Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Stephen “Fish” Ellsworth is one of the more famous bartenders at The Hood Bar and Pizza, known for his exceptional bartending knowledge, his fast service—and his shenanigans while behind the bar. Fish is newly engaged, and he recently shared the news that his fiancée will be having a baby, so be sure to tip him well. He was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13, and here are his (rather brief) answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Lynyrd Skynyrd.

What was the first album you owned?

Megadeth, Countdown to Extinction.

What bands are you listening to right now?


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

Psy, “Gangnam Style.”

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

Band of Horses.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?


What’s your favorite music venue?

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts and Festival.

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

“Dayman. Aaaaahhhhaa! Fighter of the nightman! Champion of the sun, you’re a master of a karate, and friendship for everyone,” “The Dayman,” from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Amigo the Devil. It’s enlightening folk music.

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

I would ask Tenacious D how they get their inspiration.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“The Funeral” by Band of Horses.

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

Silent Alarm, Bloc Party.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Midnight City” by M83. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

Thr3 Strykes is best known for hip hop, although the group sometimes includes a punk-rock set in a show. Catch Thr3 Strykes at The Date Shed on Friday, Oct. 16, the STREET party at the Westfield Palm Desert on Saturday, Nov. 7.

During a recent interview, Josh Fimbres and Josh Hall talked about how much Thr3 Strykes has changed since its formation.

“During high school and after high school, I was in a lot of punk bands and played drums,” Fimbres said. “Anywhere we could play when I was a teenager, we played. I was in one band, and we even did a little mini-tour and had Island Records interested in us for a little bit.

“I did that for a long time, and our friend Jesse—who doesn’t even fuck with us anymore—we started rapping. We all grew up in La Quinta, and we’d do parties and other shit. We had the little 8-track analog recording, and we did ridiculous shit with cheap microphones from Toys ’R’ Us. We went from party to party with nothing else to do but memorize each other’s shit.”

Hall said, with a laugh, that the group became known for being “white guys who rap.”

What are some of Thr3 Strykes’ songs about?

“Some are political, and some are about partying,” Hall said.

Fimbres offered a different answer: “Some are just stupid shit we say to each other at 3 in the morning playing FIFA Soccer, over and over.”

There are not a lot of local rap acts in the Coachella Valley, beyond local rap artist J. Patron and Thr3 Strykes. Fimbres said he remembers when the hometown crowd wasn’t showing them a lot of love.

“When it’s all said and done, and we’re 45 and still fucking rapping, or not rapping: We were doing it back when people were rejecting us, and venue owners we’re saying, ‘No, you can’t play here.’ Years later, we’re still doing it, when venue owners are telling us they don’t want anything to do with our scene or our crowd—and we’re still doing it. No matter where we went, people didn’t want to hear it, and it wasn’t cool.

“All of a sudden nowadays, with J. Patron, who is a close friend of ours, we’re getting noticed. That’s what I’m going to hang my hat on.”

Hall remembered one of the first shows that helped the group get noticed.

“It was underground, and we were different. We were influenced by punk rock,” he said. “People wouldn’t accept us for years and years—and then we realized people were starting to come to our shows. They started accepting us more and more, and trying to be our friends. I remember one year, they invited us to play at Chicago Freddy’s, which is now Cactus Jack’s, and we were super hyped up. It was cool, and it was one of our premieres. But we had (a person) who is now an ex-member jump off stage and punch a guy in the nose. It probably wasn’t the best first impression. But we came back in; people loved it and went insane, even with the little bit of drama that happened.”

While sitting in The Hood being interviewed, Fimbres remembered when Thr3 Strykes was not welcome there, either.

“We’ve been kicked out of a lot of places,” he said. “For a lot of years, they didn’t want us here at The Hood. Neither one of us were allowed here because of pre-show things or after-show things. We’re not crazy, and we’re not the first fucking band to deal with a crazy following or crowd. It’s always been someone stepping on our neck … but then we get these huge shows, opening for Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.”

Said Fimbres: “We opened for (Bone Thugs-n-Harmony) twice. We’ve done enough shows where we can judge each show on the vibe and how good the set was, and both times we played with them, it was the best it could fucking get. The first show, and we’re talking in Indio, there were a lot of hard motherfuckers, and they were there to see Bone. They paid good money too—those tickets were 40 bucks!”

Thr3 Strykes has always had a DIY approach.

“We used to make little six-song EPs,” Fimbres said, “just burning them on CDs with CD burners. We’ve also done stuff over Myspace back in the day, and things like that. Actual full length records—we just have the one that we put out in 2012 that’s 15 songs. All of those were good, but they’re all over the place with reggae, hard shit and real heavy rap shit. In the middle of making this new one, we had seven or eight songs with Jesse (Brown), who isn’t playing with us anymore, and who we have some bad blood with, so we dropped those songs.”

That new record, Communication Breakdown, will be out soon.

“Josh and I have 15 songs for Communication Breakdown,” Fimbres said. “In actuality, this feels like our first record to me. This is us at the core of what we do. All 15 of these songs are cohesive. They all go into each other. It’s our proudest shit to date right now.”

Hall agreed.

“Our producer, Tariq Beats, told us he loves it and says it’s one of the best albums he’s done, and he messes with a lot of big names in Los Angeles like French Montana and Xzibit.”

Thr3 Strykes will perform with Calico Wonderstone and Drop Mob at 9:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16, at The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., in Indio. Admission is $5; visit for more info. The group will also play during STREET, which takes place from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Westfield Palm Desert, 72840 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission to the all-ages event is free; visit for more information. For more information on Thr3 Strykes, visit

Published in Previews

It’s been a long, hard road for D.R.I., but the band—known as a “thrash metal” band, although the group has the respect of punk-rock contemporaries—is still doing its thing some 33 years after its formation.

D.R.I.—that’s an abbreviation for Dirty Rotten Imbeciles—will be performing at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Oct. 30.

D.R.I. formed in 1982 in Houston. Spike Cassidy (guitar) and Kurt Brecht (vocals) are the only remaining original members. It’s been said the band’s name came from Brecht’s father, who hated listening to the band practice in the family home. In fact, Brecht’s father—interrupting the band’s practice—can be heard on the “Madman” track.

“We never saw ourselves making a living doing this,” Brecht said during a recent phone interview. “But we wanted to, and we thought about it—but it’s hard being that young and thinking that far in advance. We wanted to do what we saw other bands doing, which was touring and putting out records. I remember at one time, when we started getting a little popular, we realized we were still living in a van and not making any money.”

A 1983 “Rock Against Reagan” tour, often headlined by the Dead Kennedys, gave D.R.I. some of its first exposure.

“That was our first tour ever,” Brecht said. “We moved to California, lost our bass player and found another bass player. The band MDC was also from Texas, and they were living in the same squat thing that we were, and they invited us to go on the Rock Against Reagan tour. It was literally no pay. You got gas money and got fed whatever food the people that put together the tour had to give you. It wasn’t a show every night; it was a flatbed truck and a PA system, and they would take that around and set it up at different colleges. It was kind of cool, and people got to see it for free, but bands kind of came and went. People would walk by and check it out. It was kind of interesting to shove the music down people’s throats.”

Brecht was surprised years later by someone who told him about one of those shows. 

“Dave Grohl was just a kid, and he came and saw us play in Washington, D.C.,” Brecht said. “He told me that he bought a 7-inch record off of me from out of the back of our van.”

Metal Blade Records—known as the home of various thrash metal bands, and the first label to sign Metallica—signed D.R.I. and released the group’s first full length album, Dealing With It!, in 1985. The album showed that the band’s hardcore punk sound was becoming more thrash metal.

“At that point, we had only just started letting out our metal influences that we grew up with,” Brecht said. “We grew up listening to rock and metal, and we discovered hardcore and liked that better. But eventually, all the cool metal stuff started leaking out. Spike let someone from Metal Blade listen to the record, and they decided they wanted it. I still talk to Metal Blade, and they still pay us royalties, and we’re still in good relations with them at this point.”

The ’90s were a hard time for D.R.I., after Metal Blade released the band. The group put out two records on the label Dirty Rotten, but D.R.I. has not released a new album since 1995’s Full Speed Ahead.

“We call it the ’90s slump,” Brecht said. “When you’re in it, you don’t know what’s going on, and you can only look back at it later on. It was rough for us. We continued touring, and we weren’t making any money, and we had to change the way we toured: no more tour bus, no more roadies, no more big truck with equipment. We just shaved off all the fat. We were still hurting.”

Brecht said D.R.I. almost called it a day several times.

“There were times we talked about it, and asked how much longer we could do this, because it was going out on tour for two or three months and coming back with nothing,” Brecht said. “Your girlfriend, wife or whatever—they’re not going to put up with it very long, and you need to figure out what you’re going to do. Even bigger bands like Slayer weren’t doing good in the ’90s. They were doing better than us, but Metallica was the only band still doing good during that period.”

In 2006, Spike Cassidy was diagnosed with colon cancer.

“During the times when Spike had cancer and was sick for a while, thrash metal became popular again,” Brecht said. “We were excited to get back on the road again. Grunge wasn’t as popular any more, and kids wanted to see thrash metal bands again from the ’80s.”

Cassidy’s cancer also led to hard times for the band. In fact, Cassidy is still trying to raise money to pay his medical bills through D.R.I.’s website.

“Spike is doing fine now, and we have full tours scheduled—and it’s a brutal schedule for anyone, even if you’re not sick,” Brecht said. “He’s the one booking it all, so he’s obviously capable. Spike has a cancer fund, and he had some insurance at the time, but it’s still financially damaging. He said he was almost done paying it off, and all of a sudden, they dropped another $150,000 bill on him for some surgery he had that he thought was paid for, and insurance supposedly covered. I went on a few tours without him to help make money for him when he couldn’t go.”

Will there ever be another D.R.I. album? Brecht hinted that a new release is just around the corner.

“It’s recorded and everything, and as far as I know, it’s in post-production,” he said. “It should be out this year, but I haven’t heard Spike talk about it much. Records aren’t important as they used to be, especially not for us. Now we don’t have to deal with all that stuff of a label, and our label now is not bothering us to put out a record. They probably don’t want to pay for it, and it’s not a lucrative endeavor.”

D.R.I. will perform with Fissure, Green Terror Grind, Facelift and Panzram at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, located at 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $20 at the door, and the show is open to all ages. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or check out one of the Facebook pages for the event.

Published in Previews

When Sonny McEachran decided to move up north, that meant the end of popular local band Boycott Radio.

However, Chris Long and Dan Dillinger pressed on—and soon, with the addition of Troy Whitford, the Sweat Act was born.

During an interview one afternoon not too long ago at The Hood Bar and Pizza, Long and Dillinger discussed how they met.

“My dad knew that I was playing music with Sonny McEachran in Boycott Radio, and he knew that I was heavily looking for a bass player,” Long said. “My dad finds this post on Craigslist that said, ‘Looking for a punk rock band.’ My dad said, ‘He’s a bass player; you should hit him up.’ I was like, ‘Dad, whatever. I’m not looking on Craigslist, and that’s kind of weird. Why are you on Craigslist, Dad? You have Mom at home; get off Craigslist!’”

Nonetheless, Long contacted Dillinger.

“He hit me up, like, ‘We’re not really a punk band, but we’re looking for a bass player. Maybe you’d like to come and check it out; here are some videos on YouTube,’ and all this other shit,” Dillinger said. “I looked them up. … I watched the videos, and I was like, ‘That dude is wearing a V neck; he’s probably a douche bag! I don’t wanna go over there!’ I went and thought, ‘This is gonna suck, but I might as well try it.’

“It worked out fine.”

When McEachran moved away last year, Boycott Radio was finished. Dillinger continued to play with local punk band Bridger, and metal band Remnants of Man. He also went on tour in a Sublime tribute band. However, Long and Dillinger missed having their own band.

“Dan and I were sitting there with our dicks in our hands like, ‘What’s next?’” Long said. “Well, here comes our archangel, Troy Whitford, coming down from the heavens and being like, ‘Hey, I play drums!’ It turns out I work with him at Babe’s in Rancho Mirage. I was like, ‘Let’s give it a shot sometime!’”

Whitford and Long then began to practice together. Long is not a fan of social media; in fact, he said he really doesn’t do anything with computers except play video games. So Whitford reached out to Dillinger via social media, and asked him to come to a practice session. He did, and before long, Dillinger and Whitford were chumming it up, talking about their favorite records and comparing influences.

“I was like, ‘Get a fucking room, guys!’” Long said. “I’m the third wheel. … They started doing this whole thing where Troy was like, ‘Can you play this song?’ and Dan was like, ‘Can you play this song?’ And, of course, they can play every song, because they both love NOFX, and they lived happier ever after.”

Dillinger remains with Bridger. When I asked him how he makes playing in two rather active bands work, he said it’s not that hard. The Sweat Act practices on weekdays, while Bridger practices on weekends. When it comes to gigs or practices, Dillinger said it’s first come, first serve.

“It’s a lot easier now being in two bands than it was being in four bands,” Dillinger said. “In anything that I’ve ever done … I always make it work. If I have to pull double-duty, so be it. One time, I played a Boycott show, and then ran over to do a Remnants show. I love what I do; I need to do what I do; and I’m not going to fucking piss off the people around me to do it.”

Whitford said he was surprised at how fast the Sweat Act developed a good following.

“We were only a band for three months, and we all looked at each other like, ‘Hey, that was a great show!’ ‘Hey, we’re nominated in CV Weekly for Best New Band!’” Whitford said. “When it comes to fan response, and I relate this to online and social media, it’s not that big. … It’s still very small, but just the fact that people in the industry and peers of ours give us a lot of praise and respect, that’s enough.”

Whitford said he’s been working hard to push the band forward.

“After the whole CV Weekly thing, it lit a fire under my ass,” Whitford said. “I did the most groundwork I could during the summer, which is the slow time, to get as many shows as possible. We played two shows a month throughout the summer. We did that so we could get exposure for when the big shows start coming up. I’m hoping we did a good enough job.” 

Dillinger said the band members hope to do some recording soon.

“I got someone on board, and I’m just waiting for the green light,” Dillinger said. “We’re kind of shopping, but at the same time, we’re musicians, so we’re broke as fuck. We want to record, and we know that we’re ready to, but it just all depends on who, when, and how much?”

The Sweat Act will perform with War Drum, the Electric Blankets and Fleischman and the Librarian at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 18, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, visit the event page on Facebook. For more information on the Sweat Act, visit

Published in Previews

Even though Tucson band Burning Palms is relatively new, the group has been finding indie success in many communities—including the Coachella Valley.

The group is returning to the valley for a show at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Sept. 11.

Burning Palms has a garage rock/psychedelic rock sound, and many of the band’s songs have Wiccan/Pagan references. During a recent interview at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, where the band played a late-August show, Julia Deconcini talked about how Burning Palms got started.

“It originally started as a bedroom project of Simone’s while she was in Australia,” Deconcini said about bandmate Simone Stopford. “We joined forces about two years ago in Tucson, and I was playing in another band at the time. She came to my very last show with that band, and right as we played our last song, and I was stepping off the stage, Simone was standing right there. She said, ‘I saw you; I had a vision. I know it’s you; you’re joining my band.’ I was like, ‘Absolutely not! I just had this crazy adventure with this band, and I can’t do that.’ She said, ‘Please just come and try it out.’ Two years later, here I am.”

As is the case with many groups, band members have come and gone.

“Not a lot of people can tour as much as we’d like them to,” Deconcini said. “Honestly, I feel like we’ve been on tour nonstop and are keeping pretty busy. We just did a tour where we played Desert Daze, the Austin Psych Fest and the Milwaukee Psych Fest. It took us all around the country, and we did a short run after that. In a week a half, we’re heading out again.”

Burning Palms has found a lot of success utilizing Bandcamp to sell music and reach potential fans.

“I am of a big fan of Bandcamp, because we don’t have to build a website and maintain it,” Deconcini said. “It’s very simple with uploading photos of the band and tour dates, and the fans also get to hear our music.”

Bandcamp also saved the band from a tough situation.

