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Brian Blueskye

Trailblazing French composer and electronic/ambient musician Jean-Michel Jarre is largely unheard of in the United States—but worldwide, he’s one of the biggest stars there is.

I’m not exaggerating: In a career spanning almost 50 years, he has played before crowds of more than 1 million people. He’s performed political goodwill shows for organizations such as UNESCO. His shows have celebrated religious figures such as Pope John Paul II (during his visit to Jarre’s hometown of Lyon, France in 1986), and a concert in Monaco in 2011 celebrated the marriage of Prince Albert II and Charlene, Princess of Monaco. He was also the first western artist to perform in the People’s Republic of China. He’s collaborated with numerous artists you have heard of, including Gorillaz, Gary Numan and film director/composer John Carpenter.

He’s in the midst of his first-ever tour of the United States, including performances at Coachella on Friday, April 13 and 20. Jarre’s visual show is just as stunning as his music during live performances—so his is one performance you won’t want to miss.

During a recent phone interview, Jarre described what it feels like to play to crowds of more than a million—and then to much smaller crowds here in the States.

“It’s very difficult to describe,” Jarre said, “My manager is Irish, and she said to me once, ‘You performed to a crowd that’s the size of my country!’ It’s quite surreal, but I see it as a privilege, of course. Whatever the audience is, at the end of the day, the live performance works, or it doesn’t work. … I can play in a small theater, in an arena, or a big festival like Coachella. It’s just a matter of changing the size and performing with this stage design. I’m especially excited to share this with the Coachella audience.”

Jarre studied classical music, and there are many classical elements in his electronic music. 

“I was playing in rock bands when I was a teenager. I studied classical music, and then I discovered electronic music,” he said. “I discovered people were working and approaching music in a totally different way with notes, but also with sound and noise, which meant you could go outside recording the sounds of the street, the sounds of the car—and you can make music with it. To me, it was like cooking. It was sensual and very warm. It’s like Jackson Pollock: People would say, ‘Jackson Pollock doesn’t present anything.’ But he was doing art with sections, oil, and he worked with his hands. You work with your hands, even on a computer with a mouse, or working with knobs and strings. … I believed this kind of music would be a major art form in the 21st century.”

I told Jarre it feels as if electronic music today is huge—and continuing to evolve.

“I think that’s quite logical, because as you just said, it has no boundaries,” he said. “One of my latest projects in electronica was based on the idea of trying to gather around people who are sort of impatient with me and to electronics and technology … like Tangerine Dream, Pete Townshend, Moby, Laurie Anderson, Gary Numan and Pet Shop Boys—all who inspired generations with a style of music. There was one problem: They all love technology, and they’re all kind of nerds in their own way. … By the end of the day, music is technology.” 

The visuals during Jarre’s performances are stunning and innovative, even by today’s standards. I highly suggest checking out his video online during which he plays what’s called a “laser harp.”

“I’ve always been interested in my life to try to find additional correspondence for the electronic songs,” Jarre explained. “Staying behind your laptop is not the most sexy thing in the world, and people don’t understand what you’re doing most of the time. I really try to explore during performances. Because I was working with a lot of lights and lasers, I thought it would be cool to invent an instrument made of lasers where the strings would be played by lights and lasers.

“The idea of being outdoors, like at Coachella, where you have the audience far away from the stage—I’m able to convey what I do musically to people. You can see the music being played from miles away, and this is magical. This is what modern technology can afford. I can try to convey emotions visually and through sound.”

Jarre has long played events with a social message; he said music and politics are always linked.

“I think you always have two sides of art and music in general,” Jarre said. “You have the hedonist side, where you like to enjoy music, dancing until end of the night, and just the entertainment of it and having fun. … Of course, (with) any genre of music—like punk and hip-hop, or even techno—there are things linked to social movements. That’s what I tried to do in my collaboration with Edward Snowden … (show) the dark side of technology, and we know we’re spied on by the outside world. We know that in the near future, we’ll have to deal with machines competing with ourselves. I think that politics and music are linked together like any other kind of movement in history.”

Jarre is no stranger to the United States. He performed with the Houston Grand Opera at Texas’ 150th anniversary in 1986; he also incorporated the 25th anniversary of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center into the show at the request of NASA. But this marks the first time Jarre has actually toured America—and he’s having a great time.

“I’ve done a lot of one-off shows in my life, and I toured sometimes,” he said. “… I think of it as if I was shooting a movie, but I’m shooting a movie in my mind, like how I performed in China, in Russia, in Egypt, in Houston, and then when I was touring stadiums in Europe and Asia, I thought, ‘Why doesn’t this happen in America?’ I thought that this is something I really wanted to share with the American audience.

“I’ve actually been blown away and touched by the American audiences who have so far welcomed this tour. Every place I went … I was really touched by the audience saying it was different than what they were used to. As an artist, America has so many different styles of performances and artists, and I always thought you do something with the ambition of being different and trying to surprise people, and I think this electronica concert performance goes in that direction.

“I thank the American audiences who have welcomed this project with enthusiasm. That inspires me to go into Coachella in the best possible way.”

