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Shooter Jennings—the son of the late, great Waylon Jennings—is usually considered a country artist. However, his love of taking creative risks has allowed him to transcend country in some awesome ways.

On Thursday and Friday, Aug. 9 and 10, he’ll enjoy a rare two-night stint at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace—coinciding with the release of his new album, Shooter, on Aug. 10.

“This time around, I feel like we really set out to make a real country record,” Jennings said during a recent phone interview. “‘A Hank Jr. record’ is what we were kind of calling it, and we set out to make a record that was fun to listen to, and I feel like the most left-turn thing I could have done was make a very country record, especially when everyone is doing experimental records these days. For me, I set out to make a very boogie-woogie, a little Jerry Lee Lewis, a little Hank Williams Jr. kind of record. That was the spark, and we saw that through.”

His previous album, Countach, was a tribute to record producer and electronica pioneer Giorgio Moroder, and included covers of some of Moroder’s contributions to film soundtracks, including title song from The Neverending Story with Brandi Carlile, and the title song from Cat People with Marilyn Manson.

“Every record is different. With the (Moroder) record, the idea was to explore his music and expand it into a more-country realm,” Jennings said. “I learned so much from doing that record. I watched this documentary on Hunter S. Thompson called Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride, and he talked about how he would retype Ernest Hemingway novels, like the whole book, and he would learn his writing by doing that. Exploring these Giorgio arrangements and chord progressions, and adapting to them was a learning process. I became really obsessed with his solo records, and I thought they were so unique and definitive of the time.

“Doing that record was really fun, but after that was over, I didn’t want to go back and do something like that again. It made sense to do a left turn and make a country record afterward. It felt like the rebellious thing to do.”

When I asked Jennings if he has ever felt like he’s alienated his audience, he mentioned Black Ribbons, a concept album that he released in 2010, which included the voice of Stephen King narrating between songs as a disc jockey after the U.S. government had taken control of the airwaves. Many of the songs reference conspiracy theories.

“At this point in time, I think it’s become expected. When we did Black Ribbons, that was the first big left turn,” Jennings said. “When we did that record, there were definitely some people at the moment who didn’t understand what we were doing. But over time, that record has given back to me more than any other record. I got the most out of the records that are the most experimental. I don’t feel like I’ve divided (my audience), but I’m sure there were people who were like, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ But now it’s like become a mainstay. Sturgill Simpson did A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, which is a very experimental record. … At the time, it might have been polarizing, but if I lost anyone, they were people who were not there for me in the first place. I never felt like there was a reason to believe it wasn’t OK to push the boundaries.”

Jennings has collaborated with a long list of musicians from various genres—but one that sticks out is Billy Ray Cyrus; Jennings collaborated with him on a song called “Killing the Blues.” When I asked Jennings about it, he laughed.

“I’ve known him over the years, and we did this series of shows in Los Angeles where it was me and a band, and we’d add a bunch of different singers to come in and play,” Jennings said. “I asked him to do that, and when he did that, I said, ‘We should go in the studio just for fun.’ I had really been in love with that song, particularly John Prine’s version, for a really long time. He loved it, and it was like, ‘Why not?’ It was cool, and he let me steer with the two songs we did, and it was just fun.

“He’s an incredibly talented singer. His personality has kind of overshadowed who he really is in a way, but he’s this crazy stylistic vocalist, kind of like Freddie Mercury or something. He does layer after layer of harmonies. He’d do them in all these different voices—like one that was a woman, and one that was like Sammy Hagar—and he had all these names for these different voices. It sounds like 10 different people singing, but it’s him changing his voice.”

Jennings married his wife in Joshua Tree, and they are regular visitors to Pappy and Harriet’s.

“I love it up there. It’s a special place to me. There’s kind of a mystical vibe to it,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of adventures in Joshua Tree, and it’s become me and my wife’s place to go and get away. I love playing Pappy and Harriet’s. When my wife and I go out there, we go and eat at Pappy and Harriet’s.”

I had to ask: What did Jennings think about the episodes regarding his father on Mike Judge’s new Cinemax animated series, Tales From the Tour Bus?

“I didn’t know what to expect, especially after seeing the Johnny Paycheck episode, which was a little harsh,” he said. “I wondered what was going to happen, and I didn’t get too involved in it, because I was worried about the platform and whether it included people who had an ax to grind. But I think they did a really good job at the end of the day, and I think Mike Judge’s heart was in the right place. The Jerry Lee Lewis episode was fantastic, and it had some really cool stuff in it. You could tell (Judge) really loved country music, and you could tell he was trying to do something really cool and entertaining.”

