Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Brian Blueskye

A few years ago, metal band He Films the Clouds was starting to gain attention in the Coachella Valley music scene.

Then the band just disappeared—only to resurface fairly recently. In fact, the reconstituted He Films the Clouds released a full-length album in April, titled As I Live and Breathe.

During a recent interview in Palm Desert, front man Xavier Hernandez explained what happened to the first incarnation of the band, formed by guitarist Jacob Garcia, and talked about how he ended up becoming the band’s vocalist. The band also includes bassist Jordan Prince and guitarist Cameron Homa.

“Jacob (Garcia) formed the band four years ago. He took it off the ground for a bit, and the band just fizzled out from member changes,” Hernandez said. “He ended up deciding to take a step back and focus on producing for a while. He was writing for a couple of years, and I was in school; we kept in touch. We’re all from this area, and he told me he wanted to start up the band again in 2015. I always really loved everything he wrote, and I wanted to join. He only had Jordan (Prince) and Cameron (Homa) lined up, so I auditioned as a vocalist, and I got in, and we began to resurface.”

He Films the Clouds doesn’t have a metalcore sound or the dreaded “emo sound”; instead, the band features an aggressive sound with lyrics that reflect the discovery of one’s own emotions.

“A lot of it is mainly self-evaluation. … The go-to is to write about relationships or the failed relationships,” Hernandez said. “It’s understandable, and it’s a universal feeling. I try to tackle things that everyone goes through, but (people) don’t really have the comfort zone to talk about—things like depression, where you’re afraid to talk about it, because you’re afraid it’s going to ostracize you. Since I was a kid and through my teen years … I’d feel alone, sad or whatever it was. I felt like if I brought it up with people, they’d be like, ‘You’re a weirdo.’ As I got older, I noticed that people go through those same feelings. That’s a lot of what I talk about: me coming to terms that there’s something wrong going on, and I’m trying to sort it out. … With this album specifically, I felt the most vulnerable I had ever felt because of the writing. I actually used personal experiences in my life to get this stuff out.”

Hernandez said He Films the Clouds tries to take a different approach to metal.

“There’s a certain stigma that when you do a brutal part or a scary part, that you have to be in your face and a little vindictive,” he said. “I try to create a unique image where I’m not all like, ‘I’m sad,’ or, ‘I’m broken.’ I try to package it in a different way where it’s open to interpretation. … I’m not trying to portray anger through screaming, but that I feel strongly about something. A strong feeling doesn’t always have to equate to an angry feeling.”

Hernandez said He Films the Clouds fits nicely into the local metal scene, and that the band has something to offer in terms of balance.

“I would say the heavy parts in our songs put us in the game as far as live settings,” Hernandez said. “… I think we are at the same level with a lot of people, given we have heavy parts, screaming parts and aggressive parts. Those melodic parts are where we … put a lot of thought and consideration, and that’s our part of the show to show you who we really are.”

For more information, visit

When U2 released The Joshua Tree in 1987, the album was an unparalleled success, both financially and critically. Now that three decades have passed, the album is a timeless classic—and to celebrate, U2 is currently touring to promote its re-release, and performing the album in its entirety.

On Saturday and Sunday night, U2 returned to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. While the production of the Joshua Tree Tour 2017 was not as epic in terms of scale as some previous U2 tours, the 200-by-40 foot-stage featured the largest high-resolution LED screen ever used in a touring show. The main part of the stage featured a joshua tree on it, and the stage’s extended catwalk was supposed to be part of the tree’s shadow.

Openers The Lumineers took the stage as the sun was beginning to set, and the band’s folk anthems were a nice, calm warm-up to the anticipated high-energy show from U2. The Lumineers front man Wesley Schultz told the audience that opening for U2 was a dream come true, adding that the band was playing U2 covers in Denver bars 10 years earlier. The Lumineers’ 2012 radio hit “Ho Hey” appeared early in the set, but that wasn’t a mistake, given the band ended in high-energy style with “Stubborn Love.”

During the wait for U2, I was surprised to notice that Quincy Jones had been seated with his daughters in the row right in front of me. No one seemed to notice Jones at first, but before long, people began approaching him to take a quick selfie or shake his hand.

There was no grand intro for U2. Instead, as the house music played, drummer Larry Mullen walked across the stage and down the catwalk to the “B Stage,” where a drum set had risen out of the floor. Shortly thereafter, bassist Adam Clayton walked down to the B Stage, followed by The Edge, and finally followed by Bono, as the band started the almost-two-hour long set with “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “New Year’s Day” and then “Pride (in the Name of Love),” songs typically heard at the end of live U2 performances. Bono declared at the end of “Pride”: “If you still believe in the American dream, you’re welcome here. We’ll find common ground and then higher ground,” and then shouted, “Awaken the America of compassion and community!”

The entire band made its way back up the catwalk to the main stage as the The Joshua Tree phase of the show began, starting with “Where the Streets Have No Name.” As the song kicked into gear, the video wall played footage of a car driving down a desert road, with the occasional hitchhiker off to the side. The wall’s high definition was unlike anything I had ever seen, even at Coachella.

During “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” Bono declared that Quincy Jones was in the house. Jones had a smile on his face as people in the same section turned around and applauded him.

Bono mentioned the band had made a dedication to Chris Cornell the evening before, and that he was going to dedicate Sunday night’s performance of “One Tree Hill” to him. Bono mentioned that Cornell had beaten drug addiction once and went on to live a beautiful life. Bono said it was tragic to see him fall again and told the crowd that if anyone was struggling, they needed to seek help.

