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Eccentricity can either be a gift—or a curse. For Cass McCombs, it’s thankfully a gift, as he proves on his latest album, Big Wheel and Others (Domino).

McCombs, who turned down an interview request from the Independent, has now turned in seven albums that have been generally well-received by critics and indie-music fans.

The album starts out with an audio clip from the 1969 documentary Sean, about a 4-year-old, Sean Farrell, who was raised in the San Francisco counterculture and was already a marijuana-user at that age. There are also two other audio clips of Farrell on the album. These odd inclusions prove that if you’re expecting rhyme, reason or a specific formula on a Cass McCombs album, forget it: He’s all over the place.

The first proper song, “Big Wheel,” is an Americana-meets-rock song about trucks, trucker life, bulldozers and other rigs. He proclaims: “What does it mean to be a man? How you going to tell me who I am?”

No track sounds the same, and the album becomes a hot mess of various genres, from country to jazz to psychedelic folk to rock. “Angel Blood” has the feel of a Gram Parsons song. “Morning Star” sounds like something you’d expect from Syd Barrett or Nick Drake. “The Burning of the Temple, 2012” feels like a Nick Cave song. By the time you reach the album’s halfway point with “It Means a Lot to Know You Care,” which feels like a guitar-jazz-instrumental you’d hear in some bistro, you may feel like you’ve been listening to an iTunes compilation by a magazine. 

The second half starts off with a beautiful, mellow song called “Dealing.” Two tracks later, “Satan Is My Toy” offers rock with a saxophone in the background. How much more bizarre can it get? The answer: Much more bizarre.

“Brighter!” is a track featuring Karen Black, the actress known for films such as Five Easy Pieces, Airport 1975 and Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses. While Black sadly passed away from cancer in August, she sounds very much alive on “Brighter!” which reminds of a ’70s country song. Her voice is top-notch.

As the 22-track album closes with “Unearthed,” which feels like a home-recorded psychedelic folk anthem, you may be left wondering what you just listened to. While audiophiles and open-minded music lovers will no doubt embrace this album, Big Wheel and Others is not what most people expect from a single album by a single artist. However, McCombs has been successful with this scatter-shot approach—and he should definitely be applauded for it.

Cass McCombs performs at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 12, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Season is finally here! As you make plans for Thanksgiving and prepare for the other big holidays just around the corner, you should also plan on attending some of these great shows.

The McCallum Theatre has an amazing variety of events booked solid through the month. One show that definitely won’t disappoint music-lovers is an appearance by Crosby, Stills and Nash’s Graham Nash at 8 p.m., Monday, Nov. 18. While he may be best known for his work with Stephen Stills and David Crosby, he’s had a long and successful solo career; his 1971 solo debut album, Songs for Beginners, was critically acclaimed and reached No. 15 on the Billboard albums chart. Tickets are $35 to $75. Herb Alpert will also be stopping by the McCallum, at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, along with his wife, singer Lani Hall. The jazz trumpeter, known primarily for his years with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, was a pioneer in jazz because he mixed Latin, funk, pop and R&B styles into his sound. While jazz has been on the decline with audiences over the years, Alpert is still going strong. Tickets are $35 to $75. The Kingston Trio will be appearing at 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 24. Before folk music became political in the 1960s, putting the genre on the path to a major revival, The Kingston Trio was paving the way for that revival. One downside: The original three members are long gone from the group, so the trio continues in a “third phase” with collaborators who worked with the original lineup or were otherwise affiliated with the trio. That shouldn’t stop you from going to see them and taking in some of the songs that inspired the folk revival of the 1960s. Tickets are $25 to $45. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Aaron LewisAgua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is hosting some big events, too. Theresa Caputo, aka the “Long Island Medium,” will be there at 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15. What can be expected from Caputo? Well, it’s a safe bet that she’ll be communicating with the spirits and talking directly with their living relatives in attendance. Tickets for the event were $60 to $100, but we received word just before our deadline that the show is sold out. (I do NOT suggest shouting out a request for “Freebird” to her.) The following night, Neil Sedaka will take the stage; the “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” crooner will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16. Sedaka was a pop icon before the British Invasion and rock ’n’ roll took America by storm. He’s still a success today; he’s been involved with American Idol and had his first big-hit album in two decades in 2007 with The Definitive Collection. Tickets are $50 to $75. For those who remember the band Staind from the infamous nu-metal era: Aaron Lewis, the frontman of the band, will be there at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30. Lewis became a hit after he did a live duet at Korn’s Family Values Tour in 1999 with Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit of a song Lewis penned called “Outside.” He turned in solo acoustic performances in the later part of the last decade and has now transitioned to country music while Staind is on hiatus. Fun fact: In July 2012, Lewis had a bitter feud with Carrie Underwood after she released her song “Last Name,” which he said “made her sound like a complete whore.” Whoa! Tickets for the event are $25 to $55. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

The Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has two big music events booked this month. Modern R&B superstar Ne-Yo will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16. The three-time Grammy Award-winning artist is currently touring behind his latest album, R.E.D., an acronym for Realizing Every Dream. He has crossed over into pop and dance-pop; his recent single with Sia Furler, “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself),” was well-received and even included a successful music video—in an era when the music video isn’t appreciated much any more. Tickets are $49 to $109. Burt Bacharach will follow in Ne-Yo’s footsteps a week later, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23. Like Sedaka, Bacharach was part of the pop scene that came before the British Invasion and rock ’n’ roll, but he always stood out because of his unique songwriting. With 73 Top 40 hits in the U.S., Bacharach has also won Grammys, Academy Awards and pretty much every other award a singer-songwriter can win. Tickets are $29 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a light music schedule for the month of November; however, the resort’s Free Friday Concert Series kicks off with a Johnny Cash tribute by Rusty Evans at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15. Admission is free. Also, the venue will be hosting The Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience: Moonwalker at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9. With a live band and a cast of singers, the show is a must-see for Michael Jackson fans. Tickets are $15. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has just one big scheduled November event: The Cabazon resort will host comedian and TV host Craig Ferguson for a standup performance at 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8. Ferguson has established himself as the host of The Late Late Show and is a possible replacement for David Letterman if The Late Show host ever decides to step down. We’re dying to know: Will Ferguson bring along his robotic skeleton sidekick? Tickets are $55 to $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s has booked Cass McCombs for a gig at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 12. McCombs blends folk, rock, blues, country and several other different styles into one big, awesome mess. He’s toured with the likes of Band of Horses and Cat Power—and he’s definitely someone you should see live at least once. Tickets are $15. (Read my review of his latest album at CVIndependent.com.) The following evening, at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 13, Bill Callahan will take the stage. The underground rock artist, who has also performed under the moniker of Smog, continues to push the boundaries of simplicity in songwriting; it’s said that he can repeat the same chord progression throughout the entire song. He’s another musician who has tried his hand in writing, releasing a novel, Letters to Emma Bowlcut, in 2010. Tickets are $15. After an appearance earlier this year at The Date Shed, Reverend Horton Heat will be playing Pappy and Harriet’s at 8 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 24. The Texas trio and warriors of the road never disappoint and always put on a great show. I saw them on the same night as the 2009 Academy Awards when they played the House of Blues, right down the street from the awards ceremony and Vanity Fair after-party; the show was packed despite the traffic and all the Oscars craziness. They’re truly one of the hardest-working independent bands in the business today. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.

The ExpendablesThe Date Shed hosts The Expendables at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16. No, this group does not include Sylvester Stallone, the Governator or any of those guys; it’s the Santa Cruz surf-rock band that mixes reggae and punk. The resulting sound is similar to that of Sublime. Tickets are $15. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza continues to get some great bands thanks in part to their booking genius, Brandon Henderson. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, the Palm Desert venue hosts a retro-themed show going back to the big-band and rockabilly eras featuring Vicky Tafoya and the Big Beat, the Jennifer Keith Quintet and the Deadbeat Daddies; the show will include a pinup contest. Admission at the door is $10. Guttermouth plays at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16. Guttermouth’s shockingly humorous and offensive lyrics reportedly got them booted from the 2004 Warped Tour; you never know what to expect from the Huntington Beach group. Antics aside, they’re a great punk band that shouldn’t be underestimated. Admission to the 21-and-over show is $10 at the door. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com.

Azul Tapas Inspired Lounge and Patio features a November party that is not to miss—Bella Da Ball’s Star Dedication. It will take place at 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, in front of Azul, followed by an all-star concert at 7:30 p.m. with food and drink specials. Performers such as Allison Annalora, Doug Graham, Keisha D, Marina Mac and others are all scheduled to perform. Admission is free, and the full menu is available, but reservations are suggested. Azul Tapas Inspired Lounge and Patio, 369 N. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs; 760-325-5533; www.azultapaslounge.com.

The Hard Rock Hotel is open for business and moving forward with events. The hotel will kick off an entertainment series titled The Edge at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, with repeats on Friday and Saturday the following two weekends. The Edge is variety show that brings together actors from the screen and the stage in a production of rock classics, similar to Rock of Ages and other Broadway productions that include classic rock and stage performance. November’s show is titled “Top Rock.” Tickets for the event are $45. Hard Rock Hotel, 150 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; www.theedgepalmsprings.com.

Neil Sedaka

Published in Previews

The summer heat is finally subsiding—and that means the Coachella Valley is starting to come alive with events.

Of course, one of the month’s most exciting events is the Coachella Valley Independent’s Official Launch Party, starting at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 16, at Clinic Bar and Lounge in Palm Springs. We’re celebrating the launch of our monthly edition and the one-year anniversary of CVIndependent.com with a hosted bar from 6 to 8 p.m.; a live art exhibition by Ryan “Motel” Campbell (read more about him in the Arts & Culture section); and a set by Independent resident DJ All Night Shoes. Admission is free, so there’s no excuse for you not to attend! Clinic Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-864-4119; www.clinicbarps.com.