Shooter Jennings will perform at 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday, Aug. 9 and 10, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets for Friday’s show are sold out, but $25 tickets remained for Thursday’s show as of our press deadline. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

The desert isn’t just a place to create art for Cristopher Cichocki; the desert is also his muse—and at times, his art includes actual pieces of the desert. His works have showcased the beauty, the darkness and the catastrophes of the desert and its ecosystem.

Cichocki’s work has been shown around the world, and he’s taking many of his pieces to the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster for an exhibition called Divisions of Land and Sea; it’s part of a larger exhibit called The Robot Show, which features eight artists, each with their own solo exhibition. It will be on display from Saturday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Sept. 30.

During a recent phone interview with Cichocki while he was in Guadalajara, Mexico, he explained his exhibit.

“It’ll be an installation of new paintings, video works, sculptures, photographic works and my audio work,” Cichocki said. “It relates to the collision that we’re in between humankind, the natural world and industrial production.”

Some of Cichocki works are not what they appear to be at first. For instance: If you look at his photos, you’ll discover he’s combined them with paint.

“After Palm Desert High School, where I graduated in 1997, I went directly to CalArts,” he said; also known as the California Institute of the Arts, the renowned school is located in Valencia. “CalArts is potentially one of the most multidisciplinary art schools in the world, and I was exposed to highly experimental and conceptual practices. They were completely mind-blowing, and to challenge myself and experiment, and I’ve always been striving to take my practice and insights to a different level. CalArts was a laboratory for me to work through this hybrid framework.

“As to when the work came into this cohesive relationship, I feel that really came around 2010, when I started combining my elements with the video, the photography, the painting and the performance. They came together and started to work together as a cross-reference—meaning they’re all pieces of a larger puzzle. I’m producing paintings that are photographs; I’m producing videos that are paintings, and vice versa. I find it necessary for exhibitions such as Divisions of Land and Sea to combine all of these elements into a larger narrative.”

Cichocki was part of a KCET documentary on the Salton Sea. He voiced his concerns about the growing ecological and environmental threat the lake poses to the Coachella Valley.

“The Salton Sea is one of the largest pending airborne catastrophes threatening the United States, and it’s right in our backyard,” he said. “It’s this issue that I feel is out of sight and out of mind for a majority of people in the area—not only in the Coachella Valley, but even spanning all the way into Los Angeles, people don’t even know about the Salton Sea.

“The Salton Sea was a manmade accident in 1905 when the Colorado River split and started filling what was then the Salton Sink, which was a huge basin ready for this water to enter it. Now we have California’s largest lake … and if the dust or particulate matter begins to advance further with the receding shoreline, we’re going to have major problems with the air quality. We already do have major problems. The high school in Mecca has one of the highest asthma rates in the nation. It’s not just dust that’s blowing around in the air; it’s particulate matter entering into people’s blood streams and causing asthma, especially in younger generations. There’s selenium, arsenic and all of these other things. It truly is this synthesis of nature and industry because of 100 years of agricultural runoff.”

His work gets quite detailed at times. His latest painting, “Shoreline,” includes barnacles, fish bones, sand and salt from the Salton Sea.

“I look at (Divisions of Land and Sea) as a hybrid between natural history and contemporary art. I’m bringing in elements of land art, minimalism and other historical points of trajectory,” he said. “Also, I’m bringing in raw organic materials. My paintings have actual barnacles; they have actual soil and things that are transforming within them. There’s black-light reactivity, which I actually refer to in the technical term—ultraviolet radiation. There’s evidence that there’s a metaphysical property under these elements. I’m interested in reality and also the biological and phenomenological structural makeup of these elements. There’s this idea that there’s something constantly in motion, and the work is alive.”

I asked Cichocki if there was a spiritual element to his work. He seemed to struggle with the question at first.

“I certainly feel that nature has a certain awareness to it. It can be as simple as we water a tree, or we don’t,” Cichocki said. “Or it can be as simple as we have classical music playing, and the tree thrives beyond the other trees in areas where there isn’t any classical music.”

Cichocki will be going out of state for his next exhibition.

“In September in Taos, New Mexico, I’ll be performing Circular Dimensions at a large video and installation festival called The Paseo Project. Circular Dimensions is ever-evolving, so I have new tricks up my sleeve for Taos.”