During “Exit,” a video played of an old Western film. A man named “Trump” was trying to sell a wall, and was told, “Shut up, Trump” by a cowboy in a crowd. A pair of hands then appeared on the screen with the words “Love” and “Hate” tattooed on them. The fingers clenched before the image transitioned into footage of the band—with Bono wearing his signature Stetson hat from The Joshua Tree.

I got emotional during “Mothers of the Disappeared,” when footage of women standing in a line with candles appeared on the video wall. It referred to Bono’s experiences in Nicaragua and El Salvador, as well as a group of women whose sons “forcibly disappeared” during the Chilean and Argentine dictatorships.

After closing out The Joshua Tree portion of the set, U2 performed three encores, the first of which started with “Miss Sarajevo,” as the video wall showed footage of refugees in Jordan—most notably a woman who said she would love to live in the United States—followed by footage of war torn areas. Suddenly, a large sheet began to make entire way around the stadium—which was actually a photo of an Arab woman.

What followed was the highlight of the set for me: A performance of “Bad,” from 1984 album The Unforgettable Fire. The song started off gently, as it is on the album, becoming uplifting and powerful the song proceeded. Fans began to sing parts of the song even louder than the band.

The second encore started off with “Beautiful Day” and “Elevation,” as the band members paid tribute to women in their lives, as well as women who stood up for their rights. Images of Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton received the loudest applause.

Bono told the audience, “The government should fear the citizens, not the other way around,” after talking about the successes of the ONE Campaign and other social movements. The band then closed with “One” and “The Little Things That Give You Away.”

U2 has mastered the art of production and putting on a high-quality show. All these years later, the band is as strong as it was in 1987, when it first released The Joshua Tree.

With a band name like the Tijuana Panthers, there has to be a great story behind it … right?

The Long Beach garage-punk trio will be hitting the stage at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday, June 2.

During a recent phone interview, guitarist Chad Wachtel told me the story behind that infamous name.

“The album we did a long time ago, called Max Baker, is actually named after someone with that name,” Wachtel said. “He used to own a liquor store. He lived across the street from Phil (Shaheen), and Phil grew up with this guy. He was pretty rough; he smoked a lot of cigarettes and drank mostly hard stuff. He unfortunately passed away a few years ago, but he used to take trips to Mexico, and one time, he got a porcelain panther in Tijuana and ended up in a knife fight. He came out of it and got home. Phil sees him, and he said, ‘Hey, Max!’ waving at him, and Max was like, ‘Here, have this!’ and gives him the panther and walks away—so that’s where it comes from. True story and actual story! Jamie, Phil’s wife, said to us, ‘You guys should be the Tijuana Panthers!’”

The Tijuana Panthers met each other in a church camp while they were growing up and later decided to form a band. At first, Wachtel was hesitant, given he didn’t enjoy performing in front of audiences.

“We didn’t form at the camp, but it is sort of an unlikely story, isn’t it?” Wachtel said. “That’s where I met the other guys in the band, Dan (Michicoff) and Phil (Shaheen). I grew up in the church my whole life. My parents served in the youth department, and my dad drove the buses for the youth department. They dedicated their lives to serving in the church. We didn’t form a band until we were out of high school, and it was during college. It was just me and Phil at first, and he and Dan had been in a band called the Fancy Lads. That band broke up, and Phil wanted to play music. He asked me to jam, and I was reluctant to do that, but Phil said, ‘Let’s make solidified songs, and let’s play a show.’ Phil got me up there, and here we are.”

When Wachtel tells the story of the Panthers’ Semi-Sweet, released in 2013, it seems amazing the album was ever released at all, even though the album is now considered an underground gem by music-lovers.

“When we made those recordings, we had no idea what we were doing in the studio,” he said. “Orlando, the guy who recorded it, he had gone to recording school and was just starting out with his own home studio. He wasn’t into anything surf-rock-inspired. He recorded a few bands, and no one like ours at all. He’d be like, ‘So, what do you guys want?’ and we’d be like, ‘Uhhh, we don’t know. Just plug the guitar in, and some drums.’ We were all pretty green, and that was the main challenge—trying to get that sound we wanted. That album is really not the sound that we wanted. It’s not Orlando’s fault; it was us not knowing how to record. People still love those recordings.”

In 2015, the band released Poster.

“The recordings on that are really dialed in,” Wachtel said. “That album has a nice balance. Richard Swift recorded that album with us, and he said, ‘I want to do something more high-fi.’ The previous album we did, Wayne Interest, was super lo-fi. It was straight analog and super-blown-out.”

The term “surf rock” is being applied to a lot of garage bands today—even though the elements of true surf rock are not present in the music. While Tijuana Panthers are certainly a great rock ’n’ roll band, they aren’t necessarily a surf-rock band, even though Wachtel said the genre is present in their influences.

“I was inspired a lot by surf music, including pop stuff by the Beach Boys,” he said. “If people said, ‘Hey, you sound like the Beach Boys,’ I’d be like, ‘Oh, cool.’ … Sometimes the general population doesn’t hear our non-surf influences, and I’m not too offended by that. I don’t expect them to pick up on little subtleties here or there. I think that’s one of the fundamental elements of what we do, but I don’t consider us a ‘surf-band,’ and I’d be real self-conscious if we found ourselves on a bill with a traditional surf band and thought, ‘I hope these guys don’t think we’re traditional surf.’”

Wachtel told me an amusing story about the first time the band played at Pappy and Harriet’s.

“We went and stayed at this hotel that was down the hill. I don’t remember what it was called, but it had this really cool vintage sign out front,” he said. “The place was kind of creepy. We found what we thought was blood on the sheets, which was kind of a bummer, and we decided we weren’t going to stay there again. This guy named Roger was the manager, and he was really friendly, and he was like, ‘Oh, you guys are a band?’ We tried to talk him into coming to the show. The night was cool, though, and there was a lightning storm, and I remember going out of the venue before we played and watching the lightning off in the desert.”

The Tijuana Panthers will perform with Matt Lamkin at 9 p.m., Friday, June 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

Michael Shaw, the artistic director and co-founder of Dezart Performs, had no idea what he was getting himself into when he helped start the theater company back in 2008.

“I was living in Los Angeles, so I was running the theater with my co-founder at the time,” Shaw said. “I went back and forth … and was still holding down my job in Los Angeles. I realized for it to grow, I needed to be here full-time. I needed to be entrenched in the community, because in order to be successful, you need to be in the community and get support for a nonprofit.

“I thought going into it that it was an avenue to explore new scripts. I really went into this thinking, ‘No stress; it’ll be fun. It’ll be an outlet to explore my creative side as an actor’—and the first four years, it was exactly that. But when you decide to take it to the next level, there are responsibilities that come with that. Things mushroomed and grew.”

Things mushroomed and grew so much, in fact, that Dezart Performs is outgrowing its home, the Pearl McManus Theater at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club. That’s why Shaw recently announced Dezart was embarking on a campaign to raise money for a new and bigger theater to call home.

Dezart Performs is not alone. Coachella Valley Repertory announced last year it had agreed to purchase the Desert Cinemas movie theater building in Cathedral City and turn it into the company’s new home, after outgrowing spaces in The Atrium shopping center in Rancho Mirage. Meanwhile, Desert Theatreworks outgrew its space at the Arthur Newman Theatre at the Joslyn Center in Palm Desert and just moved into a new space at the Indio Performing Arts Center.

Yep: Local theater companies are on the move.

Michael Shaw (far left) and the company of Dezart Performs' Casa Valentina watch as makeup artist James Geier demonstrates makeup techniques on actor Dale Morris. COURTESY OF CLARK DUGGERWhen Shaw (pictured here, at the far left) and co-founder Daniela Ryan began Dezart Performs, the company placed an emphasis on finding and developing brand-new plays. However, in recent years, Dezart Performs has shifted its focus away from new plays, and toward edgier fare. For example, the 2016-2017 season included Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina, a play based on a real-life haven for transvestites in the 1960s, and Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park, a play that tackles issues of race, housing and gentrification.

“Our season has an obligation to deliver socially relevant and provocative story lines. We’ve always tried to do that—and our audiences didn’t expect that in our little town a few years ago,” Shaw said. “They say, ‘I really love A Chorus Line,’ and didn’t expect to see Clybourne Park, which not only uses the F-word quite often, but also uses the C-word. When I read the script, I thought, ‘Oh my God! They’re going to pull out pitchforks and torches!’ (But audiences) loved the fact they were challenged and, in the context of the storyline, felt (such language) was necessary. The audience is there with you. That’s exciting. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have done Clybourne Park, and wouldn’t have expected that.”

Shaw said he’s enjoyed watching the Coachella Valley theater world grow and prosper.

“All of the theater directors are friends,” he said. “We all communicate; we all get together and see each other’s shows; and we all support each other. We make an effort to support each other, because we need more than one theater. You can’t have just one hamburger joint or one grocery store. We all have that same belief in supporting theater in the community.”

Dezart’s fundraising campaign for a new facility is in its initial stages, Shaw said.

“What we’re doing is announcing the pledge drive and setting in motion the path to achieve all of the things we need to for us to say, ‘We have now secured a facility, and we’re now in renovation,’” he said. But we’re a few years off from that. We’re establishing a position for a director of development, fundraising, and consulting to put us in a place where we, as an organization, can solidify the foundation and the people we need to make it happen. It means bringing on more staff, funding that staff, and taking a number of things off my plate so I can continue to grow in my role as the artistic director. I wear many hats, but I’m also only one person. Even with the support of volunteers, we need to start thinking ahead and ask, ‘What do we need to do to allow us to grow our programming?’”

CV Rep's Ron Celona and Gary D. Hall (left) sign the option agreement to purchase the former IMAX theater in Cathedral City with city officials Joe Giarrusso and Tami Scott (right).The Coachella Valley Repertory, currently based at The Atrium in Rancho Mirage, was also founded in 2008. It’s the only company in the valley that has Small Professional Theatre status with the Actors’ Equity union.

Founder and artistic director Ron Celona said the theater has grown well beyond what was originally planned.

“We were 2 years old, using outside venues, before we were able to rent our own space,” Celona said. “Our first big milestone was moving into (a space in) The Atrium in Rancho Mirage, which was an empty shell. We hired a contractor to build our 86-seat theater, lobby and box office. We expanded to the next unit, building offices for staff. … The first hire was a box-office staff member, and little by little, we have grown to be an eight-full-time-staff company. It might be called show business, and it’s certainly a business—and it needs to be run like a business.”

Celona said business success led to CV Rep’s current status.

“We started as a non-union theater that contracted Equity actors. A few years back, the accomplishment of the company as a business allowed us to become a full-fledged Equity house. It makes Coachella Valley Repertory the only Equity house in the Coachella Valley,” Celona said. “What that does is gives us national coverage.”

Celona said the CV Rep production of Terrence McNally’s Master Class in 2013 marked a key moment in the company’s history.

