Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Brian Blueskye

When it comes to modern poetry, Mira Gonzalez is an invigorating force.

She recently released her first collection of poems, I Will Never Be Beautiful Enough to Make Us Beautiful Together, through Sorry House Publishing.

Originally from Venice, Calif., Gonzalez is the daughter of visual artist and singer Lora Norton, and the stepdaughter of Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski. Her mother, stepfather and brother, Milo, are also members of the Chuck Dukowski Sextet. While her family is known for music, Mira has made writing her creative outlet of choice. She lists Haruki Murakami, Tao Lin, and Virginia Woolf as her writing influences.

“I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, or at least since I was very young,” Gonzalez said. “I guess I started focusing on writing poetry specifically sometime in early high school. I have always enjoyed reading and read a lot of books, which is what inspired me to start writing in general. What draws me specifically to poetry is how easily accessible it is for people who have a hard time or don’t enjoy reading full length novels.”

Gonzalez’s poems often focus on dating struggles, odd ex-boyfriends, depression and social angst, and the poems sometimes feature strange twists and turns. “Secular Humanist” is about a man named Stephen who is obsessed with naked women: “He wants to find every bone in your body, all two hundred and six of them. He wants to feel them through your naked skin with his fingertips. He wants to name them as he finds them.”

After she describes Stephen’s fantasies, Gonzalez ends the poem with, “He feels like a grain of sand, on a beach, that isn’t a real grain of sand, but is actually a very tiny piece of a clamshell from a clam that died 10 years ago.”

Gonzalez said much of her poem-writing process actually involves editing.

“When I write a poem, I usually sit down and type everything that comes to mind, which can sometimes be two to three pages or more,” Gonzalez said. “Once I have all of that out in front of me, I edit it down to only the best lines; then I edit each sentence to say what I mean to say in the most succinct way possible.”

The almost Zen-like simplicity of her poems stands out. They are deep, yet simple and powerful. She said her unique writing style didn’t come naturally to her.

“I don’t think doing that ‘comes naturally’ to anyone, really,” Gonzalez said. “I guess certain people could be more skilled at crafting sentences so that they express ‘big’ ideas in not very many words, but nobody can just sit down in front of a computer and write a sentence like that, no problem. For me, at least, it comes with a lot of careful thought and a lot of time spent editing. I will spend hours on one sentence sometimes, and if I feel that sentence isn’t expressing exactly what I want it to express, I will delete the sentence entirely. I think it takes a lot of precision and tedious work, and I’m still not entirely sure if I’m able to express things the way I want to express them”

The response to the book has been promising. The initial printing of 500 copies sold out very quickly, and Sorry House Publishing did a second printing. Gonzalez says that she’s very surprised by the book’s success.

“Any time copies of my book sell, I’m completely shocked,” Gonzalez said. “I didn't expect it to have anywhere near as much success as it did. I think a lot of credit for that can go to my editor, Spencer, who has done a great job marketing the book through Sorry House.”

I Will Never Be Beautiful Enough to Make Us Beautiful Together

By Mira Gonzalez

Sorry House

56 pages, $12.95, available at

It’s been a rough summer for Palm Springs band Forfeit Your Skies.

The five-piece band—consisting of Justin Lopez (vocals), Garrett Piens (guitar/vocals), Alex Sanchez (guitar), Eli Hernandez (bass) and Cody Piens (drums)—were shocked to learn on July 2 that their Ramon Road practice space, a former Yamaha motorcycle shop, had been burglarized.

About $4,000 worth of equipment was stolen—and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The Piens’ sister, Niccole Holly, was killed in a car accident on June 16 near Twentynine Palms. Amelia Miller, a U.S. Marine stationed in Twentynine Palms, reportedly was driving recklessly and crashed into Holly head-on. Miller also died in the collision.

The members of the group, who describe their sound as “electrocore,” came together a year and a half ago. While the band calls the desert home, they’ve experienced most of their success outside of the desert: After playing local house shows and gigs in their practice space, they eventually started playing at the legendary Chain Reaction in Anaheim, and the Whisky a Go-Go on the Hollywood strip. They also won a battle of the bands, which the members laugh about, given they won it without Sanchez, who had injured his arm at work.

