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Readers of the Independent voted for Avenida Music as the Best Local Band in the 2018-2019 Best of Coachella Valley. Behind the drums of Avenida Music is Sean Poe, who also plays in the Hive Minds. Poe is a fascinating drummer to watch, given his technical prowess and jazz-inspired style. For more information on Avenida Music, visit www.littlestreetmusic.com or www.facebook.com/littlestreetmusic. For more on the Hive Minds, visit www.hivemindsmusic.com. Sean Poe was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

I went to a bunch of concerts growing up, but the first concert I chose to go to was Avenged Sevenfold.

What was the first album you owned?

Green Day, American Idiot.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve been listening to the Gorillaz, The 1975, Young the Giant, Dave Matthews Band, and a lot of Miles Davis.

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

I don’t really understand the whole mumble-rap thing.

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

I would love to have seen Queen with Freddie Mercury.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Definitely emo music! Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, and Thirty Seconds to Mars—stuff like that.

What’s your favorite music venue?

That’s a tie. I love the Big Rock Pub for the sound clarity when I perform there, but I love the La Quinta Brewing Company for the intimate vibe. You’re in a room and can really look all the fans in the eye. That’s really cool.

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

I wish they all could be California girls,” The Beach Boys, “California Girls.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The most life-changing artist is actually a Southern California cover band called Helicopter. I went to the bar and saw them playing, and they let me get up and play with them, even though I didn’t play drums yet. It was the first time I played anything other than marching-band or orchestra music, and it completely shifted the direction of my life! We played “Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh. I’m forever grateful to those dudes.

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

I’d ask Dave Matthews: “How do you keep every show fresh and different after all these years and countless relentless tours?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Oingo Boingo, “Dead Man’s Party.”

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

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

The Dave Matthews Band covering “All Along the Watchtower.” I saw them play it live recently, and it gave me chills. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

For Avenida Music—voted as the Best Local Band by readers of the Independent in the annual Best of Coachella Valley poll—music revolves around family.

The band includes three brothers—and may be the only local group to be the subject of a song by another local band (Frank Eats the Floor). Avenida Music has played all over Southern California for weddings and corporate events, and has a weekly residency at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells.

When I sat down with Josiah Gonzalez (piano/synth), he told me some fascinating stories about the musical journey that led to the formation of Avenida Music.

“The band is composed of two of my brothers (Vincent and Samuel), myself and Sean Poe (also of the Hive Minds),” Josiah Gonzalez said. “My brothers and I have been playing music together since we were 9 years old. My dad scrounged money together to get us lessons and instruments, and we were playing in church or just for fun. We’ve been playing for about 15 years together.

“We all found ourselves back in the Coachella Valley after college and decided we should continue to play. It started as a cover gig for my aunt’s birthday party; she wanted us to play some Beatles tunes. We liked doing it so much that we started playing with friends and playing in garages in 2015. We had no idea what we were doing and were just looking for some gigs playing covers.”

Avenida, like some other local bands, is named after an element of a local neighborhood.

“We spent the first two or three months playing in a garage trying to come up with a name. We couldn’t come up with anything anybody liked,” Josiah Gonzalez said. “We went through 50 or 60 different options no one could agree on. We were originally playing in Cathedral City, and every other street is called Avenida something. We thought, ‘Why not Avenida?’ It stuck.”

While Avenida Music started off playing covers, it is not just a cover band … although when you see “Avenida Music” on the bill, you should expect covers.

“We do have original music. We made an interesting pivot after we picked up Sean,” Josiah Gonzalez said. “We started playing covers and original stuff, but it was hard to differentiate. … When we started making more money as a cover band, we decided we really needed to focus on that. We wrote our five-year plan based on the idea we’d play corporate gigs and weddings. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been writing original stuff—and that’s what we’ve been working on right now in side projects not named Avenida Music. We really try to separate the two to remain consistent in what we do as a band.”

The Gonzalez brothers had no choice but to play music growing up.

“That was predetermined. Literally: Before we were born, our parents decided what instruments we were going to play, and when they were going to have us,” Josiah said. “They knew they wanted a quartet that had a piano, bass, drums and a sax. They ended up with four boys (each) two years apart. … My dad has been a minister for most of his life, and he would do jobs for people, saying, ‘I’ll do your landscaping for free if you teach my son how to play piano.’ That’s how he got all of us lessons. We’d come out of the womb, and two years later, they’d be introducing us to the instrument as if it was propaganda, like, ‘Isn’t the piano great?’ We all ended up playing those instruments, and we all still do play those instruments.

“They didn’t let us quit. I tried to quit piano a couple of times, and my parents said, ‘We’re sorry, but that’s not really an option.’ I’m grateful in retrospect. They made sure to tell me, ‘We work really hard to make to get you these lessons, and this is something you will carry with you for the rest of your life.’”

The Gonzalez brothers’ parents believed music would help instill character.

“I remember being really scared, because they were making me play in a convalescent home. I got really mad and said I didn’t want to be playing in convalescent homes and church events for old ladies,” Josiah said. “I was about 11 or 12, and my dad told me, ‘I didn’t work this hard to get you these lessons so you could go hide in a corner and play by yourself. Your job is to go use this gift you have to help other people.’ To this day, that is one of the things I remember. … It made an impression on me, and it really resonated as to why we still play music today. The reason we play is not for us; whatever we have is to be used to bless other people.”

Josiah Gonzalez said he was surprised to learn Avenida Music had been voted Best Local Band.

“We were blown away when we were nominated and when we won,” he said. “We have a big family; my dad has six brothers and sisters, as well as a lot of cousins. But I think more than anything, we’ve really tried to be as supportive of other musicians as much as possible, and we’re really grateful, because some people reciprocated that and voted for us. … We’re really grateful that people appreciate what we do and the music we do.”

Avenida Music will perform at the Best of Coachella Valley Awards Party at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 12, at Copa Nightclub, 244 E. Amado Road, in Palm Springs. Admission is free. For more information on Avenida Music, visit www.littlestreetmusic.com.

Published in Features

The Hive Minds are one of the Coachella Valley’s most consistent and well-liked bands.

However, the reach of the Hive Minds may soon reach beyond our dusty little valley: The group recently recorded an album with famed producer Ronnie King, a Palm Springs local, and hopes to finally tour outside of the Palm Springs area.

While the group was recording the album, the Hive Minds launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project, offering presales of the EP and other incentives. How did it go?

“It was unsuccessful,” said frontman and guitarist Derek Jordan Gregg during a recent interview in Palm Springs that included all three members of the group. “A lot of people think some guy is online doing (crowd-funding campaigns) to buy mayonnaise or some stupid shit like that, so there’s a stigma of some sort. People think you're asking for a handout when we’re really just trying to get something in exchange for all the time we put in.”

While the Kickstarter campaign failed, the group found success working with King, who has produced for Rancid, Mariah Carey and the local group IIIZ (formerly the Yip Yops), along with many other acts.

“He gets really good work out of you,” Gregg said.

Drummer Sean Poe seconded Gregg’s comment.

“You'll work all day and just get the best take you can get,” Poe said. “We would do it; we'd think it was good, and that was the take. Ronnie would be like, ‘No, do it again.’ We'd do it again and again and be like, ‘That's the take!’”

However, bassist Matt Styler conceded the process was not always easy.

“We definitely had to learn (how to deal with) thinking we had put out a really good take or a song and hear, ‘Oh no, there's still a lot of work to be done.’ It's learning to be OK with that process and having the presence to know you could put together something better, even though you already love what you did before.”

When I visited IIIZ while they recorded with King last summer, King was making IIIZ guitarist and vocalist Mari Brossfield do multiple takes for a track. Gregg said he was put to the test a few times himself.

“I remember doing a take on our song ‘Wish You The Best,’ thinking I had just nailed it, and Ronnie said, ‘Yeah, it was good, but I didn't buy it.’ He pointed to the part and had me change it, saying, ‘There's no emotional content.’ He had me going over and over it. He knows what makes a hit song for sure.”

The group hopes the new EP will be released within several months.

“Probably in May or June,” Gregg said. “It's a bit of a story, and it’s conceptual. It's all love songs and based on the building and the breaking of a relationship. It's just five tracks, but it's really upbeat and sounds different from the first record. The first record was really mellow and Americana; this one is totally different and indie-pop.”

Ronnie King ended up playing keyboards on most of the tracks. The members of the group enjoyed the sound, and as a result, they are now looking for a keyboardist.

The album includes other guest appearances, too.

“Mari (Brossfield) from IIIZ is on it,” Gregg said. “A local sax player named Aaron Merc is on it, too. He visited us, and we were listening to one of the tracks. … I was like, ‘Aaron, do you happen to have your sax with you?’ He was on his way to rehearsal, and it was in the car.”

Poe talked about how Mari Brossfield became involved.

“We were like, ‘It would sound so much better if we went an octave up,’” he said about one of the band’s songs. “We’re all sitting there trying to sing it and hit that note. Derek was like, ‘I wish we had a girl here,’ and Mari was right there, and (Derek) goes, ‘Hey, you want to sing on it?’ IIIZ was really supportive and came out several days when we were in the studio.”

With the new album came a new and interesting endeavor: a music video, for the song “Chasing You Around.”

“Robert Sandoval did it,” Gregg said. “He helped us out when we made our Kickstarter music videos, and he's really good. He kind of works how we work, where if you have an idea, and you start to wing it a bit, you just to allow yourself to be open to new possibilities.”

Styler explained the theme of the video.

“It's a love story: Guy sees girl, and guy chases after girl,” he said. “It's basically someone chasing her around. But it's in the least-stalker way as possible. We want to make that clear.”

Gregg thought of an amusing alternative ending for the video.

“The ending of it should have been the guy getting a cease-and-desist letter,” he said.

The Hive Minds will perform with Monreaux, Higher Heights and the CMFs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 20, at Playoffs, 12105 Palm Drive, in Desert Hot Springs. Admission is $5. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/thehiveminds.

Published in Previews

It’s been a busy couple years for Derek Gregg and Sean Poe—better known as the Hive Minds.

Their group has gone from being a three-piece to a two-piece. There was a name change, a battle of the bands win, and numerous local shows. And finally, there’s an album.

The Independent recently sat down with Gregg (guitar/vocals) and Poe (drums) to discuss The Hive Minds’ new, self-titled album. They began working on it in October 2013, with Jimmy Heil.

“It was just not a good fit. We were working on it for a while, and we made a lot of progress, but things weren’t really clicking,” Poe said.

Gregg agreed.

“A lot of the guitar tones were weird,” Gregg said. “We have nothing bad to say about (Heil). He had a lot of great stuff, like these expensive old mics, reel-to-reel, and stuff like that, but we weren’t able to get into the studio often enough, and we really wanted to spend a lot of time in there.”

They began working instead with Andrew Allen-Bentley.

“When we started working with Andrew, the feel was right,” Gregg said.

Allen-Bentley also began joining The Hive Minds for gigs, playing bass. However, Gregg said that Allen-Bentley is not an “official” member of the band.

“The Hive Minds will always be a two-piece. He’s in our band, but he doesn’t want to be a full-time member,” Gregg said. “It’s like the Black Keys: It’s a two piece.”

Gregg noted that Allen-Bentley had a lot on his plate. He wasn’t kidding: Shortly after the interview with Gregg and Poe, Allen-Bentley was named the rabbi of Temple Sinai in Palm Springs.

“Every once in a while if he’s available, he’ll come play a show with us,” Poe said.

The songs on the album were written over a long period of time—even before Gregg and Poe started performing together.

“It’s all Derek’s stuff that he’s been writing since he was back in high school,” Poe said. “When we got together and started working on this stuff, we thought these were great songs that we should get out. Derek had all the basic forms, the lyrics, and the riffs, and then I just came in with the drums.”

Gregg said that while they recorded these older songs, they were able to write new material for their next album.

“The next album will have riffs on it,” Gregg said with a laugh. “This record has more jam-band-style guitar on it, but it was mostly acoustic stuff played on an electric guitar. The songs were already there, but the next album is sweet, because it will have riffs and a completely different feel to it.”

Gregg said that he is most proud of his song “Firewater.”

“When I wrote ‘Firewater,’ I had just really started to get into Bob Dylan,” Gregg said. “I had just gone through a lot with ex-girlfriends. I was drinking a bit more, and that song is about coping with things the wrong way. That song taught me how to write without censoring myself or holding back. ‘Firewater’ is just so naked that it’s true.”

Poe said that during the recording process, they would go back and listen to songs they had already recorded, and find imperfections.

“In the studio, there were a lot of times when we’d record a song and then go on to record another song, and we’d go back and listen to that first song, and we didn’t like it. So we’d start over and record it again, because we wanted it perfect. With ‘The Gemini,’ we recorded the whole thing, and we went back and listened to it, and it wasn’t up to par with what the other songs were. So we completely scratched it, and we had to find a way to make it work. We ended up making it acoustic.”

“The Gemini” is now the album’s closing track; the acoustic sound and percussion make it a perfect closing song.

Gregg admitted the band has made some mistakes over the last couple of years. Gregg and Poe stopped playing many of the covers for which they were known, and whereas they used to play a lot of shows at bars, they now play once a month or so at Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar on El Paseo in Palm Desert.

“Playing bars for people who don’t know any of the material … it’s not that fulfilling,” Gregg said. “At the end of the night, you come away feeling really unfulfilled, like you just spent time at work. Our sets have about 10 percent covers now. We noticed it, and my dad (local musician Mark Gregg) told me we’re not a very good cover band. When we play one of our original songs as opposed to a cover, we get a standing ovation. When we play at Wolfgang Puck’s now, no one likes our covers as much as they like our originals.”

Poe agreed.

“We are more happy now playing the originals,” he said. “We have fun doing it, and we have more energy doing it. I think people have picked up on that.”

For more information on The Hive Minds, visit the band's Facebook page.

The Hive Minds are on a roll. Derek Gregg (vocals/guitar) and Sean Poe (drums) won a local battle of the bands at the National Date Festival; they have been busy recording a new album; and they have kept a busy schedule of local gigs. Speaking of gigs: Derek will be hosting an open-mic night at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert, at 9 p.m., Wednesday, June 11. Here are Derek’s answers to The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

When I was younger, I went to an AFI (A Fire Inside) concert with my stepdad. I’m not really a fan, per se. However, they were incredibly polished. I’m not convinced they weren’t lip syncing.

What was the first album you owned?

Oh my … that’s an incredibly tough question to answer. It may have been a greatest-hits album by Steve Miller, although I doubt it. I’ve been a fan of music for as long as I can remember.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Well, I love Tame Impala. I only recently started listening their Lonerism album. Lately, I’ve been stuck on Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not by Arctic Monkeys. However, I’m just revisiting it. Let’s see … The Smiths for sure, The Cure (particularly the Boys Don’t Cry Album), and a lot of Dylan and Cash, too.

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

I can’t stand anything that’s popular right now; it all sounds the same—that techno bullshit.

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

Radiohead.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

The first thing that comes to mind is that Maroon 5 album Songs About Jane. It’s ridiculously overproduced. I hate that squeaky-clean stuff, but it is catchy. It’s good songwriting, but that went down the drain, too, after that album, in my opinion.

What’s your favorite music venue?

There are so many good ones. The Hood has a pretty rad sound system, and whenever we play there, we get to jam out with awesome bands. I dig the Desert Fox bar, too, because it’s always so packed whenever we play there. I have a dozen wild stories from that place. Oh man, that bachelorette party last week!

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

I’ve been trying to get it out of my head because it makes me want to cry: “I am colorblind. Coffee black and egg white. Pull me out from inside. … I am folded, and unfolded, and unfolding. I am colorblind,” Counting Crows, “Colorblind.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Before I started listening to Bob Dylan, I was writing a lot of lame pop songs that will never see the light of day. I realized: Though you have to be honest, you have to be naked, and Dylan reminded me that people will buy honest, pure music. The radio is force-feeding all this garbage techno and pop. Some people don’t even know that there’s incredible stuff out there. You gotta look for it.

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

I would ask Antonio Carlos Jobim how he did it: Come up with an incredibly unique style of music, and have it explode from your home in Brazil to countries all over the world. He’s the pioneer of bossa nova, and when I think about creating a style completely your own, it just blows my mind. Add Stone Flower by Jobim to the list of albums I’ve been listening to. If you haven’t heard “Brasil,” you haven’t lived.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I’m sure it comes off as self-absorbed, but I would want my albums played. My songs are the most important thing to me. My life’s mission is for them to be out and heard. That’s immortality, man!

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

I’d refuse to answer this, but that just seems rude, so I’ll throw out the first one that comes to mind: OK Computer by Radiohead. But ask me again in a week, and I’ll have a different answer.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

There’s so many options. I guess I’ll just throw out one of Led Zeppelin’s more obscure tracks, “Friends.” (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

It was not just another night in downtown Palm Springs.

Hundreds of people from across the Coachella Valley and beyond gathered at Clinic Bar and Lounge in downtown Palm Springs on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 16, for the Coachella Valley Independent's Monthly-Edition Launch Party. 

The crowd was enticed by a live work of art created in front of their eyes by Ryan "Motel" Campbell; a DJ set by All Night Shoes (aka Alex Harrington), followed by several sets from The Vibe; and, of course, two hours of free drinks.

Scroll down to see some photos of the event (most of which were taken by Kevin Fitzgerald). If you have pics you'd like to add to the photo gallery, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thanks to all who came, as well as the fine folks at Clinic Bar and Lounge, and Venus Studios Art Supply.

Published in Snapshot

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.)