“On one of our previous tours, we were in Minneapolis, and our van broke down,” Deconcini explained. “It was unsalvageable. We were able to post on our Facebook page and all of our social media: ‘Our van broke down. Please buy our merch.’ We updated our merch page with items that aren’t traditional, like, ‘We’ll write a song just for you, $200.’ Another one was, ‘If you have a mystery and can’t find something, call us, and we’ll help you solve your mystery.’ (We also did) things like palm readings, dirty talk and other things. … We made the most of an unfortunate situation, and we were able to make money to buy a new van with the proceeds within 24 hours and get back on the road. We only missed one show.”

Burning Palms’ music is not feel-good or traditional by any means. However, Deconcini notes there’s an upside to it.

“Our music definitely has a kind of a dark side to it,” she said. “I think, especially in our newer music, it’s taking a turn from being this high-energy music to much more magical and chanting songs. I think that comes from playing with different people. Every time we play with new people, we gain something new. After this tour, we’re going to be writing and recording the new stuff that we’re playing on tour. Half of our set right now is unrecorded.

“There are a lot of themes of strength and power. We’re not a girly-girl kind of band, and we want to emulate strength and power. Our songs do have some ancient and Wiccan themes to them. We’ve been calling it ‘witch rock’ for a while. It’s the most fitting … when we get asked about genres.”

Deconcini explained how those Pagan/Wiccan themes developed.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily anything any of us had the intention of studying,” she said. “I feel like a lot of it is something we’ve gravitated toward. I think that we all have very strong relationships with nature in general, as well as health and friendship. I just find that we’re more into cosmic energy, and we’re out to create good energy and feel grounded when we have the right intentions. As far as potions and pentagrams, I don’t think that’s the image we’re trying to create. It’s more of a lifestyle.”

Tucson has been great to Burning Palms, and creative inspiration is easy to find in the scene there, Deconcini said.

“Tucson’s music scene is wonderful. As far as the Tucson community goes, it’s a very strong community and really supportive,” she said. “Our CDs are made by a friend locally who has a lathe and cuts records onto all of our CDs for us. All of our shirts are silkscreened and made by friends in Tucson. All our music videos are also made by friends there. It’s a great place to pull things together, and we all have good understanding of each other’s intentions, and creatively, there’s a lot of collaboration. The scene has always been there, and there have always been great bands there.”

Burning Palms is performing with Tribesmen and Venus and the Traps at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 11, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on the show, visit the event’s Facebook page. For more information on Burning Palms, visit the band’s Facebook page

Published in Previews

Question: What do you get when you combine Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols, Clem Burke from Blondie, James Stevenson from the Cult and Gene Loves Jezebel, and Gary Twinn from Supernaut?

Answer: You get a supergroup called The International Swingers, which will be making its second appearance at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Aug. 7.

The idea of The International Swingers was pitched to Gary Twinn by Australian promoter Bicci Henderson. While the idea seemed crazy at first, the band has proven to be a fine success, leading to an EP and a recently released album.

During a recent phone interview, frontman Gary Twinn discussed how The International Swingers came to exist.

“Many years ago, I had a career in Australia as sort of a pop star, so every now and again, I would sort of go over there and play some shows. I was asked to come back again, and I really wanted to do something different,” Twinn said. “James, Clem and Glenn were really good friends of mine, and we all happened to be hanging out at the same time. When I was asked to do this Australian tour, I was like, ‘Hey guys, how would you guys like to start a new band and come with me to Australia for a holiday? And that’s what we did.”

Twinn said the group wasn’t intended to exist beyond the Australian tour. “It just happened that we started this band, and we did it for a laugh. … When we were on our way back, and there was a bunch of stuff on YouTube and people inviting us to play here and there, we thought, ‘Let’s just keep doing it.’”

While the members are friends, it’s hard to imagine these four very different personalities working so well together.

“It’s actually been a pleasure,” Twinn said. “We can’t argue about the music, but we might argue about football.”

Last year, The International Swingers played a free show at the Farmers Market in Los Angeles. There were some concerns about whether some of the band’s material, such as the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant,” would work there.

“It was great. It’s an awesome place to play because anybody can come; it’s free to get in; and it’s a really eclectic audience. It’s a very historic part of Los Angeles, and it’s been there for 80 years,” Twinn said. “… We were proud to be part of it. … Bob Gruen, the famous rock photographer, came to the show and took a picture of us playing there. So the Farmers Market has a great rock ’n’ roll photo taken by one of the great rock ’n’ roll photographers.”

Twinn conceded there was some hesitation regarding what songs from the members’ various bands would be played.

“James and I sat down, and I wrote down a huge list of songs, and the idea was one of us had to have a connection with each song, no matter how tenuous it was,” he said. “There are actually some of my old songs from my first band I didn’t want to do, but the other three wanted to do. Glen didn’t want to do ‘Pretty Vacant,’ saying it was boring, and we were like, ‘C’mon man, it’s great!’”

The band is now selling its first full-length album. Fans can pledge money through PledgeMusic to receive a copy of Whatever Works Now.

“We just finished it. The EP, we did as something to sell to our fans at shows and were just really demo recordings,” Twinn said. “Over the last year, whenever we’ve had time, we’ve been going into the studio owned by the Foo Fighters, and our friend Tommy’s studio, and we recorded a bunch of songs and just mixed and mastered them. We kind of announced to the fans on Facebook that we were looking to make an album through PledgeMusic, so all the fans that pledged their $10 just received their digital album.”

The members do have a problem coordinating their schedules. In fact, Glen Matlock is not on the current tour.

“It’s a frickin’ nightmare, to be honest. It’s like herding cats together,” Twinn said. “With Clem, Blondie takes permanence, and these days, Blondie is pretty busy. James has another project now called Holy Holy, and they’re doing a whole production around The Man Who Sold the World. Glen has his own band, and Glen actually won’t be doing this tour with us, or doing anything with us, really, because he’s busy with his own project now.”

So what can attendees expect?

“We’ll still be playing our covers, so you can expect to hear some Blondie and Sex Pistols,” Twinn said. “During our recent gigs, we’ve been playing ‘Brand New Cadillac,’ which was a song The Clash covered, and we might throw that in the mix. But we want to try out some of the new songs from the album and see how people like those, because we’re really liking them. We’ve got a friend of ours, Steve Fishman, filling in on the bass, and he’s a great bass player. We’re happy to have him with us.”

The International Swingers will perform with Machin’ at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $5. For more information, visit

Published in Previews

August is the final full month of summer, and there are a surprising number of great shows taking place during the month that you won’t want to miss.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s August is, simply put, awesome. So many events … so much awesome. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, hard-rock and heavy-metal pioneers Deep Purple (above) will be appearing. If you don’t know “Smoke on the Water” or “Perfect Strangers,” and you call yourself a music fan, something is wrong with you. Tickets are $49 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21, it’ll be an ’80s throwback night when New Edition stops by; however, it’s unknown whether Bobby Brown will be taking part, with the recent death of his daughter Bobbi Kristina. Either way, it should be an interesting show. Tickets are $49 to $79. You’ll be happy to know that Diana Krall (right) is returning to the desert at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22. The world’s favorite female jazz pianist and vocalist is guaranteed to deliver, so go check her out. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000;

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events worth your time. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, comedian Russell Peters will be stopping by. The Canadian was the first comedian to sell out the Air Canada Centre in Toronto in 2007; unfortunately, he also played Santa in Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22, modern country duo Thompson Square will performing. The husband and wife from Nashville have taken the country-music world by storm since they released their self-titled debut on Stoney Creek Records. Their single “Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not?” reached No. 1 on the country chart and went double-platinum. They also took home three awards at the American Country Awards in 2011. Tickets are $35 to $55. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995;

Spotlight 29 Casino has some great tribute bands performing throughout the month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, get out the rhinestones and sequins as Kenny Metcalf performs the music of Elton John. AXS TV included him on its television show The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands. Tickets are $10. If you enjoyed the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus performance of ABBA tunes back in the spring, you can get another dose of ABBA at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 29, when ABBAFAB performs. Tickets are $10. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566;

