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Sun08252019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Best Auto Service for Honesty’s Sake

Cam Stone’s Automotive

Cam Stone’s Automotive in Palm Desert is the kind of auto-service shop every woman dreams of—at least women (and men) like me who know little to nothing about car repairs.

The people at Cam’s do good work, are honest, and never seem to recommend anything you don’t really need. And if money’s really tight … you can ask them what absolutely, positively has to be done; they’ll let you know how far you can push the part you can’t afford to have replaced today before a major mishap occurs.

Guy Allchin (pictured here with his family), who runs it, and Karl, his excellent sidekick, are straight-up guys who explain things so you can understand them and so you can make the best decisions to keep your wheels on the road. 74867 Velie Way, Palm Desert; 760-568-2999; camstonesautomotive.com.

—Anita Rufus


Best Sandwiches Inside a Convenience/Liquor Store

Larry’s Gourmet Market and Deli

From the outside, Larry’s Gourmet Market and Deli looks like a run-of the-mill liquor store, selling the usual stuff. But … go inside, and you’ll see Larry’s is an unexpected, family-run treasure chest.

For one thing, the deli is really good. We’ve enjoyed everything we’ve gotten there, but our favorite is the meat-filled Don Veto specialty sandwich (pictured here).

Larry’s also has a variety of interesting gourmet items you might not find elsewhere. One example: On a recent trip, we got a box of delicious rose-flavored Turkish delight candy.

Along with a nice variety of beer and hard liquor, Larry’s carries a respectable wine selection that goes from very cheap to the $100-a-bottle range. There’s even a refrigerated wine room in the back that feels great in the heat of summer.

Just don’t go to Larry’s looking for lottery tickets. They don’t sell them … which, for us, classes up the place. 2781 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-832-7188; larrysgourmetmarket.com.

—Jeffrey Clarkson


Best Place to Avoid If You’re Arachnophobic

The VW Spider on Indian Canyon Drive at Interstate 10

When you’re driving by, you can’t help but notice the massive spider looming large in front of a warehouse with “Hole in the Wall” emblazoned across the front. And you may have wondered, like me: What? How? Why?

After some sleuthing, I discovered that the 28-foot high, eight-legged hunk of metal formerly fronted a Volkswagen repair shop, Hole in the Wall Welding. The enormous recycled artwork (the spider body is a full-size VW bug) was created by owner/welder/mechanic/desert rat Bob Miner, who passed away in 2008. The repair shop no longer exists, but Bob’s family still resides in the warehouse.

If you’re into kitsch and not afraid of creepy crawlers, this hairy-legged arachnid is a quirky must-see landmark. If you are afraid … avoid Indian Canyon Drive (next to Jack in the Box), just south of the Interstate 10.

—Beth Allen


Best Place to Pretend You’re on the Set of a David Lynch Movie

Open-Mic Night at the Palms Restaurant in Wonder Valley

The Palms is one of those middle-of-nowhere places that’s really a groovy hangout. It’s a throwback, with very affordable booze—$1.50 for a can of Pabst beer; $3 for a domestic bottle; shots starting at $4—and cheap tasty, eats (the onion rings and fried zucchini are delish), all in an atmosphere that’s weathered, worn-in, kooky and cool.

Every Friday at 7 p.m. (with signups starting at 6:30), The Palms hosts an open-mic night, where there’s a good chance reality may become fuzzy—all in the name of “entertainment.” Spoken word, comedic acts, genuinely gifted musicians, not-so-gifted musicians … there’s something for everyone. You may witness folks like “Grannie”—a toothless senior in a cute wig and cowboy hat—crooning “Stand by Me,” a cappella, in a gruff, “I’ve been smoking a pack a day for the last 60 years” voice. The Palms’ open mic is truly strange and endearing at the same time. The Palms Restaurant, 83131 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley; 760-361-2810. (Pictured: Guitar-player Karl Van Dyke performs at The Palms’ open-mic night. Photo courtesy of Joseph Barrett.)

—Beth Allen


Best Tapas and Wine Hideout

Counter Reformation at the Parker Palm Springs

With its semi-mandatory valet parking, fancy-schmancy main restaurant and well-heeled celebrity clientele, the Parker Palm Springs can be a bit intimidating … despite the hotel’s ostensible casual-hip vibe. However, we’re madly in love with Counter Reformation, the hotel’s cozy wine bar, featuring friendly service and great music.

The door to the bar is hard to find—head toward the pool and take a left—but discovering this well-designed and inventively Catholic-themed spot is serendipity. The wine choices are not extensive, but the selections are diverse and interesting enough. And at the prices … well, at the Parker, at least, they’re bargains.

We’ve sampled about half of the tapas on the menu, and everything so far has been delicious. These small plates, along with the free loaves of fresh-baked bread and the complimentary olives and cornichons, can make for a filling meal … a meal you can partially work off during the walk back to your self-parked car on the street outside. 4200 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-770-5000; www.parkerpalmsprings.com/food-and-drink. (Pictured: The Jamón Iberico at Counter Reformation.)

—Jeffrey Clarkson


Best New Band

Mega Sun

Mega Sun arrived in early 2018—and the group quickly earned the admiration of the local music scene.

The band’s sound reminds of stoner rock, circa the early ’90s, and the group’s live shows are always loud and fantastic.

