Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Mega Sun's lineup includes three very talented musicians—and if any one thing stands out, it’s Chris Rivera's guitar work. A recording from Mega Sun is currently in the works with producer Mike Doling (of the band Snot), and the band is currently raising funds to finish it; find details at Chris Rivera was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Mötley Crüe's Shout at the Devil Tour.

What was the first album you owned?

KISS, Alive.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Gojira, Desert Rhythm Project, Twelve Foot Ninja, Black Pussy, Atala, and Throw the Goat.

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

I can usually find something I dig in all music, to be honest. But if I had to choose one, I guess I'd have to say new country music. I just prefer the old stuff.

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

AC/DC with Bon Scott.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Old Elton John.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Showbox in Seattle.

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

“Momma just killed a man, put a gun against his head,” Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Stevie Ray Vaughan. He just had it, man. It came straight from the heart. He made me realize you get what put in; there's no cheating the guitar.

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

I'd like to ask Gary Moore how to play guitar.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

James Taylor, “Fire and Rain.”

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

Rush, 2112.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Snooze Button” by Snot. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Peter Frampton’s 1976 double live album Frampton Comes Alive! sold 8 million copies in the United States and went on to become legendary.

The struggles Frampton endured right after its release are just as legendary. His next album was a relative flop, which led to hard financial times. He starred in the epically terrible 1978 film Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. That same year, he was in a near-fatal car accident. 

However, in the late 1980s, Frampton’s career began to rebound. In 2007, he won a Grammy in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for Fingerprints, which has just been re-released on vinyl. He’ll be stopping by Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Friday, Aug. 31.

During a recent phone interview, Frampton said he liked the idea of the re-release of Fingerprints.

“We wanted to put it out on a limited-edition vinyl,” Frampton said. “When that was brought up, they said it would be a good idea to reissue the CD as well. That came along as a plus, but the main intent was to just get it out on vinyl (after fans) had been shouting out for it.”

Fingerprints included some great collaborations with members of Soundgarden and the Rolling Stones.

“I went to Seattle after having made friends a few years before with the Pearl Jam people. I’m getting chills right before I say this, but to be doing ‘Black Hole Sun’ with the same drummer, Matt Cameron, who played in Soundgarden, as well as Pearl Jam—what a way to start!” he said. “Not only did we do that song, but we wrote one together in their warehouse rehearsal area, which was amazing. It started at the top, and everything else seemed to be just as exciting. It was like doing an album for each track. It took about a year to get around and do all these things. Of course, reuniting Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman—who I have both known since I was 14, and to actually have them on a session and write the tune that brought them back together again—it was phenomenal.”

I told Frampton that when he had an acoustic guitar in his hand, it was evident that Django Reinhardt is one of his influences. He responded with a laugh.

“He’s been with me my entire life, even though we lost him in 1953. My parents before, during and after the second World War were huge fans,” Frampton said. “That was something when we got our first record player. I was probably 8 or 9, and I wanted to get an album by The Shadows, and I got it, and my mom and dad bought Quintette du Hot Club de France. I hated it; I thought it was disgusting, and it was this jazzy stuff. I’m listening to stuff featuring Fender Stratocasters and Vox AC30s—the early beginnings of rock ’n’ roll. Every time I finished playing my Shadows album about four or five times, I’d go upstairs to play what I’d just heard, and then my mom would put on Quintette du Hot Club de France, and I couldn’t get out of the room fast enough. So, I’d gradually get up the stairs and hear a solo from Django, and I’d go, ‘What? That’s hard!’ Gradually, I’d stay in the room—and I was the guy putting on that album and not my parents. They were very happy about this.

“He’s someone I still listen to, at least a track or two a day. I’m obsessed with his soul, the choice of notes and the way he could play a thousand notes a second.”

There’s a video online of Peter Frampton shopping at Amoeba Records with his daughter, Mia Frampton. Frampton said he and his kids share music back and forth.

“I listen to everything they tell me to listen to,” he said. “My son, Julian, turned me on to Radiohead, and I wondered why I hadn’t picked up on it sooner. I’ll send them old Otis Redding tracks or stuff like that. All of my kids are very involved in and have a passion for music.”

Frampton was not the only artist who found wild success in the late 1970s—before enduring dry periods due to the changing musical landscape in the ’80s.