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has some big names dropping in this month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, former late-night TV superstar Jay Leno (below) will be present. If you miss him on NBC (which I don’t), this is a great time to see him doing what he’s always done best: stand-up comedy. Tickets are $85 to $110. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21, you’ll be singing the chorus to “Joy to the World”—no, not that song, the other one, by Three Dog Night. While Chuck Negron doesn’t appear to be rejoining the group anytime soon, Three Dog Night is still going strong. Tickets are $40 to $60. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499;

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has plenty going on in August. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 8, former Kyuss frontman John Garcia will be performing. In 2014, Garcia released a self-titled solo album, which was welcomed by music critics and Kyuss fans alike. You should definitely make it up the hill for this one. Tickets are $10. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 20, London-based post-punk band Savages will be performing. The group’s 2013 debut album, Silence Yourself, was all the rage, and music critics were counting down the days to its release. In other words, the group is pretty awesome. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956;

The Hood Bar and Pizza will once again hold its Battle of the Bands every Sunday in August at 6 p.m. The judging panel will feature local music promoter Ming Bob, CV Weekly owner/editor Tracy Dietlin, and yours truly. Come out every Sunday and catch local talent competing for the grand prize of $1,000 cash. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220;

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Two years ago, I did an article on a band from Palm Springs called Forfeit Your Skies. The band was reeling after the theft of a bunch of equipment. Today, the band is still largely intact, but with a new name: Cloud District. The hardcore group will be playing a free show at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Saturday, Aug. 15. For more information, visit the band’s Facebook page. Alex Sanchez, the guitarist for Cloud District, was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

My first concert was Panic! at The Disco when I was 15. It blew my mind how good of a singer Brendon Urie was.

What was the first album you owned?

Highway to Hell by AC/DC. I asked my mom to buy it for me when I was 10 or so.

What bands are you listening to right now?

They include Beartooth, This Wild Life, and Fall Out Boy’s previous album.

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

How Drake can do so bad at Coachella 2015, being that big of a name, and then … people tell you he was the best of the weekend.

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

I have to say Queen back in their prime. I’ve always wondered how much better Freddie Mercury was live compared to recordings.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Probably Owl City. It’s just such upbeat music.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I haven’t played there yet, but as far as watching bands, I would have to go with House of Blues in San Diego.

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

Lately, it’s been “Stay Up Late” by This Wild Life.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Panic! at the Disco. It was my first musical experience, and they absolutely blew me away! They showed me that live music is an art form and forever changed how I judged recorded music.

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

I really just want to ask Elvis to come hang out with me—young Elvis, though, not the older one.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“What’s Left of the Flag” by Flogging Molly, hands down!

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

Issues’ self-titled album is right up there with A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out by Panic! at The Disco.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Shadow Life” by Cloud District. Share it with everyone you know! (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

Local DJ Tomas DeLa Noche always puts on an interesting show when he’s behind the mixing board. His house-music sets are catchy and feature insanely good dance beats; after well-received sets at the Coachella Valley Art Scene and The Hood Bar and Pizza (with Independent resident DJ Alex Harrington), Tomas DeLa Noche is making an ever-bigger name for himself in the Coachella Valley. For more information, check out

What was the first concert you attended?

Johnny Cash at the Greek Theatre (in Los Angeles), circa ’97, I believe.

What was the first album you owned?

Probably the first for a lot of people: Bob Marley and the Wailers, Legend.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Well, in the way of DJs, Get Down Edits are really doing it for me. Their selection is impeccable. Also, anything by Crazy P, given they can do no wrong.

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

To each their own, but in all honestly, I really can’t stand anything EDM. Music has got to have elements of soul, jazz, funk or disco, or it just doesn’t appeal to me. Special bulletin: House music is NOT EDM!

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

I’m going to go ahead and say the Bee Gees. I feel like I would totally be in my element grooving to their songs.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Prince! LOL!

What’s your favorite music venue?

Locally, Bar in downtown Palm Springs. DJ Abe and DJ Tone play nothing but old rare grooves on vinyl every Saturday night. I’ve been once, and I was completely beside myself with happiness.

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

Lyrically, I’d have to say the some of the best writers are hip-hop cats. In “Ex Girl to the Next Girl,” Guru from Gang Starr explains: “My homeboys told me drop her, cause it would be to my benefit. She used to say I better quit, hangin with those derelicts!” But really, all the lyrics in that song get stuck in my head.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

This is an easy one: Anyone who knows me knows I wouldn’t be listening to any of the music I listen to, or know half of the amazing people I have met (particularly in the house scene), if it wasn’t for Mark Farina. I owe it all to him.

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

What inspired John Fogerty to write so many songs about the South when he and the band were from California?

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Both “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum and “You Sexy Thing (I Believe in Miracles)” by Hot Chocolate.

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

That’s like asking the pope which bowl of holy water is his favorite. But considering there’s a gun to my head, Mark Farina’s Mushroom Jazz 3.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Beautiful Wicked Game” by Jask. It is a great mashup between his single “Beautiful” featuring Jocie and the Chris IsaaK classic “Wicked Game.” Jask is a personal friend of mine, and I’ve got to tip my hat to him every time, because he really is one of the best producers out there. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

Grand Scovell is not from the Coachella Valley, but the band sure is making a name for itself here.

The San Jacinto punk group won the Battle of the Bands at The Hood Bar and Pizza last year, and they’ll returning to the venue for a show on Saturday, May 23.

Grand Scovell is Daniel Gililland (vocals, bass), Gilbert Espinoza (rhythm guitar, vocals), Eddie Dyer (lead guitar, vocals) and Ricky Adame (drums). During a recent phone interview, Gililland, Espinoza and Adame discussed the band’s history.

“Ricky and Gilbert were actually in another band together,” Gililland said. “It was kind of fell apart due to some different things going on in people’s lives, and I think Gilbert was still wanting to play. He got together with Ricky, who he was in a band with years before, and they started playing, and they needed a bass-player.”

The band placed an ad for a bass-player on Craigslist, in late 2012, but Gililland had known the rest of the band for years. “I wanted to play, but it was just a matter of whether you can get a commitment from your family members to be behind you, because if they’re not behind you, you’re not going to go anywhere at all. I’m not talking about going anywhere in terms of being successful, but just as simple as being behind you in going to practice.”

He decided to respond to the ad—and the rest is history. Of course, there are only so many opportunities for a band in San Jacinto, a town 40 miles from Palm Springs, near Hemet.

“If you want to play dive bars all the time, sure,” Gililland said. “As a matter of getting quality shows or not, yeah, I’d say it’s very difficult.”

On the day we spoke, the band members mentioned they were scheduled to play at a battle of the bands in Los Angeles the following night—at 1 a.m. Of course, the members have to work the following morning, too.

“When we play those kinds of things, our goal is not to win,” Gililland said. “If we win first place, great. That’s awesome, but we do it to get our name out there and for people to see us. As far as our gig tomorrow goes, there’s a possibility we’re going to be playing at 1:30 in the morning. But Palm Desert, it’s a nice cruise back, and it’s not too difficult. None of us mind going out there—but Los Angeles really sucks.”

The first major exposure the band received in the Coachella Valley was at The Hood Bar and Pizza Battle of the Bands (at which I was a judge). Grand Scovell competed against well-known local bands such as The Hive Minds, Burning Bettie, Elektric Lucie, and Right On Right On. The band played a high-energy show during the first round to win a slot in the final—and when the group came back, they played even better. During both shows, the band brought along a loyal fan base.

“I thought it was pretty badass,” Adame said. “It was pretty intense on my part, because we’re from San Jacinto, and I didn’t expect us to get the response that we did in Palm Desert. We got called back right away to do another show at The Hood, and (at) Schmidy’s Tavern. … Going back to Schmidy’s, there were some people I didn’t recognize that were singing along to some of our songs.”

Gililland agreed that the band can now say it has a presence in the valley. “We’ve been back a few times, and I’ve seen more people who live out there, and they’re singing our songs. We have a 14-song demo right now that we don’t charge anything for, and we pass it out. We burn them all ourselves. I know a majority of them end up on the ground, in the trash or whatever. But out of 100, if I can get two people who listen to it and like it, it’s worth it. When you pass out that CD, and you come back and see people singing your songs, that makes the $10 you spent to get some CDs worth it to me.”

Grand Scovell will be performing with Facelift, The Butchery Boys and Bridger at 9 p.m., Saturday, May 23, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220.

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