CVIndependent

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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Sticky Doll is planning on putting on its all-ages Sticky Fest again this October at The Palms in Wonder Valley—but you don’t have to wait until then to see this high-desert punk group in action: You can catch Sticky Doll at the three-day Idyllwild Strong Festival on Saturday, Aug. 17. For more on the festival, visit www.idyllwildstrong.com. For more information on Sticky Doll, visit www.facebook.com/stickydoll. Sticky Doll frontwoman Cynna Luchia was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are her answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Some type of benefit, possibly for Christmas. I was about 6 or 7 years old. I think Chicago played and possibly Cher.

What was the first album you owned?

Earth, Wind and Fire, a double live album. I don’t remember the album name, but it was white.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Sticky Doll most of the time, ha ha! But when I have time to listen to other bands, the Lunachicks, Alice and Chains and X.

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

That folksy, acoustic sound coming out of Seattle and Portland that you hear a lot in commercials. I love the Northwest, but that stuff makes me want to stab myself in the eye to distract myself.

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

The Lunachicks. I only discovered them a few years ago, and I’m so bummed I missed out when they were still together.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Anything super-dance-able. I actually started performing when I was young as a jazz dancer, so if I hear a great dance-able song by Bruno Mars or Ariana Grande, I instantly love it.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Cinema Bar in (Culver City). It’s tiny and mainly a locals hang out. It’s dark and comfy.

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

We just did a scratch vocal of “Millionaire” by the Queens of the Stone Age, so, “Gimme toro, gimme some more.” It kept me up most of the night, actually.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

There are a few since music is so emotional for me, but I’d say Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde. I feel in love with the album Free, and I try to mimic Johnette when I perform. She’s a badass, yet you could always feel that she really gave a shit.

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

To Theo, the lead singer of Lunachicks: “When are you gonna get back together so I can go rock out at your shows?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Fantasy” off of that Earth, Wind and Fire live album. I’d want something upbeat and happy.

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

There are SO many. But I’d say Concrete Blonde’s Free.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Luxury Problem” by Lunachicks. (Scroll down to hear it!)

I first saw Right On, Right On during a Battle of the Bands at The Hood Bar and Pizza. I didn’t know what to think at first. The band offered a little funk, a little country, a little bit of a jam-band vibe—and a whole lot of rock, played by great local musicians. For more information, visit www.rightonrighton.com or www.facebook.com/rightonrightonmusic. Behind the drums of Right On, Right On is “Uncle” Ben Crowson. Uncle Ben was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

I’ve been going to shows since I was a pup. My parents were kind enough to drag me to shows by such epic bands as The Monkees and the Beach Boys (with John Stamos on drums, no less). My first journey on my own was in 1993. A little band called Pearl Jam ventured out to the Empire Polo Club in Indio and put on the best show my 16-year-old ass had ever seen. My bro Josh and I kept our shoes on and our wits about us and had the best time in our young denim-short-wearing lives. Six years later, the Polo Club hosted the first Coachella and set in motion whatever it is we have today.

What was the first album you owned?

I distinctly remember wearing out the cassette reels of Van Halen’s 1984 … in 1984. It was either that or the Neil Diamond classic Hot August Night sent to me accidentally by Columbia House. I’m starting to realize how old I am.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention ALL of the local bands that are currently killing it with their new records, so I won’t mention any of them. As far as mainstream music, this is the part where the old man in me wants to scream that music sucks today, and ask why Foghat isn’t releasing new music … but I can’t. There’s a bunch of bands on smaller festival circuits that just kill it. A favorite of our band is the Scott Pemberton Band out of Oregon. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is a band worth checking out. Check out bands like Wax Fang, The Struts, The Suitcase Junket, and Twiddle. But I also dig the classics: The new records by Face to Face and Bad Religion are pretty, pretty, pretty good.

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

I try not to hate on genres of music, because people think I’m nuts for watching back-to-back Dead and Company shows and hoping they play the 25 minute version of “Sugaree,” But, if pressed, I would have to say current, popular hip hop escapes me. Growing up and watching hip hop explode in the early ’90s and throughout that decade just ruins anything released today. Wu-Tang Clan forever!

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

I missed seeing Grateful Dead with Jerry Garcia before he passed, and certain early ’90s alternative rock pioneers were also missed (Kurt Cobain, Andy Wood). I was lucky enough to see Chris Cornell, Rage Against the Machine, Tool and others during their peak. Maybe the Beach Boys without John Stamos? One can dream.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I grew up on musicals, but I don’t find any guilt in that. Have you ever heard me and my friends singing in unison to Jesus Christ Superstar? You should.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I just got back from The Gorge in Washington for those Dead and Company shows. It’s gonna be hard to top that. Smaller venues where I have seen certain bands will always hold a special place in my heart (like The Palladium in Hollywood). Oh, and Schmidy’s. I miss Schmidy’s!