The power trio is currently in the process of completing some recordings. I’m excited to see what this band will do in 2019 … and beyond.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Album

Throw the Goat, The Joke’s On Us

Throw the Goat had a great year in 2018 after finishing off 2017 on a mind-blowing note: The group won a contest, as announced on New Year’s Eve 2017, put on by Dave Ellefson of Megadeth to release an album on his Combat Records label. The Joke’s On Us was released shortly thereafter.

The name of the album is a reference to the presidency of Donald Trump and has political themes. Produced and recorded by guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell, the album shows the band going heavier with more punk. It’s a great example of a musical evolution.

While Throw the Goat might confuse audiences who question whether the band is punk or metal, we can all agree: The Joke’s On Us is a great album.

—Brian Blueskye


Best All-Female Band

The After Lashes

I have enjoyed watching the all-female four-piece band The After Lashes improve its sound over the course of 2018; in fact, every time I take in one of the group’s shows, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much the talented band has improved since I first saw The After Lashes.

Why has the band improved? The members of The After Lashes put in the work. Combine that hard work with talent, attitude and energy, and The After Lashes are amazing.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Pizza Joint You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Pizzeria Bambinos

I’m kind of shocked that Pizzeria Bambinos wasn’t a Best Pizza finalist this year. But then again … this fantastic pizza joint seems to be flying under the figurative radar. In fact, it may be the valley’s best kept pizza secret.

Maybe it has to do with the location; this small pizzeria is tucked away in the same shopping plaza as Big Lots in Cathedral City, and has limited seating … but it makes fantastic pizza, with other delicious options as well. 69040 Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City; 760-770-0505; pizzeriabambinos.com.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Comfort Food in a Desert Dining Wasteland

Two Guys Pies

I moved to Morongo Valley a year ago from the Bay Area … and my taste buds have been suffering terribly in this desert wasteland. Nearby Yucca Valley is more of a mecca for fast food (including ridiculous overexcited buzzing about the recent opening of a Popeye’s Chicken) than any sort of place for fine dining. However, all is not lost.

I am in the midst of a comfort foodgasm over my discovery of Two Guys Pies, aka TGP. Specializing in brick oven ’za, Guy and Guy, the two guys behind Two Guys Pies, promote rock ’n’ rolling all night and ’za-ing every day. Their double-decker pepperoni pizza ranked 24th in the world at an international pizza expo just last year!

Aside from the delicious pizza, Two Guys has salads, pastas and sandwiches … all with creative rockin’ names like Sound Tomato Garden, Bon Chovies, The Hungry Rollins Band, Spinach Tap, Weird Al-Fredo, Run DMCaesar, etc. The Basket Case bread balls with Love Potion No. 9 dipping sauce are an absolute must-have.

It’s hard for me to refrain from eating at TGP every night. My only complaint: It closes at 4 p.m. on Sundays. 56969 Yucca Trail; Yucca Valley; 760-418-5075; 2guyspies.com. (Pictured: A Two Guys Pies employee hard at work. Photo by Shawn Smith.)

—Beth Allen


Best Local Event for Car Lovers

McCormick’s Palm Springs Collector Car Auctions

Keith McCormick is a classic-car guru, and whether you’re looking for a rare foreign vehicle or a domestic beauty from the ’50s, a Porsche or a Corvette, chances are you can find one at McCormick’s showroom on Indian Canyon Drive downtown Palm Springs—or at his twice-a-year car auction.

McCormick is an import himself: He moved from the outskirts of Liverpool in England to Palm Springs in 1981.

“I’ve been into the cars since I was 18,” he said. “Moving my exotic car biz here was a no brainer: It was the same (here) as in England, except for the sunshine and no rain over here.”

In 1985, he put together the Palm Springs Vintage Grand Prix and Concours d’Elegance show to help promote local tourism.

“We raced the vintage cars where now the new Convention Center is,” he said, proudly pointing out that he himself owns a cool Ferrari 488 GTB.

The McCormick family—with his wife and son, Jason, working alongside—has put together 65 Palm Springs Collector Car Auctions so far. The event is held twice a year, in February and November, with more than 500 cars at each event.

The McCormicks sell and ship cars all over the world, from Japan to Germany.

“We have sold Sinatra’s, Liberace’s and Elvis’ cars—even the Batmobile,” McCormick said with a grin. “Classic cars are like art to me—it’s like looking at ‘Mona Lisa,’ but a lot less expensive.” www.classic-carauction.com. (Pictured: Keith McCormick. Photo by Brane Jevric.)

—Brane Jevric


Best Artery-Clogging Meal

The Disco Superfries at Blackbook

If you’ve ever been hungry while in downtown Palm Springs, you know there are many, many options for food … but when my friends and I are in the mood to be bad, we always pick the cardiac special of disco superfries at Blackbook on Arenas Road.

These little yummies are a home run every time. Think nachos … but instead of chips, you get fries! That’s right—fresh fries topped with gooey cheese, sour cream, tomatoes and hot sauce.

You can share them, or you can make them a meal—you get a whole small cookie sheet of them! Warning: This is an item that’s just begging to be shared, so even if you’re alone and intend the superfries to be your meal … you will always have “friends” magically appear, even if you didn’t bring any with you. 315 Arenas Road, Palm Springs; 760-832-8497; blackbookbar.com.

—Dwight Hendricks


Best Karaoke

Peabody’s Café

The Coachella Valley is certainly not suffering from a lack of talented professional singers. But if you’re not a professional … it’s hard to carry your shower out on the town with you, so check out Peabody’s Café on Friday and Saturday nights for karaoke.

Even if you don’t want to croon yourself, you can kick back and hear some great singers … and some not-so-great singers. There is a great music selection, and the DJ is a nice guy. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m., but get there early—it fills up fast!

Enjoy the menu and bar while you’re waiting for your turn on the mic; Peabody’s has killer Bloody Mary’s. Heck, bring your friends and make a night of it! 134 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-1877; www.peabodyscafeandbar.com.

—Dwight Hendricks


Best Weekend Culinary Classes

Wabi Sabi Japan Living

One of my favorite places to hang out is Wabi Sabi Japan Living. It may sound weird that I like to hang out at a small Japanese-goods store, but don’t judge.

Not only does Wabi Sabi have great merchandise; the owners, Darrell and Sam, offer amazing classes on how to enjoy and use their products. Check out the website for dates and times; the classes are usually held on Saturday afternoons. I have been to the bonsai tree and ramen classes … but I have yet to attend the class I want to take most of all: the sushi-making class. You learn how to make three rolls by actually making them … then you get to eat them! You have to sign up early; the class fills up quickly. Wabi Sabi also offers sake and Japanese-grilling classes.

Not only do Darrell and Sam know what they are talking about; you can feel their passion. Take note: Wabi Sabi is set back off of the road a bit; look for the Rising Sun flags. 258 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-537-3838; www.wabisabijapanliving.com.

—Dwight Hendricks


Best Seafood Towers and Tostadas

Mariscoco’s Culiacan

Because I am a west valley resident, I don’t get down to the east valley that much … but I can tell you that an east valley trip is coming soon. In fact, it’s probably already happened by the time you’ve read this.

The reason: I have a huge, honking hankering for the food at Mariscoco’s Culiacan.

The last time I was at this Coachella mainstay, I ordered the tostada especial (pictured here): an individual-sized plate of delicious, fresh and cool seafood, including shrimp, abalone, octopus, fish, sea snail and scallops—plus cucumbers, onion, avocado and other ingredients—all mixed in with Mariscoco’s special smoky-tasting sauce. It was really, really good.

Still, I looked longingly at the seafood towers—including many of the aforementioned ingredients, and then some—as they went by to other tables. These huge creations are meant for more than one mere mortal … so next time I go to Mariscoco’s, I won’t be going alone.

Hey, west valley friends: How about a short road trip? We can meet our east valley friends at Mariscoco’s. 51683 Harrison (Cesar Chavez) St., Coachella; 760-398-5666; www.facebook.com/mariscocosymaristorresculiacan760.

—Jimmy Boegle

Published in Staff Picks

Sticky Doll recently moved to the high desert from Los Angeles—and the band’s first couple of local shows have proven the group is definitely an oddity … in a good way.

There’s a shock-rock element to Sticky Doll’s brand of punk, and frontwoman Cynna Luchia is a show all by herself. Bassist El Sancho plays through both a guitar amp and a bass amp.

On Saturday, Nov. 10, Sticky Doll will be putting on Sticky Fest at the Palms Restaurant in Wonder Valley, and has invited local bands such as Instigator, Karr, Throw the Goat, Sleazy Cortez, Drop Mob, Ormus and others to take part.

During a recent interview in Yucca Valley, El Sancho (Greg Gendron) discussed what brought Sticky Doll to the high desert.

“We found out how cheap it was to buy a house, and we thought, ‘Why not move out to the desert?’” Gendron said. “It happened within a few months, and we fucking love it. I grew up in Eastern Washington in a town called Yakima. There’s a sign on the freeway that says, ‘Welcome to Yakima, the Palm Springs of Washington.’ It’s real similar to here. … It’s good ol’ boys with pickup trucks and guns. The climate and the small-town vibe are the same. I feel like a kid living here, and I love it. Cynthia (Cynna Luchia) grew up in East Los Angeles and lived in Los Angeles all her life.”

However, when it came to the music scene … Sticky Doll was not thrilled.

“We were excited, and we thought we were coming into something really exciting—and we were really let down immediately,” he said. “We went to some open-mics, and we were surprised at how it was just a hippie vibe, and everyone was a Bob Dylan singer-songwriter wannabe. (There’s a) certain artist around town who thinks she’s an alien; it was just weird and a real letdown. We thought we were coming to Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal. … Everyone said the same thing to us: ‘You have to create a scene up here. There are people here who love metal and love punk, but a scene has to be made for it.’ That’s why we put together Sticky Fest.”

As for El Sancho and Cynna Luchia … what’s their story?

“We put out our first album on Christmas Day in 2015. We’re due for a new one, and we do have a new one coming out. People always ask if Cynthia and I are married or if we’re a couple, and my blanket response is, ‘I fuck her ... .’ But yeah, we are a couple. We had the same kind of taste in music, and we’re both sober. We were going to this musicians’ AA meeting, and it was a place where you could play and not do traditional ‘shares’; The ‘shares’ were you went up and performed.

“We’ve been together for about five years now. I play guitar, and I play bass, and I went on this mad hunt for a pedal effect that could do what we have now, and I finally found it. I bought it and I thought, ‘This is fucking killer!’ I could send it into a bass amp and have a bass sound, and through the guitar amp have killer power chords. Once I got that in the mail, I thought, ‘Let’s do it!’