Cristopher Cichocki’s Divisions of Land and Sea, part of The Robot Show, will be on display from Saturday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Sept. 30, at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History, 665 W. Lancaster Blvd., in Lancaster, about 135 miles northwest of the Coachella Valley. For more information, call 661-723-6250, or visit www.lancastermoah.org. Below top: “Center of the Sea,” 2018, Salton Sea barnacles on wood composite with LED video panel. Below bottom: “Property Division,” 2016-2017; left side is a tilapia nest at Riviera Keys, Salton Sea, Calif.; right side is algae with birds, Salton City, Calif.

Not long ago, hip-hop trio The Bermuda was getting ready to release a brand-new album.

After the departure of one of the members, however, that album will almost certainly never be released. Meanwhile, the two remaining members of The Bermuda—Ivy the Giant (Ivan Recendes) and the Madd Hatter (Taylor Bentz), who have been friends since childhood—are going back to the drawing board and continuing The Bermuda as a duo.

During a recent interview in Cathedral City, Madd Hatter and Ivy the Giant talked about what happened.

“We were working on a new album called Loading, and we started getting really frustrated during the whole process,” Ivy the Giant said. “Bunkz started hanging out with a different crew and slowly started distancing himself. He never showed up to rehearse, never wanted to go with us anywhere, and never wanted to meet up. We decided to work on our own thing, but keep the group intact. Our side project was going to be called the Madd Giants. We posted a picture, because we were done slowing down. We needed to pick up our pace and get back up on it. After a while, I gave Bunkz an ultimatum, and he said, ‘Consider me out.’”

Madd Hatter said Bunkz put the group in a difficult spot.

“We’d just finished making this album,” Madd Hatter said. “It was the best work the three of us had done to date. Now, he’s leaving, and it’s like, ‘What are we going to do?’ (Ivy) said, ‘OK, let’s just not drop the album.’ We already figured at that point that it was done. We knew it was coming sooner or later.

“We just disappeared for a couple of months, and we were stuck on whether we keep The Bermuda name … or do we change our name to the Madd Giants? After talking with our fans, they said, ‘No, keep the name going!’”

Bunkz (Giancarlo Stagnaro) explained his side of the story via e-mail.

“The friendship died, and I didn’t want to kick it with them anymore,” Bunkz said. “I wasn’t even planning on leaving the group up until I saw Madd Hatter post up a picture on Instagram of him and Ivy the Giant talking about ‘Cheers to new beginnings!’ So when I saw that, I said, ‘Fuck that, and fuck you guys; I’m out.’”

There was also a major problem with the aforementioned album.

“The reason why that album will never see the light of day is we had a third-party producer work on it, so he owns that album now,” Madd Hatter said. “Some shady things went on between us and him, and now we don’t want to pay for that album. When we announced the album wasn’t coming out, and Bunkz left, (the producer) texted us and said, ‘You still have to pay for this album.’ It was fully understandable, given it was mixed and mastered. Then he hit up Bunkz behind our backs, saying, ‘Hey, I’ll cut you a deal: I’ll cut their parts out, and it’ll be your album.’”

At that point, the two remaining members of The Bermuda decided not to pay for the album. “We didn’t even trust it anymore, and the majority of the beats on the album were done by Bunkz, so it wouldn’t have worked out anyway,” Ivy the Giant said.

Bunkz confirmed the producer did extend that offer to him.

“What happened is that he suggested I remove their verses and drop the album with only my verses on it. And I kindly declined that offer,” he wrote via email.

Despite all the bad, Ivy the Giant said something good has come out of the chaos.

“We were so frustrated when we were recording that album with all the bullshit going on in the studio, and after every studio session, there was something we didn’t like,” he said. “It was back and forth after a session, and now it’s just two minds. We can go back forth, and we don’t have to worry about that third party. I feel like it’s better as it is now. We just wanted to start fresh, and that’s what we’re doing.

“We’re working on a new EP called The Madd Giants Part 1. It’s going to drop in August, so we’re excited for that.”

Both members of The Bermuda expressed optimism about the future.

“It feels good to be doing this music shit again—without any worries, and without any bad thoughts in the back of my mind while we’re performing,” Ivy the Giant said. “Now we know what we’re doing, and it feels good again, so we can continue.”

Bunkz said he’s also found closure.

“My new name is Jon Goat, and I’m dropping my first project called Bunkz Is DEAD soon,” he wrote. “I think I made the best decision of my life. I’m a better solo artist, and everyone agrees. I’m very versatile, and I can rap in Spanish and in English and on any beat—and not to talk shit, but they can’t do that.”

