In the spring of 2013, my friend Shann Carr invited me to brunch.
Shann at the time was the volunteer coordinator at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, and I was just putting the finishing touches, if memory serves, on the first print edition of the Independent. The brunch—on the patio of the late, lamented Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge—was primarily for Shann’s volunteers, a group of fantastic people Shann thought I should get to know.
At that brunch, Shann introduced me to a music blogger by the name of Brian Blueskye. We chatted a bit, and he expressed interest in doing some freelancing for the Independent.
In the six years since, Brian became the Independent’s first employee (besides myself). He grew as a writer and reporter, winning a national journalism award on his way to becoming the best music journalist in the Coachella Valley. This is the 72nd print edition of the Independent; he’s had multiple bylines 71 of them—all but that very first issue I was finishing up when I met him. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that he’s become one of my best friends.
Because of all this, Brian’s departure from the Independent is decidedly bittersweet: The Desert Sun has, quite wisely, hired him to be the paper’s new arts and entertainment reporter, on the heels of 40-year veteran Bruce Fessier’s retirement. On one hand, the Independent will deeply miss Brian’s work; he’s been such a vital part of the Independent’s DNA that he can’t be replaced. I also have deep concerns about The Desert Sun’s parent company, Gannett, in terms of both ethics and stability. But on the other hand, I am elated for Brian, because The Desert Sun is compensating him at a level that the Independent right now can not afford—at a level that Brian definitely deserves.
While Brian will be missed within these pages, I am excited about the changes we’re making following his departure. Kevin Fitzgerald, whose byline has been appearing in the Independent for almost as long as Brian’s has, is taking our open staff position. Like Brian, Kevin has a national journalism award to his credit for his work in the Independent. While Brian primarily covered music, Kevin’s focus will be on news and features—meaning the Independent’s news coverage will get a decided boost in both quantity and quality. I am elated to welcome Kevin on board as the Independent’s second-ever employee.
As for music and arts coverage, we’re bringing on some new regular freelancers to fill the void—and trust me, they’re going to do a fantastic job. While we’re still fleshing out these additions (drop me a line if you think you should be one of them), here’s info on two of them: Matt King, at the ripe old age of 17, will be covering music; in fact, his first piece, on The Regrettes, appears in the July print edition on newsstands now, and will be posted here at CVIndependent.com on Monday. Don’t underestimate him because of his age; Matt is an excellent writer and musician who knows the local music scene well. As for our other addition: Watch CVIndependent.com for the Independent debut of Andy Lara, a longtime music and culture writer who’s previously written for the Coachella Valley Arts Scene and LAist.
We’ll have more news on all these exciting changes soon. In the meantime, thanks for reading the Coachella Valley Independent, and be sure to pick up that aforementioned 2019 print edition. Feel free to email me with feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.