“What happened in 1979 was the drum machine, and from then on, everyone was playing to a drum machine in the ’80s,” he said. “That’s why everything seems so sterile to me—but not everything; there were the Pretenders, who are still phenomenal to this day. (Drum machines) were very appealing, but we don’t have a drummer anymore, and it’s gone computerized. I got involved in it, too, but I think everything got a little too sterile and perfect. Bands weren’t playing in the studio anymore.”

Frampton admitted there was a bigger issue at hand that led to his downfall, and joked about his appearance in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which last year was released on Blu-ray.

“I think it was me—I think that was the reason it took so long to come back,” he said. “I had been working since I was 14 with my first semi-professional band, until I became 30. That’s when I took a bit of a break. I was exhausted and disillusioned by those people around me who took a lot of my money that wasn’t theirs, and I went through going from the biggest-selling record of all time to a great fall. I made a couple of really bad mistakes, and I take full responsibility, but I was talked into things that weren’t good, and one of them just was re-released. They always get re-released!

“I can’t offend the people that love it—and I don’t understand why they love it!” Frampton said, holding back laughter. “I can’t offend them, because the people who like it are very passionate about it, and I’m very happy for them!”

He credits an old childhood friend for helping him resurrect his career.

“David Bowie—or Dave Jones as I knew him, and who I went to school with—said in 1986, ‘I love what you did on your last record. Would you come play on my record?’ Finally, we get to play again together. The last time was on the steps of the school. When I was in Switzerland doing the album with him, he asked if I would play on the Glass Spider Tour. He showed me a huge picture of the stage, and I said, ‘Absolutely!’ What I didn’t realize at the time was how powerful it was. I thought, ‘It’s great to play with David on the same stage at the same time.’ But then I realized afterward that he was so clever: He knew what I was going through at the time, being a well-respected guitar-player and writer turned into a teeny-bopper pop star, and the guitar was kind of forgotten. What he gave me was a gift. He took me around the world twice in stadiums and reintroduced me as a musician and guitar-player, which changed my trajectory, and I’ve never been able to thank him enough. I still thank him.

“It was a very powerful gift. After David, a few years went by, and I was touring like crazy again and building it back up. I started in clubs and ended up in arenas again.”

Peter Frampton will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 31, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $29 to $69. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit

We’re past the halfway point of the hot season. Maybe. Hopefully. Whatever … at least there are some equally hot events to take in this August.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a full list of August events. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 3, the son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, Jason Bonham, will be performing his show Led Zeppelin Evening. I’ve read stories about Jason Bonham’s upbringing that are quite fascinating; apparently, when he was a child, his dad used to wake him in the middle of the night to play in late-night jam sessions. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18, the frontman of The Who, Roger Daltrey, will be stopping by. Daltrey has done well as a solo artist. I checked out some of the set lists from his solo appearances over the past year, and he’s been playing the entirety of The Who’s rock opera, Tommy. Tickets are $69 to $129. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 25, the legendary family of Motown R&B, The Jacksons, will be performing. I saw The Jacksons a while back at Fantasy Springs when they toured with The Commodores, and The Jacksons put on a pretty good show—although the Jackson 5 songs were relegated to a five-minute medley. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000;

August is a great month for The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 2, country-music superstar Brad Paisley will be performing. Paisley has sold millions of albums, won three Grammy Awards, and charted 24 No. 1 singles. Tickets are $160 to $200. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 4, enjoy stoner-comedy duo Cheech and Chong. I remember when I was about 13 years old, and Cinemax played a marathon of Cheech and Chong movies. That scene in the car at the beginning of Up and Smoke made me laugh until my sides hurt. Tickets are $40 to $60. If the names performing at The Show couldn’t get any bigger, prepare yourself: At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 24, Steve Martin and Martin Short will offer up An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life. Also performing: Steve Martin’s band, Steel Canyon Rangers, and keyboardist Jeff Babko. Tickets are $130 to $160. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995;

Spotlight 29’s August brings some great Latin music—and another hot event. Need some pecs and abs in your life? Well, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 11, the world-famous Chippendales will be performing. The Chippendales nd became part of the pop culture of the 1980s. A friend of mine recently mentioned that she dated a Chippendale during the ’80s who put himself through medical school thanks to his bare-chested performances. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 19, Argentinian sibling duo Pimpinela (below) ill be performing. Lucia and Joaquin Galan have become international superstars with their romantic musical pieces and are touring behind their musical show, Brothers, The True Story; expect a giant screen, dancers, choirs and a lot of other surprises. Tickets are $45 to $90. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566;

