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Sun02182018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Brian Blueskye

I stumbled across Kill the Radio during a show at the late, lamented Schmidy’s Tavern—and I was blown away by the band’s sound. It reminds me of the punk/hardcore that came out of New York City in the ’90s. This East Valley band is always a treat to see live—and you can do just that on Saturday, Feb. 17, at The Hood Bar and Pizza. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/killtheradio760. The band’s frontman and guitarist, Samuel Meza, was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Knotfest. I got to see Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Motorhead and so many other sick artists.

What was the first album you owned?

Linkin Park’s Meteora. It’s still one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Coheed and Cambria, Circa Survive, Kings of Leon, and Deftones.

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

I absolutely don’t understand this trap beat music. It’s noise and mumbles with a hype man screaming, “Hey!” the whole time.

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

If I could see anyone live, it would have to be Tool all over again! Tool is hands down the best live show I have ever seen.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

My favorite guilty pleasure has to be singing along to Frank Ocean’s music, from the Channel Orange album to his newest single, “Chanel.” Amazing!

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Observatory in Santa Ana. I got to see Deftones along with Glassjaw there, and they were phenomenal!

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

My favorite song lyrics are actually from Frank Ocean’s “Pink Matter.” The opening verse hits home when he asks, “What is a woman made for? Is she just the container for the child?” That, to me, opens the mind and pushes you to understand outside the Machista concept.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Linkin Park and Blessthefall. I was a depressed and super-emotional kid back in high school. I had the hardest time growing up. I was poor and living under the bridges in Indio while being homeless the first half of my life, and hearing others had a similar struggle really helped me get ahead in life.

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

I would have to ask Hayley Williams from Paramore if she would marry me, ha ha ha ha. (Seriously, though.)

What song would you like played at your funeral?

My funeral song would be a song I wrote recently. It’s called “If Time Heals Wounds, Do Scars Tell Stories?”

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

I would say Emarosa’s Relativity. I can listen to it from beginning to end all the time.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Jay-Z’s “The Story of O.J.” It’s super-deep. If you leave the racial context on which the song is based and apply it to everyday life, you’d see a divided world where we only segregate ourselves due to the ideals and views of others. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Melissa Etheridge’s career has been undeniably magnificent.

The Kansas native continues to reach impressive highs more than 30 years after she started playing the club circuit around Boston while attending the Berklee College of Music. Today, she’s an iconic singer-songwriter—and an inspirational force in the LGBT community.

She’ll be playing at Morongo Casino Resort and Spa on Friday, March 2. During a recent phone interview, she discussed her Midwestern upbringing.

“I grew up with the feeling that you play fair, work hard, and you love yourself and your family,” Etheridge said. “The Midwestern values stick with me, and I think the best of people.”

Early in Etheridge’s career, four songs from her first two albums were included in the film soundtrack for the 1992 film Where the Day Takes You, a low-budget film about teenage runaways in Los Angeles—with an incredibly impressive cast that included Sean Astin, Will Smith, Lara Flynn Boyle, Christian Slater and other actors who would later become big names.

“Before I was signed to Island Records to record, I had a publishing deal at A&M,” Etheridge explained. “(A&M publishing head) Lance Freed saw something in me, but A&M Records never signed me for whatever reason, so I was a staff writer, and there was this bad B-movie called Scenes From the Goldmine that this guy Marc Rocco was directing. I met him, and he immediately became a big fan when I put out my first album. When I was recording my second album, he was making Where the Day Takes You, and he really wanted to use those songs from my albums, and I was like, ‘Dude, thank you! I appreciate that.’ The film was never really big, even though there were a lot of stars in it, but it was an amazing little film, and I love what he did with it. It was a pretty dark movie for back then, but it was about longing and 20-something angst—and that’s kind of what was going on at the time.”

Etheridge has never been afraid to get personal in her songwriting.

“I never felt (afraid),” she said. “In the beginning, I wondered, ‘My goodness! Am I revealing too much about myself?’ But that was back before anyone knew anything about me. The one thing I realized is the more personal I got, the more universal I became. People related to it, and it was an interesting phenomenon.”

In January 1993, during Bill Clinton’s inauguration, Etheridge performed at the Triangle Ball—and came out as a lesbian. Etheridge’s career was taking off: That same year, she released her fourth album, and her most successful to date, Yes I Am.

“I always think the best of the world, and I think the world has the capacity to really do anything. I just came out with honesty, made a record that I loved, and felt like the songs were from my heart and the best I could do,” she said. “I just believed. I stepped out and was very happy. I’m sure there are people who didn’t buy it because they knew I was gay, but I think most people just liked the music. I think the general population is more capable of what we think they are capable of.”

I personally believe one of Etheridge’s most shining moments came at the concert to celebrate the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in September 1995 in Cleveland. She performed covers of The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” Diana Ross and the Supremes’ “Love Child” and The Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack.”

“Ooh, that was fun! They approached me and said, ‘We want to pay tribute to the girl groups,’” Etheridge said. “I thought that the greatest were The Ronettes, and ‘Be My Baby’—you don’t get much better than that. Then you have The Supremes, and my favorite song growing up was The Shangri-Las’ ‘Leader of the Pack.’ That was the most bad-girl kind of song. I put them all together, and I thought, ‘Can I make this a monstrosity of a melody?’ Man, that was a lot of fun doing it, and we just rocked it, too.”

When Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006, Etheridge was amazed at the success of not only her song “I Need to Wake Up,” but of the documentary itself.

