Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Brian Blueskye

Rock ’n’ roll and country have always been connected—and they’re certainly connected with The Wild Feathers. The Nashville group uses influences from Led Zeppelin and Neil Young to create a strong Americana sound. They’ll be performing at Stagecoach on Friday, April 25.

All of the members were raised on rock music with Southern musical traditions, but they have embraced more of a classic country sound in their music.

During a recent phone interview, Joel King (vocals, bass) discussed The Wild Feathers’ formation. The Wild Feathers are Ricky Young (vocals, guitar), Joel King, Taylor Burns (vocals, guitar), Preston Wimberly (lead guitar/pedal-steel guitar) and Ben Dumas (drums).

“Me and Ricky knew each other in Nashville,” King said. “We got together and wrote some songs, and really started the band from that. It was kind of a natural thing, and one thing led to another. We kind of set out for it, but not really.”

While Nashville is obviously known for being at the heart of the mainstream country-music scene, it’s also a home of the early rock ’n’ roll sound.

“It’s the best place in the world,” he said. “The quality is really high there. I love Los Angeles; I love New York, given they have everything there, but Nashville is just music, pretty much. Everybody has something going on—or fucking 10 different things going on—and it’s just cool to be around that. It’s inspiring.”

When it comes to the big “Nashville sound,” King said it’s obvious that modern country music has become quite diverse.

“There are a lot of great singer-songwriters doing the classic sound of country right now,” he said. “I think a lot of classic rock could be called country music these days. I don’t know if Neil Young would be classified now under country, Americana or whatever you’d want to call it, but there’s a lot of really good stuff going on now—and a little bit of a revival going on right now as well. We can kind of sense it.”

The band’s self-titled debut album was released in 2013. King said the band took a laid-back approach.

“We did one song a day,” he said. “We did it live in the same room. Usually, people do something like: The drummer comes in for one day, and it’s drum day. ‘Prepare yourself for tomorrow, because it’s the vocal day!’ We were like, ‘Fuck that!’ You lose excitement, and you lose energy doing that. We would get in there and do everything we could live. Sometimes the vocals would be live, whatever we could get down. By the end of the day, we’d have great songs.”

The band, in a sense, has a local connection: Band members have said their sound is like “Led Zeppelin and The Band had a baby in Joshua Tree (who) grew up listening to Ryan Adams covering the Stones’ ’70s country influenced songs.”

Is there a Joshua Tree influence in The Wild Feathers’ music? King said there most certainly is.

“We’ve been out there a bunch of times,” he said. “We went up there to the Joshua Tree Inn and rented the room Gram Parsons died in. We stayed in that room on his birthday, and we had to get as drunk as could be to make it through the night, because we were scared.” 

Stagecoach lineups have been known to stretch the definition of country music a bit—and that explains JD McPherson’s inclusion in the 2014 lineup.

JD McPherson—who will perform on Friday, April 25—plays music that is a throwback to ’50s rock ’n’ roll. Yes, his music includes some classic country elements, too, but McPherson is best known for belting out high-energy vocals with that ’50s bass and guitar sound in the background. Since he released his debut album, Signs and Signifiers, in 2012, he’s been on fire and was named an “artist to watch” by Rolling Stone.

McPherson, a native of Oklahoma who currently lives in the city of Broken Arrow, talked about his upbringing in Talihina, Okla., during a recent phone interview.

“My upbringing in Oklahoma was very rural,” McPherson said. “I grew up on a 160-acre ranch in southeast Oklahoma, and I had a lot of time on my hands. The ‘mall’ for me was kind of a monthly trip with my parents to Portsmouth, Ark. That’s when I would pick up music and music magazines.

“The (local) music scene was the one me and my two friends made for ourselves,” he said with a laugh.

He went on to earn a master’s degree in arts at the University of Tulsa, and became an art and technology teacher. However, he didn’t feel like teaching was really his calling.

“I always poured more energy into music than I really had business doing as far as a ratio to responsibility,” he said. “Music was something I was perfectly happy doing in my spare time, and I was fortunate enough to go on to be doing it for a living. It was absolutely the best thing that could have happened to me.”

McPherson’s musical influences are undeniably diverse. Buddy Holly is one; another is Little Richard. I asked what drew him to the music of Little Richard.

“One of my favorite (songs) of all time is ‘Keep-A-Knockin’,’ and it’s just the most awesome, swinging, full-abandon record I’ve ever heard,” he said. “I can’t believe that got played on the radio. It’s just really, really psycho. That record sums up everything for me. It obviously influenced a lot of folks; Led Zeppelin copied the drum intro for ‘Rock and Roll.’ A lot of the garage bands are trying to touch that sound. It just sounds like fun and danger at the same time.”

Another influence: hip-hop from the ’90s, such as the music of Wu-Tang Clan.

“It’s the sound and textures,” he said. “Especially in the ’90s, a ton of really exciting sound textures were happening. I don’t know if it was the sampling technology they had at the time, but everything sounded like it was coming from a TV, and there was some really cool production stuff happening back then. I think a lot of the Ice-T records were really cool, and the Dr. Dre records obviously sound cool. They were sampling all these funk records and stuff, which were already squashed and crunchy-sounding. But when they did their treatment to it, it just sounded really cool.”

