Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Brian Blueskye

Over the last decade, roller derby has made a massive comeback.

Roller derby—a sport that was created in the 1930s—began that comeback in part because of all-female amateur leagues that started in places like Austin, Texas. It's slowly been catching fire across the nation and around the world. In fact, ESPN recently called roller derby the fastest-growing sport in the world. Many women of roller derby today are dedicated athletes, and women of all ages and backgrounds are signing up for local teams.

The sport has gone back to its strategic and competitive roots after becoming something like a WWE on roller skates in the 1980s, when bouts had the reputation of being violent, and the winning teams were predetermined in some leagues. However, the amusing pseudonyms of individual players remain intact.

In June 2012, Jessica Jeffries (known as Jessi James), who had moved to the Coachella Valley from San Francisco, started the Coachella Valley Derby Girls. “My friend and I came here from the Bay Area, and we noticed there wasn’t a team. We basically made a flier and passed it out,” Jeffries said.

Since their founding last year, another team has sprung up in the valley, the Palm Springs Bombshells.

“Their team, from what I understand, is more recreational,” Jeffries said. “… We are an actual competitive team.”

Jeffries said her team has faced several substantial challenges, including recruiting women for the team (and getting to get them to stay with it), and finding an indoor venue to get out of the desert heat. Starting this week, the team will begin practicing indoors at the Demuth Park Community Center in Palm Springs—which will be a step up from the basketball court they have been practicing on at La Quinta Park.

The Coachella Valley Derby Girls recently had their first official bout in Arizona; they lost the match, but enjoyed the experience and are looking to improve. They will have another bout in August against a team from Oceanside.

The team recently hired their new coach, Chris Van Howten, who grew up watching the sport and has extensive knowledge of it.

The girls at practiceDuring a recent practice at La Quinta Park, Van Howten had the team skating laps, and stopping at intervals to do push-ups or crunches. One member of the team was seen running to a trash van to vomit due to the strenuous activity. Vomiting, oddly enough, comes with a reward: a free bottle of Firestarter Vodka, a brand that Van Howten started here in the valley and distributes around the world.

“I want the girls to come out here and work hard. While I don’t strive for them to injure themselves or throw up, if someone gets sick during practice, I will give them a free bottle of vodka,” Van Howten said.

How many bottles has Van Howten given out?

“I’ve had about five payouts since I made that offer,” he said.

Most of the ladies come to practice for two hours, three times a week. The team captain, Christine Miller (aka Jersey Whirl), understands the challenges of motivating and encouraging others to put in hard work.

“There’s a lot of motivation that goes into it,” Miller said. “It’s hard to come to practice and bring all that you’ve got. A lot of people need encouragement. We come tired; we come from work; and we all have other things going on in our lives and in our minds. For me, it’s all about being a leader and trying to get everybody to give it all they’ve got.”

One team member who truly loves the sport and takes it all in stride is Irene Serrano (aka Hurricane Irene). Serrano—a general manager at Starbucks and one of the first players to sign up for the team—is also one of the older members. She’s all smiles when asked about her involvement.

“For me, when I put my skates on, I’m like a little girl again. The age goes out the window the minute my skates are on,” Serrano said. “… The fear of falling, the fear of getting hit—it doesn’t bother me. It’s all part of derby.”

While the team has been intensely focused on the sport, they also give back to the community. They’ve participated in the 2012 Martha’s Village 5k Run/Walk, collected and distributed toys for MHS of Riverside County, and volunteered for Heroes in Recovery 6k back in February. They were also in the 2012 Palm Springs Pride Parade.

As they prepare for their next bout with a new practice facility and a new coach, they’re also recruiting. Experience isn’t necessary, but potential players need to know that this is a contact sport. The team will also teach new members how to roller skate if they don’t already know how. If interested, contact the team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

It’s been six years since Palm Desert’s Queens of the Stone Age released its previous album, Era Vulgaris; however, that does not mean band founder Josh Homme hasn’t been busy.

He started the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. He’s contributed to a number of other projects. And, thankfully, he hasn’t forgotten about Queens of the Stone Age: … Like Clockwork (Matador Records) will be released on Tuesday, June 4—and it’s well worth the wait.