The band has gone through a series of lineup changes, and have been tweaking their sound. They recently added Lopez on vocals and were getting ready to record a new album. However, the theft of their equipment has obviously set them back.

“We got a phone call from our mom, and she said she was at the bank near the practice space; she was crying and said that someone broke into the shop and took all of our stuff,” said Cody Piens. “When we got there, everything was gone except part of the drums. Just in musical equipment alone, they stole about $4,000. They stole a lot more stuff that isn’t included in the list, including our dirt bikes, which are about $6,000. They even took 100 shirts we were going to take to get printed with our band logo.”

“They even stole our recycling,” added Garrett Piens. 

In a bizarre twist, the burglars left something behind—a pair of bolt-cutters, which the Palm Springs Police Department took as evidence.

At this point, the band is unable to perform live, since they are without amplifiers and a PA system. At this time, the band lacks the funds to purchase new equipment, and the insurance on the building, owned by the Piens’ grandfather, does not cover the theft of the band’s personal property.

“They said because it wasn’t our grandfather’s stuff, they won’t cover it,” said Cody Piens. “At this point, the police said we’re probably not going to get anything back. The police also said they weren’t going to check out any of the pawn shops. They said we can search Craigslist, but then again, if we find it, we can’t really prove that it’s ours.”

While the band members are trying to stay optimistic, they can’t help but feel frustrated and angry.

“Honestly, it just hurts,” said Cody Piens. “We’re young, and we were kids when we first started playing music. It took us years to save up to get our equipment. They stole our tools which we use to turn our passion into music. It hurts a lot when they take something from us, and we can’t easily replace it at all. It’s not like we all have extremely well-paying jobs to where we could buy new equipment so easily.”

The band is hoping to collect cash donations or equipment donations.

“Anything that could help would be much appreciated,” said Cody Piens. “They’d be our biggest fans if they could help us out. We really need them during this time for us right now.”

If anyone would like to donate to the band, they can do so at the band’s PayPal account, registered under This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A list of the band’s equipment that was stolen:

  • Two Crate half-stack amplifiers with amp heads
  • Ampeg Classic bass cabinet
  • Crate bass head
  • Two Cerwin Vega PA loudspeakers
  • Behringer PA head
  • Sennheiser wireless guitar system
  • Yamaha mixer MG 4-16.
  • Ibanez Gio electric guitar (white)
  • Ibanez Gio bass guitar (white)
  • Crate bass guitar
  • PDP Z5 rack drum-tom
  • PDP cymbal stand
  • Pearl drum-tom mount
  • Sabian B8 thin crash cymbal
  • Pearl heavy-duty snare drum stand


The Melvins don’t take themselves too seriously.

They’re currently celebrating 30 years together while touring behind Everybody Loves Sausages, an album of covers that includes a version of Queen’s “Best Friend.”

They’re also making a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

The Melvins were formed in Montesano, Wash., in 1983 by Buzz Osborne (vocals, guitar). The original lineup also included Matt Lukin (bass) and Mike Dillard (drums). Eventually, Dillard left the band and was replaced by Dale Crover; Lukin also left the band, and The Melvins have gone through several bass players since.

The band’s unique cross between hardcore punk and doom metal has been linked to the grunge bands of the Northwest, largely due to the fact that Osborne was a high school classmate of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, and Cobain supported of The Melvins while Nirvana was going on to become a mainstream success.

The Melvins, meanwhile, have not been such a mainstream success; however, they remain legends of the underground and an extraordinary live band—and they actually look like they enjoy being in a band together.

“We really have nothing to live up to; that’s a plus,” Osborne said during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “I still like doing what I’m doing; I would probably be doing it to some degree in some fashion, whether I was playing sports arenas or not.

“I’m definitely a workaholic. When you stand up next to certain arena-rock people, you think those people would have more time on their hands and certainly more money to do whatever they want to, and they seem for some reason to work less. I’ve never understood that, and it’s very strange to me.”

When it comes to The Melvins’ connection to grunge and the fact that they’re categorized into the same scene as Pearl Jam, Osborne said the connection never boosted their image.

“We certainly sound more like Mudhoney than we do Pearl Jam,” Osborne said. “In a similar position … Pearl Jam’s audience would have no concept or have any interest in either us or Mudhoney. Pearl Jam has sold millions of records, and they’re like U2, which means they’re untouchable. They don’t care. Why should they?”