He said the release (by Rounder Records) and eventual success of Sounds and Signifiers caught him by surprise

“I made that record as a project while I was still teaching school,” he said. “I had no idea that I wasn’t going to be teaching school any more. We just made it as something we wanted to make. Everything sort of happened at the right time—including me losing my job. That allowed for it to happen.”

The recording process was entirely independent, he said.

“It was not made for general consumption by any means,” he said. “It was the first full-length recording recorded at my bass-player Jimmy’s studio. He had been building a studio in his attic, and it was the first thing he did. We put everything into it.”

While the record’s success was a complete surprise, McPherson said he and his band did have one goal—eventually accomplished—in mind with the recording.

“There was a little scene of places we would be able to get gigs once in awhile, especially overseas,” he said. “We knew for sure we’d probably get some weird rock ’n’ roll gig at a festival in Spain. Spain has this really rabid rock ’n’ roll fanbase. We were like, ‘Hey, man, we might get a free trip to Spain out of this. Let’s put everything into it!’

“We worked really hard on (the album), but the more we worked, the less … it looked like a ’50s record. I have to brag about our sound engineer, Alex Hall, for a moment, because I don’t think there’s another modern record that completely nailed the sound of ’50s rock ’n’ roll. But it was mission accomplished, because our second gig was in Spain.”

There’s a new album in the works. McPherson and his band are working with Mark Neill, one of the producers on the Black Keys album Brothers.

“We’ve been working on it for a while now,” he said. “We’re really excited about it. Mixes are starting to roll in right now, and it’s sort of preliminary.”

As for his performance at Stagecoach, he said he’s not worried one bit about his music fitting in.

“We’ve played very, very sacred folk music festivals where we had no business wheeling a Hammond organ onto the stage, and we’ve played things like Bonnaroo,” he said. “We just kind of go and do our thing. We’ve been very fortunate to be invited to so many kinds of festivals. There’s no bigger country music fan than me, and I personally love the challenge of going into something that seems like we don’t necessarily belong. I love that.

“We will play our hearts out every time.”

The members of The Rebel Noise moved from their hometown of Paso Robles to the Palm Springs area in 2011—and only then did they have the idea to start a band.

Since that fateful decision, they have been a band on the rise—and they’ll be performing on Thursday, April 3, with War Drum and Brothers Weiss at Bar in Palm Springs.

The Rebel Noise is Leo Rodriquez (guitar, vocals), Collin Pintor (guitar), Ben Travis (bass) and Ashley Pintor (drums). The move to Palm Springs started with a job offer made to Collin Pintor.

“My company has two offices, and one of them is down here,” Collin Pintor said. “We vacationed here all the time when we were kids, so it just kind of made sense to make a move. It was a good time for me. The rest of the band followed about a year after.”

But they weren’t yet a band at the time. In fact, the only one who had played in a band was Ashley Pintor, who had been in an all-girl band in the Paso Robles area.

“We played a couple of shows,” Ashley Pintor said about her old group. “One of them was this saloon, and we actually opened up for the Kottonmouth Kings, which was super-weird, because our music style did not mesh at all. But that was it, and it lasted for about half a year.”

Another surprising fact about The Rebel Noise: Leo Rodriquez has only been playing the guitar for about two years.

“When we were all living up north, I didn’t know how to play guitar,” Rodriquez said. “I had just picked up my acoustic guitar and was learning major chords, and that was about it. I didn’t even sing or anything. (Collin and Ashley) used to jam all the time, and I’d just sit there in their band room and listen to them play. I couldn’t jam, because I didn’t know how to play anything. I stole my little sister’s acoustic guitar, and Collin showed me my first chords—and I would just play the shit out of it.”

Rodriquez moved to the area and had two weeks off between jobs; he used that time to learn how to sing and play guitar. He said he even wrote his first “terrible song.”

“We were blown away,” Collin Pintor said about Rodriquez’s musical talent. “We could see the potential. That was always one thing we were missing—a singer. We came out and we’re like, ‘What in the hell? You’ve never sang before? Ever?’”

Rodriquez said the band’s sound has been developing ever since.

“Every recording that we do, every new song that we write, it gets tighter and tighter, and it sounds better and better,” he said.

All the hard work by Rodriquez and his band mates has paid off, leading to some great songs and a unique sound that offers a mix of blues and hard rock. One of the band’s songs, “Possessed,” starts off with Rodriquez singing gently—and then shifts to full-on insanity, with a blast of heavy guitar and Rodriquez screaming. (Scroll down to see a video.)

“We actually just wrote that one,” Rodriquez said. “It was kind of on a whim. (Collin) had a lick, and we were just like, ‘We could write this song right now.’ We wrote that song in one practice.”

Rodriquez said the band members try to emphasize a diversity of sounds in their songs.

“It’s important for us to use dynamics in our songs,” Rodriquez said. “You can’t just rock out the whole time. It kind of becomes numb at that point. We like to bring it way up and bring it back all the way down to the floor again. We always do that.”

When they look back on their first live show—at the Dillon Roadhouse, two years ago—they cringe.

“We probably practiced for about two months before we played that show,” said Collin Pintor.

Rodriquez remembers that Michael Durazo from Slipping Into Darkness helped them land the gig. And how’d it go?

“We sucked really bad,” Rodriquez said. “I remember being so nervous before that show that I was shaking onstage, but it was fun, and it was a good first-show experience. I even have one video of one of our songs, and I watch it just to see how far we’ve come. Every time I watch it, I can only watch about half of it before I have to shut it off.”

In the two-plus years of The Rebel Noise’s existence, the band has earned love from many local bands.

“People are into the music scene here, which is nice,” said Collin Pintor. “The other bands here are really cool. We’ve met some of the bands where it feels like it’s very competitive, and they’re standoffish. But usually when we play down here, we hear, ‘Hey, that was a really good show; looking forward to your next one.’”

They also have the support of their neighbors around their home in Palm Springs. In fact, a neighbors’ daughter might end up on the cover of their debut album, which they hope to have ready during the summer.

“She’s actually listening to our song through a pair of headphones,” said Ashley Pintor. “She busted up her chin and has a Band-Aid on her chin looking all hardcore. It’s seriously awesome.”

If you’re going to Coachella, and you’ve never been before, consider yourself warned: It can be a frustrating experience.

Coachella has so many bands, with numerous acts playing all at once, that it can be tough to choose where to go, and who to see. You’ll probably wind up missing some bands that you wanted to enjoy—and don’t be surprised if you don’t realize that one of your favorite artists is playing with a solo/side project you haven’t heard about until it’s too late.

Yes, it can be overwhelming—but we’re here to help, with this list of Coachella performers worth checking out.

Friday, April 11 and 18

Dum Dum Girls: Independent contributor Guillermo Prieto—a fine judge of music, if you ask me—is a big fan of this all-female foursome from Los Angeles. The Dum Dum Girls are on the up and up after getting noticed by indie critics and signing with Sub Pop Records. Now it appears they’re ready for the mainstream. Their single “Rimbaud Eyes,” from Too True, released back in January, is starting to pick up steam. If you like Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, you’ll love Dum Dum Girls.

Anti-Flag: If you’re pissed off at the establishment, and angry about having to stand out in the sun and buy bottled water—yet you’re cool with spending $375 to get into Coachella—you’ll love Anti-Flag. The Pittsburgh punk outfit is known for its sentimental punk tracks such as “Your Daddy Was a Rich Man,” “Your Daddy’s Fucking Dead,” “Captain Anarchy,” “Angry, Young and Poor,” “The Economy Is Suffering” and their best-known anthem, “Die for Your Government.” If you question what they’re being paid to play at Coachella, shut your dirty mouth! They’re being paid in anarchy!

Goat: This Swedish outfit put out World Music, one of my favorite records of 2012. The band wears freaky costumes, offers a hilarious back story about being from a cursed village destroyed by Christian crusaders, and turns in bizarre stage performances—so you probably shouldn’t miss them. Oh, and the music is great, too: A psychedelic-rock sound is combined with Afrobeat cuts. You’ll truly enjoy this band—I promise.

Chromeo: Chromeo is the one EDM act you should catch at Coachella—even if you don’t care for EDM. Dave 1 and P-Thugg will make sure you’re having a good time with their electrofunk anthems such as “Night by Night” and “Fancy Footwork.” These guys are a throwback to the cheesy disco/pop periods of the ’70s and ’80s—in a good way. It’s hard to guess where in the lineup and on which stage these guys are going to be, so figure it out and claim your spot early.

The Replacements: As far as the big names and reunions go, this is the best, in my book. This Minneapolis band (right) formed in 1979 and did great things before breaking up in 1991. They’re being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year for leaving their mark on college radio and the post-punk scene. If that’s not enough to convince you to see them, the song “Can’t Hardly Wait” inspired a film by the same name in 1998, about a high school graduation party during which Ethan Embry tries to give a letter to Jennifer Love Hewitt. (OK, maybe that isn’t very convincing. Just go see them, dammit.)

Saturday, April 12 and 19

Drowners: Make sure you arrive early on Saturday to catch Drowners. If you’re a fan of The Cure, The Smiths or any other ’80s Brit-Pop band, you’ll love them. They’re out to make the ’80s cool again! Since forming in 2011, Drowners have toured with the Arctic Monkeys, The Vaccines, and Foals, and have a new self-titled album to their credit.

Ty Segall: Ty Segall has come a long way since he started his solo recording career in 2008. With his psychedelic-fuzz-fused garage rock, you can expect a noisy and crazy performance that will make the eclectic-music-lover in you feel right at home.

Bombay Bicycle Club: Bombay Bicycle Club is pure fun. Their songs get easily stuck in your head, and you can’t help but smile when listening to many of their songs. If you’re having a bad day at Coachella, Bombay Bicycle Club might be all you need to turn that frown upside down.

Mogwai: This Scottish instrumental rock group will definitely offer a unique experience to those who have never heard of them. Their songs have no real vocal tracks—just some distorted lyrics here and there in the background on a few of their songs. Still, make no mistake: Mogwai is one of the best bands on Saturday’s bill.

Nas: Nas became one of the more-prolific of MCs of the ’90s after coming out of the Queensbridge housing projects in Queens. Prodigy of Mobb Deep mentioned Nas extensively in his autobiography, My Infamous Life; as the story goes, Prodigy and Nas once had a rap battle that ended in a draw. He’s one of NYC’s most-legendary rappers, so Nas will probably shine the brightest among Coachella’s rap/hip-hop performers. 