The Bermuda performed at The Hood Bar and Pizza last year with the local metal/hip-hop band Drop Mob. I asked if a rumored recording of the song they performed together exists and will ever come out.

“For a while, we were super-hyped and into the rock/rap thing. Obviously, it’s in the future,” Madd Hatter said. “Drop Mob reminds me of Rage Against the Machine and early Cypress Hill. When I hear them, I hear that sound. We were always like, ‘We have to collaborate with these dudes.’ We did a few shows with them, and then we hit them up and said, ‘Hey, we need to do something together.’ We actually did a demo song together and performed it. It is still in the future, but we haven’t kept in touch with Drop Mob.”

Said Ivy the Giant: “We’re still down to do a rock/rap collaboration. That was different, and we had never heard ourselves in something like that. It’s always cool to do that, and that was a lot of fun. But for right now, we’re focused on getting ourselves back where we need to be.”

For more information on The Bermuda, visit www.facebook.com/therealbermuda.

When I sat down with Sunday Funeral to discuss the band’s latest album, Hit ’Em Again, frontman Justin Ledesma chuckled when I mentioned the band’s history.

After being founded 11 years ago, Sunday Funeral has included a seemingly ever-rotating cast of local musicians with Ledesma. However, the band re-established itself two years ago after parting ways with former vocalist and guitarist Brian Frang. Ledesma has found solid ground fronting the band with Andrea Taboada on bass and Grant Gruenberg on drums.

The group’s once-shaky live performances are now solid, and the band has been nominated for awards by readers of both the Coachella Valley Independent and CV Weekly.

During a recent interview in Palm Desert, the members discussed how Hit ’Em Again—the first album to feature Taboada and Gruenberg—is a far cry from previous releases.

“I hope it goes to show that I put in a lot of work,” Ledesma said. “That third record, Rising of the Dead, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. I was doing a lot of drugs. This one, I spent a lot of time and put in the work, so I hope people can tell. I spent a lot of time on each little section of the songs. I’m pretty sure it comes across as far better than the last ones. On Rising of the Dead, for some reason, I started with the guitar and finished with the drums second, which was stupid! This time around, it was Grant playing live, and Andrea recorded her parts separately.”

Sunday Funeral did include three of the band’s older songs on the album as re-recorded versions: “The Mirror,” “Deadly Kiss” and “Alloy Stars.”

“The brand-new recordings of those songs are nothing like they originally sounded like,” Gruenberg said.

Two of the songs on Hit ’Em Again were originally Taboada’s work.

“‘Battle Cry’ and ‘Who Knows’ are songs I wrote the bass lines for,” Taboada said. “We collaborated on writing the rest of the song, and Justin helped with the structures of the songs.”

The band has a newfound obsession with the ’30s and ’40s. Ledesma has performed wearing a vintage military uniform; Sunday Funeral has done covers of ’30s and ’40s songs; even Ledesma’s microphone stand is inspired by the era. The group sometimes performs with a rotating list of local female vocalists called “B Company,” who also wear military uniforms.

“I liked Indiana Jones when I was a kid,” Ledesma said with a laugh. “I’ve always liked 1930s and 1940s things like the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the movie Swing Kids. I’ve always liked that kind of culture and don’t really know why. Originally, I didn’t want to go full-on military when we would perform live with B Company. That first night, I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll do some kind of soldier thing, too,’ and went, ‘Nah, that’s taking it too far.’ The whole Hit ’Em Again thing really fits in. The more I stopped holding back, the more it worked.”

While Ledesma has endured hard times with Sunday Funeral, he said he couldn’t be happier with where the band is now.

“I’m happy I stuck with it—but there was never a point where I wanted to give up,” he said. “I want to play music, and it’s just really neat that we struck upon something that people are really enjoying. I hope not to take it for granted, because there was a time when people used to think we weren’t that great.

“I have our Coachella Valley Independent award hanging in two rooms of my house,” he said, referring to the band’s Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018 staff pick as Best Re-Established Band. “It lifts my spirits when I look at it, and it means a lot to me. It’s really neat to be recognized for something you do. It feels really good.”

For more information, visit www.sundayfuneral.com.

The Flusters have been busy playing shows in Los Angeles and San Diego, and preparing the band’s second EP; according to frontman Doug VanSant, the new music will drop in the fall. For more information, visit www.theflusters.com. In the meantime, we checked in with guitarist Danny White and asked him to endure the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

KISS in Jackson, Miss. Skid Row and Ted Nugent opened.

