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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

High-desert ska band Spankshaft put out the long-awaited album Beasts and Goddesses earlier this year—and it was well worth the wait. Despite a series of recent lineup changes, including the departure of drummer Russel Waldron and bassist Brent Simpson, Spankshaft is soldiering on, including shows at Record Alley in Palm Desert on Saturday, Nov. 24, and The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Dec. 28. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/spankshaft. Speaking of soldiers: One of the new members is Joel Daniel, a music educator, bagpiper and former Marine who now plays trombone for the band. He was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Sounds crazy, but (despite) being a performing artist for my entire adult life, I never really could find the time to go to any major performances until just last year. So I guess you could say that the first “real” concert I attended was Green Day’s Revolution Radio show in San Diego.

What was the first album you owned?

Too-Rye-Ay by Dexys Midnight Runners. I was 12, I think.

What bands are you listening to right now?

The Interrupters, The Dollyrots, Mad Caddies, Less Than Jake, Madness, Mustard Plug, Suburban Legends, My Chemical Romance, Green Day, and Evanescence.

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

Today’s “popular” music. It’s over processed with benign lyrics and is simply too easy to digest. Gimme something with a little meat to it—something with chord progressions other than I-IV-V-I, challenging and inspiring instrumental solos, and meaningful poetry in lyrics.

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

I would love to not just see, but to share the stage with The Interrupters and The Dollyrots.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Playing sousaphone in polka and Dixieland bands or rock ’n’ roll bagpipes.

What’s your favorite music venue?

That I’ve played in? I’d have to say the indoor venues would have to either be The Cave in Big Bear or Big Rock Pub. For outdoor venues, it’d be really hard to top the Empire Polo Grounds, where Spankshaft played for Rhythm, Wine and Brews, as well as the Desert Oasis festivals. Maybe we can make the lineup for Coachella sometime in the near future!

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

“She. She’s figured out, all her doubts were someone else’s point of view,” Green Day, “She.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Van Halen. The 1984 album was the first time I discovered music of my own rather than just listening to whatever my parents were always playing. It would’ve been my first album purchase, but my brother had already bought it.

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

“What would you like to learn first?” as asked to the rookie band student in high school who has very limited skill, but has the drive, determination and passion to take it all the way.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Being a professional bagpiper, I most definitely do not want “Amazing Grace” played. So with that being said, I’d have to say the slow version of “The Marines’ Hymn” played by a Marine Corps band.

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

Van Halen, 1984. You never forget your first love.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

I think you misspelled the word “album.” I know this is going to sound like a shameless plug, but Spankshaft’s Beasts and Goddesses is absolutely wonderful! I used to think that listening to your own recordings made you a narcissist. However, I can honestly say that Brandon Simpson’s songwriting is just so powerful that I honestly listen to Spankshaft’s music just for the pure enjoyment of it—even the album they recorded before I joined the band! After all, it was the music that inspired me to join them in the first place.

Published in The Lucky 13

If you've never listened to Daytime Moon before, you really should fix that. This majestic three-piece band—which includes Brent Simpson, formerly of Spankshaft—incorporates several different genres into the music. The band will perform at the Beatnik Lounge on Wednesday, Oct. 17, and The Saguaro on Friday, Oct. 26. For more information on Daytime Moon, visit www.facebook.com/daytimemoonband. Brent Simpson was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Canned Heat at Pappy and Harriet’s. I think I was about 10. I went up to country, and got my mojo workin’ for whisky and wimmen and boogie music. I’m serious. I realize those are all titles of songs by them, but I was 10 years old, and it blew my mind.

What was the first album you owned?

The first CD I ever bought with my own money was one of the Now That's What I Call Music! CDs, but I can’t remember which volume it actually was. The first album of a band that I actually liked and knew what I was getting into was Blink-182’s Enema of the State. Then it was pure mayhem, and I quickly maxed out my parent’s subscription to one of those “pick some CDs and get them in the mail”-type deals.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I am enjoying some Family Thief, Slothrust, Mystic Valley Band, Amine, Animals as Leaders, Mourners, and Jouska. I am also listening to the new Daytime Moon masters from Get Right Recording Studios.

