CVIndependent

Thu06042020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Welcome to fall and (slightly) cooler weather … and enjoy these hot October events!

The McCallum Theatre is open for the season and is ready for a fantastic 2018-2019 schedule. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 2, the “Queen of Ranchera Music,” Aida Cuevas, will be performing a tribute to her mentor, Juan Gabriel. Tickets are $28 to $88. At noon, Sunday, Oct. 21, the McCallum will be hosting its Seventh Annual Family Fun Day, and the show for this year is Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure. The show is meant to provide the experience of exploring the ocean depths—with prehistoric reptiles—via puppets, science and imagination! Yay! Tickets are $10 to $30. Now, for something a little edgier … at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, a group of Canadian musicians will perform Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety as part of Classic Albums Live. However, this show will not feature lasers, costumes or anything hokey like that—just the music. Tickets are $28 to $58. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a great list of October events. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 19, guitarist and singer/songwriter Boz Scaggs will be performing. Scaggs has written numerous great tunes since he started rocking in the ’70s, and he’s racked up a bunch of smash singles and a Grammy Award; he’s still wildly popular today. Tickets are $49 to $69. If that wasn’t enough, one of the most popular artists of the new millennium, Christina Aguilera, will be performing at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 24. She released a highly anticipated new album back in June titled Liberation—it was her eighth album overall, but her first in six years. It received rave reviews and solidified the comeback trail on which she finds herself. Tickets are $89 to $199. Remember back in the ’90s when Lord of the Dance was a thing? With that Michael Flatley guy? Well, Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26. What is it? Well, it’s a more-modern take on Lord of the Dance, with special-effects lighting, dancing robots and acrobats. OK then! Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of huge shows coming in October. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12, in a fabulous “WTF? Huh?!” kind of musical collaboration that has turned out to be a big hit, Sting and Shaggy will be performing. It’s sort of a clash of “Every Breath You Take” and “Boombastic.” Since their collaborative album dropped earlier this year, it’s been the talk of music critics. Tickets are $135 to $185. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, country-music star Toby Keith will take the stage. He sings songs about driving a Ford pickup truck while he drinks his cold ones out of red Solo cups, and will sing “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” … but you already know that, as he’s a huge star. Shortly after Donald Trump was elected, Keith accompanied our president to Saudi Arabia, where he played his brand of country for a room full of Saudi royalty … men only allowed. Hmm. Tickets are $165 to $195. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29, as usual, is offering an intriguing blend of rock and Latin music events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 6, Julian Torres will be performing his Juan Gabriel tribute show Amor Eterno. Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, Latin-music group Banda El Recodo will take the stage. If you’re not familiar with the group, think of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans, and the legacy it has preserved over the years regarding jazz music … and that’s what Banda El Recodo is to Latin music. It has been going since 1938 after being formed by the Lizarraga Family, and two of the Lizarragas perform in the group today. The group has won an amazing nine Grammy Awards. Tickets are $40 to 50. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26, iconic rock band REO Speedwagon (upper right) will be performing. The group has 13 Top 40 hits, including “Keep on Loving You,” “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Take It on the Run.” Tickets are $75 to $85. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino has one event by a popular performer you might want to consider, but hurry: Tickets were nearly sold out as of our press deadline. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26, psychic-medium and reality-television star Tyler Henry will be performing. Henry is notable for one event: In a rather morbid and messed-up way, he predicted the death of Alan Thicke. Tickets are $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is a fantastic place to be in October. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 4, indie-folk artist Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band will be performing. Oberst—known for his other bands including Bright Eyes, The Faint, Commander Venus, Desaparecidos, etc., etc.—was pretty popular in the early ’00s and is still quite influential. He’s no stranger to Pappy and Harriet’s, and his shows there usually sell out, but this one still had tickets left as of our deadline. Tickets are $31. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26, the hilarious country-music group The Evangenitals will be performing. Why do I always mention it when this group plays at Pappy’s? Because the band is fantastic and one a hell of a good time. Seriously! Stay through ’til the end when the show gets very raunchy, and be sure to scream that you want to hear “The Vagina Song.” Best part about it: Admission is free! At 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, the Queen of the High Desert, Jesika von Rabbit, will return to Pappy’s. Jesika recently dropped her new album, Dessert Rock (Ha ha! Get it?), and it is fantastic! Tickets are $15 to $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has a fun October lineup. At 6 p.m.., Friday, Oct. 5, and Saturday, Oct. 6, the fabulous Marilyn Maye will be performing. She’s a well-known American jazz singer, cabaret singer and musical-theater performer. At 90 years old, she’s still going. In this intimate setting, these will be great shows. Tickets are $70 to $90. At 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, jazz-singer Jonathan Karrant will be celebrating an album-release show. The former Metropolitan Opera House singer has earned raves by singing jazz in a unique way for audiences in smaller rooms. Tickets are $25 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Date Shed has one fine October event. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, reggae singer HIRIE (below) will be performing. The San Diego native has an album streaming called Wandering Soul, and it sounds pretty fascinating. This should be a good show. Tickets are $15. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

Kosha Dillz is one of the hardest-working people in hip-hop. He spent the summer touring the country on the final Warped Tour, and he’s heading out on tour again in the fall.