“It was a pivotal point in documentary filmmaking in the sense that documentaries really had a way to get information to people in a straightforward way without going through the censors and corporate advertisers,” she said. “You just make your documentary. Seeing the boom that happened after that was amazing. I remember when Al (Gore) first called me and asked me if I would write a song for his slideshow, and I thought how sweet that was. Then he said, ‘They’re making a documentary of my slide show.’ I thought it was great, and I thought it would be shown in some high schools. To see the effect and the great work it did, and the changing of the world—that summer was astounding for me. I learned a lot just by creating work you love and bringing it to the people.”

Touring with an environmentalist mindset is difficult for many artists, given that tours are notoriously not environmentally friendly, thanks to emissions of tour buses, the usage of disposable plastics during mealtimes, and so on.

“It is a very difficult process, and we do the best we can,” Etheridge said. “For many years, we toured on biodiesels, and then they just sort of faded out. I’m seeing where we are going, and I think fossil fuels will be a thing of the past soon. But in the meantime, we do the best we can. We don’t have Styrofoam, and plastics are discouraged.”

Etheridge said she still feels good about her music career, despite all the changes in the music industry.

“My love has always been performing live, so I don’t complain about that at all,” she said. “I have thousands and thousands of people who still want to come see me, and I’m so grateful for that. I’m also still creating music, and I’m making a new album right now. I see the changes, yet I don’t see it as a bad thing. I think people still consume large amounts of music, and it still defines where they’re at personally. When they travel or clean the house, they listen to music. The way the general public gets its music has changed, and I think you just do what you love and don’t worry about how people are getting it—because if it’s good, it gets out there.”

Melissa Etheridge will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, March 2, at Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. Tickets are $65, and were close to selling out as of press time. For tickets or more information, call 800-252-4499, or visit www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Swing music will forever be associated with 1990s culture, thanks to the genre’s revival that made stars out of many swing groups during the decade.

You’ll remember how Brian Setzer formed the Brian Setzer Orchestra—with an electric guitar kick to the ass. The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies brought a radio-friendly pop groove to the band’s swing sound, while Lou Bega performed swing-style songs over hip-hop beats.

And then there were the Squirrel Nut Zippers—which were a different thing altogether. The band brought out some of the dark elements of swing music, and added in older sounds such as calypso, gypsy jazz, Delta blues—and even some of the old New Orleans sound.

Following some turbulent starts and stops since the band’s 1990s heyday, the band is back and touring again. The group has survived lawsuits, the divorce of frontman Jimbo Mathus and former Squirrel Nut Zippers vocalist Katharine Whalen, and scorn from former members because they were not invited to perform with the band’s current incarnation.

The band will be stopping by the McCallum Theatre on Friday, March 2.

While the Squirrel Nut Zippers are often lumped into the “Swing Revival” of the ‘90s, the band is the real deal when it comes to swing. During a recent phone interview, Jimbo Mathus explained how it all came together and led to him start the band in 1993.

“I was researching the history of American music and was really jazzed at what was at the heart of it all,” Mathus said. “That was just from going back to learning all the old forms of music on my own as a self-taught artist. I left Mississippi and went to Chapel Hill, N.C.; they had a lot more libraries and record shops in Chapel Hill. I was able to get down to some things I was really interested in. … I started gathering people around me who wanted to try something. We were in total isolation and were starving artists, and most of us didn’t even have televisions. We had no idea what was going on. A bunch of the other swing artists were doing their own thing, too, and there are still a lot of retro groups, but it just sort of happened that we kicked the door in and were able to instill a lot of different artists.”

Mathus said the band made sure it kept things traditional and old-school while recording.

“We recorded in original ways and were able to see it through to the recording,” he said. “Maybe the other groups would have sounded more authentic if they would have done it on our microphones and the way we recorded it—just live in a room with big, old RCA microphones. We recorded it like the old days and still continue to do so.”

The Squirrel Nut Zippers’ biggest hit came in 1996 with “Hell.”

“That song came from a fascination with dark humor, but the delivery of it came from early calypso singers in Trinidad from the 1930s, like the Growler, Wilmoth Houdini, the Mighty Sparrow and those kinds of cats. That was a huge new music form at the time, and it was incredible. We were really interested in that, and they talked about a lot of dark subjects in those songs, too, like murders, bodies being found, police incidents. … It was a very cool phenomenon. (“Hell”) was based on that, Dante, and all the dark poets—plus The Lawrence Welk Show, because you need to have some twisted American humor in there. The video was supposed to look like The Lawrence Welk Show. It’s just a twisted joke, but it’s based on the song from the ’30s by Lord Executor called ‘My Troubles With Dorothy.’”

In the summer of 1997, the Squirrel Nut Zippers toured outdoor amphitheaters with Neil Young, Morphine, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and others as part of the H.O.R.D.E. Festival.

“We were on the bill with Morphine and all these other groups, and there was some real eclectic music going on in those days,” Mathus said. “Neil Young is killer, though, but I really liked Morphine, who was also on that bill. We were just the popular music at the time and came out to play to 10,000 people every night who would freak out and have fun. It didn’t seem weird at all. Neil really liked us, and thought we were super cool, too.

“I smoked a joint with Neil Young, and that was pretty happenin’” he added with a laugh.

Of course, retro music genres keep getting rediscovered, and Mathus said it’s a promising time for the Squirrel Nut Zippers. I saw the band not long ago in Los Angeles, and the group sounds as good as it did in the ’90s.

“It’s coming back around,” Mathus said. “I don’t see how our style will ever be unpopular, because it’s fun; it’s well-done; it’s creative; it’s sardonic; and it has an edge. It’s very entertaining, and it’s something almost every age can come dig on. I don’t care if you’re 80 or 8—it’s going to be cool, and I’m very excited about it.”