“If you would have asked me five years ago if I’d be in a band with a girl, I’d say, ‘Hell no!’ Especially with a girl I’m dating? I would think you’d be out of your fucking mind! The fact that I’m doing what I’m doing now is funny to people who knew me back then, but I love what we’re doing now.”

Gutter Candy drummer Dani Diggler was recruited into the band before Sticky Doll started playing local shows.

“We’ve gone through some real shitheads, but Dani fits us real good,” El Sancho said. “We kind of dialed his playing in a bit. We’re almost industrial to where it’s just kick drum, snare and high hat. He’s coming from Gutter Candy playing ’80s, ’90s and Guns N’ Roses; he’s a typical drummer. He didn’t come in and say, ‘We have to play my style!’ He was like, ‘Whatever you guys need.’ But Dani is cool, plus we actually pay him.”

El Sancho hopes this is just the first Sticky Fest.

“It came into fruition back in June,” he explained. “I had never heard of any of these bands. I’d heard of Throw the Goat, because they played shows down our way. But I was pleasantly surprised when I learned there was a scene down the hill. This is a first-year thing; it’s out of my pocket, and I’m not going to book a big-name band, because there’s not a budget. So I started looking for local talent.

“When I first talked to the Palms, it was going to be a two-day festival. I had put out an open call on Facebook for punk and metal bands for a festival. I got inundated with responses; I had 40 to 50 responses. A few weeks into it, I was having an in-depth conversation with the Palms, and given their concerns, I wasn’t thrilled, but we agreed to do it for one day.”

Sticky Fest takes place starting at noon, Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Palms Restaurant, 83131 Amboy Road, in Twentynine Palms. Admission is $12-$15; members of the military and attendees 16 and younger (with a parent) are admitted for free. For tickets or more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/588237201548978.

Published in Previews

Deserted at the Palms came to Wonder Valley on Saturday, May 21, and the mini-festival represented the best of the indie, punk and dream-pop bands who spend much of their time earning their keep in the clubs up and down the Sunset Strip.

The Palms is a small restaurant and bar owned by the Sibleys, located on Amboy Road; it’s one of the last buildings you see before you drive north on the well-known Palms Springs short cut to Las Vegas.

Of course, many super music fans were present, like Echo Park native Patti Castillo, aka “Cave Girl,” who received this moniker during the Charles Bradley show at Pappy’s, for using a found rock to pound her tent stakes into the ground. Since camping was encouraged and free for this event, it was no surprise to run into Stewart as she pitched her tent with the help of a fellow camper and her dog, Cool. The fanciful festival brought people together to enjoy music under windy, primitive conditions.

The first band I saw was Rudy De Anda, who played both the opening set and a second set later, because another band had gotten stuck in the sand, according to Daiana Feuer, who co-produced the festival. De Anda’s macabre lyrics—“Voy a usar tu sangre para escribir” (“I am going to use your blood to write”)—was in contrast to the Dead Ships, which brought a more commercial sound to the outdoor stage. The Dead Ships returned to the area, riding high after a Coachella 2016 appearance.

Bloody Death Skull, fronted by Daiana Feuer, was fantastic, with witty tunes and commentary from Feuer, including the statement that a “boob is a good place to rest, but not for a ukulele.”

The Sex Stains, fronted by Allison Wolfe, showed up late, but the group always puts on a high-energy show.

Kim and the Created is generating lots of buzz after playing last year in Mecca at Desert Daze. It’s hard to place Kim and the Created into a category—but punk is a good place to start. A metal frame along the stage offered a perfect place to hang upside down and sing. Kim and the Created never disappoint.

Haunted Summer’s dream pop stood out above the rest. The soulful and howling vocals on “Retrograde” were mind-blowing. Lead vocalist Bridgette Seasons is like a wonderful mish-mash of Grimes and Björk. Haunted Summer expects a new record release in the fall.

The members of Fartbarf wore Neanderthal masks with cowboy shirt; they came recommended by aforementioned superfan Patti Castillo.

Pearl Charles melted hearts with her exquisite voice. She’s another desert veteran who has performed in Pioneertown with band the Blank Tapes.

Death Valley Girls were pure fun with their catchy lo-fi distortion. The Garden delighted fans with the song ”Jester’s Game,” off the 2013 release HaHa.

Closing out the fun in this weirdly wonderful place was Mild High Club. The group’s music soothed, winding down a breathtaking if windy night in Wonder Valley.

Find more from Guillermo Prieto at www.facebook.com/irockkphotos and irockphotos.net.

Published in Reviews

Haunted Summer can mean one of two things:

• A truly bad ’80s movie based on Lord Byron.

• A fantastic band to come out of Los Angeles’ indie-music scene.

Haunted Summer—the band, that is—will be performing at Deserted at the Palms event, to be held at the Palms Restaurant in Twentynine Palms on Saturday, May 21, with acts such as Bloody Death Skull, The Dead Ships, The Garden and many others.

Formed in 2012 by married couple John and Bridgette Seasons, Haunted Summer’s psychedelic pop sound caught on quickly and landed the band high-profile gigs at the El Rey Theatre and a tour with the Polyphonic Spree. The group released a five-track EP titled Something in the Water and has been working on a new album while consistently touring. The band performed in Palm Springs not too long ago—at the Independent’s Nov. 17 benefit for gay-bashing victims George and Christopher Zander.

During a recent phone interview from Chicago during a break in the current U.S. tour, John and Bridgette Seasons discussed recording at the local Rancho de la Luna studio, owned by Eagles of Death Metal and Mojave Lords guitarist Dave Catching.