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

There’s so much more (good and bad) going on in my head, song lyrics are the least of my worries.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Pearl Jam has been a constant influence in my life, from early high school to present day. The Grateful Dead holds a piece of my heart for personal reasons beyond explanation. Growing up listening to the Outlaws of Country (Willie, Waylon, etc.) always makes me think of my parents and my awesome childhood. (We had a jukebox, for crying out loud.)

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

I’d ask Eddie Vedder where he gets his Polaroid film and typewriter ribbons. That’s me subtly mentioning I have Polaroid cameras and typewriters …

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I’m gonna live forever. But if I die, please play “The Long Road” by Pearl Jam, and get drunk, cry and tell exaggerated stories of my conquered loves and mountains.

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

Pearl Jam, Ten. Changed my life. 13 years old to current age. Hands down.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

This is gonna sound like pandering, but it’s not. You want a new favorite song? Pick a night, and go to any of the local music venues around, and listen to the unbelievable talent we are blessed to have right now. Then pick a song. It’s literally that easy. But … Captain Ghost’s “Poison Skies” is a song people need to listen to. (Scroll down to hear it!)

July and August are the slowest months for entertainment in the Coachella Valley, with multiple venues on hiatus—but the casinos and Pappy and Harriet’s are still offering plenty of great events.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a fabulous Independence Day week slate. At 9 p.m., Wednesday, July 3, enjoy a free Independence Day Fireworks Show. The fireworks will be blasting off from the Eagle Falls Golf Course, and The Eagle 106.9 will be playing some great songs to accompany them. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 5, enjoy the rocking flute-driven tunes of Jethro Tull. The band has extended its 50th Anniversary Tour, and considering the band rivaled the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Elton John in its early years, you won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $59 to $129. Later in the month, at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 27, Mexican singer-songwriter Gerardo Ortiz will return to Fantasy Springs. The 29-year-old was actually born in Pasadena, and he has two Grammy Award nominations to his credit. Tickets are $39 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage is offering a busy July calendar. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 13, Hotel California: A Salute to The Eagles will take the stage. Hotel California is an Eagles tribute band that has been performing for 30 years and is known for masterfully replicating the sounds of the Eagles songs you love. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 19, check out The Ultimate E.L.O. Experience: A New World Record. This is an Electric Light Orchestra tribute, including the lights and all of the string arrangements. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 26, enjoy ’80s R&B and pop at the Freestyle Jam, featuring Stevie B, Trinere, Nu Shooz, Debbie Deb and Connie. These were some of the biggest names in ’80s pop and are often sampled or remixed in today’s digital era. Tickets are $40 to $60. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is hosting a couple of hot July events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 20, the Spanish Comedy Slam will take place. The show will feature performances from Alex Reymundo, who recently had his own Comedy Central special; Luz Pazos, a former beauty queen from Peru who has performed at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles and appeared on PBS’ First Nations Comedy Experience; Rene Garcia, who has performed with Tommy Davidson, Ron White and Bill Bellamy; Carlos Rodriguez, a Sacramento native who has been voted the Best Comic by the Sacramento News & Review; and Anthony K, another Sacramento resident who has a one-hour special available on Spotify and Google Play. Tickets are $20 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 27, go back four decades during the ’70s Soul Jam, featuring performances by Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes and The Stylistics, as well as Mr. Dyn-o-Mite himself, Jimmie “JJ” Walker. Tickets are $39 to $59. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is hosting some great July events. At 9 p.m., Saturday, July 6, country star Lee Greenwood will be appearing. One of his biggest hits is his 1984 song “God Bless the U.S.A.” In fact, a lot of his material is ’Merica themed, to give you those July 4th feels. Tickets are $29 to $39. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 12, Chicano rock-band Los Lonely Boys (upper right) will be performing. The South Texas trio was a staple of contemporary radio in the mid-2000s with “Heaven” and “More Than Love.” Tickets are $55 to $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s has a packed schedule; here are a just a few shows you may want to consider. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 5, Welsh musician and producer Cate Le Bon will be performing. Le Bon has toured with acts such as St. Vincent, Perfume Genius and John Grant—if that says something in regard to her talents. While she has a rock sound, she also goes into folk and pop territory. Tickets are $18. At 9 p.m., Saturday, July 20, up-and-coming country performer Gethen Jenkins will take the stage. Jenkins’ bio reads like a character out of a bad ass adventure novel—born in the West Virginia, raised in a rural Indian village in Alaska, a stint in the U.S. Marines, etc. He’s performed with the Marshall Tucker Band, Wanda Jackson and others. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Wednesday, July 31, on the eve of what will be the 15th and final Campout, Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery will be performing solo; Peter Case will also take the stage. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

When I talked to the members of Drop Mob about 2 1/2 years ago, they were working on a new album and playing shows regularly.