The current lineup includes some well-known ringers, such as Dr. Sick (fiddle, banjo, and other various instruments), vocalist Cella Blue and other roots-music veterans.

“I just started reaching out to people who I knew were devoted, talented and skilled in so many ways,” Mathus said. “I just told them, ‘If we do this, let’s do it again and not re-enact what we did before. Let’s not make it a reunion; let’s make it like a revival of the sound, and the template of the music is so cool.’ I knew people from New Orleans and everywhere just because I’ve been so active in music. It wasn’t hard.”

The Squirrel Nut Zippers will release a new album, the band’s first in 18 years, on March 23, Beasts of Burgundy.

“It was about going back to the good old formula, man, with a lot more skill, a bigger band—and it’s just ballin’,” Mathus said. “We’re still working in the good-old creepy America. I didn’t want to break the mold; I thought it was a cool mold, and we should just keep on doing it.

“Performing live with this band, it’s so joyous. That’s the point of the music—to escape and be joyous. It’s not fake, and it’s a great feeling to be up there doing what we’re doing, especially after as many years as I’ve been doing this, and I’ve had some hard miles.”

The Squirrel Nut Zippers will perform with Davina and the Vagabonds at 8 p.m., Friday, March 2, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $27 to $77. For tickets or more information, call 760-340-2787, or visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

You know Richard Kind’s face from numerous TV shows and films—and you certainly know his voice from iconic animated movies such as Toy Story 3 and Inside Out.

Kind is also a talented stage actor—and he’s starring in the one-man show A Man and His Prostate, coming to the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum from Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25.

During a recent phone interview, Kind said that he almost didn’t go into show business.

“I was thinking of going to law school,” Kind said. “I was supposed to go into my dad’s business. … He owned a retail jewelry store. I would have been happy and done well, because I liked my dad’s store, and I happen to think I might have been a good salesman—but if you make a living doing what I do, you’re the luckiest guy in the world. Yet I would talk anyone out of going into show business.”

Wait, what? Why would Kind talk anyone out of going into show business?

“A few reasons: The first thing is anytime you get a job, you ask yourself, ‘Is this my last job? Will I ever work again?’” he said. “The second thing is something I came upon this when I was doing Inside Out: An actor’s job is to try to get into the character as deeply as he can. When you work in TV or movies, you only get that day to do what’s going to live a lifetime. The ride home, you think, ‘Gosh! Why didn’t I do this? Why didn’t I try that?’ It is so upsetting sometimes, because you can’t do it again. Sometimes you keep that to yourself for the rest of your life. I’m not kidding.

“The third thing is when you’re an actor, you always want to be the character that you’re playing, and you never can be. It’s a very upsetting thing. … I’ll always be Richard Kind, and I’ll never be Hamlet. Only Hamlet was born Hamlet. I can come close to it. Daniel Day-Lewis comes very close to it and is called by (his character’s) name, but he’s not that person and is only creating that person. You can’t become that person, and it’s a very frustrating thing.”

He talked about a moment while voicing the character of Bing Bong in Inside Out: The character gave his life, more or less, to save another character.

“It was such a pure moment, and I felt the emotion so much that I wanted to it again and again,” he said. “It was very pleasing to me, because I really got into that benevolent and beautiful place of giving up your soul and giving up your life for somebody else. It was so pure that when I was doing it, I was asking to do it over again and again. I wanted to be Bing Bong at that moment, and finally, the director said, ‘No, you’ve done it 20 times! Enough already!’ It can be close to pure, but it’s never pure.”

So there is some truth in that saying: “Pain is temporary; film is forever?”

“Yes! That’s really true!” Kind replied. “In theater, you get to ride home and think, ‘Oh, what if I try this?’ or certainly during rehearsal, you get a chance to try it over and over and over. That’s why theater can be more fulfilling than doing movies, at least artistically.”

Over his three-decade-plus career, Kind has seemingly done everything.

“I’ve done radio. I’ve done opera. I’ve done the Broadway stage; I’ve done the Hollywood Bowl, and I’ve been very lucky,” he said. “Part of it is I never say ‘no’ to work. I always work, and I wish I had said ‘no’ a little more often. On the flip side … wow! Look what I got to keep doing.”

Kind said A Man and His Prostate, penned by renowned comedy writer Ed. Weinberger, is a lot of fun.

“It’s only me, so I love that. My ego adores that it’s only me onstage,” Kind said. “Ed. Weinberger helped make me who I am without him even knowing it. This was a guy who wrote for The Mary Tyler Moore Show; he wrote Taxi; he co-created the The Cosby Show, and these are the things that formulated who Richard Kind is and the type of entertainment I like, how I think about things, how I think about actors—and it’s all I’ve wanted to do. (The play) is all Ed. Weinberger. Meeting him and getting the chance to work with him was thrilling to me. The script is funny; it’s certainly realistic, and it tells you a little bit about what’s going to happen as you get older. But first and foremost, it’s entertaining, and it’s fun. It’s about a guy who wrote the greatest comedies in the world telling a story about something that could have been very tragic, and it happened to be very comical.”

Kind said the play offers many lessons on the subject of prostate cancer.

“This is what could happen if you do have an incident with your prostate, and he was very lucky that he caught it early,” Kind said. “It’s very good. … For years, we gotten lectured about how smoking is bad for your health, and people have stopped smoking. For years, we heard drinking and driving is very bad and can take people’s lives, and people stopped drinking and driving. Men should know about the dangers of the prostate and what kind of pain it can cause.”

Kind has recently addressed the #MeToo movement, especially the scandals regarding many of the male actors in Hollywood. Kind has joked that he may be the last actor standing who is not accused of inappropriate conduct—and he said he thinks the movement has been a net positive.