He’ll be performing at The Hood Bar and Pizza this Friday, Sept. 28, at a show presented by the Coachella Valley Independent.

Despite the name Kosha Dillz, the fact he’s performed with Matisyahu, and some Jewish references in his music, he is not is a religion-focused rapper. Instead, most of his music is quirky, such as his song “What I Do All Day.”

“I’m the least-religious person ever,” Kosha Dillz said during a recent phone interview. “The whole idea behind Kosha Dillz is more of a sexual reference. I guess there is some Jewish representation in it. It was more of being proud of my heritage, and then I sort of lost that and changed it for a few years—when I started rapping in battle raps, and I went by KD Flow.

“When I had gotten clean and sober and gotten out of jail for the last time, I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to release my music as Kosha Dillz.’ There’s no religious aspect to it, but religious people just started reaching out to me. It has nothing to do with anything biblical or anything like that. There’s not a ton of Jewish people coming to my shows; it’s more non-Jewish people.”

Kosha Dillz said that while he felt out of place at times on the Vans Warped Tour—he participated both in 2015 and this year—he did connect with audiences.

“The final Warped Tour was great, because it was the last time it was ever going to happen. There was a sense of urgency to be part of something legendary,” he said. “The goal of Warped Tour wasn’t to get a gazillion fans, but to find the people who were really right for me. That kind of situation is always interesting, because you never know who you’re going to meet. A lot of people went for the nostalgia factor. To be part of that, people want to keep that alive—and you might meet people who are going to follow you in the years to come.”

When Kosha Dillz plays a show, he’s everywhere. He’s promoting himself and casually chatting with audiences; this was the case when I saw him multiple times throughout the day at the Warped Tour in Pomona in 2015, and again when I saw him at the campgrounds at Coachella in 2016 and 2017. He’s also known for pop-up live performances at large events, one of which was a Radiohead concert in Israel in 2017.

“There’s a famous video of the world’s most famous violinist playing in a New York subway, and people just walk by and brush him off without realizing who he is. That’s sort of the same concept of what I do out there. It’s mass attention,” he said. “You’re going to a show, and you’re going to see people you haven’t seen. When I did that Radiohead show in Israel, it was a very discussed show, because it was the second-longest show they ever played, and because of Roger Waters trying to protest them (for not boycotting Israel due to the treatment of Palestinians). Then I’ve done stuff like that outside of the Grammy Awards, and I landed a national commercial for Chevrolet. I met people at that Israel show who have seen me perform at other festivals who were excited to see me again.”

Kosha Dillz has been vocally opposed to Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters’ involvement in the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel. Kosha Dillz said what Roger Waters promotes during live shows is anti-Semitic.

“If you put Roger Waters on paper, he’s a massive musician, but he displays imagery that is anti-Semitic and is old folklore of classic anti-Semitism with pigs and Jewish stars. … It’s modern anti-Semitism under the guise of anti-Israel,” he said. “For the basic person who just comes across that, they don’t know how deep it goes. I think it’s unfortunate. … What Roger Waters does is poison minds for the first 30 seconds, and people don’t really care much about it. He’s speaking on such a grand level: ‘It’s Roger Waters, so he must be right!’ Unless you’re invested a bit more, you’re not going to understand what the Middle East peace conflict is and how long it’s been going on for. It’s what Roger Waters does: He’s really anti-Israel and anti-Jew, but it’s under a different guise.”

Kosha Dillz is currently touring with Devmo, who is also performing at The Hood Bar and Pizza.

“Devmo is an amazing artist, and she’s a really prolific rapper,” he said. “She’s really likable, and as a human being, I like her. None of us are getting rich out here yet, so I figured I’d bring her out on her first tour. I remember when I went on my first tour with Matisyahu, and it was eight shows. It was an opportunity for us to bring someone, and she has a lot to contribute. If she becomes massive, we can say it started here, and I really think she’s capable of it. I think she deserves it.”

Kosha Dillz is somewhat familiar with the local music scene, he said.

“I’m honestly looking forward to meeting all of your people. … Just in general, it’s exciting to go play in the desert,” he said. “I think people only go out there for Coachella, but I think there’s a great music scene there. I know the Yip Yops, and I met Alf Alpha out there. I played in Palm Springs back in 2007, and I met these people there who were from San Antonio. Whenever I’d come back for Coachella, I’d stay at one of the guy’s houses with his grandma in Palm Desert. This is a town we could do good in, and I think the quality of the show we’re going to bring, people will be blown away by it. Towns like Palm Desert and other small towns like Mobile, Alabama—it’s exciting to go to these places.

Kosha Dillz will perform with Off Kilter, The Bermuda and Devmo at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on the show, visit the event’s Facebook page.

In 1998, Styx bassist Chuck Panozzo was rather sick with HIV, and struggling as a closeted gay man—while performing in one of the world’s most successful rock bands.

He decided he needed to focus on his health for several years. He toured with Styx only part-time, and in 2001, he came out as gay and announced he was living with HIV.