The McCallum Theatre will host Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 9. Edie Brickell will be joining the fun. Considering how much acclaim the funnyman has received for his recent music albums, this should be quite a show. Tickets are $65 to $125. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa’s The Show is the home of numerous great events in October. Fans of Comedy Central’s Tosh.0, take note: Daniel Tosh is bringing his stand-up show here for a sold-out performance at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 5. While Tosh is known for mocking ridiculous Internet video clips on TV, his stand-up shows are full of witty sarcasm and political incorrectness … which is pretty much what his video-clip musings include, too. Lovers of ’80s music will be flocking to see Bryan Adams at 6 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 20. (I personally believe Bryan Adams is aging in reverse, as he keeps looking younger and younger.) The “Summer of ’69” singer has been on a “Bare Bones” tour in 2013, during which he’s been turning in acoustic performances of his hits. However, it doesn’t appear that will be the case when he comes to the Coachella Valley—which is a relief, because an acoustic performance of “(I Wanna Be) Your Underwear” sounds like a terrible idea; tickets are currently $50 to $80. Back to comedy: Lewis Black will be performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 25. Expect Black to be his usual, no-holds-barred self; no part of the political spectrum is safe from his rants. Tickets are $50 to $100. The month of November will start out hilariously, as Wanda Sykes performs at 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 1. (Perhaps the lovely lesbian will drop in on Palm Springs Pride that weekend!) Tickets are $35 to $65. The next day, The Show will host The Moody Blues, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2. The legendary English prog-rock band has sold more than 70 million albums—and has been around for almost 50 years! If those facts don’t make you want to go see them, I don’t know what else to say. Tickets are $55 to $100. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

The Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is packed with big names this month. Country star Trace Adkins, who performed at Stagecoach in April, will be returning to the valley to perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 11. In May, he released a new album, Love Will … . This will be a great show for those who saw him at Stagecoach and want to relive the experience; tickets are $39 to $79. If there’s one show you don’t want to miss at Fantasy Springs this month, it’s Sheryl Crow, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12. After nine Grammy awards, a slew of hit singles, and the release of her new album, Feels Like Home, back in September, Crow is still going strong. Go figure; some predicted she’d be a mere one-hit-wonder back in 1994, when “All I Wanna Do” was playing all over the place; tickets are $49 to $99. Not many music stars are hotter right now than Mr. Worldwide, aka Pitbull, who will be performing at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 25. Considering the success Pitbull has had with his most-recent album, Global Warming, and the sold-out performances he’s played around the world, you should get your tickets early—if they haven’t sold out already, they’ll cost you $69 to $129. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has a fun show booked for those who are feeling nostalgic for the ‘80s and ‘90s. The Women of Soul concert at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19, will feature En Vogue, Lisa Lisa, Even “Champagne” King and Jo Jo of the Mary Jane Girls; tickets are $25 to $45. Country-music fans should be happy to know that Josh Turner will perform there at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 25. He’s touring behind his latest album, Punching Bag, which features the recent hit single “Time Is Love”; $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa doesn’t have a lot of music booked at the moment—but one show that’s on the schedule should be a real treat: At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 18, Morongo will host WAR. While nearly every member of the original lineup has departed, the band is still going strong. With hits such as “Low Rider,” “Summer” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” WAR still has audiences around the world craving live performances; tickets are $20.25 to $26.75 via Ticketmaster. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

If you feel like traveling off the beaten path, Pappy and Harriet’s continues to book great bands while cooking up the barbecue. We have room to mention just three of many shows this coming month. In the fall of 2010, Pappy’s hosted Bright Eyes front-man and king of the hipsters Conor Oberst. I was one of the attendees crammed into the restaurant for Oberst’s performance, which featured the Felice Brothers as his backing band; it was a marvelous show. Well, Conor is coming back for another performance with the Felice Brothers, at 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 10. He’ll be performing on the outdoor stage this time—but the show is nearly sold out, so you’d better buy your tickets now. Get there early so you can watch the Felice Brothers open (sans Conor); they are one of the best modern folk-revival bands out there. Tickets are a steal at $20. The Day of the Dead is the date for Pappy and Harriet’s annual Halloween show, at 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 1—featuring Joshua Tree’s very own Gram Rabbit. It’s worth the trip to celebrate the spooky holidays with the Royal Order of the Rabbits while taking in the band’s psychedelic electro-pop sound. Tickets will be $10 at the door. If that still isn’t enough music for you, Pappy’s will be hosting a performance by alt-country/Americana singer Lucinda Williams at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2. I remember hearing Williams’ “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” everywhere when I was a senior in high school in 1999. She and her rustic style of Americana have come a long way since; tickets are $30. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.

Also in the high desert: The Eighth Annual Fall Joshua Tree Music Festival will take place Friday, Oct. 11, to Sunday, Oct. 13, at the Joshua Tree Lake Campground. The festivities will include performances by Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Scott Pemberton, The Last Internationale, and many others. A three-day festival pass is $100, and single-day passes are $40 to $60; camping space is also available for a separate fee. Joshua Tree Lake Campground, 2601 Sunfair Road, Joshua Tree; www.joshuatreemusicfestival.com.

Just down the road, Zena Bender will be throwing a fundraiser for Radio Free Joshua Tree at the Sky Village Swap Meet in Yucca Valley at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 9. The online radio station, started by Ted Quinn and Michael Roark, has been showcasing local music and a variety of programs—all streaming for free. Of course, Ted Quinn will be performing, as will Rex Dakota, Anthony Dean, The Nobodies and others. Admission is a $10 suggested donation. Sky Village Outdoor Marketplace, 7028 Theatre Road, Yucca Valley; 760-365-2104.