Beyond their faithful core audience, The Melvins haven’t been opposed to playing to new and mainstream audiences. However, The Melvins list Lollapalooza ’96 and Ozzfest ’98 as their least-favorite experiences. They ended up getting invited to Lollapalooza during the era when grunge was already dead, and the nu-metal bands were dominating the market.

“The interesting thing about Lollapalooza is they never had any interest in us when Perry Farrell was at the helm,” Osborne said. “Perry always thought we were ‘too metal’ for his liking and his festival. They would openly say, ‘Perry doesn’t like your band. We would like you guys to come, but Perry said no.’ … The second Perry wasn’t involved, we were in there. We played the second stage; we played to a lot of people every day, and it was great. But it was hard to be there when people had no interest.”

Osborne has an amusing story about how the band found themselves in Ozzfest in 1998.

“Ozzfest flatly said they didn’t want us to do it. When I say that, I mean they openly said they did not want us to do it. The only reason we did it is because Tool was co-headlining, and they said, ‘We want one band on this tour we can like, so we won’t do it unless The Melvins play.’”

In hindsight, there’s no love lost between The Melvins and the figureheads of those festivals.

“I’ve always said this stuff about Perry and especially Ozzy being drugged-out morons, but when Ozzy’s wife came out and said, ‘I had no idea he was on prescription drugs,’ I mean, I knew he was on prescription drugs! How the fuck could she not had known? She’s just bullshitting us!”

As Everybody Loves Sausages hits the shelves, Osborne said those covers were recorded among a lot of other material.  The band wanted to give fans an inside look at the songs that inspired them. Osborne noted that the cover of Iron Head’s “Black Betty” was not planned for the album, but rather for a commercial contest.

“We did that for a Super Bowl commercial-making contest,” said Osborne. “This company had all these bands record versions of that song, and the winner would get to have their version in a Super Bowl commercial. We didn’t win. They gave us some money to make it, and we could do whatever we wanted with the song, and we didn’t have any problem with that.”

As for what is bringing The Melvins to Pappy and Harriet’s, Osborne explained that the band is booked at the FYF Festival in Los Angeles on Aug. 25, and contractual agreements with promoter Goldenvoice prevent them from playing within a certain radius of Los Angeles.

Osborne also said bassist Jared Wallen will miss the show due to “paternity leave” and said that Jeff Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers will be filling in.

“We’ve never played there before, so it should be good,” Osborne said. “We looked for a venue that was somewhere around the Los Angeles area, and we couldn’t play Orange County, so we just figured it made sense to play Pappy and Harriet’s.”

The Melvins will perform an all-ages show with Honky at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

Hide the kids! Hide the wife, and take cover! The Dwarves are coming to The Hood on Friday, Aug. 16.

Formed in 1982 in the suburbs of Chicago, the Dwarves came together playing garage rock. As they crafted their early hardcore-punk sound, they became one of the first bands to use samples and drum loops.

Their live performances later became notorious for onstage acts that included violence, drug use and GG Allin-style self-mutilation. The band’s frontman, Blag Dahlia, had an infamous violent altercation backstage at Los Angeles’ Dragonfly club with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme in 2004. It earned Homme a court-ordered trip to rehab and anger management classes.

When asked whether the violence might be taken too far someday, Blag says the day has already come.

“I’ve been stabbed. I’ve been beaten over the head, and I’ve had my throat slit,” said Blag, during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “All the guys in the band have suffered various violent altercations. We’ve given in to the goodness of God sometimes. It’s all part of what rock n roll is: You don’t exactly know what’s going to happen, and it just goes. The music is very energetic, and it kind of inspires those kinds of responses. Shit happens.”

Blag added that people who say “Blag got his ass kicked at the show” have it all wrong. “Anyone who ever tried to kick my ass got it back just as bad as they thought they were giving it out,” said Blag.

In another controversial episode, the band issued a press release in 1993 that stated their guitar-player, HeWhoCannotBeNamed, was stabbed to death. Turns out that was a hoax, and the incident led to the band being dropped from Sub-Pop Records.

However, Blag has a different point of view on the events.