Fortunately, his health has improved, and he eventually returned to touring full-time. Styx will be performing at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa this Friday, Sept. 28.

During a recent phone interview, Panozzo discussed the struggle he faced while deciding whether or not to come out.

“My biggest problem was the lives of five other people,” Panozzo said. “We lose one album sale or see some backlash, and it’s my fault. It’s not just you anymore. … A couple of the guys had families with children, and I thought, ‘Not until I’m ready to give up everything.’ So I didn’t come out for a very long time. After being sick and never really experiencing the fun of what it’s really like to be a rock star, because you can’t be yourself, I (decided I was) ready to sacrifice it all, and I’d walk away from my job if it makes me happy.”

Thankfully, he didn’t have to walk away from his job, and the rest of the band was supportive.

“I think everyone was afraid to bring up the subject, because they were afraid to hurt my feelings, which is really funny, because they have been extremely supportive,” Panozzo said. “They were supportive when I was sick with AIDS; they were supportive when I had to have cancer surgery a couple of times. Every time I’ve gone through a health situation, it becomes a non-issue. After we lost my brother (drummer John Panozzo, who died in 1996), it (would have been) like losing another part of this family, so their attitude is just so much better, and they support me on a grand level.

“Having helped to start this band … how do you kick out one of the co-founders because he’s gay? That wouldn’t work very well, (even though) in the industry at the time, there were some people who weren’t saying some very cool things about being gay. After a while, you realize you can’t live by what they say, but what you want to do.”

Styx has regularly toured with Ted Nugent since Panozzo came out, so it’s obvious Panozzo has tough skin.

“Tommy (Shaw, Styx’s guitarist/vocalist) has worked with Ted. I’ve worked with Ted since 1972 on multiple occasions,” Panozzo said. “I don’t pick who I get to perform with. I’m going to put this as nice as I can: We do have some shows with him, and the whole thing is if I didn’t work with the people I didn’t like, I’d probably never work. He’s Ted Nugent, and he is who he is. We go out there and do what we do.

“I’m more concerned if there’s a problem with both groups and the crowds. His crowd usually leaves, and ours usually stays. Half of the bands we work with, we hardly see anyway. People always ask me, ‘What’s so and so like?’ and I just say, ‘I don’t know; I just walk by them and say hi.’ But when you play in a city like Chicago, where we’re from, and he gets up there and makes derogatory remarks about our mayor and the town we live in, you really just have to consider the source. It can be pretty ignorant.”

Panozzo wrote a book detailing his experiences as a gay man in rock ’n’ roll, which came out in 2007.

“I have never gotten any negative backlash from anyone, and no one has ever pulled an attitude with me. When I put my book out, it was called The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies, and My Life With Styx,” he said. “… We all have a book in us, but once you write it down, it becomes real to you. If you want to read about how many people I have sex with, good luck, because you won’t find that book. It’s a general rock ’n’ roll book, but when you come to my situation, it was an awakening for me. It was more of taking my journey to finding out that it was OK to be who I am. When you were born in 1948, you know it wasn’t the enlightenment period.”

Panozzo said he’s surprised how far he and others living with HIV have been able to progress over the last several decades.

“I think when you go through an experience like that, and you come out whole—I look at my friends who pass away, and it makes me infuriated to think that they were intimidated by their government, their families, or religion,” Panozzo said. “Here I am now, 30 years after being diagnosed, being able to tour—that really shocks me at times. I’ve been really blessed to have this ongoing career and to fulfill two goals: Make a statement in music, and make a statement in the HIV community.”

As for that music statement: Styx has continued to leave its mark on rock ’n’ roll and is still one of the most successful bands of the genre.

“About a year ago, we put out our new album that Tommy Shaw wrote for us called The Mission. It’s charted, and we probably got some of the best reviews of our entire career,” Panozzo said. “Being in a band that had its glory days in the ’70s and is still having a resurgence in 2018, with dates booked into 2019, it’s a wonderful experience. People ask me what it’s like to be in a band for 46 years, and I say, ‘Like being married to six guys at once, but I don’t get a present for it.’ But it’s really an experience, and I never conceived it.

“I’m sitting here right now looking at a photo from 1962 that says Chuck and the Tradewinds. I have the original guitar two feet away from me. I lived the American dream. For a gay boy to think he could do that—I’m not the first one to do it, but it’s a blessing, and how could I have ever perceived that? You just keep going, and you never surrender.”

Styx will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $55 to $85. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.hotwatercasino.com.

Since its inception in 2012, Desert Daze has already been held in three different locations.

As of October 2018 … make that four.

After the inaugural festival in Desert Hot Springs in 2012, it spent three years at the Sunset Ranch Oasis in Mecca, and then two years at the Institute of Mentalphysics in Joshua Tree. This year’s edition of Desert Daze will be moving to Moreno Beach at Lake Perris from Friday, Oct. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 14.

This year’s headliners include Tame Impala, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, and My Bloody Valentine. Other acts announced include former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, Warpaint, Ty Segall and White Fence, Earth and many others.

During a phone interview with Desert Daze founder Phil Pirrone, he declined to say why the festival moved to Lake Perris, but he did speak in glowing terms about the new location.

“One of the things that strike me about Lake Perris is that once you’re inside the park, you have no sense of outside of the park,” Pirrone said. “Once you’re inside, you’re immersed. One example I can give is at all the previous venues, once you left the grounds, you were on a city street. There were chain stores across the street. In Lake Perris, you can leave the venue, and it still takes you five minutes to get back to the closest neighborhood. It’s kind of like Jurassic Park, and every time I go through there, I feel like the theme song from Jurassic Park should be playing. It’s epic and grand. It’s the perfect location to continue this story that’s unfolding with Desert Daze.

“We feel like Desert Daze is a ritual, and I mean that in the sense of we all have daily, weekly and annual rituals to help improve our quality of life, heal our cellular makeup or evolve as beings. That has a lot to do with the moods of Lake Perris. It can accommodate more people, and one of the main concerns for us is maintaining the energy—and the feeling you have at Desert Daze will be a good one.”

Desert Daze is sort of an anti-festival festival. It’s not as big as Coachella, and almost all of the performers fall into the psychedelic or edgier side of rock music.

“Music festivals can be so one dimensional if it’s in a parking lot with a truck stage and an algorithm of a lineup,” Pirrone said. “It can really start to be homogenized milk at that point, almost like plastic. That doesn’t interest us at all. We want people to have a multidimensional, multilayered and profound experience. The immersive art experience for this festival is a step beyond anything we’ve ever done before. It’s exciting, and it’s a massive workload. It’s almost like there are three festivals going on—music, art, projection art, films, talks, workshops and all these immersive experiences.”

The art installations and interactive experiences may be heightened by the natural setting, Pirrone said.

“The (lake) being there is special, and I think it’s going to create an opportunity for people to have an even deeper rejuvenation thing going on,” he said. “I love the idea that people can swim all morning or all afternoon, go back to their campsite, and there are real showers—real running water showers in brick-and-mortar buildings. I love the idea that you can go splash around, go on a pontoon boat ride, and really get to see the majestic landscape. …We’re starting the music a little later this year so we can accommodate for those experiences.”

Pirrone said there’s an over-saturation of festivals today—and that’s where Desert Daze comes in.

“The Live Nations of the world, the AEGs of the world—they’re driving the prices up for the bands, and there are agencies capitalizing on that, and to a certain degree, they should. To a certain degree, I think the fans would be the first to say that it’d be great to take a step back from that a bit. I find it to be a little out of whack.

“I’ve been touring for a long time … and I get it. I’m on tour right now, and I’m losing money on this tour. When a festival comes around (paying) 10 times what you’d make for a club show, you’ve got to take it. Your tour is probably still losing money for eight bands out of 10. You want to bring ticket prices down, so you want agents and bands and managers to be more reasonable. But as long as these bands are barely able to keep their heads above water, you’re going to have this kind of landscape.”

Pirrone said that while the event is farther from the Coachella Valley in Lake Perris—about an hour or so away—he said he still loves the Coachella Valley and the high desert. The Desert Daze after-party is being held at Pappy and Harriet’s, and Pirrone always does a show at Pappy and Harriet’s as a preview to the festival.

“It feels like I am rooted into that land. My wife and I fell in love at Pappy and Harriet’s, and our bands played together at a show there,” he said. “We fell into a deep love at Pappy’s. It’s always been a magical location on this earth for us, and we care deeply about it.

“Through the years of producing this festival, we’ve made lots of friends and family, and that’s not going to change. We’re always looking for a space in the desert where we can have the best version of what we’re doing. The stars aligned for us this year to make it happen in Lake Perris, which doesn’t mean we won’t hold it in the desert valley again, or we won’t continue to satellite the events in the desert. We hope that we can bring more positivity, more music and more fun to the area.

Desert Daze will take place Friday, Oct. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 14 at Lake Perris State Recreation Area, 17801 Lake Perris Drive, in Lake Perris. Tickets are $99 to $1,999. For more information, visit www.desertdaze.org.

If you’ve never seen a show by Se7en4, you’ve been missing out.

Unfortunately, chances to see Se7en4 have been few and far between as of late. The band played its first show in a long time earlier this year at The Hood Bar and Pizza—and will be playing there again on Friday, Oct. 12.

Se7en4 has been rocking the Coachella Valley music scene since 2000, and the current lineup includes frontman Nico Flores (the younger brother of Blasting Echo drummer and 5th Town bassist Armando Flores), drummer Steven Hall (brother of Thr3 Strykes’ Josh Hall), bassist Trevino Martin and guitarist Pete Burquez.

During a recent phone interview with Flores, he joked about the recent hiatus.

“Dude, we play like once or twice every three years or some shit like that,” Flores said with a laugh. “But we always have a great turnout. We have been around for a long time, and we barely play. We have a lot of loyal friends to the band and to the music scene. When we play, they always know it’s going to be a fun time.”

I’ve heard people compare Se7en4 to nu-metal, and say the group sounds like Suicidal Tendencies. Flores laughed when I mentioned that.

