CVIndependent

Tue09222020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

One of the most exciting shows I’ve ever seen was the Oh Sees concert in August of last year at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. The hour and a half spent in the mosh pit was one of the most frantic, fun and sweaty experiences of my life.

A little more than a year later, the band returned to Pappy and Harriet’s for another show … but as you probably guessed, COVID-19 forced this concert to be presented differently.

The Osees—the “h” and the space are on hiatus, in the latest name tweak by the band—recently announced a partnership with the Austin-based music festival Levitation to perform a multi-camera, full-length live show as part of Levitation’s new online concert series, known as the Levitation Sessions. The band recorded a full set of music at Pappy and Harriet’s, and the show will premiere at 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26; it will remain available for streaming through Oct. 8.

“Everybody is making do,” said Osees founder John Dwyer. “We’ve accepted that we’re not going to be playing any shows this year. I’m one of those people who refuses to cancel anything earlier than it needs to be canceled, but I’m also realistic. I’m not super-interested in playing socially distanced shows. I’d rather just wait it out, but obviously, a big part of our band is playing live.

“This is the first year in 24 years that I haven’t toured. Overall, it’s been a pretty wretched year worldwide. The only thing that anybody with a reasonable heart and mind has in common right now is that it’s been a trying year for everybody.”

Dwyer is known for his love of creating, and he’s already released several albums this year, including Protean Threat, the 23rd studio album by the Osees.

“We’re putting out so much this year that by the time we come back around to playing shows, people will be sick of us,” said Dwyer. “That being said, I’m happy to try to do some virtual stuff. We’ve done a handful of things already, and this one we just did at Pappy and Harriet’s will be one of the first ones—a little pay-per-view thing. The band needed to get paid after doing a bunch of free, charity-related stuff, so we gave it a try. The band jumped at the opportunity to get together, and we did four days of rehearsals beforehand to learn a bunch of new material. It almost felt like we were doing covers, because we’ve never played these songs before.

“We go way back with Levitation. We’ve been playing there for years through all our different variations and name changes. They’re cool and really square as far as treatment goes, which I really like. They offered us a deal with them to promote it and gave us a budget to shoot it. We jumped at it, because the band has mostly been just sitting around, but everyone is keeping themselves busy, taking on other projects or taking classes online. I’ve been insanely busy, but that’s just to keep the wolf from the door. Staying busy right now is the best way for me to deal with trying to not be depressed from the way things are.”

Rob Fitzpatrick, the co-founder of Levitation, explained how the new series of sessions came about.

“The idea was to figure out a way to salvage the album cycles for some bands on our label that we’ve been working with for many years,” Fitzpatrick said. “We also wanted to figure out a way to pivot as a business and a music community and still be able to create some commerce, which is needed for art. I started this very DIY and never had any support other than what we can dream up and sell. That’s really my approach with Levitation, and when we’ve had hard times before, it’s been about thinking how we can make it work and rethink it.

“I’ve seen other folks doing livestreams, and there’s definitely an element of artists performing in their pajamas—and through some friends, I heard that some of those were making some money. We’ve looked into doing proper livestreams for the festival, but we were always busy with the task of putting on the in-person event, and never really put much into it. A lot of the groundwork has been there for a long time, and my original background is in web developing, so I’ve been looking at how to do this in an interesting way from that perspective. That’s how we came up with the idea for limited-edition merchandise, which will benefit both us and the artist.”

Fitzpatrick and his team wanted to make sure that they were producing a quality show, so they decided to pre-record the sessions.

“As time has gone on, more and more artists are doing fuller productions for their pre-recorded stuff,” said Fitzpatrick. “Part of us wanting to do a pre-recorded show comes with the fact that the sound is incredibly important to the presentation. Doing livestreams with all these guitar pedals and stuff is pretty tricky. … We wanted to be able to invite bands from all over to do this, and some aren’t even able to be in the same room, so these really had to be pre-recorded. There’s also some creative opportunities. … You can take it a little further with some interesting intros and segues. We’re essentially commissioning a film from artists. … Some artists are filming in their practice space; some are filming outside, like the Osees are; someone’s working on doing one in an old church, and another one’s working on doing one on a mountain. My dream would be to develop this to have a budget to commission a band to do their own live show at Pompeii, and see what that would look like.”

Fitzpatrick promises that the Osees show will be nothing short of amazing.

“John is such a great dude, and he’s the biggest artist that we’ve done this with so far,” Fitzpatrick said. “For him to take a leap of faith with us is huge. It’s a big icebreaker for other conversations. Osees have been a pioneer for so many of our festivals and events that we’ve presented. It’s a very big deal to have Osees as part of this from all angles. I’m a big fan of the music and of the guy. John has never changed. He’s the same dude and has an insane work ethic. It’s a joy to work with someone like that.

“It’s such a special set that John and the band put together. He didn’t want to do something that wasn’t going to be unique.”

I was curious why Dwyer and the gang chose Pappy and Harriet’s as the venue.

“We love that joint,” Dwyer said. “We’ve played there a few times, and they’re always real cool with us. They’re like Levitation—the barbecue and venue version of the festival filled with people we’re familiar with and that we like working with. Also, for location, we figured we could shoot right out in the dirt in the parking lot with the sunset behind us, and we went from dusk ’til nighttime.

“When we got there, it was 107 degrees, and we set up a bunch of umbrellas over our gear. Right when we were ready to start sound-checking, the power went out. We had to hire a tow-behind generator off of some guy, and he drove the generator up to us. As soon as he got there, the power came back on, so it was just one of those classic interesting desert days. Nobody panicked when it happened; we thought, ’Well, fuck, the entirety of Yucca Valley is without power right now,’ and everyone else was drinking a beer in the shade, saying, ’Don’t worry; we got a guy.’ Pappy and Harriet’s is probably one of those spots that has a guy for everything.

“We hadn’t played in so long, so after we drove back to L.A. and unloaded everything, I felt like I had gone to a festival, gotten drunk, sobered up, played a set and everything—when really, I was just cooked from being in the heat all day. I slept like a baby that night.”

Osees fans will be interested to know that the show includes seven songs never before performed live, along with some live staples.

“I’m planning to do something else down the road with another set of songs that we haven’t played live,” Dwyer said. “I think that’s the key—to mix up the set with stuff people want to hear, stuff they’ve never heard, and stuff we’ve never done live. We have so much material that we’ve never done live, and I get emails from people complaining that we don’t play any old material, so I’ve been dipping back into the catalog and relearning songs that just didn’t work live. With this new band I have, they can play anything I throw at them, and everything we tried to play for this thing, we nailed.

“I get it if someone who’s familiar with us doesn’t want to pay to see this thing, but there’s material they’ve never seen live that may add some extra oomph to get them interested. The other thing that’s kind of nice about the virtual thing is that the ticket is only $4. And who knows? Maybe this thing will end up free at some point. YouTube is a pirate ship, and I’m up there playing whack-a-mole with people who’ve posted full albums of ours.”

To add to Dwyer’s already impressive 2020 discography, a new release by the Osees is set to debut Oct. 16. Metamorphosed contains some leftovers from the band’s 2019 album, Face Stabber.

“That album (Face Stabber) is just such a behemoth, and was too much to listen to for some people,” Dwyer said. “It was The Deer Hunter of records. There’s a lot of material that wasn’t throwaways, but just didn’t fit with the aesthetic of the record. I saved those for another EP, and it took a while to get enough material for it. Then we went down to play a festival in Hermosillo in Mexico, and part of the deal for playing the festival was that we’d get to spend a day at the beach and have a day of studio time there. We went in there and just jammed, and got two pretty great tracks. I brought them home to my studio and did vocals here. It’s three tracks from the Face Stabber session and two tracks from Mexico, broken down into a record. It was supposed to be an EP, but it turned into a 40-minute album. That’s just the way it goes with us; we have constant creation.”

The Osees: Levitation Sessions premieres at 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26, and will be available through Thursday, Oct. 8. Ticket prices vary, including various albums and merchandise, but start at $3.98 plus a fee of 80 cents. For tickets or more information, visit events.seated.com/live.

Published in Previews

Today is one of the biggest, craziest news days I have ever seen. Let’s get right to it:

The reverberations of the shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday in Kenosha, Wis., continue to intensify. First and most awful: A 17-year-old was arrested after allegedly shooting three people, two fatally, at a protest in Kenosha late last night.

• Buzzfeed is reporting that the alleged shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, was front and center in the crowd at a January Trump rally in January. “Kyle Howard Rittenhouse’s social media presence is filled with him posing with weapons, posting ‘Blue Lives Matter,’ and supporting Trump for president. Footage from the Des Moines, Iowa, rally on Jan. 30 shows Rittenhouse feet away from the president, in the front row, to the left of the podium. He posted a TikTok video from the event.”

• To protest the shooting of Blake, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to not take the court for Game 5 of their best-of-seven NBA playoff series against the Orlando Magic this afternoon—a moment unparalleled in modern sports history. Shortly thereafter, all of today’s NBA playoff games were postponed, as were all of today’s scheduled WNBA games. The players’ strike then spread to Major League Soccer as well as Major League Baseball, where several games—including the game involving the Milwaukee Brewers—have been called off in protest.

Jacob Blake’s family says he is paralyzed and dealing with serious internal injuries.

A professor of labor and employment relations from Penn State, writing for The Conversation, says police unions should not be considered part of the broader U.S. labor movement. Key quote: “Exclusively protecting the interests of their members, without consideration for other workers, also sets police unions apart from other labor groups. Yes, the first priority of any union is to fight for their members, but most other unions see that fight in the context of a larger movement that fights for all workers. Police unions do not see themselves as part of this movement. With one exception—the International Union of Police Associations, which represents just 2.7 percent of American police—law enforcement unions are not affiliated with the AFL-CIO, the U.S. labor body that unites all unions.”

• In other news: Hurricane Laura is approaching Texas and Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane, and more than a half-million people have been told to evacuate. It could be the most intense storm to hit that area in recorded history, and is drawing a lot of comparisons to Hurricane Katrina. “Some areas when they wake up Thursday morning, they’re not going to believe what happened,” Stacy Stewart, a senior hurricane specialist at the hurricane center, told NBC News. “What doesn’t get blown down by the wind could easily get knocked down by the rising ocean waters pushing well inland.”

• The CDC just issued new guidelines regarding COVID-19 testing that have left public-health experts around the country completely baffled: According to CNN: “The new guidelines raise the bar on who should get tested, advising that some people without symptoms probably don't need it—even if they've been in close contact with an infected person.” According to CNN, the Trump administration pressured the CDC to make the change. Unbelievable.

• Where was Dr. Anthony Fauci when these changes were being made? In surgery. Yes, really. According to Axios: “Anthony Fauci was in the operating room under general anesthesia last Thursday when the White House coronavirus task force approved the narrowing of CDC testing recommendations to exclude asymptomatic individuals, according to CNN's Sanjay Gupta.” Fauci also told Gupta he’s “concerned about the interpretation of these recommendations and worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact, it is."

• Heading in the opposite direction: Gov. Newsom today announced plans for the state to double its COVID-19 testing capacity, and reduce turn-around time. However, note the dates—this is not happening right away. The opening paragraph of the news release: “Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that California has signed a groundbreaking contract with a major diagnostics company, which will allow California to process up to an additional 150,000 COVID-19 diagnostic tests a day, with a contractual turnaround time of 24-48 hours. The goal is to stand up a laboratory facility and begin processing tens of thousands of additional tests by November 1 and run at full capacity by ­no later than March 1, 2021.”

• Given that March date above, this is related: The Conversation breaks down the reasons why it’s going to take quite a while to get vaccine produced at a large-enough scale. Key quote: “The shrinking and outsourcing of U.S. manufacturing capacity has reached into all sectors. Vaccines are no exception. … When a coronavirus vaccine is approved, production of other vaccines will need to continue as well. With the flu season each year and children being born every day, you can’t simply reallocate all existing vaccine manufacturing capacity to COVID-19 vaccine production. New additional capacity will be needed.”

The New York Times has started a college COVID-19 case tracker. The takeaway: “A New York Times survey of more than 1,500 American colleges and universities—including every four-year public institution, every private college that competes in NCAA sports and others that identified cases—has revealed at least 26,000 cases and 64 deaths since the pandemic began.”

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is working on a different vaccine, of sortsone that can be taken as a nasal spray.

You know all that furor you saw on social media regarding Melania Trump’s revamp of the White House Rose Garden? Well, it is all a bunch of inaccurate nonsense.

• Public health experts around the country are keeping their eyes out for possible coronavirus cases that spread at the massive Sturgis Motorcycle Rally a week and a half ago. According to The Associated Press: “An analysis of anonymous cell phone data from Camber Systems, a firm that aggregates cell phone activity for health researchers, found that 61 percent of all the counties in the U.S. have been visited by someone who attended Sturgis, creating a travel hub that was comparable to a major U.S. city.”

• Related: Genetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 reveals that the annual leadership meeting of drug-company Biogen, late in February in Boston, became a super-spreader event for the coronavirus. Key quote: “A sweeping study of nearly 800 coronavirus genomes … has found that viruses carrying the conference’s characteristic mutation infected hundreds of people in the Boston area, as well as victims from Alaska to Senegal to Luxembourg. As of mid-July, the variant had been found in about one-third of the cases sequenced in Massachusetts and 3 percent of all genomes studied thus far in the United States.”

• The business devastation as a result of the pandemic-caused economic shutdown is unparalleled, as revealed by a San Francisco Chamber of Commerce study showing that more than half of the storefronts in SF have closed since COVID-19 arrived.

• Related and local: Local restaurants continue to announce closures. Evzin Mediterranean Cuisine's owner announced on social media today that both locations will be no more after this weekend.

• From the Independent: Indie music venues across the country are asking Congress to offer them a lifeline—including the renowned Pappy and Harriet’s. Pappy’s owner Robyn Celia answered questions from the Independent about the effort—and how Pappy’s is surviving the shutdown.

• Also from the Independent, a little bit of positive news: The Palm Springs Cultural Center has big plans for the fall, even though the doors to the building will likely remain closed through at least the end of the year. A lot of events—including showings for the annual LGBT film fest Cinema Diverse—will take place around the Cultural Center’s new drive-in screen.

• Here’s this week’s District 4 COVID-19 report from the county. (District 4 is the Coachella Valley and points eastward.) Same as last week: Hospitalizations and cases are ticking down; the weekly positivity rate remains crazy high; I remain confused as to the methodology behind the positivity numbers.

• MedPage Today explains the reasons why scientists remain unsure about the efficacy of convalescent plasma, which received emergency-use authorization from the FDA in a somewhat controversial fashion. The main reason: The biggest study of the plasma so far “was observational only, with no untreated control group. That makes the findings merely hypothesis-generating, and can't offer any firm conclusions. That's fine for issuing an emergency use authorization (EUA), but not so much for making claims about survival benefit, independent researchers said.”

The San Jose Mercury News did an amazing story on Vacaville resident Chad Little. He lost his house to a fire in 2015—and decided he was not going to go through that experience again, so he stayed behind to fight the fire himself … and when the water went out, he turned to the wettest thing he could find to fight the blaze: A 30-pack of Bud Light.

If you’re someone who prays, please pray for coastal Texas and Louisiana, as well as for Jacob Blake. Stay safe, everyone—and thanks for reading the Independent.

Published in Daily Digest

To say that I miss live music is a gross understatement.

I write about music. I play music, with two bands and as a solo artist—and, of course, I enjoy going to concerts. One of the biggest parts of my life has been pretty much nonexistent for almost six months, and I’m hurting.

So, too, are the country’s music venues.

The Save Our Stages movement is an online petition by more than 2,000 independent venues—including Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace and The Alibi—calling for support from Congress. The movement is led by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), whose mission is to “preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States.” The goals are for Congress to provide long-term assistance to shuttered businesses, offer relief through tax credits, and continue unemployment-insurance benefits.

While the desert is home to a variety of music venues, none of them are more stored than Pappy and Harriet’s, a small and not-so-secret restaurant and live-music venue located in Pioneertown. What was once a cantina set on Pioneertown’s Western movie lot is now a mecca for music and mystique. Some of the biggest acts in music have played Pappy’s, including Paul McCartney, Leon Russell, Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys and many others.

I reached out to Robyn Celia, the owner/talent buyer at Pappy and Harriet’s, to talk about Pappy’s and the Save Our Stages movement. While Pappy’s is not currently hosting shows, the restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday for outdoor dining, takeout and delivery. She agreed to answer my questions via email rather than the telephone, due to a lack of cell service.

“We are hanging in there,” Celia said. “Very lucky that we have lots of outdoor seating. We put up shade covering and installed two mister systems in our beer garden and the outdoor show space.

“The future is unknown! We are taking it one day at a time.”

Gone for the time being is the revenue from live performances, which due to high demand are booked well in advance—and often sell out.

“We are now booking and rescheduling shows for 2021 and hoping for the best,” Celia said.

Bands and venues all over the U.S. have found innovative ways to continue offering some form of live music, including live streams and drive-in shows. Pappy and Harriet’s is tapping into this trend, recently launching Pappy and Harriet's: A Distanced Concert Series on YouTube, which features local bands performing at an empty Pappy’s.

“Mario Lalli, an amazing musician and lifelong local, wanted to help keep Pappy's name out there in the music community and help local artists keep their creative hearts beating,” Celia said about the YouTube series.

Celia and her team at Pappy and Harriet’s are doing their best to spread the word about the Save Our Stages movement.

“NIVA has been tireless in their approach to get Congress to see how important independent venues are to all of our lives,” she said. “We have been trying to help raise awareness through our social media.

While the future of live music is uncertain—there’s another gross understatement—Celia expressed hope that concerts, in some form, will return to Pioneertown soon.

“I think we are very open to seeing how we can host a very small show outside,” Celia said. “The safety of our staff and customers are more important than anything else, so it really is a day-by-day situation. We are all making the best of it up here and hoping for better days. Come out for lunch and dinner!”

For more information on Save Our Stages, visit saveourstages.com. For more information on Pappy and Harriet’s, visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

It’s hard to believe that about two weeks ago, I was at a Joshua Tree art opening, socializing and having a good time. Today, that night feels like it was months ago.

Like many of you, I have been isolating at home—here in Morongo Valley, in my case—and I have only ventured out to the mailbox and grocery store as of late. I’m seeking respite and human connection online via Facebook and through phone calls with family and friends.

Among my local acquaintances, I’ve noticed a lot of crankiness about out-of-towners in AirBnBs who are staying here to ride out the pandemic. There’s a real “don’t come here; go home” vibe, and a locals-only feeling within the high desert communities right now. While Joshua Tree National Park closed all roads to vehicles, bicyclists and hikers can still go in—yet I’ve seen online "reminders" to tourists that Joshua Tree park is CLOSED, so please stay away.

Otherwise, things up here seem similar to things in the Coachella Valley, based on what my friends and co-workers down there tell me. Last week, my husband, Shawn, went to Stater Bros., and while it wasn’t too crowded, the store was lacking in paper products, bread, cleaning supplies like bleach, and big bottles of ibuprofen. (He did score a small bottle—just in case.) Posted signs indicated a one-per-person allowance of rice, milk, what bread was left, tortillas and a few other things. A handful of shoppers wore masks, with one person carefully covered from head to toe—in sunglasses, a mask, gloves and long sleeves. All store employees were wearing gloves. Shawn carefully wiped down all our groceries when he got home.

Non-essential businesses are not open, of course—but auto-parts stores are deemed essential, and their busy parking lots reflect that folks are happy about this. Fast food drive throughs remain open, and there are lots of them along Highway 62. You can order a pizza to-go at Domino’s—but you don’t go inside; they slide it out the door to you.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has cancelled all shows through late April—but the legendary spot is offering takeout food four days a week. Tourist-trap eateries like the Joshua Tree Saloon are also offering takeout, as well as beer or wine to go. Joshua Tree’s popular Crossroads Café went further than most, offering free essential food packages on March 22 and 23 as a “way to give back to our loyal community.”

Meanwhile, I’ve been catching up on TV via our DVR. I tuned into an episode of Ancient Aliens on the History Channel from a couple of weeks ago. To my surprise, the show featured Landers’ giant rock and George Van Tassel’s Integratron, with some commentary from our own Ken Layne of Desert Oracle fame. Pretty cool.

Less cool: I also watched MSNBC’s On Assignment With Richard Engel: The Outbreak, which originally aired on March 8. It was a thorough, inside look on how the coronavirus started in China, covering what happened there before COVID-19 spread to other countries like Hong Kong and Singapore—and how their governments all fought to contain it. It was eye-opening and scary. I was glad I watched it, but I went to sleep disturbed and cranky.

The next morning, I woke up and dragged myself out of bed—it’s been like that a lot lately—to do my usual a.m. exercise-bike routine. As I climbed on my stationary bike and readied myself for a sweat, I looked outside—and saw a beautiful rainbow creeping up out of some dark storm clouds. During my workout, the rainbow slowly grew until it was full, and then stayed—in a brilliant blue sky—for more than half an hour. It helped remind me: It’s best to focus on the little things, breathe and stay in the present moment. It’s all we can really do right now.

Later that day, as I walked my dog to my mailbox, I ran into a new neighbor, out on our unpaved road. He had his truck and a shovel and was digging up and moving rock obstacles—to make driving easier for all of us.

That’s another comforting thing to remember: We are all in this together.

Oh, and to the dude out on the street in Yucca Valley selling “I SURVIVED CORONAVIRUS 2020” T-shirts … here’s to hoping we do, my friend.

Published in Features

Many musicians will tell you that music comes first—but for Mattson 2, family reigns supreme.

The Mattson 2 is identical twin brothers Jonathan and Jared Mattson, and they’re able to create soundscapes that sound like they’re coming from a larger group than a duo. With only a drum set and a guitar in tow, the two have been masterfully producing jazzy jams for more than a decade—and each track is packed with aesthetically pleasing grooves. Take a listen to tracks “Naima’s Dream” and “Black Rain.”

The Mattson 2 are set to perform at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, March 21. I recently spoke to them over the phone about the upcoming show, the art of improvisation and how they got their start.

“Our mom signed us up for after-school lessons in junior high, mainly to keep us out of trouble while she was at work,” Jared said. “We were the worst kids in the class, horrible at playing guitar, and the teacher really had no interest in us. His partner, however, was the sweetest and most soft-spoken guy, and a really good guitar player. We met him on the last day of class and ended up taking private lessons with him. Those guitar classes really got my dexterity and confidence up.”

Added Jonathan: “After two years of guitar, I wasn’t really vibing with it. One day, I was at my older brother’s house, and I messed around on his drum kit. I played a beat, and he said, ‘It took me a week to learn that; how’d you get that?’ That really boosted my confidence, so I began to save up money for a drum kit, and started making music almost immediately.”

Almost immediately is right: The brothers started up a band soon after getting their instruments.

“Right when I started playing drums is when we got into jazz music,” Jonathan said. “It was the first kind of music we played together, only after a year of me learning to play the drums. We had a few people join us, but they didn’t take it quite as seriously as we did, so we decided to make it work with just a duo.”

Take a gander at some of the Mattson 2’s live performances to see how Jared is able to create both guitar and bass sounds by using pedals.

“The transition is seamless once I saw what my friend Ray Barbee could do with a loop pedal,” Jared said. “It was mind-blowing to see how much music one person could make. I went and bought a loop pedal, and that was that. We were tired of people leaving the band, so it was kind of empowering to be able to do it on our own terms.”

A huge part of the duo’s live show includes improvisation. Every song sounds new when played live—and the brothers, not surprisingly, play well off each other.

“We’ve grown up our whole lives together, side by side,” Jonathan said. “There’s something very connected about that, and music is a part of that connection. We used to practice a lot, but after we got busier, we didn’t have time to rehearse anymore. Because we got so comfortable playing live shows, we got to a point where we didn’t need to rehearse that much, and added improvisation in. Because of our connection as twins and our shared musical dialogue, we don’t really need to rehearse.”

Added Jared: “Vini Reilly said there are three elements of music: physical, emotional and intellectual. Physical is what gets you moving; emotional is the sound that moves you; and the intellectual is the lyrics and theoretical things that are happening. I think the fourth layer is improvisation, and that kind of feeds into all three of those. What I love about improvisation is that it ties all those elements together.”

The group recently performed at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs as a part of Desert Daze Nights.

“Desert Daze Nights put on a great event, and there were some good people there to see us,” Jared said. “We’re super-tight will Phil (Pirrone, Desert Daze’s organizer), and we played one of the first years of the festival. It was a really cool way to kick off the tour.”

Speaking more on the desert, Jared added: “I don’t know anyone who’s not a fan of the desert scene, especially a place like Pappy and Harriet’s, with all its history. It’s such a magical place, and there are so many things interwoven there that make people love it. People from other countries don’t have a desert, so when they come here, they’re in total shock about how beautiful it is.”

One of the most notable releases by the Mattson 2 is the duo’s collaboration album with Chaz Bundick of Toro Y Moi, Star Stuff. Their groovy jazz jams get a psychedelic makeover, and the eight-song track list seems to end too soon on every listen.

“It was our first time working with a super-established producer and incredible musician,” Jonathan said. “We were friends before fans of each other. … We met, with neither one of us having heard each other’s music. I gave him our album, and he invited us to jam with him, and then I went out and bought one of his records.”

Added Jared: “Working with Chaz was like being in the kitchen, baking a cake with three people. Everyone has their own individual task, and we all work off each other and add stuff in. Pretty much everything we tried worked perfectly, and that had never happened before. … Our personalities worked well together, and everything was just super-easy. We actually had a recent jam with him and are still deciding what to do with some recordings we made.”

The Mattson 2 will perform at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, March 21, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

It’s March in the Coachella Valley—but the weather isn’t the only thing getting hotter. Check out some of the fiery entertainment coming to us this month.

The McCallum Theatre’s March schedule is packed. From Wednesday, March 4, through Sunday, March 8, you can catch Pink Martini, featuring singers China Forbes and Storm Large. The group's diverse catalog crosses multiple music genres—and there’s a reason why Pink Martini is one of the most popular acts ever to come to the McCallum. Tickets are $58 to $98. From Friday, March 13, through Sunday, March 15, witness Chicago The Musical. The longest-running Broadway musical ever is coming to Palm Desert for five performances only! Tickets are $65 to $125. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 18, all the way from the East Coast, it’s the New York Philharmonic String Quartet! Four musicians from the famous orchestra are coming to town for an evening of musical expertise. Tickets are $25 to $65. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 27, vocalist Steve Tyrell will take the McCallum stage. With a Grammy under his belt, and a catalog filled with new takes on classic songs, Tyrell should offer a night of vocal greatness. Tickets are $40 to $80. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs is featuring a diverse lineup that has something to please pretty much anyone. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 6, renowned comedian and ventriloquist Terry Fator returns to Indio. He won hearts on his victorious season of America’s Got Talent, and continues to make audiences laugh at his Las Vegas residencies. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 14, Latin superstar Pitbull will grace the stage. Go dance the night away to Grammy-winning radio hits from Mr. Worldwide. Dale! Tickets are $79 to $169. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 21, Daryl Hall and John Oates return. They’re the No. 1-selling music duo in history, and are behind some of your favorite hits, like “Maneater.” Tickets are $79 to $169. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 27, Chaka Khan will be in the house—and 1980s R&B never sounded so good! Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has a March filled with nostalgia. The Tribute Concert Series keeps on truckin’, as you can catch tributes to Queen, Bob Marley, ABBA and the Rolling Stones, Fridays at 8 p.m. All the shows are $10, and are the cheapest form of time travel currently on the market. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Agua Caliente is showcasing a few top events this month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 14, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are coming straight from the ’60s. Experience a great vocal group from the past that still packs a punch. Tickets are $95 to $125. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 28, boogie the night away at Saturday Night Dance Fever. Come enjoy performances from The Trammps featuring Earl Young, Rose Royce, Evelyn “Champagne” King and many other disco greats! Tickets are $60 to $185. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort has some enjoyable evenings in store in March for people who want to be entertained. At 9:30 p.m., Saturday, March 14, Flogging Molly is coming to Cabazon. Wanna learn what the words “Celtic'' and “punk” are doing next to each other? Well, go find out for yourself. Tickets are $69 to $79. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 20, entertainer extraordinaire Marlon Wayans will provide a comedy show for the ages. Go see the White Chicks actor live onstage! Tickets are $29 to $49. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 27, Rob Lowe brings his Stories I Only Tell My Friends tour to town. After 40 years in film and TV, the actor has a lot of stories to tell. Tickets are $59 to $79. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet's March schedule includes a lot of sold-out shows; here are a few shows you can still get into. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 20, local Latin-rock group Giselle Woo and the Night Owls will rock the Pioneertown stage. Catch Giselle and co. before Coachella crowds do in April—and the show is free! At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 28, Rose’s Pawn Shop and The Shadow Mountain Band will serve up a night of genre-bending rock tunes! This show is also free! Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Toucans is hosting two fantastic shows in March. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 7, Leslie Jordan (below) brings his Over EXPOSED show to town. The actor will provide a night of comedy and stories from his long career. Tickets are $35 to $45. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 20, Anne Steele brings her “Made Out of Stars” tour to Toucans. The singer/songwriter recently released a new EP, and is prepped for a night of music and fun! Tickets are $25. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; www.reactionshows.com.

The Purple Room continues to provide many great nights out on the town. From Thursday, March 19, through Saturday, March 21, catch the return of the marvelous Marilyn Maye. This musical treasure has still got it at the age of 91, and has been a performer since she was 9! Tickets are $70 to $90. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 28, Branden and James will return to the Purple Room. This time, catch the duo putting their classical spin on Lady Gaga’s songbook. Tickets are $40 to $45. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club is hosting myriad unique events. At 7 p.m., Thursday, March 12, it’s the return of Campfire Stories With Desert Oracle’s Ken Layne. Come and indulge yourself in the mystique of the desert at this free event. At 1 p.m., Sunday, March 22, experience the first Draught in the Desert beer festival. More than 30 craft breweries will be pouring for your drinking pleasure. Tickets are $55. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Date Shed will feature some local talent this month. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 13, local indie-rock group Blue Sun will be releasing its brand-new EP, Haunted Garden, with support from other great local acts like Milhan, Host Family and Shaman Rock. Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

You can also go support local music at The Alibi Palm Springs. At 6 p.m., Sunday, March 8, local psych/surf rock group The Flusters will perform, with opener 88 MPH. Let them entrance you with dreamy tunes all night long. The show is free! At 8 p.m., Friday, March 13, local indie duo YIP YOPS will make their hometown return. Go experience the group’s first show in the valley in months, with support from groups Gomi Neko and Israel’s Arcade. This show is also free! The Alibi Palm Springs, 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-656-1525; thealibipalmsprings.com.

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Take the best parts of gospel music; add some blues and soul; and tie it all together with a silky-smooth delivery—and you’ve got Son Little.

Aaron Livingston, aka Son Little, has been charming audiences for more than 15 years with soft jams that give listeners chills. Check out tracks “Lay Down” and “Neve’ Give Up” to hear what I mean.

Son Little is set to perform at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Saturday, Feb. 15, to a sold-out crowd. I spoke to Livingston over the phone about getting back on tour, and how he got his stage name.

“I had a neighbor who used to tell all of his friends that I was his kid, so people started calling me ‘son’ based off that,” Livingston said. “This woman I worked with started calling me ‘little son.’ I guess one day, I just kinda started turning it backwards.”

The name Son Little isn’t the only thing that stands out about Livingston and his music. Listen to his records, and note how he is able to combine and move through musical styles with subtlety and elegance. Just listen to the first three tracks on his self-titled album, from 2015, as he goes from a gospel song, to an electronic song, to an R&B ballad. He attributed this ease with multiple genres to his upbringing, as Livingston spent his youth living on both coasts.

“I used to come back to New York in surf clothes after spending summer in L.A., and listening to N.W.A. and Geto Boys,” he said. “It was kinda the beginning of opening myself up to all different styles, and it made it easy to branch out to Cuban jazz or Puerto Rican jazz, African highlife or Afro-pop.”

I spoke to Livingston on his third day back on tour, and he was still re-adjusting to life on the road.

“Muscle memory is trying to gather right now,” Livingston said. “I’m trying to get my sea legs back. I’m doing something a little different this time, as I just played solo in the fall, and now I’m rolling with a trio. It’s a different feel, and it’s pretty cool. I got drums, and keys with the bass parts on the left hand. It’s nice and simple, and it’s great.

“I love both sides of the coin—being in the studio and being on the road. I wouldn’t trade one for the other, but I do enjoy getting out on the road and sharing music with the people face to face. It’s a different energy completely, and it’s very rewarding.”

Livingston has been active in the music scene since 2004, and I asked him to talk about some stand-out moments from his career.

“There have been so many amazing moments; I look at all of it as such a blessing,” Livingston said. “I feel like I have stand-out moments every day. From recording this record, to spending time in Paris, or just being able to see great spots in nature—every day, I have moments like that. It’s really all one big highlight reel.”

As for that aforementioned record: Son Little just released his fourth studio album, Aloha, and it is his most emotional and soul-driven album yet.

“I don’t go out there trying to reinvent the wheel,” Livingston said. “There’s a certain vibe that people who follow me come look for. I think I’ve captured that and deepened it. It’s another color for the palette, and I think this time, I’ve found a lot of (colors). I’m just happy to get it out there and start to move around and share it.”

Son Little will perform with Balto at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. The show is currently listed as sold out. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

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February is the month of love! It’s also leap month, so you have an extra day to enjoy all the amazing entertainment coming to the valley. Who doesn’t love that?

My favorite event in Indio returns for its 74th year this month: The Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival makes its way to the Riverside County Fairgrounds February 14-23. The musical headliners this year are funk legend George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic (Feb. 15); Mexican banda icons Banda Machos (Feb. 16); an entire ’90s themed night featuring Vanilla Ice, Coolio, Tone Loc and Young MC (Feb. 21); breakout country star Chris Janson (Feb. 22); and fifth-generation Mexican mariachi band Mariachi Sol de Mexico. (Feb. 23). For just $10 (with discounts), you get these great musical acts, plus rides, food and countless other activities! For tickets or more information, visit datefest.org.