Back down in the valley, The Date Shed will feature a performance by Helmet at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12. Helmet is a highly influential alternative metal band, quite popular in the mid-to-late ’90s, often mentioned in the same breath as the Melvins, Tool, the Deftones and System of a Down—but don’t call them a “nu-metal band.” Tickets are $20. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

DJ Day informed me that in addition to his weekly ¡Reunion! shows at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club (10 p.m., each Thursday), he will be adding a monthly show called Highlife, on the last Saturday of every month: Catch it on Saturday, Oct. 26. When I asked DJ Day what will be different, he said Highlife will offer more of a party vibe, adding: “I doubt I’ll be playing Tame Impala and African funk on Saturday nights.” Admission is free. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The LGBT Community Center of the Desert will be throwing the annual Center Stage gala at the Palm Springs Convention Center at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 30. The gala will start with a cocktail reception and silent auction. Later, enjoy a concert by The Voice finalist Frenchie Davis, emceed by Alec Mapa from AMC’s Showville. Tickets are $85 for members of the Center, and $100 for nonmembers. Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, Palm Springs; call the LGBT Community Center of the Desert at 760-416-7790; www.thecenterps.org.

The new Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs is slated to open on Friday, Oct. 4, and it will be the spot for BB Ingle’s Annual Halloween Party. Ingle will be teaming up with Troupe Productions for the party at 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 31. It will feature a Monster Rock Ball as in previous years, but Troupe Productions and Ingle are promising to take the party to a whole new level this year. Tickets start at $40. Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, 150 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; get tickets at www.feartastic.com.

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Published in Previews

The members of the Meat Puppets have been to hell and back.

Their appetite for drugs once derailed them—but they’re back and better than ever. In fact, they’re on a national tour, including a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s on Sunday, Nov. 3.

The brothers Kirkwood—Curt (guitar, vocals) and Cris (bass)—founded the band in Phoenix in 1980 with drummer Derrick Bostrom, as the hardcore-punk scene was developing across the country. Bands such as Black Flag, Minor Threat and Bad Brains were finding fans with in-your-face, nihilistic music.

During a recent phone interview, Curt Kirkwood talked about the early days of the band.

“We didn’t think that much into it back then. I had been playing in bands for a few years—a disco band, a hard-rock band. We just got into playing whatever we wanted. All we ever really wanted to do was play what we wanted to play,” Curt Kirkwood said.

The Meat Puppets signed with SST Records, founded by Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn. The band’s self-titled album was released in 1982 and became a staple of the hardcore-punk sound. The group toured relentlessly and gained a reputation for both humor and pissing off audiences wherever it went.

In 1984, the band released Meat Puppets II, which marked a departure from the hardcore punk sound by melding psychedelic, folk and even country sounds. The album included “Lake of Fire” and “Plateau,” two of the Puppets' most-recognized songs.

Curt Kirkwood said the new sound was a result of the band coming of age.

“We were young back then,” Curt Kirkwood said. “In some ways, it’s just more about how we recorded stuff. Even when we started, we did a lot of hokey stuff. We’ve always done a variety, and we did it a little rough.”

While the Meat Puppets continued to put out albums with SST Records through the ’80s, many of their label mates—including as Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du, Sonic Youth and others—left after allegations regarding Greg Ginn’s accounting practices, problems with the availability of records, and other issues.

“Being on SST was great, and we loved it,” Curt Kirkwood said. “They put out whatever we gave them, and there was never any discussion about what we did in terms of being an artist on the label. They didn’t manage us; we managed ourselves. We were with SST up until 1989. In the long run, we felt like we could sell more records on a major.”

The Meat Puppets continued to thrive through the ’90s. They also managed to have a significant influence on Nirvana. Both Curt and Cris appeared with Nirvana during their famous MTV: Unplugged performance in November 1993, playing with Nirvana on “Lake of Fire,” “Plateau” and “Oh Me.”

Nirvana’s cover of the Puppets’ “Lake of Fire” was released as a promotional single—and many people today think it is a Nirvana song.

“I don’t know how much of an attachment I have to the stuff I do, anyway,” Curt Kirkwood said. “When you write a song, it’s sort of open for an interpretation like that. I was pretty close to the whole Unplugged thing and that version, anyway. We played on it with them, and I was really happy to have them do it. I thought it was a great version. We were pretty close to the members of Nirvana, and still are.”

Unfortunately, Cris Kirkwood’s drug addiction was starting to become an obvious problem. The Puppets went on hiatus in 1996; Curt started the Royal Neanderthal Orchestra, which later took the Meat Puppets name due to legal reasons.

In 2003, Cris was arrested for attacking an armed security guard at a post office; during the incident, the guard shot Cris—and he was fortunate to survive. He was later sentenced to 21 months in prison.

Curt and Cris didn’t speak to each other during those years, Curt Kirkwood said.

“Our relationship was pretty much non-existent for 10 years,” Curt Kirkwood said. “I didn’t see him; I didn’t talk to him; and I had to ignore him. I learned from being around people who are addicted to drugs that you can’t even talk to them. I got used to it. I was just cheesed off about having him be messed up at first, and then with time, I just said, ‘Well, that’s how it goes.’”