There is a lot going on at Pappy and Harriet’s during the month of August (per usual). Be sure to check out the full schedule online (per usual). Here are but a few noteworthy events: At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 11 indie-punk band Swearin’ will be stopping by. There’s been a lot of talk about this band since it released its first EP in 2012; since then, Swearin’ has dropped albums that have received critical acclaim, and has embarked on some popular tours. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18, psychedelic folk band Timber Timbre will take the stage. Timber Timbre has an interesting sound that sounds at times like some of the mellower Marc Bolan songs. I was pretty amused when I heard their song “Run From Me” in the recent Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country, which is about Indian guru Osho and his Rajneeshpuram community in Oregon. Tickets are $16. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 30, the 14th Annual Campout will get under way. The Campout is an annual weekend event curated by Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker frontman David Lowery. As of our deadline, the entire list of performers had not yet been released, but you can expect to see Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven and the usual characters associated with both bands. Weekend passes for the three-day event are $125. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956;

The Date Shed will be open for an event in August. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 31, reggae and R&B artist J Boog will be performing. Some of his best-known songs are “Let's Do It Again,” “Sunshine Girl,” and “Good Cry.” Servant is also on the bill. Tickets are $20 to $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699;

David Rothmiller and LD Thompson have learned some unsettling lessons since founding the LGBT Sanctuary Palm Springs—a transitional housing facility for LGBT and allied youth—back in 2015.

They’ve also had to jump through a lot of hoops related to licensing and regulations before finally opening and taking in residents—but in March of this year, The LGBT Sanctuary finally moved into the building it now calls home.

That does not mean everything has been easy since then.

“We’ve had some (residents) come and some go, and we know with the population here that it’s common,” Rothmiller said. “Not every one of our applicants and residents is a match (for The Sanctuary). Some of our kids just weren’t ready; we’re not a treatment facility, so we are unable to help some of these kids. They sometimes have issues that are far beyond us, but we can refer them. The Desert AIDS Project is our partner in health, dental and mental health. … We cannot have violence. We tell the kids, ‘We are a non-violent home.’ Some haven’t worked out, and that’s the bottom line.”

The residents currently living in the home are doing well, Rothmiller said.

“The kids we have now are great; they understand the program,” he said. “We are called a ‘transitional housing program plus foster care.’ It’s a state license we have written the program for; we have to meet state guidelines, and we have to meet our own program guidelines. In those program guidelines, our residents have to be working 80 hours a month, or in school—completing their GED, completing high school or earning college credits.

“The nice thing about our (Coachella Valley) community is they are supportive, and business owners have come forward and have hired our residents. We have two who have graduated and aged out; we can only have them from 18 to 21. It’s part of the extended foster care that the state realized was a necessity for these kids. Some 62 percent, after five years of leaving foster care, are on the street, homeless, doing drugs, prostituting themselves, dead, in jail or in combination. The state of California realized we were failing kids in foster care who graduate out of it at 18. That’s why they have made money available to assist those who are 18 to 21.”

Rothmiller explained why there’s a need for this program specifically for LGBT youth.

“The kids who come to us are LGBT youth or LGBT allies. We are all-inclusive, but (residents) have to be allies to the LGBT experience,” he said. “(LGBT kids) have suffered more at the hands of foster care. LGBT kids are bounced (around) three times as much as their straight counterparts in foster care. They keep losing families.

“There are various reasons kids are in foster care. One of them is because they’ve come out as gay, so they’re afraid to come out to their foster family for that same reason. In fact, many foster families are religious-based, so the gay experience is something they don’t want in their homes. Our kids are bounced more often, and each time they are bounced, they lose six months of academic achievement. Our kids come to us neglected educationally and socially, and we have a lot of work to do. They may not be adopted at this point in their life. … That’s our whole push—get them included; get them connected through our mentoring programming; and get them working or volunteering in the community.”

Shockingly, The LGBT Sanctuary does not currently have a waiting list for youth seeking services—even though there is definitely a need.

“We’ve had to work hard within the social system with social workers, case managers and probation officers to let them know we are here, and we are here to serve this demographic,” Rothmiller said. “When we first opened, Riverside County wasn’t capable and missed a state deadline to be our licensing agent. So we had to go to San Bernardino (County) for our licensing. They said, ‘You will have such a waiting list; please make sure you have beds.’ Fast forward, and we have one empty bed right now. We expected a long waiting list.