Many notable acts are set to grace the McCallum Theatre stage; the theater has shows on 25 of the 29 February days! From Wednesday, Feb. 19, through Sunday, Feb. 23, you have six chances to come witness The TEN Tenors in action, performing new show Love Is in the Air, which will showcase their versions of the greatest love songs of all time. The Australian group has sold out the McCallum more than 30 times! Tickets are $50 to $100. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28, five-time Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein is returning to Palm Desert. Experience music from the Great American Songbook with a show that has landed Feinstein many TV specials, and even a White House gig! Tickets are $70 to $130. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs is hosting some premier music entertainers in February. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, Mexican treasure and mariachi titan Pedro Fernández is coming to town. With singing, acting, composing and conducting under his hat, the ranchera great is sure to put on a great show! Tickets are $49 to $99. Another Latin group is arriving the following weekend: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8, Spanish-rock revivalists Caifanes will take the Fantasy stage. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22, living legend Sheryl Crow is bringing three decades’ worth of hits to Indio. With more than 35 million albums sold, and nine Grammys won, Crow features singing and songwriting talent that will captivate any audience anywhere. Tickets are $69 to $129. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28, soul duo The Righteous Brothers is bringing the ’60s back to Indio. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” is the most-played song in radio history! Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente is set to host some great musical entertainers throughout February. On 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, the Make It Last Forever Valentine’s Day Show comes to Rancho Mirage. Come get in the loving mood with performances by Keith Sweat, 112, and Next. Tickets are $85 to $115. On Saturday, Feb. 15, at 8 p.m., ’80s soft rockers Air Supply are landing at The Show. Featuring eight Top 10 hits in the early ’80s, Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock can help you re-live the past. Tickets are $40 to $60. On Saturday, Feb. 29, at 8 p.m., famed singer-songwriter Michael Bolton will perform. Come listen to a selection of his hits arranged for a symphony orchestra. Tickets are $55 to $75. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is creating all sorts of excuses to party! The Tribute Concert Series continues in February, as you can watch tips o’ the hat to The Eagles, Aretha Franklin, Elvis and Neil Diamond, Fridays at 8 p.m. All the shows are $10, and promise to teleport you back in time to the original artist’s prime! At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15, beefcake comes to town in the form of Magic Mike XXL. With dance numbers inspired by Magic Mike movies, this male revue show promises to wow audiences with “choreographed routines, stage presence and steamy showmanship.” Tickets are $20 to $30. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s, per usual, has a fantastic slate of music. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20, rock-group The Blank Tapes will bring dreamy psychedelic tunes to Pioneertown. It’s a free show, so money is not an excuse for not being there! At 8:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21, SASAMI (below; photo by Alice Baxley) will perform. Previously of Cherry Glazerr, SASAMI put out her debut solo record less than a year ago—and it is everything an indie kid’s ears can dream of … if ears could dream, that is. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Toucan's is featuring some great cabaret! At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, American Idol alum Melinda Doolittle will perform The Great American Soul Book. Expect hits from James Brown, Aretha Franklin and more! Tickets are $25 to $35. Continuing the theme of TV-singing-show alums: At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, come listen to Love Songs with Miss Frenchie Davis. Is there a better way to put someone in the Valentine’s Day mood? Tickets are $30 to $40. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21, laugh and get your heart (or liver?) warmed by A Tupperware Party With Dixie Longate. This hilarious show promises to demonstrate uses for Tupperware you never imagined. Tickets are $25 to $35. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; www.reactionshows.com.

The Purple Room’s February lineup is intriguing! At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8, enjoy Linda Lavin’s Love Notes show. Come for hits from the Great American Songbook, and stay for Lavin’s stories about her acting career. Tickets are $50 to $60. On Saturday, Feb. 15, Chadwick Johnson comes to town. Expect original music from this Las Vegas headliner! Tickets are $30 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Ace Hotel is determined to make you laugh. The Belly Flop comedy series continues every Wednesday, with Barry Rothbart performing at 9 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 5. Go laugh out loud to Comedy Central and Showtime’s very own talent—and the show is free! Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Date Shed is featuring local ska group Spankshaft at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22. Go support local music, and have a SKA-riffic night! Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

 

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Few bands in the history of music have had a huge lasting impact, yet remained out of the spotlight, like the Melvins have.

There’s no denying that the Melvins’ music has influenced many different genres—in part because the band never stuck to one sound. Sludge, metal, grunge, punk and thrash, all combined into one concoction—that’s the Melvins.

After more than 35 years and close to 30 albums, the Melvins are still here, piercing ears, blowing speakers and screaming at the top of their lungs—and the band has no plans to stop anytime soon. They’ll return to Pappy and Harriet’s for a sweaty, loud show on Thursday, Feb. 6.

“We’ve played there a bunch, I think maybe four or five times, inside and outside,” said legendary drummer Dale Crover during a recent interview. “I like inside more. Outside is a bit dusty. Pappy’s is always fun, though. We could easily play it once or twice a year. Every time we’ve played, it’s been sold out. The outdoor show we did was a part of the Stoned and Dusted festival with Fu Manchu and Brant Bjork—all that desert rock.”

The Melvins are one of the hardest-working bands in music. If the 27-album discography on Wikipedia doesn’t express that enough, here’s more: In 2012, the band did 51 shows, in 51 states, in 51 days. (They made a really cool documentary about it, available on Amazon.) I spoke to Crover about the challenge of translating multiple decades of music into setlists across such frequent shows.

“We never really look at our old records and say, ‘Let’s play this one!’ It’s more that we just remember old songs and bring them out,” Crover said. “We always try to have structure to the set: A third of it will be old material; a third will be the middle period, the last 20 years; and a third that’s somewhat new, maybe the last 10 years. Of course, we’ve always played cover songs. It’s just whatever we feel like playing. Sometimes we make setlists too long and have to cut songs. We’re starting fresh this year, so we’ll be concocting a new setlist, and it’ll be fun.”

Crover said that with the Melvins, he’s been able to do many things he never dreamed of doing.

“Once, we got to jam with Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon at the Roxy,” Crover said. “They actually invited us to the show to play with them, because Sean was really in to the record we had out at the time, Stoner Witch. They even had a song that was Melvins-influenced. It was very surreal but very cool at the same time.”