Cris was released from prison in 2005, and there was talk of a Meat Puppets reunion in early 2006 on the band’s Myspace page. A month after the band released a poll on the page asking if fans wanted a reunion, the Kirkwood brothers announced they were reuniting, but without Bostrom. The band recorded Rise to Your Knees—and started touring again.

Cris and Curt were able to settle their differences rather quickly, Curt Kirkwood said.

“It was really easy,” Curt Kirkwood said. “I’ve played with Cris so much in the past, and I had kept on playing in a band with Krist Novoselic of Nirvana and Bud Gaugh of Sublime during all that time, called Eyes Adrift. It took a little bit of time for Cris. He’d been out of jail for nearly a year when I got back up to him, and he was pretty normal again.”

When it comes to performing these days, the band has an easy-going approach that the members display on tour behind their new album, Rat Farm, which was released in April. The band now includes drummer Shandon Sahm, and on tour, Curt’s son, Elmo Kirkwood.

“We talk stuff out a little bit, but mostly, we wing it a lot,” Curt Kirkwood said. “We could practice and plan all this stuff, but a lot of the time, it goes right out the window when we start playing. During one night, we decide we might want to do something else. You just never know. It’s fun if you’ve had something going for a long time and can reach into a pretty big bag of tricks.”

The Meat Puppets will play at 9 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 3, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $13 in advance, or $15 on the day of the show. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

It’s September, so that means it’s time for the Campout at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

The ninth annual Campout will be on Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 12-14, and will feature good barbecue, good music and good times.

The history of the Campout begins with Camper Van Beethoven. The members of the band started playing together in Redlands, Calif., in the early 80s, under the name Camper Van Beethoven and the Border Patrol.

“There were a lot of great musicians who came out of Redlands, but there just weren’t a lot of places for us to play,” lead singer David Lowery said during a recent phone interview. “We never really played in Redlands. We played in Los Angeles and sometimes in Riverside. Backyard parties in Riverside were actually all you could do: People would have a big backyard party, have a band over, and invite the neighbors over. We played at some sort of biker party in Muscoy in San Bernardino County, and things like that.” 

In 1985, the band shortened their name to just Camper Van Beethoven, with the original lineup of David Lowery (vocals), Chris Molla (guitar), Jonathan Segel (violin, keyboards, and guitars), Victor Krummenacher (bass) and Anthony Guess (drums). Chris Pedersen eventually replaced Guess.

The band released their debut album Telephone Free Landside Victory the same year, which featured the hit single “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” along with a folk-style cover of Black Flag’s “Wasted.” The band’s mix of folk with ska, pop and several different types of world music has gained them a diverse audience, along with the acclaim of music critics.

Lowery said the eclectic style is both a blessing and a curse.

“It makes it easier that we don’t really have a specific sound, and it’s actually kind of helpful,” he said. “In another way, it’s kind of hard, because it’s not necessarily easy to make a wild, eclectic collection of songs. When we make an album, we’ll record a lot of songs, and we’ll pull out a couple of songs that don’t work with the rest of the batch. Ultimately, I think it makes it a little easier for us.”

In 1990, Camper Van Beethoven went on hiatus, and Lowery went on to form Cracker with his childhood friend Johnny Hickman. Cracker released their debut self-titled record in 1992, which featured the single “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now).”

“(Camper Van Beethoven) had the usual creative differences,” Lowery explained. “Victor Krummenacher, Greg Lisher and Chris Pedersen went off to do Monks of Doom, and I started doing Cracker. We ended up basically taking about a decade break, and we didn’t make an album for another three years after we got back together. We just kind of went our separate ways for a while, and then eventually came back together.”

Lowery said the band now has a different approach.

“To this day, there’s something about the pace of the band that makes us work in a part-time fashion,” Lowery said. “We’ll get together and write some songs; we’ll go off and do other stuff; then we’ll get together and write more songs, and then put out an album. It’s not like we go out and do a big world tour. We play a few shows here and there; we don’t burn ourselves out. It’s generally been a good thing for the band. It’s not good to treat a band like a full-time job.”

What would go on to become the Campout was not intended to be an annual event. David Lowery and Camper Van Beethoven have ties to the Pioneertown area and the high desert. In fact, Cracker recorded an album in one of the buildings located on the Western movie set in Pioneertown.

“The original intention behind it was that (it was during) my birthday, and a few people who work for us have birthdays around that weekend. We were going to have a combination of a show and birthday party in Pioneertown,” Lowery said. “We have a long history with Pioneertown. We’d rehearse there; we went there to hang out and write songs. It started out in 2005 as this idea that it’d be a birthday party for all of us, but there was also the strategic reason that there was never really a great venue for Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven to play in, in L.A., and we always got shoved into venues we didn’t like. We thought we’d play in what we considered our ‘home turf’ in Southern California and basically have people come to us.

“It just started out by accident and then turned out to be a regular festival event. We didn’t really expect it to become a tradition, but it did.”

While Pappy and Harriet’s is a small venue, Lowery said it’s a great place for this type of event.

“I think it’s a very beautiful spot. It’s the high desert, so it tends not to be as hot as it would be if we played down in the Coachella Valley,” said Lowery. “I don’t really want to play down there in September. With the high desert—the climate, the terrain—the place has a cool vibe. I hope it continues, because it’s a lot of fun.”