What was the first album you owed?

Tom Petty’s Wildflowers or Huey Lewis and the News' Sports. My mom used to put CDs in my Easter basket. I don’t remember which came first.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I've been on a Gary Clark kick for the past few weeks. I've also been inspired lately by a lot of deep funk. Mickey and the Soul Generation has been playing a lot; the Poets of Rhythm as well. I’ve been really enjoying Bird Concerns, a band we did a show with in Los Angeles not long ago. Amazing harmonies!

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

It's not up to me to “get” anyone’s music.

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

Jimi Hendrix.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

1950s doo-wop.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Any (venue) that has a shower. If we are talking about to attend, I like dark, intimate venues. I’m not big on stadium and arena shows.

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

“Kiss of mountain air we breathe; goodbye, it’s time to fly,” from “Surprise Valley,” Widespread Panic.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Widespread Panic. It was my first love and a long one. I don’t listen a lot these days, but every now and then, I'll stream a live show from the ’90s, and sit down for a listen.

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

I would probably ask John Bell of Widespread Panic where he found his inspiration.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I'm not gonna die.

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

If I had to choose, maybe I’d go with Little Creatures by the Talking Heads, just because there is never a bad time for that album.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Casual Sex” by Bird Concerns. (Scroll down to hear it.)

If you’ve seen Gutter Candy perform recently, you may have noticed a new yet familiar face behind the drums: Dani Diggler, also a member of Sticky Doll, and the guitarist and drummer for Van Vincent. That’s not all: Diggler is also a solo artist. Catch him in action with Gutter Candy this Friday, July 13, at The Hood Bar and Pizza; and Friday, Aug. 3, at Gadi’s, in Yucca Valley. See him with Van Vincent on Friday, Aug. 10, at the Joshua Tree Saloon, in Joshua Tree. Diggler was kind enough to take the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Aerosmith, 1993, in Costa Mesa. Jackyl was the opening act. It was a great show, and I remember most of it.

What was the first album you owned?

Too far back to recall, but I believe it was a cassette tape given to me by my aunt: Draw the Line by Aerosmith. (Aerosmith was) also my first favorite band.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m always listening to Tool, Primus and The Doors.

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

Rap. It’s just not music at all.

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

Without a doubt, it would be The Doors. I can’t think of a show that could be more legendary than that.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Tori Amos. She’s amazing. Most people can’t believe I’m into her. Why not? She’s amazing!

What’s your favorite music venue?

I’d have to say the Greek Theatre (in Los Angeles). Great place to see a show.

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

“Death makes angels of us all, giving us wings where we had shoulders, smooth as ravens claws,” The Doors, “A Feast of Friends.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Again, The Doors.

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

Les Claypool: “How the hell do you do what you do on the bass so well?” Greatest bassist of all time. Period.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Two songs: From a band I was in years ago Chili Cow, “... And the Story Begins,” and an original I wrote, currently unreleased, "Death My Friend."

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

Tool, Ænima.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Right in Two,” again by Tool. So accurate. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Stoner-rock band Fu Manchu was founded back in 1985—and went on to become one of the pillars of the genre. Today, the band is still around, having outlasted many of its contemporaries, including local legendary stoner-rock band Kyuss.

The band is currently touring behind its 12th album, Clone of the Universe, released back in February. The group will be coming to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Saturday, July 28.

During a recent phone interview with frontman and guitarist Scott Hill, he said the formula Fu Manchu has used to start recording its albums hasn’t changed in more than 25 years.

“We have this cassette 4-track machine, and we all sit in a circle with our amps pointing inward. We put one microphone straight down the middle, and on one track, we just record all of the music,” Hill said. “I have three more tracks to do vocals on. We do that, take the songs home and listen to them, and rearrange them. We’ve been doing that since 1992. This is kind of a rough demo of songs before we head into a studio.”

Fu Manchu has recorded its albums in a variety of different settings, and with a range budgets.

“We’ve spent a lot of money and gotten a great recording, and we’ve spent not a lot of money and gotten a great recording,” Hill said. “It’s all about who you go with as a producer and where you go. You can spend a lot of money in an expensive studio that’s really nice with air conditioning and a big lobby, or you can do what we did with our last couple of records, at a small storage place where the studio is. It’s really hot, and you sweat after walking into the place, but you get a really good recording. It depends on what you want to do, where you want to do it, and what your budget is.”