“(HeWhoCannotBeNamed) is the creature who transcends life and death,” said Blag. “At times, there are those who believed he was no longer among us. He’s like a very material sort of entity, and he’s an icon of rock and roll. So these concepts of life and death sort of have a different meaning for him.”

Through all of the controversy, the band has had a successful recording career. Blag has also produced albums for the Swingin’ Utters, The God Awfuls, and former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri’s group Mondo Generator. (Oliveri is also a member of the Dwarves, playing under the alias of Rex Everything.) He’s written two novels: Armed to the Teeth With Lipstick and Nina.

In what some would call an unexpected move, Blag also recorded “Doing the Sponge” for an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.

“One of our former members, Salt Peter, has written a lot of material for SpongeBob,” said Blag. “He wrote a bunch of novelty songs that they do in there. So early on in the first season, he had written a song for them. They wanted somebody who sounded like Lux Interior of The Cramps, and he’s one of my favorite singers; I said, ‘I can go in there and sound like Lux,’ and so I did. It was a lot of fun, and it makes me popular with those in the 8-years-old crowd.”

Blag said he looks back on the band’s musical accomplishments with unapologetic pride.

“We’re undoubtedly more known for the controversy, but that’s not because we haven’t left a bunch of great music behind,” said Blag. “We’re the only punk band that gets better with time, and the only one anyone can conceive of … (that) continues to be great. This is a band that makes classic record after classic record. We just keep pushing the boundaries of genres. We’ve had outstanding musicianship, outstanding production with Top 10 producers, and great studio players. The Dwarves are one of the best-recorded bands in history. The fact that people don’t know that has a lot more to do with marketing (than) the quality of the music.”

What does the future hold for the Dwarves? They’ve been in the studio recording and are hoping to release a new album within the next year. (Their most recent studio album was 2011's The Dwarves Are Born Again.) In the meantime, they’ve booked some shows (including the one at The Hood) to keep them busy. Blag also does a podcast called Radio Like You Want.

They’re also no strangers to the Coachella Valley.

“We played there with Kyuss when they didn’t have a club there, and there was a nudist colony that people used to do shows at,” said Blag. “We just got done doing some recording in Joshua Tree. I’m looking forward to going out there and seeing some of our friends in the desert. We’ve always loved the desert.”

The Dwarves will play with the Hellions, the Atom Age and Hot Beat Acoustic at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 16, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111 in Palm Desert. Admission is $10, and there are no presales. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit

Since the age of 17, JP Houston has been building his impressive musical résumé.

Houston, a native of Toronto, has written songs for recording artists, theater and television. He’s composed for BBC, HBO, CBC, PBS and many others; he was even nominated for a Gemini Award, which is the Canadian equivalent of an Emmy Award.

Since relocating to the Los Angeles area about four years ago, he’s been involved with The Relationship, the side project of Brian Bell from Weezer. He’s also part of Pappy and Harriet’s The Sunday Band, up in Pioneertown.

On top of all of that, he’s been leading a unique variety show that has been compared to A Prairie Home Companion: Since February, he’s been producing American Parlor Songbook, a podcast that’s recorded live in the Ace Hotel’s Amigo Room every Wednesday evening, featuring a variety of guests. Previous performers have included Blasting Echo frontman Josh Heinz, former Beastie Boys keyboardist Money Mark and singer Keisha D.

While the show is recorded weekly, Houston is currently saving up an archive of unreleased shows for possible radio broadcast down the line. As of this writing, six recordings are available at and iTunes. Houston said another is due to be released this week, followed by one in July, and one in August.

Houston said that American Parlor Songbook is partly inspired by his childhood.

“I grew up with my parents being theater people,” Houston said during a recent phone interview. “We would have these parties where all the people were actors, dancers and writers, and there would be a piano-player at the parties. We would sing show tunes, play games and tell jokes. The structure of the show is sort of based on those parties.”

The show has made him step outside of the norms of being a musician, Houston said.

“I think for me personally, the first performance—going from a singer and musician to a speaker—was a real turning point,” Houston said. “When I was scripting out the show and then went in front of an audience and had to execute it, the words came out, and they made sense—it worked. That was a really exciting moment for me.”

While his show has been compared to A Prairie Home Companion, Houston said there some definite differences.