“I know where people get that from: Me and Steve (Hall) are really two of the only punk-rockers out here who roll up blasting gangsta rap, and we love hip-hop,” he said. “We may incorporate it a tiny bit into our music, but for the most part, we like it hard, fast and loud. It’s how we look and what we listen to on the side where people probably get that. We definitely listen to Suicidal Tendencies, who are a huge influence to us, and (Hed) P.E. is an influence, (as are) Snot, Rage Against the Machine and Black Flag. We love obnoxious rock that’s in-your-face shit.”

As a frontman, Flores gets down and dirty—and he definitely knows how to get the crowds going.

“Having grown up in the valley, and just watching all the old-school punkers like John Summers, Sean Wheeler, Herb Lienau and Ian Taylor from Unsound—growing up, I was like, ‘I want to be in a band!’” he said. “And then I was like, ‘Whoa! What are those guys doing?’ We grew up in the MTV era, too, which was all about being a rock star and their antics. When you’re a kid, you want to emulate that.”

What stops Se7en4 from playing more often?

“Real life gets in the way,” Flores said. “I’m the only one who still lives down here now, and I have a full-on family—a 15-year-old daughter and two little boys. All the guys live up in Los Angeles. Pete (Burquez) does music stuff on the side, and Steve does music stuff and also tours. Everyone stays busy musically; they don’t let not playing in this band stop them. Trevino is from up north and has a THC/growing operation going. Everyone went up to Los Angeles, and I just kind of stayed down here.

“We play whenever we can. It’s fun and takes our mind off shit; it’s always fun to get together. It’s frustrating when people ask, ‘Yo, bro, when are Se7ven4 playing?’ It’s good, though, because you’ll see Pete and Steven pursuing other music opportunities, and they’re doing great for themselves. For me, Se7en is my music getaway. My three passions in life are my music, wrestling, and I’m a daddy.”

Flores said the band members make a point of getting together when they can.

“We have a little studio up in L.A., so I just go up there, and the boys are all out there,” he said. “I have to plan it a little, but we’ll spend a whole day in the studio writing or jamming. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like it to because of distance and all that stuff.”

Will there be any Se7en4 recordings in the future?

“I think the other guys say no, but I say yes,” he said. “We’re like that girlfriend that you fight with and get back together with the next day. We just have too big of a connection to never record anything together. It won’t be any time soon, but I think we will. I have songs, and the other guys are writing songs here and there.”

Se7en4 will perform with Throw the Goat and Mega Sun at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $5. For more information on the show, visit the event’s Facebook page. 

The local metal scene has been going through a transitional period, with many longtime bands calling it quits—and one of the bands rising from the figurative ashes is When Tides Turn.

Slowly but surely, the band has been getting its name out there, playing consistently at venues such as The Hood Bar and Pizza, Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails, Club 5, and Kilo’s Cantina.

During a recent interview in Palm Desert with the band members—except for lead guitarist TJ Cazares, who was not able to make it—they shared some amusing stories about their inception, their shared history, and how they all pitch in to support their recording and travel costs.

The band’s name is actually a reference to most of the band members’ hometown of Blythe.

“We were trying to find something that no one else had, because every name in the world is taken,” guitarist Thomas Lambert said. “Where Desiree (McCaslin, drummer) and I are from and where we formed the band, it was out in Blythe. Blythe has a river, and at certain points, there’s a really crazy rip current and undertow, and it looks like the water flow is going against the current. That’s where we came up with the name When Tides Turn.”

What is actually over there in Blythe?

“There’s a state prison there, which also comes with state jobs,” McCaslin said. “It’s a farmer town; they’re also building this huge marijuana-growing center, and it will probably be one of the biggest marijuana-growing centers in the world, because we have access to a bunch of water.”

McCaslin said she had been trying to start a band with Xan Abyss of Rogue Ogre, but it kept falling apart, and a mutual friend told her about Jacob Garcia, who was originally a drummer and a bassist. Garcia explained how he came to join When Tides Turn—as a vocalist.

“I had not been doing much of anything with music, and at first, I wasn’t really going to do it, because I didn’t have transportation; I didn’t really have the means of getting out there, but this was a band, and they were ready to go,” Garcia said. “They had already written music, and I thought, ‘OK, I can give this a shot.’ They liked me; I liked them; and maybe a week after I auditioned, we played a backyard show in Blythe, and I didn’t even finish the lyrics and was making it up as I went along.

“They had a crappy PA, so it’s not like you could have made out the lyrics anyway.”

Garcia wasn’t the only new band member who needed to learn material quickly.

“It was totally random. Desiree asked me if I wanted to jam, and I was kind of hesitant, because I didn’t think I was ready or good enough,” bassist Adrian Whitson said. “She said, ‘Just come jam, and see what happens.’ Literally, one day before a show at Club 5, they got a hold of me and asked me if I would play. They said they had a bass for me, and I had one day to learn the songs. I used to be in a band during high school, but as far as playing a show goes, I had only ever played one show before that, and it had been years since. I had one day to prepare for a metal show and had only played one show before. I was freaking out, but it worked out really well.”

Garcia added: “When Desiree decides she wants you in the band, she’ll figure out how to get you in.”