“That was such a great time,” Bridgette Seasons said. “This guy we work with is friends with Dave Catching. There was a week where we found some time to do some recording there, and it was incredible. Dave Catching is the coolest guy ever—and Rancho is my dream studio.”

Catching didn’t just record while Haunted Summer was at his studio.

“We got Chris Goss on guitar for a song, and we got Dave Catching on bass for a song,” John Seasons said. “Everybody had a good time hanging out, and it was just an awesome experience.”

John Seasons said they hope to have the album out in the fall.

“We’ve been recording it at different studios, too,” John Seasons said. “It’s going to have a feel of different studios and different kinds of songs. Something in the Water was more one-toned, and this next one is going to be all over the map.”

All the touring has exposed Haunted Summer to new audiences across the country—playing in decent-sized venues wherever the group goes.

“We’ve played all over, and it’s been amazing, given we’ve been touring off that EP for a few years,” John Seasons said. “We’ve had a lot of support from bigger bands and venues trying to nurture us, bring us back and build our audience on our own. This time, we’re going to Toronto and doing a lot of East Coast and Middle America on this tour.”

This past spring, Haunted Summer played SXSW in Austin, Texas. Some musicians say the huge event has lost its focus on music, because the technology portion of the festival and corporate sponsors overshadow everything else. However, both John and Bridgette said SXSW is still important for independent bands on the touring circuit.

“A lot of bands go to SXSW with that dream of being discovered or whatever,” John Seasons said. “But I think the most precious thing you can take from something like SXSW is networking—meeting bands from around the country, meeting promoters and making friends. It’s important, because you end up getting people to support you from different parts of the country.”

Bridgette Seasons added: “It’s like music boot camp.”

It’s always been said that working with one’s spouse can be fraught with danger. John and Bridgette conceded that they have had their moments while touring and working together, but they said that overall, being able to do what they do as a married couple is a beautiful experience. 

“To be pretty honest, I think it’s the only way it could work,” Bridgette Seasons said. “We’re really happy to be doing this together, and we know what a strain it can be when two people are on two very different paths. The path we’re on is very demanding, and neither one of us could do this alone.”

While they’ll be playing as Haunted Summer at the Palms Restaurant, they are also members of Bloody Death Skull, fronted by journalist and music promoter Daiana Feuer. Bloody Death Skull is known for covers of various psychedelic rock songs, with Feuer playing a ukulele, and the members wearing various types of wacky costumes. Also worth noting: A member of the band sits on the floor and plays with action figures and dolls during the live performances.

“It’s a fun, wacky and exploratory band,” Bridgette Seasons said. “Haunted Summer doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s nice to let go and do some really funky and fun shit with them.”

The Palms is a strange place. Having seen two shows there myself, I can say it is probably the perfect place for a psychedelic music festival. Both John and Bridgette Seasons said they are looking forward to it.

“We’re all about the desert and being in that kind of atmosphere,” John Seasons said. “I think that’s where we learn the most. It’s a great lineup, and Daiana has been doing this for a few years. It’ll be cool, and we’ll do a Haunted Summer set—and, of course, the collaboration with Bloody Death Skull.”

Deserted at the Palms takes place at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 21, at 83131 Amboy Road, in Twentynine Palms. Tickets are $30. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Published in Previews

If you’ve ever watched an old horror movie featuring a carnival or a haunted house, you’ve heard spooky organ music.

Meet Herb Lienau, a man who is bringing that spooky music back, thanks to his one-man carnival-organ-music show, called Herbert.

Herbert will be performing at the Bat Country Summer Slam at the Palms in Twentynine Palms on Saturday, July 4. Yes, he’ll be wearing his trademark creepy mask.

I recently spoke with Lienau at his business in Palm Desert, and we discussed the history of punk rock in the Coachella Valley during the early to mid-’80s. Lienau was very much part of that scene: He played in bands with desert rock greats Scott Reeder (Kyuss), Alfredo Hernandez (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age), Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson), Gary Burns (Deadbolt) and Sean Wheeler (Throw Rag, Sean and Zander), just to name a few. After living in Los Angeles and performing in the band Dead Issue—which later became Darkside, and then Across the River—Lienau returned to the desert.

“I kind of freaked out on acid, and I had to regroup,” he said. “I quit the band and moved back to the desert, and those guys went on to do Across the River. … Me, Mario (Lalli) and Alfredo (Hernandez) all lived together in an apartment in Culver City, and Scott (Reeder) was going to UCLA and living in the dorms there. Good things come out of bad things. It sucks I had to quit the band out of volition, but I had to come home to regroup. Out of that came Across the River, which was an awesome band, and the whole stoner-rock thing happened after that.”

Lienau also had an amusing story to tell about introducing Scott Reeder to the world of punk music.

“He didn’t know any punk or anything,” Lienau said. “He was into Rush and Pink Floyd; that was his thing. I tried to get him into punk, and I took over a copy of Black Flag’s Jealous Again EP and the first T.S.O.L. EP, which were both 12-inch EPs—what you’d call 45s. I took them over so Scott could listen to them and record them (for his own use). So then I was talking to him the next day and asked, ‘So, what do you think?’ He said, ‘It was OK, but T.S.O.L. and Black Flag sort of sound the same to me. It’s kind of slow and …’

“I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ He had recorded both of those at 33. … (When played at that speed), they were kind of slow and did sound the same. That’s typical Scott.”

