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The 15th and apparently final Campout came early to Pappy and Harriet’s, July 31 through Aug. 3. Yeah, the July 31 gig was technically a solo David Lowery show—but don’t tell that to all the Campout fans who came out.

The Campout started when Cracker recorded the record Kerosene Hat in Pioneertown. Lead guitarist Johnny Hickman shared via social media: “Memories of the morning that Pappy and I were making go-bos (sound walls) to use in the soundstage/barn where we recorded Kerosene Hat. Our producer, the late Don Smith, came in and yelled, ‘Johnny … get your guitar-playing fingers away from that skill (sic) saw.’” The gold record for Kerosene Hat hangs on the Wall of Fame at Pappy and Harriet’s.

Wednesday night featured Peter Case, who had a short but incredible set that was briefly interrupted by a young lady who was asked to leave. That was followed was a very intimate set by the ringleader himself, David Lowery, who performed songs from an autobiographical record he recorded on a four-track in his bedroom titled In the Shadow of the Bull. Lowery sat on a stool and said, “Good evening, this is the first time we’ve tried a pre-Campout Campout.”

His show was, for me, the highlight of the four days of music. The songs included one about the time he remembered his father, who was in Korea—but Lowery used artistic license and changed the location to Vietnam, because it rhymed with the verse. He also sang about growing up in Southern California, via the song titled “Superbloom.” The personal solo appearance helped solidify the bond Lowery has with fans.

Thursday night featured the Trippy Trio (David Lowery, Johnny Hickman and Matt “Pistol” Stoessel), Monks of Doom, Ike Reilly, The Hula Girls, and the Suffragettes, all officially starting off the yearly family reunion—this time with some sadness, because this would be the last Campout. Johnny Hickman could easily be found—just look for legion of female fans who normally surround him. He always takes the time to talk and mingle with his Crumb family.

David Lowery introduced the Monks of Doom, who engaged in some epic shredding. Ike Reilly, a true charmer and Campout regular, had the audience come onstage during “Put a Little Love in It,” and also had Johnny Hickman join him during his performance.

The Trippy Trio was a great, stripped-down version of Cracker, with the band wearing their liberal interpretation of ponchos. The group opened with “Teen Angst,” and the set also included “Dr. Bernice.” Ike Reilly came out to help with “Duty Free.”

The indoor set on Thursday is usually a highlight, but the Suffragettes fell short with a redundant instrumental performance. The Hula Girls were fun, but the tiki-themed surf music did not mix well with the Americana being served outside.

Friday night brought back Jesika Von Rabbit. She is such a regular at the festival that fans bring their own ears—a tradition going back to her original band Gram Rabbit, whose members referred to themselves as the Royal Order of Rabbits. Jesika, too, went way back to the Gram Rabbit days, playing “Devil’s Playground.” Her new record Dessert Rock, is a must listen.

Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven played on both Friday and Saturday, as did many of the members’ various solo projects—perfect for Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven fans, because they get to see the talents of each member.

On Saturday, as I sat outside on a bench, I saw Peter Buck of R.E.M. walking around, admiring the 80-plus-year-old building. I spotted another quarter of R.E.M., Mike Mills, taking photos with fans.

I ran into super-fan Ben Wariner, who informed me that Peter Buck plays with Saturday performing band the Minus 5, and Mike Mills sometimes joins in. This was news to me, and I was elated. The lead singer of the Minus 5, Scott McCaughey, summed up the festival by saying this: “This is a great place to be. Lots of great bands with the same people, and then there is us.”

I was disappointed that this was supposed to be the final Campout. There are no greater fans than Cracker and Camper fans; their intensity is a little strong, but it comes from their connection to these two bands lead by one man. Crumbs and Campers were full of speculation and gossip, with lots of hopes that the tradition would continue via a stripped-down version of the Campout under another name. David Lowery gave hope for a return when he shared this: “It’s been a great run … plenty of opportunities to play in the future, including here.”

Until next time, Mr. Lowery.

Published in Reviews

July and August are the slowest months for entertainment in the Coachella Valley, with multiple venues on hiatus—but the casinos and Pappy and Harriet’s are still offering plenty of great events.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a fabulous Independence Day week slate. At 9 p.m., Wednesday, July 3, enjoy a free Independence Day Fireworks Show. The fireworks will be blasting off from the Eagle Falls Golf Course, and The Eagle 106.9 will be playing some great songs to accompany them. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 5, enjoy the rocking flute-driven tunes of Jethro Tull. The band has extended its 50th Anniversary Tour, and considering the band rivaled the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Elton John in its early years, you won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $59 to $129. Later in the month, at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 27, Mexican singer-songwriter Gerardo Ortiz will return to Fantasy Springs. The 29-year-old was actually born in Pasadena, and he has two Grammy Award nominations to his credit. Tickets are $39 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage is offering a busy July calendar. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 13, Hotel California: A Salute to The Eagles will take the stage. Hotel California is an Eagles tribute band that has been performing for 30 years and is known for masterfully replicating the sounds of the Eagles songs you love. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 19, check out The Ultimate E.L.O. Experience: A New World Record. This is an Electric Light Orchestra tribute, including the lights and all of the string arrangements. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 26, enjoy ’80s R&B and pop at the Freestyle Jam, featuring Stevie B, Trinere, Nu Shooz, Debbie Deb and Connie. These were some of the biggest names in ’80s pop and are often sampled or remixed in today’s digital era. Tickets are $40 to $60. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is hosting a couple of hot July events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 20, the Spanish Comedy Slam will take place. The show will feature performances from Alex Reymundo, who recently had his own Comedy Central special; Luz Pazos, a former beauty queen from Peru who has performed at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles and appeared on PBS’ First Nations Comedy Experience; Rene Garcia, who has performed with Tommy Davidson, Ron White and Bill Bellamy; Carlos Rodriguez, a Sacramento native who has been voted the Best Comic by the Sacramento News & Review; and Anthony K, another Sacramento resident who has a one-hour special available on Spotify and Google Play. Tickets are $20 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 27, go back four decades during the ’70s Soul Jam, featuring performances by Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes and The Stylistics, as well as Mr. Dyn-o-Mite himself, Jimmie “JJ” Walker. Tickets are $39 to $59. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is hosting some great July events. At 9 p.m., Saturday, July 6, country star Lee Greenwood will be appearing. One of his biggest hits is his 1984 song “God Bless the U.S.A.” In fact, a lot of his material is ’Merica themed, to give you those July 4th feels. Tickets are $29 to $39. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 12, Chicano rock-band Los Lonely Boys (upper right) will be performing. The South Texas trio was a staple of contemporary radio in the mid-2000s with “Heaven” and “More Than Love.” Tickets are $55 to $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s has a packed schedule; here are a just a few shows you may want to consider. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 5, Welsh musician and producer Cate Le Bon will be performing. Le Bon has toured with acts such as St. Vincent, Perfume Genius and John Grant—if that says something in regard to her talents. While she has a rock sound, she also goes into folk and pop territory. Tickets are $18. At 9 p.m., Saturday, July 20, up-and-coming country performer Gethen Jenkins will take the stage. Jenkins’ bio reads like a character out of a bad ass adventure novel—born in the West Virginia, raised in a rural Indian village in Alaska, a stint in the U.S. Marines, etc. He’s performed with the Marshall Tucker Band, Wanda Jackson and others. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Wednesday, July 31, on the eve of what will be the 15th and final Campout, Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery will be performing solo; Peter Case will also take the stage. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews