hour—that late-night type vibe where the worries of the world don’t matter so much, when you’re just more receptive to feeling.”

The Midnight Hour will perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16, at The Alibi Palm Springs, 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets to the 21-and-over show are $16.50. For tickets or more information, visit the ticketing website.

Herb Lienau is one of the desert’s greats. His punk band Decon, with members of Kyuss and Unsound, only lived for a year in its initial incarnation, but is still noted as one of the pioneers of the desert music scene. In recent years, Lienau has emerged wearing a mask and carnival attire, seated behind an organ, and using an electronic voice-changer. This act is known as Herbert, who performs hits of the past such as “House of the Rising Sun” or “Grim Grinning Ghosts”—in a very weird fashion. Learn more and download his new album at—and you catch him live at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Saturday, Nov. 23. Lienau recently endured The Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Technically, War at Angel Stadium in Palm Springs, in 1976. I went with my friend and his parents. His dad was the assistant city manager of Palm Springs, so that’s why I got to go. My first concert that I bought tickets for was Cheap Trick at the Swing Auditorium (in San Bernardino in) December 1979. It was also my first time seeing someone simultaneously smoke pot and set hair on fire!

What was the first album you owned?

Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. I bought it with my own money when it came out (age 10) at the record store at the Palm Springs Mall. Great album—my all-time-favorite album cover.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve always been all over the map. Currently, I listen to a lot of novelty records like Spike Jones, Mercyful Fate, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

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

Ninety-nine percent of all of the bands that have been on Saturday Night Live for the past 10 years. Those “bands/artists” are trying to be so cool, but to me, just come across as being weak and lazy. Bring back the days of Devo, The B-52s, and The Specials. Hear that, Lorne Michaels?!

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

Easy ... The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Insane Clown Posse’s The Great Milenko.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Probably the Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre.

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

“Notes and Chords Mean Nothing to Me,” Redd Kross.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Black Flag. I heard “Nervous Breakdown” on Rodney on the Roq (KROQ) in 1979. I was 14, and that music really connected with how I was feeling as an early teen. I was lucky to see them many times and almost played a gig with them once. They were the real deal, and made me want to play in a punk band.

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

I’d ask Mark Mothersbaugh: “Are we not men?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Oops! ... I Did It Again.” Ha!

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

Electric Ladyland, The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Every song on Infest the Rat’s Nest by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. That album kicks ass! (Click here to hear it!)

It is now officially fall in the Coachella Valley, which means the weather’s getting colder—and the entertainment is getting hotter. Here are some November events worth noting.

The illustrious McCallum Theatre features some premium entertainment this month. Rock icon Melissa Etheridge, known for hits “Ain’t It Heavy” and “Bring Me Some Water,” takes the stage at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14. The Oscar and Grammy winner is touring in support of her most recent album, The Medicine Show. Tickets are $85 to $105, and are very nearly sold out. As we inch closer to the holidays, the arrival of A Christmas Story: The Musical will be most welcome. The songwriters behind Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land have transformed the cult-classic film into a stage show that “will shoot yer eye out, kid!” Catch it at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 26; and 2 and 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 27. Tickets are $65 to $125. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30, piano wizard John Tesh (right) will grace the McCallum stage. After selling 8 million records over his career, Tesh is coming to Palm Desert on his “Acoustic Christmas” tour, which will get you in the right mood for the upcoming holiday season. Tickets are $35 to $75. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787;

Fantasy Springs is featuring one of the biggest norteño groups in the world at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8, as Los Tigres del Norte brings hits from a 30-plus-year career to Indio for a night of música y baile! Fresh off the Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison live album and concurrent Netflix special, you can enjoy what Billboard calls “the most influential regional Mexican group.” Tickets are $49 to $99. Coming to the Fantasy Springs stage at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, is legendary crooner Paul Anka. While Anka will play the hits from his career, such as his 1959 classic “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” this Anka Sings Sinatra: His Songs, My Songs, My Way tour also features Anka’s tribute to the Chairman of the Board. Even at 78, Anka still can woo with that trademark voice. Tickets are $59 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000;