As with previous albums, there’s an impressive list of guest appearances, by Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters), Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys), Alain Johannes and even Elton John, who reportedly told Homme that the band needed a “real queen” on the album. Former bassist Nick Oliveri plays on some tracks, as does drummer Joey Castillo, who recently quit the group. (Dave Grohl wound up playing drums on several songs.)

“Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” featuring Jake Shears, is a perfect opener: It hints at a chaotic, darker side of the Queens, a theme that holds throughout the album. Shears and Homme sound great together, even if the result is far different than Shears’ normal sound.

“I Sat by the Ocean” has a catchy hook and puts a fresh, invigorating spin on the heavy psychedelic rock and bluesy guitar riffs upon which QOTSA built their desert-rock sound. “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” starts off with a beautiful piano arrangement accompanied by synth accents in some places. The Brian May-sounding guitar solos and the dark choruses make this one of the best tracks on the album.

“If I Had a Tail,” featuring Alex Turner and Nick Oliveri, offers a dark guitar sound that resembles the output of a horn section. It’s unlike anything the band has done in the past—a song that would make Pink Floyd feel envious. “My God Is the Sun” offers more desert-rock-sound goodness.

“Kalopsia” features Trent Reznor on what starts out as a mellow, beautifully crafted tune, with melancholy lyrics; the song then gets chaotic and loud before settling back into mellow. Sounds spanning several genres show up on “Kalopsia”; while it sounds eccentric, it’s also experimental and distinctive.

“Fairweather Friends” is a mass collaboration, featuring Elton John, Reznor, Johannes and even Homme’s wife, former Distillers vocalist Brody Dalle. Elton’s scattered piano and backup vocals make it hard to determine who’s doing what, and who’s playing where. Nonetheless, it’s a decent track that fits in nicely toward the end of the album.

“I Appear Missing” was the first track to be previewed online. It’s a dark, intense song that’s heavy on psychedelic influences. Homme (who declined an interview request from the Independent) has said that he wanted to feature dark characters on some of the songs—and that’s exactly what he does here.

The title track concludes the album—and as “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” was a perfect opener, “… Like Clockwork” feels like it should be played as the album’s credits roll. Hypnotic bass lines and a dark piano composition aptly conclude this gloomy, loud, trippy, fucked-up masterpiece.

The band went through a lot of chaos while making this album, including the departure of Castillo, and the fact that Homme was unable to secure Reznor to produce, as originally planned. However, it all worked out—beautifully—in the end. While the Queens have been hailed as pioneers for their earlier work, … Like Clockwork proves that Josh Homme is still innovating and striving to stay original.

When I saw the announcement come across my Facebook feed that FrickleBurgers in Cathedral City is closing, my response was their signature phrase: “What the Frick?”

For those hoping to indulge for the first or last time, you have until 5 p.m., Sunday, May 19.

FrickleBurgers, known for its hamburgers, bratwursts and hot dogs, became a favorite among locals who have eaten there since its opening in October 2011. (The Cathedral City spot followed a short-lived location at the Westfield Palm Desert mall.) According to the restaurant’s website, the term “FrickleBurger” was a term given by owner Michael Zoll’s mother to a European burger patty known as a “frickadellen.”

FrickleBurgers serves naturally raised and hormone-free beef and chicken, locally grown produce, locally baked buns, and brats of the highest quality from Wisconsin.

When customers walk into the restaurant at lunch time, there’s a good chance they’ll see Zoll behind the counter. During each of my visits there, he was always friendly and knew how to take care of his customers. Whether you needed condiments or a beverage refill, he was on top of it.

During my first stop, Zoll warned me after I ordered my burger and “Frick Fries” that the portion was large, and that some customers have a hard time finishing all of it.

When I bit into the burger, the flavor and the combination of all the toppings was outstanding—and Zoll wasn’t kidding about the warning on the large portion size, especially when fries are in the picture.

After reading the news about the closing on Tuesday, I decided to cancel my dinner plans and treat myself to one last meal at FrickleBurgers. Just like at all of my other visits, I wasn’t let down. It made me sad; this is a restaurant that shouldn’t be closing, given the high quality of the food, the excellent customer service and the value.

