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The Reverend Horton Heat returned to Pappy and Harriet’s for the third time on Thursday, Jan. 11—and the band was welcomed by a sold-out crowd.

But first, Riverside’s Voodoo Glow Skulls brought their ska punk—with a heavy emphasis on punk—stirring up the crowd, especially three corn-feed bro-punks who moshed while the rest of the crowd was buffeted in their wake. As the band chanted “Who Do Voodoo We Do!” the crowd responded by replying, “Fuck You!”—which fed the fury of the moshers, who splashed perfectly good beer on the crowd.

Big Sandy was slated to go next—but Jim Heath, the Reverend himself, announced with a grin that this is a “Pioneertown psychobilly freakout!”

The Rev delighted the crowd with the hits, including “Five-O Ford” and “In Your Wildest Dreams,” off 1994’s Liquor in the Front. Heath caused some rockabilly gals to swoon with these words from the latter song: “My breath on your neck, the touch of my hand, you’ll awake in a room of steam, I’ll see you in your wildest dreams.”

Halfway through the set, Heath introduced the group’s new, husky, drummer, R.J. Contreras, who was incredible, keeping the beat strong and acknowledging the crowd with a “What’s up Pioneertown?” Heath added that R.J. “is young enough to put up with his bad habits.”

Jim Heath shared many stories about bassist Jimbo Wallace, including the time the Reverend performed in Seattle during the grunge-rock era for free—while Wallace bled on the crowd after cutting his hand. The injury drew the attention of executives from Sub Pop Records who were in the audience—and the whole thing led to the band getting signed to the label. This tale segued into the “Jimbo Song.”

At one point, Heath talked about the time they played in Fresno. “Fresno is every bit as redneck as Lubbock, Texas,” he said, leading to a big cheer from Jen Ault Michalk, a super-fan of Fresno who was at Pappy’s celebrating her son’s 18th birthday. Heath went on to say that “Cowboy Love” was inspired by a gay cowboy bar in Fresno, with the lyrics: “Yeah, I know that us as a couple, will cause talk, but I wouldn’t mind; those cowboys will be pea-green with envy, when they see his cute behind.”

The Reverend threw a curveball halfway through the show when he introduced Big Sandy as the best rockabilly singer today. Big Sandy proceeded to sing his song “Hot Water” with perfect pitch—living up to the compliment bestowed by Jim Heath. Sandy reciprocated his love for the Rev, saying, “I am very blessed playing with the Reverend Horton Heat.”

While all this mutual admiration was in the air, I overheard a father saying that his boy, Steven, who is 6, was at his second Reverend Horton Heat show—although Steven does not remember the first time, because he was much younger. Steven was all smiles, sitting on the edge of the stage watching the show at one point when Jimbo handed him a bottled water, causing the child to smile.

As things were winding down, the tempo wound up with “Let Me Teach You How to Eat.” I spied David Catching, a member of the Eagles of Death Metal, rocking out while wearing a hoodie towards the back of the venue.

Big Sandy returned to the stage: “We are going to dedicate this song to all of you,” he said as he took the lead on vocals. Meanwhile, Jimbo Wallace brought up little Steven to the stage. “Steven, have you ever had a bass lesson?” he asked. “Uncle Jimbo is going to give you a bass lesson.” The show ended with “School of Rock and Roll” by Gene Summers.

As I left the stage area after the show, Jimbo asked me if I got a shot of Steven playing the bass. I told him I didn’t, since I was only supposed to shoot during the first three songs. He then asked me to take photos of him and Steven.

“The future of music rests with kids,” he explained.

Published in Reviews

Back in the ‘90s, punk-rock fans looked forward to the Warped Tour every year.

Today … not so much. The Warped Tour has evolved and no longer features such an emphasis on punk—and that’s where the It’s Not Dead festival comes in.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino, the second version of the festival took place. Unlike the Warped Tour, the It’s Not Dead festival is a one-day affair—and attendees have to make some tough scheduling decisions. Everyone who is someone in punk rock fills the lineup, and the main stage features most of the best bands, meaning it’s hard to break away to see some of the bands on other stages.

Shortly after the festival opened, Warped Tour/It’s Not Dead founder Kevin Lyman appeared on the main stage, talked briefly for a moment and mentioned that the large stage rotated. One side was named the Gary Tovar Stage, after Goldenvoice founder Gary Tovar, and the other side was called the Gabby Gaborno Stage, named after the late Cadillac Tramps front man who passed away after a tough battle with cancer earlier this year. Lyman introduced the first act—Wraths, featuring Pennywise vocalist Jim Lindberg.

Wraths kicked ass—but many attendees hadn’t yet arrived or were in the parking lot tailgating, meaning they missed one hell of a show. Lindberg’s stage presence and intensity, which has made Pennywise great, was also present in Wraths. Toward the end of the set, Lindberg said the band didn’t know what to play, given they had only recorded a handful of songs and had five minutes left.

The Interrupters, a Los Angeles ska punk band that continues to grow in popularity, played after Wraths, as the crowd size continued to grow. The 100-plus-degree temps didn’t stop the Bivona brothers from wearing their signature white dress shirts, black ties and black pants, while frontwoman Aimee Interrupter was dressed all in black. The Interrupters put out a lot of positive energy, and most of the crowd was dancing, or slam-dancing in the mosh pit. Kevin Bivona declared that It’s Not Dead is his favorite festival, and that he hopes they come back in the future.

After skate-punk band Good Riddance put on a solid and energetic set, GBH followed—like a shot of adrenaline, which led to an even larger mosh pit. The members of the English street punk outfit that formed in the late 1970s might have appeared old, but they were intense. Vocalist Colin Abrahall declared that they were angry old men (in less appealing terms), and their set was brutal. I saw one attendee in a wheelchair go crowd-surfing—but his wheel chair tipped forward, launching him out of it. It wasn’t long before the guy was back in his wheelchair and rocking out on the security barrier.

Later in the day, former Black Flag frontman Keith Morris and his band OFF! put on a fantastic set. He took some time to talk about how he remembered coming to the Glen Helen Amphitheater in the ’90s for OzzFest, saying that the parking lot tailgating resembled what was shown in the ’80s documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot, and adding a story about a young woman who said she needed to give blow jobs in the parking lot in order to pay for her ticket.

As early evening set in, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes took the stage dressed in disco outfits. Missing were two regulars—NOFX bassist Fat Mike and Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett—with Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley and Face to Face guitarist Scott Shiflett taking their places. Frontman Spike Slawson sounded like he was calling San Bernardino “San Berdina” when he addressed the audience, and he was full of amusing anecdotes, including one about how he had the hots for some guy who also had the hots for him, and that they were busted in a park “finger banging.” One of the highlights of their covers-filled set was Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

I decided to venture over to the adjoining Fender stages to catch headlining performances by the U.S. Bombs and Voodoo Glow Skulls. Duane Peters of the U.S. Bombs has received a lot of negative attention as of late due to … well, being Duane Peters. He’s made controversial posts on social media as of late, saying that Tony Hawk was involved in a conspiracy relating to his late son’s death after a car accident, insulting local pro-skateboarder Eddie Elguera, and using homophobic slurs. When the U.S. Bombs went onstage, Duane Peters required the aid of a cane, but quickly put it aside when he began to sing. The U.S. Bombs performed well, but Duane seemed to struggle a bit through the set.

Riverside punk-ska legends Voodoo Glow Skulls have also endured some recent social media controversy, after now-former frontman Frank Casillas reportedly began making pro-Trump posts—upsetting the other two Casillas brothers, bandmates Eddie and Jorge. After Frank Casillas declared during a recent show that he was retiring from the band—an announcement which came as a surprise to the rest of the band—the remaining members recruited Death by Stereo frontman Efrem Schulz to finish out the tour. Voodoo Glow Skulls took the stage to a very large and welcoming audience, and Schulz’s stage presence was extremely high energy. The fans loved it.