For When Tides Turn’s style of music, the vocals need to switch back and forth from a pop range—into a screaming range. Garcia said he has not yet perfected it.

“I started learning about the diaphragm to scream,” Garcia said. “Unfortunately, I’m caught in a Catch-22: I love to sing, but there are a lot of screaming styles I’d love to do if I didn’t have to worry about singing, too. It comes to a point of trying to balance it all out. I might be discovering a scream and being able to do it consistently, but I also have to sing. It’s learning how your throat feels and what feels OK, and what you can’t get away with. It’s challenging, but it’s really damn fun and rewarding.”

When Tides Turn has been working on its first album with producer Jerry Whiting, who also produced music by Frank Eats the Floor and Sleazy Cortez.

“We started recording back in February, and around that time, we were just about done,” Lambert said. “The only thing left was vocals, and that’s when our other guitarist, TJ, came into the band. We went back in and re-recorded the leads and put all of his stuff on it, and stepped it up majorly. It sounds so much better. Now we just need to touch up one of the songs and start getting it out to everyone. Jerry made it a lot more of a comfortable atmosphere versus a place that rushes you and makes it seem like you’re wasting their time. He was really easy to work with and work for. He’d add stuff and give us ideas.”

When Tides Turn, like many local bands, had problems finding a place to practice. The members of the band Hollace recently purchased a rehearsal studio called The Sound Hub from its previous owner in Cathedral City; the members of When Tides Turn say they gladly pay the money to use it.

“The Sound Hub in Cathedral City definitely helped us out. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have the place to practice,” McCaslin said. “They provide the backline and everything else. If you pay $5, you can even take a recording of your practice home.”

Garcia and McCaslin told an additional amusing story about that aforementioned first show they ever played in Blythe, at a backyard party.

“Some big, old, fat drunk guy got on my drum set and just started wailing away on it, and it didn’t sound good at all,” McCaslin said. “It sounded like trash can lids, and I was watching my fucking cymbals just go to pieces. Someone was cheering for the guy, and he just kept going.”

Garcia added with a laugh: “You don’t touch another man’s car—and you don’t mess with a woman’s drum set!”

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

When Brant Bjork left Kyuss in 1994, he didn’t stay idle for long.

He had stints in bands including De-con and Fu Manchu, before releasing his first solo album, Jalamanta, in 1999—which featured him moving away from the drum set and becoming a frontman/guitarist.

Today, he continues to kick ass and take names. He’ll be playing at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday, Oct. 12—one of five American tour dates before heading to Europe.

On Sept. 14, Bjork released his 13th solo album, Mankind Woman.

“I think it sounds like a solid and respectable 13th effort,” Bjork said during a recent phone interview. “I worked closely with my guitar player and good friend, Bubba DuPree. I asked him to produce the record and went into it just hands-off. I just wanted to flow down the river. He and I collaborated on writing and performed all the tracks. I just really wanted to collaborate, and I really missed and enjoyed working with someone. Bubba and I started to work together on the last record, Tao of the Devil, and I really enjoyed it.”

Bjork and DuPree played all of the instruments on Mankind Woman.

“We moved quick on this record, meaning we jumped into the creative process,” he said. “We had come to a really good place with a record deal with Heavy Psych Sounds Records out of Italy, and we really liked the deal, and it came together so fast that we were able to say, ‘Why don’t we get a record out this year and get it to coincide with our European run?’ We were excited, and we were very much inspired. But having to move like that, Bubba and I decided to just take care of the instruments ourselves. My bass player, Dave Dinsmore, and my drummer, Ryan Gut, they live outside of the area. Dave lives in Berlin, Germany, and Gut lives up north in Shasta, Calif. As much as I love my rhythm section and would have loved to incorporate them in this recording, it didn’t make a lot of logistical sense. Creatively speaking, I was pretty excited to just play the drums to a lot of the guitar parts that Bubba was coming up with.”

If you keep up with Kyuss culture—including the Facebook group Kyuss World—you know there are Kyuss fans all around the world, many of whom are feverish for anything and everything all of the members have done before and after Kyuss. Some have even traveled here to explore where the desert-rock genre started.

“I think Europeans have more of an appreciation for things that leave a lasting effect on the individual—on the collective, on the mindset, and the culture. In the United States, it’s a ‘me me, here here, now now,’ kind of instant gratification,” Bjork said. “… That’s not to say that there aren’t some American fans who are really into my music and rock in general, but it’s just not as celebrated among the masses as it is in Europe. I’ve been waiting for people to dive into that historical situation, because it’s been going on for years. I’d like for someone to write a book about it. It also goes back to jazz artists like Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong. Miles Davis was a god in Europe, and when he came home, he was playing in the same clubs in Manhattan. They always say you never profit in your own land.”

Bjork did a DJ set at Pappy and Harriet’s following Sean Wheeler’s recent performance there, and the combination of music that night was fascinating. I brought that up and asked Bjork what artists or records inspired him as a kid.

