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Music News and Features

07 Apr 2016
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This is shaping up to be quite a sad year for the music world: 2016 has already taken David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Lemmy Kilmister and Natalie Cole—and today, it took the great Merle Haggard. He passed away at his Northern California home on his 79th birthday, after suffering from complications from pneumonia. Merle Haggard was a larger-than-life figure in country music. He was an outlaw in every sense of the word: Theft, bad checks and robbery were part of his criminal past, which eventually landed him in San Quentin Prison, where he began to turn his life around. In the early 1960s, when Merle Haggard began his recording and performing career, he and Buck Owens were instrumental in forging the Bakersfield sound, a subgenre of country music that protested the commercialization of Nashville’s country-music scene. It’s a never-ending trend in country music, it seems, to commercialize the music of the…
25 Mar 2016
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At a time in world history when relations between the governments of Russia and the United States are strained, a strong alliance has developed between American gutter punks The Dwarves and Russian hard-core punksters the Svetlanas. Blag Dahlia, the veteran punk-pop troubadour who has guided the Dwarves through three decades and a dozen albums (and whom we talked to recently for this space), may have met his match in Russian songstress Olga Svetlanas, who prefers flipping the bird to waving the peace sign, and spews profanities with one eye cocked like it’s nobody’s business. At its best, punk rock challenges social norms, pisses on convention, steps on value systems and rebels against authority. Religious groups and government agencies that set standards and practices drop their jaws and point their fingers in contempt of the vile, low-brow art form, which throws the bird and asks, “Who’s watching the kids while mom’s…
20 Mar 2016
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Dali’s Llama formed in 1993—and went on to become one of the desert’s most legendary bands, defining the DIY business model along the way. After 23 years and inclusion in the new desert-rock documentary Lo Sound Desert, Dali’s Llama is not slowing down. In fact, the band just released a new album, Dying in the Sun. During a recent interview in Palm Springs, Zach Huskey (lead vocals, guitar) and his wife, Erica Huskey (bass), talked about the new album’s title. “We’re feeling a little older,” Zach Huskey explained. “I spend a lot of time out in the canyons and in Thousand Palms doing some Jeeping. That’s where I also do a lot of writing. It wouldn’t be a bad way to go, I guess. (There is) sort of a connection with the desert in our music and feeling comfortable there, versus being surrounded by people, work, kids and all that…
18 Mar 2016
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After six years at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, DJ Day has decided it’s time for his popular weekly ¡Reunion! party to come to an end. He recently announced that the sixth-anniversary edition of ¡Reunion! on Thursday, March 31, will be the final show. “Honestly, after six years every week, which is something like 320 nights, it begins to take its toll,” DJ Day said during a recent interview in Palm Springs. “Long story short, I just got burnt out on the whole nightlife thing. It’s run its course, and I’d like to start doing something else. I want to get back into recording music, and I’m ready to move on as a person and just take a different path in my life. It’s been great, but it’s also a very trying thing. “When I first started out, I talked to someone who had a weekly…
23 Feb 2016
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After almost two decades of making music in the Coachella Valley, the Hellions are finally releasing what the band is calling a “proper Hellions record.” On Friday, March 25, the Hellions will play at a show featuring for former Misfits frontman Michale Graves at The Hood Bar and Pizza, ending the band’s recent break from live shows. During an interview the band members dubbed “Tacos With the Hellions” at Pueblo Viejo Grill in Palm Desert, I tried to nail down how long the album has been in the works. “Two months,” said frontman and guitarist Angel Lua. “A week,” said guitarist Jamie Hargate, before changing his answer: “18 years.” The joke answers kept coming as the drinks started to arrive. For Angel Lua, it was a Michelada; for Travis Rockwell, a non-alcoholic beer; drummer Bob Llamas stuck to Budweiser; and Jamie Hargate went all in with not only a michelada,…
17 Feb 2016
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On April 1, Dennis and Kathleen Ford will celebrate the third anniversary of their purchase of Schmidy’s Tavern in Palm Desert. Under the Fords, Schmidy’s has become one of the Coachella Valley’s most welcoming local-music venues, and has developed a great reputation among beer-lovers thanks to its impressive selection of craft beers and good food. That’s why it’s heartbreaking to many that on that third anniversary—barring a miracle or sudden change of plans—Schmidy’s Tavern will close. “As of April 1, 2016, Schmidy’s Tavern will be closing our doors for good,” Dennis Ford said in a Feb. 8 statement on Facebook. “We do not have a lease and have not had one for a year now. Our landlord wants to raise the rent 112 percent, and we simply cannot afford that. We have been paying 50 percent more for the past year, and it has taken its toll. “We cannot continue…
12 Feb 2016
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It’s been a rough decade for Gabby Gaborno, of the legendary SoCal bands Cadillac Tramps and Manic Hispanic. He’s battled diabetes, liver problems and renal failure. He’s suffered a serious stroke and a heart attack. And shortly after his 50th birthday, late last year, he was told he has liver cancer. To help the much-loved musician pay his medical bills, some friends have set up a GoFundMe campaign. During a recent phone interview, Gaborno said doctors initially missed the cancer at the Orange County medical center where he was getting treatment. He’s now being treated at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. “My stomach was getting jacked up, and I was puking for days at a time,” Gaborno said. “I had gotten CTs here in Orange County, and they missed (the cancer). They missed it for a while, and I went to Cedars-Sinai to start treatment—and they said I had a baseball…
25 Jan 2016
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Here in the desert, we take our punk rock and stoner rock pretty seriously. We take pride in the cutting-edge musicians who carved a place out for themselves in the international music marketplace—and put our area on the international music map. Bands like Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, Unida and others boldly explored new territory with their musical instruments and gave birth to their own brand of original rock. Back in the ’80s and early ’90s, these then-underground bands were drawing influences from punk, grunge and metal—yet in each instance, they created a sound that was all their own. Palm Desert's Nick Oliveri—multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter—made a name for himself playing bass-guitar in Kyuss (which just so happened to be Oliveri’s very first band). The group caught the ears of A&R people quickly, and it wasn’t long before the members were cutting a record and…