While the members of FrankEatsTheFloor are still in high school, the band has a ton of potential. I had a laugh when I saw the band perform recently—and frontman Matt King was wearing a cape. It reminded me of the episodes of F Is for Family with the fictional band Shire of Frodo. FrankEatsTheFloor will be performing as part of the CV Independent Presents show with Haunted Summer, Brightener and Rival Alaska at The Hood Bar and Pizza at 9 p.m., Thursday, April 12. The aforementioned frontman and bassist, Matt King, was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Claypool Lennon Delirium at the Observatory in Santa Ana. I was right on the rail, and I spent the whole time in shock watching just how insane Les Claypool is on bass. That first concert was part of the reason I play bass today.

What was the first album you owned?

It’s hard to recall, but one of the first albums I remember playing a lot was The Beatles’ Help! I’m a huge Beatles fan, and tracks like “The Night Before” and “Ticket to Ride” were played a lot growing up.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Ron Gallo, Jack White, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Earthless, and Sleazy Cortez.

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

I’m very picky when it comes to music. I don’t really like pop-punky, whiny-vocals music. Many of my friends are into those types of songs, but I’m not really a fan.

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

I would sell my legs to see The Beatles’ rooftop concert. I don’t know how I’d make it up the stairs to see it, but that concert is just so amazing.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

It would have to be the SpongeBob SquarePants soundtracks. I’d be lying if I said they weren’t in my Spotify playlist.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Pappy and Harriet’s, because of the insane catalog of artists who’ve played there (Les Claypool, Paul McCartney, Earthless), and the fact that it’s a very cool place. I’ve played there for the open mic once, but would love to go back to do an actual show.

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

A song by Ron Gallo entitled “Please Yourself”: “Trying to please everybody, you just let everyone down, including yourself. Don’t wanna be like the old oak tree, spend my whole life helping everybody breathe.” These lyrics have rung true lately, and I think they’re very meaningful.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The Beatles. My grandma bought tickets for me to go see the Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas about them, and ever since then, I’ve been hooked. I know every song like the back of my hand, and own almost every album, along with posters, shirts and shoes. The Beatles made me want to start a band; Paul McCartney made me want to play bass; and without those factors, I wouldn’t be playing music and doing what I love.

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

I would ask Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age what it was like starting a music career at a young age in the valley, and if he thinks it’s possible in the current era.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

This is a tough one, but I think I have to go with “Heart of the Sunrise” by Yes. It’s such a killer song, no pun intended.

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

Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles. It’s just an all-around amazing and super-trippy album. Goo goo g’joob.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Every one of you reading this should go listen to “School Food Sucks” by FrankEatsTheFloor. Vocals and bass guitar are by yours truly, and it is available to listen to on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, YouTube and just about everywhere else! (Scroll down to hear it!)

Palm Springs native Matt McJunkins’ music career has thus far been pretty incredible: He's been a member of bands including Eagles of Death Metal, Puscifer, Ashes Divide and Thirty Seconds to Mars, and is currently a member of A Perfect Circle, which will be performing at Coachella on Sunday, April 15 and 22. McJunkins was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Doobie Brothers/Foreigner/Gary Hoey at the Twentynine Palms Marine base! It was also the first time I smelled the unmistakable odor of the whacky tobacky. There’s a bit of irony in there somewhere.

What was the first album you owned?

Skid Row. The first album. On cassette. Knew every song and every word. Still do (pretty much) to this day.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m all over the place on this one. Right now, it’s mostly a lot of Nick Lowe, Phil Spector stuff, The Jam, and the Boogie Nights soundtrack.

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

I can’t say that I “don’t get it,” but I would say dubstep generally didn’t bend my ear all that much.

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

TV on the Radio! It’s a band I’ve really fallen in love with the last few years but haven’t had the opportunity to see live.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Men Without Hats’ “The Safety Dance.”

What’s your favorite music venue?

That’s a tough one. Recently, I was floored by the beauty and design of the Fox Theatre in Detroit. Old theaters like that, that really have a unique design and some history to them, are always appealing to me.

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

“It’s a God-awful small affair to the girl with the mousy hair,” David Bowie, “Life on Mars.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Def Leppard was my first favorite band, and Hysteria was the first album that I really sunk my teeth into. I think I’ve been stuck on music since then. And that record still holds up wonderfully to this day.

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

Well, unfortunately, he is no longer with us. But I’d ask David Bowie, “Would you write and record a song with me?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Men Without Hats’ “The Safety Dance.”

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

Well, the kid in me would say Def Leppard’s Hysteria. But now at this moment, I would have to pick David Bowie’s Hunky Dory.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Chips Down” by Cody Chesnutt. Instant contemplative/good mood every time I hear it. I love songs like that, with multiple layers to it which require more than one listen to really get the whole picture. A beautiful song, really. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Shortly after the new year, a new band arrived called Mega Sun—and thanks to a great sound that comes straight out of the desert-rock scene, the group has become something of an overnight success.

The band first played at The Hood Bar and Pizza as part of the CV Weekly Music Showcase back in January—and in February, the group returned to The Hood, opening for Se7en4.

Mega Sun consists of Jeremy Parsons (bass, vocals), Chris Rivera (guitar) and Tyler Ontiveros (drums). When I showed up to interview them at Rivera’s home in La Quinta, they seemed astounded by how much buzz they’ve received after only a few shows.

“What’s crazy is our early practices … were so spread out,” Parsons said. “We’ve been kinda making stuff up for months, and it would go for one practice—and four weeks would go by, and then we’d have another practice. Then we decided we were going to start playing shows, and we started getting serious about it.”

That first practice actually led to a police presence.