Spotlight 29’s most-intriguing November event is the All Star Jam, presented by Auen Foundation. Have you ever wondered what would happen if members from hit groups such as The Romantics, Journey, Chicago and Kansas all got together under one roof for the ultimate jam session? With all proceeds going to Martha’s Village, it’d be a shame for you to not to go and find out. The show is at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, and tickets are $75 to $95. You must be 21 or older to attend. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566;

Agua Caliente turns up the heat this month, as funk pioneers Tower of Power (alongside openers Average White Band) arrive at The Show at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, to celebrate their 50th anniversary by performing songs that are guaranteed to “funkifize, energize and provide the soundtrack for new American movements of love, peace, soul power, mind power and people power to rise!” In 1973, the group asked “What Is Hip?”, so go find the answer. Tickets are $46 to $170. A few weeks later, the irreplaceable and recognizable voice of legendary soul singer Smokey Robinson will come to Rancho Mirage. Witness the Motown leader live, at 79 years young, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23. Tickets are $95 to $125. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995;

Morongo will host the multi-talented Wayne Brady, from Whose Line Is It Anyway? and, more recently, Let’s Make a Deal. Go see his comedy and singing skills in full effect at 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8. Tickets are $45 to $55. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499;

Pappy and Harriet’s November lineup features top-notch acts of seemingly every kind. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 1, enjoy the desert’s own Jesika von Rabbit, with support acts Landroid and Popstar Nima, on a night that promises to invigorate. Tickets are $20. The following weekend, catch two legends who rocked the ’70s. Cherie Currie (The Runaways) and Brie Darling (Fanny) have teamed up and plan to take Pappy’s back four decades with hits from their catalogs, along with some of their favorite songs. The show is at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, and tickets are $20. Pappy’s will close out the month with the genre-melding Meat Puppets, with supporting act Particle Kid (ason of Willie Nelson), at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30. Thanks to Meat Puppets tracks dabbling in country, punk and alternative rock, fans won’t want to miss out on these ’80s icons who inspired the likes of Kurt Cobain. (Two tracks on Nirvana’s Unplugged album are Meat Puppets covers!) Tickets are $25 and may already be sold out. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956;

Toucans is hosting some festive events this month. From 3 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, check out the second annual Pride in the Parking Lot event. Admission is free, but space is limited, so head to the website below to reserve space, as legendary DJ Chi Chi LaRue and other music acts will perform all day long. The following weekend, famous lesbian standup comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer (below), with special guest Ebony Toliver, will bring the laughs at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8. Tickets are $25. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584;

At the Date Shed, reggae all-stars Fortunate Youth will return to Indio at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14. The group is fresh off single “Young and Innocent” with Half Pint, so come down, get up, stand up and boogie to some reggae rock. Tickets are $20. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699;

The Purple Room in Palm Springs features some top acts this month. Vocal and cello duo Branden and James will be bringing their brand of classical/soul music to the stage at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, and Saturday, Nov. 23. They are on their “All You Need Is Love” tour, and will fill the night with a wide array of hits from Nat King Cole to music from Rent. Tickets are $35 to $40. Also gracing the Purple Room’s stage is musical treasure Marilyn Maye. At age 91, there’s nothing she can’t do. She’s most famous for her record number of appearances on The Tonight Show—76! Ella Fitzgerald once called her “the greatest white female singer in the world.” See her perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 30. Tickets are $70 to $90. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422;

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club promises a night of laughter for the ages at 9 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 6, when the weekly Belly Flop comedy night features Neil Hamburger, Maggie Maye and Robert Dayton. Iconic comedian Neil Hamburger has opened for Tenacious D, Tim and Eric, and Faith No More, and tells some of the worst jokes you will ever hear (in a good way). Tickets are free; you just need to RSVP. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900;

For years, the Synergy Music and Arts Festival—or, as everyone calls it, Synergy Fest—has been a day when the community gathers to enjoy bands, check out some art, and become immersed in all that the valley’s talent has to offer.

This year’s eighth-annual Synergy Fest will take place on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Dateland Park in Coachella. Gabby Armenta, the director of Synergy Fest, said the festival has always been focused on building community.

“Synergy Fest started with an idea of wanting to bring more art and more music to the city of Coachella,” Armenta said. “There wasn’t really much of that back then, around 2007. The founders of Culturas Music and Arts (the organization that produces Synergy Fest) decided to gather our friends and family and see what we could do. It started off with the idea of painting a mural that is located on Shady Lane in front of Dateland Park, which is where we have the festival.”

If you haven’t seen this mural yet, you really should check it out. It’s 1,000-plus feet of art that shines a light on the culture of our valley.

“The first year was to showcase the mural, which depicts some of the pivotal events in Chicano history here in the United States, as well as in the Mexican culture. That’s how that started off,” Armenta said. “We knew a lot of graffiti artists who lived around the area, and we decided to set up a platform for them. There’s always a really bad misconception about graffiti, as a lot of people see it as vandalism. But we saw how much talent these people have—it’s an art!”

While that first festival was focused on the mural, Armenta and her team had discovered a formula that worked to benefit the community—so they continued hosting the event at Dateland Park, with more music and art each year.

“Music and arts are treated equally,” Armenta said. “Synergy is all about setting up a platform for local artists, whether that be a photographer, a painter, a dancer, an actor, etc. We treat everyone equally and try to shed light on the arts as a whole—all artists and musicians.”

The Synergy Fest has indeed become a platform for local artists and musicians to show what they can do.

“We usually send a call-out to artists, and whoever wants to participate can just sign up,” Armenta said. “Every year, we get people who approach us. We try to have a mix, and try to choose a diverse amount of different genres, but other than that, we really don’t seek out top bands. We’ve been very lucky to have everyone who’s wanted to be a part of the festival come and ask us, and we are very thankful that they all want to donate their time.”

This year’s lineup features some of the best music the valley has to offer, including local Latin-rock legends Giselle Woo and the Night Owls, up-and-coming metal prodigies E.A.S, and reggae masters Unity Frenzy, along with a mix of other local acts.

While the 2019 Synergy Fest lineup represents a high point in the history of the festival, Armenta has her sights set even higher.

“Ever since joining Culturas and becoming the director of Synergy, my goal has been to have a stipend for everybody,” Armenta said. “We try to at least throw in a little gas money or something. We value people’s work—and our goal is to one day have a really big headliner that can bring in more of a pool for the other artists and vendors. We want to make everyone happy and bring in even more people.”

The Synergy Music and Arts Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, at Dateland Park, 51805 Shady Lane, in Coachella. Admission to the all-ages event is free. For more information, visit

The Coachella Valley is brimming with musical talent—yet it’s lacking when it comes to music venues.

Thank goodness for The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert.

Over the years, The Hood has transformed from a simple metal bar into … well, a metal-and-everyone-else bar that is also one of the premier performance venues in the valley, with events being held every day. While countless local bands have gained popularity thanks to a boost from The Hood, the venue has also hosted numerous famous acts, such as surf-rock legend Dick Dale.

In recent years, The Hood has also started hosting events such as a weekly Drag Queen Bingo night, and has become a regular participant in the Desert AIDS Project’s annual Dining Out for Life night. This fascinatingly vibrant mix is due in large part to its owner, Brad Guth—an out-and-proud gay man.

“I grew up in a time when people were not as accepting and tolerant as they are today,” said Guth. “It was shameful to be different, especially with regard to sexual orientation. That was never discussed or taught in school. Nonetheless, I had a great time just being myself. I was always confident. For example, I was never too interested in being an athlete—so I became a male cheerleader, my high school’s first! And while I took a lot of heat for that, I had a blast, and my family fully supported it.”

Guth told me a story about skipping the homecoming dance during his senior year of high school.