“We have identified anti-gay bias in the system, and we identified some ignorance to the situation of LGBT youth in foster care. The Los Angeles LGBT Center did a study that showed close to 20 percent of kids in foster care identify as LGBT. A lot of them aren’t identifying (as such) in foster care, because they are afraid to, so we believe the number is much higher. Riverside County is the least up-to-date (jurisdiction in terms) of meeting the needs of LGBT kids in foster care. They aren’t even asking kids in foster care. … It’s a broken system. One of their social workers said, ‘I believe (the percentage of kids in foster care who are LGBT) is about 3 percent.’ There’s a huge mistake in ignoring the fact that these kids have special needs. They need to be welcomed and understood. We tell the residents, ‘Yep, you have issues, and we understand that, but being gay is not one of your issues. Let’s move forward.’”

While the community’s response to The LGBT Sanctuary has been largely positive, there are always critics, conspiracy theorists and bigots. Those involved with The LGBT Sanctuary have come up with a fascinating way to deal with the negative responses.

“What we are doing is gathering residents, supporters and board members in front of the camera, and we’re doing something similar to the ‘Mean Tweets’ that Jimmy Kimmel does,” Rothmiller said. “It’s to shine the light into the darkness to remind those of us in the community that we’re still hated. It’s a controversial thing to do, but I feel it’s important in this time to tell our truth, and to share comments that are so mean and ugly. Our intention is to remind people that we are here for our residents.”

For more information, visit

Shooter Jennings—the son of the late, great Waylon Jennings—is usually considered a country artist. However, his love of taking creative risks has allowed him to transcend country in some awesome ways.

On Thursday and Friday, Aug. 9 and 10, he’ll enjoy a rare two-night stint at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace—coinciding with the release of his new album, Shooter, on Aug. 10.

“This time around, I feel like we really set out to make a real country record,” Jennings said during a recent phone interview. “‘A Hank Jr. record’ is what we were kind of calling it, and we set out to make a record that was fun to listen to, and I feel like the most left-turn thing I could have done was make a very country record, especially when everyone is doing experimental records these days. For me, I set out to make a very boogie-woogie, a little Jerry Lee Lewis, a little Hank Williams Jr. kind of record. That was the spark, and we saw that through.”

His previous album, Countach, was a tribute to record producer and electronica pioneer Giorgio Moroder, and included covers of some of Moroder’s contributions to film soundtracks, including title song from The Neverending Story with Brandi Carlile, and the title song from Cat People with Marilyn Manson.

“Every record is different. With the (Moroder) record, the idea was to explore his music and expand it into a more-country realm,” Jennings said. “I learned so much from doing that record. I watched this documentary on Hunter S. Thompson called Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride, and he talked about how he would retype Ernest Hemingway novels, like the whole book, and he would learn his writing by doing that. Exploring these Giorgio arrangements and chord progressions, and adapting to them was a learning process. I became really obsessed with his solo records, and I thought they were so unique and definitive of the time.

“Doing that record was really fun, but after that was over, I didn’t want to go back and do something like that again. It made sense to do a left turn and make a country record afterward. It felt like the rebellious thing to do.”

When I asked Jennings if he has ever felt like he’s alienated his audience, he mentioned Black Ribbons, a concept album that he released in 2010, which included the voice of Stephen King narrating between songs as a disc jockey after the U.S. government had taken control of the airwaves. Many of the songs reference conspiracy theories.

“At this point in time, I think it’s become expected. When we did Black Ribbons, that was the first big left turn,” Jennings said. “When we did that record, there were definitely some people at the moment who didn’t understand what we were doing. But over time, that record has given back to me more than any other record. I got the most out of the records that are the most experimental. I don’t feel like I’ve divided (my audience), but I’m sure there were people who were like, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ But now it’s like become a mainstay. Sturgill Simpson did A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, which is a very experimental record. … At the time, it might have been polarizing, but if I lost anyone, they were people who were not there for me in the first place. I never felt like there was a reason to believe it wasn’t OK to push the boundaries.”

Jennings has collaborated with a long list of musicians from various genres—but one that sticks out is Billy Ray Cyrus; Jennings collaborated with him on a song called “Killing the Blues.” When I asked Jennings about it, he laughed.