The closing of FrickleBurgers illustrates how hard it can be to run a business; it did not make it despite local “Best Of” honors and great ratings on customer-review sites like Yelp. The notice that posted on the Facebook page and on the restaurant door cites the reason for closing as “a simple fact of working capital and lack thereof.” It seemed like FrickleBurgers was doing all of the right things—and still came up short.

Even though they are closing this Sunday, there is a glimmer of hope: Zoll said in the notice that he is looking for investors to possibly reopen in another location.

I wish Michael Zoll the best of luck—and I that he will return stronger than before. 

When I asked Teddy Quinn to tell me about his life, he didn’t know exactly where to begin.

The host of the famous open-mic nights at Pappy and Harriet’s and the Joshua Tree Saloon, and the owner and founder of Radio Free Joshua Tree, is a colorful figure of the high desert, and he’s been in the entertainment business for more than 50 years. In fact, the story of Teddy Quinn begins in Hollywood in the ’60s, where he was a child actor who made appearances on Bonanza, Bewitched and General Hospital. He also had a recurring role on the short-lived sitcom Accidental Family.

“I retired of my own free will when I was about 12,” he said in a recent phone interview from Joshua Tree. “I was more interested in rock ’n’ roll, poetry and art. I wasn’t really into TV. Even before that, I was always into music; I grew up on The Beatles, of course.”

Throughout his childhood, Teddy would act as a DJ for his older siblings; he also began writing songs at an early age.

After his “retirement,” as his adulthood years began, Teddy tried to establish himself as a musician in Hollywood, eventually ending up in a band with Fred Drake, who would become his close friend and confidant. The two of them made regular trips to Joshua Tree, and fell in love with the high desert.

“We would always try to go to the Joshua Tree Inn and try to get the room that Gram Parsons died in, and we’d go visit Cap Rock in Joshua Tree National Park, where the unsuccessful attempt to cremate (Gram Parsons) happened,” he said.

He and Drake eventually made the move to Joshua Tree, where they co-founded the famous Rancho de la Luna recording studio 20 years ago, which they co-owned until Fred Drake’s death in 2002. Teddy handed his portion of the studio to Eagles of Death Metal guitarist Dave Catching, who is still the owner and who lives at the studio.

When I asked Teddy what it is that makes him continue to stay in Joshua Tree, I could feel his love for the high desert in his voice. “I’m sitting here in my room looking outside at this beautiful sky, the mountains surrounding me, the desert, and the vastness of what I’m looking at outside. It just feels like it’s open to all possibilities,” he said.

Teddy fell into doing open-mic nights about 10 years ago, on Monday nights at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown, and on Tuesday nights at the Joshua Tree Saloon. The open-mic night at Pappy and Harriet’s, in particular, is known for luring in local musicians and residents of Joshua Tree. Some of the performers Teddy tells me about: a retired man who served in the Marines with the late George Jones, a harp player who has been known to sit in through the night, a couple in their 60s who both play accordions, and a variety of other local musicians.

“I never know what to expect,” he said. “The variety is always completely amazing. I’ve never once left there feeling disappointed, and I’ve always left surprised every time.”

Teddy told me about one night when a young woman asked to sing.

“I had no idea who this girl was; all she told me was her name was Leslie. She got up and sang, and all the employees from the kitchen ran out, asking me, ‘Do you know who that is?’ And it ended up being Leslie Feist (Feist), who at that time had the No. 1 hit song in the world.”

He also has a story about how he and a friend of his played a cover of “19th Nervous Breakdown” by the Rolling Stones, at first completely oblivious to the fact that Theodora Richards, daughter of Keith Richards, was sitting at one of the tables with friends.

“I went up to Theodora and told her, ‘I hope it’s OK we were singing your dad’s song,’ and she said, ‘It was fucking brilliant!’ It was just a funny convergence of things,” he said with a laugh.

Ted said he advises potential performers to get there early for either of the open-mic nights, as the lists tend to fill up—usually before he even arrives. He also recommended that those who make it on the list be patient and hang out through the entire thing.

And if you’re planning on just showing up to observe, chances are you’re going to have a really good time.