Fu Manchu’s rock ’n’ roll sound has not changed much since its first full-length album, No One Rides for Free, in 1994. That’s a source of pride for the band.

“We just all like this straight-forward riff stuff. To me, it’s never boring, and there are always new riffs and drum beats,” Hill said. “With Clone of the Universe, we did an 18-minute song, which we’ve never done before. It took up the entire Side 2. We all like playing like straightforward, heavy and fuzzy rock ’n’ roll. It never gets old, and we’re not tired of doing it.

Hill said he sees many ethos similarities in the stoner-rock and punk-rock scenes.

“I got into punk rock in December of 1980; that was the first time I heard live Black Flag and was like, ‘What is this?’ I guess it’s kind of the same in the sense that you play where you can,” he said. “You play backyards, little clubs or big clubs … you go for it wherever and whenever you can. Hardcore and punk rock are my main influence, and that’s when I really got into music and started wanting to play guitar. I’d go to shows and think, ‘That looks so fun!’ and would just watch the guitar-players. As the late ’80s rolled around, I’d pull out the old Deep Purple and Blue Cheer records and mix it all together. I’ll listen to Foghat, and I’ll listen to Black Flag in the same sitting. It’ll all make sense to me.”

On Clone of the Universe, Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson makes an appearance on the aforementioned 18-minute-long song, “Il Mostro Atomico.”

“Our manager is friends with (Alex Lifeson’s) manager, and our manager asked what Alex was up to, and he was like, ‘Oh, he’s just in the studio recording guitar stuff.’ He asked what we were up to, and we were getting ready to record. Our manager asked, ‘Hey, would Alex like to play guitar on a Fu Manchu song?’ He got back to us and said, ‘Yeah, send him a song.’ We thought our manager was kidding. We sent it to him, and he asked us what we wanted him to do, and we said, ‘Wherever you want to do something, for however long you want to do something, whatever you want to do—do it.’ He did a bunch of guitar stuff all over the song.”

Hill told me a story about one of the strangest shows the band has ever played.

“We flew to Spain for one show that was actually a festival,” he said. “We flew there the night before and hung out. We went to the big festival and played a couple of bands under the headliner; it was probably about 40,000 people. We got up onstage, set up and played four songs, and they said, ‘OK, that’s it!’ It was getting really windy and stormy, so that was it. We went all the way to Spain to play four songs and went home. It was the weirdest one for me, given we flew all that way to play four songs.”

Fu Manchu will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 28, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53668 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $18. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

July is the hottest month of year in the Coachella Valley—and the month is bringing some hot shows along with the toasty temps.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has three big shows in July. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 7, enjoy your post-Fourth of July weekend with Michael McDonald. McDonald has been part of Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers. He’s also been an iconic force as a solo artist, winning five Grammy Awards and collaborating with greats like Elton John, Ray Charles and many others. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 13, venture back to the ’90s with the Counting Crows. It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the Counting Crows helped define ’90s pop-rock when hit single “Mr. Jones” was played endlessly. Tickets are $49 to $109. If you think it couldn’t get hotter, there’s more: At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 21, famed producer and electrifying performer Pitbull will take the stage. The man is known as “Mr. Worldwide,” and it’s been said that one way to guarantee a song’s success these days is to have Pitbull on board as a collaborator or producer. Tickets are $69 to $129. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa sails into July with some old-school events you won’t want to miss. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 7, head down the highway to the danger zone with Kenny Loggins (right). It’s amazing how many epic ’80s movie soundtracks Loggins found himself on—and even if the movies were box-office bombs, the songs were still hits. One example I’ll leave you with: “Meet Me Half Way” is from my favorite box-office stinker of all time, Over the Top. Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 14, you may not be able to handle all the disco when the Village People stop by. If there was ever a time to see the Village People, it’s now, because the original frontman, the cop/admiral himself, Victor Willis, is back after a lengthy absence. Willis had problems with drugs but has cleaned himself up and has enjoyed an epic run since rejoining the Village People in 2017. Tickets are $28 to $98. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 27, continue on with the tradition of the ’70s with Donny and Marie. The two famed Osmonds are part of a large family of entertainers, and are a regular act in Las Vegas. Tickets are $95 to $150. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a relatively quiet July, but there’s still some cool stuff going on. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 14, Bronco will be performing. The traditional Norteño band has been going for almost 40 years, has sold more than 10 million records, and continues to put out new music. Tickets are $49 to $69. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