Then … it seemed as if the locally renowned rap-metal band dropped out of the scene. But in June, the band posted a video on Facebook showing a practice—and announcing Drop Mob’s return.

I recently dropped in during one of Drop Mob’s rehearsals at guitarist David Burk’s home in Indio. Burk explained why Drop Mob had been inactive.

“You need to take a break sometimes,” Burk said. “I needed to take care of some personal stuff. But I kept in touch with everybody. I never let anybody not know my intentions, but I knew I had to step away and get some personal things back in order.”

Vocalist Gabe Perez said that he and bassist Steve Zepeda came back hungry, but there was one issue the band needed to resolve.

“Dave called me up one day and said, ‘Hey, let’s play. Oh, we need a drummer, though,’” Perez said.

Perez reached out to former Remnants of Man drummer Alex Milward, who had also been absent from the local-music scene.

“I dropped Alex a message and was like, ‘Hey, man, you playing again? Want to come jam with us? If you like it, that’s cool. If you don’t like it, that’s cool. We’ll see what happens,’” Perez said. “He came and jammed with us twice and said, ‘I’m in.’”

Milward said he was hesitant to respond to Perez’s offer at first.

“After Remnants split up, my drum kit went into storage, and it stayed there,” Milward said. “I had just pulled it out and got it set up to start working on my chops again. But I told Gabe, ‘Have Dave send me three tracks … and just his guitar parts.’ Four weeks later, we have five songs that we can rehearse today, and five more on the backlog just waiting to be learned. In about a week, I had a full set list worth of music to start learning.”

Burk expressed excitement about having Burk join the band.

“I knew this was going to be a game-changer,” Burk said. “I knew he was a technical drummer. I knew that I could throw shit at him, and he’d put it together. I’m pretty stoked, because I know I can push my horizons now. And he comes from a big fucking band. They were going to be the next big thing.”

Perez, who comes from a hip-hop background, said he’s needed to start working harder since the band got back together.

“The second practice, they were talking and were like, ‘It’s in 4/4,’ and to me—I’m the least of the musicians here,” Perez said. “It’s like they’re speaking fucking Japanese, and I don’t know what they are talking about. But they tell me about breakdowns and stuff, and I’m like, ‘OK, cool, now I know what you’re talking about.’ They all push each other and then look at me, and then I push myself, and we start coming up with ideas.

“What I’m dropping is still hip-hop and metal mixed. It’s not traditional rap, and it’s not screaming rap. They push me to adjust myself, and my songwriting is getting better and better every time.”

Drop Mob is planning to pick up where they left off—including making that long-delayed album.

“Now that we’ve got Alex, the plan is to speed that process up ten-fold,” Burk said. “We haven’t all spoken about it, but financially, I’m in a better position right now to where I want to do it right. I want to go somewhere where money isn’t going to be so much of an object and just nail out the songs and kill it. It’s hard when you only have a little bit of money, and you’re doing this and that, and going here and there. It’s like trying to put a puzzle together when you don’t have all the pieces, and money is the final fucking piece in everything. I think it’s important to have a good product.”

The members of Drop Mob said they’re open to even more additions to the band.

“I think it’s important to have some different flavors and dynamics,” Burk said. “I want things to be heavy and melodic. It’s a little hard on the big guy (Perez) over here. I’d love to find a female vocalist. To me, it’s a big deal as to how it looks on the band, because I’ve felt like we’ve always been an underdog band.”

Burk then pointed to the band’s CV Music Award.

“For Christ’s sake, we’re ‘Drop Mop’ over there!” he said. “It’s hilarious, but at the same time, we won that.”

Perez hopes that whoever they get will make Drop Mob sound like something no one has ever heard before.

“We’d like to get someone who can also write and somebody where if we hear them sing, we go, ‘Dude, I know I’ll be able to collaborate,’” Perez said. “That’s the biggest thing: I want to be able to collaborate and do something that doesn’t sound like Linkin Park, given we’re doing our own metal. I don’t call it nu-metal anymore; I call it ‘hip-rock.’”

For more information on Drop Mob, visit www.facebook.com/dropmob760.

