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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Armando Flores is a busy man these days. He’s the bass-player for 5th Town, which has been recording its first album, and he’s the drummer for Blasting Echo, which has also been recording. Flores will be pulling double duty this Friday night, May 17, as both bands perform at Josh Heinz’s Birthday Jam at Coachella Valley Brewing Company, 30640 Gunther St., in Thousand Palms. Flores was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

If I recall correctly, the first concert I went to on my own was Young MC at the Palm Springs High School gymnasium in 1989. My friend Nathan Schields and I stood in awe of his wholesome, bubble-gummy rap goodness!

What was the first album you owned?

I recall having vinyl singles as a kid, things like Queen and Creedence Clearwater Revival, but those were more parent-influenced. I think the first album I personally bought was Run-DMC’s Raising Hell. We had a cousin who lived with my family when I was a teen, and she loved ’80s bands like Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses, Motely Crue and Van Halen, so there’s that, too.

What bands are you listening to right now?

For major artists, I always fall to my old standards: Steely Dan, Primus, NOFX, Tool, Helmet, old Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Brubeck, and PJ Harvey. But my 14-year-old stepdaughter is a bit of an influence and trying to keep me hip, so Rex Orange County, Childish Gambino, anything where Dr. Dre is involved, and Charlie Puth all get sprinkled in there as well. Locally, most everyone. Our scene is pretty amazing!

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

Country and the blues. I can appreciate some of it, but for the most part, I could probably live without it in my life. They just feel so limiting as a bass player: “Here’s the rules; now, don’t stray.”

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

James Brown. I’m kicking myself for not seeing the Godfather of Soul before he passed. I’d also love it if the Pedestrians or Lung Cookie performed once more.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Oh fuck, I knew this was coming … I LOVE PSY! There, I said it. I just think that dude is hilarious. He’s got Korean hooks for days, and I can’t get those damn songs out of my head when I hear them! Plus, if Snoop Dogg will collaborate with the guy, then there must be something there.

What’s your favorite music venue?

To visit? The Wiltern or House of Blues Hollywood. To perform? The one that actually has a decent sound system and a competent audio engineer.

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

“I see ya girls checkin’ out my trunks, I see ya girls checkin' out the front of my trunks, I see ya girls looking at my junk, then checking out my rump, then back to my sugalumps. When I shake it, I shake it all up. You’d probably think that my pants have the mumps, it’s just my sugalump bump-ba-bumps. They look so good, that's why I keep ’em in the front,” “Sugalumps,” Flight of the Conchords.

What band or artist changed your life?

Primus and Les Claypool. They showed me that you don’t have to be confined to what someone says you can or cannot do with your instrument, and by doing so, they set me on my musical path.

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

This question is the toughest … all of the cliché questions don’t interest me. The big names get to where they are with talent, hard work and sacrifice. But theoretically, if Snoop Dogg were nearby, I’d ask, “Hey Snoop, what’s up?” and he’d have some weed, and we’d chat.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Probably something inappropriately funny, like “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot. I want my wife to remember how much I love her butt.

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

I have to go with Primus’ Frizzle Fry. It was so far out of left field in early 1990, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. It moved me away from hip-hop and into “band music” and set me on my path to learn the bass.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

The new 5th Town album! But it’s not out yet, so try “Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor” by Flight of the Conchords. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

Jeff Bowman has largely been a quiet guy in the background, kicking ass on the drums in the local music scene for the better part of three decades.

But he recently had a fantastic idea that brought him into the spotlight: He’s bringing a variety of local musicians to The Hood Bar and Pizza on Saturday, Aug. 25, to play a benefit concert for the Desert Cancer Foundation.

However, this is not a normal benefit show. Here’s how it will work: Various musicians, many of whom have never played together before, were grouped up and given a band name by Bowman. Each group was then given a list of songs to cover—songs the musicians need to learn, rehearse and perform the night of the show.

“I thought that it’d be cool to get a few local people together, learn a set and try to play as a brand-new band by the end of the summer,” Bowman said during a recent interview in Palm Desert. “Then I thought, ‘I wonder if I could get a few more people together, and we could make a whole night of it. Maybe even five bands.’ I’ve played music in the desert now for about 30 years, and there are still a ton of people I haven’t played music with, and we have a ton of talent out here. I called Nigel (Dettelbach) at The Hood Bar and Pizza and asked, ‘You have anything (open on the schedule) at the end of the summer?’ He had something open and booked it.