Lowery explained what sets the Campout apart from other festivals.

“It’s based on friends and family. It’s either people who have played with us, people who are friends of us, and it’s the side bands that have come out of Camper Van Beethoven,” said Lowery.

The lineup for the three-day event includes some great names, including Gram Rabbit; Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett and his band, the Dead Peasants; Jackshit, featuring members of Elvis Costello’s backing band; and, of course, Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker, and the Victor Krummenacher Band.

The ninth annual Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Campout takes place Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 12-14, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $27 for one-day passes, or $68 for a three-day pass. For tickets and more information, visit www.crackersoul.com/fr_home.cfm.

Published in Previews

Purity Ring is about to wrap up a remarkable year of touring behind their debut album, Shrines—and they’re making a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown on Friday, Aug. 30.

The Canadian electronic music duo, consisting of Corin Roddick (samples and instrumentals) and Megan James (vocals), has accumulated a lot of success in a short span of time. The duo’s sound echoes that of Goldfrapp, The xx, and Phantogram.

Roddick and James came together in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, thanks to mutual friends within the city’s music scene. When Roddick saw James perform, he was impressed by her creativity; the two of them eventually became friends.

Roddick was touring with the band Gobble Gobble (now known as Born Gold) as a drummer when he began studying electronic music production, not too long before Purity Ring came together in 2010.

“I would say I’m still very much learning,” said Roddick during a recent phone interview. “Making electronic music is still an ongoing journey, and I feel like I’m still scratching the surface. It took me maybe a year to really focus on it (and) to feel comfortable to the point of actually releasing something.”

James had several books of songs that she’d written, but she never had any intention of performing them or putting them to music; meanwhile, Roddick was determined to develop himself in electronic music. The two wound up collaborating, and released their first song, “Ungirthed,” in January 2011. From there, things moved quickly, and in July 2012, 4AD records released their debut album, Shrines.

“We worked on that record for a year and a half. It was very different,” Roddick remembered. “The first couple of tracks I made when I was on tour with Gobble Gobble. I was just working on headphones in a minivan. … The last two tracks we made in Montreal. We didn’t have a consistent environment. We were just kind of all over the place. We were trying to make things sound the best we could with what we had.”

Shrines was well-received by the critics, earning praises and high ratings from Pitchfork.com, NME and ConsequenceofSound.net. The album was No. 24 on Pitchfork’s “50 Albums of 2012” list and was nominated for a Canadian Polaris Music Prize.

Roddick said the critical praise and success of the album were pleasant surprises.

“We just wanted to make an album we wanted to make for ourselves—and then some other people began to take notice of it,” he said. “That was unexpected and a pleasant surprise for us. When it got picked up by other places on the Internet and the media, it was great. We’re definitely happy with how things have turned out.”

Since the release of Shrines, Roddick has been exploring his love of Southern based hip-hop as well. Purity Ring released a free download of a cover of Soulja Boy’s “Grammy” back in February that was well-received; in fact, excited fans crashed the website’s servers. They also collaborated with Danny Brown on “Belispeak II.”

Working with Danny Brown was a great experience for Purity Ring, Roddick said.

“He works really fast, which is amazing,” Roddick said about Brown. “We worked with him a couple of times, and we have a track coming out on his new record. I think his style, his flow and the sound of his voice works really well with Megan’s voice and my production.”

Purity Ring’s live performances have been noted for a large contraption, resembling a tree, which both Roddick and James utilize.

“There are about eight lanterns that are touch-sensitive,” Roddick explained. “They sort of fan out like a tree around me, and I play them with mallets, kind of like you would a percussive melodic instrument or something like that. All of the synth lines and melodies from the songs I perform by hitting these different lanterns. They also light up in a pattern or color or pulse when they’re struck.” 

While Purity Ring has been classified as electronic dance music, Roddick said he doesn’t really see any relation between Purity Ring and the term.

“I think EDM is one of the most vague labels, because it just implies electronic dance music, which really should be a large bubble,” Roddick said. “I guess the term has kind of come to focus on certain types of music made over the last two years. I never really felt we fit into that bubble. We kind of have some crossover here and there. When we make music, we take a very wide influence from a lot of different places. I wouldn’t say we’re an EDM group.”

As for what’s next for Purity Ring, Roddick said they are getting ready to begin gathering ideas for their next album.

“We’re wrapping up shows for the summer and the fall,” Roddick said. “We’ve played a lot of shows, and we only have about eight left. Once that’s done, we’re just going to be focusing on creating the next album.

“We’ll probably go into hiding, and you probably won’t hear anything from us for a while,” he added, laughing. “Hopefully, we’ll re-emerge next year with a new creation.”

Purity Ring performs at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $16. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

The Melvins don’t take themselves too seriously.

They’re currently celebrating 30 years together while touring behind Everybody Loves Sausages, an album of covers that includes a version of Queen’s “Best Friend.”

They’re also making a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

The Melvins were formed in Montesano, Wash., in 1983 by Buzz Osborne (vocals, guitar). The original lineup also included Matt Lukin (bass) and Mike Dillard (drums). Eventually, Dillard left the band and was replaced by Dale Crover; Lukin also left the band, and The Melvins have gone through several bass players since.