“I guess they thought it was a big ol’ party happening, and it was literally us three, and my roommate sitting there watching us,” Parsons said. “I blame it on grumpy neighbors. One of the hardest things is trying to find a place to play. I remember for the longest time it was just like, ‘Come on!’”

The band members have already learned about the dangers of equipment failure: Rivera’s amp head blew a fuse during the Se7en4 show. But after borrowing an amp head from Nick Hales of Sleazy Cortez, Mega Sun was back rocking, as if nothing happened.

“The show with Se7en4 had some bumps in it,” Ontiveros said. “But overall, I think it went well, with all of the technical problems that went down.”

So how did Mega Sun start?

“We just wanted to get something going,” Rivera said. “We started looking for a drummer, and Jeremy was actually playing guitar when we first got together. He decided to go to bass, because we couldn’t find a bass player. We found Tyler—and then we knew that was it. Bass is definitely an instrument to learn if you want to get in a band really quick, because it feels like there’s a shortage of bass players.”

The band’s sound came from the members’ influences and what felt comfortable to them.

“It’s naturally what came out,” Ontiveros said. “Initially, we started writing or playing some songs that Jeremy had written already and put our own little twist on them, and then when we started writing some originals together as a three-piece, it kind of went down that alley with that desert vibe and all of our different influences. There’s metal in there, too, because Chris comes from playing in metal bands.”

When I mentioned that the band’s name and logo were actually decent, Rivera asked with a laugh: “Our logo with the three sperms?” Ontiveros then explained the inspiration.

“We were trying to come up with something that (referred to) that three months of being here during the summer,” Ontiveros said, “something that was on the level of the sun being brutal and beating down on all of us. But we didn’t want to be cheesy and throw ‘desert’ into the actual name, even though Mega Sun is pretty cheesy. But those three things in the logo are supposed to be heat waves … and there are three of us.”

Mega Sun did not win that CV Weekly Music Showcase, nor did the members expect to win—it was their first show, after all. However, they were hoping to get some good advice from the judges.

“We knew going in that we had a lot of work to do, but we wanted the criticism to move forward and pick apart what we needed to work on,” Ontiveros said. “We didn’t really expect anything out of it—and the response we got blew us away, plus being asked to play on Se7en4’s comeback show. There was a packed house that night, and we got a great time slot right in front of them.

“We had some promising doors open to us, and we’ve had some people come up to us and offer to record us for free, which is awesome,” Ontiveros continued. “That’s definitely one of the biggest factors: the financial standpoint. But quality is what we’re looking for, too. We don’t want to keep people waiting who really want our music.”

Parsons agreed and said that having music available for purchase is an advantage.

“It’s better when you know what’s about to be played (at a show),” Parsons said. “I can go see a band and be really into it—but after I get their CD, and the next time I go to (a show), that’s where it’s really cool.”

For more information on Mega Sun, visit www.facebook.com/megasuntheband.

In the ’90s, Boyz II Men enjoyed an incredible ride to the top of the charts—and in the years since, no group has matched Boyz II Men’s combination of style and talent.

The group continues to record and perform around the world as a trio, and has had a residency in Las Vegas at the Mirage Hotel and Casino since 2013.

Boyz II Men will be stopping by The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort and Spa this Friday, March 2.

During a recent phone interview, Boyz II Men member Shawn Stockman discussed Under the Streetlight, the group’s most-recent album, featuring doo-wop covers such as “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “I Only Have Eyes for You.”

“It was a whole lot of fun to record,” Stockman said enthusiastically. “These were songs (where) we obviously weren’t born during the time they came out, but we did listen to them as kids, because our parents played them. We feel just as connected to them as they do. It helped us as future vocalists to appreciate a certain type of sound. Doo-wop is beautiful, and the songs we picked are the nearest and dearest to our hearts, because we heard them when we were children. It was a fun project. because it brought back a lot of memories.”

They recruited a friend, fellow ’90s R&B vocalist Brian McKnight, for the album; he appears on three of the tracks.

“Brian is a good friend, and we’ve known Brian since the beginning,” Stockman said. “We came out at just about the same time, and we’ve always had this rapport and friendship that’s lasted at least 20 years. Reaching out to him, he almost never says no, unless he has something pressing that he has to do. We never say no to him if there’s something he needs from us. That’s just a friendship thing. It just made sense for him to be a part of this.”

Boyz II Men represents the last of the great artists on Motown Records. The group appears on many Motown Records compilations—along with some of the most recognizable R&B singers in history.

“It was almost like everything was set up for it to just happen, and we were just there,” Stockman said. “There are certain things you cannot plan. I feel blessed every day, and I mean that; I’m not just saying that to sound good during an interview. There could have been so many people; there are so many better singers than myself, and I didn’t have to be part of this group. I’m thankful and grateful to have experienced what I have so far, and I’m taking full advantage of it.”

It seemed as if Boyz II Men was trying to create something new, by combining group harmonies, doo-wop and the new jack swing sound of the ’90s.

“Even though there was a surge of musical groups that came out at the same time we did, I think the thing that separated us from everyone else was we came from the same background, and we sang together in high school,” Stockman said. “We were very familiar with each other’s voices. It was like being on a football team that practiced. When we were presented to the world, we were fairly groomed with a sense of knowing how to perform, vocalize and deliver a song. I think that was our greatest advantage.”