“I would say it’s a silhouette of A Prairie Home Companion; you could put it in the same place and category shelf in a library,” said Houston. “(A Prairie Home Companion) is a variety show where they tell stories, sing songs, and the guests come out. American Parlor Songbook is a very different show in its structure and tone. I call it a parlor act, because it similar to a parlor with the piano-player and the bantering with the audience. It’s more interactive.”

For those who have never attended an American Parlor Songbook show, Houston said it’s different than what people are accustomed to—and that makes things fun for both himself and the audience.

“It’s not just an event. It’s a fun show to watch, and it’s a fun show to participate in. … We play musical charade-type games where the audience can shout out the answers. After the show is done recording, I stay and keep play sing-along songs, and we keep playing games through the night.”

American Parlor Songbook podcasts can be found on iTunes or at The show is recorded at 9 p.m. each Wednesday at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive (760-325-9900; Admission is free.

For fans of Donna the Buffalo (“The Herd,” as the band refers to them), the five-year wait for a new album is over: On June 18, the band released Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday.

However, local fans of The Herd still have a bit of a wait to see the band live: Donna the Buffalo is making a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday, Aug. 2.

“I told my booking agent, ‘We’re not going out West without booking Pappy and Harriet’s,” said Tara Nevins, in a recent phone interview from New York.

Inspired by the old-country music sound, folk music, bluegrass and what has been known as “roots music,” Donna the Buffalo was formed in 1989 in Trumansburg, N.Y., by Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear, the songwriters for the group. In almost a quarter-century together, the band has released 10 studio albums. They even started their own annual live show in upstate New York, the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, which draws around 15,000 people each year.

The band has gone through various lineup changes through the years.

“Jeb and I are the only original members at this point. Right now, I think we’re really enjoying this band out of any version we've had. I think this version somehow really makes the voice come across as the best,” said Nevins.

The band is often labeled as an Americana act.

“Donna the Buffalo was ‘Americana’ from the first day,” said Nevins. “There have always been a ton of Americana bands, and there always will be, and now there’s a home for them. That genre is growing year to year, and now there’s an Americana category at the Grammy Awards. It’s growing in the eyes of the music world. But Americana bands have always been here, and now there’s a name for them.”

As the genre grows, so, too, does Donna the Buffalo’s success. The group’s independent spirit and busy touring schedule has kept them successful. Their 2008 album, Silverlined, reached the Top 10 on the Americana charts. They’ve performed and recorded with some of the biggest names in folk music, including Béla Fleck, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, and Jim Lauderdale. Nevins also performed as a member of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s band BK3.

“We’ve always been a grassroots, self-organized organization,” Nevins said. “We’ve never had to really depend heavily outside of our organization. We’ve kind of built everything ourselves from the ground up, so we’re a well-oiled machine.”

Nevins said social networking hasn’t hurt, either.

“I think with social networking, it makes music and musicians more acceptable to people. It used to be you had your favorite bands, and all you knew was what Rolling Stone was writing about them. Now you can go on your own band’s Facebook page and be in touch with the fans.”

As for Pappy and Harriet’s, Nevins explained why she enjoys the venue.

“I have to say: I love the location,” said Nevins. “I love being out there. It’s gorgeous. It’s a very magical, mystical vibe. As for Pappy and Harriet’s, it’s like a roadhouse where people are up for fun and love music. Everyone is really nice to us there. During our first time there, we had a great crowd, and everyone loved it.”

Donna the Buffalo will perform at 8:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 2, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

What makes short films interesting? Why should people go see them?

“In many ways, I believe the great short film is harder to make than the great feature film,” said Darryl Macdonald, the executive director of the Palm Springs International Film Society, which is putting on the 2013 Annual Palm Springs International Shortfest, starting on Tuesday, June 18. “You have a very, compressed, limited amount of time to tell a story that really touches people, ideally on all three levels—emotionally, viscerally and intellectually. It’s a staggering feat to accomplish that.”

And which of the 330 films stand out at this year’s festival? Macdonald points out a 27-minute film from England called Walking the Dogs, which features Emma Thompson as Queen Elizabeth and tells the true story of a man who broke into the queen’s bedroom in 1982 while her royal guard was out walking her dogs.

Macdonald also cites Penny Dreadful, an 18-minute American comedy about a kidnapping gone wrong.

The festival features different programs representing various genres.