On the flip side … Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a lot going on in July. Here are but a few events to consider for a high desert night out: At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 7, jam-band Moe (below) will be performing. The Buffalo, N.Y., band members are contemporaries of Phish, Widespread Panic and the Dave Matthews Band. Bassist Rob Derhak recently won a hard-fought battle against cancer—and Moe returned to the stage without missing a beat. Tickets are $30. At 8 p.m., Thursday, July 12, stoner-rock band Dead Meadow will be performing. If that’s not enough, desert-rock band Yawning Man, featuring Gary Arce and Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson, is also on the bill. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Thursday, July 19, Los Angeles producer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Adams, aka The Blank Tapes, will take the stage. If you’ve never heard of him, you should stop what you’re doing and look him up. Admission is free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

We Are Scientists’ Chris Cain and Keith Murray met at Pomona College in 1997. Several years later, they’d take the world by storm.

In the years since the band’s debut, We Are Scientists released six albums that helped define today’s indie rock—before pushing the bar even higher with Megaplex, the group’s seventh album, released in May.

We Are Scientists will be performing at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Saturday, July 14.

During a recent phone interview with Chris Cain, he explained the process the band went through to make Megaplex.

“With each record, I think we’ve been reacting to the music that we were listening to at the time, or a year or two prior,” Cain said. “That’s part of why each one ends up a bit different: It’s our natural shifting tastes and interests. There’s also a very conscious effort on our part to make sure we don’t make the same record over and over again.

“With this one, we consciously set out to incorporate some synth elements and electronic beat elements that we haven’t really dabbled with on previous records. That’s because Keith and I have become more conversant with the software everyone uses, which had never really been a part of our workflow in the past. We figured it was time to learn that stuff and begin that journey during the writing process. … Any of the tools you use to create are inevitably going to create a different result. Combine all those things, and this record for us definitely feels like a pseudo-generational thing that we’ve made. I assume the next one will be earth-shattering as well.”

Many mainstream bands today make music that follows a certain formula.

“There is sort of a new perceived wisdom about how quickly you need to get to the chorus, how quickly you need to get yourself through the first verse, and so forth,” Cain said. “I think that’s true for a certain type of outreach that you are doing with your music. There’s always kind of a balancing act. (You want to) really get your existing fans fired up. These are people who are automatically going to give a new record more time to impress them. We prefer a record that takes a minute to grow on them. You’re balancing that with a desire to reach new people. Poor old U2 got in trouble for trying to reach new people by having their record placed on everyone’s iTunes account a couple of years ago. There’s no point where a musician wants to stop trying to have new people hear what they’re making.”

When the band signed with Virgin Records, the members insisted on using Ariel Rechtshaid, who was then largely unknown, as the producer. Rechtshaid would go on to become one of the world’s most popular producers, recording U2, Adele, Beyoncé and many others.

“We had made a demo with Ariel that ended up on Love and Squalor,” Cain said. “We really loved that, and we made that album without a label and just with a publishing company footing the tiny bill for the production. We thought he totally knocked (that album) out of the park, working on a short deadline and no money for studio time. He really got the best out of us. When it was time to do Brain Thrust Mastery and we signed with Virgin Records, they had a clause in the deal that they needed to approve any producer, and we fought to have an exemption in there that if we wanted to do it with Ariel, they would have to accept that. They didn’t want to do that, but ultimately, they let us. They begged us to consider alternatives—and obviously, history is on our side.”

I asked Cain if he felt like rock music and its subgenres were in a sort of music purgatory right now.

“I’m concerned by it in the sense that I’m attentive to it. It’s a very uncertain time, but I don’t feel a sense of dread,” he said. “I think it’s more that there are a lot of unknowns about how consumer behaviors are going to change and how distribution is going to change—also, the technology for making music and how that will change. I think those all affect how we do our job, and they’re all changing. I don’t know how to predict where they will go. I am concerned, but not in a critical way.”

The unique atmosphere and history of Pappy and Harriet’s does not concern We Are Scientists.

“We’ve sort of managed to entertain in a pretty wide variety of venues in our career,” Cain said. “We’re not the kind of obstinate dudes who refuse to read the room and just do what we want to do. Part of the pleasure of playing live is pleasing the audience.”

We Are Scientists will perform with Beverly at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 14, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53668 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

With a population of about 25,000 people, Desert Hot Springs is one of the smaller cities in the Coachella Valley—yet DHS has the second-most traffic accidents among the nine cities.

These accidents are often deadly: In 2016, there were seven fatal traffic collisions in DHS, while in 2017, there were eight—and the stretch of Palm Drive between Pierson Boulevard and Camino Aventura seems to be particularly dangerous.

“Our accidents are actually decreasing, but it’s still a major issue for us,” said Desert Hot Springs Police Chief Dale Mondary. “In 15 years, we’ve had at least 25 fatal accidents. It’s not as many as Palm Springs … but that’s still a lot for Desert Hot Springs.”

In an effort to curb the number of accidents, a safety-enhancement zone will soon go into effect on that stretch of Palm Drive between Pierson and Camino Aventura.

“Any fine for a moving violation is doubled in that area,” Mondary said. “That was just another part of our approach to try to get people to slow down and drive safer. There are people who don’t pay any attention to the speed limit. They think, ‘I have to be at work in Palm Desert at 8 a.m., and if I leave my house at 7:20 a.m. and drive 70 mph, I can get there in time.’ They do that instead of getting up earlier and driving the speed limit.

“This is just one way we hope to slow people down. A lot of the offenders are repeat offenders who get more than one citation in that area, so if their fine is doubled, they’re going to think, ‘I can’t afford $700 to $800 for a ticket!’ That’s a tough sell for us, because we are a blue-collar working community, and we don’t want to take money out of people’s pockets that could be spent on their families. But what if you’re driving 65 in a 45, and you run over somebody and kill them? You’re going to be criminally charged and spend years in prison.”

Desert Hot Springs Mayor Scott Matas said a recent fatality helped lead to the safety enhancement zone.

“The last death that happened was Pamela Carrillo; she crossed the street and lost her life,” Matas said. The 17-year-old was struck by a car and killed in March. “We brought the family in and talked to the family members, asking what we could do better. One of the things they suggested was putting together a speed-safety zone. We hope that signage, streetlights, stoplights and restriping the roads will work together. Do we want to cause our residents more grief when they have to pay a ticket? No, but we do want to hold people more responsible for what they’re doing. You can’t go 65 mph up a street when people are walking along the side of it.”

A lot of jaywalking takes place along that aforementioned stretch of road—something the city is also trying to crack down upon.

“Over the past couple of months, we’ve written probably at least 50 jaywalking tickets,” Mondary said. “We need more crosswalks, because the reality is if you live in this particular part of the city, the nearest crosswalk is a quarter-mile away. People are going to say, ‘I’m just not going to walk down that far; I just want to get to the bus stop across the street.’ The problem is they try to run across five lanes of traffic that are in a 45 mph zone.”

Matas said the city has been examining the problem over the past two years with surveying and traffic studies.

“When I became mayor 2 1/2 years ago, one of the priorities I wanted to set with the City Council was so many pedestrian accidents and deaths,” Matas said. “I wanted to make our roads safer. We put together a plan to prioritize the stretches of roads that were the worst. Our staff did an analysis and showed us where the problems were. … We’ve put together a plan on where we needed to put some funding and received a state transportation grant about two years ago. The bids are due by the end of July for construction, and construction (should) start late August through September. We’re going to add an additional stop light on Camino Aventura, and choke and restructure the lanes so they aren’t as wide, which causes people to slow down. We’re going to put better bicycle lanes in, sidewalks on the west side of the street, and crosswalks for the kids, given there are schools close by. We’re going to add 23 streetlights to light up the streets better, and with the new LED technology, they will point straight down onto the streets and not up into the night sky.”

Even after the changes are made, it’ll be up to DHS residents to be smarter drivers and pedestrians.

“(Pedestrians) don’t realize that even though they might have the right of way to cross the street, you’re not going to win a battle with a 2,000-pound car going 55 mph,” Matas said.

Mondary added: “The solution is people being responsible and crossing where they should be crossing.”

Matas said the state transportation grant was a huge help.

“The problem that we have is we know where the problems are; the problem is always money,” he said. “… Traffic safety has always got to be a priority. We just bought a motorcycle for our police department, because we need to slow traffic down. Whether you lose one life or 15 lives, it’s alarming either way.”

Mysterious signs that say “No Matas” have appeared near the intersection of Dillon Road and Palm Drive (see photo below); they also call for a signal light and crosswalk to be put in at Camino Aventura. They were apparently put up by an attorney with the support of former Mayor Adam Sanchez.

“This individual came in and was uneducated about what we were doing, and he tried to make allegations that the City Council wasn’t doing anything,” Matas said. “One of the first things I did (as mayor) was put together priorities of our City Council, with traffic safety being a priority, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to find money and put together the projects. We were already in the process of fixing that roadway long before he put up that sign.”