The group’s 1991 debut, Cooleyhighharmony, was a smashing success, a rarity for musical groups. The song “Motownphilly” peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 3. Boyz II Men also managed to score a hit with a cover of the G.C. Cameron single “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”

“It says everything it needs to say when you miss someone that you love, or someone that you love is gone forever,” Stockman said about “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” “That’s pretty much it. The greatest songs are the simplest ones and carry the deepest sentiment and translate into the simplest form. That’s what makes songs great. Everyone can relate to it. That’s the beautiful thing about that song: It’s beautiful and it’s simplistic.”

Sophomore album II was an even bigger smash success in 1994, with songs such as “I’ll Make Love to You,” “Thank You” and “On Bended Knee.” The pressure during the recording of II was intense, but the members worked through it, Stockman said.

“It’s funny, because when you first get signed, no one at the label knows you. No one really cares about you, and maybe there are a couple of people who are excited about you. You’re successful all of a sudden, and then you have a whole bunch of chefs in the kitchen. You have all these people up your butt that you didn’t have before, and that causes craziness and pressure. But we weren’t just some contrived group; we were friends. We were able to deflect a lot of that stuff that came with success. The first album did well; the second album did better. There were a lot of people trying to get in on this success. That part sucked. But we managed to keep it cool and keep it about the music.”

I asked Stockman about the 2014 album Collide, which was panned by some critics thanks to an EDM sound and Auto-Tune vocals.

“The irony of the music industry is if you keep it the same, people say, ‘Ugh! They kept it the same!’ If you do something different, ‘Ugh! They did something different! Why didn’t they keep it the same?’” Stockman said. “So, really, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. There’s always going to be someone who won’t be happy. Collide was one of those records that didn’t get us a lot of the attention we hoped it would, but I still feel like it was a great effort.”

Stockman recently recorded vocals on the title track of the Foo Fighters’ newest album, Concrete and Gold.

“I ran into Dave Grohl and met him a few years prior at a really hard rock ’n’ roll spot called ‘the flower shop,’” Stockman said with a laugh. “It was actually just a flower shop, and we were buying flowers for our wives, and we just happened to see each other. We started talking about music. When he was recording Concrete and Gold, I saw him sitting outside the studio. … He was out there working on some lyrics, and we started catching up, and he was like, ‘Hey, I’m recording this record. Want to be on it?’ I was like, ‘Yeah! Just give me a little while, and when I’m done doing my thing, I’ll come by your studio.’ That’s how it happened. I’m old-school in the sense that I don’t need a team of lawyers to be beside me to get a song recorded. It’s all about vibe and good energy. I like Dave, and I’m a fan of the Foo Fighters, and that’s how that came about.”

Stockman is the father of an autistic child.

“It’s a daunting condition. No one, including the people who are directly affected by it, want to talk about it,” Stockman said. “It’s rough to look at your child and see something different about him that you have to help regulate. It’s a rough thing, and people don’t like to give to charities in the first place, especially to something they don’t understand, and for autism, a lot of people don’t understand it. It’s not a condition that you can pinpoint to one cause. No one knows why kids develop autism. … With our foundation, Micah’s Voice, which is named after our son, it’s about being proactive with the people who have autism, and leaving the speculations up to the experts. All we know is that there are over 70 million people in the world with autism, and that’s like the population of an entire country. These people will grow up to become adults, and some of them are adults, so you have people you have to protect.”

Boyz II Men will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, March 2, at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $55 to $75. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.hotwatercasino.com.

The biggest music month of the year—April, of course—is approaching. That’s the month when Coachella, Stagecoach and the return of hot weather (as if it ever left) occur. But we’re not there yet—and March is no slouch, with a whole lot of great music events taking place.

