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“This is the biggest gig we’ve ever played!” Sir Paul McCartney told the crowd of about 400 people at the beginning of his last-minute show at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Thursday, Oct. 13.

That bit of hyperbole from the former Beatle aside, it was indeed a big day for those who had made it into Pappy’s for the show, which had been announced just hours before. Those hoping to attend were told to arrive with $50, cash only, around 3 p.m. to stand in line for a 6:30 p.m. entrance and an 8:30 p.m. show. I arrived around 2:30 p.m. (as an invited media guest, meaning I knew I would get in, thank goodness) and noticed as we drove up the hill to Pappy’s that the parking lots were closed, and a line already wound all the way into the back of Pioneertown near the Pioneer Bowl.

Around 3:30 p.m., as members of the California Highway Patrol watched, the first 300 people in line were given slips of paper guaranteeing entrance into the show. Those who didn’t get a slip were told to leave: They were out of luck. When the gates finally opened early, around 5 p.m., people immediately came in to grab spots up front—even though they faced yet another wait of more than three hours.

Considering that some of McCartney’s fans who attended his recent show at Amoeba Records in Hollywood had to wait outside for four days, Thursday’s inconveniences were no big deal.

Alas, Pappy and Harriet’s normal food service was cancelled on Thursday, meaning the always-alluring the smell of barbecue on the back patio was missing. However, attendees willing pay $13.95 could enjoy a vegan dinner, complete with a bread roll and coffee.

Shortly before 8:30 p.m., Paul McCartney took the stage—obviously in a much-scaled-down way compared to the shows he’s been performing at Desert Trip and in sold-out stadiums around the world. Not even a grand piano was an option, so he made do with a smaller-sized piano. He started off his 19-song set with “Save Us” from his 2013 album New, and followed with “A Hard Day’s Night.”

His 90-minute included some rarities and some surprising omissions. For example, he didn’t perform “Jet,” a popular song from his days with Wings which was the second song in his first-weekend set at Desert Trip.

Before playing “I’ve Got a Feeling,” he asked those standing in front if they could take a seat, so the people in the back—including me—could have a glance at him. Immediately, a bunch of phones from the back went up, with Paul in the distance on the screens as attendees desperately tried to get a photo of him in front of that Pappy’s stage backdrop.

After “Lady Madonna,” McCartney addressed the back of the crowd again, asking if they were all right. One eager fan toward the front got his attention. “That doesn’t qualify as the back,” McCartney told him, noting lightheartedly that the person obviously didn’t follow directions.

I’ll never forget the sound of the fans fortunate enough to attend filling up Pappy’s with their voices as they sang along on songs like “Band on the Run,” “Ob-La Di, Ob-La Da” and “Hey Jude.” I imagine proud Pappy and Harriet’s owners Robyn Celia and Linda Krantz will remember the moment forever, too.

The encore included some nice surprises: “Hi Hi Hi” was first, followed by “Birthday” and concluding with “I Saw Her Standing There.”

After “I Saw Her Standing There,” it remained dark in Pappy’s for a few minutes as fans hoped he would return and play one or two more songs. After all, “Let It Be” hadn’t been played yet—but then the lights came on, and it was evident the show was over. Nonetheless, people were pleased—after all, they’d just seen Paul McCartney kick ass in a small venue in the desert.

Many local musicians, not surprisingly, were in attendance, including Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Brant Bjork, David Catching and Robbie Waldman of Waxy. They were somewhat fortunate: A number of local musicians were not there despite their best efforts. Juan Gonzalez of the Kathys told me he did not get a ticket, because, quote, “I fucked up.” He explained that he went hiking around Pioneertown after he showed up, thinking he was too early to get in line.

When I asked Brant Bjork toward the end of the show if he ever thought Paul McCartney would play Pappy and Harriet’s, he smiled.

“No,” he said. “But he should.”

Setlist

Save Us

A Hard Day’s Night

Juniors Farm

Can’t Buy Me Love

Let Me Roll It

I’ve Got a Feeling

My Valentine

1985

We Can Work It Out

I’ve Just Seen a Face

Love Me Do

Queenie Eye

Lady Madonna

Day Tripper

Ob-La Di, Ob-La Da

Band On The Run

Hey Jude

Encore

Hi Hi Hi

Birthday Song

I Saw Her Standing There

Below: Photos of the atmosphere at Pappy's, by Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net

Published in Reviews

Desert Trip. Desert Daze. The Joshua Tree Music Festival. Alice Cooper. Clint Black.

Welcome to the start of season, folks: It’s a blissfully crazy music month here in the Coachella Valley.