Mary Bridget Davies nabbed the lead role in a 2005 touring production of the Janis Joplin musical Love, Janis—and that would eventually help lead her to Broadway, and a 2014 Tony Award nomination when she once again played Joplin in A Night With Janis Joplin.

She has also toured Europe with Janis Joplin’s band, Big Brother and the Holding Company. While it’s possible some Joplin music will make its way into the show, expect to hear hits from the ’80s when she joins her high school friend Ryan Sudick for Shady in the 80’s at the Copa on Saturday, July 6.

During a recent phone interview, the Cleveland native said she still lives in the area—specifically in the hip neighborhood known as Lakewood.

“Everybody has to live in Lakewood; I think it’s right of passage,” Davies said. “As a rule, everyone in the Cleveland area in their early 20s has to live there. When I was on Broadway, people would ask me, ‘Oh, you’re from Cleveland?’ I’m a ‘west sider,’ which is rare. It was either Lakewood or the east side of Cleveland.”

Davies’ parents introduced her to Joplin’s music. She explained how she learned she was able to sing like the legendary singer, who died in 1970 at the age of 27.

“It was surreal,” Davies said. “It was my parents’ music, so it was on by default throughout my entire childhood. I dressed up as Janis Joplin for Halloween … and everyone thought I was Elton John. It was the ’90s, and no one really knew (who she was). People were seriously like, ‘What is this? Is this like Elton John?’ and I was like, ‘No! It’s Janis Joplin, man!’ … Ugh! I felt so stupid. … It’s not my actual singing voice; my actual singing voice is much smoother, but I can get that gravel and huskiness in my voice. I remember singing along to it with my mom. What an odd gift to have. I never thought I’d use that in my life—and it got me to Broadway. It’s pretty amazing.”

A Night With Janis is Davies’ only Broadway show to date—but Davies said she hopes that changes soon.

“I grew up theatrically trained, a competitive dancer, and on the whole American Idol track of ‘WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE IN SHOWBIZ!’” she said. “I knew I was going to Broadway, because I was an arrogant 15-year-old who thought I knew everything at that age. … A Night With Janis Joplin is my only Broadway credit so far, but I’m digging in. I was just in New York doing some business meetings, because we’re going to tour the show again, but I love it on Broadway, and I would die to be in a different show, expand and show off these other gifts.”

Davies said touring with Joplin’s old band was a surreal experience.

“I was 26 years old and playing with Big Brother and the Holding Company at the New Morning club in Paris and going to the top of the Eiffel Tower the next day. I couldn’t have been luckier,” she said. “I’m very grateful for these opportunities, and there is no way I would have gotten to do them on my own. I had my own band, and still do this to day. But I got to see a lot of life and culture because of them and because of Janis. So I lucked out.”

Given all of her Janis Joplin cred … why is she doing an ’80s show in Palm Springs?

“It’s my childhood soundtrack. It’s nostalgic, but it’s still so good,” she said. “It’s very good material, and we’ve played it before. Ryan (Sudick) just moved out there a few years ago, and this is like our memories growing up as kids. Everyone wants to see something come back. Everything comes around again every 25 to 30 years.

“It’s just a good time. When we do our shows, it’s not, ‘Hey, look how good we are!’ It’s, ‘Hey, how good are you feeling?’ I want to make everyone happy. We don’t just do carbon-copy versions of the songs; we put our own little spin on them. We demo-ed a little bit of it at a private house party in Palm Springs back in January, and everyone ate it up. We thought we should share it with everyone, so that’s what we’re doing.”

The heat during the post-Fourth of July weekend doesn’t worry her at all, Davies said.

“For everyone who doesn’t leave for Fourth of July weekend: What are you doing on Saturday night? Come to the Copa! Eat at Tropicale, and then come on over.”

Mary Bridget Davies and Ryan Sudick will perform Shady in the 80’s at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 6, at the Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $15 to $35. For more information, call 760-866-0021, or visit the event page on Facebook.

When Guster went to Calgary to record the band’s new album, Look Alive, producer Leo Abrahams made it very clear: “The world doesn’t need another fucking Beatles pastiche!”

Guster, known for quirky folk rock and pop songs, has constantly evolved since the band started in 1991—now fusing colder sounds with the usual warmer sounds. Look Alive is by far Guster’s most bizarre and darkest album so far—and it’s brilliant.

For the first time, Guster will be appearing at Pappy and Harriet’s, on Saturday, July 13.

During an interview with frontman Ryan Miller, he agreed that Look Alive is the band’s most distinct album to date.