Dropkick Murphys and Rancid brought their co-headlining tour to a close on Saturday night at It’s Not Dead. The first quarter of the Murphys’ hour-long set was all older material from their first two albums, including “Barroom Hero,” followed by “Do or Die,” “Never Alone,” “Boys on the Docks,” and “The Gang’s All Here.” The band always delivers a great set, and Rancid’s performance was just as good.

Beyond the music, the festival included a tent featuring artwork, photography and … books? Yes, books. In fact, Jim Lindberg did a book signing in the tent in the afternoon, as did Keith Morris of OFF! and Jack Grisham of TSOL.

“To actually be able to talk to the people that read your books, it’s cool,” Grisham said. “It’s the same thing to me as music. If they read the book and they enjoy it, it means we have a connection. We probably connected somewhere else down the line. I actually like to meet the people who like what I do.”

One of the more interesting selections for sale on Grisham’s table was a children’s book, I Wish There Were Monsters, which was written and illustrated by Grisham.

“It’s about a kid who has all this bravado and wants to fight all these monsters, and talking about all these monsters he wants to fight,” Grisham explained. “At the end of it, he says, ‘Hey, I wish there were monsters, just not tonight.’ He cuddles up in his bed with a cat. It was fun to do something that was laid back, and when I wrote it, it was never planned for release. I wrote it for my kids. I would just Xerox copies and hand them to friends.”

Published in Reviews

It’s time to celebrate the beginning of the end of summer with some great events!

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some big names scheduled for September. Funny man George Lopez will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6. The Mexican-American comedian’s impressive career has included his own talk show, several sitcoms and various other acting credits. Tickets are $39 to $99. If that’s not a big enough name for you, sit down, because Diana Ross will be returning to the Coachella Valley for a performance at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20. The former Supremes singer is a Motown legend and R&B powerhouse. At 70 years old, she’s still going strong. Tickets are $49 to $109. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of excellent events worth mentioning. The first one: Janelle Monae is performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12. The psychedelic soul singer has performed at Coachella, won six Grammy awards, and supported many artists on various tours. Hers is not typical R&B music by any means. Tickets are $45 to $75. Peter Frampton (right) will take the stage at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19. If you were a child of the ’70s, you definitely were enveloped in the music of Peter Frampton. It’s been said that everyone once owned his record Frampton Comes Alive, because it came with free samples of Tide in the mail. Tickets are $50 to $70. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has an event in September that you definitely shouldn’t miss: The legendary Engelbert Humperdinck (below) will be appearing at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19. The British crooner’s career goes back to 1956, and he enjoys a large following of female fans of all different ages. Legend says that he has more notches on his bedpost than Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead and Gene Simmons of KISS. Tickets are $59 to $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club has some great things going on during September. On Friday, Sept. 12, and Saturday, Sept. 13, the Ace Hotel will host Beer Culture: Craft Beer Weekend. There will be more than 20 craft breweries on hand, including the local big three: Coachella Valley Brewing Company, La Quinta Brewing Co., and Babe’s. There will be live music from Tijuana Panthers, Beach Party, RT n the 44s, and Pearl Charles and the Pipes Canyon Band. Prices vary. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Copa in Palm Springs is offering an impressive lineup in September. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6, the Copa will host American Idol contestant Melinda Doolittle. Doolittle finished third during the show’s sixth season and almost always received praise from the judges. Tickets are $27.50 to $37.50. Drag legend Charles Busch will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19, and Saturday, Sept. 20. Busch is also known as a playwright and a singer. Tickets are $35 to $65. Nita Whitaker, a vocalist who has shared the stage with Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand, will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27. Tickets are $25 to $40. The Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomps.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has had an excellent summer and has an awesome schedule coming up for the fall. In September, Pappy’s is hosting one event you don’t want to miss: The reunited Cibo Matto will be appearing at 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 28. The indie-rock band fronted by two Japanese women, Yuka Honda and Miho Matori, reunited in 2011 after almost a decade-long breakup. Yuka Honda worked with Damon Albarn as part of the animated band Gorillaz. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a big fall and winter ahead, according to The Hood’s booking man, Jack Kohler. John Garcia of Kyuss will be having his album-release party at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5. This is the celebration of his self-titled solo album, which has been getting good reviews. Admission is $15. Now for some shameless self promotion (although it’s for a good cause): My second NestEggg Food Bank Benefit Show will happen at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13. Scheduled performers include The Yip Yops, Burning Bettie, Sunday Funeral and The Hellions. Admission is free, but a $5 donation is suggested. The Voodoo Glow Skulls will be returning to The Hood at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19. Also on the bill will be local band Machin’. Admission is $5. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27, Arizona punk outfit Authority Zero will be dropping in. Admission is $10. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

