Longtime desert-rock fans are a breed all their own.
We were created from the desert sun and sand and raised up by Mario Lalli, who spoon-fed us so much off-the-wall crazy music that we thought the entire world was as hip as we were.
Alas, not everyone knows who Mario Lalli, Fatso Jetson, Kyuss or even Queens of the Stone Age are—but we cut our teeth on that stuff, so you have to dig pretty deep as an artist to get our attention. Here in the desert, genres are defied, and originality is not only common; it’s expected!
Later in the mid-’90s, when the Lallis opened Rhythm and Brews in Indio, our musical world expanded, and our palette grew even more sophisticated. Black Flag, Fu Manchu, Agent Orange, Bad Brains, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Jello Biafra—so many shows live on in our memories and helped make our musical upbringing special. Today those same musicians are still creating music that pushes boundaries.
It was then that Greg Ginn’s SST Records—the seminal punk label—signed Mario’s Sort of Quartet and a slew of other Southern California bands, and a brotherhood formed that carries on today. Those shows introduced me to bands like multi-instrumentalist Vince Meghrouni’s Brother Weasel and Bazooka, Mike Watt’s Minutemen, and Saccharine Trust with Joe Baiza and Jack Brewer. When Baiza’s guitar genius joined forces with Watt, Dan McGuire and George Hurley in 2005 to form Unknown Instructors, I became deeply connected to improvisational music. There is an extreme sense of adventure and a sort of musical purity to the art form of improv, which usually starts with an idea—a riff, a feel that all players lock onto, and in those moments when fine players who speak the language of music just let it flow … it is magic.
Following Meghrouni and staying closely connected to desert-rock legends Mario Lalli and Gary Arce, among others, has continued to bring me close to bands and players who have made my life anything but ordinary. While experiencing Meghrouni with The Atomic Sherpas, I was introduced to the amazing musicianship of Marc Doten, Anthony Cossa (The Aliens, The Probe) and those Alvidrez brothers, Carlos and Michael. That, in turn, led me to discover Doten’s band Double Naught Spy Car and its new release, MOOF—a record I will be spinning again and again and again. There’s not a sleeper song in the bunch, and the guest artists make this a particularly exciting listening experience.
Double Naught Spy Car features the electrifying Stratocaster magnificence of Marcus Watkins; the dark Telecaster timber and stunning steel of Paul Lacques; the unfaltering, innovative bass lines of Marc Doten; and the masterful drum work of Joe Berardi—all of whom dazzle!
And then there are the guest artists … in my circle, you would have to be dead not to know who Mike Watt, Nels Cline or Joe Baiza are. These fine players have had their hands in so many music pots over the past few decades that it’s crazy! They have influenced everyone within ear shot and helped shape the music scene along their way. Other contributing artists are Sylvia Juncosa, Joe Gore, Sara Aridizzoni, Elvis Kuehn, Ben Vaughn, Chris Lawrence, Woody Aplanalp, Danny McGough and, my personal mentors, Vince Meghrouni and Carlos Alvidrez. They each came to the studio dripping with fantastic ideas, resulting in 12 unforgettable compositionsrooted in surf, rockabilly and space jazz.
Alas, no DNSC shows are slated for the desert, but don’t give up hope. In any case, Joe Baiza has been playing out in our neck of the woods lately, and on Friday, Oct. 13, he will join forces at the Beatnik Lounge in Joshua Tree with comedian and drummer Larry Copcar for a live set of improvisational music. A $10 donation at the door is requested.
Read more at rminjtree.blogspot.com.