“The Ramones. I think it’s just a combination of my age and where I was at in relation to my environment,” he said. “My parents were older and weren’t hippies. They were more into first-wave rock ’n’ roll, and my mom really liked the Stones, and my dad really liked Ray Charles. There were those early Rolling Stones, Fats Domino, Ray Charles and Chuck Berry records. I loved that stuff. Most of the kids in the neighborhood were listening to KISS, and I really liked KISS, but I had a hard time wrapping my head around the makeup and blowing fire. It was classic ’70s heavy rock and didn’t have the buzz of the early Stones stuff. But when I heard the Ramones, it was the perfect band that combined all of it. They had an image, and they were cooler than KISS; they were animated and cartoonish, but exaggerated in all of the right ways, and the music was KISS and the Stones, only at 45 RPM—moving quick. The Ramones was made for a kid like me, and the contemporaries of the Ramones in the ’70s knew what they were trying to do, and they appreciated it as contemporary artists. They were for the kids like me who didn’t get the Stones or the Beatles. I was perfectly in time for the Ramones and I ate it up and collected all their records. It was my first concert, and they were the band that really turned me on.”

While Bjork is a fantastic guitarist and frontman, he said he still loves playing the drums.

“That will always be a joy for me, and playing drums for a live audience is a rush,” he said. “But sometimes it depends on the music and the situation. I like to play the drums if I’m playing with a group of musicians or a style of music that inspires me to play the drums. Not to state the obvious, but that’s always how it works for me. The thing with the guitar and the singing—that was a challenge for me, and it was something I never planned on doing. But … my solo career is just me sharing my story, and it’s hard to do from the drums.”

Earlier this year, Bjork went back to the old days of the generator parties and threw what he called “Stoned and Dusted,” a modern day generator party … with some modifications.

“We just solidified our date for next year this week, actually,” he said. “It’s a great time, and it’s a work in progress, but the concept is what it was back in the past: the desert environment and rock bands. We have it organized, and we want to bring people from all over the world and have them enjoy the natural environment with some good rock music, good food, some smoke and some drinks. We eliminated the riff-raff element that was largely the reason why the original generator party movement came to a stop.”

Brant Bjork will perform with Nebula at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53668 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $18 to $20. For more tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Thursday, 13 September 2018 16:50

The Lucky 13: Michael Anthony, aka Mikey Sick Boy

Michael Anthony, aka Mikey Sick Boy, has been playing at open-mics and local shows for quite a while around the Coachella Valley. Sadly, that’s about to come to an end—because he is moving to Orange County for a new job. He will be having a last hurrah of sorts when he plays at the Tack Room Tavern during the Concert for Autism on Friday, Oct. 19, and Saturday, Oct. 20.

What was the first concert you attended?

My first concert I ever went to was in 2010, when I went to see Jerry Lee Lewis and the Reverend Horton Heat at the Fox Theater in Pomona.

What was the first album you owned?

More like the first two I owned: The Sublime self-titled album, and Social Distortion’s self-titled album.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve been getting turned on to Led Zeppelin, Rebelution and Sublime. I’ve heard of these bands before, but I just like to switch my tunes back and forth until I’m ready to hear something new.

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

It’s hard to tell nowadays, especially with music seemingly changing every month, even though it doesn’t seem like it might have changed all that much. I learned from a friend not to be so closed-minded when it comes to new stuff, because you might surprise yourself.

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

That one’s a bit of a dead giveaway, and speaking of dead, it would be Elvis Presley—one more time, live from the Graceland gravesite, featuring zombified Johnny Cash and Ritchie Valens. Ha ha! In reality, though, I would love to see all of the best acts the Coachella Valley has to offer merge together … to expand the horizon for the Coachella Valley music scene.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Smoking and playing the blues. I’d be playing by myself, or Muddy Waters is on the tunes hammering it on. Within those times and moments, I always discover or teach myself something new and different, then try to apply that to my music.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Hood Bar and Pizza. It may not be the biggest and baddest of them all, but it’s a venue I call home.

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

“Well high school seemed like such a blur. I didn’t have much interest in sports or school elections, and in class I dreamed all day about a rock ’n’ roll weekend,” Social Distortion, “Story of My Life.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Again, it always has been and always will be Elvis Presley. Here’s how it started: When I was in my mother’s womb back in the day, portable CD players were the thing. She would play “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and put the headphones over her stomach, so I would listen, and that little tremor turned me into more than just an Elvis fan. It molded me to become an artist.

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

I don’t think I can single out any musicians or artists, but what I can say is: “What are you going to do for music, and where are you going to take it?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

There are three I always had in mind: Elvis’ “Pieces of My Life,” Social Distortion’s “Don’t Take Me for Granted,” and The Sensational Nightingales’ “Remind Me Dear Lord.”

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

My favorite album of all time, other than Michael Anthony’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2—just kidding—is the Social Distortion self-titled album.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Elvis’ “Burning Love,” because I want everyone to be jamming to this song and have an awesome feeling when it comes on. Most importantly, be stuck with the image of me streaking down the street butt-naked, because that’s my birthday song! (Scroll down to hear it!)

Summertime in the Coachella Valley can be brutal—but those of us who live here year-round know that the local music scene never stops because of a little heat.