Crover’s “legendary” title is much-deserved simply based on his Melvins work, but it’s important to note his other drumming duties: He has been a part time drummer for Nirvana, OFF! and Redd Kross—and has done two sets a night when the Melvins and Redd Kross toured together.

“Redd Kross is different,” Crover said. “It’s definitely not as complicated as Melvins stuff—not as pounding, Neanderthal-style drumming. They’re almost a punk-rock band influenced by the Beatles. It’s Ringo, Keith Moon, Charlie Watts-style drumming, classic ’60s-type drumming. I’ve always been influenced by that stuff, though, so it’s not a new thing. I’ve been into those drummers for a long time. When I started, it was Peter Criss, because I was really into KISS, but the Beatles and the Monkees were the first bands I really got into. You can blame Ringo and Micky Dolenz.”

The Melvins, unlike most other acclaimed bands, have refused to “sell out.” They have remained humble despite the gigantic footsteps they have left.

“Certainly, if the Melvins hadn’t existed, you wouldn’t have one of the biggest bands that the grunge genre had,” said Crover. “We all came from this super-small, isolated area, and we definitely influenced all of those guys for sure. Soundgarden and a bunch of those other bands will cite us as influences, and it’s really cool. It’s weird to think about, and we try to keep our egos in check about it, but we definitely influenced a whole new genre of music.”

As for the future, Crover promised this will be a great year for Melvins fans.

“Usually, this time of year is when we’re working on recording,” Crover said. “We’re doing a bunch of that, and we have some stuff in the can. We’ve been doing some projects where we have bands we’re friends of, or that we’re fans of, come into the studio, and we’ll record each other’s songs. Not too long ago, we had the band Flipper come in, who were an influence on us for sure. We wrote a new song with them, and we covered some Flipper songs. We just had this band called Helms Alee, from Washington state, come in. We covered one of their songs; they covered one of our songs; we did a new one, and covered a Scorpions song.

“We’re also working on putting together a podcast; hopefully that’ll be out very soon. I’m touring with Red Kross soon, and Buzz (Osborne) has a new acoustic record coming out soon, with Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle on upright bass.”

Melvins will perform with Hepa.Titus and Cunts at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 6, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. The show is currently listed as sold out. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

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Country rock has an undeniable feel-good vibe. When you encounter it in the right situation—driving home from a long trip as the sun is setting, or simply sitting on your porch and watching life go by—it can help one appreciate the little things in life.

This brings us to Ted Z and the Wranglers. I’ve been stomping along to their brand of “outlaw country-charged rock”—and the Americana lyrics, backed by acoustic rhythms and the occasional minimalistic-yet-oh-so-great guitar solos, have made me an instant fan. Check out their Jam in the Van performance of “Rambler” to see exactly what I mean—or see the group in person on Friday, Jan. 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s.

The Wranglers are Collin Mclean on bass; Jackson Leverone playing lead/slide guitar and providing background vocals; and Jordan Lipp on drums, with Ted Z being the leader, on acoustic guitar and vocals. I got to talk to Ted Z, aka Ted Zakka, about his upbringing and the history of the Wranglers.

“When I was a kid, my mom and dad used to spin a lot of cool stuff at the house,” Zakka said. “I grew up listening to Elvis and The Beatles. It just all started as a child, listening to these iconic musicians that I still really love today.”

It’s easy to hear some of these influences in his songs. Take “Ball and Chain” for example, as Zakka’s screaming and stuttering vocal lines rival Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” phrasing, while the instruments provide a dance-y sound in a style that reminds of early Beatles tracks like “I Saw Her Standing There.”

Zakka talked about how his love for music turned into a love for playing music.

“I picked up a guitar at 16, and started playing in bands,” Zakka said. “When I first started, I was figuring out a lot of punk-rock stuff, just things that were easy to play. I actually started off playing bass for those first few bands. Then I transferred over to the acoustic guitar, and started writing songs about 12 years ago.”

Another distinguishing thing about the group is just how gosh-darn cool the name is.

“The Wranglers have come and gone since the group was started,” Zakka said. “Jackson is the one who’s been around the longest, but none of the guys in the band now were in the original lineup. The name kind of started as a joke. I wasn’t sure what to call anything, and I thought that ‘Ted Z and the Wranglers’ was kind of funny, and kind of cool. And it stuck!”

The Wranglers have been releasing music now for nearly seven years.

“The first thing we ever put out was called My Blood’s Still Red, in 2013,” he said. “After that, we did an EP called Afraid of Dying, then we did Ghost Train in 2015, but that's the first thing we have on Spotify. We have the older two on sites like ReverbNation and BandCamp.”

Listening to Ted Z and the Wranglers improve with each album—becoming more confident and popular—is a wonderful experience. The most recent album is Southland, released last October.

“The new one is awesome,” Zakka said about Southland. “It turned out spectacular, and sounds really clean and big. We recorded this one in our home studio in Costa Mesa, rather than going back to Texas where we recorded Ghost Train. It came out the way we wanted it to; we self-produced it and made our own decisions on the sound. We had a lot more fun on this record.”

Some of the Wranglers’ best online videos were recorded during Jam in the Van performances. Jam in the Van is pretty self-explanatory: It’s an entity that invites bands to come and, well, jam in a van. Jam in the Van records high-quality video and audio, and releases it on YouTube to more than 312,000 subscribers.

“That was really fun. It was so cool to play live and have it be recorded so well,” Zakka said. “They do a pretty good job of capturing the realness of the songs. I had been wanting to do that for so long, and it was cool to finally make it happen.”

Ted Z and the Wranglers’ venture into Pioneertown is one of only a handful of shows the band currently has scheduled—but that shall soon change.

“We’re doing some work as a unit, and trying to tighten up and get three hours of original stuff to go out and tour,” he said. “… And then I’m gonna start booking us more and more!”

Ted Z and the Wranglers will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

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