How did Herbert come to fruition? The name, of course, has to do with the fact that Lienau’s full first name is Herbert, but the idea for the concept came to him while he was playing the keyboard.

“I had been messing around with keyboards here and there after always playing guitar and singing in bands,” he said. “I wasn’t in any band at the time or anything, and it was something I could do at home. … I didn’t have to plug a lot in or set up a lot of equipment, so I started like that, just messing around. As time went on, I started accumulating a lot of different things. I asked myself, ‘How could I put this together and play somewhere?’”

As for his costume?

“I had this old man mask I’d wear to scare my daughter,” he said. “I used to chase her around and say I was Grandpa Daddy, and I’d be all like, ‘Look at Grandpa Daddy!’ On Halloween, the kids would all come, and I’d freak them out by giving out candy while wearing that mask. So I figured I’d wear the mask, and that way, while I was still trying to get the feel on the keyboard thing, I didn’t have to put myself out there entirely. I could hide behind the mask—plus I always wanted to do something with a mask. That’s kind of how it’s been evolving, and I grew up with the Shakey’s piano-player guy when I was a kid.“

The response Herbert has received from audiences has been interesting. He’s played local shows at The Hood Bar and Pizza and Schmidy’s Tavern; he’s also played at BB Ingle’s Halloween Party.

“Some people just do not get it at all. It’s weird to them, and they’re creeped out by it, which is fine, because I get entertainment out of that,” Lienau said. “At BBs, it was kind of a trippy thing, and I liked the fact that I was in my own corner. (They) said, ‘Just play whenever, and if you don’t feel like playing, just walk around.’ I did three sets and walked around.”

The Herbert set includes typical carnival-organ music—with some covers thrown in, such as “Angie” by the Rolling Stones, “Hotel California” by the Eagles, and Booker T’s “Green Onions.”

“I have 13 songs, and a half hour to 45 minutes worth of live material. I have about six covers, and the others are all instrumentals. I wasn’t planning on singing and was just going to do instrumentals, but at home, I put together this medley, and I realized ‘Hotel California,’ ‘Angie’ and ‘Let the Sun Shine In’ are basically the same song. So I kind of merged the three together playing them instrumentally, and eventually split them up. It’s just sort of evolved as I’ve gotten better and more comfortable.”

As for the Bat Country Summer Slam, Lienau said attendees who catch the Herbert set will get a surprise—a surprise which he refused to reveal.

“I like (the Palms),” he said. “It’s way out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s really cool and peaceful. I’ve seen a couple of different incarnations of Rikk Agnew out there, and it’s so cool that he came out to do that. Zach (Huskey) mentioned it to me. … They definitely didn’t need to add me, but I was glad that they put me on there.”

The Bat Country Summer Slam takes place at a time to be determined on Saturday, July 4, at the Palms, 83131 Amboy Road, in Twentynine Palms. Admission to the all-ages show is $10 at the door. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page. For more information on Herbert, visit herbsorgan.com.

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When L.A. punk scene was gaining national attention in the 1970s and ’80s that was both good and bad, Rikk Agnew was there.

Today, he remains a popular figure in the Southern California music world, and he will be performing at the Bat Country Labor Day Blast at the Palms Restaurant in Twentynine Palms on Sunday, Aug. 31.

Agnew played with some of the biggest names in L.A. punk: He an early member of The Detours, Social Distortion, D.I., and the Adolescents. During a recent phone interview, Agnew said he had a feeling that punk music would go on to take the world by storm.

“It was so fresh; it was so honest; and it was a true resurgence of roots rock ’n’ roll,” Agnew said. “It was not just in sound, either; it was DIY and for the love for it—just wanting to have fun, be in there, and celebrate rebellion, and celebrate life.

“I know that sounds stupid, but it’s true. I felt even back then that punks were the new hippies, but we could do it with more aggression and without the peaceful, flower-power thing that obviously didn’t work. But basically, it was all about rock ’n’ roll.”

Agnew played in Social Distortion in 1978 through 1979. Through the years, Agnew has had his own struggles with addiction; however, Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness was in trouble long before Agnew. Agnew confirmed that Ness was, indeed, once a wild man.

“(A wild reputation) would be putting it lightly,” Agnew said. “I’m so happy for him being majorly successful now, because he was in the lowest of the lows back then. We used to do a betting pool as to which month he was going to die.”

After leaving Social Distortion, Agnew joined the Adolescents in 1980 and played with them until he was fired from the band in 1981. Agnew then made a rather unusual turn: He joined the lineup of the gothic/death-rock band Christian Death.

“I had a feeling I was going to be kicked out of the Adolescents at the time,” Agnew said. “(Christian Death) opened a show for us in Pomona, and it was interesting, and I was like, ‘What the hell?’ They played, and it sounded like a raw Black Sabbath. Rozz, the frontman, made me think, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’ I fell in love with it, and I talked to the guys afterward, and a couple of weeks later, I got kicked out of the Adolescents, and the first thing I did was call them. At that point, I was so hurt by being kicked out of the Adolescents that I thought, ‘I want to join this band and be so anti-punk and piss off punks’—go all fem instead of buff, and do anything to make them hate us and piss them off. What ended up happening is a whole cult following came out of it.”

He added that Christian Death’s legacy might be understated today. “It was pretty amazing. There was a lot of wild stuff that went on with it. Any suspicions or legendary stories about what we were dabbling in are probably under-exaggerated. It was something different.”