Teddy Quinn hosts an open-mic night at 7:30 p.m. on Mondays at Pappy and Harriet’s, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956. He also hosts the open mic at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Joshua Tree Saloon Grill and Bar, 61835 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree; 760-366-2250. For those who don’t get up to Joshua Tree, you can hear Teddy on Radio Free Joshua Tree at

DJ Day, aka Damien Beebe, may be the hardest-working DJ in Palm Springs.

He’s collaborated with the hip-hop group People Under the Stairs. He’s put out his own records. He’s traveled around the world for live performances. And he hosts the ¡Reunion! show at the Ace Hotel every Thursday night. Because of all of these efforts and more, he’s managed to become a prominent name in the hip-hop community.

His recently released full-length album, Land of 1000 Chances, feels like a throwback to the hip-hop sound during its coming-of-age in the late ’70s and ’80s in New York City. You can feel the inspiration from Funkmaster Flex in his music, melded with modern influences, jazz and funk instrumentals, and vocalists singing soul and classic R&B. It’s a blend of the old-school with some unique modern underground.

The story of Damien Beebe before he became DJ Day starts in Palm Springs.

“I was a latchkey kid, raised by a single mother, and living in an apartment in Palm Springs,” he said. “I got one of those Kmart one-piece turntables with a tape deck. I would teach myself to how to scratch and DJ with that and a little boom box playing in the background. It progressed outside of my house into house parties and going out of town to perform. I just kept going and going.”

Eventually, he crossed paths with Thes One from People Under the Stairs, who has family in Indio.

“We just hit it off; we had a lot of similarities. He asked me to do a remix for the group, and I ended up doing a few remixes for them,” he said.

They eventually decided together to jump ship from the record labels they were on at the time and form their own collective based label, Piecelock 70. “It’s not a record label, per se, but it’s more like an artist collective where we pool our resources to help each other out and get art out around the world,” he said.

As an example of the unique projects that Piecelock 70 has put out beyond music, he tells me about a book called The Mop, by Alan Simpson, based on stories Simpson created after working in a porno shop in Australia during the ’90s.

Aside from his work with People Under the Stairs, and the labor-intensive process of getting Piecelock 70 off the ground, Beebe’s DJing career keeps him busy and traveling all over the world. He’s performed in 16 different countries and has a corporate client list that includes big names like DC Shoes, Adidas, Ray-Ban, Levi’s, and the Palm Springs International Film Festival. His resume of remixes includes work from Quantic, Alice Russell, Aloe Blacc, Exile, and Clutchy Hopkins, to name a few artists. He was even hired to DJ for Justin Timberlake’s Shriners Open Golf Tournament in Las Vegas.

He said he stays true to himself through his music, which is a big part of his Thursday night event at the Ace Hotel.

“We play a mix of everything. It’s what I consider a musically open format,” he said of ¡Reunion!. “There’s everything from current music and underground stuff—classic hip-hop, soul, disco, funk, dancehall and reggae. There’s a little bit of everything.”

If there’s one thing DJ Day wants people to know about ¡Reunion!, it’s that everyone is welcome.

“The biggest thing I think about ¡Reunion! is that we try to be all-inclusive,” he said. “… We just try to provide a good time and a comfortable environment—where you can sit in the booth, have a drink and enjoy the vibe.

“… I want it to be like the show Cheers, where everyone knows your name. That the kind of vibe I want it to have”

DJ Day hosts ¡Reunion! at 10 p.m., every Thursday night, at the Ace Hotel’s Amigo Room. 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; admission to the 21-and-older event is free. Call 760-325-9900, or visit for more information.

When you examine the career of Gregg Allman and the Allman Brothers Band, one word comes to mind: longevity.

After largely taking 14 years off from his solo career, Allman, now 65, blew off the dust to record Low Country Blues, and he’s finally taking it on the road after its 2011 release, including a show at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Saturday, May 25.

Thanks to a career that is approaching five decades, Allman is an icon, both as the front man of the Allman Brothers Band and on his own. There have been lows as well, such as his well-documented battles with addiction, lifelong health problems, band disputes, and the death of his band mate and older brother Duane Allman in 1971.

Despite the hardships, he’s continued on, racking up hit records and playing sold-out concerts around the world.