“It is not sad at all, because some of these people are getting their due, and it’s not enough, considering what they’ve done,” Kind said. “I’m not just talking about the Harvey Weinsteins; this goes back to Louis B. Mayer and has been going on for years. This is part in parcel of what Hollywood is, so it is about time. You see a good morality in their art, and see this horrific morality in their personal life. How hypocritical—because they do know right from wrong.

“I try to tell my children in this age of our president, ‘You must be held accountable for your actions.’ On the flip side, I feel bad, because I think Kevin Spacey’s work is spectacular, and now I can’t separate the man and his actions from his work. Harvey Weinstein (produced) some of the best movies we’ve seen in the past 20 years, and we’re not going to get his imprint and his taste on films anymore. We will all suffer because of their horrific actions—yet I’ll live with not being entertained by them.”

A Man and His Prostate will be performed at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 23; 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday Feb. 24; and 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 25 at the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $55 to $65. For tickets or more information, call 760-325-4490, or visit www.psmuseum.org/annenberg-theater.

Lance Riebsomer is one of the Coachella Valley’s most active singer-songwriters, probably best known for his old band, Foxy Cleopatra.

More than a year ago, Riebsomer took part of Foxy Cleopatra’s sound and morphed it into a new band called Black Water Gospel, which includes other notable locals such as David Morales (Eevaan Tre and the Show and Foxy Cleopatra), Matt Claborn, Alex Maestas (Robotic Humans) and Dan Dillinger (Bridger, and the Sweat Act).

Black Water Gospel will be throwing an EP release party on Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Big Rock Pub in Indio. The Flusters and Brightener will also be performing.

During a recent interview in Palm Desert over lunch, Riebsomer explained the link between Foxy Cleopatra and Black Water Gospel.

“Black Water Gospel plays some Foxy Cleopatra songs,” Riebsomer said. “Foxy Cleopatra was kind of like a collaboration until my mindset solidified. I kind of wanted to go in my own direction. (Foxy Cleopatra) was something that naturally just disbanded. David (Morales) played bass in Foxy Cleopatra, and now he plays guitar in Black Water Gospel.”

Speaking of Morales: Although he is quite humble, some in the local music scene consider him to be a genius.

“Anybody around town would say that about David. Anybody who is a musician would also say that about David. He plays every instrument; he can flawlessly do any kind of music; he can pick up on any song; and he does a lot of solo stuff around town for extra money,” Riebsomer said. “For me, his talent is like a security blanket. I’ve told him, ‘We can do this, because you’re going to make everything sound really good.’ He’s kind of like George Harrison: He may not have written the songs, but he makes them a lot better. The songs that he does write are good, too. He’s also a kind human being and one of my best friends.

“What’s frustrating is he’s always booked. I’ll be like, ‘C’mon, let’s play this!’ and he’ll say, ‘I’m already booked.’ He probably plays six nights a week, and he really grinds.”

Riebsomer explained how they picked up Matt Claborn; he had been in a post-hardcore band that once played the Vans Warped Tour.

“Dan (Dillinger) left for Austria over the summer after he went through a hard time with his mom passing away and the Sweat Act broke up,” Riebsomer said. “We were still wanting to keep some momentum going while he was gone, so we asked our friend Matt—whom Alex, David and I have known since we were teenagers—to fill in on bass for the few gigs that we had while Dan was in Austria. We had a friend make a music video for us, too. It was funny, because we ended up doing a bunch of stuff while Dan was gone.

“When Dan gets back, he asked us, ‘Am I still in your band?’ and we were like ‘Yeah!’ We decided Matt was a good fit personality-wise, and the record we have recorded has a lot of guitar work in it, so I thought adding Matt as the third guitarist would give me the freedom to be more of a frontman and play less guitar. … It’s the same thing as the Foo Fighters: They have three guitarists, and it works well for them.”

Riebsomer explained what people can expect to be on the EP.

“Everybody knows ‘Alone’ and ‘Downtown,’” he said. “(And there’s) ‘Cleaning Up the Mess,’ which we don’t play very often, but it’s the last song on the EP. It’s kind of this Verve-like ballad. All these songs, I wrote when I moved back to the desert four years ago about somebody who completely broke me. I was trying to figure out the best way to cope with it and trying to not sound emo about it, (but instead write) something eloquent about how I felt, while keeping the rock ’n’ roll aspect of it.”

Riebsomer explained what’s important to him when he writes a song.

“I think first and foremost, it has to be believable,” he said. “There’s a perfect equation of having a song that makes people go, ‘Oh, that’s cool; I’d listen to it again.’ I think that in this time in modern music, making it believable is lost, and trying to pump out something that’s going to make money and pleasant to hear is more important.”

I asked Riebsomer about his favorite desert songwriters.

“I would say as far as songwriting goes and structure of the songs that I relate to, Will Sturgeon of Brightener (is a favorite), especially for his age,” he said. “Some of the songs off of his album Hummingbird caught me in the moment. He’s a fantastic songwriter. That’s why I asked Brightener to play this show. The style of Brightener is what I would describe as “innocent.” (The members of) Brightener aren’t as rock as other people, but I love Will’s music. He’s done more than a lot of musicians out here have done. He’s played Coachella; he’s played really big gigs in Los Angeles; and he’s had his music played on MTV, but he doesn’t really talk about that, and he’s so humble about it.”

Originally, the band thought about doing an EP-release show at The Hood Bar and Pizza, but the members decided to take it to the Big Rock Pub instead.