“That particular production was a turning point for Coachella Valley Repertory. Why? Because of the recognition of its production values and the cast,” Celona said. “Basically, we got a wide word of mouth, and it spread like wildfire. People who had never heard of us started to check us out. Prior to that, it was very much a small, contained following. Our subscription base was around 300, and afterward, we shot up to 700 to 800 subscribers the following year. Each year since, we’ve grown by about 200.

With that increase in subscribers, and 8,000 people attending the 2016-2017 season shows—in an 86-seat theater—it’s time for CV Rep to move into a bigger space.

“We have signed an option with the city of Cathedral City to purchase the old IMAX movie theater and two adjoining restaurants—the building and the land,” Celona said. “We have until June 2018 to execute that option. Basically, what that means is we’ve had a capital campaign since October 2016 to raise the money we need. The total campaign is a $6 million campaign. We’re just shy of our first $1 million as of right now. We need at least a percentage of that ($6 million) campaign to enter the agreement and break ground and build a state-of-the-art playhouse.”

Celona said he’s proud of the mark that CV Rep and the valley’s other theater companies have left on the valley.

“I think any arts organization in the community … we’re all making a difference,” Celona said. “The difference is to enlighten, inspire and educate our community to be a better place to live in, and (for us to be) better human beings in the world. Theater has always been a mirror to its community.”

Desert Theatreworks has grown in popularity and size since the community-based theater company was formed 2013, in part because the company produces a wide variety of shows, according to artistic director Lance Phillips-Martinez.

“In our first season, we had around 2,000 people who came through and bought tickets. Last year, we had 8,000 people who bought tickets,” Phillips-Martinez said. “We’ve tried to do a diverse amount of productions, and not just things that are interesting to us. What we try to do is broaden our audience with every show that we do, or pick a different type of show in our season that will bring in different audiences and keep them coming back.”

Phillips-Martinez cited a 2015 production of Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone as a show that furthered Desert Theatreworks’ reputation.

“We did it in September that year, when the audiences aren’t always bountiful, and it was nice to get that critical response—and the audiences just kept coming back,” He said. “It was a big hit for us, and it was a different type of show. … We staged and choreographed nearly every number and theme transition. It was all original and a lot of fun.”

Phillips-Martinez said he’s had to battle commonly held assumptions about community theater.

“The public perception that community theater is of a lesser quality is a challenge,” he said. “… The work will speak for itself. If you focus on quality, you can put on whatever you want in your space, and your audience will trust you. That’s what the original challenge was—changing the perception of what community theater is.”

I could hear the excitement in Phillips-Martinez’s voice when he talked about Desert Theatreworks’ move from the Arthur Newman Theatre in Palm Desert’s Joslyn Center to the Indio Performing Arts Center.

“We had outgrown the (Desert Theatreworks space at the Arthur Newman Theatre). We had asked for more space, and they had more to give, but for whatever reason, they were not willing to do that, and it’s fine,” Phillips-Martinez said. “Our customers wanted us to stay there and wrote more than 700 letters to the city of Palm Desert, but after much deliberation and trying, it didn’t happen.

“The city of Indio offered us the space. A solution was made quickly, and the show must go on. We love the space, and the city of Indio is our partner in producing our shows. They’re helping us promote our shows as well. It’s very nice to get a municipality’s support in producing shows, because it gives (us) some new support that we didn’t have before.”

The Indio Performing Arts Center has long had challenges attracting tenants and audiences. However, Phillips-Martinez said that it’ll work out just fine for Desert Theatreworks.

“One of the advantages that we have is we have such a good track record of producing shows, and (a large) number of shows we’ve presented, which is 32 main-stage productions,” he said. “Most theater companies that are local only do three or four a year; we produce eight to 10. If you’re looking for viability and sustainability, (the larger number of shows) is more attractive in sustaining a place like that. The possibilities are good.”

FISSURE is a well-known Southern California hard-core “powerviolence” band currently based out of Los Angeles and Orange County—although two of the band's members, Dylan Arseo (drums) and Brendan Duff (bass), are Coachella Valley natives. Arseo is well-known for shows at his mother's house in Cathedral City, which has been named “The Cathedral of Hardcore.” For more information on FISSURE, visit Full disclosure: Brendan Duff is a friend of mine; I met him more than 10 years ago, and I personally blame him for my being a fan of Elliott Smith. Brendan was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

My parents took me and my brother Darragh to see U2 when we were younger, and it was ridiculous. The stage was bigger than a football field, and Bono was prancing around like a goddamned show pony the entire time.

What was the first album you owned?

Green Day, Dookie.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Odio, Warthog, Botch, Soul Swallower, Decade, Poison the Well, Sex Prisoner, Symptom, Q.O.P., Devil Master, Throats, Goolagoon, Kriegshog, Sea Of Shit, Final Bombs, and CROM.

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

A lot of the electronic dance music is just way over my head. I refuse to believe that people actually enjoy it. It sounds like a computer having a panic attack. I’m involved in an insanely stupid music genre, though, so I can’t talk too much shit.

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

G.I.S.M. would make my head explode. I couldn’t afford to fly to the Netherlands to see them play last year, and they played in Japan a few months after we toured over there. Fingers crossed that it'll happen, since they’re active again.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Elliott Smith, hands down the best.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Cathedral of Hardcore. Close second was (Corona’s) Showcase Theatre (R.I.P.).

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

“Some believe in Jesus, some believe in Allah, but nigga’s like me believe in making dollars,” DJ Quik, “Safe + Sound.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Conflict was the band that really had a huge impact on me when I was younger. The Ungovernable Force is a masterpiece of an album—some real pinkies-up shit, ha ha. The songs are just really well put together, and you can tell that they put so much into them. (The band has) the best politically charged lyrics out there, and song-structure-wise, it’s just top notch. I can still get goose bumps from listening to it.