When the Allmans founded the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, Gregg was uncertain about his future as a musician; he originally intended to become a dental surgeon, but Duane convinced him to give music a try, and he hasn’t looked back since.

When I asked Allman in a recent phone interview why it took 14 years to hear him on his own again, following 1997’s One More Try: An Anthology, Allman said it was mostly due to the death of longtime Allman Brothers Band producer Tom Dowd in 2002.

“He was more than a producer; he was a father figure,” he said. “After he died in 2002, when the idea of recording would come up, I would just change the subject.”

However, when the opportunity came to work with T-Bone Burnett in the producer’s chair, Allman decided to give it a try—although he was hesitant at first.

“Of course (Burnett) is famous for all this other stuff, and you can take all of that into consideration before you work with the guy, but it’s how the two of you get along musically and socially,” he said.

Allman was satisfied with the results.

“He was a wonderful producer. He was so much like Tommy (Dowd), but different in his own way.”

Low Country Blues became Allman’s triumphant return to solo recording, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and receiving a Grammy Award nomination for Best Blues Album. He also released his autobiography, My Cross to Bear, in 2012. The reviews for both were mostly positive.

However, Allman was too busy to celebrate: He was dealing with the after-effects of a liver transplant that he underwent before the album’s release.

“I had never dreamt that anything could be so horrendous and painful. I couldn’t play or tour,” he said about the June 2010 transplant.

In time, however, his strength returned.

“I had a tour booked the day after Christmas in 2012. When I woke up on Dec. 23, something had changed. I had strength; I had motivation. I felt like my old self, and I still feel that way. I’m so thankful to God that he gave me another chance.”

When I asked him what his future looks like, he told me that he has another solo album currently in the works, but didn’t reveal any other details. There’s also a biopic that’s in the early stages based on My Cross to Bear.

When I asked him if he’s excited about a rare appearance in the Coachella Valley, he said: “Absolutely!”

“I think that the Allman Brothers have slighted the West Coast of America terribly,” he said. “In the next three to four years, I plan to make up for all of that. I’m going to bust my ass now that I feel like the old me. I’m going to be doing some extensive touring over the next 10 years, I hope.”

Gregg Allman performs at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 25, at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. Tickets are $29 to $69. Call 760-342-5000, or visit for more information.

Berkeley resident Sascha Altman DuBrul has accomplished much as a community organizer and punk rocker, inspiring many who subscribe to the philosophies of Noam Chomsky or punk-rock ethics.

And he’s done so despite struggles with bipolar disorder.

In his book Maps to the Other Side, he offers a journey through his writings over the years, covering subjects such as train-hopping, political activism, community gardens and his struggles with mental illness. “The stories in this book are the personal maps through my jagged lands of brilliance and madness,” he writes in the introduction.

DuBrul starts by talking about his childhood. He was raised in a chaotic home by two parents who consistently fought while he was being raised by the television. He talks about the Live Aid concert in 1985, saying he was disappointed by the much-anticipated concert, and calling it as a gathering of coked-out rock stars who got together to sing “We Are the World.”

As DuBrul grew older, he became more influenced by punk rock and set out to change the world, inspired by Noam Chomsky and the punk-rock style of activism. Oh, yeah, and he listened to Chumbawamba during their early punk-rock days before we all heard “Tubthumping” on repeat.

He traveled the country via train-hopping, listening to the stories of migrant workers and hoboes; he eventually fell into the world of community gardens and took part in protests against NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. He spent a lot of time in Northern and Southern California working in community gardens and organizing punk rockers to take up political causes. He even set up California’s first seed-exchange and seed-preservation network, known as BASIL. Author Ruth Ozeki was inspired by him and based a character on him in one of her novels.

While DuBrul was an inspiring figure who worked tirelessly for his causes, people around him were beginning to notice he was coming apart. He describes various episodes while off medication, such as scaring his friends with his rants and making scenes in public, including an interesting encounter with the Los Angeles Police Department. “For brevity’s sake, I’ll spare the details, but let me just say that I’m lucky I didn’t end up with an LAPD bullet in my chest,” he writes.