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

I don’t get why so many artists have to pop pills and drink cough syrup and all that nonsense. Life is beautiful, and mental health is not talked about enough. There are a ton of amazing artists out there who feel incomplete or unhappy the way their chemistry is, and they should be able to talk about it.

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

Jimi Hendrix! Or, maybe Elvis. This is a really hard question, because I feel like maybe Elvis wouldn’t live up to the expectations. Jimi would probably blow anyone away, but everyone probably chooses one or the other, so maybe Jimi.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Have you heard of The Moog Cookbook? Also, jazz ensembles are sometimes cool. I was a band geek back in the day, ya know, so I kinda have a different take on this.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Palms in Wonder Valley.

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

“This a rollie not a stopwatch, shit don’t ever stop,” Drake, “Nonstop.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The Beatles. They taught me that love is all you need.

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

I would ask Mozart: “DO YOU WANT TO JAM?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I would love it if there was a karaoke-type thing and a sweet jam session or a drum circle, but if it had to be one song, it would probably be Blink-182's “Adam’s Song,” but played on a dozen ukuleles and one bass guitar. Or an a capella version of that “Time Traveler” song by The Flusters.

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

Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy. It’s the only album I own two of, so it must be my favorite, right?

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Alien Boy” by Oliver Tree. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

Summertime in the Coachella Valley can be brutal—but those of us who live here year-round know that the local music scene never stops because of a little heat.

The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert, Kilo's Cantina in Thousand Palms, and Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails in Thousand Palms hosted many local rock shows during the summer—and the crowds often came out. The Hood Bar and Pizza, for example, hosted several weekend shows at which attendance was near capacity; the venue also launched and regular theme nights, including an open-mic night on Wednesday, and comedy night on Sunday.

Here are some photos of local musicians from shows that happened over the summer.

Published in Reviews

Three fine musicians, formerly members of well-liked local bands, have joined forces to create something new.

Karr features drummer Russel Waldron (formerly of Spankshaft), guitarist and vocalist Paul Karr (Unheard) and bassist Andy Gorrill (Machin’, Warsaw Poland Bros.), and the group will be making its low-desert debut—and playing its second show, period—at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Saturday, Sept. 1.

During a recent interview in Yucca Valley, Waldron said he was looking to play music again after leaving Spankshaft—and found chemistry with Gorrill and Karr.

“I consider it like the band Chickenfoot of the desert,” Waldron said. “We all come from these big bands of the desert—Warsaw Poland Brothers, Spankshaft and Unheard—and we decided to go our separate ways from them. As far as Spankshaft goes, I still love those guys like brothers, but it was time for a change.

“Me and Paul (Karr), who is my brother-in-law, got together. I jammed with everyone I could in the desert, but with Paul, it just clicked, and it felt like a heroin feeling. … After three practices, I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is where I belong.’ It’s been awesome, and it’s a huge breath of fresh air.

“We were on the prowl for a bass player, and I’ve played with 90 percent of the bands in the valley, and I never thought about hitting up Andy Gorrill; I always thought he was busy. I remember he texted me saying, ‘Totally interested!’ He came over, and after the first practice, Paul said, ‘He’s in!’ We’ve been practicing two to three times a week.”

For Paul Karr, the band marks a return to the rock world.

“I’ve been doing acoustic sets here and there, but nothing in rock for several years,” Karr said. “I didn’t really think I was going to do it again; my first intention was to get together with other guys and do stuff acoustically. That didn’t happen. I put an ad out on Craigslist, and it was while Russel was still in Spankshaft. I got all these replies and booked all these practices. But Russel said, ‘Hey, let’s get together!’ So I canceled all those. … I had been playing mostly benefit stuff because my mom is involved in a lot of charities.”

Gorrill said that while being part of Machin’ was fun, he and frontman David Macias didn’t always see eye to eye.