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

I’d ask Jesse F. Keeler if he has a road case for his bass head, or if it’s sturdy enough on its own, and how nervous he gets having to fly that damned thing around for tours. I’d also ask him if he’s ever had to have any repairs done to it, or any modifications. It would basically be a long, long gear geek-out conversation, seeing as how he has, hands down, the best bass tone out there.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Right after my friends tip my casket over, I want Yngwie Malmsteen's “Anguish and Fear” to play. An added bonus would be if a fight would break out right after the first keyboard solo.

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

Broken Bones, F.O.A.D.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

The Carbonas, “Phone Booth.” If that song doesn’t get you in a good mood, you’re obviously dead. (Scroll down to hear it!)

In 1995, the Warped Tour was born. There were a handful of touring festivals then—but within a decade or so, all but the Warped Tour were gone.

Now in its third decade, the punk-themed Warped Tour will visit more than 40 cities in 2017—with more traditional punk and hardcore bands on the lineup than in recent years. The Pomona date on Sunday, Aug. 6, is slated to include Adolescents, T.S.O.L., Hatebreed, Goldfinger, CKY, and Sick of It All—as well infamous metal band G.W.A.R.

Kevin Lyman, the tour’s founder, sounded excited as we talked during a recent phone interview about the tour’s history, present and future.

“We’ve built up a community,” Lyman said. “We haven’t changed the tour a whole lot, and it still feels like a backyard party for a lot of people. … We have so many three-day festivals, and we work on trying to make it economically available to people who might not be able to go to another festival. Our ticket prices are still economical. We hit the $50 mark with fees last year, and I freaked out a bit—until I saw what the average price is for festivals now: approaching $100 per day. … We’ve been able to adjust and adapt and keep it relatively true to what it was all about.”

Over the years, the Warped Tour shifted from hardcore bands such as NOFX and Pennywise to less-intense bands like Attila, Hawthorne Heights, and Silverstein. Lyman said the lineups change based on trends in music, but insisted the Warped Tour has always stayed true to its roots.

“I’m really happy to see Sick of It All coming back this year; they were there in 1995 with me,” Lyman said. “… The Adolescents are going to jump in a van and do this, this year. I’m glad to have the opportunity to showcase young bands, but (I also enjoy) that opportunity to bring some history to people. For people who have never seen an Adolescents show live, it sticks with them. I’m happy to bring that to kids. I think this lineup, for some people, it’s taken a moment for people to get their heads around it, but they are. You have to do something different and can’t keep bringing the same bands.”

Lyman discussed some of the more recent additions to the tour, such as the popular “parents’ camp,” where parents can relax while their kids go from stage to stage to watch the bands.

“The parents’ camp was added for the reasons of doing shows in Missoula, Mont., and places like that, where they don’t get a lot of shows, and seeing a lot of parents sitting along the fence lines who were nervous … back in the day,” he said. “For a while, parents gave (kids) debit cards, and then they were taken away during the recession. They came with limited money, and the teenage brain would say, ‘I’m buying a T-shirt instead of food or water.’ So we went to the promoters, dropped the price of water, added access to free water, and built meal programs that parents could buy their kids for the show. I’m looking out for the kids who come to Warped Tour, so they have fun and experience as much as possible.”

In 2015, the Warped Tour was criticized by some music publications for promoting a “rape culture”—because the tour included bands with accusations and histories of sexual assault. Lyman, however, insisted the Warped Tour has always been a safe environment.

“None of that happened … on Warped Tour. I’m taking on the problems of a whole scene,” Lyman said. “… Problems go out in the social-media realm very quickly. The way I supported it is by supporting advocacy groups such as A Voice for the Innocent and Hope for the Day.

“A lot of people get themselves into trouble because they don’t understand that certain actions cause a reaction. I was tackling things that never really happened at Warped Tour; they happened on other tours or in other environments. Warped Tour is probably the safest place to come to a show there possibly is. The whole tour is run by women, other than myself; there are more women working on Warped Tour than any other festival, and there are parents coming to the shows. There’s heavy security and a lot of nonprofits involved in keeping you safe. We know how to address it now, and we’re doing the best that we can.”

As for the advocacy groups with a presence at the Warped Tour … oftentimes, the messages being promoted are mixed, to say the least. I’ve seen anti-war groups, the U.S. Army, PETA, and groups promoting born-again Christianity—just for starters.

“We can’t just put one message out there,” Lyman said. “Last year, we had a group that challenged the pro-choice crowd, and when I start reading, ‘Kevin Lyman is a subversive for the pro-life movement,’ I’m like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ I did the first pro-choice shows in Los Angeles in 1991. I’m a donor to Planned Parenthood. But (that group’s presence) challenged Planned Parenthood to step up. I tried calling them, and they weren’t calling back, but after that, they started showing up to the shows. Turns out the original group in question was promoting adoption. I’m adopted, and I’m glad people were talking about adoption in 1961, or I might not be here. People now don’t want to listen to anyone except whom they support … and get rid of people with counter views. But I would never allow a far-right hate group to come to Warped Tour, or anyone who preaches violence.”

Lyman said he probably will not allow military recruiting at the tour anymore.

“I don’t think it’s a good time for it,” he said. “I understand the reasons people go into the military, but be truthful about your options. We have become a warrior nation again, and it was during that transitional time we went from a peaceful country to a warrior nation when I noticed they were using video games to show what war was. I believe they need to be honest: ‘If you sign up, you could die.’ I’ve never had a problem with our troops. … I have a problem with our leaders and what they do with our troops.”