Sunday, April 13 and 20

Preservation Hall Jazz Band: This is a rather strange, if welcome, inclusion on the Coachella lineup. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is the musical jewel of New Orleans’ French Quarter, and has been going since 1963. They are the house band of New Orleans’ Preservation Hall, so if you want to experience something different at Coachella, they are the one act on Sunday you won’t want to miss. If you enjoy them, check out Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, who are performing later in the day.

J. Roddy Walston and the Business: Ever since Kings of Leon hit the mainstream, the whole Southern-rock-meets-blues thing has been ruined for me. However, J. Roddy Walston and the Business have restored some hope: There are some genuine blues influences in their music, with some lively Southern-rock touches here and there, too. These guys rock, and I’d imagine they’ll put on a great live show.

Frank Turner: While folk music already hooked up with punk rock due to work by artists such as Billy Bragg, Frank Turner is the folk-meets-punk artist of today. Unlike Bragg, Turner isn’t all that political; however, Turner did get some unwanted attention in his native United Kingdom after The Guardian ran an erroneous story about him being a right-winger; it reportedly led to death threats. In any case, Turner’s music is great, and he’ll offer an enjoyable live experience for those who wish they could have attended Coachella last year to see The Lumineers.

The 1975: The members of The 1975 (below) have been playing music together since 2002, and in 2012 (Enough years for ya?), they signed with an indie label called Dirty Hit. Since then, they’ve released a series of EPs, as well as a self-titled LP in September 2013. They’re a hit in their native UK—and are gaining attention here in the States, too. Their electro-pop sound is catchy, and they manage to include some unique themes in their lyrics. This is one band that will definitely be talked about at Coachella.

Whatever you do, don’t call the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion—playing at Coachella on Friday, April 11 and 18—a “nostalgia” act.

Jon Spencer began his music career as the guitarist and vocalist for the Washington, D.C.-based psychedelic/punk band Pussy Galore. (Pussy Galore also included guitarist Cristina Martinez, who would go on to become Jon Spencer’s wife.) Pussy Galore dissolved in 1990, and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion surfaced in 1991. Shortly thereafter, a 15-song bootleg titled A Reverse Willie Horton started making the rounds.

A Reverse Willie Horton—now considered by many to be the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s debut album—featured a cover with a reverse-negative picture of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas kissing his wife as President George H.W. Bush looked on, at Thomas’ swearing-in ceremony in 1991.

During a recent phone interview, Spencer said he had nothing to do with either the album cover or the album’s release.

“It’s a bootleg. I didn’t put it together,” Spencer said. “That record is the Blues Explosion’s first recording session that we did with (Mark) Kramer. I sent it to somebody, and it got bootlegged. I think the Reverse Willie Horton album came from Philadelphia.”

Throughout the ’90s, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion recorded and toured with big names—all while developing a sound that’s impossible to describe. Many people have labeled them as a blues band; others have used the term “nostalgic”—and neither is even close. While the sound includes elements of blues, it also contains bits of rock ’n’ roll and a punk influence.

The band’s proper, self-titled debut album, released in 1992, included some tracks from Reverse Willie Horton; few copies were produced and released. It was the release of Orange, in 1994, that led to critical acclaim, an appearance on MTV’s The John Stewart Show, and a tour with the Beastie Boys.

Orange also featured an appearance by Beck on the track “Flavor.” Beck was a rising star at the time, and he invited the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion on a tour of Australia and New Zealand.

“That first experience was fine,” Spencer said about working with Beck. “But later on, Beck became not so good to work with. ‘Loser’ was just starting to happen, and Beck would talk about my old band Pussy Galore being an influence on him. Around that time, I was mixing Orange in the studio in Manhattan, and we had the song ‘Flavor,’ and I thought, ‘Well, what about asking Beck to rap on this song?’ I got his number from someone at Geffen, called him up, and he was a good sport and said he’d do it. I let him write for 20 minutes and called him back, and we recorded over the phone.”

After Orange, the band recorded A Ass Pocket of Whiskey with blues legend R.L. Burnside. The album was recorded during one afternoon in February in Holly Springs, Miss.

“The guys from Fat Possum Records rented a hunting lodge, and it was out in the country,” Spencer said. “We just spent four or five hours that afternoon. It was bitterly cold; there was an ice storm a couple of days beforehand, and snow and ice are very rare down there. It was in a house, and it wasn’t a proper recording studio. The Fat Possum people brought in some recording equipment, and there was no heat. There was a big fire going in the fireplace. The Blues Explosion and R.L. had been touring together, and we’d been playing songs together more and more during encores. Matthew Johnson at Fat Possum thought, ‘Why don’t you go in the studio with him and record?’ That’s what we did.”

In the fast-paced, DIY recording session, R.L. Burnside had no problems, Spencer said. “He was a farmer most of his life. He wasn’t a prima donna. It wasn’t like we were recording with Pavarotti or Elton John. (Burnside) was a guy who definitely had no problem with anything, really. He was tough in some ways, for sure.”

While Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs and albums have made the charts in the United Kingdom, the band has not managed to do so here in the States; still, the band has enjoyed a great deal of success with indie- and underground-music lovers, and many critics have raved about the band’s live performances. The band also received some good music-video exposure back in MTV’s heyday.