The McCallum Theatre has a packed month in March. At 8 p.m., Thursday, March 1, folk singer-songwriter Judy Collins will be performing. In the turbulent ’60s, Collins was one of the era’s great folk singers, helping to inspire political change. She’s among the last of the great folk icons remaining from that era—a great reason to go see her. Tickets are $27 to $77. If you were hoping to catch one of the two Beach Boys shows on Sunday, March 4, we have bad news ... the shows are sold out. Tickets were $77. Get thee to secondary ticket-sales outlets if you really want to go. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 13, jazz vocalist Steve Tyrell will take the stage. He’s an icon of vocal jazz; his voice has won him a Grammy Award, and he’s put out nine albums. He’s been performing at the McCallum for 15 years; go check him out. Tickets are $47 to $87. Check the McCallum website for other great events. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a full slate of great events; here are just a few to consider. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 2, you can enjoy a double bill of Starship and Eddie Money. You might remember Starship as a continuation of the ’60s psychedelic-rock band Jefferson Airplane; it surfaced in the ’80s with a new wave sound—as in “We Built This City” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” You probably remember Eddie Money as a late ’70s and early ’80s pop-radio staple, known for songs such as “Take Me Home Tonight” and “Two Tickets to Paradise.” Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, female-blues powerhouse Bonnie Raitt will be performing. I saw Raitt when she performed the last time at Fantasy Springs—and I truly enjoyed the show. She has a set of great songs and a fantastic backing band. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 30, Trump supporter and comedian/singer Rodney Carrington will be performing. Remember that time in the ’90s when you opened your AOL account, and one of your friends had sent you that long, 30-minute download (via dial up) of that stupid song “Dear Penis?” Well, Carrington wrote that. You’re welcome. Tickets are $39 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has several fine events coming in March, and there’s at least one you won’t want to miss: At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, Mexican romantic-music group Los Temerarios (above right; photo by Carlos Perez) will be performing. Founding brothers Adolfo and Gustavo Angel have been going since 1978, recording 20 albums and winning multiple awards. Tickets are $45 to $85. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is going to be a fun place to be in March. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 3, jazz guitarist George Benson will be performing. Jazz guitar is a tough subgenre to appreciate, but Benson is talented enough to win almost anybody over. Tickets are $55 to $75. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, comedian Carrot Top will bring the funny. If you like rather stupid prop comedy, Carrot Top is your man. He and his suitcase full of props were popular in the ’90s. He’s well aware of the scorn he’s gotten from people who don’t like him—but he’s made fun of his critics in an amusing way that sells tickets. Also … his muscular physique and red hair, in combination, are quite scary. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 31, R&B/funk superstars Kool and the Gang will return to the valley. I love Kool and the Gang; they made so many great songs from the ’70s and ’80s that were the soundtrack of my childhood. Fun fact: Eagles of Death Metal sometimes use “Ladies Night” as an entrance theme. Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a special St. Patrick’s Day-themed event planned. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 16, Irish punk band Flogging Molly (below) will be performing. There was a time when it seemed like Irish punk was trending, with Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly packing venues across the country. Flogging Molly has more of a traditional Celtic sound; while the band calls Los Angeles home, frontman Dave King is originally from Ireland. Tickets are $49 to $105. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some big sold-out shows, and is starting to make announcements about the outdoor season—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves: March has some great events with space still available. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 10, the best Johnny Cash tribute you’ll ever see, Cash’d Out, will be performing. This band is legendary—and goes well beyond a standard tribute act. In fact, Johnny Cash’s drummer, W.S. Holland, has sat in with this band before. Cindy Cash, Johnny Cash’s daughter, gave the band a glass locket that belonged to the Man in Black himself that supposedly holds some of his hair. This is Columbia Records-era Johnny Cash in a way you’ve never heard before. Tickets are $15. At 10 p.m., Friday, March 16, FYF presents OH SEES and Pretty Eyes. OH SEES is a great psychedelic rock band; this show is definitely going to be noteworthy. Tickets are $26. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 23, singer-songwriter Pearl Charles will be performing. I’ll let this description from her press kit explain it all: “Pearl Charles lives in the moment, seeking excitement whether it leads her down a dark, dusty road or into the arms of a trouble-making lover.” Sounds great to me! Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has a couple of events you’ll love if you enjoy dinner and a show. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 16, enjoy a tribute to Palm Springs with Palm Springs Jump! The show is a high-energy tribute to stars such as Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley and many others. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 23, if you’re an Elvis fan, you’ll love Scot Bruce’s Elvis: The Early Years. Elvis’ early years are the years that I prefer, when Elvis rocked and captured the imagination of the youth of America. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Date Shed seems to be doing one show, more or less, per month, and in the month of March, it happens at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 17, when So-Cal reggae band Fortunate Youth will be performing. Fortunate Youth is a regular at The Date Shed, and the shows are always popular. Tickets are $20 in advance. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

The Copa Room Palm Springs has a couple of fun March events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 3, a tribute to Bette Midler titled The Divine Miss Bette, featuring Catherine Alcorn, will most likely be well-attended. The previews of this show look spectacular—it’s a must-see for any Bette Midler fan. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, actress and singer Mary Bridget Davies will take the stage. She’s performed in many blues-tribute bands, and supposedly did a fantastic job playing Janis Joplin in the Broadway show A Night With Janis Joplin. Tickets are $25 to $35. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Local band Dali’s Llama is celebrating 25 years of existence—and the members are celebrating in a big way.

The group is playing a Silver Anniversary Show on Friday, March 9, at The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert. The Hellions, Decon, Sean Wheeler (performing as Zezo Zece Zadfraq and the Dune Buggy Attack Battalion) and Mario Lalli (of Fatso Jetson) with the Rubber Snake Charmers will all take the stage.

When frontman Zach Huskey showed up to our meeting, he explained that he came alone because his wife, Dali’s Llama bassist Erica Huskey, was out of town handling family business, while drummer Craig Brown had a “hot date.”

The band recently parted ways with guitarist Joseph Wangler, and brought back guitarist Joe Dillon. I asked Huskey whether the band has ever gone through any painful transitions as members have come and gone.

“Painful transitions? None!” Huskey said with a laugh. “The core of the band is me and Erica. We try to just get people who play well, and people who we’re friends with, because it’s no fun to be in a band with someone you can’t get along with, no matter how good of a player they might be. I always enjoy playing with Joe Dillon, and he’s been in and out of the band for at least 10 years. He’s always fun, because I’ve known him for 36 years. We’re friends, and we have all our inside jokes and can talk about people who are no longer here. He’s also a really underrated guitar player and songwriter, as well as a lead vocalist.”

Dali’s Llama last year released a three-song EP, which headed in a more bluesy direction—a bit of a departure from the band’s regular desert-rock sound.

“We recorded most of that at Mikael Jacobson’s studio here in the desert,” Huskey said. “One of the songs, ‘Bacteria,’ the acoustic one, I did it at Scott Reeder’s place. That one was a little delicate, because it was all about microphone placement. That was done in one take. The other ones just kinda had a groove, and I wanted to get a little more of a Zeppelin groove going.”

Huskey said Dali’s Llama has deep personal connections to all the bands playing at the show.