If you’ve ever been to a Warped Tour stop, you’ve heard bands frequently thank and compliment Lyman.

“I’m glad I’ve been a small part of their careers and allowing them to do what they love,” he said about appreciative performers. “A band like Less Than Jake, who comes back every other year—(the tour) was a big part of their career. That’s been a big part of how they’ve been able to continue doing what they do. If you take The Interrupters, who played last year, they’re a punk band, and they were nervous about playing Warped Tour, and I convinced them that they’d win fans. They went out on a fall tour, and it was all kids they met on Warped Tour.”

Lyman is a constant presence at Warped Tour stops; he’s often seen at the gates, walking around and shaking hands with attendees, and introducing the occasional band.

“I’m always first up in the morning with my drivers, checking how their day went and making sure everyone gets there safe,” he said. “I love the silence in the morning, given it gets loud pretty quick. I check in with everyone; I write the schedule and have a few meetings. I’ll talk to the kids if they’re there early, but my big thing is being there when the doors open to get all the kids in. I know if we don’t get the kids in the way that we write the schedule, I’m going to hear about it on my social media that night.

“Nowadays, I’m burnt out by the end of the day. Your brain turns to mush in the heat, and it’s starting to catch up with me physically. There are a lot (fewer) barbecues for me now. I’ll pick and choose, but I try to go to bed at 10:30 every night.”

For more information, visit

Local metal band In the Name of the Dead had a brief hiatus after front man Tetsuo Olivarez went under the knife for back surgery—but the band has recently risen from the dead (pun sort of intended) for a couple of recent gigs at Bart Lounge. For more information, visit Bassist Robert “‘Woody’” Wood recently answered the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

311 and the Phunk Junkeez at (the University of California, Irvine) Bren Events Center in 1996.

What was the first album you owned?

Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The first CDs I ever bought were Nirvana’s In Utero, Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral, Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven, and Beck’s Mellow Gold (good old Columbia House). All of these albums have withstood the test of time, I might add.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I mostly listen to NPR, but when I turn the music on, it is mostly Gojira, Syrebris, Alice in Chains, Bad Religion, Dethklok, Satyricon and Sepultura lately.

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

I never understood the cult of Elvis. I never got that the Rolling Stones were something special. I don’t understand why everyone thinks the Red Hot Chili Peppers are so great. (Anthony Kiedis is quite possibly the worst lyricist ever.) Lately, I just do not get why people like Ghost; it baffles me. I also don’t get why Joe Wangler of Dali’s Llama answered in his Lucky 13 that he never liked Tool, and he’s a tool for not liking Tool.

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

I never got to see Alice in Chains with Layne Staley; that would be No. 1. GG Allin just for the show. Nirvana would have been great to see. And motherfucking Neil Diamond!

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I don’t feel guilty for any of the music I like, but it is often surprising to people that I absolutely love Neil Diamond and Cat Stevens.

What’s your favorite music venue?

To see shows: SOMA in San Diego. To play at live: Schmidy’s Tavern was my favorite, and now I’d have to say Bart Lounge is a good spot.

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

“You’re Welcome” from the Moana soundtrack. Either that, or any main lines from any Sia song. (It’s music that my daughter loves, so I get to hear it all the time!)

What band or artist changed your life? How?

It sounds cliché for someone my age, but Nirvana. I first heard Nevermind when I was 12—just going into the angry-angst years. Then Bad Religion and Rage Against the Machine showed me that I could direct my anger and intellectualism into music. And Bieber; that little kid’s got moves!

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

I was going to say I would ask Sid Vicious if he really killed Nancy, but he wasn’t a musician, so … I would ask Ted Nugent to take a long walk on a short pier.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I have three: “The Wind” by Cat Stevens; “Imagine” by John Lennon; and “Bro Hymn” by Pennywise. Maybe I would add “Disco Duck” for some levity.

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

Alice in Chains, Dirt. That album is the reason why I play bass.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Gojira, “Stranded.” (Scroll down to hear it!)

The year 2016 was going fantastically for Heart.

The band had a new hit album on its hands, with Beautiful Broken reaching No. 9 on the Billboard Rock Albums chart. The band performed at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, recording the obviously named Live at the Royal Albert Hall With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and embarked on a tour with Joan Jett and Cheap Trick.

Then, on Aug. 27, that fantastic streak came to a halt: Ann Wilson’s husband, Dean Wetter, reportedly assaulted Nancy Wilson’s two teenage sons after a concert in Auburn, Wash., resulting in his arrest.

The sisters have each issued statements regarding the incident—and have decided to play as solo acts, for at least the time being.

Ann Wilson will be performing at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino at 8 p.m., Friday, May 19.

During a recent phone interview, Ann Wilson discussed her solo trek, which includes a couple of members of Heart: lead guitarist Craig Bartock and former drummer Denny Fongheiser.

“Craig Bartock has been playing with Heart for 15 years, and he and I were writing songs together before this latest thing, and I thought he’d be a perfect fit,” Wilson said. “Denny Fongheiser played in Heart back in the ’90s, and I’ve always thought that he was my favorite drummer out of all the Heart drummers. He’s a fantastic percussionist and a great all-around guy with imagination and capabilities. I went back to him, and I’m really glad I did.”

Ann Wilson released a solo album, Hope and Glory, in 2007, which consisted of covers and a lineup of special guests that included Elton John, Wynonna Judd and Alison Krauss, to name a few. She also recently put out two digital EPs under the name of The Ann Wilson Thing. Wilson is known to sing powerful Led Zeppelin covers, and has done so with Heart during live performances.