In the years since, Agnew has gotten sober and even participated in an Adolescents reunion. He now does production work.

“The studio is a whole different medium,” Agnew said. “It’s fun, because you can do certain things in the studio that you can’t do live. … I like it because of its creative process. You can really go to different places with it. I like to produce other bands, because when I’m producing them, I get an idea in my head that an artist can disapprove of or that they think is cool. It’s basically sculpting—that’s what it is.”

Agnew is happy to still be performing today after once being close to death due to addiction.

“It has its ups and downs,” Agnew said. “Some nights, it feels like I want to be in the background, but I’m enjoying it more and more every day, especially now with a clear mind and body. “

He has connections to the Joshua Tree area and has plenty of friends there. He talked about what can be expected during his performance at the Bat Country Labor Day Blast.

“We’re going to do some of my solo stuff, a few Christian Death songs, along with some D.I. and Adolescents. I don’t think we’re going to do anything from Social Distortion though,” he said with a laugh.

The Bat Country Labor Day Blast, featuring the Rikk Angew Band, takes place at 6 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 31, at the Palms Restaurant, 83131 Amboy Road, in Twentynine Palms. Admission is $10; a limited number of advance tickets are available at CVIndependent.com.  (Full disclosure: The Independent is sponsoring the show.) For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

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You’d never expect for the worlds of psychedelic rock and spaghetti Westerns to mix—but to the members of the band Spindrift, they go hand and hand.

The group will be performing and showing their new film Spindrift: Ghost of the West at Rock Formations II on Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Palms Restaurant in Twentynine Palms.

Spindrift formed in 1992 in Delaware. With influences such as The Doors, Hawkwind and My Bloody Valentine, the band was a heavy experimental rock group with a sound that was a far cry from that of their current incarnation.

After losing two original members in the early part of the last decade, the group rebranded.

“In the 2000s, we moved from Delaware to Los Angeles,” said frontman Kirpatrick Thomas during a recent interview. “At that point, we obviously had lineup changes and (a change in) playing style as well. We went from the experimental East Coast version of the band to the Western psychedelic version of the band. The journey itself from the East to the West Coast was relevant with our sound and experience.”

So how do spaghetti Westerns influence psychedelic rock?

“You have to realize that spaghetti Westerns were made during the ‘60s, during the same time as the psychedelic era,” Thomas said. “As far as the Italian cinema is concerned, you wonder about Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and all those other guys, and what they were going through at the time. You can kind of see it in those films, because they’re pretty far out. There’s no doubt that the whole thing crossed over. You definitely get a psychedelic element from the 1960s spaghetti Westerns.”

Guitarist Thomas Bellier agreed that spaghetti Westerns go hand in hand with psychedelic rock within the band’s sound.

“We kind of re-create Italian interpretations,” guitarist Thomas Bellier said. “So you have an American band doing an Italian west interpretation. That’s more Sergio Leone than it is John Wayne.”

Spindrift has also embraced the world of film. In 2008, the band took part in the film The Legend of God’s Gun, which Thomas co-wrote; he also had a starring role. The film featured a soundtrack that included Joshua Tree’s very own Gram Rabbit.

The band just finished the film Ghost of the West, which will be playing at Rock Formations II.

“Since Spindrift moved to L.A., we’ve become more involved in working with indie-film directors,” Thomas said. “The Legend of God’s Gun … kind of boosted things in relevancy as to how people view Spindrift.”

The director of Ghost of the West is Burke Roberts, who nicely captures Spindrift’s persona as the band performs old cowboy classics such as “Cool Water,” “The Ballad of Paladin,” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” in locations across the West.

“He grew up on a cowboy ranch,” Thomas said of Roberts. “He grew up ranching and has that cowboy mentality. His family owns the Roberts Ranch, which is (one of the) largest cattle ranches west of the Mississippi. We knew that we had something collectively to where we should work together.

“When we made the demos, we thought it would be really cool to take this on the road and film ourselves performing these songs all over the West. We said, ‘Well, we have to get Burke to do this; he’s the cowboy of the bunch.’ So immediately, I called up Burke Roberts, and he said, ‘Oh, wow, this is amazing. We’ve got to make this movie.’ Burke is a great director; he’s done music videos and many other features, and he’s got a lot under his belt, including a lot of awards.”

Bellier said the movie shows the band performing dream sequences. “It’s a surreal visual experience.”

Spindrift has proven adept at utilizing social media, and used a Kickstarter campaign to fund an album. With some bands deciding to forgo funding from record companies and just do independent releases, Kickstarter has become commonplace in the music world. However, Thomas said it’s something the band doesn’t plan to use again.

“I think every artist should try something like Kickstarter once, but you know, it’s for charity,” Thomas said. “You’re asking, and then you’re giving. Do it once; do it for a good reason—and you better make that the one and only time you do it. I don’t think anyone should do it more than once, given it could become a crutch for everyone. I think it’s important to be very attentive and understanding of living within your bounds as an artist.”

Spindrift’s members are no strangers to the high desert. In fact, there’s a history with the Joshua Tree Inn and the suite that Gram Parsons overdosed in: Spindrift wrote an entire album there.

At Rock Formations II, the group promises a good time and is looking forward to performing with Jello Biafra.

“We’re going to do some collaborative efforts live onstage together,” Thomas said. “Also, Jesika Von Rabbit is going to join us onstage for a duet, which will be Spindrift backing Jello and Jesika doing a duet. I love Jesika, and she’s been great. We’ve been cohorts for a long time now. The Joshua Tree area has kind of become our second home.”