“I definitely had different life goals,” Gorrill said. “David (Macias) wanted to go one way, and it was different than what I was up for doing. … I played ball for a long time, but it got to a point where I needed to do me. It left a sour taste in my mouth, but it was good for me, because it let me not have to worry about shows, not worry about gigging, and it let me sit in my garage and play what I wanted to play, which was loud rock ’n’ roll. … In this band, it’s, ‘Let’s try this,’ or, ‘Let’s try that,’ instead of, ‘Learn how to play it is this way!’ There’s a lot of freedom now, and we’re not focused on perfection. Music should be fun, and when it becomes a job, the fun starts to peter out.”

Waldron said he understands it’s not easy to run a successful band.

“You have to keep the momentum going,” Waldron said. “You have to keep up with your publicity and all that. It can become a second job, but as long as it’s fun, and I’m happy like I’ve been, and it stays this way, I could play music for the next 20 years with these guys. It’s super-fun, and it’s exciting, and we’re just going to grow. It’s not perfect right now by any means, but it’s pretty damn awesome.”

Only a short demo for Karr has been released so far, but all three members agreed that coming from different music backgrounds was a positive.

“Genre-wise, I came from a ska band,” Waldron said. “We did a lot of ska, reggae and pop-punk. I’m still a huge reggae and ska fan at heart, so I’m going to bring a lot of those roots with me. It’s really cool to blend these different backgrounds together and see how it goes. I bring a lot of my roots with me, but playing with Paul and Andy’s different styles brings a lot of new stuff out of me I didn’t know I had.”

Karr said the creative atmosphere works well for him.

“Way back in the day in my band, it was way more catchy and riff-driven. As time went on, it became harder and harder, and it felt like it was becoming depressing metal,” Karr said. “But for me now, I’ll bring something in, and I never leave bummed out, because we’re continuously creating. I feel like they’re more open to working on a song and giving it their best shot.”

Gorrill said Machin’ should not define him as a musician.

“In Machin’, there was the cumbia, the ska and the gypsy jazz—which was all cool. It’s great to have that background, but it’s not what I listen to when I’m at home,” he said. “I’m listening to Foo Fighters and stuff like that, so it’s nice to be in a guitar band.”

There’s no doubt that Karr will offer some surprises during the show at The Hood.

“We have some studio time … and we’ve been putting it off, because we’ve been working on our set, but we want to go in there and get some records done hopefully by the end of the year. Everybody has been seeing our posters everywhere, and we have no music to show them yet—so the only way you’re going to hear us is to come to the show.”

Karr will perform with Sunday Funeral and Sticky Doll at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.karrband.com.

Published in Previews

Spankshaft is often labeled as a “ska band.” However, the group, which calls Yucca Valley home, is much more than that.

Brandon Simpson (vocals/guitar), Brent Simpson (bass/vocals) and Russel Waldron (drums) recently sat down to discuss the band’s in-the-works new album, Beasts and Goddesses.

“We started, in March, layering down the drums and guitar sounds, and we’ve almost finished up the bass right now,” Brandon Simpson said. “The first album we recorded (Great Job, released in 2011) was just a collection of songs we had written. We were trying some new things. This one is more like an actual album, where we knew we were going to record a number of songs. It feels more like an album than an EP.”

Beasts and Goddesses will include songs both old and new.

“‘If We Lose Our Heads’ is a really old Spankshaft song. It’s never been properly recorded until now,” Brandon Simpson said. “We have another one called ‘I Was Just Leaving,’ which is a new one. That was written in the studio just from a guitar riff that we had.”

Spankshaft’s music definitely has ska elements, but the members also include a heavy-rock element in their sound. During live performances, it’s not uncommon to hear a cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor,” as well as songs by the Black Keys, Lit, Sublime and many others.

“There are a lot of reggae bands locally, but we are actually trying to be punk/ska. It definitely feels lonely in our genre,” Brandon Simpson said. “But we’re more than punk/ska; we do a lot of other stuff. We sound a little Queens of the Stone Age on some tracks, and Streetlight Manifesto and Blink-182 on others. A lot of ska songs use major keys. … I have a love for minor keys and dissonance, so we have a lot of dissonance ska.”

Waldron said the upcoming album is quite diverse.

“A lot of this album is branching off the ska genre,” Waldron said. “Every time we have a show, people are like, ‘Oh my god! Ska is still around!’ Ska is huge in San Francisco and in Mexicali, or even in Orange County or Los Angeles.