“A very popular program is our Award-Winning Documentaries. That show is always packed,” said Macdonald. “We’re also doing, for the third time this year, a kids’ show, called Kid Stuff, for kids aged 6-12. Artistic License, which revolves around stories related to art, is also very popular. Our LGBT programs are also very popular and sell out.”

Here are some highlights:

Programmers’ Picks (Camelot Theatres, 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 19): Programmers’ Picks features six shorts—you guessed it—assembled by the people with the Palm Springs International Shortfest. These are films that don’t fit in elsewhere, but are still notable. Fallen, a short from Germany, tells the story of three soldiers returning home from Afghanistan who are unable to deal with the losses they suffered. Listen is an Ethiopian short about a musician who has an inspiring encounter that leads to new compositions. The Telling is a thriller from Australia about a psychiatrist’s patient who tries to convince the doctor that the end of the world is near.

LGBT—Like Me (Camelot Theatres, 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19): There are two locally produced documentaries in the four-film LGBT—Like Me block. A Family Like Mine is from a student in Idyllwild, and it focuses on the subject of children brought up by gay parents. The Pride of Palm Springs is a documentary on the Palm Springs High School Marching Band’s participation in the Palm Springs Gay Pride Parade. Given the local contributions, this one’s a must-see.

Amazing Animation (Camelot Theatres, 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 20): For fans of animated shorts, this program of eight films has plenty to offer. The Collector’s Gift is an American short about a young girl who loves to collect objects and stumbles upon an old inventor’s house. Forty Hymns of Faith, from India, features stunning animation that is set to the Hindu devotional song “Hanuman Chalisa.”

After Hours (Camelot Theatres, 4 p.m. on Friday, June 21): A program of seven films about strange things in the night, After Hours sticks out as one of the best of the festival. The program includes an American short called Help Wanted, a comedy film about a convenience-store robbery during the graveyard shift. Elle Fanning stars in Likeness, a short about alienation directed by Rodrigo Prieto, cinematographer of Argo, Brokeback Mountain and Babel. One short that grabbed my attention was Honk If You’re Horny, from New Zealand, about a cab driver who gives a passenger a “ride from hell” while the passenger talks about his sexual escapades from the night—all as cops are chasing them.

Horrors! Thrillers! Mysteries! (Camelot Theatres, 7 p.m. on Friday, June 21): Locked Up, an Australian short, is about a storage security guard working on the night shift when he notices a crying woman going into her unit; his curiosity leads him into a mysteriously creepy situation. Night and Suddenly is a Spanish horror film about a woman home alone in her apartment when she receives a visit from her desperate upstairs neighbor, claiming his apartment is being broken into. Reset is a Swedish film about a little girl getting mysterious letters—with one of them triggering strange events.

Out … and Definitely “Out There” (Camelot Theatres, 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 22): This LGBT category features eight films. Chaser, an American short, is about a young schoolteacher who feeds his urges through self-destructive cruising. It’s Consuming Me, from Germany, focuses on a man who discusses what he loves and hates about his ex-lover. On Suffocation, a silent short from Sweden, is about two gay men who face criminal punishment for their relationship. Sufferin’ Till You’re Straight is a three-minute long animated musical short in protest of Proposition 8.

The 2013 Palm Springs International Shortfest takes place from Tuesday, June 18, through Monday, June 24, and includes various programs, forums, masterclasses, parties and more. Passes range from $54 to $200; individual screenings are $12, or $11 for matinees (starting before 3 p.m.). For a complete schedule, visit

After 25 years and nine albums, the Voodoo Glow Skulls aren’t phased by changes in the music industry—and are still going strong with thanks in part to their DIY work ethic.

The band will return to the desert to perform at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Thursday, July 18.

The Casillas brothers—Frank (lead vocals), Eddie (guitar) and Jorge (bass)—formed the Riverside punk/ska outfit in 1988.

“Back in those days in Riverside, backyard parties were the only gigs you could get,” said Frank Casillas during a recent phone interview. “Shortly after, we learned how to play our instruments and had enough songs; it led to us playing at the only local club, which was Spanky’s Café.”

At Spanky’s Café, which was a historic venue in Riverside, the band started getting booked to play with headliners like The Dickies, fIREHOSE, and Mighty Mighty Bosstones, just to name a few. The group eventually found themselves with an increasing following throughout Southern California. They signed with Dr. Strange Records in 1993 and released Who Is, This Is?. They then went on to sign with Epitaph Records and released four albums with the label, the first of which was Firme, in 1995.

“We sold a lot of records on Epitaph,” said Frank Casillas. “It just got us to the next level. We were able to go to Europe for the first time. For us, the first time traveling abroad and playing our music to an audience overseas was pretty cool. We were this little band that started playing out of a bedroom in Riverside, and all of a sudden, five or six years later, we’re playing these big festivals in Europe.”

After their contract was up with Epitaph in 2000, they decided signed with Victory Records, which was at the time an exclusive punk/hardcore music label with a controversial reputation. However, that soon began to change.

“We felt Victory Records was becoming the next Epitaph at the time we signed with them. But they were starting to attract the demographic of the emo, post-hardcore crowd. We were on the label when it was cool, but it just seemed they were going through the motion with us. We didn’t fit in with that crowd of bands,” Frank Casillas said.

The band left Victory Records in 2007 for Smelvis Records, and after four years of recording in a home studio, put out Break the Spell in 2012. Alternative Press hailed the album as “kick-ass in both tone and message.”

The band values their creative freedom; they shun the idea of having business managers. They book their own dates, are in control of their own merchandising, and continue to do well financially.

In part because they continue to succeed, Frank Casillas doesn’t believe in the saying “punk rock is dead.”

“I think things are going back to full circle. It’s also going back to the roots of the underground,” he said. “A lot of the older bands are starting to come back and play again. You have two different versions of Black Flag out on tour right now, and a lot of the old British bands are coming back.”

Frank said the band loves playing in the desert. Having performed one show at The Hood before, they’re excited to be coming back.

“It’s very similar to Riverside,” said of the Coachella Valley. "It’s not a big city, and it seems that any of the bands that go out there are more appreciated, and the shows are always pretty good. It’s a cool place for us to play.”

Voodoo Glow Skulls play at 8 p.m., Thursday, July 18, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Spankshaft will open. Admission to the 21-and-older show is $10, and there are no presales, so attendees are advised to arrive early. For more information, visit

Despite lineup changes and a breakup, the Doobie Brothers have had a long, successful existence and have racked up a lot of hits.

They’re currently touring behind their latest album, 2010’s World Gone Crazy, and are making a stop at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Saturday, June 15.

The band came together in San Jose, Calif., in 1970. Tom Johnston (guitar, keyboard, vocals) was friends with Moby Grape guitarist Skip Spence, and Spence introduced him to John Hartman (drums), who had moved to San Jose from Washington, D.C., in hopes of collaborating with Spence. Johnston and Hartman eventually decided to form a group and recruited Dave Shogren (bass), starting out as a trio. They soon encountered Patrick Simmons (guitar) while sharing the bill with him at one of their early shows.

“We were playing a show one night in Campbell, Calif., and it was the first time we met Pat,” said Johnston. “We really liked his playing and his singing. He was a finger-picker, and none of us were doing that sort of thing. We thought it would be a neat combination to have, along with the power-rock and bluesy stuff we were doing. We asked him to come over and jam, and about a week later, he joined the group.”

Skip Spence eventually helped the band get a deal at Pacific Recording Studios in San Mateo to make their demo. The owner of the studio sent their demo to Warner Bros., who eventually signed the Doobie Brothers thanks to that demo.

The band went through a successful, but turbulent, early career. Johnston left the group in 1975 after being hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer, which led to Michael McDonald joining and taking over as the front man. During the later years of McDonald’s tenure, some of the Doobie Brothers felt they had strayed too far from their original sound, and decided to break up in 1982.

In 1987, Keith Knudsen, who had been the band’s co-drummer, convinced almost every former Doobie Brother to get together to play a concert for Vietnam veterans. The band then decided to reunite full-time with Johnston back as the front man, and they signed with Capitol Records.

“We recorded the album Cycles (released in 1989), which got everything up and running again. We recorded Brotherhood, which wasn’t as good as Cycles. Within one year, all the people we knew at Capitol that we had signed with were gone, so we left,” said Johnston.

Considering all of the lineup changes through the years, Johnston did admit that keeping the group’s sound consistent has been a bit difficult.

“I’d say that things really changed when Michael McDonald came in. And when that broke up, and when we went back to the original format when I came back, it was like playing another style of music.”

One former member has been in the news recently: Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, a guitarist who was in the band in the 1970s. Baxter is now a military defense consultant with expertise on missile-defense systems.

“I haven’t spoken to Jeff in years, but Jeff used to talk about that stuff back in the ’70s when it came to missile defense and things to do with the Defense Department,” Johnston said. “But Jeff is a very intelligent guy, and I got a kick out of seeing him on a TV news report, hanging out in the Pentagon.”

Despite all the changes, Johnston said he’s happy with where the band is at these days and says that they rehearse a lot more now than they used to. The band is also celebrating the success of World Gone Crazy, which took five years to make. Before the group began writing the album, co-drummer Keith Knudsen passed away in 2005 due to cancer-related pneumonia.

“It had a profound effect on me. For whatever reason, it just unlocked this big vault of ideas. I ended up in the studio writing songs for two or three months. I wrote about 10 songs.”

While Johnston said the band views their show at Fantasy Springs as just a normal gig, that doesn’t mean they aren’t happy to be out on the road. They do promise an entertaining show that fans will love.

“We’ve all been through a lot together, and we’ve all been doing this for a lengthy amount of time. Everybody is playing better now than they ever have. The band sounds better than it ever has; it’s much tighter and much more professional-sounding. The crowds really enjoy the shows.”

The Doobie Brothers perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 15, at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $39 to $69. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit

The Vibe is known primarily as a cover band—but the band members are in the process of changing that.

They are currently at work on their debut album, and they now play regularly at Palm Springs' Fireside Lounge.

Patrick “Tricky” Mitchem, the band’s bass player, said multiple circumstances led to them forming as a group back in October 2012. Mitchem played in much-loved local band Dude Jones from 1999 to 2001 with Mark Gregg, and he’s known Mark’s son, Derek Gregg—who sings and plays guitar for The Vibe—since Derek was a kid.

Mitchem left the valley for Florida, touring the country with various independent bands before moving back two years ago—around the same time Derek Gregg moved back to the valley from Oregon. The two spent some time playing and writing music, and decided to put a group together.

Back when downtown Palm Springs’ Village Pub used to have Sunday jam nights, Mitchem met the person who would become The Vibe’s drummer, Sean Poe.

Despite The Vibe’s brief existence, the band has been successful in landing shows at the Palm Canyon Roadhouse in Palm Springs, and The Grill on Main in La Quinta. While the band plays covers, they are generally covers that you don’t hear other bands play; one of their more unique covers, for example, is Tool’s “Sober,” which Gregg performs with an acoustic guitar.

They are now including original songs written by Derek Gregg, just 23 years old, in their sets.

“Derek has had so much passion since I’ve known him,” Mitchem said. “I’ve heard songs he wrote 5 years ago, and I’ve heard songs he wrote two weeks ago. It’s always been impressive and amazing. He’s a fantastic songwriter.”

Mitchem describes Gregg’s songwriting as a blend of folk with a hint of Dixieland jazz. Gregg—who plays guitar with the unorthodox finger-picking style—also has the ability to create melodies with a lot of emotion.

Thanks to The Vibe’s mixture of Gregg’s melodies, and unique takes on alternative and reggae covers, the band has no problem playing to diverse audiences. However, that does not mean it’s been easy for them to find their footing; after all, it can be tough to be a local band in the Coachella Valley.

“I’d say the challenge is getting your foot in the door,” said Poe. “A lot of these places already have built-in crowds and built-in bands. They’re playing the same stuff over and over again. You bring to the table that we’re playing something different, and you have to get (venue managers) to embrace the change in music.”

Regardless, the band is enjoying both their songwriting and their regular shows at the Fireside Lounge.

"It's one of those places that only the locals would know about right now. I wish a lot more people knew about it," Mitchem said.

The Vibe play regularly at the Fireside Lounge, 696 Oleander Road in Palm Springs; 760-327-1700. For more on the band, find them on Facebook.

(Editor's note: The original version of this story mentioned that the band plays regularly at The Grill on Main in La Quinta. However, since the article was originally posted, the band was apparently removed from its regular gig there. We apologize for the confusion.)