The McCallum Theatre is up and running for the 2016-2017 season. It all begins at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 15, with Aida Cuevas and Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. Cuevas is a Latin Grammy winner who has been at it for more than 30 years, and she’s accompanied by what is being billed as America’s first all-female mariachi ensemble. Tickets are $27 to $87. At noon, Sunday, Oct. 23, the McCallum will celebrate its Fifth Annual Family Fun Day. There will be fun, games and a performance of B—The Underwater Bubble Show, about a character named Mr. B who is transported to a magic world of bubbles. Tickets are $9 to $25. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 29, Sue Sylvester … um, we mean Jane Lynch will entertain with a musical-comedy performance—as well as show tunes! You won’t want to miss this one! Tickets are $47 to $87. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting some fantastic shows this month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 22, the Doobie Brothers will be returning to the Coachella Valley, after performing at Stagecoach back on May 1. Since the group first appeared in Northern California in 1970, the Doobie Brothers have sold more than 40 million records—becoming a legendary name in rock music in the process. Hmm … I wonder where they got their name? Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs will share the spotlight. Interestingly enough, McDonald fronted the Doobie Brothers for a period of time. Meanwhile, Scaggs has been making waves in music since the ’60s, when he was a member of the Steve Miller Band. Tickets are $29 to $69. If all these legends aren’t enough to get you excited … at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 29, there will be a performance by Alice Cooper (right). That’s right, ALICE COOPER! Many, many things can be said about Alice Cooper. You can discuss the makeup, the live performances that have included a guillotine, collaborations with the Amazing Randi and Salvador Dali … and, of course, songs that have become heavy-metal staples, like “School’s Out,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “I’m Eighteen.” You need to get your ass to this show. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has one rather compelling event (if Desert Trip is not your thing, that is): At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 8, there will be a performance by ZZ Top. I’ve seen ZZ Top twice, most recently at Stagecoach in 2015, where the band delivered a kickass and unforgettable performance. No matter what your attitude may be, take some ear plugs! They play LOUD. Tickets are $85 to $115. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

I’ve been quite impressed with the events that Morongo Casino Resort Spa has hosted recently, and I’m excited to see what the coming year will bring. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 7, country star Clint Black will be performing. Black is a big name in country music—and has been since the ’80s. He’s also tried his hand in music production and has acted in films such as Flicka 2 and Anger Management. Tickets are $35 to $45. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 21, The Fray will be performing. The Fray confused a lot of people as the band rode up the charts of the alternative-mainstream music world. People labeled The Fray as an “emo” band and as a “Christian” band. Really, neither label is accurate. If you listened to the radio sometime in the last decade, chances are you’ve heard hit-single “How to Save a Life.” Tickets are $67.50 to $77.50. Cleveland does not have much of a local music legacy to speak of—but see an exception to the rule at 10:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28, when there will be a performance by Cleveland’s Breakfast Club. It’s actually a fantastic cover band featuring some of Cleveland’s best local musicians. The group is fun to watch! Tickets are $20 to $40. If that’s not enough … you want the best? Well, the best is coming to the Coachella Valley: At 8 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 30, KISS will take the stage. KISS? Yep, KISS! These days, that means Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and two non-original members, guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer. Personally, I’m ready for Ace Frehley and Peter Criss to return! Tickets are $100 to $150. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a packed October schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 14, Tommy Stinson’s Cowboys in the Campfire will be performing. Stinson (below) served as the bassist of the Replacements and Guns N’ Roses (after Axl Rose fired Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum). Stinson has departed GNR and released solo recordings recently; they don’t sound too bad. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 15, The Evangenitals will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. While the group is a Pappy’s regular, the band is always worth seeing. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

In the 1990s, the band Spain enjoyed a taste of mainstream success.

However, as the music industry began its massive shift after the dawn of the new millennium, frontman Josh Haden felt creatively spent, which led to a hiatus. However, Spain was not done: Haden would later revive the band, with all new members but himself. The group is now promoting its latest album, Carolina.

Spain will be playing at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Thursday, Oct. 6.

During a recent phone interview, Haden explained the hiatus.

“People ask me that question, and I’m never really sure how to answer it,” Haden said. “I think that music is supposed to put the listener into either a different state of mind, or a state of mind that brings them closer to the truth of something—the truth about themselves, the meaning of life, or even the temporary escape from day-to-day issues that everyone has. I feel like when the business side of music—which is a reality of musicians, and not so much for people who aren’t musicians—has money involved in it, it takes the listener away from the joy or the value that music has.”

Haden said the nature of the music industry played a large part in the hiatus.

“Back in the ’90s, major labels were giving indie artists hundreds of thousands of dollars without batting an eye,” he said. “These days, I don’t think young people realize what it was like in the ’90s when artists like me, who had very little following and a lot of hype, could get a million-dollar record deal. The cost of that kind of corporate one-upmanship—where the people who are in charge of the major labels don’t even care about the art anymore—it’s not about music, and it’s not about value to a human’s life. It’s about dollars.

“It’s much smaller in 2016 than it was in the ’90s. … The economy back then was like a free-for-all. You take away regulations, and all of a sudden, all the people with money feel like they can make more money and not have a conscience about it. When a musician accepts a lot of money as an advance from a record label, he’s controlled by that label, and that artist is going to have to reconcile and be controlled by everyone else. In 2001, I quit, and I said, ‘If I can’t do things the way I want and not make the music I want, I’m just going to not make music.’”

When Spain released its debut album, The Blue Moods of Spain in 1995, the song “Spiritual” became an indie hit, and has been covered by many, including Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss, Johnny Cash, and even Haden’s father, the late legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden. However, sales didn’t necessarily follow the artistic success of the song.

“It wasn’t about money, because I would hear the underlings and staff at the companies, and they would be saying, ‘I can’t believe all of this commotion is being made about this band Spain that doesn’t sell a lot of records,’” Haden said. “I think that there’s a devoted following and respect for the music in circles of listeners, but the sales never matched the admiration.”

The making of Carolina, released earlier this year, marked a departure for Haden, he said.