“I think if you saw us back in the ’90s or when we opened for Barenaked Ladies, and you’re just sort of plugging back in, it’s a pretty massive shift,” Miller said. “But I think every record is a different approach. This is the eighth record for us, and I don’t think we approached any of those records the same way. They were all super-informed by songwriting situations, instrumentation, and a lot by our producers. This one was really different; all of them have been different. But this one feels like more of a definitive statement.”

Miller said Abrahams was an appealing choice to produce the album for a number of reasons.

“We talked to a few different producers before we started it, and he said something pretty interesting about how all of our records have a warm vintage feel, and that we were super-cool Paul McCartney kind of dudes, and that we love The Band and The Kinks,” he said. “But he said, ‘I’m more interested in cold and icy sounds.’ I think that was really intriguing to us. It’s not like we wanted to chase the zeitgeist or be like, ‘This is the hit sounds that the kids are listening to!’ We’re very avid listeners and consumers of music, too. I listened to a James Blake record and was like, ‘Whoa, what is this?’ I think there was a purposeful idea of how we would approach this, and we gelled really quick with Leo.”

When the recording sessions began, they had to venture to Canada in the middle of winter.

“We were booked at a studio in El Paso, Texas, called the Sonic Ranch. Leo is from England. About two weeks before, he said, ‘I’m having trouble finding my visa, you guys.’ So we had to scramble and go to Canada. … We did a few weeks in Calgary and a week in Montreal. Then the visa issue was sorted out, and we did about a week in New York, and we also did a week in Los Angeles.”

Guster was once known for a sound with just two guitars and bongo drums. Miller said he is happy with how the band has evolved over the years.

“When I play the new stuff, it’s the most fun for me when we’re out on tour. But we just did this NPR show, and we really stripped it back to two acoustic guitars and a drum kit. We can present ourselves that way still, but I think we tire of those textures and rhythms over the course of a set. It’s really hard to be dynamic that way. I’ve seen few shows where it’s just dudes with acoustic guitars, and it feels compelling. Neil Young might be the exception. I think at this point in our career, the reason that we’re still able to keep going is because we keep it challenging and changing it for ourselves. I don’t think we’d still be a band after 26-plus years if we would have stayed in the same lane.”

Miller shared an amusing story from the band’s touring experiences in the ’90s.

“There was an infamous show at a very corporate festival that was put together … like it was done by someone who has never put on a concert before—like, ‘Let’s get the biggest names in music and put them on a festival together,’” Miller said. “It was us, The Tragically Hip, Barenaked Ladies, Limp Bizkit, and probably Metallica or something. It was sponsored by Oldsmobile. There was this huge Oldsmobile banner behind us, and they were showing commercials. I was freaking out, given I was in my 20s and was like, ‘I don’t know, man. This doesn’t feel right.’ Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip was there, and we were on the same label, and I told him about how I didn’t feel right about it and asked him what I should do. He said, ‘Speak your heart, Ryan.’ I said something into the microphone and got in a trouble with the people who were supposed to pay us, and it was documented in papers like the Chicago Tribune. That was some real low-hanging fruit for sure.”

Miller said the band’s popularity has led to some odd tour pairings.

“We opened up for Widespread Panic for an entire tour, and it was our first national tour. It was a disaster! Their fans hated our guts,” Miller said. “They hated us so much that they wouldn’t even go into the building. We’d finish playing, and 20,000 people would stream in. We were the go-to college band, and colleges would be like, ‘We’re going to do Guster for these guys, but we’re also going to do hip hop.’ We opened for Nelly, and we opened for Kanye West. There was no overlap between fan bases. I can’t believe we opened for Kanye; that’s crazy, in retrospect.”

Miller said one of his favorite things to do while on tour is check out the Atlas Obscura website for odd things to see in each place—and, of course, Pappy and Harriet’s is listed.

“I celebrated my 40th birthday there,” Miller said. “I took a few friends of mine from Los Angeles, and that was our first stop. I have crazy stories from that weekend. (Performing there) has been on the bucket list for a long time. It just ended up being part of a weirdo West Coast run that we’ve had in our dreams for a while.”

Guster will perform with Kolars at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 13, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $31. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Chris Shiflett’s new album, Hard Lessons, proves that he’s onto something with his high-energy, kick-ass rock-country sound.

After touring with the Foo Fighters behind the band’s 2017 release, Concrete and Gold, Shiflett released Hard Lessons in June and announced a four-date record-release tour—and one of those dates is Friday, July 12, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

During a recent phone interview before he was scheduled to go back to Europe with the Foo Fighters, Shiflett discussed how Hard Lessons was recorded in Nashville during a hectic time.