“We wanted to do something different,” he said. “We played the Big Rock Pub before, and we had a good experience. They’ve given David and me work on Sunday mornings, too. I was there recently, and they had some rock band that was playing ’90s nostalgia kind of stuff, but the sound was really good.”

Black Water Gospel will perform with The Flusters and Brightener at 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 18, at Big Rock Pub, 79940 Westward Ho Drive, in Indio. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/BlackWaterGospel.

Two things probably come to mind when I mention Loverboy: red pants, and “Working for the Weekend.”

The band—the members of which famously blamed Nirvana and grunge music for its decline—is still rocking hard, touring and releasing new music. Loverboy will be stopping by the Spa Resort Casino in downtown Palm Springs as part of the Concerts Under the Palms series on Saturday, Feb. 17.

During a recent phone interview with guitarist Paul Dean, I mentioned that Loverboy seemed to be kind of stuck in the middle during the ‘80s—the group wasn’t new wave enough to be a new wave band, and not metal enough to be considered a glam-metal band. I asked if it felt that way to the band.

“You’re the first person in my career to ever ask me that, and that’s an amazing observation, because it’s so true,” Dean said. “We came out on the heels of The Cars, and they were a massive influence on us as writers, engineers and arrangers. Matt (Frenette) even turned his snare drum around in tribute to them on the first album. We were so into that. I still think we have that in soundcheck, and sometimes we’ll get a real dynamic part, and the band can get really new wave. But we were really still right down the middle. We had a little bit of metal on the guitar, but the keyboards made it new wave, and Mike (Reno) made it really bluesy with his voice. Matt comes from a military-band background, and he played in his high school marching band, so he had that kind of military groove going and brought that into the band. Scott (Smith, the bassist, who died in 2000) was from an R&B school similar to where I’m from. So we had all those elements and still do in our stuff. I look at it as being very diverse.”

A fun fact about Loverboy: The first-ever gig the band played was opening for KISS when the legendary group stopped in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Nov. 19, 1979.

“What an incredible introduction to the world—opening for KISS in our hometown of Vancouver!” Dean said.

However, getting record labels to believe in Loverboy proved to be a hard sell.

“Mike and I had a bunch of demos that we cut in a body shop in Calgary before we had a bass player and we were auditioning drummers. … We had these little demos on a ghetto blaster with just Mike and I singing two-part harmonies,” Dean said. “We had a guitar and a metronome that sounded like a drum. I remember we took it to Capitol Records in Los Angeles, and that’s all we had; we didn’t even have ‘Turn Me Loose’ demoed yet, and their main comment was, ‘You guys don’t have any attitude!’  I was like, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ At the same time, you think, ‘OK, so that must mean that it’s a little bit too lightweight?’ What do you do? You go home and write an album based on what this particular guy said? I don’t think so!

“We auditioned for a bunch of people live in a rehearsal for Atlantic Records. … A lot of American labels passed. We had one offer from Capitol Records in Canada, and it wasn’t a very good deal, and we weren’t that desperate, and we thought we’d just wait. We kept writing, kept playing, and we were positive about it, assuming it would happen someday. We just had this confidence, and nothing was going to stop us. We finally got a guy from CBS Records to come out and see us play in a club, and he signed us.”

The results of the self-titled debut in 1980 were spectacular.

“Our first album went platinum in Canada before there was any interest in the U.S., but this guy named Paul Atkinson came up from New York, and he got the message and understood what we were trying to do,” Dean said. “If we had already gone platinum and had two singles on the radio in Canada already, we’d do quite well in America.”

Loverboy opened on American tours for bands such as Def Leppard, ZZ Top and Kansas. But Dean said a tour with Journey was particularly spectacular.

“That was incredible. Imagine the crowds back then, and nothing has ever changed with Journey; it’s still incredible,” Dean said. “We did a tour with them again a few years back, and it was just as amazing. We did two nights in Dallas that were sold out. … We were on the second album, Get Lucky, and our single ‘Working for the Weekend’ had just come out, and it was perfect timing. MTV was still playing music, and it was really hitting its stride at that time.”

Speaking of Get Lucky, that epic cover—featuring a rear end clad in red leather pants, with a male arm reaching back with crossed fingers—became legendary. It was similar to yet the opposite of the cover of the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers.

“It was the other end of it, yeah,” Dean said. “We had somebody who worked in our office who was the head of our PR, but she and her husband had a leather store down the street from our office. She came in and told us what she had. I don’t remember if she gave them to us or if she cut us a sweet deal, but she said, ‘Come out and check and see if there’s anything you like!’ They had these red leather pants and she went, ‘That’s the deal right there!’

“Mike and I had red leather pants, but I don’t think we ever phoned each other, asking, ‘Hey, you going to wear your red leathers today?’ I don’t think we went that far, but I would wear them sometimes. But we had blue leather pants and distressed leather pants, all from the same store. It was pretty cool and a great deal.”

Dean said he still feels grunge was responsible for the fading of Loverboy’s popularity in the late ’80s.

“Grunge was totally responsible, and there’s no question in my mind,” he said. “We had a meeting in our office, and when grunge hit its stride, basically what happened was we canceled all tours. We thought, ‘What’s the point?’ It’s just evolution. It happens. If it didn’t happen, we’d still all be listening to Bing Crosby. There are always these new movements to come along, like how the Beatles started something, along with Elvis and the Everly Brothers.”

Of course, Loverboy didn’t stay away for long.