“I went to my first alternative club in West Hollywood instead,” Guth said. “It was a big club, frequented by many celebrities, and I was nervous as hell. I was working as a waiter at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, and I used to hear all of the other waiters talking about this place. When I arrived, there was a long line outside. I was so scared but forged ahead and entered. It was a Friday night, and disco was at its height. It was such an amazing and freeing experience. Everyone was just having fun, and no judgement. There were a number of celebrities there, many of whom I became friends with over the coming years, and they didn’t have to worry about being outed or followed by the paparazzi.

“I lived the rest of my adult life that way, never forgetting that first experience. I was always me, never trying to hide anything. When I started my career in retail, where I spent the next 30 years, I had a supervisor who told me I would never succeed in a straight-male-dominated industry. To prove him wrong, I just worked harder and better and proved my abilities. To that end, I became the youngest buyer ever given the position at Bullock’s department store, now Macys.

“I built the staff up from scratch. I negotiated all the leases, and we set up three websites that generated millions of dollars in sales. I traveled a lot, and had an East Coast office in Manhattan, and a West Coast office in Las Vegas. I alternated between the two for two-week periods. … (After) my grandchild was born, I bought a home here in the desert so I could come visit him every other weekend from my Vegas office. Two years later, I moved here full time.”

Coming from a strong business background, it’s no surprise Guth was able to improve The Hood, which, when he purchased it, was nowhere near as neighborly as it is now.

“The Hood was somewhere that I would go from time to time, because I saw a lot of opportunities to improve,” Guth said. “I’d go every day and sit on the back patio and think of new ideas to enlarge it and make things bigger and better. I looked at two other locations to purchase over a few months, one being Schmidy’s Tavern. The deciding factor was when I asked the landlord of Schmidy’s where they saw (the center where Schmidy’s was) in five years, and he said ‘exactly the same.’ That’s when I really set my sights on The Hood.

“I knew that I could improve the environment and the service, and grow the business by creating a comfortable hangout spot. I basically wanted to create an environment where I would feel comfortable hanging out. It was also a much-different crowd back then. We wanted to keep that crowd by adding more events, and making the place a destination in Palm Desert. We also wanted to attract new people with the expansion of the patio and cosmetic changes.”

Those changes didn’t all happen at once.

“We achieved everything over time,” Guth said. “My first weekend, we opened the back-patio bar and added new furniture, and that became the place to be. It’s a fun hangout place, and it’s one of the best patios for our type of venue in the valley. While we did these changes outside, we started adding events … seven nights a week. Each event is geared to different types of clientele so that we could provide a lifestyle environment.

“When people visit The Hood, I want them to feel like they’re visiting my house. It’s important that people feel really comfortable and safe.”

The Hood’s weekly schedule has something for virtually everyone.

“We added a game night on Monday that’s geared toward younger people,” he said. “Tuesdays, we added Drag Queen Bingo and all-day, all-night happy hour. It was a scary proposition, but it has become very big. We added an open mic to our beer-pong nights on Wednesdays, which has been a huge success. That attracts people from all walks of life—poets, singers, songwriters and comedians. People come in from around the valley and even different states. That and beer pong really bring in a younger crowd.

“We kept doing Karaoke Thursdays, which is always fun, and many people look forward to it. Fridays and Saturdays are always either bands or DJs. It used to be primarily metal bands, but we’ve successfully introduced different genres of music: cumbia, metal, soft rock, hard rock, etc. We try to mix it up and not have every weekend be the same. Sundays are comedy nights, which started a year ago and have been really successful. We’ve booked some really famous comedians like Pauly Shore and Jamie Kennedy.”

I asked Guth what obstacles he faces running such an active venue.

“The entertainment is very time-consuming,” Guth said. “People may not realize it, but it’s a lot of collecting fliers and posting them every single day, and adjusting to last-minute changes or cancellations. We try to book a month or two out and look at what our competition is doing to stay ahead. It’s a difficult process and sometimes very frustrating.”

The Hood personally means a lot to me: It helped kickstart my career, as both a musician and a writer, because of the community fostered there. Guth said it’s this sense of community that keeps him going.