“Those are people who when I was 13 or 14 years old, I was in bands with,” he said. “We got Herb (Lienau) and Decon; Mario (Lalli); Sean Wheeler, who I was in a band with back in 1982; and we got The Hellions, because they’re the “new” old friends, even though they’ve been around for a while.

“The Hellions are kind of the slowest songwriters in the world,” he added with a laugh. “Whatever their process is, it either has to fit them right or something. I don’t know.”

In the years before Dali’s Llama, Huskey said, he played in several bands that came and went.

“I was playing in a band with Sean back in the later years that was ’60s garage stuff, and I was really into that—original, but really influenced by the old ’60s stuff,” he said. “It all fit, because the scene was just a bunch of dysfunctional, pissed-off kids doing it ourselves. Mario did bands like Across the River, which led to more of a metal side, especially in songs like ‘N.O.’ that people go all over the Internet to find. … We all played in different bands, and I was trying to find my songwriting and get that after playing with Sean for a couple of years. Everybody was also trying to figure out their vocal range and how they should sing until it came naturally.”

There have been periods when Dali’s Llama has been inactive.

“We have done little breaks,” he said. “We have two boys. One is 20, and one is 16. I did three solo acoustic albums for a while. But we would take the kids when they were really little off to Phoenix to play. I’d also do the Phoenix folk festival every year, and songwriting things where they’d have me show people how to write songs. When Erica was ready again, and the kids were old enough to have a baby sitter who was a family member, we’d do another project or start the band back up.”

While Huskey spoke proudly about the desert music scene, he mentioned there’s one thing he despises: battle-of-the-bands competitions.

“I fucking hate those things. I hated them then, and I hate them now. You want to criticize me as a songwriter? Especially now? Fuck you!” he said. “Look at the panels of those things. No, ain’t gonna happen. Even when I was a kid, I learned you have to have that sort of ‘Fuck you!’ attitude in order to protect yourself and develop on your own. I don’t want criticism. OK, maybe I’ll take it from my wife or another band member, but even from another band? I don’t want to hear it. There’s constructive criticism, too, but I’ve never been good with either one. Believe in yourself. So a band had a better performance and gets a trophy? They even had that shit back when we were kids. We always stayed clear of those as kids. We were out in the desert playing with T.S.O.L., so fuck you. You could be going in the right direction, and someone’s words might be, ‘You can’t sing.’ Well, maybe your voice is unique, and just because this person didn’t like it, or four people sitting at a table in agreement didn’t like it, fuck them. Most of the backyard bands in the scene today like Panzram, Terror Cult, or Facelift—they don’t care what anyone thinks about them. That’s the similarity to how it was back then.”

Huskey also said he wished his wife and band mate, Erica, got the credit she deserves.

“Name another woman who has been here for 25 years playing in a band,” he said. “She’s a solid bass-player. There was a time when we were recording Raw Is Real, and we found out she had breast cancer. We recorded the basic tracks of that album one day before she went in for surgery, having a full mastectomy and hysterectomy, and then she continued with radiation and chemotherapy while we recorded that fucking album. That chick is badass! The only equivalent is a guy saying, ‘We were there for a couple days, and then the next day, I went and had to have my nuts cut off.’ She’s really something.”

Zach and Erica Huskey decided not to take part in the recent documentary Desert Age, in part due to their feelings about drug use.

“I had a drinking problem and stopped when I was 24. When we moved back to the desert, we were clean. We had already been through that shit. There’s not anything exciting about meth anymore,” Zach said. “By the time we started this band, that wasn’t an option—it was about music. I don’t like the whole feel of, ‘Drugs and alcohol go hand and in hand with music.’ That’s a bunch of bullshit, because they don’t. Sean and I had a talk about that when he was getting clean years ago, for the last time, and I told him, ‘You have to get that out of your head,’ because we grew up thinking that—you can go, drink, get fucked up and play music. Whether it’s weed, frying on meth, drinking or thinking we’re Keith Richards and looking cool—you grow up with that mentality that it goes together. No, it doesn’t go together.”

Dali’s Llama will perform with The Hellions, Sean Wheeler, Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers, and Decon at 9 p.m., Friday, March 9, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $5. For more information tickets, visit the event’s Facebook page.

It’s unbelievable that Earthless puts out such a big sound with just three musicians.

Think of Earthless’ sound this way: Imagine an instrumental version of Led Zeppelin, occasionally with a darker, psychedelic-rock sound. If you want to hear for yourself, check out “Uluru Rock” and “Lost in the Cold Sun.”

The group’s new record, Black Heaven, is coming out March 16; it was recorded at the Rancho de la Luna recording studio in Joshua Tree, with studio owner and Eagles of Death Metal guitarist Dave Catching as the producer. To celebrate, the San Diego-based group will perform at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Thursday, March 8.

Earthless is made up of Isaiah Mitchell (guitar), Mike Eginton (bass) and Mario Rubalcaba, who is also the drummer for the punk band Off!

During a recent phone interview, Mitchell said he often hears people criticize Earthless for not having a vocalist.

“It’s not for everybody; I know that much” Mitchell said about the band’s music. “But I don’t pay attention to (the criticism) and don’t really notice it. I know a lot of people are like, ‘I can’t stand instrumental music. You guys just jam on forever.’ The people who like instrumental music are pretty into it.”

Earthless writes songs in a variety of ways, Mitchell said.