“I made this record in the middle of a Foo Fighters tour schedule,” Shiflett said. “We toured behind Concrete and Gold for about a year and a half, and in the middle of all that, if we had a week or two off, I’d head out to Nashville. It was kind of nuts.”

Shiflett said that he enjoys heading into the studio, even in the middle of a tour.

“When I go out to Nashville to record, I tend to feel pretty single-minded about it. I jump in the studio, and I’ll be in the studio all week,” he said. “… If I’m not in the studio, I’m back where I’m staying, making little tweaks on the lyrics or working out the guitar parts.

“If I had been home during that time—home is very busy. I’m married, and I have three kids. My kids are either teenagers or about to be teenagers, so life is very busy at home. Touring and going to record records is almost a more-relaxed environment for me nowadays.”

In the past, his solo records have offered more of an Americana or Bakersfield sound, but Hard Lessons is a Telecaster-plugged-into-a-Marshall-JCM800 blast of country-rock from beginning to end.

“It’s definitely a louder record than the last one, that’s for sure,” he said. “I think on one hand, that was certainly the influence of (producer) Dave Cobb, and he was pushing me in that direction. It also lends itself to having more fun when I go out and play these songs live. It works a little better in that environment, at least for me.”

While many country music fans are at odds with Nashville’s powerful grip on mainstream country music, Shiflett he respects the people working behind the scenes.

“(East Beach Records and Tapes) put out my record, and they are based out of Nashville, and they are wonderful. As far as the mainstream Nashville stuff goes, I have no experience in that scene,” Shiflett said. “I’ve never been in a band that sounds like that, and I don’t exist within that. I have a lot of friends out there who work in that world in one capacity or another. I find that a lot of the people who work behind the scenes and the studio musicians have deep musical taste. They’re cool and hard-working musicians just trying to get by. I have a lot of respect for people just trying to make a living through their craft, because it’s not easy.”

The Foo Fighters announced a hiatus in 2016—and it turned out to be a joke. In fact, the band has been busier than ever.

“We wrapped up touring for the last record in the fall. This year was intended to be a bit of a break, and it is by Foo Fighters standards, but we’re still doing shows,” Shiflett said. “We’re leaving to Europe to do some festivals, and then we’re going back over there in August to do a bunch more festivals. It’s not crazy busy, but we’re still playing.”

When I brought up the subject of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes—a supergroup Shiflett played in with Spike Slawson of Swingin’ Utters, Joey Cape and Dave Raun of Lagwagon, and Fat Mike of NOFX—he explained he was no longer involved.

“For a really long time, it was always the same five of us when it came time to record,” he said. “But Spike and his wife, who have both taken over the band, decided to start releasing music that I wasn’t on. That was a line in the sand for me. … It was always important to me that it stayed as the original five on the recordings, and that went out the window. That’s the end of my involvement in that.”

Shiflett said he’s happy to be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s for one of his four summer shows.

“I’m viewing these dates as my record-release shows,” he said. “We haven’t officially announced them yet, but I’ll have more shows coming up. Touring is always tough, because it’s the most time-consuming part of what we do. Time is the thing I have the least amount of to spare. Pappy and Harriet’s is one of my favorite venues in the whole world. The shows there are always great.”

Chris Shiflett will perform with Jade Jackson at 9 p.m., Friday, July 12, 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 pappyandharriets.com.

After a hiatus from the local music scene, Empty Seat is back. Fronted by Red, a powerful female vocalist, the band melds alternative rock and punk. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/EmptySeatband. The guitarist, Anthony Ferrer, was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Incubus, right before they released “Pardon Me.” The lead singer, Brandon Boyd, sold me his own merch at the time. I could tell they were gonna get big.

What was the first album you owned?

Pearl Jam, Ten.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Mona, Le Butcherettes, Radiohead, Ramones, David Bowie, Foo Fighters, The Cure, Jimi Hendrix, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kings of Leon, The Strokes, and The Dead Weather.

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

Billie Eilish. She’s labeled as a singer-songwriter?

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

The Doors with Jim Morrison (RIP) and Ray Manzarek (RIP). I saw Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger play a concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of L.A. Woman. They played the entire album. It was great!

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Jewel.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Hood Bar and Pizza.

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

“I’ve got another confession to make. I’m your fool,” Foo Fighters, “Best of You.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Jim Morrison and The Doors. I found out through their music that music is art; it’s poetry; it’s a live unexpected experience that is much like life. With my music, I stand behind the vision to be different, be original and deliver it to the people as a gift. It’s not mine anymore after I play it. It is for the people to enjoy. Bob Marley and the Wailers are a huge inspiration, too.