Bands such as The White Stripes, The Black Keys and others have listed the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion as an influence.

“A lot of these bands that people will mention to me, I don’t think they sound close,” Spencer said. “We’ve always been more of a punk band and quite more experimental. We’re not very traditional. We are a rock ’n’ roll band, but we’re not recycling the early-’70s sounds and styles.”

Since 1991, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion lineup has remained consistent, with Judah Bauer (lead guitar) and Russell Simins (drums) remaining in the fold. The band’s most-recent release, Meat+Bone, was well-received by critics.

As for playing at Coachella, Spencer was brutally honest in his assessment.

“I think the festivals we have in the States are modeled after the big European festivals,” Spencer said. “It’s nice to see a lot of festivals here in the States, and we’re very happy to be asked to play Coachella.”

The band that arguably had the most influence in Los Angeles’ 1980s music scene was neither the Red Hot Chili Peppers nor Jane’s Addiction. It was a band called Fishbone—and that band will be playing at Coachella on Sunday, April 13 and 20.

While many contemporaries in the L.A. music scene went on to have great mainstream success, Fishbone struggled—but despite years of heartbreak and failure, Fishbone keeps on going.

The story of Fishbone goes back to 1979. John Norwood Fisher (bass), Phillip “Fish” Fisher (drums), Kendall Jones (guitar), Chris Dowd (keyboards and trumpet) and “Dirty” Walter Kibby (trumpet and vocals) were placed in a busing program that took them from South Central L.A. to a junior high school in the San Fernando Valley. In school, they met a local by the name of Angelo Moore (vocals), who would bring all of them together to start a band influenced by funk, punk, reggae and ska. In fact, they were the first band to bring the “funk to the punk,” according to the 2010 documentary Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone. The all-African-American band simultaneously enthralled and confused both white and black audiences.

During a recent phone interview, Norwood Fisher said that being bused to the San Fernando Valley definitely changed his perspective when it came to music.

“It absolutely had an impact on a certain level,” Fisher said. “It brought me closer to the conversation of punk rock. In the hood back in ’79 to ’83, no one was playing punk rock. Plus, when we would sit around and talk about who was the best guitarist in the world, we’d be like, ‘JIMI HENDRIX!’ Some white dude would say, ‘JIMMY PAGE!’ And then one time, somebody said, ‘FRANK ZAPPA!’ I didn’t own any of (Zappa’s) records, so I had to find Dr. Demento on the radio, who would play Frank Zappa, and I was like, ‘THAT’S THAT GUY!’ I was really able to dig in to Frank Zappa that way.”

The band began playing shows in the Los Angeles punk scene, and formed close bonds with local musicians including the members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Thelonious Monster, both of which started in 1983. They would later befriend the members of Jane’s Addiction, too. It was a time when the Los Angeles music scene having an impact on the world.

“It really looked like a pinnacle point for underground music,” Fisher said. “Looking back, everything in L.A. was on fire. The dance clubs, the live music of all kinds—hip hop, reggae, punk, the East L.A. sound, and East L.A. punk—and Fishbone were mixing it all up; so were the Chili Peppers. There was this rockabilly scene that was vibrant, and there was just a lot going on. It was the time when you could go to any club, and fall in, and hear some really good music.”

Although Fishbone was influencing numerous musicians and playing epic live shows, the record labels didn’t know what to do with the band. Columbia Records was the first of many labels to sign the group, in 1983. The label first released a self-titled EP—which featured the track “Party at Ground Zero”—in 1985.

“Even through the confusion, I can see where Columbia Records was doing its best,” Fisher said. “They were used to a cookie cutter, easy-to-understand world. The fact that we confused them didn’t mean they didn’t work their asses off.”

Much later, representatives of a record label came clean about their feelings regarding Fishbone.

“We were with Hollywood Records and did The Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx (in 2000), and they told us, ‘We were always afraid of the Fishbone project.’”

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, the band members began to add a metal sound to their music; for example, listen to their cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Freddie’s Dead,” and tracks such as “Fight the Youth” and “Sunless Saturday.” Fishbone’s 1991 album, The Reality of My Surroundings, was critically acclaimed and earned them their biggest commercial success. Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction also invited the band to play on the Lollapalooza tour in 1993.

However, things began to fall apart right before Lollapalooza, when Kendall Jones joined a Christian religious cult led by his estranged father, who was in Northern California. Fisher, along with some of Jones’ siblings, went to try to bring Jones back. A scuffle ensured; Jones and his father later filed attempted-kidnapping charges against Fisher. Fisher assembled a top-notch legal team and was eventually acquitted, but only after a costly trial; many people contributed to Fisher’s legal fund, and bands such as Tool and Alice in Chains played benefits for him.

“Believe me when I say my life would be so different today if people didn’t do that for me,” Fisher said. “It’s hard for me to grasp the words on the level of gratitude. I was a guy facing nine to 11 years in prison! That’s pretty deep. I kept my composure, for the most part, but god damn! If it would have gone the other way, it would have been a tragedy, especially when I think about if I were represented by a public defender.”

Fisher said the incident was an unfortunate and trying mistake.