“There are all sorts of different ways to do it,” he said. “Mike and Mario had a couple of songs that were already pretty well worked on and finalized as far as the instrumental bits. … I went in and altered them a bit to make them the songs that they are now. There’s no one way of doing it, especially on this new record. Before, on previous records, Mike would have a riff; I’d come up with a riff; and we’d go back and forth, and it would be one song. Some songs come out of a jam. There’s usually a moment of creativity we all really dig on—and there’s a motif for a song. I haven’t thought of a way that we don’t use to write.”

Mitchell said he has not found his band to be a hard sell for live shows due to the lack of vocals.

“If you have a reputation, word of mouth is really the best way for that reputation to get around,” he said. “We’ve had some people who have never even heard of us go to a show, and they couldn’t believe it. Their minds were blown. I’m not saying we’re blowing minds all the time, but for a lot of people, it’s an experience they’ve never had before, and have never seen anything like it.”

However, things change—and on Black Heaven, there are some vocal tracks.

“I think it might have had a lot to do with time constraints, with getting together and working on multiple large pieces of instrumental music. This just came more naturally with the time we had,” he said. “We do have other instrumental songs that are longer, but we feel like we just haven’t ironed them out yet. They’ll be ready for the next record, though.

“It’s fun to do something different. We’ve done some stuff with vocals before, but not on an album—only splits or compilations. With the time we had, it just felt natural, and it’s a fun experience. We have to block out time for getting together. I live in San Francisco, and everyone else is back down in San Diego. We have to plan it out in advance. I have my things going on; Mario has his; and Mike has his.”

Beyond the vocals, Mitchell said there aren’t too many differences between Black Heaven and Earthless’ previous recordings.

“I think if you listen to our other instrumental songs, the title track ‘Black Heaven, or the track ‘Demon Lady,’ those songs are definitely in line,” he said. “It still sounds like us, instrumentally or with vocals, from our past recordings. There’s a song called ‘Sudden End’ that’s slower with vocals; that’s probably the song that’s so unlike us on that record, because it’s darker and moodier.”

Some instrumental bands find success in scoring films.

“I would love to do that,” Mitchell said. “I think there was something offered to us not too far back for scoring for a film. We’ve done stuff with Vans and surf-movie footage, but it wasn’t the big screen; you’re watching the video and composing on the spot. But I would absolutely love to do something like that and put something together along with a movie.”

Mitchell spends a lot of time teaching guitar lessons via Skype through his personal website—at a pretty reasonable rate.

“I just got off a lesson right as you called me. I stay pretty busy doing it, which is a lot of fun,” he said. “Getting people to come to your house in person, or going over to someone’s house in person—that eats a bunch of time up. So having that schedule on a computer is great. Advertising on the band’s website and social-media pages is also really helpful. People see the ads and think, ‘Oh, I’m in Russia, but I can take a lesson with this guy and pick his brain.’”

Earthless will perform with Kikagaku Moyo and JJUUJJUU at 8:30 p.m., Thursday, March 8, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53668 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20 to $25. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

HIV is no longer a death sentence: Today, most people with the virus—as long as they receive proper medical care—will live long and productive lives.

However, the amazing medical advances that have allowed for this have led to a new challenge: an increasingly large number of older people who are living with the virus.

The Desert AIDS Project was the first HIV/AIDS organization of its kind in the nation when it was founded by community volunteers in 1984. Today, it’s a federally qualified health center that serves anyone in need, regardless of HIV status—and a lot of DAP’s clients are older people who were diagnosed with the virus in the 1980s and 1990s.

“We’ve learned a lot since 1984,” said Jack Bunting, the public relations specialist for the Desert AIDS Project. “… We all know with the advances in pharmacology that people aren’t dying of this anymore. Now, we have an aging HIV population—people who are in their 20s all the way through their 80s. It’s no longer a death sentence. What we’re trying to do is invigorate people’s lives so they can live with it and still live long, healthy and productive lives.”

Bunting said DAP’s clients today have needs that would have been unthinkable during the AIDS crisis.

“Job training and vocational training—there’s a whole gamut of services that people need to live with this disease,” Bunting said. “We’re not doing triage for dying people anymore; these people are going to be here for a long time. They’re able to be of good use, good value and live productive lives. … There’s a hierarchy of needs. You can give them all the HIV medication you want, but if they don’t have anywhere to live, they’re depressed and isolated. If they don’t have food, and if they’re lonely, they aren’t going to take their medication.”

The fact that more than half of all Americans infected with HIV today are 50 or older led a group of local medical experts, patients and activists to start the HIV + Aging Research Project-Palm Springs, or HARP-PS. The nonprofit will be holding a day-long “Reunion Project 2.0” conference on Saturday, March 31. Visit www.harp-ps.org for more information.

Due to an increasing demand for services, the Desert AIDS Project recently announced a huge expansion project. The agency, located in Palm Springs at Sunrise Way and Vista Chino, has acquired the building south of the existing campus, and is expanding beyond those existing buildings as well. Once the $20 million expansion is completed in 2020, DAP will be serving an estimated 8,000 patients in its medical clinics—up from 3,900 last year.

A lot of the new DAP space will be dedicated to services that were not needed in the days when HIV was basically a death sentence. DAP’s dental clinics will serve 1,700 patients in 2020, up from 814 in 2017. DAP-owned housing—for which there’s currently a years-long waiting list—will almost double, from 80 apartments now to 141 in 2020.

Wade Cook is a client at and volunteer with the Desert AIDS Project. Now 60, Cook was diagnosed as being positive in 1991 while living in Texas, and he said the Desert AIDS Project saved his life.

“I’ve received treatment in a few other areas of the country, and the Desert AIDS Project is really unique and pretty special,” Cook said. “I’m at the Desert AIDS Project every day, given I volunteer there, and I go to all the groups and receive my medical care, and my mental health (care). As far as medical care goes, I’ve never received such thorough care, and my health has improved so much that I’m considering going back to work again.”

Cook said living with HIV takes a toll on one’s body.

“It speeds up the aging process in a lot of ways,” Cook said. “You develop diabetes (a side effect of some medications), heart conditions, high cholesterol and other different things that might develop with older age—but you develop them a lot sooner with HIV. For me, I developed severe arthritis, which is why I went on disability, because I was in a wheelchair for four years. The fact that my body is working so hard to fight this infection—it can only do so much. I’ve had a lot of issues with my liver just because of the medications that I take.

“HIV and aging is a new field for a lot of people to begin to look at—and to evaluate people like me.”

Long-term survivors have to deal with more than the virus and the side effects of the medication; Cook said people with HIV are often overcome with anguish.

“There’s isolation, which is a huge issue for people who are long-time survivors,” he said. “Depression is another issue that people struggle with. There are a lot of us who have lived with this for a very long time who have developed PTSD symptoms, because we’ve gone through a series of very traumatic events in the process—including the loss of lots of people early on in the epidemic. As time has gone by, lots of us have gone through severe health issues.”

This is one reason behavioral health care is also a big part of DAP’s expansion: In 2020, an estimated 1,200 patients will receive such care, up from 583 last year.

Cook talked about being first diagnosed with the virus back in 1991.

“I was a school teacher in rural Texas, and I was terrified that the parents of my students would find out—that the school district would find out, and I didn’t know what the response would be,” he said. “I didn’t go to the doctor using my insurance, because I didn’t want anything to show up anywhere.”

In Las Vegas, Cook said, he received care at a medical center that stigmatized people with HIV.

“You had to go through the back alley to get to the ward,” he said. “It had a very powerful effect on me when I first walked into that ward, because I had to walk through basically where the janitors kept all their buckets—that was what was set aside for people with HIV.

“I’ve referred to the experiences of living with HIV as living through a war.”

Despite the great care he’s received at DAP, Cook said he still deals with the mental and physical toll that HIV has taken.

“Those feelings don’t go away. I’ve lost a lot of people who I’ve known through the years, especially earlier on, when there was so little help,” he said. “One of the things the Desert AIDS Project does an incredible job with is mental health and programs for people to interact and communicate with each other. I’m at a point in my life where I’m considering going into a Ph.D. program. For years, I’d lived with this idea that (HIV) was the end of my life, and I was done.”

Another challenge aging LGBT individuals are facing, regardless of HIV status, is a lack of family members to help with care. Stonewall Gardens, an LGBT retirement community in Palm Springs, often deals with the fact that many residents have no family members.

“We deal far less with family members and more with friends and the individual themselves. Often times, most of our residents don’t have family members, or they’re estranged from them,” said Lauren Kabakoff, the marketing and sales director of Stonewall Gardens. “It’s not unusual that someone will come by themselves, or maybe their niece or nephew will come to look for them. That’s a challenge we have, because it’s so easy for kids to put Mom and Dad somewhere, and deal with selling the house and selling the car. But for us, our residents need to deal with all of this themselves. They need to change their address themselves, sell their home or deal with renting their home, and wrap up their affairs before they move in. There’s no family to say, ‘We’ll put Mom and Dad in there and deal with it later.’ It’s a bit of a different dynamic.”

Kabakoff said the Stonewall Gardens staff often winds up doing more than staff members at a traditional assisted-living facility.

“By default, we do become family for so many of our residents. We are the only people that they may have,” Kabakoff said. “We end up taking on a more personalized role.”

Kabakoff said it’s important for Stonewall Gardens staff members to understand what their clients’ special needs are—much like the staff members at DAP must do.

“They already have an inclination for what it takes to be here and work with our community,” she said “They have a connection to the community, have a passion for it, and they understand it in a way to want to help the residents on a deeper level.

“You also have to be creative in what you do, because this is uncharted territory.”

Jimmy Boegle contributed to this story. Below: Artists’ renderings of what portions of the DAP campus will look like when the $20 million expansion is completed in 2020.

Sleazy Cortez has started to capture the attention of the local music scene. The band recently released an LP, Trailer Trash Blues, and now plays regularly at venues such as The Hood Bar and Pizza. Sitting behind the drums is Damian Garcia, one of the best local drummers I’ve seen, thanks to his incredible style and technique. For more information, visit sleazycortez.bandcamp.com. Garcia was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Tool in Salt Lake City, Utah.

What was the first album you owned?

Tool, Ænima.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m really digging Animals as Leaders.

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

Country music. I just can’t seem to like it.

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

Nirvana, when they did MTV Unplugged

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I want to say Warpaint.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Red Rocks Amphitheatre (near Morrison, Colo.).

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

The Sky is Fallin’,” Queens of the Stone Age.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

System of a Down. It was the first band that got me into rock.

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

Danny Carey from Tool: What is your favorite rudiment to play?

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Molotov, “Puto.”

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

Tool, Ænima.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Animals as Leaders, “Arithmophobia.” (Scroll down to hear it.)