His struggles with taking his daily regimen of prescription drugs while trying to stay productive are at times heartbreaking, but inspiring when he manages to pull himself together and keep moving on. By founding the Icarus Project, he became an alternative-information source on the subject of bipolar disorder, while giving people the ability to express themselves through the arts and collaborate as a collective on the subject of mental illness.

Despite being derailed at times by bipolar disorder, DuBrul offers a unique perspective on what it’s like to lose one’s mind, yet still manage to make a difference. Maps to the Other Side also offers a unique look into the world of collective-based activism that was going on long before Occupy Wall Street came along—as told by someone who has dedicated his life to social justice.

Maps to the Other Side

By Sascha Altman DuBrul


192 pages, $15.95/sliding scale at

Wade Crawford and the Country Trash will play anywhere, for anyone.

In the midst of gigs all over California, and time spent recording their first full-length album, he and drummer Terence Dunn are playing a show at Playoffs Sports Bar in Desert Hot Springs on Saturday, May 18.

When I ask the 28 year-old Banning resident, during a recent phone interview, to define the band’s sound, Crawford offers an amusing definition: “California country trash.”

Various musicians these days are inspired by Americana and the outlaw country sound; Wade Crawford and the Country Trash are expressing their inspiration in their own unique way. Crawford’s two main influences—Jim Morrison and Waylon Jennings—inspire his vocals and his songwriting, leading to a unique blend of rock music and outlaw country.

“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘I don’t normally like country music, but I really like your style of country music,’ and I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘You’re not country at all.’ So it’s really whatever people get from it,” he said.

As for where the name “the country trash” came from, there’s a bit of history. Originally, he went by “Peoria Traverse” (a combination of the U.S. cities Peoria, Ill., and Traverse City, Mich.), a tribute to the hometowns of his paternal and fraternal grandparents; however, there was some confusion with the name, and people had a hard time pronouncing it. So Wade went in a different direction.

“I wanted something that sort of caught people’s attention and told them what we were about without them having to hear us. I wouldn’t necessarily say we’re trashy, but I’ve had some people tell me my lyrics could be a little trashy. So, it sort of sums it up with ‘country trash,’” he said.

While Crawford and Dunn play as a duo, Crawford has plans to expand the band. They’re currently seeking a bass player and a slide-guitar player. In other words, they hope to add some more trash.

Crawford admits that he was intimidated by opening for Reverend Horton Heat at the Date Shed this past March.

“When I got there, I saw the big bus. And when I walked in, and I saw (Jim Heath, aka Reverend Horton Heat), I started getting those butterflies. I asked myself, ‘How are we here right now? How are we opening for these guys?’ I got nervous, and I called (Terence Dunn).”

But after some pre-show preparation, and with a positive mental attitude, Crawford was ready to go.

“I had a few beers to calm myself down. My whole motto is to get up there and act like everyone is there to see me. I had to make (the audience) believe. After three or four songs, I’m like, ‘We got this.’ It felt really good. We got a really good response. Reverend Horton Heat and his guys all seemed to really like us. I put it up there as one of the best shows we’ve played.”

Other people have taken notice of Crawford’s live playing ability, including the management of Playoffs, where the band played a very successful hillbilly-themed benefit show for the Coachella Valley Derby Girls.

“We had a good time there,” he said. “When we were playing, we took a break, and the owner told me, ‘We don’t normally book bands, but whenever you guys want to come back, let me know.’ So I gave it a few of months and called him and set up another show. I’m looking forward to it.”

Wade Crawford and the Country Trash will appear at 9 p.m., Saturday, May 18, at Playoffs Sports Bar, 12105 Palm Drive in Desert Hot Springs; admission is free. For more information, call 760-251-2644.

When I decided to attend Coachella and Stagecoach on behalf of the Coachella Valley Independent, editor Jimmy Boegle and I had some concerns about my physical limitations. A back injury that I suffered in 2011 has left me with problems with standing and sitting for long periods of time.

While I was indeed concerned, I was confident that I was up to the task. However, by the third day of Coachella's second weekend, I was starting to really feel my physical limitations.

I decided to visit promoter Goldenvoice’s ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) Access Center, located in the lobby area of both Coachella and Stagecoach. I was given an ADA wristband, which allowed me access to the handicapped areas, where I could sit and watch each band from a comfortable distance.

One of the things I’ve always loved to do is attend concerts. It’s an amazing experience to be able to experience live performances by bands and performers you’ve enjoyed for years, and to experience new artists you aren’t familiar with. However, I’ve been nervous and hesitant to do since 2011, given the issues I have with both sitting and standing.

Government statistics say that about 20 percent of Americans have a disability—so how do you accommodate those who have a disability at a music festival?

Goldenvoice employees have been trying to answer that very question since they created the ADA department, and have been making improvements every year—from how they design the layout of the grounds, to how the staging areas are set up.

“It’s a never ending commitment,” said J.B., an employee of Goldenvoice who is affiliated with the ADA Access Center (and who declined to give his last name). “We are constantly refining everything in every aspect of the festivals. We’re working hand in hand with every department.”

The department has a broad range of services available for handicapped patrons.

“We cover everything from the parking lot and designated wheelchair and companion areas to sign-language interpreters on the stages,” he said.

While the ADA Access Center does try to accommodate each case on a per-need basis, they have no control over some parking-lot access issues, he said; that is handled according to the DMV and law enforcement rules, meaning placards or license plates are required for handicapped-access parking.

For those who have a disability and have been hesitant to attend Coachella or Stagecoach, I can say that Goldenvoice has you covered.

“Ultimately, I would say the numbers (of disabled attendees) grow every year,” he said.

He also offered an inspiring thought after providing access to disabled patrons over the years.

“(By) providing ADA services here at the festivals, we are opening up to a broader audience that perhaps never thought, ‘Hey, I could go to a music festival,’ and now they’re seeing they can go in their wheelchair and enjoy it as much as any other able-bodied person.”

As someone who sought services from this department over two weekends, I can say that the ADA Access Center does a good job. As I was leaving the Access Center at Stagecoach to go catch John C. Reilly and Friends, J.B. told me something that almost made me choke up: The department has provided services to terminally ill patrons who have told them that it might be their last Coachella or Stagecoach.

I’d personally like to thank Goldenvoice for providing me with ADA access; without it, I don’t know how well I would have been able to hold up and cover the festival as I did.

There were two rules for Stagecoach 2013’s third day, spelled out on video monitors and texted to attendees who downloaded the Stagecoach app: Drink water, and find shade for your health and safety.

While water was supplied by vendors and free refill stations, shade is limited at the Empire Polo Club.

The official sponsor of Stagecoach—Toyota—offered a bit of shade inside their exclusive tent on the right hand side of the “Mane Stage.” The Toyota tent became the “Toyota World of Wonders” this year, featuring an interactive vintage carnival theme, with a milk-jug throw, a ring toss and even a professional palm-reader—seated, of course, in a 2013 Rav4.

Over the weekend, Toyota revealed the brand new 4Runner model, which featured an acoustic performance in the Toyota World of Wonders from Dierks Bentley.

Around 1 p.m. on Sunday, the Budweiser Clydesdales—who made an appearance on El Paseo in Palm Desert earlier in the week—trekked through the lobby area of the festival, making their third appearance at Stagecoach.

“We enjoy a big crowd,” said Budweiser representative Dennis Knepp.

As far as finding shade was concerned, fans were finding it in the Mustang and Palomino tents.

Waddie Mitchell, a “cowboy poet,” offered a reading to a large group of attendees—some of whom sat with their backs turned, uninterested and conversing among themselves. I spotted one woman sleeping on one of the bales of hay. When he ended his 70-minute act, he said, “I think I’ll go start some supper now. Thanks for the ride.”

Riders in the Sky followed Mitchell at 3:50 p.m. Riders in the Sky’s performance at Stagecoach was their 6,419th performance over 35 years, as well as their third appearance at Stagecoach. The group’s performance had a diverse, interested audience of all ages, including children.

During the performance, Fred LaBour and the rest of the group performed solos—slapping the sides of their face making “clacking” noises. Paul “Woody” Chrisman dumped cornmeal on the stage and performed a fiddle solo while dancing on it.