“I recorded this album in (producer) Kenny Lyon’s one-room apartment using very minimal gear—using one great vintage compressor and limiter, and one really great microphone called a Soyuz microphone, which is a Russian microphone that’s very good and very affordable,” Haden said. “… We’re at a time in history when musicians can make great records for $1,000 to $2,000. That was one thing that was different, and I had never done before. … I’m always trying to evolve my songwriting and be a better songwriter, and I thought that for different reasons, this was a good opportunity, for the new record, to write songs more as a storyteller, as if I was writing a short story. With the exception of one song, all the songs have a story, and I never had really done that before, for some reason.”

Haden’s father was a professional jazz musician, and his mother and triplet sisters are musicians. (His sisters perform under the name The Haden Triplets.)

“I grew up thinking every kid had a musical family,” Haden said. “When I realized that wasn’t the case, it was a big shock to me. My dad was a professional musician, and he was on the road a lot and recording a lot. That was his life. There would be musicians and artists of all kinds coming through our apartment in New York where I grew up. I was exposed to not just jazz, but rock, classical, blues and gospel. By the time I was 5 years old, I was writing my own songs. … It’s in my DNA. What can I do? I tried to be a lawyer, and that didn’t work. I tried to get into academia and get a Ph.D. and teach, but I couldn’t do it. Music just kept calling me.”

Haden has never played at Pappy and Harriet’s before, and he said he’s excited to finally have the opportunity.

“It’s a legendary venue in a very legendary location. It’s part of California history,” he said. “I’ve never played there before and have always wanted to, and never knew who to talk to, or it just came down to timing. Our drummer lives part-time in Joshua Tree and knows the people who own Pappy and Harriet’s. He told me to write to them, and that was my in. I think it’s good for the record, too, because we recorded the drums on Carolina in Joshua Tree. Part of the DNA in the recorded music is in Joshua Tree.”

Spain will perform at 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 6, 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.

Published in Previews

Sloan has been around for 25 years—and chances are, you’ve never heard of the band.

If you lived in Canada, it might—or might not—be a different story: The Toronto outfit has released 11 albums, been nominated for 10 Juno Awards, and won one. The group will be appearing during the Desert Stars Festival at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday, Sept. 23.

During a recent interview, Jay Ferguson (guitar) said that while Sloan has a following in Canada, he doesn’t feel they’re hugely successful.

“We’re not huge anywhere,” Ferguson said. “We’ve managed to make a living for 26 years, and we’re not really huge in Canada. There’s this massive misconception in the States (among people who) don’t know our band that well who say, ‘I hear they’re huge in Canada and can’t make inroads in the United States.’ We’re like a cult band. The people who know us anywhere in the world—we’re like they’re little secret. Even in Canada, we don’t play stadiums or anything; we just play clubs and concert halls.”

Sloan has always had a unique songwriting style, with all four members contributing their own material. The band members have been known to switch instruments on records and during live performances. The group’s sound is similar to ’60s garage rock, with a bit of the British Wave sound thrown in.

“I think our sound has changed a lot in the period we’ve been together,” Ferguson said. “… We were drawing more from British noise rock or even Sonic Youth when we were really young. We draw from old recordings generally. We certainly wouldn’t turn to the latest Korn record or whatever is current in pop/rock; that’s not stuff we generally listen to. I’ve determined that if there’s one band that I’ve sort of derived material from, it would be The Pretty Things.”

During the recording of the latest album, Commonwealth, the band decided to do things a little differently: It’s a double album, with each band member getting a solo section.

“We’re a band with four principal songwriters who all write, and we all sing, and I don’t know a lot of bands that do that; we’ve always done it,” he said. “We’ve never been in a position where one member says, ‘I’m going to go make my own solo record.’ Everybody just gets to do whatever the fuck they want to do. We thought, ‘Let’s make a double album where each member gets a side of wax to do whatever they want.’”

Modern technology has made it easier and cheaper for independent artists to record. Ferguson said there’s an upside and a downside to it all.

“I think for us, we’ve been lucky, because we’ve managed to make a lot of records on tape,” he said. “You couldn’t use the Pro Tools kind of perfection machine and had to settle for your takes when you did it on tape, because time is money in the studio, and tape is expensive. But I think if you do your homework and listen to records and pay attention, then either medium can achieve great results. Computers are forgiving to a fault, but it also makes the idea of the recording studio more affordable, and you can do it in your bedroom. I think in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty good.”

Ferguson said he’s always liked the sound of vinyl when it comes to recordings.

“We’ve always pressed vinyl of everything we’ve done,” he said. “It never really went away. … I’ve always preferred vinyl records and have had them around. I have young kids myself now who are into buying records, and I can see them sitting there and listening to the record, holding this big sleeve, looking at the cover art work and reading the linear notes. It’s a tactile experience, and it’s so much nicer than listening to Spotify or Google Play. There’s an actual and physical relationship to the music you listen to when you hear it through vinyl.”

Sloan said he and his band mates have never been able to spend that much time in California while touring, and that he is happy Desert Stars will give them an opportunity to see a different part of California.

“I think it sounds like an interesting, unique and oddball kind of thing,” he said. “When we come through California, we’ve always played San Francisco and Los Angeles, and then figure out how to get home. This time, it seems like we’re doing a bit of an unusual Southern California run, which is kind of a different approach for us. We’re all excited to not just go play in Los Angeles and leave.”

Sloan will perform as part of the Desert Stars Festival, which takes place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Weekend passes are $125. For tickets or more information, visit www.desertstarsfestival.com.