“The situation to me was that (Kendall) was my brother, and he needed help,” Fisher said. “That was all that was in my mind. It fucking had nothing to do with the band continuing. It was just Kendall was my best friend—he was my drinking buddy. We wrote tons of songs together, and we did all kinds of shit. So, that’s what that was about.”

The attempted-kidnapping debacle began what may have been Fishbone’s most-trying period. Some original members left; they were dropped by another label. Soon thereafter, the third-wave ska revival hit full swing, thanks in part to No Doubt, a band with whom Fishbone once shared the stage. Other ska-based bands such as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Sublime were also making it big—yet Fishbone was largely left out in the cold. Not even the band’s 1996 album, Chim Chim’s Badass Revenge, would help.

“We were not even wanted, and that was it,” Fisher said. “We made Chim Chim’s Badass Revenge, and we had to go make another record that never got released. The material was right; the production was right; and that was aiming us in the perfect direction for us to join in and be a part of that. Unfortunately, our producer, Dallas Austin, got into it with Clive Davis, and it became a record that never got released.”

Still, Fishbone has drawn a devout niche audience over the years. Meanwhile, Fisher has been involved in a few side projects and even played on a tour with Clarence “Blowfly” Reid. Angelo Moore, under the moniker of Dr. Madd Vibe, and has released solo material, including books of poetry.

Kendall Jones has since left the religious cult, and was shown in Everyday Sunshine playing a show with Fishbone as a surprise guest. Fisher said he has forgiven Jones for what happened—but a return to the band is unlikely, given Jones is not currently in contact with the other members.

Meanwhile, the working relationship between Fisher and Moore has been strained at times. Fisher explained what keeps them working together.

“It’s the love of the music,” Fisher said. “We’ve been playing music together since 1979, so it’s like a family affair. We both have other projects and stuff, but I’m very aware and attached to the legacy of the band and trying to preserve that.

“At my core, I just feel like the world needs a Fishbone. As long as there is some fun to be had with it, it’s working for me. If it’s too much of a chore, maybe we need to take a break.”

Not going Coachella? You’re far from alone; most of us can’t afford the cash or the time it takes to go to the festival.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience a taste of what Coachella has to offer: A number of local venues throw affordable parties and events before, during and between the Coachella weekends.

We asked representatives of a variety of venues what they had planned. Some declined to tell us, at least as of our late-March press deadline—perhaps because they didn’t want to let the cat out of the figurative bag too early, or perhaps because the details had not yet been finalized. For example, we’ve heard rumors that venues including Bar, Clinic Bar and Lounge and others may hosting some great parties and events, but we couldn’t get the details. (Watch for news.)

Here are four great events about which we have the details.

Coachella Valley Brewing Co’s Pre-Coachella Warehouse Party

We admit we’re a little biased about this one, because we’re sponsoring it: On Saturday, April 5, from 3 to 8 p.m., Coachella Valley Brewing Co. will host a party featuring two stages of music, live art, great food and—of course—delicious beer.

Independent contributor All Night Shoes (Alex Harrington), with the help of with Phonetix Entertainment Group, has assembled an impressive DJ lineup that includes Synthetix, Ivanna Love, Femme A, RowLow and CreamSFV. Caitie Magraw and Michael B. Perez will create a live work of art in the midst of the festivities, too. The $35 ticket includes four CVB beers, and proceeds will go to EcoMedia Compass, a group working to restore and promote awareness of the Salton Sea.

Coachella Valley Brewing Co. is located at 30640 Gunther St., in Thousand Palms. Get tickets at

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

Pappy and Harriet’s has announced a fantastic series of events going on before and during Coachella, and there may be more to come: Robin Celia, one of the owners of Pappy’s, told me one additional event may be announced in April; watch the Independent Facebook page for details.

Here’s what we already know: At 7 p.m., Thursday, April 10, the Afghan Whigs will play an outdoor show on the eve of their Coachella appearance. The Afghan Whigs announced their reunion earlier this year, along with news that they are recording new material. The show’s opener is Brody Dalle, the former frontwoman of the Distillers, and Queen of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme’s wife; she’s currently working on her debut solo album. Both of these acts should bring the house down! Tickets are $30.

Later that night, at 11:30 p.m., Goat and Holy Wave will be playing an indoor show; tickets are $15.

The good news: At 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 16, Little Dragon and The Internet will play an outdoor show. The bad news: The event is already sold out.

Pappy’s is located at 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Call 760-365-5956, or visit

The Hood Bar and Pizza’s Coachella Kick-Off Party

The Hood Bar and Pizza has scheduled two shows by Mickey Avalon, at 9 p.m., Thursday, April 10 and Thursday, April 17. Avalon is a white dude from Hollywood who raps about drugs, prostitutes and his sexual escapades; he has a rather strange appearance that includes eyeliner and makeup. If you’re feeling brave enough to check this one out, and you’re 21 or older, tickets are $15. There are no pre-sales, so it’s first-come, first-serve.