“It was a completely different mentality, but it kind of felt like starting over again,” he said. “We had called it a day when we canceled that tour. We just went our separate ways; I released a solo album, and Mike released a solo album. What happened was one of my best friends, Brian MacLeod, who was a producer, passed away. Before that, we had a massive benefit (in 1991) … at a big venue in Vancouver as a fundraiser. We were trying to get Brian some financial assistance, because he was in Houston at this cutting-edge cancer place. (Loverboy) hadn’t played together in years. Doug and I got together for our first rehearsal in years to go over all our parts one more time and remembered all the tunes, and we hit the stage, and we had such a good time and thought, ‘We gave this up? So what if we’re not headlining big stadiums or whatever. We want to do this and we want to play! Let’s just see what we got now.’ It went over great, and we really had fun.”

Since that day, they’ve continued to feel the same way.

“We haven’t stopped since, and we love doing this. We love playing these tunes; we love playing with each other; and the fans are really digging it. So why not keep going?” Dean said. “As long as we can stay healthy, and we’re not completely deaf, we’re just going to keep hammering away. It’s what we love to do.”

Loverboy will perform at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, at Spa Resort Casino, 401 E. Amado Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $30 to $40. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.sparesortcasino.com.

February is the month for love—and there’s plenty of love to go around at fantastic events throughout the month.

The McCallum Theatre has numerous events you’ll love in February. At 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 19, classical organist Cameron Carpenter and his electric International Touring Organ will take the stage. I interviewed Cameron two years ago, and not only is he a brilliant organist (with a rather unorthodox appearance compared to many other organists, starting with a Mohawk); the story of his electric organ is pretty remarkable. Tickets are $27 to $77. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 23, Broadway singing sensation Linda Eder will be performing. If Eder’s name doesn’t ring a bell, check out her impressive performances from the Broadway musical Jekyll and Hyde on the interwebs. Tickets are $37 to $87. At 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, you’ll get to see one of the talented women shown in the documentary 20 Feet From Stardom: Lisa Fischer. She has toured with Nine Inch Nails, Chris Botti, The Rolling Stones and many others. Tickets are $37 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a busy February; here are just a few events from the awesome schedule. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 3, R&B and hip-hop star Nelly will perform. Nelly has accomplished a lot in his career, with diamond and multi-platinum albums, big awards, successful acting gigs and a stint as a judge on CW’s The Next. Tickets are $39 to $79. Continuing on with R&B in the month of love, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, Charlie Wilson will perform. He’s had 10 No. 1 singles, and 11 Grammy Award nominations … without a win. Consider surprising your sweetheart with this show as an early Valentine’s Day gift. Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, crooner Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will appear. Just a warning: Frankie Valli shows often sell out! Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some fun shows on the calendar. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 16, soft-rock duo Air Supply will be performing. It’s close to Valentine’s Day, so you could take your sweetheart to the show if you love him or her … or maybe if you don’t. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, comedian Sebastian Maniscalco will be performing. Maniscalco has a lot of funny jokes about his family life, as well as every-day idiots you encounter in life; one of his more amusing bits is about how he had to start shaving at a very early age. Tickets are $65 to $95. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is set for a fantastic February. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, the folk-rock duo America will be performing. Chances are you’ve heard “A Horse With No Name” in a film, television show, commercial or video game. America is highly influential to many artists, while Fountains of Wayne; James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins and A Perfect Circle; and Ryan Adams (just to name a few) have recorded with America. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, former Chicago vocalist Peter Cetera will sing. A great documentary called Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago recently appeared on Netflix. Not surprisingly, Peter Cetera’s contentious departure from the band is widely discussed, although he did not participate in the making of the film. Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is rocking in February. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 15, country-rock band Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight (below) will be performing. Back in November, I hosted Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight at The Hood Bar and Pizza—and it was fantastic. Mick has a great repertoire of country-rock originals that are fun, funny and sometimes sad. The band has a new record coming, and you’ll want to see this show. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 16, Los Angeles rock band Valley Queen will take the stage. This is a band on the rise. NPR and the rock zine Stereogum have given this band a lot of props for an original sound with influences such as Fleetwood Mac, Patti Smith and others. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb., 22, Southern California country-rock band Calico the Band will be performing. When I think of Pappy’s, I think of Calico the Band: The group’s sound is perfect for the high-desert roadhouse scene. Admission is free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed is back! After going dark last summer and mostly through the season, the venue is again holding events, even if the venue’s website doesn’t show any. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, it’ll be a night of local rap music when J. Patron (above right), Thr3 Strykes, Provoked and Thoughts Contained will be performing. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased through Eventbrite. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has some top-notch entertainment in February that’s perfect for a romantic date night out. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, Crissy Collins, known for her roles in Tyler Perry’s films, will be appearing. She’ll be performing an evening full of love songs! Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, dance-music star Debby Holiday will sing. Who can ever forget her 2004 smash hit “Half a Mile Away”? Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa Room has a couple of notable events in February. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, comedy-and-music duo Amy and Freddy will be performing. The Copa regulars have appeared on America’s Got Talent and have shared the stage with Kathy Griffin, Mary Wilson and the Supremes, Bea Arthur and many others. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16 and 17, jazz vocalist Spencer Day will be performing. You might remember Spencer Day from Star Search back in 2002-2003. Since then, he’s released five albums; his most recent, Angel City, was crowd-funded through Indiegogo. Tickets are $35 to $55. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Modernism goes beyond architecture; the movement rippled through fashion, music, literature, philosophy and so much more.

This fact is something the Palm Springs Art Museum is highlighting during Modernism Week 2018—a time when the museum has much to celebrate.

Modernism Week—“the ultimate celebration of midcentury architecture, design and culture,” so says the week’s tag line—is returning Feb. 15-25 with more than 350 events in the Coachella Valley.

Michael Hinkle is the new director of philanthropy at the Palm Springs Art Museum; until recently, he was the managing director of the PSAM Architecture and Design Center, located in the southern portion of downtown Palm Springs. Both the main museum campus and the Architecture and Design Center will host Modernism Week events.

“Modernism Week creates this whole new opportunity to touch new audiences coming into town,” Hinkle said.

The museum’s Frey House II will again be open to the public for Modernism Week. The Frey House II, located above the Palm Springs Art Museum’s main campus, is perched on the side of a boulder—and the boulder is part of the home in many ways.

“Albert Frey actually left that house and its contents to the museum when he passed away in 1998,” Hinkle said. “He left it with the intention that we’d open it to architects and students, and through our official operator during Modernism Week, it’s the only time the general public can access the Frey House II. Other than that, (access) is very limited. It’s on a private road at the end of a street behind the museum, and it’s the only time the public can see that mid-century-modern jewel.”

I asked Hinkle how the museum produces Modernism Week events that draw attention and remain fresh each year. Hinkle’s response: The museum does what the museum knows.

“The museum itself has different collecting strengths, from contemporary art, glass and Western art, to architecture and design,” he said. “Modernism and architecture are both always on our mind. Our friends and partners at Modernism Week have certainly created an incredible opportunity that draws international attention to Palm Springs. We just really look to focus on what we do: We create exhibitions that speak to architectural design enthusiasts, and programming that supports those exhibitions. We also provide lectures that speak from a scholarly point of view to parties that celebrate mid-century modernism for fun.”

This year, the museum is celebrating an architectural accomplishment of its own: the opening of the road leading from Palm Canyon Drive to the Palm Springs Art Museum’s main campus, through the downtown redevelopment project.

“The exciting thing with Modernism Week this year is that the base of operations will be right across from the (museum) in downtown Palm Springs,” Hinkle said. “There will be a lot of excitement based around the opening of the … road to the museum, and having the lectures and the programs. (Modernism Week) is going to create the opportunities to have a fun experience or take a deep dive into exhibitions and architects like Albert Frey. Sidney Williams is going to do an amazing talk about technology and nature with Albert Frey, and how he connected and used that with his design aesthetic.”

Speaking of the downtown Palm Springs redevelopment project, Hinkle said he thinks it complements Palm Springs’ architectural history.

“The designers of the downtown Palm Springs park—they, like many designers and architects working in contemporary times, look to the modernism style and aren’t looking to re-create mid-century modernism, but to honor that kind of architecture in contemporary times by utilizing some of those aesthetics, whether it’s the clean lines and faces, the indoor/outdoor (combinations) or the roofs,” he said. “Downtown allows us to bring (the modernism aesthetic) to contemporary times with that amazing hotel and that Starbucks Reserve. When they opened up that road from Palm Canyon to the museum—it’s like the museum is positioned for a rebirth of some sorts.”

Hinkle said it’s exciting that Palm Springs and the rest of the Coachella Valley honor modernism—while also embracing new architecture and technology.

“The 20th century made a deep impact on art and architecture, and we are lucky in Palm Springs that we recognize that,” he said. “… There’s so much preservation and (so many) efforts to protect and honor the tradition of modernism, but we also have to realize that we’re in the 21st century now, and connecting those dots from modernism to now—it really allows us in Palm Springs to have the best of both worlds.”

For more information about Modernism Week, visit www.modernismweek.com.

When I recently sat down with the members of The After Lashes, the members of the all-female garage-punk band were excited about what’s happened to them over the last year—and what the coming year may bring.

In 2017, The After Lashes played 17 shows, with their sound steadily improving since their start in 2016. And to begin 2018, the band recorded seven tracks over 12 hours on the day I showed up at the home of Ali Saenz (aka Death Valley Ali) in La Quinta.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, The After Lashes will be perform at The Hood Bar and Pizza with GayC/DC and The Hellions at the monthly Coachella Valley Independent Presents show.

But before we talked about the past and the future, I had to ask: What’s the meaning behind the band’s name?

“The ‘Lashes’ part was always there in my head,” Saenz said. “The After Lashes is an off-shoot of a previous band I was in. A couple of the members and I had been kicking around one word—’Lashes.’ I am going to be honest: I went through a band-name generator, and just started asking, ‘What words rhyme with this?’ or, ‘What could we make of this?’ When ‘After’ and ‘Lashes’ popped up, I was all like, ‘Fuck yeah! There it is!’ It doesn’t really have a specific meaning, but I kind of like that, and I like that it leads people to ask what it means and where we came up with it.

“I like to leave a little mystery there. There are some feminine qualities in there, as well as a little of that S&M that we love,” Saenz added with a laugh.

The After Lashes have melded feminism and politics into their sound—in an entertaining yet serious way.

“We always knew we were going to be feminists and kind of raw and out there, but I don’t think we went into this thinking we were going to be a political band,” said lead vocalist Esther Sanchez. “The times we’re in sort of just call for it. We’ve been finding it difficult to write fun songs lately because of the vibe and our mindset of what’s going on around us—and who’s president. Everything going on has made it difficult to write fun songs, and we’re just writing about what we feel right now. We’re just trying to be truthful to ourselves and who we are.”

When I brought up the song “Dictator,” Saenz noted that the song is not political—and was actually written about a quarrel she had with her husband, well-known drummer Greg Saenz.

“It was the first song I ever wrote, and it’s the song I actually presented to Esther when I was begging to join the band,” Saenz said. “… I was very pissed off at my significant other one night. It was great, because he actually helped me structure everything together in GarageBand—and then he realized it was about him, and I found my lyric book floating in the pool one day.”

Some music fans wrote off the After Lashes after the band’s first few gigs—but the group has become better with each show.