“We’re trying to be not just known as a ska band. Travis Barker from Blink-182 is my main inspiration. … You’re going to hear a lot of influence on that aspect. … Every song is different than the last, and that’s what I really love about it. Each song is different, but it’s still cohesive.”

Reggae is also included on the new album.

“We have some actual reggae jams on this album,” Brent Simpson said. “Russ and I spent a year learning how to do that reggae-feeling thing. Andy from Warsaw Poland Bros. showed me a lot of cool stuff to do on the bass. Everybody loves reggae. We started experimenting with different sounds and tones. For us, it’s really opened us up to anything.”

Waldron compared playing reggae to playing the blues.

“You have to have the soul and the heart, and if you don’t, you’re just going to sound like a fucking tape recorder,” he said. “You have to have that feel. I’ve also added a lot of electronics on my kit. I’m still playing with the octapad and trying to fit that in. Every time we go into the studio, I come out of it a better musician. It’s amazing, because you’re sitting down and dissecting every little part and thing you’re doing.”

Yucca Valley is home to a surprising number of fine musicians. Spankshaft’s saxophonist, Clint Stoker, and trombonist, Scott “Drago” Kisinger were touring with Gene Evaro Jr. at the time of our interview.

“Living in the desert, when you find as great of a group of musicians as we have … it’s easier to keep a group together,” Waldron said. “In a city, people are going to say, ‘Well, I’m going to go play with this band.’ We’re experiencing that right now with our horn-players, but it’s cool, because we still have our core. We’re not going anywhere; we’re still playing shows and sound tight as a three-piece. There’s a lot more patience and loyalty in the desert.”

The band has been together for almost 10 years, and has been through both trying times and great times. Some of the good times have included sharing the stage with bands such as Voodoo Glow Skulls, The English Beat, Unwritten Law, and many others. As for the trying times?

“We’ve been through lineup changes, different horn players, deaths in the family, births in the family and just about everything. I don’t know what else there is left for us to go through,” Brent Simpson said.

Brandon Simpson said Spankshaft will likely go on for quite some time.

“Both Russ and I have the band name tattooed on us,” Brandon Simpson said. “That’s probably the only tattoo I have that I have no regrets or second thoughts about. Russ and I have had conversations about how we’re going to keep doing this band until we’re too told to do it anymore, like the Rolling Stones, just because we like doing it.”

For more information on Spankshaft, visit www.spankshaft.com.

Published in Previews

October is finally here, and that means the valley is starting to churn back to life after its summer slumber.

With help from the Independent and Chill Bar, I will once again be throwing a concert series to benefit the Community Food Bank at the LGBT Center of the Desert. The Oktoberfest Concert Series Benefiting the Community Food Bank at the Center will take place every Thursday in October at 9:30 p.m. On Thursday, Oct. 1, Palm Desert band The Flusters will performing a modern take on vintage rock ’n’ roll and ’60s surf rock. On Thursday, Oct. 8, EeVaan Tre and the Show will be bringing its fantastic R&B and hip-hop sound back to Chill. On Thursday, Oct. 15, the high desert’s Gene Evaro and the Family will take the stage. On Thursday, Oct. 22, Tribesmen will play with special guest Venus and the Traps. On Thursday, Oct. 29, Hollace—winners of the recent Hood Bar and Pizza Battle of the Bands—will perform with special guest Johnny Elsewhere. A $5 donation is suggested; 21 and older. Chill Bar, 217 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs; 760-327-1079; www.facebook.com/ChillBarPalmSprings.