Published in Previews

In recent years, Jesika von Rabbit has focused on her solo career—but her popular band, Gram Rabbit, reunites every year around Halloween for a celebration at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

The queen of the High Desert and her Gram Rabbit bandmates—Ethan Allen (guitar) and Todd Rutherford (guitar, bass, programmer)—will be performing on Friday, Oct. 28, and Saturday, Oct. 29, at Pappy and Harriet’s.

If you can’t wait to get a dose of JVR, she’ll be performing a free show with the Sunday Band at Pappy’s this Sunday, Sept. 18.

During a recent phone interview, von Rabbit explained why she and her busy bandmates can’t quite walk away from Gram Rabbit. Rutherford works as a music producer, while von Rabbit and Allen have their own music projects.

“I think we’re very dynamic, versatile and a bit of a spectacle,” von Rabbit said. “We mix up our sound a lot, which keeps our sound fresh, and you never know what you’re going to get. Our musical style isn’t just one thing, and I think it keeps people on their toes. We’ve been genre-jumpers, and I think people like to see what comes out of our mouths and our guitars next.”

Gram Rabbit formed in 2004, when the High Desert wasn’t quite the destination that it is for music and arts today. The group quickly won over the locals; both Gram Rabbit and von Rabbit on her own have sold out Pappy and Harriet’s, something that few local acts have accomplished.

“I think our success is attributed to the fact we’ve been doing it up here for so long, before this area was gaining any popularity. We originated up here, and we were this fun band among country acts and folk music,” von Rabbit said. “We were this band from outer space that was more rock ’n’ roll, electronic and dance. It was the perfect spot to have under-the-moon dance parties with whatever costumes, hula-hoops and glow sticks. All those felt like vibes you’d want to do out here, and I don’t think there was anyone doing anything like that at the time. … We were more animated and brought a little city life to the desert. We were also nice kids and liked to hang out in the community and got to know a lot of the locals.”

Gram Rabbit found success beyond the desert. The band played at Coachella in the early years, and the band’s tracks have been used on television shows on NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, STARZ and MTV, as well as at least three movie soundtracks. Still, Gram Rabbit never abandoned the desert to make a home Los Angeles or anywhere else—and always included the high-desert in music videos and its repertoire.

“Our sound was influenced by our surroundings. Our music was desert-soaked,” von Rabbit said.

As is usually the case, the members are bringing in some friends to play with Gram Rabbit at the Halloween shows. Last year, Spindrift and local band Astro Zombies played with Gram Rabbit.

“I’ve been trying harder to have bands that have creepy names to go along with the Halloween themes,” von Rabbit said. “The first night (this year), we invited a band from San Diego called the Creepy Creeps to open for us. They’re pretty wild and dress up in Mexican skull masks and have go-go dancers. They’ve been rocking it in the San Diego scene and have opened for some big acts. They opened for Robert Plant not too long ago.

“The second night, we’ve asked the Death Valley Girls to open for us, because they rock, and their singer is really sweet. They’re doing really great right now, and they have a perfect Halloween name.”

A couple of months ago, Death Valley Girls frontwoman Bonnie Bloomgarden told the Independent about her encounter with a mummy that was trying to get into a gas station in Los Angeles—an incident that she swears really happened.

“We’ll have to get a mummy to get onstage with us during our show with them that night,” von Rabbit said with a laugh. “Or maybe I’ll be a mummy, or a rabbit mummy. I’ll have to figure out my costume and put that on my list.”

Von Rabbit said she’s in the process of releasing two new songs on her own, one of which is called “Dog at a Human Party.”

“I’m sitting on two new videos right now,” she said. “One should be out soon, and as far as another full album, I have a collection of songs. I’m not sure how well they fit together for an album, which has always sort of been my problem. Right now, I’m unsure about putting out an entire album, and I’m more interested in releasing singles and videos.”

In recent years, Gram Rabbit fans have had only the Halloween shows and perhaps an occasional show here or there to look forward to. However, that’s about to change.

“Gram Rabbit is in the studio a little bit right now, working on a couple new songs, so I have that on the burner and we’ll see how it goes,” von Rabbit said. “Probably not a record, but I’m thinking we’ll release a single or two, or a three-song EP.”

I asked von Rabbit about her favorite memories from the Gram Rabbit Halloween shows.

“Last year was great and probably my favorite so far. It was so cool to have Exene Cervenka at the show both nights and loving it,” von Rabbit said about the X frontwoman, who was in attendance. “… It was cool to hang out with her, and she loved me and loved our music. That’s pretty awesome. The shows are always so crazy, and I’m always involved in the chaotic blur of what they are, but last year was great. I loved the opening acts; I loved our set; and our costumes were great.

“We’ll have to see if we can top that this year.”

Gram Rabbit will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28, with the Creepy Creeps, and 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 29, with Death Valley Girls at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53668 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15 each night. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

When Dinosaur Jr. reunited in 2005 after an eight-year hiatus, the members intended to play together for a little while and again head their separate ways.

More than a decade later, Dinosaur Jr. remains together. The band will be appearing at the Desert Stars Festival at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24.

Dinosaur Jr. released its first album, Dinosaur, in 1985, and all of the band’s albums since—including Green Mind, Where You Been and Without a Sound, which were recorded with limited or no involvement from Lou Barlow and/or Murph—have received some degree of critical acclaim.

In 1997, frontman J. Mascis decided to retire Dinosaur Jr. However, in 2005, Mascis acquired the rights for the band’s first three releases from SST Records so he could re-release them on Merge Records. That process began a dialogue between the three original members—and sparked the reunion.

Eleven years have passed since that reunion, and to nobody’s surprise, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, released by Dinosaur Jr. on Aug. 5, is receiving praise from critics and fans alike. During a recent phone interview with drummer Murph, he said he remains shocked by the acclaim the band seemingly always receives.

“I’m really surprised,” Murph said. “We just keep refining our sound, and J’s getting better and better at songwriting. Everybody is honing their craft. We’ve gotten better playing together, I’m getting better as a drummer, and I think everything is subtly improving over time.”

Even though the band’s 2005 reunion was welcomed with open arms by critics and fans, it wasn’t easy at first for the three members to play together again.

“The first couple of records we did, it was really stressful,” Murph remembered. “We didn’t really plan on doing this. J was going to re-release three records; we were going to tour for a year and a half behind those records and call it a day. We didn’t really plan on going for this long and doing all of these records.

“When we started recording, there was a lot of pressure to make it good and succeed at it. If our relationships weren’t better today, we wouldn’t be able to do this. There would be no way. If we had the old baggage—the tension that we used to have—it would be unbearable, and we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Murph elaborated on that previous “baggage.”

“It was all personality quirks,” he said. “We’re all really different people, and we’re all strong egos. We have different ways we live, and it was hard when we’d travel. It’s still hard. When you’re getting in each other’s space, it can be really hard—especially when people aren’t willing to compromise, and you want to stay the way you are. When you travel together, you have to be able to compromise on different things. You can’t live like you’re at home all the time.”

The members of Dinosaur Jr. particularly enjoy performing at festivals.

“I think festivals are great, because you get to go to different places, and you have a mass audience,” Murph said. “There are a lot of people there who are there for other bands, so you can walk away with new fans. I think it’s all an upside, and it’s a great thing.”

That’s not to say that Dinosaur Jr. doesn’t ever feel out of place.

“The only time when I feel it’s odd is when we play an extreme emo festival, where it’s all, like, 20-year-olds and emo bands, and we’re obviously like the grandfathers showing up,” Murph said. “That’s awkward, but it’s still fun, and the kids are still psyched to see the show.”

While Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not is receiving positive feedback, Murph said the process of creating the album was a bit unorthodox.

“This album was weird, because we didn’t really have any material,” he said. “I was kind of freaking out, because J was like, ‘I don’t have any songs.’ We actually started reworking a song from J’s other band that he had written. He had half a song, and we started with that, and it got the ball rolling. As soon as the process started, it just started churning out like a factory. Once that happened, J was recording demos in one room, and Lou and I were trying to keep up and learn them in another room. We were tracking in the morning, and it was crazy—but it was great. It opened up the floodgates, and then the record was done.”

Murph explained why every Dinosaur Jr. album ends up being a surprise to him.

“I didn’t hear any lyrics or anything, so I didn’t get a sense of what the songs are going to sound like,” he said of Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not. “It was even more of a surprise when I heard the finished product. Me and Lou aren’t there when J does vocals. We’ve already left at that point, and we’re not there, and he’s recording the vocals by himself. We don’t really know how it’s going to sound until we hear the finished product. He and Lou both are pretty self-conscious and don’t want people around when they’re doing vocals. It’s usually just them and the engineer on the days that they do vocals. It’s always been like that.”

Murph admitted that there is one Dinosaur Jr. album that is a personal favorite.

“I really like Where You Been, even though Lou isn’t on that one,” he said. “That was when things were really tight, and we had this amazing studio called Dreamland in Woodstock, N.Y., which is an old massive church with this wooden room. The drums sounded insane. Production-wise, that record is one of my overall favorites.”

Dinosaur Jr. will perform as part of the Desert Stars Festival, which takes place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Weekend passes are $125. For tickets or more information, visit www.desertstarsfestival.com.

Published in Previews

It’s again that time of year when Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker and fans of both bands take over Pappy and Harriet’s for a weekend known as the “Campout.”

The 12th annual Campout will take place from Thursday, Aug. 25, to Saturday, Aug. 27.

During a recent phone interview, Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker frontman David Lowery noted that the year since the last Campout has included a lot of downtime—and no new material for either band.

“This is one of the first kind of years off we’ve had,” Lowery said. “The last two years, it’s been something coming out every year.”

However, Lowery pledged that the next year won’t pass without new material: He said a new Camper Van Beethoven album is in the works.

“We haven’t even really started writing songs or anything like that, at least not in a really serious way,” he said. “There are a few things floating around, though. … We wouldn’t want to start the process of that until the late fall or early winter; 2017 is when we’ll start creating new albums. There might be some surprises later this year, but we’ll have to see.”

Even when there are no new albums or recording sessions, all of the members of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker still enjoy getting together for the Campout.

“It’s definitely going to be a lot of fun for us, given we’ve had no shows this year,” Lowery said. “It’s good to have sort of a down year where we just concentrate on the Campout.”

Each night of each Campout has a different theme. For example, in 2014, there was a punk vs. new wave night.

“One year, we had cops vs. hippies. We had cowboys and Indians one year,” Lowery said. “There was also one year where everyone wore white the first night, and black the next night, which produced the best photographs. The fans kind of come up with these themes—and I don’t really know how we ordain it.”

I asked Lowery which theme was the most memorable.