The part of their performance that stood out the most was a cover of the theme to Rawhide, which had many of those in the audience singing and clapping along. Children in the audience got to hear “Woody’s Roundup” from the Toy Story 2 soundtrack, along with “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”

In a way, the Riders in the Sky are the cowboy Rat Pack. Consider Douglas “Ranger Doug” Green’s vocals slightly echoing Frank Sinatra’s during “Trail Dust,” as well as the group’s comedy, which never stops during their performance.

Fans of John C. Reilly—known for his roles in Boogie Nights and The Aviator—were treated to the actor’s musical performance after Riders in the Sky (who took a few comedic shots at Reilly during their set). During sound check, Reilly addressed the large crowd who packed the front half of the Mustang Tent.

“It’s called a rolling festival sound check,” he said, gaining applause.

“I’m John Reilly, and these are my friends. On this hot day, so are you,” he said, before going into his first number. He played the guitar he used in the movie Walk Hard. People at the rear were slow-dancing, as if the Mustang Tent had been turned into a honky tonk. At times, it felt like a performance suited for A Prairie Home Companion. Nice job, John!

Mustang headliners Katey Sagal and the Forest Rangers took the stage around 10 minutes late. Sagal was yet another Hollywood figure performing at Stagecoach; she was a recording artist before becoming an actress in roles such as Peg on Married With Children and Gemma on Sons of Anarchy. The Forest Rangers have been contributors on the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack throughout its five seasons, with various vocalists.

A few Sons of Anarchy and “SAMCRO” T-shirts were scattered throughout the decent-sized audience, and as the Forest Rangers took the stage, Sagal was missing. The group performed alone with what they called “guest vocalists” at first. Through bluesy/southern rock performances of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” and Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” it seemed as if they were trying to shrug off a possible absence.

Sagal finally walked onstage to a deafening ovation. When she began to sing a cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” fans got to experience her magnificent singing ability. She then did a beautiful cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” and a cover of Steve Earle’s “Come Home to Me.”

She turned over the vocals to Curtis Stigers for a performance of “John the Revelator,” which was just as impressive as it was during the Sons of Anarchy season 1 finale.

While Sagal was obviously the major attraction, the Forest Rangers—along with their guest vocalists—were quite a sight to see, and it was a real treat for those who attended.

As Katey Sagal and the Forest Rangers were finishing up, a large crowd in the Palomino Tent was awaiting the Charlie Daniels Band, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Daniels and the band took the stage about 15 minutes late; to be fair, the sound check appeared to be quite extensive. For a man who recently had heart surgery, Daniels appeared to be extremely energetic. The Southern-rock icon was twirling his bow and playing a mean fiddle during their opening song, and seemed to joke with his guitarist by slapping him with it.

“I do believe it’s party time in the desert!” he said after his first song.

While Daniels’ performance was strong throughout, his scaled-back set contained two long instrumentals and left no time for Daniels to play his established hits. Daniels bragged that his current band was the best he’s played with, and while there’s no doubt that’s true, people seemed as if they were ready for the long guitar solos and repetitive bass lines to end. Nevertheless, Daniels’ performance included spectacular lighting, and there was no better way to close out the Palomino Tent for Stagecoach 2013 than with “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

The Zac Brown Band closed out the Mane Stage and were the last act to play at Stagecoach for 2013. The band’s first song, “Keep Me in Mind,” was a delightful opener. Hearing some Americana, acoustic-driven country thrown into the mainstream Nashville sound that’s usually featured on the Mane Stage was a unique experience.

The highlight of their show was a cover of Dave Matthews Band’s “Ants Marching,” which was something I didn’t expect, and it sounded wonderful when played with their signature sound. The Zac Brown Band was not as flashy as Toby Keith or Lady Antebellum, and the group had a more-laid-back approach. Instead, it was all about the music. It was another wonderful night for the Mane Stage, and a lovely conclusion to Stagecoach 2013.

Despite blistering temperatures, fans enjoyed the three days of the most unique country music festival in the United States. It’s the only place where you will see Americana, bluegrass and alternative country, as well as groups like the Honky Tonk Angels Band, plus actors and actresses performing country music, and the thundering sound of modern Nashville mainstream—all in one place.

Photos by Erik Goodman