You know season is here when the McCallum Theatre is open again, and the McCallum has some great events scheduled for October. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 11, Comedy Central’s Daniel Tosh will be performing. He’s calling his performance the “Tosh Saves the World Charity Show,” and proceeds will go to various charities. Ian Edwards, Tom Papa, Greg Hahn and Lachlan Patterson are also scheduled to appear. Tickets are $75. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23, prepare yourself: Bill Maher is coming back. Just a friendly warning: If you’re in the Fox News-viewing demographic, stay away from this show. Also, if you’re easily offended, Bill Maher will probably not be a good time. Tickets are $57 to $107. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24, get out your Stetsons, and shine up your boots, because Jason Petty is returning as Hank Williams in Hank and My Honky Tonk Heroes. You’ll also be hearing tunes from Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb and George Jones. Tickets are $22 to $52. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino had a fabulous summer, and has a lot of other exciting things booked through the rest of the year. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, there will be a performance by Latin singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas. Venegas is a big name in her native Mexico, and has also found success internationally. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17, sitcom star and comedian George Lopez (above) will be appearing. While Lopez has been wildly successful, he’s also known for explosive tweets on Twitter, including a “Fuck you!” response to a fan. Tickets are $49 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is definitely the place to be in October. While the Duran Duran show on Oct. 3 might be sold out, there are other events to consider. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, Blue Collar Comedy member Ron White will be appearing. “Tater Salad” has had quite a successful career—because he’s freaking hilarious. Tickets are $70 to $245. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 6, country singer-songwriter Frankie Ballard will take the stage. His career started after he won Kenny Chesney’s “Next Big Star” competition, and he has been rising steadily ever since. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23, The Tonight Show house band The Roots (above right) will be appearing. The Roots built their legacy on hip-hop and were an indie success; they are one of the few hip-hop acts to feature live instruments. They were the first hip-hop act I ever saw live in 1996. If you go see them, you’ll be blown away. Tickets are $55 to $75. Stay tuned to CVIndependent.com in October for an interview with The Hit Men (appearing Oct. 16) and a live review of Duran Duran’s show. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, Latin sensation Don Omar will perform. Billboard named Omar one of the top-selling Latin artists. He also appeared alongside Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in the Fast and Furious film franchise. Tickets are $54 to $84. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, check out a somewhat interesting event called Brenton Wood’s Love Jam. Wood was a modestly successful R&B/soul singer in the late ’60s. Also appearing will be the Zapp Band, who Dr. Dre sampled several times; Rose Royce; GQ; Atlantic Starr; Candyman; and Peaches and Herb. Tickets are $40 to $60. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a busy month ahead. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, there will be another celebrity music show by The Kiefer Sutherland Band. That’s right—you read that correctly. After Macaulay Culkin’s rather awkward appearance last year at Pappy’s with his band The Pizza Underground, I hope Kiefer puts on an excellent show. Tickets are $15. Speaking of awkward … at 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, Daniel Romano and the Trilliums will be performing. After Romano’s excellent performance at Stagecoach in April, I had the opportunity to interview him—and, well, he was strange, distant and didn’t seem to like anything or anyone that particular day. He’s a brilliant performer, but skip trying to talk to him on the back patio at Pappy’s. Tickets are $12. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 31, it’ll be that time of the year again: Gram Rabbit takes the stage at Pappy’s for the group’s usual Halloween shows. While Gram Rabbit has basically been on hiatus, front woman Jesika Von Rabbit recently toured with Eagles of Death Metal in the Midwest. Buy your tickets now, because it will sell out, and there will be a large crowd. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is preparing for a busy fall. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, the “Gay Don Rickles,” Jason Stuart, will be performing with special guest, local (and friend) Shann Carr. Hopefully Stuart’s material isn’t as offensive as Rickles’ live album. Tickets are $25. Purple Room Palm Springs, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Tryst Lounge continues to host local bands. At 10 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 13, Derek Jordan Gregg will be performing. At 10 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24, Spankshaft will take the stage. At 10 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 27, an act calling itself the Techno Hillbillies will play. All shows are free. Tryst Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs; 760-832-6046; www.facebook.com/Trystpalmsprings.

The Date Shed has one intriguing event worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17, post-grunge band Puddle of Mudd (below) will perform. During the early part of the last decade, the group had 15 minutes of fame. Alas, today, frontman Wes Scantlin is known to perform heavily intoxicated, or to lip-sync an entire show. Many of the band’s original members have run away from Puddle of Mudd. I will say that you should go to support local opening acts Mighty Jack and the Rebel Noise, given they both put on great shows. Tickets are $20 to $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews