To say that I miss live music is a gross understatement.
I write about music. I play music, with two bands and as a solo artist—and, of course, I enjoy going to concerts. One of the biggest parts of my life has been pretty much nonexistent for almost six months, and I’m hurting.
So, too, are the country’s music venues.
The Save Our Stages movement is an online petition by more than 2,000 independent venues—including Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace and The Alibi—calling for support from Congress. The movement is led by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), whose mission is to “preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States.” The goals are for Congress to provide long-term assistance to shuttered businesses, offer relief through tax credits, and continue unemployment-insurance benefits.
While the desert is home to a variety of music venues, none of them are more stored than Pappy and Harriet’s, a small and not-so-secret restaurant and live-music venue located in Pioneertown. What was once a cantina set on Pioneertown’s Western movie lot is now a mecca for music and mystique. Some of the biggest acts in music have played Pappy’s, including Paul McCartney, Leon Russell, Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys and many others.
I reached out to Robyn Celia, the owner/talent buyer at Pappy and Harriet’s, to talk about Pappy’s and the Save Our Stages movement. While Pappy’s is not currently hosting shows, the restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday for outdoor dining, takeout and delivery. She agreed to answer my questions via email rather than the telephone, due to a lack of cell service.
“We are hanging in there,” Celia said. “Very lucky that we have lots of outdoor seating. We put up shade covering and installed two mister systems in our beer garden and the outdoor show space.
“The future is unknown! We are taking it one day at a time.”
Gone for the time being is the revenue from live performances, which due to high demand are booked well in advance—and often sell out.
“We are now booking and rescheduling shows for 2021 and hoping for the best,” Celia said.
Bands and venues all over the U.S. have found innovative ways to continue offering some form of live music, including live streams and drive-in shows. Pappy and Harriet’s is tapping into this trend, recently launching Pappy and Harriet’s: A Distanced Concert Series on YouTube, which features local bands performing at an empty Pappy’s.
“Mario Lalli, an amazing musician and lifelong local, wanted to help keep Pappy’s name out there in the music community and help local artists keep their creative hearts beating,” Celia said about the YouTube series.
Celia and her team at Pappy and Harriet’s are doing their best to spread the word about the Save Our Stages movement.
“NIVA has been tireless in their approach to get Congress to see how important independent venues are to all of our lives,” she said. “We have been trying to help raise awareness through our social media.
While the future of live music is uncertain—there’s another gross understatement—Celia expressed hope that concerts, in some form, will return to Pioneertown soon.
“I think we are very open to seeing how we can host a very small show outside,” Celia said. “The safety of our staff and customers are more important than anything else, so it really is a day-by-day situation. We are all making the best of it up here and hoping for better days. Come out for lunch and dinner!”