Rock Formations II, featuring Jello Biafra and Spindrift, takes place starting at 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Palms Restaurant, 83131 Amboy Road, in Twentynine Palms. Admission is $10; a limited number of advance tickets are available at CVIndependent.com. (Full disclosure: The Independent is sponsoring the show.) For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

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As we head into August, there’s cause for celebration: Fall, and more reasonable temperatures, are approaching! There’s another reason to celebrate: What’s traditionally been the slowest month in the Coachella Valley is actually packed with great things to do.

The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club is the new hot spot in town. The Hacienda has announced that it will now have “Swim Club” every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with DJs performing poolside. Admission is free for those 21 and older. Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-778-8954; www.haciendacantina.com.

The Palms Restaurant, up in Twentynine Palms, is hosting two great shows put on by High Desert Underground Productions. (Full disclosure: The Independent is a sponsor of these shows, and we’re selling tickets to them in the Independent Market at CVIndependent.com.) Rock Formations II, starring Spindrift and the great Jello Biafra, starts at 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 23. Admission is $10. The following weekend, the Bat Country Labor Day Blast takes place at 5 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 31. Headlining is former Social Distortion guitarist Rikk Agnew (right); Silke Berlinn, Rawbone, 30 Foot Demon and Swords of Fatima will also be appearing. Admission is $10. The Palms Restaurant, 83131 Amboy Road, Twentynine Palms; 760-361-2810.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club is a great spot to lounge around the pool and catch some great entertainment. At noon, Saturday, Aug. 9, Fleetmac Wood, a DJ collective/party, will be performing/taking place by the pool. As you can probably tell, it’s an afternoon dedicated to the music of Fleetwood Mac. Admission is free. At 10 p.m., Friday, Aug. 22, Joel Jerome will be performing in the Amigo Room. The singer/songwriter was part of the psych pop group Dios Malos. Admission is free. At 10 p.m., Friday, Aug. 29, the Amigo Room will host indie-pop band Crystal Skulls. Considering the Amigo Room’s small size, this show should be a great live experience. Again, admission is free. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of noteworthy events coming up in August. First up is a show by Boston, performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 1. The band that took its name from its home city soared to success after its first, self-titled album in 1976. Songs such as “More Than a Feeling” and “Peace of Mind” helped the band fill stadiums—and an incredible 17 million copies of that album were sold. While lead guitarist and band founder Tom Scholz is the only remaining original member, this should still be a great show. Tickets are $75 to $115. The Gipsy Kings will be performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 29. While the Gipsy Kings are from France, they perform Spanish flamenco and salsa music. These highly successful world-music artists have won the praises of audiences worldwide. Tickets are $65 to $95. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a great August slate. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 1, Marco Antonio Solís will be performing. The Latin music singer/songwriter has sold more than 50 million albums, and is a multi-Latin Grammy Award winner. This show’s a big deal. Tickets are $59 to $129. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 2, Daughtry (below) will be stopping by. The American Idol finalist from Season 5 has managed to achieve a higher level of success than many of that show’s winners; in fact, his band has sold 5 million albums. Tickets are $29 to $59. If you’re aching to relive the 1970s era of soft-rock, go see Michael McDonald and Toto at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9. McDonald, who spent time as the frontman of The Doobie Brothers, is still very relevant in the music industry today. Tickets are $29 to $59. Check the Fantasy Springs website for details on more great shows. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has some excellent events in August. KC and the Sunshine Band takes the stage at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 8. The group is well-known for songs such as “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “Shake Your Booty,” “I’m Your Boogie Man” and other disco jams. Tickets are $29 to $39. Jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, who performed at the McCallum Theatre not too long ago, is taking the Morongo stage at 7 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 17. Botti has worked with the likes of Sting, Paul Simon, Roger Daltrey of The Who, and many others. Tickets are $50. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 22, country singer Sara Evans will be performing. She’s one of the most recognizable stars of country music, and she’s touring to promote her new album, Slow Me Down. Tickets are $35 to $55. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace rolls into August with Courtney Barnett (above) performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 8. The Australian singer-songwriter is currently touring behind her 2013 album, How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose. Her psychedelic-meets-country sound has been praised by the indie-music press. Tickets are $12. The Woodsist Festival will start at noon, Saturday, Aug. 16, featuring indoor and outdoor performances by an amazing list of musicians, including Cass McCombs, Foxygen, Amps for Christ and Little Wings. Tickets are $47.50. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 27, the Murder City Devils will be performing. The Seattle punk outfit reunited in 2006 after a five-year breakup—and hasn’t stopped performing since. In August, the band is slated to release its first album since 2001. This show is already generating a lot of buzz, so we recommend getting tickets ASAP. They’re $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza will be hosting a Battle of the Bands every Thursday in August at 8:30 p.m. The judging panel will consist of local concert promoter Ming Bob, CV Weekly editor/publisher Tracy Dietlin, and yours truly. The finals will take place on Thursday, Aug. 28, with the first-place band receiving $1,000. Come on out and support local music! At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 22, psychedelic rock band Sleepy Sun will be stopping by with special guests War Drum. Tickets are $5. So-Cal punk-rock pioneers Agent Orange will be returning to The Hood at 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 30. Be sure to check out this show! Tickets are $10. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

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