“I think with covers, you walk a fine line between doing the song justice and honor, or messing up the original intent,” she said. “With a Led Zeppelin song, I wouldn’t want to take it into jazz or anything like that; I’d like to keep it as rock. But performance-wise, with a song like ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ by The Who, we start out pretty soft and gentle, but then it explodes. You can really hear the words, and the rock and edgy feeling of that song is retained. When you do covers, the songs are iconic and holy, so you just don’t want to go playing God with them too much.”

I saw Heart last year when the group last stopped at Fantasy Springs, and I can say that Ann Wilson, now 66, still has one of the most powerful voices in rock ’n’ roll.

“I can hear differences after 40 years throughout all the distance and miles,” she said with a laugh. “There’s a little more gravel in it, but that’s natural for usage. I think that what I do is I take it real seriously. I don’t do physical things that will tear it up, like smoke, drink, drugs and that type of stuff. It’s just a matter of health. You have to warm up and take care of it, just like any other part of your body that you’re going to work out.”

She recently released a list of artists and albums she loves; one of them was the British rock band Muse.

“I was turned onto Muse by a former boyfriend. As time went along, I just got more and more into them and listened to the different albums,” she said. “I was impressed by how they didn’t just fool around, and there was always a message. They have everything that Queen had, except for Freddy Mercury. It’s quite an amazing band, and it’s got everything: gentleness, sophistication, and it’s super hard rock. I don’t know why it’s not more beloved by everybody.” 

Wilson has a new album in the works; she said fans should expect some experimentation, and possibly some new territory.

“As the songs get written, each one is different,” she said. “Some are blues; some are rock; and some are acoustic. We just bring the material into my studio here in my house, and we start working on them. It’s kind of like a variety show. They’ll feature my voice, of course, but I’m trying to stretch out and do different things than be a rock singer; I want to try all kinds of things out. I can’t really say what to expect, because I don’t know myself yet.”

What can fans expect at her Fantasy Springs show?

“It’s going to be a few Heart songs; it’s going to be the new stuff I’ve written over the past year; and it’s a really surprising list of covers,” she said. “It’s a full experience. Every song has a program, and you’ll have a visual to go along with it. It’ll be very cool.”

Ann Wilson will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, May 19, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $39 to $69. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit

Teri Gender Bender is one of the great female rock front women—and she continues to kick ass and take names.

Teri Gender Bender—her real name is Teresa Suárez Cosío—recently recorded and toured with the supergroup Crystal Fairy, which also includes At the Drive-In/Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Melvins guitarist Buzz Osborne, and Melvins drummer Dale Crover. However, she’s best known for fronting Le Butcherettes, which will be performing at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Thursday, May 11.

During a recent phone interview, Cosio started off by telling me that she’s always nervous during interviews. I broke the ice by telling her that the recent Crystal Fairy album was amazing, with incredible energy.

“I’m just so grateful that we were even able to make that album,” Cosio said. “I never expected in my entire life—at 27 years old after listening to the Melvins since I was 12—that I’d be collaborating with Dale and Buzz. I’m just happy it even exists. In a spiritual sense, I feel really relieved, and hopefully that opens up the door to hanging out more with those guys, and more collaboration. I’m really thankful for those memories of recording it. The process was a gift within itself.”

Cosio said the group wound up being a cultural-exchange project, of sorts. Cosio was born in Denver to a Mexican mother and a Spanish father, and moved to Mexico later in her childhood.

“It’s pretty surreal, to say the least. Everyone in the band is from different cultures. Omar is from Puerto Rico, and Buzz and Dale are from Northern Washington,” Cosio said. “It’s very interesting to see those different worlds collide. It was like, ‘I didn’t know about that type of food,’ and, ‘My mother will make breakfast for you guys and make you some traditional Mexican food.’ It was great to see everyone exchanging cultures.”

Le Butcherettes, which got its start in Guadalajara, offers a surreal experience as a live band, while the recordings are beautiful artistic expressions—with a blast of garage punk. I asked Cosio what the band means to her.

“For me, it’s my life, but I wouldn’t know how to describe it myself,” she said. “It’s always these different styles and inspirations, from movies to literature. The only thing I really know is that it’s provided me with a passport to tour the world and to be able to experience different artists and different people. I wouldn’t know how to describe it myself, either. I like that it isn’t easy to describe.”

Le Butcherettes have been on the festival circuit and have opened for bands such as the Deftones and At the Drive-In. Cosio said she was pleasantly surprised by the response Le Butcherettes received.

“The Deftones’ crowd was very open to us. At first, I was a little on edge about it, given the rumor was the Deftones crowd was only there to see the Deftones,” she said. “It was the same with At the Drive-In fans. So far, knock on wood, people have been very embracing toward us. The people who showed up early to see us play knew the words to the songs, which I never really expected. I was writing in my room in Guadalajara when I was 12 years old, and I would have never expected to see me opening for these bands, and people showing up early to see us play. It’s given us a career and has opened doors for us.”

While Cosio might be shy, she’s been open about many of the things that happened to her during her childhood, including her father’s fatal heart attack, which prompted her mother to move her and her brother to Guadalajara from their home in Denver. She said music and the arts gave her an outlet to express her pain.

“We lived in a small apartment during most of my childhood, so I wasn’t able to play guitar any time of the day, because the neighbors would hit the walls. Writing was, and still is, a major outlet for me,” she said. “You have the liberty to complain or write whatever you want, and no one is going to judge you, unless you show someone. But me being an introvert, I was going to write about something and be so direct about it, but I always had this fear that my brother might take it and read it out loud—which he did before—and read it to our mom. I had two options: Drown myself in alcohol like my father did—and I loved him a lot, even though he was a frustrated artist and drank a lot—or I could take the other path and try to drug myself up with literature. I know that sounds pretentious, but that’s the only way I can say it.”