“There have been some nights with bands that have been absolutely fantastic,” Guth said. “When Empty Seat won the first round of the CV Weekly competition (late last year), we immediately booked them. It was great to see new talent in the valley, and it’s been exciting seeing them grow to be very popular. It’s always good to know you were part of someone else’s success. There’s a concert for kids that we do in June, which many people don’t know that we do: There’s a music school that comes to The Hood and has their students perform in the afternoon hours. We’ve actually gone on to book those kids’ bands, like Silver Sky, who we just had a single-release party for. It’s really gratifying to be a part of growth like that.”

The Hood stands as one of the most diverse and accepting places to be in the valley—and that is due to the leadership of Brad Guth.

“I think today, The Hood is likely the most-inclusive place to hang out, welcoming folks of all races, ages and sexual orientations, where everyone can come and hang out and feel welcome.” said Guth. “I am super-proud of that accomplishment. It really was what I always set out to do.”

The Hood Bar and Pizza is located at 74360 Highway 111 in Palm Desert. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit

It’s always exciting to see a talented local musician work his or her way up the ladder of success—and from being able to drop a two-hour set on any night of the week to playing at Goldenvoice’s Chella event with Norteño icons Los Tucanes de Tijuana, there’s nothing that Giselle Woo can’t do. You can catch her “woo”-ing audiences on Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Night Owls’ EP-release show at The Date Shed in Indio, and Saturday, Nov. 9, at Synergy Fest at Dateland Park in Coachella. For more information, visit Woo recently answered The Lucky 13; here is what she had to say.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Up in Smoke Tour, (a hip-hop tour headlined by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg), in 2000.

What was the first album you owned?

Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill. It was a cassette.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Los Choclok and Natalia Lafourcade.

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

One thing I am thankful for is the ability to adapt and evolve with the times. There really isn’t anything I “don’t get,” even if it’s something different than what I believe is amazing or I’m used to.

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

(Former local surf-punk band) Las Feas.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Kanye West.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Date Shed.

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

“Smoke ’em if you got ’em, cuz it’s going down,” LP, “Lost on You.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Brandi Carlile. She brought tears to my eyes, which showed me the depth of this career path. When you can spark an emotion like that, it showed me that people CAN find their purpose. She gave me hope.

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

Natalia Lafourcade: “Would you like to sing a song with me?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Azul” by me.

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

Natalia Lafourcade, Musas, and Coldplay, Parachutes.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Para Que Sufrir” by Natalia Lafourcade. (Scroll down to hear it!)

When the sun goes down on the Coachella Valley, hard-working musicians come out and put on shows wherever there’s a power outlet—including many backyards. Yes, an entire scene is living and breathing in the backyards of homes all across the valley—and in my years of frequenting backyard shows, I’ve never come across a group as animated as Israel’s Arcade.

“This is my solo project. It’s me getting out what’s inside of me,” said Israel Pinedo, the frontman of Israel’s Arcade. And his emotions are surely getting out, as his first single, “12 Regrets,” goes from dreamy staccato guitar lines to synth-driven punk in a matter of seconds, with crooning vocals à la Morrissey or Marilyn Manson: “What is this? / It’s a joke / It’s my life / Without you.”

Follow up single “Wimp” keeps the same punk formula—yet cranks it to 11, as an indie-meets-punk backing track supports Pinedo’s groans of, “I know I never cared / My lonely heart was never shared / To have a good day that was rare / And now I sing my soulless prayer.”

I talked to Pinedo ahead of a busy few weeks.

“I come from a family of musicians,” Pinedo said. “My dad plays the drums; my uncle plays guitar; my grandma plays the harmonica; and my mom sings. They always had a band when I was growing up, so I was always around backyard shows. But my first band was actually with Joe Boomer from local band Instigator. I was in the fifth-grade; he was in the sixth-grade, and it was just drums and guitar. We did the talent show at school, and they really liked us, so we played all of the assemblies.”

When Pinedo went to middle school, he began attending the Academy of Musical Performance Camp.

“I went to AMP Camp for three years; I even played Stagecoach with them,” Pinedo said. “AMP did a lot for me, honestly. It really pushed me to start writing music for myself—lyrics that meant a lot to me.”