The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert, Kilo's Cantina in Thousand Palms, and Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails in Thousand Palms hosted many local rock shows during the summer—and the crowds often came out. The Hood Bar and Pizza, for example, hosted several weekend shows at which attendance was near capacity; the venue also launched and regular theme nights, including an open-mic night on Wednesday, and comedy night on Sunday.

Here are some photos of local musicians from shows that happened over the summer.

The presidency of Donald Trump has made many Americans angry, frustrated, sad and fearful for the future. But in my case, the presidency of Donald Trump helped turn me from a staunch atheist into a Christian.

Let me explain.

I was raised by my grandparents. My grandfather was an Episcopalian, and my grandmother was a Catholic. My first exposure to religion came from my grandfather taking me to Episcopalian services in my hometown of Mentor, Ohio, whenever he was up early enough on Sundays. I remember those experiences fondly: I got to know the other kids in Sunday school, and enjoyed the fun arts and crafts that reflected the values of the Episcopalian Church.

Then came a sleepover at a friend’s house when I was 9. The next morning, we all went to my friend’s Baptist church, where rather than being nice, the teachers told us fire-and-brimstone stories that frightened me. After a few interruptions by other kids, the pastor came into the classroom, yelling at us—and praying for Jesus to save us from evil.

I never wanted to go to church again. When my grandfather would go to the Episcopal parish, I’d ask to stay home.

Later in life, I practiced Buddhism for about a decade; I even had a refuge ceremony performed by a Theravada monk on my 21st birthday. However, I never really found my place in Buddhism; the Asian cultural elements didn’t mesh with my life in the United States, and I didn’t get the answers to questions I needed from my teachers and fellow Buddhists. After that, I abandoned religion, and came to embrace atheism.

Earlier this year, I found myself in a deep depression. I was spiritually drained as I tried to make sense of my life in these uncertain times. I turned to books written by Ram Dass, who I had always admired; they helped. Then, of all things, the royal wedding uplifted me: The sermon by Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, at the ceremony for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was nothing short of remarkable. I began to think about the things my grandfather believed in and tried to instill in me as a child—values inspired by his Episcopal faith.

Ram Dass once said, “Faith is what is left after all your beliefs have been blown to hell.” I had essentially reached that point: I was questioning all that I believed in, and ironically, the only thing I felt faith in was that there had to be something greater than myself.

I’ve been shaken to my core several times during my life. I dealt with an alcoholic mother who died at the age of 40; my father abandoned me before I was born; even my grandfather was not as accessible to me as I would have liked during my childhood. Despite the despair I’ve felt at times, I’ve always survived—through the grace of God, I now believe. There were many times when things could have turned out much worse. An open mind and a new perspective have led to my newfound faith in God.

What does the current president have to do with all of this? The climate he created helped blow all of my beliefs to hell. The despair he’s fomenting is inescapable on television and on social media—from Milo Yiannopoulos bullying people over the internet in the name of “free speech,” to white supremacists hitting activists with cars, to the general dark cloud that seems to be hovering over our country. Political discourse has turned ugly, and people are becoming more and more vindictive over political matters.

A fairly recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute showed that, incredibly, 75 percent of white evangelicals still support Trump. Famous religious figures such as Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell Jr. have turned faith into a partisan game. Trump and his cabinet have been using religion as a means to promote an agenda that opposes diplomacy abroad, and both human rights and civility at home and beyond. 

Given my life experiences—including those as a gay man—I’d come to see religion as part of the problem rather than the solution. In many ways, I still feel that way. I also couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of a vengeful God, and I was disgusted by the “loving intolerance” expressed by many so-called Christians regarding people who believe differently than they do, and people with lifestyles different than theirs.

When I told friends I was starting to think back to the values instilled in me by my grandfather and the Episcopal Church, and that I was thinking of going back to church, most were supportive. Others were—and are—deeply concerned about me. I am often asked how the person who once fervently denounced religion is now a regular churchgoer.

I’ve long known the Episcopal Church is LGBT-affirming, stands for social justice, and allows clergy—both male and female—to marry. Still, I was wary when I first found myself at the Church of St. Paul in the Desert in Palm Springs. The rector, the Rev. Andrew Green, encouraged me to explore my new interest and told me I was welcome to attend services at the church whenever I was ready.

I began attending services on Saturday afternoons. At first, I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but I soon felt welcomed and comfortable.

One particular service “sold” me: The Rev. Green was talking about what makes someone a good Episcopalian. He pulled out three simple rules that were on a sheet of paper: “Love God; love others; and love yourself.”

Those three simple rules, combined with my experiences in reading both The Book of Common Prayer and the Bible with my newfound open-mindedness, have given me a perspective on life that not even the horrors of the Trump presidency can diminish. The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi has also become important to me, and I have recited it to myself many times: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

In this confusing and dark time, Donald Trump has not only led me to reaffirm my beliefs in the values of human rights for all, equality for all, and social justice; it has also led me to a place where I have found solitude, comfort and a belief in civility—even at times when civility is seemingly nowhere to be found.

Brian Blueskye is the assistant editor of the Coachella Valley Independent.