The Hood Bar and Pizza is located at 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Call 760-636-5220, or visit

Desert Gold at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

Desert Gold is returning for 2014—even though we reported just the opposite in our print edition, due to incorrect information we had received. The festival will take place Thursday through Monday, April 10-14 and April 17-21

The free mini-festival will feature events curated by Festival NRML, described by the Ace as “a crucial convergence point between emerging artists from Latin America and the rest of the world.” Kindness will be doing a DJ set at a pool party from noon to 6 p.m., Friday, April 11. Later that day, Stronghold with Jonas Acunas will take place in the Amigo Room at 10 p.m. Festival NRML will hold pool parties on Saturday and Sunday both weekends from noon to 6 p.m. From noon to 6 p.m. on both Sundays, The Do Over will take over the Commune with barbecue, booze, and a lineup of mystery musical guests. (You need to RSVP on The Do Over’s website at for these parties.)

DJ Day will be doing his usual Reunion shows in the Amigo Room on both Thursdays, and there’s no doubt he’ll have some special guests in what they are referring to as “Reunion Kickback.”

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club is located at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Call 760-325-9900, or visit

Pappy and Harriet’s was packed on Saturday, March 29, for a show by Linda Perhacs, a folk singer from the ’70s whose first record, Parallelograms, was rediscovered in the Internet age. The crowd, with ample numbers of fans both younger and older, enjoyed a wonderful performance.

Parallelograms was released in 1970 and featured a unique psychedelic folk sound and haunting, yet beautiful songs. However, the album didn’t find an audience, and her music career fizzled. But much like Rodriguez and the band Death, Perhacs was rediscovered by young music fans who sought after obscure artists, thanks in part to the rebirth of vinyl. When the folk label Wild Places sought out Perhacs, it reportedly took three years for them to find her; she was working as a dental hygienist.

On March 4, she released her second album, The Soul of All Natural Things, 44 years after Parallelograms.

Perhacs walked onto the stage at Pappy’s with assistance from her two female backing vocalists. While she looked a little frail, she explained that her many years as a dental hygienist left it difficult for her to keep her neck upright. She started her 50-minute set with “Freely,” a track from her latest album. Though she had never performed a live show until a few years ago, she seemed comfortable onstage.

She told a story about Chimacum, Wash., being infatuated with its natural beauty—which inspired the first track on Parallelograms, “Chimacum Rain.” The backing vocalists brought the song alive as the crowd was seemingly put under a spell.

After performing “Children,” she told a story about her song “Prisms of Glass.” She was once asked if she could perform Parallelograms in its entirety; she said she thought it was impossible—until she realized that modern technology could help her do so. This revelation helped lead to “Prisms of Glass,” as she was able to create the effect of 300 vocalists as she conceived it for the new album.

Her producer on the new album, Fernando Perdomo, played guitar and synthesizer at the show, and talked about how he had written a song inspired by Parallelograms after hearing the album. However, he could never finish it—until he met Linda, and she was able to complete “Daybreak” in one day. The percussion from one of the backing vocalists beating on a wooden box and Perdomo’s perfect acoustic melody made the song a delight to hear live.

One of the more interesting stories she told involved one of Perhacs’ younger patients: He told her that he had watched the Daft Punk film Electroma, and that they had performed her song “If You Were My Man,” without giving her proper credit. She said that she was nervous about calling her former label, Universal Records, and telling them about the issue, fearing that Daft Punk would get in trouble. However, Daft Punk eventually cooperated with Perhacs, and she was able to meet them afterward.

Before performing “Parallelograms,” the title track off her 1970 album, she said that the famous energy of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s inspired the song, and that it probably couldn’t be written today; the song gave me goosebumps because of how beautiful it sounded live. When the psychedelic part of the song began—with a series of echoes, keyboard effects, clock sounds and other things—it became downright haunting.

Perhacs closed her set with “Song of the Planets,” saying that it was inspired by a patient who studied Jewish mysticism and the planets, and told Perhacs about a dream she had.

Perhacs told a lot of stories about her various songs, and she came across as honest, humble, thankful for her resurgence—and feeling right at home. It’s hard to believe she never tasted success until her rediscovery, because Linda Perhacs’ talent just can’t be duplicated.

April brings Coachella and Stagecoach to the valley, of course—but there are a lot of other great music events going on as well.

The McCallum Theatre is winding down the 2013-2014 season—but in a big way. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 1, John Anderson and Tracy Lawrence will be performing. John Anderson had some success in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but in the late ’80s, his career was at something of a dead end. Then in 1991, Anderson staged one of the biggest comebacks in music history with his multi-platinum album Seminole Wind. Tracy Lawrence has had a steadier career ever since he arrived on the scene in 1991; multiple albums of his have hit the country Top 10. Tickets are $25 to $65. Diana Krall will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Friday, April 11. The acclaimed pianist and vocalist is considered one of the best modern jazz artists and has won five Grammy Awards so far. She’s married to Elvis Costello and is the mother of twin boys—yet her career is still going strong. Tickets are $75 to $125. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787;

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has one music event you won’t want to miss in April. ZZ Top (right) will be stopping by at 9 p.m., Friday, April 4. The Texas-based blues and rock band has become well known for their guitar-driven sound, as well as their beards—although Frank Beard, the band’s drummer, doesn’t have a beard. Go figure. Tickets are $75 to $115. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995;