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

Jimmy Page: “What is … the amp that you most favor when jamming at home, and can you describe what it is that makes it so?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Echoes,” Pink Floyd.

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

Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Empty Seat, “Fizz Pop.” (Scroll down to hear it!)

What do you get when you take ’50s-style rock ’n’ roll and meld it with folk-music songwriting?

The answer: You get Don McLean.

The man—best known, of course, for his wildly successful 1971 single “American Pie”—last year released his first new studio album in nine years, Botanical Gardens. McLean will be stopping by Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Saturday, July 13.

McLean—a Palm Desert resident—has called Botanical Gardens his “most reflective” album, saying the title uses gardens as a metaphor for heaven, in the context of life and death. During a recent phone interview, McLean said Botanical Gardens may be his final original album.

“I may do one more, but I don’t know,” McLean said. “I’m at the end of the road as far as writing and recording. I think I have fairly interesting songwriting ideas that other people can use.”

The material on Botanical Gardens is beautiful, and it doesn’t stray too far from his past recordings.

“I don’t really pay attention to what the times are like—and that’s part of my problem,” McLean said. “I’m sort of an unreconstructed ’50s man. I live in my own world and try to tell the truth, but also try to realize what people are going through. I keep one eye on where people are at, but most of the time, I invent song ideas that I think are wonderful. I have fun trying to make those things happen. What I do is I fuse old-fashioned popular music and rock ’n’ roll, like Elvis Presley and Gene Vincent, and folk music. I try to find a feeling that I want to get, an emotion of some sort, and then I try to get it so when I hear a song, the emotion comes back to me.”

McLean returned to Nashville to record Botanical Gardens.

“I started (recording in Nashville) in 1978, and I immediately had hit records,” McLean said. “I worked with a guy named Larry Butler, and he was brilliant. Unfortunately, he passed away. I didn’t want to go to Nashville, because I was more into Los Angeles or New York, where there was a whole different music scene. The Nashville thing seemed to be pretty cookie-cutter, and I didn’t want that sound. What I found when I got there was they were all so happy to do new things—anything but country. They were just excited about doing Chain Lightning,” McLean’s 1978 album.

“In the studios (in Nashville), I have it together. Everyone knows what’s going on, and they’re swinging with it. In New York, they have a lot of attitude, and the studio musicians have their heads up their asses sometimes thinking they know everything. But these guys in Nashville do know everything and act as if they heard this idea for the first time when you tell them. I ended up recording there for the past 35 years, and it had everything I wanted.”

At a benefit show in 2018 for UCLA Health and Teen Cancer America, McLean performed a cover of his hit song “Vincent” with Ed Sheeran.

“(Ed) is really a remarkable fellow, because he seems impervious to his success, his ego and the pressures that are all around him; he’s like a Cheshire cat,” McLean said. “He’s very mellow and asked me if we could do this. It took two seconds of rehearsal and worked out perfectly. He’s done it his own way, and I applaud him.”

“American Pie” has been covered and parodied many, many times. However, McLean said one of his favorite covers of his music was actually of “The Grave,” done by another legendary artist back in 2003.

“I want songs to be useful for people. That’s the folk side of things. ‘American Pie’ has had so many brilliant parodies, and it’s unbelievable,” McLean said. “I sit there and read these things, (wondering) how people make these things up; it’s terrific! I’m always interested in hearing those. I think one of my proudest moments was when George Michael did ‘The Grave’ to protest the war in Iraq, because no one else had the balls to stand up and say, ‘No! This is wrong!’ But he did, and he sang that song. I was so proud of him and the fact he used my song.”

While McLean is at an age when many people are pondering retirement, he said he still loves the thrill of a tour, even if his show at Fantasy Springs is just a short drive from home.

“I love to get set for the next gig, the next plane flight, and I don’t do well sitting around for too long,” he said. “I get too antsy. For me to do what I did as a kid—playing for a whole week in a nightclub—I think I’d have to hang myself, and I couldn’t do it now. I can’t go to the same place every night and do it again. But I can say that I’m in very good shape; I have a great band; and we’re going to kick some ass.”

Don McLean will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 13, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $29 to $59. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

It’s been a long and winding road for the YIP YOPS, a band many touted as the Next Big Thing to come out of the Coachella Valley.

It all started when the members of the band were still in high school, and the band won a spot to play at the 2014 Tachevah Block Party in Palm Springs. The band then signed a contract with a management group that later fell apart; recorded an album with famed local producer Ronnie King that the band members went on to disavow; and crossed playing Coachella off their bucket lists in 2017.

However, as the summer of 2019 arrives, the community has not heard much from the YIP YOPS as of late, with no new releases and few local shows.