The band’s unique cross between hardcore punk and doom metal has been linked to the grunge bands of the Northwest, largely due to the fact that Osborne was a high school classmate of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, and Cobain supported of The Melvins while Nirvana was going on to become a mainstream success.

The Melvins, meanwhile, have not been such a mainstream success; however, they remain legends of the underground and an extraordinary live band—and they actually look like they enjoy being in a band together.

“We really have nothing to live up to; that’s a plus,” Osborne said during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “I still like doing what I’m doing; I would probably be doing it to some degree in some fashion, whether I was playing sports arenas or not.

“I’m definitely a workaholic. When you stand up next to certain arena-rock people, you think those people would have more time on their hands and certainly more money to do whatever they want to, and they seem for some reason to work less. I’ve never understood that, and it’s very strange to me.”

When it comes to The Melvins’ connection to grunge and the fact that they’re categorized into the same scene as Pearl Jam, Osborne said the connection never boosted their image.

“We certainly sound more like Mudhoney than we do Pearl Jam,” Osborne said. “In a similar position … Pearl Jam’s audience would have no concept or have any interest in either us or Mudhoney. Pearl Jam has sold millions of records, and they’re like U2, which means they’re untouchable. They don’t care. Why should they?”

Beyond their faithful core audience, The Melvins haven’t been opposed to playing to new and mainstream audiences. However, The Melvins list Lollapalooza ’96 and Ozzfest ’98 as their least-favorite experiences. They ended up getting invited to Lollapalooza during the era when grunge was already dead, and the nu-metal bands were dominating the market.

“The interesting thing about Lollapalooza is they never had any interest in us when Perry Farrell was at the helm,” Osborne said. “Perry always thought we were ‘too metal’ for his liking and his festival. They would openly say, ‘Perry doesn’t like your band. We would like you guys to come, but Perry said no.’ … The second Perry wasn’t involved, we were in there. We played the second stage; we played to a lot of people every day, and it was great. But it was hard to be there when people had no interest.”

Osborne has an amusing story about how the band found themselves in Ozzfest in 1998.

“Ozzfest flatly said they didn’t want us to do it. When I say that, I mean they openly said they did not want us to do it. The only reason we did it is because Tool was co-headlining, and they said, ‘We want one band on this tour we can like, so we won’t do it unless The Melvins play.’”

In hindsight, there’s no love lost between The Melvins and the figureheads of those festivals.

“I’ve always said this stuff about Perry and especially Ozzy being drugged-out morons, but when Ozzy’s wife came out and said, ‘I had no idea he was on prescription drugs,’ I mean, I knew he was on prescription drugs! How the fuck could she not had known? She’s just bullshitting us!”

As Everybody Loves Sausages hits the shelves, Osborne said those covers were recorded among a lot of other material.  The band wanted to give fans an inside look at the songs that inspired them. Osborne noted that the cover of Iron Head’s “Black Betty” was not planned for the album, but rather for a commercial contest.

“We did that for a Super Bowl commercial-making contest,” said Osborne. “This company had all these bands record versions of that song, and the winner would get to have their version in a Super Bowl commercial. We didn’t win. They gave us some money to make it, and we could do whatever we wanted with the song, and we didn’t have any problem with that.”

As for what is bringing The Melvins to Pappy and Harriet’s, Osborne explained that the band is booked at the FYF Festival in Los Angeles on Aug. 25, and contractual agreements with promoter Goldenvoice prevent them from playing within a certain radius of Los Angeles.

Osborne also said bassist Jared Wallen will miss the show due to “paternity leave” and said that Jeff Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers will be filling in.

“We’ve never played there before, so it should be good,” Osborne said. “We looked for a venue that was somewhere around the Los Angeles area, and we couldn’t play Orange County, so we just figured it made sense to play Pappy and Harriet’s.”

The Melvins will perform an all-ages show with Honky at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

For fans of Donna the Buffalo (“The Herd,” as the band refers to them), the five-year wait for a new album is over: On June 18, the band released Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday.

However, local fans of The Herd still have a bit of a wait to see the band live: Donna the Buffalo is making a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday, Aug. 2.

“I told my booking agent, ‘We’re not going out West without booking Pappy and Harriet’s,” said Tara Nevins, in a recent phone interview from New York.

Inspired by the old-country music sound, folk music, bluegrass and what has been known as “roots music,” Donna the Buffalo was formed in 1989 in Trumansburg, N.Y., by Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear, the songwriters for the group. In almost a quarter-century together, the band has released 10 studio albums. They even started their own annual live show in upstate New York, the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, which draws around 15,000 people each year.

The band has gone through various lineup changes through the years.

“Jeb and I are the only original members at this point. Right now, I think we’re really enjoying this band out of any version we've had. I think this version somehow really makes the voice come across as the best,” said Nevins.

The band is often labeled as an Americana act.

“Donna the Buffalo was ‘Americana’ from the first day,” said Nevins. “There have always been a ton of Americana bands, and there always will be, and now there’s a home for them. That genre is growing year to year, and now there’s an Americana category at the Grammy Awards. It’s growing in the eyes of the music world. But Americana bands have always been here, and now there’s a name for them.”

As the genre grows, so, too, does Donna the Buffalo’s success. The group’s independent spirit and busy touring schedule has kept them successful. Their 2008 album, Silverlined, reached the Top 10 on the Americana charts. They’ve performed and recorded with some of the biggest names in folk music, including Béla Fleck, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, and Jim Lauderdale. Nevins also performed as a member of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s band BK3.

“We’ve always been a grassroots, self-organized organization,” Nevins said. “We’ve never had to really depend heavily outside of our organization. We’ve kind of built everything ourselves from the ground up, so we’re a well-oiled machine.”

Nevins said social networking hasn’t hurt, either.

“I think with social networking, it makes music and musicians more acceptable to people. It used to be you had your favorite bands, and all you knew was what Rolling Stone was writing about them. Now you can go on your own band’s Facebook page and be in touch with the fans.”

As for Pappy and Harriet’s, Nevins explained why she enjoys the venue.

“I have to say: I love the location,” said Nevins. “I love being out there. It’s gorgeous. It’s a very magical, mystical vibe. As for Pappy and Harriet’s, it’s like a roadhouse where people are up for fun and love music. Everyone is really nice to us there. During our first time there, we had a great crowd, and everyone loved it.”

Donna the Buffalo will perform at 8:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 2, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

When I asked Teddy Quinn to tell me about his life, he didn’t know exactly where to begin.

The host of the famous open-mic nights at Pappy and Harriet’s and the Joshua Tree Saloon, and the owner and founder of Radio Free Joshua Tree, is a colorful figure of the high desert, and he’s been in the entertainment business for more than 50 years. In fact, the story of Teddy Quinn begins in Hollywood in the ’60s, where he was a child actor who made appearances on Bonanza, Bewitched and General Hospital. He also had a recurring role on the short-lived sitcom Accidental Family.

“I retired of my own free will when I was about 12,” he said in a recent phone interview from Joshua Tree. “I was more interested in rock ’n’ roll, poetry and art. I wasn’t really into TV. Even before that, I was always into music; I grew up on The Beatles, of course.”

Throughout his childhood, Teddy would act as a DJ for his older siblings; he also began writing songs at an early age.

After his “retirement,” as his adulthood years began, Teddy tried to establish himself as a musician in Hollywood, eventually ending up in a band with Fred Drake, who would become his close friend and confidant. The two of them made regular trips to Joshua Tree, and fell in love with the high desert.

“We would always try to go to the Joshua Tree Inn and try to get the room that Gram Parsons died in, and we’d go visit Cap Rock in Joshua Tree National Park, where the unsuccessful attempt to cremate (Gram Parsons) happened,” he said.

He and Drake eventually made the move to Joshua Tree, where they co-founded the famous Rancho de la Luna recording studio 20 years ago, which they co-owned until Fred Drake’s death in 2002. Teddy handed his portion of the studio to Eagles of Death Metal guitarist Dave Catching, who is still the owner and who lives at the studio.

When I asked Teddy what it is that makes him continue to stay in Joshua Tree, I could feel his love for the high desert in his voice. “I’m sitting here in my room looking outside at this beautiful sky, the mountains surrounding me, the desert, and the vastness of what I’m looking at outside. It just feels like it’s open to all possibilities,” he said.

Teddy fell into doing open-mic nights about 10 years ago, on Monday nights at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown, and on Tuesday nights at the Joshua Tree Saloon. The open-mic night at Pappy and Harriet’s, in particular, is known for luring in local musicians and residents of Joshua Tree. Some of the performers Teddy tells me about: a retired man who served in the Marines with the late George Jones, a harp player who has been known to sit in through the night, a couple in their 60s who both play accordions, and a variety of other local musicians.

“I never know what to expect,” he said. “The variety is always completely amazing. I’ve never once left there feeling disappointed, and I’ve always left surprised every time.”

Teddy told me about one night when a young woman asked to sing.

“I had no idea who this girl was; all she told me was her name was Leslie. She got up and sang, and all the employees from the kitchen ran out, asking me, ‘Do you know who that is?’ And it ended up being Leslie Feist (Feist), who at that time had the No. 1 hit song in the world.”

He also has a story about how he and a friend of his played a cover of “19th Nervous Breakdown” by the Rolling Stones, at first completely oblivious to the fact that Theodora Richards, daughter of Keith Richards, was sitting at one of the tables with friends.

“I went up to Theodora and told her, ‘I hope it’s OK we were singing your dad’s song,’ and she said, ‘It was fucking brilliant!’ It was just a funny convergence of things,” he said with a laugh.

Ted said he advises potential performers to get there early for either of the open-mic nights, as the lists tend to fill up—usually before he even arrives. He also recommended that those who make it on the list be patient and hang out through the entire thing.

And if you’re planning on just showing up to observe, chances are you’re going to have a really good time.

Teddy Quinn hosts an open-mic night at 7:30 p.m. on Mondays at Pappy and Harriet’s, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956. He also hosts the open mic at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Joshua Tree Saloon Grill and Bar, 61835 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree; 760-366-2250. For those who don’t get up to Joshua Tree, you can hear Teddy on Radio Free Joshua Tree at www.radiofreejt.com.

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