After 25 years and nine albums, the Voodoo Glow Skulls aren’t phased by changes in the music industry—and are still going strong with thanks in part to their DIY work ethic.

The band will return to the desert to perform at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Thursday, July 18.

The Casillas brothers—Frank (lead vocals), Eddie (guitar) and Jorge (bass)—formed the Riverside punk/ska outfit in 1988.

“Back in those days in Riverside, backyard parties were the only gigs you could get,” said Frank Casillas during a recent phone interview. “Shortly after, we learned how to play our instruments and had enough songs; it led to us playing at the only local club, which was Spanky’s Café.”

At Spanky’s Café, which was a historic venue in Riverside, the band started getting booked to play with headliners like The Dickies, fIREHOSE, and Mighty Mighty Bosstones, just to name a few. The group eventually found themselves with an increasing following throughout Southern California. They signed with Dr. Strange Records in 1993 and released Who Is, This Is?. They then went on to sign with Epitaph Records and released four albums with the label, the first of which was Firme, in 1995.

“We sold a lot of records on Epitaph,” said Frank Casillas. “It just got us to the next level. We were able to go to Europe for the first time. For us, the first time traveling abroad and playing our music to an audience overseas was pretty cool. We were this little band that started playing out of a bedroom in Riverside, and all of a sudden, five or six years later, we’re playing these big festivals in Europe.”

After their contract was up with Epitaph in 2000, they decided signed with Victory Records, which was at the time an exclusive punk/hardcore music label with a controversial reputation. However, that soon began to change.

“We felt Victory Records was becoming the next Epitaph at the time we signed with them. But they were starting to attract the demographic of the emo, post-hardcore crowd. We were on the label when it was cool, but it just seemed they were going through the motion with us. We didn’t fit in with that crowd of bands,” Frank Casillas said.

The band left Victory Records in 2007 for Smelvis Records, and after four years of recording in a home studio, put out Break the Spell in 2012. Alternative Press hailed the album as “kick-ass in both tone and message.”

The band values their creative freedom; they shun the idea of having business managers. They book their own dates, are in control of their own merchandising, and continue to do well financially.

In part because they continue to succeed, Frank Casillas doesn’t believe in the saying “punk rock is dead.”

“I think things are going back to full circle. It’s also going back to the roots of the underground,” he said. “A lot of the older bands are starting to come back and play again. You have two different versions of Black Flag out on tour right now, and a lot of the old British bands are coming back.”

Frank said the band loves playing in the desert. Having performed one show at The Hood before, they’re excited to be coming back.

“It’s very similar to Riverside,” said of the Coachella Valley. "It’s not a big city, and it seems that any of the bands that go out there are more appreciated, and the shows are always pretty good. It’s a cool place for us to play.”

Voodoo Glow Skulls play at 8 p.m., Thursday, July 18, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Spankshaft will open. Admission to the 21-and-older show is $10, and there are no presales, so attendees are advised to arrive early. For more information, visit thehoodbar.com.

Published in Previews