Thanks to the modern era, Pinedo went to SoundCloud to share his music with the world.

“I started dabbling with GarageBand and uploading tracks to SoundCloud. At first, my artist name was more of a band, named Peace Ogre,” Pinedo said. “It had some poetic meaning behind it, but then I realized how terrible the name was. I realized that I wanted to make more songs like Mac DeMarco or David Bowie, where it’s just the artist himself and not a band.”

How did Pinedo come up with the new name?

“Well, I was watching Wayne’s World, and the name of the arcade was Noah’s Arcade. I thought it would be sick if I inserted my name—Israel’s Arcade,” Pinedo said. “It was also inspired by this artist named Bane’s World. I like the idea of a name and the possessive to something.”

Pinedo earned a degree of popularity on SoundCloud largely thanks to one track.

“There’s a song I wrote called ‘Obsessions of a Romantic,’” Pinedo said. “I wrote that song because I saw a trend of corny, lovey-dovey songs on SoundCloud getting a lot of attention. They’re all super-simple songs with super-simple riffs, so I thought that I could do that—but add more. I was being cocky, but now the song is at over 60,000 listens, which is fucking crazy, but I kind of knew it would happen. I really wanted to use it to gain traction for my other songs, stuff I care about making.”

It did indeed bring traction: “12 Regrets” is sitting at 42,500 listens as of this writing. I was curious to hear more about his recording process, which includes his debut EP, slated to be released on Oct. 31.

“AMP is where I met Will Sturgeon, who produced the album,” Pinedo said. “I was writing and performing songs with AMP, and Will really liked them and offered to record them. We started recording in 2016-2017, and we’ve just been making sure everything can sound as perfect as possible. It’s been ready, but since the process took so long, I didn’t want to force anything out. It’s going to be a self-titled EP to give the people a little taste of what’s to come.”

To celebrate, Pinedo is throwing—what else?—a live-music backyard bash with Enzo Langston, Foreign Andre, The Teddy’s and many others, at a house in Desert Hot Springs on Saturday, Oct. 26. If you want the details, you'll need to track down Pinedo for an invite.

“There are really no good venues out here, and my dad has a ton of equipment, so we like to make our own shows,” Pinedo said. “Honestly, I just want to party. I love to play music, dance and have fun. I don’t care about the genre; music is just great all the time. It’s going to be a little mini-festival with food and drinks and six hours of music. It’s in DHS at my drummer’s house, and it’s the perfect spot. It’s going to be so much fun!”

Pinedo is making all this happen while still being a 17-year-old high school student.

“It’s hard to juggle music and four A.P. classes at the same time,” Pinedo said. “Being the leader of the band, people look toward me and ask what the plan is for performance days and such. … Sometimes, I have to bail to read some passages or type an essay. If I had it my way, I’d be doing music all the time.

“I think I’ve developed ADHD somehow, because I’m always listening to music. Everywhere I go, there’s an ongoing jam-sesh drumbeat in my head.”

Attendees of The Hood Bar and Pizza’s Open Mic have watched some intriguing new faces over the last few months: The members of Emergency Alert System have been setting the stage on fire with their combination of metal and punk, which they call “munk.” While the majority of the members are still in high school, their originality and stage presence shine bright. Catch EAS at the Idyllwild HELP Center on Saturday, Oct. 26, and Synergy Fest in Coachella on Saturday, Nov. 9. For more information, track down EAS on Facebook. Guitarist Fernando Gabriel was recently kind enough to answer The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

Silvio Rodriguez at El Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. I was 6 at the time, and I loved it!

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I ever owned was Killing Is My Business … and Business Is Good! by Megadeth. My mom gifted it to me for my birthday, and I was blown away! That man Dave is a BEAST!

What bands are you listening to right now?

Megadeth, Black Flag, Mötley Crüe, Jimi Hendrix, At the Gates, Agent Orange, Dead Kennedys, Cream, Korn, Municipal Waste, Mayhem, Enforcer, Black Label Society, Kyuss … the list goes on and on, but I don’t want to bore anyone.

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

Here in the east valley, most people love corridos. To be honest, I find them really annoying, especially the lyrics; they are just so silly and dumb.

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

I’d love to see Megadeth live back when they did the Rust in Peace tour in ’91. Marty Friedman, Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson and Nick Menza were the best lineup Megadeth ever had. Fight me.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Katy Perry. Please don’t bully me.

What’s your favorite music venue?

It’s a tie between El Auditorio Nacional and El Palacio de Bellas Artes, both in Mexico City. My passion and love for music was born in those two places.

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

The chorus for “A Love Unreal” by Black Label Society. That song means a lot to me, and it always reminds me of someone special.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Django Reinhardt and Tony Iommi. They taught me that, no matter what happens, never give up on your dreams.

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

To Josh Homme: “Are you the one-inch man?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“A Song for the Dead” by Queens of the Stone Age.

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

Rust in Peace by Megadeth. Thrash at its finest!

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Undying Evil” by Enforcer. It’s really bad-ass. (Scroll down to hear it!)

While the Coachella Valley has birthed some of rock’s greatest musicians and has been overflowing with intense musicality for decades, record stores here are few and far between.

In fact, there’s really only one provider of CDs, vinyl and all other things that music fans need—and that store has been doing so since 1978.

“Record Alley is the hub of music,” said Scott McLaughlin, a Record Alley employee and local musician. “Back in the day, everybody used to come in here—celebrities and even local stars like Joshua Homme or Jesse Hughes. It was a cool hangout spot, even back when it was just CDs.”

Turns out Record Alley is still a cool hangout spot: The store has started hosting performances by two music acts each Sunday afternoon. These shows are planned by McLaughlin; I sat down with him recently to discuss his musical journey and the future of Record Alley.

“My great-great-uncle actually wrote ‘La Cucaracha,’” said McLaughlin. “Music has been in my life since I was born. My uncles played Mexican music, and Led Zeppelin was big in my family.

“I moved here when I was in the fifth-grade, and in seventh-grade, I took percussion class and learned how to play drums. I went through marching band and jazz band, then got to my punk phase. Nothing to Lose was my first punk band, and then I switched to pop-punk with my band Losing Team, who you can still find on Spotify. I made a solo album by myself in college, and when I moved back from San Diego, my brother (Brett McLaughlin of Caxton) asked me to start Reborn by the Sunshine with him.”

Reborn by the Sunshine has grown in popularity over the last couple of years, and McLaughlin has been able to meet many artists he admires at various shows. These connections helped lead to the decision to have regular performances at Record Alley.

“I’ve always wanted to book bands that I like and give them a platform,” said McLaughlin. “It makes the store and the mall fun on busy Sundays. I’m sick of going to Big Rock or The Hood and seeing the same bands all the time. I want to pull deep from Joshua Tree and the (Coachella) Valley to find artists who don’t have a shot at playing some of the venues around here. It’s a more quiet, intimate crowd here, and it’s been working.”

Beyond giving local artists another place to play, McLaughlin and Record Alley are working on providing even more for local musicians.

“I’m trying to get the word out more. I’ve been working on a YouTube channel that features the performances here,” McLaughlin said. “We interview the bands and show one of the songs they play and upload it for them to use as promotional material.

“If anyone wants to perform here, then send me a message on Instagram!”

Shows take place at 2 p.m. every Sunday at Record Alley, inside the Westfield Palm Desert, 72840 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, visit

Few local bands have a résumé as extensive as that of YIP YOPS.

After Tachevah appearances, multiple Jam in the Van sessions, a slot at Coachella and even an Independent cover story, YIP YOPS just released a new single, “Sinner,” and announced the Death of a Sinner Tour, which will take YIP YOPS all over the United States in October in support of bands Kongos and Fitness.

If you’ve somehow never seen a performance by YIP YOPS—now a duo featuring the vocals of Ison Van Winkle and the drums of Ross Murakami—you should expect eccentric, vibrant clothing that catches your eye and draws you in to witness the vivacious stage presence and staggering vocals of Van Winkle, backed by nostalgic ’80s synths … like if the B-52’s met Depeche Mode. My favorite tracks include “Head Home” and “Heavy Soul.”

During a recent interview, Van Winkle and Murakami said they were excited about the upcoming tour.

“We’ve never been to most of the places that we’re playing, so it’s going to be fun,” Murakami said. “We’ll be able to showcase our new music to brand-new fans and just see what happens!”

The release of “Sinner” was accompanied by a music video filled with visual effects galore.

“Both the song and the visuals play around with the idea of the internal struggle people have over whether or not they’re a good person,” Van Winkle said. “The chaotic and stark colors really help paint a story, and a lot of the footage was filmed in and around this shack where we create and record the music, so it’s very important to us.”

It’s the lifelong dream of many local musicians to reach levels of success that propel them from our hometown. I was curious to know how the Coachella Valley—with its wide array of international events—affected the YIP YOPS story.

“We haven’t played a whole lot here in the past couple of years, but in the early years of the band, there were quite a few opportunities for us, such as Tachevah, Coachella and some sold-out shows at the Hood,” Murakami said. “Those were kickstarters for us, and after Coachella, we had an easy place to start moving into different markets. L.A. has really been the main focus since then. We’re still living in the valley, though.”

Added Van Winkle: “Coachella and those other shows were where we really got a sense for our passion for music and for what we’re doing today.”

While the big bucket-list shows have been great for YIP YOPS, Murakami and Van Winkle said smaller shows have made a bigger impact on them.

“One of the shows that meant a lot to me was our last residency show at the Echoplex in L.A.” said Murakami. “We were there every Monday in July last year, and those were just eye openers to see what our crowd was like in L.A. By the end of the residency, we were packing out the 800 (capacity).

Added Van Winkle: “One of the most memorable shows was one we did in Garden Grove at the Locker Room. Most of our shows are 21-plus, so it’s tough to bring our own age group in. At this show, though, it felt like everyone in the room was exactly who the songs were meant for, and everyone was going just as crazy as us. Even though it was only 30 to 40 people, it felt really good and really organic.”

On the topic of those 21-and-over shows, Murakami commented: “We’re still having to deal with that. I’m 23, and Ison’s 20, so it’s still a problem. A number of the L.A. venues have strict rules, and it’s such a bummer. We have a lot of friends that want to come see us, but we can barely get Ison in.”

The band doesn’t only receive attention for its sound; the name often gets the duo notice as well. (We won’t talk about the brief period during which the band was called IIIZ.)

“We went through hundreds of names to try to find the one that sticks out. It was just a phrase that was thrown around,” Van Winkle said. “We didn’t really know what it meant. It’s not even actual words, but it stuck. When we were 14, it had this playful energy to it, and we still can relate to it.”

Added Murakami: “I personally wasn’t a big fan of the name, but the band makes the name. You could have the craziest, dumbest name, and if the band is energetic and crazy, it makes the name more energetic and crazy. I think it’s been working for us, and we’re pretty happy with what it’s turned into as the band has evolved.”

“Sinner” is the first release from the YIP YOPS since 2018’s “She.”

“You’ll have to stay tuned for an album, but we are releasing another single in early October, and we’re going to do another run to Seattle in November,” said Murakami.

Van Winkle said the duo is holding back a lot of music.

“We’ve yet to release a whole lot of music, since we’re doing it all ourselves, so we want to make sure we’re as ready for the record as possible,” he said. “With the singles, we’re trying to experiment a bit. The four-piece going down to a two-piece really expands the horizons on what we allow ourselves to do, and we’re seeing what works. A lot of our stuff is run on tracks. We don’t want to hold ourselves back on what the music can sound like just because of how many people are in the band. A lot of people are open to track-heavy bands, like The Garden.”

Added Murakami: “Even hip hop! It started with the DJs, and it evolved into another way to round out the sound live. It works for us, and it fits us.”

For more information, visit