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a great schedule during the month of April. Il Divo will be appearing at 8 p.m., Friday, April 4. This is the second stop in the Coachella Valley within a year for the operatic vocal group, featuring members from Spain, Switzerland, France and the United States. Tickets are $59 to $109. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 5, Rob Thomas (pictured below) will take the stage. Thomas is the frontman of Matchbox 20, one of the most successful bands of the late ’90s. He also has a couple of solo albums to his credit. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 19, The Temptations and The Four Tops will be performing. These legendary groups were both pioneers of the Motown/soul sound. Otis Williams is now the only remaining original member of The Temptations, while Abdul “Duke” Fakir is the only remaining original member of The Four Tops. Still, both groups are most definitely worth seeing. Tickets are $29 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway; 760-342-5000;

Spotlight 29 Casino will be hosting Sugar Ray at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 5. Frontman Mark McGrath has become a Ryan Seacrest-like figure by hosting various television shows, and the band is best known for its pop radio hits—so many don’t know that the band started out by playing with an edgier sound that approached punk. In fact, many of their friends and contemporaries were quick to criticize them when they moved toward pop. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566;

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has an event in April that will get many country music fans excited. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 4, Big and Rich will be stopping by. Big Kenny and John Rich have billed themselves as playing “country music without prejudice” and are known for teaming up with various rock and hip-hop musicians. They have also worked with country rapper Cowboy Troy. One of their biggest hits, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” is a staple on jukeboxes, karaoke song lists, and cover-band set lists. Tickets are $69 to $79. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499;

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a lot of Coachella-related events going on that you can read about elsewhere in this issue, but other great stuff is happening at the venue in April, too. At 9 p.m., Wednesday, April 9, folk-rock band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals will be stopping by. In a little more than a decade of existence, the group has released five albums to critical acclaim and international success. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956;

The Hood Bar and Pizza will be welcoming back Amigo the Devil at 9 p.m., Wednesday, April 9. Amigo the Devil brands himself as performing “murderfolk.” He’s a rather talented banjo player who has plenty of songs about the dark side of life. No, this isn’t your parents’ folk music by any means. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220;

While music is a universal language, it can be difficult for bands to break through language and cultural barriers. However, Zoé has been breaking through both: The band from Mexico will be performing at Coachella on Sunday, April 13 and April 20.

The band began in Mexico City in 1994, and—like many new bands—it went through various lineup changes and identity crises at first, before finding a degree of consistency. The current lineup includes León Larregui (vocals), Sergio Acosta (guitar), Jesus Baez (keyboards), Angel Mosqueda (bass guitar) and Rodrigo Guardiola (drums).

During a recent phone interview, Sergio Acosta talked about Mexico’s small but powerful alternative-music scene.

“Mexico’s music scene is closer to traditional music,” he said. “The alternative-music scene in Mexico is there, but there is music from all around the world, and we have a lot of influences.”

Those influences include a variety of indie-rock and psychedelic-rock bands—but each album the band has put out since the self-titled debut in 2000 has had a different sound.

“The recording sessions for us are the joyful part of the process,” he said. “Experimentation has been a big cornerstone for us. It’s always been important for us to generate our own original sound. On our second album, we used a drill and typewriters, and any old piece of junk that we could find that could generate sound.”

Zoé has had a long working relationship with producer Phil Vinall, who has also worked with Pulp, Placebo and Elastica, just to name a few bands.

“Phil has worked with us since the mix of the first album in 2000,” he said. “When we started working with him, it was through e-mail and the tracking of our first album. Luckily for us, he was moved by the music, and we got to go to London to make our first album; since that day, he’s been our producer. He’s a very important part of the sound, and we have great communication with him.”

Zoé also has a friend in Nick McCarthy, of the Scottish band Franz Ferdinand. McCarthy was introduced to Acosta by a visual artist in Mexico.

“We met outside of the music environment,” he said. “We just became friends. Later on, Nick came for a holiday to Mexico City, and we were working on a show at the Palacio de los Deportes (Palace of Sports). We were just like, ‘Hey, why don’t you play a song with us?’ He came to the rehearsal room; we sung together; and we had a great show.”

McCarthy has also collaborated with Zoé in the recording studio.

“We have this great friendship. We always see each other when we’re in the same place, and we spent a holiday together a couple of months ago,” Acosta said.

Acosta claimed the band doesn’t think about the language and cultural barriers it faces. The band has recorded some songs in English and has managed to have success in a number of American markets; the band has also developed a degree of popularity in Europe. Acosta said it all comes down to the power of the music.

“We have some songs in English,” he said. “… We sang them in English because they sounded better. It can be frustrating having a language barrier, but we also believe that music is music. We used to listen to music that was mostly sung in English. I also love French music—and I speak very little French. We just think that people get into the music for the emotions that it creates. For about nine years, we’ve also toured the U.S., and each time we play, we see more American people who maybe speak Spanish, but maybe they also like the music. I think there are people who might not understand (all of the music), but they still like the band.”

Acosta said he and his fellow band members credit their camaraderie and friendship as the most essential element of their success.

“Zoé was founded in really good friendship, and we believed we had a good project,” he said. “For us, it’s just very natural for us to get together and make music. Nowadays, after so many years together, we still feel very creative together, and we have a lot in common. We just like to make music together, and we believe that’s what keeps us going.

“We’re very lucky to be a band who can do these kind of tours and play festivals like Coachella. We’re very happy, and we’re very proud of what we have.”