“I think cops vs. hippies was really fun,” he said. “I dressed as a cop. I shaved my beard off and had a mustache. Nobody recognized me, and I was just going around and completely fooling people. It was pretty funny, actually.”

Lowery is also well-known for his academic life; he’s a college teacher, in fact. However, he wanted to make it clear that he’s not a mathematician.

“I don’t really do too much of that anymore,” Lowery said. “I teach at the University of Georgia, and it’s basically economics and finance related to the entertainment industry. That’s what I do. There is math involved in that, but it sort of underpinned my thinking about how I analyze the music business and the entertainment industry. I am interested in mathematics, but I’m not a mathematician.”

Lowery said it’s vital that all people understand the financial side of life.

“The thing is, there’s a difference between mathematics and logical thinking. Most people intuitively understand the logic,” he said. “Even though they may not understand calculus or geometry or anything like that, they have a pretty good grasp of it. I feel like people need some mathematical backing—not really in mathematics, but (in a) mathematical financial understanding of the world. I think people make really poor decisions, like paying money up front and going debt. I think people need financial knowledge. That’s the one place you get hurt if you don’t have it.”

The Campout lineup this year includes the queen of the High Desert, Jesika Von Rabbit, as well as other great bands with which Camper and Cracker fans may already be familiar. Lowery, however, did offer a suggestion for this year’s Campout attendees.

“Some fans are pretty familiar with Ike Reilly. He’s a friend of ours and a similar style songwriter,” Lowery said. “He’s had a similar career and legacy, but maybe not as popular as Camper Van Beethoven or Cracker. He’s been around for a long time, writing straight-up roots kind of rock with clever lyrics. He’s fantastic, and we cover a song of his, and I’ve appeared on his albums. I’m looking forward to bringing him to the desert and having our West Coast fans experience him performing live.”

The 12th Annual Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Campout takes place Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 25-27, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $25 for one-day passes, or $75 for a three-day pass. For tickets and more information, visit www.crackersoul.com/store.

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It’s always nice to be inside with air conditioning and cold beverages during the sweltering August heat. Well, here are some upcoming events where air conditioning and frosty drinks are abundant—as is great music.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting some big names this month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20, rapper Pitbull will be performing. It seems like every other hit pop song these days includes Pitbull on the track. After selling millions of albums and racking up numerous music awards, Pitbull is showing no signs of slowing down. Tickets are $69 to $129. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 27, former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar will be performing with a group that he’s calling The Circle. Joe Satriani and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers are currently unavailable to perform with him as the supergroup Chickenfoot, so Hagar has recruited Michael Anthony (who also played with him in Van Halen and Chickenfoot), Jason Bonham and Vic Johnson. Tickets are $49 to $109. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has one notable event taking place in August. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 6, British reggae band UB40 will be performing. UB40’s reggae credentials are incredible, and the band has had about 50 hit radio singles in the United Kingdom, with several here as well—many of which are reggae covers of songs, such as “Red Red Wine” by Neil Diamond and “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher. Tickets are $55 to $75. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has suddenly become the place to be! At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 5, Flogging Molly (right) will be performing, right on the heels of a European tour. One of the two best-known Irish punk bands in America (the other being the Dropkick Murphys), Flogging Molly falls a little bit more on the traditional Celtic music side—and isn’t afraid to slow things down to tell an Irish hard-luck story that will bring a tear to your eye. Fun fact: Frontman Dave King was in heavy-metal band Fastway in the ’80s, and that band did the soundtrack for the terrible horror film Trick or Treat. Tickets are $55 to $65. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 12, there will be a show by Flo Rida. Flo Rida is a fascinating figure in the sense that he’s been combining house music with hip-hop. He’s been highly successful, in part due to terrific collaborations with artists such as Sia, T-Pain, Fresh Kid Ice and others. Tickets are $65 to $75. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace continues to fill the Monday Open-Mic Night with local music figures as guest hosts. On Aug. 1, Big Dave Johnson, Pappy’s security man and bassist for Mojave Sky, will be hosting; on Aug. 8, it’ll be Stew Heyduk from the Pappy’s Sunday Band. On Aug. 15, Lisa Lynn Morgan of R. Buckle Road and Lisa Lynn and the Country Gentlemen will be hosting; on Aug. 22, the hosts are local musicians Nigel Roman and Jennifer Irvine. On Aug. 29, Brent Simpson from Daytime Moon and Spankshaft is in charge. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 13, Joshua Tree musician Gene Evaro Jr. (below) will be celebrating his album-release party. Gene has been on a fantastic run, playing a national tour with Elle King, and performing at various big events including the Joshua Tree Music Festival. His music has also made recent appearances on various soundtracks, including that of The Deadliest Catch. Every local-music lover should support Gene—and buy his album! Tickets are $12. At 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20, there will be a performance by Diane Coffee, featuring Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming. Diane Coffee is sort of a Broadway-meets-’70s-psychedelic-rock project. It’s definitely different … in a good way. Tickets are $10 to $12. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Splash House will be returning for Round 2 this year, from Friday, Aug. 12, to Sunday, Aug. 14, at the Riviera Palm Springs, The Saguaro and the Palm Springs Air Museum. The lineup features headliners Gorgon City (performing a DJ set) and Snakehips. Other performers will include Hudson Mohawke, Bondax, DJDS and many others. General admission tickets are $120—and as of now, the event is listed as sold out. For more information or to purchase tickets, should any others become available, go to www.splashhouse.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has one scheduled event that’s a must-see: At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 6, catch great triple-bill of Jesika Von Rabbit, The Yip-Yops and Herbert. This is the one local show in August you don’t want to miss. The Yip-Yops are back and performing under the band’s original name, after losing the IIIZ name to former record label Hood and Associates earlier this year. Meanwhile, Jesika Von Rabbit just performed a kick-ass show at Pappy and Harriet’s with the Death Valley Girls. Folks, this is the Low Desert’s chance to party with the cool kids from the high desert. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Photo below by Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net.

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Eddie Spaghetti of rock-country band the Supersuckers is used to the middle finger—in fact, he encourages his audiences to flip him off and then photographs the occurrence during his live shows.

But over the last year, it’s the Supersuckers frontman who has been flipping the bird—to cancer, that is.

Spaghetti returned to stages last year after his battle with Stage 3 oropharyngeal cancer—right after the disease was declared to be in remission. He’ll be back at Pappy and Harriet’s for a performance on Friday, Aug. 12.

During a recent phone interview while touring in Europe, Spaghetti said he’s almost back to feeling normal.

“I feel so much better than I did when I was at the darkest part of it, for sure,” Spaghetti said. “I always felt fine before I had the cancer. I felt that fine was kind of the way I always thought of myself as feeling.

“It’s good to be feeling close to that again,” he added with a laugh.

As friends, family and fans raised more than $68,000 via YouCaring.com, Spaghetti went through a radical tonsillectomy and had all of the lymph nodes on the left side of his neck removed.

“It was hard, a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” he said. “The pain and wanting to sleep all the time—I didn’t feel like doing much of anything—was very difficult for me, because I’ve always been a regularly active dude.”

He was afraid that his vocals might not sound the same after the surgery and treatment, but he’s been kicking ass ever since returning to the stage.

“It was super-rewarding, and I was super-grateful that I had a job I wanted to get back to,” he said. “It made me feel really good about my life’s work, which is something I really hadn’t felt in a while. It was one bad thing after another for this band for so long. To feel grateful about it after all this time—that’s one of the things I’m thankful for after getting cancer. It’s not like I had this religious epiphany or anything like that. My belief system is still largely the same, and all that sort of basic DNA hasn’t started to unravel yet—but, yeah, I definitely feel grateful for the things I do now.”

The last couple of Supersuckers records—Get the Hell in 2014, and Holdin’ the Bag in 2015—have contained a lot more of the Supersuckers’ country music side. While the Supersuckers have always included a country sound and were once labeled as “cowpunk,” Get the Hell is genuinely a country album.

“We just wanted to make a solid country record. We don’t hear a lot of good country that turns us on anymore,” Spaghetti said. “We wanted to make something that we wanted to hear with songs we liked that definitely had the spirit of the band, but were laying down the country angle of things. I feel like there’s so much crappy country music out there that to make a good country record is an achievement these days.”

The Supersuckers are definitely more comfortable doing country music today than the band was in its earlier days; the band was formed in 1988.

“The first time we really dove into it with Must’ve Been High (in 1997), we thought we were on to something special,” Spaghetti said. “It turns out we were, but when the record came out, everybody hated it, and it was totally, roundly booed. Revisionist history has changed that perspective: Now it’s this great influential success story, but at the time, it was a bad experience, and it was horrible to go through that.”

Their band’s four albums, concluding with Must’ve Been High, were released on Seattle-based alternative label Sub Pop Records, famous for bands such as Nirvana, Mudhoney, Beach House, Low and others.

“It was amazing. It was a thrill of a young kid’s lifetime to be involved in that scene,” Spaghetti said. “It happened for us when we were so young. As soon as we moved to Seattle, we attracted the interest of Sub Pop, which was amazing. We went to Japan on their dime, and all the stuff we got to do because we were on Sub Pop was great. I feel we owe our career and legitimacy to the label being such a legitimate force in music, and I appreciate that.

“That’s something new for me as well (post-cancer)—appreciating that whole period. There were some negative things toward the end involving over-expectations and spending too much on the band, and the disappointment that lingers after that happens.”

What’s in the future? A new record, Spaghetti said.

“I’m going to start polishing the turds for that sucker here soon, and I think we’re going to get in the studio next year at some point and forge on,” he said.

Will there be a new Eddie Spaghetti solo record? “Not currently, but I’m sure I will at some point, when we get some down time. I’ll fill (the time)—that’s what I do!”

After Spaghetti plays a song live, he’s been known for him to end by singing, “Cha cha cha.”

“I really don’t know how that started, but it started as a way to get the crowd to react after every song when it was over,” he said. “It’s sort of become a thing, and it’s steamrolled out of control, and I think we need to bring it in a bit. It’s getting obnoxious, but it is a fun thing to motivate the crowd to cheer after the song. But it works, right?”

On the bill at Pappy’s with the Supersuckers will be local band Throw Rag and Los Angeles-based group The Hangmen.

“Dude, I’m so stoked! I couldn’t be more excited for our drummer (Christopher “Chango” Von Streicher), who used to play for Throw Rag,” Spaghetti said. “He’s going to play with them again, and I’m beyond excited that it’s actually going to happen. The Hangmen are on the bill as well, who are another legendary and influential band in my life, so it’s going to be a good time.”