However, never fear: The YIP YOPS are alive and well … albeit at half their former size: The band recently announced both keyboardist/guitarist Mari Brossfield and bassist Jacob Gutierrez had left the band, after completing a Monday night residency at The Echo in Los Angeles. The two remaining members, frontman Ison Van Winkle and drummer Ross Murakami, recently sat down with the Independent in Indian Wells, where Van Winkle filled us in on what was going on.

“We’re writing, recording and trying to develop ourselves more and more,” Van Winkle said. “We obviously had some great milestones over the past couple of years that we hit and we’re proud of, but the goal is still the same: Play bigger shows, and run with bigger artists. I feel like we have a certain head-down-and-work mentality.”

Murakami added that the band has been working hard to expand its name beyond the Coachella Valley.

“The writing has always been constant,” Murakami said. “… I don’t know how it’s possible with all the things going on, whether it’s touring or music videos and all these other things we need to work on. The ideas are still being fleshed out and written, and new music is always there, and it’s building up behind us. The main thing we’ve been doing specifically for the past couple of years or so has been creating a buzz in other markets. That’s been the focus point. We have pretty big goals in mind, and they are not going to be achieved by sticking around in one market. Expansion is always on our minds.”

Mari Brossfield and Jacob Gutierrez played their last show with the YIP YOPS at The Satellite in Los Angeles back in December.

“Basically, the next day, we started this next phase where we started reworking everything,” Murakami said. “Every song that we play live is now reworked and revamped to fit a duo. We decided that playing as a duo was the best way to move forward. We’re both really excited about it.”

Van Winkle said the material will probably not sound very different.

“We’re still playing the same songs in the same structure with the same lyrics,” Van Winkle said. “I think that the songs, because I’ve written all the ones we play—they all come from the same place. In that respect, I wouldn’t say it’s changed as much as it’s evolved.”

Brossfield and Gutierrez left the band to focus on their college educations; Murakami said he and Van Winkle supported them in making that decision.

“We’re still great friends,” Murakami said. “It has nothing to do with anything other than where your hearts are at. Our hearts are in the music, and it just has to be that way. But I think anytime someone makes a decision to move toward something that will make them happier in what they are doing, they should absolutely do it. That’s what that was.

“Since then, I feel like the band has really shifted to where it hasn’t ever felt as good as it feels now.”

Despite all the highs and lows, Van Winkle said there’s nothing they would have done differently.

“It’s so easy to look back on it and think, ‘Oh, we could have done that,’ or some shit like that,” Van Winkle said. “I always think if it got us to this point, I don’t see the need to change much. Going through all these experiences is what got us to this point. Going through the good times and the not-so-good times is what shaped us. If we didn’t have those experiences, we wouldn’t see it the same way as we do now.”

When I first met the YIP YOPS back in 2014 at Ison Van Winkle’s house, he showed me material that he had recorded on his computer. His father, Tony, told me Ison could sit there all night long working on material.

“That hasn’t changed,” Murakami said with a laugh. “He’s still doing that.”

Van Winkle explained: “To me, it’s like a first love. You’re almost obsessed with it, and you’re so attached to it. I can’t imagine not doing it.”

When you look at the social media accounts for the band, it appears that Van Winkle is aspiring to become some sort of fashion icon; his wardrobe looks like a mixture of the clothes from any recent Gucci runway show and a ’70s thrift-store rocker. It’s a long way from the early days when the entire band would wear hazmat suits and sunglasses onstage.

“I like to wear certain things, and if I like a certain thing, I’ll wear it,” Van Winkle explained. “It’s not a master plan or anything; it just happens. Some days are better than others, and we try to keep Instagram (posts) to the better days of fashion and try to hide the bad decisions.”

What can we expect from the YIP YOPS near future?

“We’re hoping that we can get a show or two locally this year,” Van Winkle said. “We miss playing here, and the struggle has been finding the right venue to play at. Other than that, we’re going to continue to play shows in Los Angeles and Orange County, and we have a few festivals lined up in October and November. We’re taking advantage of those opportunities to do more touring and hook up with local bands.

“Musically, as we speak, we’re continuing to write and record. We’re ready to release, but we want to be smart about it and have enough (material) … so that we can build momentum. We have to think like that, because we’re doing it all ourselves. It’s literally just us, and that goes for recording, and I’ve been spending most of the past six months developing my skills to where we don’t have to go to a studio to record and can take the bedroom-pop approach. We can record as many songs as we can and do whatever we want—and make it sound just as good as in a studio. There’s so much freedom.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/yipyops.

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