“I put a Facebook post together on a Wednesday afternoon, and I said, ‘OK, here are some rules, and if everyone abides by these rules, this is going to work. Be open to doing your homework and learning these songs; be open to playing with people you’ve never played with before; and be available on the night of the show. I put it out there around noon. I was practicing with Waxy that night; I had to put a stop on the post because I had so many responses.”

There is a personal reason Bowman chose to do a benefit for the Desert Cancer Foundation.

“My mom is a cancer survivor, but my aunt was not and passed away,” Bowman said. “My uncle was also recently diagnosed with cancer, and it’s stage 4. I think that (cancer) affects all of us.

“Originally, we wanted to do something for the American Cancer Society, but that’s a national organization, and anything we raise will just go into the national pot. Also, because The Hood Bar and Pizza allows smoking on the patio, (the American Cancer Society) won’t support it. But the Desert Cancer Foundation does cancer-treatment assistance for people with cancer right here in the valley, and they were OK with The Hood Bar and Pizza allowing smoking on their patio.

“I think it’s great our local music scene can support people with cancer. It’s a theme that’s close to home.”

After more than 30 local musicians responded to Bowman’s post, he had to turn others away.

“I had a lot of people tell me, ‘I didn’t hear a thing about it!’ It’s true: They didn’t, because it was an idea that I had on a Wednesday afternoon that I put out on Facebook,” Bowman said. “If you weren’t logged into Facebook from noon to 6 p.m. on that Wednesday, you missed it. But there was enough interest in it to where I could see this being a semi-annual or even an annual event. If I did it again, I’d put it out there, saying, ‘The window is open from this time to this time.’”

Bowman said it was surprisingly difficult to completely mix up the one-night-only bands: Each one includes at least two musicians who are currently in bands together, while others used to play together.

“I tried to be as random as I could with the band selections and the song selections, but there were certain band members who have a depth of history to where that was impossible,” Bowman said. “I literally did little pieces of paper with everyone’s name on them and put them together by the drummers, the bassists, the guitar players and the vocalists to try to make it an interesting experience of people playing with others they’ve never played with—generating relationships, generating energy, storytelling and things like that.”

Of course, the newly created bands have had to overcome some obstacles. Coval had issues with rehearsals because the drummer, Benny Cancino Jr., has been on a tour—so Bowman has filled in. The Oneders had to switch gears after Herb Lienau needed to back out. That band, which includes Sleazy Cortez bassist Derek Timmons, will be fronted by Timmons’ girlfriend, Stevie Jane Lee, who will be making her local live music debut after moving here earlier this year from Utah. Lee said she is thrilled to be taking part.

“I am really excited to be a part of it—and what better way to get to know all the musicians in the area that I don’t know already?” Lee said. “I was a bit worried at first, because most of the songs we we’re assigned, I didn’t know, but we have been rehearsing at least once a week, if not two, since the bands were announced. I can honestly say that I couldn’t have hoped for a better group of people to be in. I am getting to do one of my favorite songs that I have always wanted to cover, so I have no complaints.”

Coval will include a reunion, of sorts: Monreaux frontman Giorg Tierez will be performing publicly with Monreaux guitarist Marcus Bush for the first time in two years, as Monreaux has been on an extended hiatus.

“I asked to participate because I needed an outlet back into the scene, and the show is the night before my birthday,” Tierez said. “It just made sense to me. Plus, I didn’t know Jeff Bowman personally, but I knew of him, and after meeting him and jamming with him, I can say that he’s one of my favorite people, by far, and probably one of the best musicians I’ve ever seen.”

Bowman said the show has been the subject of some inaccurate rumors.

“I’ve heard people calling it a competition, and I need to put the kibosh on that: This is NOT a competition. This is not one of those things that’s, ‘Let’s find the best guitar player!’” he said.

The lineups as of this story’s deadline:

The Oneders: Derek Timmons, Stevie Jane Lee, Cara Makuh, Tom Edwards, Nick Hales, Matt King and Troy Whitford.

Blonde Moment: Noe Gutierrez, Natasha Carian, Alex Mirage Burdon, Randy Caserta, Damian Lautiero, Armando Flores and Rob Peterson.

Bounce Haus: Robbie Waldman, Linda Lemke Heinz, Lindsey Bowman, Robert Bowman, Bobby Nichols, Matt Whyte and Robert Garcia.

Banned Four: Chelsea Sugarbritches, Nico Flores, Pakko Lopez, Josh Heinz, Rob Martinez and Jeff Bowman.

Coval: Giorg Tierez, Esther Sanchez, David Burk, Chris Rivera, Marcus Bush and Benny Cancino Jr.

A Mixed Up Music Party!, an event to benefit the Desert Cancer Foundation will take place at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 25, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $5 at the door. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit facebook.com/HoodBarAndPizza.

Published in Previews

Jam in the Van is an Internet music program that’s taking the music world by storm. It is quickly becoming as recognizable as the giant music festivals to which it travels. What MTV was to music videos in the early ‘80s, Jam in the Van is to music festivals and independent artists today.

The van is a moving piece of art, covered with colorful portraits of rock legends and wallpapered in memorabilia from shows gone by. It is also a solar-powered recording studio that travels to the hottest music festivals. Parked outside of Bonnaroo, High Sierra, SXSW and Bottle Rocket, JITV entrepreneur Jake Cotler and his crew invite performing artists inside for a three-song set, documented with state-of-the-art recording gear by pros who are passionate about capturing the magic.

The concept was born in 2011 in the expanded consciousness of Jake Cotler. In a psychedelic haze at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn., beneath the starry sky on top of their rented RV, Jake and his and partners, Dave Bell and Louis Peek, thought, “What if we could bring the music to us?” The young festies had been attending Bonnaroo since 2002, and each year, they rented an RV to the tune of a couple of grand. They began contemplating what would happen if they bought an old RV, loaded it with recording gear, and got the bands they were traveling to see to record live sets inside the van. They bought the first jam-van off craigslist for $800, parked it in the alley behind Cotler’s Venice Beach home, and began inviting bands to come play.

Cotler remembers the first time they were invited to park the van backstage at Bonnaroo in 2012.

“Everything but the engine is powered by the sun,” he said. “The studio is fully solar-powered, amps and all. We use four-domestic sized solar panels on the roof of the van to run everything. That’s why we can pull up literally anywhere and film our sessions.

“… The first Bonnaroo we worked at was pretty surreal for us. That was probably the last year that Bonnaroo was really awesome, 2012. Just three months prior, we’d been on the side of the road in Fort Stockton, Texas, broken down in a 1984 Jam Van that died on us on the way back from SXSW. We had to sell the van to a sheriff on the side of the road who was going to use it for storage and to let his nephew sleep in. We packed everything up in a U-Haul and drove back to L.A. with two choices on our minds: Throw in the towel and say it was fun while it lasted, or crowd-fund a new van, and make shit happen. We went with option B, because we don’t quit shit, and we succeeded.

“In the midst of our crowd-funding venture, we signed a deal with Bonnaroo to be part of the festival and film bands backstage. So that first time we … got to be backstage at the festival that started it all. That was really a good feeling.”

The show has picked up sponsors and has filmed hundreds of live music segments. The crew visits major music meccas and music festivals. In April, the crew visited our high desert for a two-day shoot before making their way down to Coachella to record some of this year’s best acts, wrapping things up with desert-based War Drum.

Day one took place outside the van at desert rock icon Brant Bjork’s Low Desert Punk studio in Joshua Tree. The shoot started off with several songs by Brant’s band Low Desert Punk, fresh off this year’s Coachella stage. They included a track from his recent release, Black Flower Power. Next up was DRUG, a surf-punk trio featuring Jamie Hafler on guitar and bass (using a custom built double-neck guitar, allowing him to pull off the feat), and the dramatic impassioned vocals of frontwoman Cristie Carter. A last-minute addition to the lineup was Gram Rabbit songstress Jesika von Rabbit, who took the intimate route with her vocals and guitar. The grand finale featured The Atomic Sherpas.

Day two occurred inside the van at the world renowned Rancho De La Luna Recording Studio in Joshua Tree, where the cream of the desert rock crop gave the crew a taste of what our underground music scene is all about. Guitarist Bobby Nichols (Inner Planetary Monks), drummer Rob Peterson (The Pedestrians) and bassist Armando Flores (The Pedestrians, Blasting Echo) recorded as Sundrug Experiment. They set the mood for the day with fiery psychedelic jams. Next up was Americana indie-band Gene Jr. and The Family, making Joshua Tree proud with its polished pop-infused rock. Waxy then delivered an authentic set of desert stoner rock; Fatso Jetson made the trek from L.A. and blew EVERYONE away with a flawless set of pounding compositions. The evening ended with punk-laden power pop by desert bad-boys, Eagles of Death Metal. Dave Catching and Bingo Richey were going over new tunes that are part of their latest project, the Mojave Lords, predicted to be the desert’s new supergroup.

Visit Jam in the Van at www.jaminthevan.com. Read more from Robin Linn, including an expanded version of this story with video imbeds, at www.desertrockchronicles.com.