“We started (playing live) too early,” said bassist Serene Tahtinen. “But it’s good to experience it. Me and Jen (Corradi) are on the shy side, so with me and her, every experience is a plus for us to push ourselves more and get ourselves out there more.”

Each of the four members takes part in the songwriting process, they said—an interesting fact, considering they all come from different musical backgrounds. Sanchez grew up singing in church and sang vocal jazz with local musician Alex Santana, while guitarist Corradi comes from a folk-music background. Saenz is inspired by melodic and British-punk influences, while Tahtinen is metal-influenced, although she played jazz bass while she was a music-theory student in college.

“My main influence is acoustic and folk music, if someone told me I’d be playing punk rock with a bunch of badass chicks onstage, I’d say, ‘You’re fucking crazy, man!’” said Corradi, who joined the group later than the others. “My first show with this band was last year at the Date Shed in front of 250 people. I had to deal with my own stage fright, and only after a couple of weeks of jamming with them, they said, ‘We have a gig at the Date Shed!’”

After putting in several hours of work, and as the producers of their upcoming release—Dennis Cooper and Dan Housel—packed up, the band members said they felt good about their recording efforts.

“For me as a mom who has two kids, I feel like this is another child to me,” Saenz said. “It’s the first record I’ve ever recorded, and we had two amazing professionals in here working their asses off, taking us under their wing and showing us the ropes—and they’re going to make us sound like rock stars. This means a lot to me and will be something I cherish for the rest of my life.”

The After Lashes will perform with GayC/DC, The Hellions and others as part of the Coachella Valley Independent Presents series at 9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit facebook.com/HoodBarAndPizza.

Gary Allan’s songs about heartbreak and dark places have made him one of country music’s biggest stars since the 1990s—and continues to draw large crowds.

He’ll be coming to Fantasy Springs this Saturday, Jan. 20.

During a recent phone interview, Allan he has a new album in the making. His most recent album, Set You Free, topped the country charts in 2013.

“I ended up switching record labels during the middle of making it,” Allan said about the upcoming album. “We’re looking for a launching point right now. The label hasn’t heard a single, and I’m going to go in and cut three songs, and one of those three songs will be a single for the launching point of the record. I’m with EMI now, which is still under Universal, but I switched from MCA.”

On Allan’s 1998 album, It Would Be You, he recorded a hidden track called “No Judgment Day,” a song about a restaurant owner in Texas who was killed by two ex-coworkers in a robbery to fund drugs and alcohol. While the song was never intended to be a single, it did receive radio play.

“That was actually a true story written from the front page of the newspaper,” he said. “… I didn’t write that though. Allen Shamblin, who is a very deep writer, wrote that song. I heard him do it in a writer’s round, and I was just floored by it. I asked him questions about it, and it was authentic and real—and I fell in love with it. It was never intended to be a single and really was never intended to be heard. When it was done, we made a simple recording of it with just me and a guitar, and I felt like it needed to be on there. It didn’t fit the album, and I had the album end for 2 1/2 minutes—and if you were still paying attention, I’d all of a sudden come back on.”

Country songs at one time used to explore dark places—but in recent times, it’s become more about recreational drinking and fun, at least in some circles.

“I actually get criticized a lot for writing dark songs,” Allan said. “I had to try to force myself to write light-hearted songs. But that’s one of the things I love about country music: I love the dark stuff. Pop was always about what happened on the weekends, and country was what happened Monday through Friday and was hard songs about life. I’ve had to learn how to write differently as of late, which has been a struggle and a challenge for me. I started writing with girls to try to find ways to soften my writing. ‘Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)’ is a great example.”

The business side of country music is rapidly cycling through artists, meaning many newer singers don’t have the staying power of the artists of the past.

“I think it’s always been the nature of the business to change, and I think technology changes things the most,” Allan said. “We’ve had a ton of technology, and I think that’s why we’ve had a ton of change. I think the talent is always cycled in with younger people, and I think everything is pushed towards pop. I really think you feel in my genre versus the other genres, because we were less pop and the furthest from it. … There are stations here that used to play hardcore rap and Kanye West, and now they’re playing Adele. So I think every genre is moving toward the middle, and I think it’s going to be sad when we really get there. I’ve been around for 20 years, but the way the genre works now, some artists only get one hit, and they don’t get behind you like they used to get behind you and walk you through your 20 years. Now it’s everybody swinging for as young as they can get.”

I asked Allan if there was anything in his career he’d do differently if he had a chance.

“I think there’s a lot. I always could have made turns that would have made me more popular, turns that could have put me on awards shows—but I don’t think I would have been as happy with myself,” he replied. “I think I did it my way. I’m proud of everything I did, and I’m happy with it. There were a lot of songs I got my hands on first, but I didn’t want to be responsible for the song. I would think, ‘That’s a big hit, but I don’t want my name on that.’ and thought, ‘I’d have to sing this every night for the rest of my life.’”

Allan started out in honky tonks as a kid, and Allan said he sometimes misses those days.

“I miss just being a guitar player. I miss just being able to play whatever I want,” he said. “Now there are songs you have to playm and your setlist is pretty much set. You can try to change it, but 90 percent of the hits have to be played. I miss the freedom. I miss just going out and being a guy in the band.”

On this tour, Allan is going to try something a little different.

“We play a little bit off every album,” he said. “I went and saw Stevie Wonder recently, and he played for 3 1/2 hours. He didn’t play anything I knew. He played some stuff from his albums in 1976, and it made me go home and take everything off my setlist that I didn’t think somebody would know. It’s going to be sprinkled hits from all 10 albums.”

Gary Allan will perform at 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 20, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $29 to $69. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

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