For my entire life, Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has been known as a legendary place for live music—located just a short trek from the bustle of the Coachella Valley.
Pappy and Harriet’s was the site of a movie set starting in 1946, and first became a bar in 1972. Ever since, it’s been a beloved space for food, community and music.
Rosie Flores is a living witness of the legacy of Pappy and Harriet’s. The rockabilly/country singer-songwriter’s career has spanned more than 40 years—and she was frequenting the place back when her single “Crying Over You” was on the Billboard charts in 1997. She’ll be back in Pioneertown on Friday, March 25, with longtime collaborator James Intveld.
“I used to play Pappy and Harriet’s back when I was recording for Warner Bros.’ Reprise Records, and I was kind of doing my country-star thing,” Flores said during a recent phone interview. “I was performing at the Grand Ole Opry, and it was a very different world. I was signed out of Nashville, so it was really fun to go (to Pappy’s) and play, because it was like a country-and-Western type of bar, and people wanted to hear country music. Pappy was still alive, and both him and Harriet would come up and sit in with us, and Pappy would sing ‘Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.’ We had this amazing group of musicians, and we would go trekking around Joshua Tree at the monument, and come back to play for a packed house. I was quite popular in those days, so my picture is up there on the wall, with my friends and my cowboy boots. My picture is right next to Jim Lauderdale. It’s kind of like a homecoming for me to get a chance to perform there with James Intveld backing me, and we’ll be doing a lot of the duets that we used to perform together at the Palomino Club and at various clubs around Los Angeles back in the ’80s.”
Flores reflected on how Pappy’s has changed over the years.
“I’m hoping that some of the people who used to come see us will show up,” Flores said. “It’s a big deal, because, really, everybody loves the history of Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, and it’s become very hip. There have been a lot of big people who have come down there and played, whereas when we were playing there, in the late ’80s, we were maybe the biggest act that would be there. I’ve got this giant smile on my face right now just thinking about it. There was actually an artist there who made me a guitar strap using leather tooling, and another artist made a Rosie cut-out paper doll. They would always present me with these little presents, and I just felt so loved.”
Rosie Flores and James Intveld are a storied duo, responsible for a number of Flores’ tunes, including “Crying Over You.” They have been performing together sporadically since the ’80s—but this will be the first time in 35 years they’ll be performing together at Pappy and Harriet’s.
“When we started out in 1986 performing together, we found out that our voices just made a beautiful harmony together, and it was kind of blowing us away,” Flores said. “We were a couple back then, so the fact that we were spending everyday together anyway made it really easy to be around each other, and we had a lot of time to work on songs together.
“A couple of years later, when we did break up, we did still perform a little bit together at the Palomino Club, and then we toured Europe together. … The trickiest thing about it now is that he lives in California, and I live in Austin. We’ve been talking on the phone and making sure we have enough rehearsal time together pre-show so that we can spend some time working on these harmonies and making sure we get them back again.”
Over the course of her career, Flores has tackled everything from country, to rockabilly, to blues, and even jazz.
“When I was a kid, when I discovered music and fell in love with it, it just kind of got into my blood,” Flores said. “The first things I remember were the jazz standards on the television in the 1950s; keep in mind I am 71 years old. I was, like, 3 or 4 years old, seeing Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis, and all that got into my blood when I was a little girl.
“I first started playing guitar when I was 16, and the first music that I was going crazy for was the Rolling Stones. I looked at them as a blues band, so I started learning how to play blues guitar. When I was 21, I discovered this country bar in San Diego, and I discovered the pedal-steel guitar, and how wonderful that was, and fell in love with Tammy Wynette songs. … Whatever was influencing me at the time was what I ended up making records for. Nothing is forced; it’s just kind of where I land with opportunities.”
Flores said she’s looking forward to her next project—even if it seems a bit ironic, given her past.
“The next record I want to focus on is actually going to be Beatles songs,” Flores said. “Right before I started playing the guitar, I was in a singing group with these three girls, singing harmonies. We were a girl group like the Ronettes, but then the Beatles came out, and we started singing Beatles songs with our harmonies. I didn’t pick up the guitar until the Stones came, so I kind of gave up the Beatles for a while to play guitar and play the blues.”
As she looked back on her career, Flores said she’s content—even though her career is far from over.
“My parents had music going all the time, on the radio and TV, and I just got the bug,” Flores said. “When I was really young, I could always sing on key, so that was my gift, I guess, from God. I just had a great time, and was always chasing the dream of wanting to do this for a living, and wanting to do this on big stages to lots of people. I’ve never hit the gigantic big time, or made it to be a millionaire, but I’ve had a very rich career, and had a chance to perform with, and meet, virtually all of my heroes. I’ve gotten to lead a pretty wonderful life—and I feel very blessed.”
Rosie Flores will perform with James Intveld at 9:30 p.m., Friday, March 25, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20. For tickets or more information, call 760-228-2222, or visit pappyandharriets.com.