The Supersuckers will perform with Throw Rag and The Hangmen at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 12, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $25. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

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It’s been said that rock ’n’ roll is dead. But for the members of Los Angeles outfit Death Valley Girls, that statement is grossly inaccurate.

For them, rock ’n’ roll is a way of life. They’ll be returning to the desert on Saturday, July 16, for a show at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

Fronted by Bonnie Bloomgarden, Death Valley Girls also includes guitarist Larry Schemel (brother of former Hole drummer Patty Schemel), bassist Nikki Pickle and the drummer, known simply as “The Kid.” They have taken psychedelic rock and have made it their own, creating what they call an “acid-tripping science experiment.” Their music is a haze of prog rock, psychedelic rock and good old fashioned balls-to-the-wall rock ’n’ roll.

“I think rock ’n’ roll means everything,” Bloomgarden said during a recent phone interview. “It’s sort of like a religion. We live like nomads, with (few) belongings, in the name of rock ’n’ roll. It’s the legend we grew up with, the people we believe in, and it’s what makes us feel whole. I think that’s what religion does for other people. Recently, I’ve been thinking it’s our religion. The more I think about it, the more I think that’s what Christianity or other religion does for some people: It fills them with love, hope and gives you your answers, and it gives you a platform to ask your questions.”

Death Valley Girls did not get off to a smooth start.

“It’s a weird time in music. It took us about six months to book our first show,” Bloomgarden said. “We’re old school, so we were like, ‘We have to record some songs, and that’s how people will book us for shows.’ We didn’t go through the friend channel; we went through more of the idea that the music should speak for itself—which it unfortunately doesn’t.”

The band’s name is a reference to a true-crime story.

“Larry came up with the name,” Bloomgarden said. “It’s sort of a nod to a Mansonesque dream of a utopia in Death Valley, and it’s a play on words with a kind of attitude.”

Of course, the name is not a literal interpretation, so having a male member is just fine with them.

“People love flak and giving it for some reason, but to us, if anyone is focused on the words ‘Death,’ ‘Valley,’ or ‘Girls,’ it’s ridiculous. It’s three words together,” Bloomgarden said. “It’s a band name, and we don’t worry too much about what people want to think or find out. I’m not a huge fan of the word ‘girls’ being in band names, but I like our name just fine.”

Death Valley Girls has released two albums to date: Street Venom in 2014, and the brand-new Glow in the Dark.

“The first record, we had rock ’n’ roll in our souls that we needed to get out and get out of our minds, and the only way to get songs out of your mind is to record them,” she said of Street Venom. “This record serves a purpose for the greater good, we hope. It’s a culmination of everything we learned as a band coming together, and (we made) this record with intention and purpose in two days. Looking back on it, we realized this is meaningful to us.”

Glow in the Dark was inspired by an unusual gig.

“This record came from this idea to play this show at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles for a mummy exhibit,” Bloomgarden said. “We realized that these mummies had been in a museum since 1890 in Chicago, and they just moved them to Los Angeles for this exhibit, and they had probably never heard rock ’n’ roll before. We wanted to make a set for them, to introduce them to rock ’n’ roll and wake them up. … We realized we should record it on a record, and that should be our baseline for where we record from moving forward: waking the dead, or introducing them to rock ’n’ roll.”

That show, Bloomgarden swore, was not her first experience with a mummy.

“We saw a mummy walking around two months before the mummy show, and that’s how this thing sort of came to be. I guess that mummy had to be reawakened. After that, I do believe people can be awoken from the dead,” she said. “I’m more confused about this than I ever have been, but me and The Kid were walking down my street, and at the gas station, there was the mummified remains of a human being. She was trying to get into the gas station, and she had bosoms. She was making the mummy sound, and it wasn’t a human about to die: It was a human who had been mummified and dead for thousands of years. This is just a fact. I’ve never seen anything like it, and that’s why we contacted the museum, to see if they had any mummies missing. … It changed our life, so it’s all for the better we saw the mummy.”

Both of Death Valley Girls’ albums have been released by Burger Records. The indie label and its subsidiaries have released numerous indie albums, including a cassette by local band CIVX. Many bands have gained exposure thanks to Burger Records, during an era when promoting rock ’n’ roll records is harder than ever.

“Burger Records are the best people; they’re music historians, music enthusiasts and rock ’n’ roll lifers,” Bloomgarden said. “They give people a chance and teach kids about old rock ’n’ roll that many wouldn’t think would see the light of day again. For that, we are forever grateful.

“I think of what they did with cassettes a few years ago. … It’s cheaper; it’s more compact; and you can share them with other bands on tour, because every other band has a tape-player in their van. … Cassette culture brought more people back to music. They definitely started that for sure.”

The band is opening for Jesika Von Rabbit, queen of the high desert music scene.

“I can’t wait to see Jesika Von Rabbit play. We’ve always wanted to play with her, and we love Pappy and Harriet’s,” Bloomgarden said. “We’re excited to get to get loose in the desert and look up in the sky and get to see stuff. We don’t have many stars out here, so any chance we get to go to the desert is awesome.

“They have a horse at Pappy and Harriet’s that you can pet, and that’s exciting too.”

When I told Bloomgarden that the nachos on the menu at Pappy and Harriet’s are named after Jesika Von Rabbit, she was thrilled.

“What an honor! Maybe we can eat her nachos with her—that’d be so cool!” she said.

Death Valley Girls will perform with Jesika Von Rabbit and The Shadow Mountain Band at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, July 16, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $10. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

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