Cosio admitted that she is afraid of being underestimated.

“That’s a big challenge, along with not taking it personally—especially if you’re a Latina woman, because you have to get used to stepping over obstacles,” she said. “(You need to) learn how to make that into art and use that as an inspiration. My inner demons have been a constant challenge, like those little voices in your head that say you aren’t good enough and that you’re not a good person. So I work on being a good person, which is a big spectrum—and I want to get to the bright light of the spectrum.”

Le Butcherettes will perform at 9:30 p.m., Thursday, May 11, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $12 to $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

Last year, the McCallum Theatre celebrated its two-year Crisalida Community Arts Project with a showcase called East Valley Voices Out Loud.

The goal of the project was to foster a relationship between the McCallum Theatre and artists in the underserved eastern Coachella Valley—and East Valley Voices Out Loud was a triumphant showcase of the fruits of that project.

While the Crisalida Community Arts Project’s James Irvine Foundation grant ended a year ago, the McCallum is bringing back East Valley Voices Out Loud for a second year, on Saturday, May 13.

Poet, playwright and musician David Gonzalez worked with the McCallum Theatre on the Crisalida Community Arts Project and put together the showcases both years. He explained what will be different about this year’s showcase.

“We have a bunch of new artists, and we have expanded the role of other artists who have mentored a couple of new people,” Gonzalez said. “We’re having a dance troupe from Mecca that is going to be performing, which should be really cool.”

The Crisalida Community Arts Project gave much-deserved attention to East Valley poets, musicians and more. Gonzalez said the project is still going, albeit in a “greatly reduced fashion.”

“The real emphasis is the showcase, but I’ve been doing some outreach and mentoring with people (from) other organizations,” Gonzalez said. “The issue right now is funding. We had a major grant for those first two years. This year, the McCallum has dipped into its own pocket to do this project. They are demonstrating their commitment to the East Valley through this. The intention is to keep doing East Valley Voices Out Loud, and to look for other sources so we can reboot and recharge Crisalida from where we left it a year ago.”

While the success of the project and last year’s East Valley Voices Out Loud was evident to anyone who talked to the participants, the efforts received some unfair criticism. A review by Bruce Fessier of The Desert Sun panned last year’s East Valley Voices Out Loud showcase, while prominent East Valley artist Armando Lerma, of the Date Farmers, harshly criticized the project. Gonzalez addressed some of that criticism.

“(Lerma) had a very skewered, egocentric, self-serving, defensive, destructive and myopic experience of it,” Gonzalez said. “I have negotiated many difficult situations and tried with my greatest skill to deflect and move that in a positive direction.”

As for Fessier’s critique, Gonzalez said East Valley Voices Out Loud was not meant for critical review.

“It was meant for social review, but not aesthetic review,” Gonzalez said. “To make comparisons to other organizations who put up community work was so ill-guided. Could it have been better? Of course! We had 35 amateurs onstage, and there were things that went haywire, but to take the platform of The Desert Sun and the platform of theater critic and turn that against an effort where we did over 350 community residency projects with so much blood and sweat and tears? It was so unfortunate.”

Local musician Giselle Woo took part in last year’s showcase and will return this year. She discussed what made last year’s experience special.

“It was my first time ever performing at a theater like the McCallum,” Woo said. “I think it makes it interesting, because it gives an opportunity for young Latinos—who make up the majority of people who performed in East Valley Voices Out Loud last year—to be performing there. Things like that are sometimes something we only get to dream of, and never get the chance to do.

“The west side is popping, but the east side has been, too, and it continues to do so—just with not a lot of coverage. It’s nice to expand the light.”

Woo said she’s hoping to step up her performance this year.

“I have plans to bring a band with me, if I could,” she said. “I’m still working on completing it. It’ll be alumni from College of the Desert and stuff like that.”

Carlos Garcia, from the East Valley Repertory Theatre, is another returning performer.

“One of the pieces we’re planning to do is an all-male production of monologues—spoken word, poetry and deconstructing masculinity,” Garcia said. “The working title right now is Bad Hombres, referencing what Trump said.”

Garcia said some of the works in this year’s showcase will undoubtedly address the politics over the last year.

“I think that it will possibly be more focused on what’s happening politically,” he said. “I personally am not. Our pieces are more personal, but I feel that other groups might get political. I don’t really care for that myself, but I feel with what’s happened in one year with Trump and with us being Latino performers, there will be some issues addressed.”

Garcia said last year’s experience was inspiring because it fostered community.

“We felt as actors and performers that we were inspiring other actors, poets and musicians. We were also inspired by the other performers,” he said. “We didn’t know each other, and through the East Valley Voices Out Loud showcase, we were able to come together and meet each other. For one night, we are one group united, and that’s one thing I really enjoy about that.”

Gonzalez expressed optimism that the Crisalida project and the East Valley Voices Out Loud showcases will continue. He explained what the community can do to help.

“The first thing is to show up and hear the voices,” he said. “Hear, see and feel the East Valley community as it takes a step into the West Valley. Don’t go on preconceptions and what you’ve read. Come with a sense of openness and discovery, and stay afterward to shake hands, get invites or invite other people. The only way this bridge is going to be built is hand-to-hand and eye-to-eye. The showcase is a chance to do just that. 

East Valley Voices Out Loud takes place at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 13, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $9 to $22. For tickets or more information, call 760-340-2787, or visit

Page 1 of 65