“I’ve known him over the years, and we did this series of shows in Los Angeles where it was me and a band, and we’d add a bunch of different singers to come in and play,” Jennings said. “I asked him to do that, and when he did that, I said, ‘We should go in the studio just for fun.’ I had really been in love with that song, particularly John Prine’s version, for a really long time. He loved it, and it was like, ‘Why not?’ It was cool, and he let me steer with the two songs we did, and it was just fun.

“He’s an incredibly talented singer. His personality has kind of overshadowed who he really is in a way, but he’s this crazy stylistic vocalist, kind of like Freddie Mercury or something. He does layer after layer of harmonies. He’d do them in all these different voices—like one that was a woman, and one that was like Sammy Hagar—and he had all these names for these different voices. It sounds like 10 different people singing, but it’s him changing his voice.”

Jennings married his wife in Joshua Tree, and they are regular visitors to Pappy and Harriet’s.

“I love it up there. It’s a special place to me. There’s kind of a mystical vibe to it,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of adventures in Joshua Tree, and it’s become me and my wife’s place to go and get away. I love playing Pappy and Harriet’s. When my wife and I go out there, we go and eat at Pappy and Harriet’s.”

I had to ask: What did Jennings think about the episodes regarding his father on Mike Judge’s new Cinemax animated series, Tales From the Tour Bus?

“I didn’t know what to expect, especially after seeing the Johnny Paycheck episode, which was a little harsh,” he said. “I wondered what was going to happen, and I didn’t get too involved in it, because I was worried about the platform and whether it included people who had an ax to grind. But I think they did a really good job at the end of the day, and I think Mike Judge’s heart was in the right place. The Jerry Lee Lewis episode was fantastic, and it had some really cool stuff in it. You could tell (Judge) really loved country music, and you could tell he was trying to do something really cool and entertaining.”

Shooter Jennings will perform at 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday, Aug. 9 and 10, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets for Friday’s show are sold out, but $25 tickets remained for Thursday’s show as of our press deadline. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

The desert isn’t just a place to create art for Cristopher Cichocki; the desert is also his muse—and at times, his art includes actual pieces of the desert. His works have showcased the beauty, the darkness and the catastrophes of the desert and its ecosystem.

Cichocki’s work has been shown around the world, and he’s taking many of his pieces to the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster for an exhibition called Divisions of Land and Sea; it’s part of a larger exhibit called The Robot Show, which features eight artists, each with their own solo exhibition. It will be on display from Saturday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Sept. 30.

During a recent phone interview with Cichocki while he was in Guadalajara, Mexico, he explained his exhibit.

“It’ll be an installation of new paintings, video works, sculptures, photographic works and my audio work,” Cichocki said. “It relates to the collision that we’re in between humankind, the natural world and industrial production.”

Some of Cichocki works are not what they appear to be at first. For instance: If you look at his photos, you’ll discover he’s combined them with paint.

“After Palm Desert High School, where I graduated in 1997, I went directly to CalArts,” he said; also known as the California Institute of the Arts, the renowned school is located in Valencia. “CalArts is potentially one of the most multidisciplinary art schools in the world, and I was exposed to highly experimental and conceptual practices. They were completely mind-blowing, and to challenge myself and experiment, and I’ve always been striving to take my practice and insights to a different level. CalArts was a laboratory for me to work through this hybrid framework.

“As to when the work came into this cohesive relationship, I feel that really came around 2010, when I started combining my elements with the video, the photography, the painting and the performance. They came together and started to work together as a cross-reference—meaning they’re all pieces of a larger puzzle. I’m producing paintings that are photographs; I’m producing videos that are paintings, and vice versa. I find it necessary for exhibitions such as Divisions of Land and Sea to combine all of these elements into a larger narrative.”

Cichocki was part of a KCET documentary on the Salton Sea. He voiced his concerns about the growing ecological and environmental threat the lake poses to the Coachella Valley.

“The Salton Sea is one of the largest pending airborne catastrophes threatening the United States, and it’s right in our backyard,” he said. “It’s this issue that I feel is out of sight and out of mind for a majority of people in the area—not only in the Coachella Valley, but even spanning all the way into Los Angeles, people don’t even know about the Salton Sea.

“The Salton Sea was a manmade accident in 1905 when the Colorado River split and started filling what was then the Salton Sink, which was a huge basin ready for this water to enter it. Now we have California’s largest lake … and if the dust or particulate matter begins to advance further with the receding shoreline, we’re going to have major problems with the air quality. We already do have major problems. The high school in Mecca has one of the highest asthma rates in the nation. It’s not just dust that’s blowing around in the air; it’s particulate matter entering into people’s blood streams and causing asthma, especially in younger generations. There’s selenium, arsenic and all of these other things. It truly is this synthesis of nature and industry because of 100 years of agricultural runoff.”

His work gets quite detailed at times. His latest painting, “Shoreline,” includes barnacles, fish bones, sand and salt from the Salton Sea.

“I look at (Divisions of Land and Sea) as a hybrid between natural history and contemporary art. I’m bringing in elements of land art, minimalism and other historical points of trajectory,” he said. “Also, I’m bringing in raw organic materials. My paintings have actual barnacles; they have actual soil and things that are transforming within them. There’s black-light reactivity, which I actually refer to in the technical term—ultraviolet radiation. There’s evidence that there’s a metaphysical property under these elements. I’m interested in reality and also the biological and phenomenological structural makeup of these elements. There’s this idea that there’s something constantly in motion, and the work is alive.”

I asked Cichocki if there was a spiritual element to his work. He seemed to struggle with the question at first.

“I certainly feel that nature has a certain awareness to it. It can be as simple as we water a tree, or we don’t,” Cichocki said. “Or it can be as simple as we have classical music playing, and the tree thrives beyond the other trees in areas where there isn’t any classical music.”

Cichocki will be going out of state for his next exhibition.

“In September in Taos, New Mexico, I’ll be performing Circular Dimensions at a large video and installation festival called The Paseo Project. Circular Dimensions is ever-evolving, so I have new tricks up my sleeve for Taos.”

Cristopher Cichocki’s Divisions of Land and Sea, part of The Robot Show, will be on display from Saturday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Sept. 30, at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History, 665 W. Lancaster Blvd., in Lancaster, about 135 miles northwest of the Coachella Valley. For more information, call 661-723-6250, or visit Below top: “Center of the Sea,” 2018, Salton Sea barnacles on wood composite with LED video panel. Below bottom: “Property Division,” 2016-2017; left side is a tilapia nest at Riviera Keys, Salton Sea, Calif.; right side is algae with birds, Salton City, Calif.

Not long ago, hip-hop trio The Bermuda was getting ready to release a brand-new album.

After the departure of one of the members, however, that album will almost certainly never be released. Meanwhile, the two remaining members of The Bermuda—Ivy the Giant (Ivan Recendes) and the Madd Hatter (Taylor Bentz), who have been friends since childhood—are going back to the drawing board and continuing The Bermuda as a duo.

During a recent interview in Cathedral City, Madd Hatter and Ivy the Giant talked about what happened.

“We were working on a new album called Loading, and we started getting really frustrated during the whole process,” Ivy the Giant said. “Bunkz started hanging out with a different crew and slowly started distancing himself. He never showed up to rehearse, never wanted to go with us anywhere, and never wanted to meet up. We decided to work on our own thing, but keep the group intact. Our side project was going to be called the Madd Giants. We posted a picture, because we were done slowing down. We needed to pick up our pace and get back up on it. After a while, I gave Bunkz an ultimatum, and he said, ‘Consider me out.’”

Madd Hatter said Bunkz put the group in a difficult spot.

“We’d just finished making this album,” Madd Hatter said. “It was the best work the three of us had done to date. Now, he’s leaving, and it’s like, ‘What are we going to do?’ (Ivy) said, ‘OK, let’s just not drop the album.’ We already figured at that point that it was done. We knew it was coming sooner or later.

“We just disappeared for a couple of months, and we were stuck on whether we keep The Bermuda name … or do we change our name to the Madd Giants? After talking with our fans, they said, ‘No, keep the name going!’”

Bunkz (Giancarlo Stagnaro) explained his side of the story via e-mail.

“The friendship died, and I didn’t want to kick it with them anymore,” Bunkz said. “I wasn’t even planning on leaving the group up until I saw Madd Hatter post up a picture on Instagram of him and Ivy the Giant talking about ‘Cheers to new beginnings!’ So when I saw that, I said, ‘Fuck that, and fuck you guys; I’m out.’”

There was also a major problem with the aforementioned album.

“The reason why that album will never see the light of day is we had a third-party producer work on it, so he owns that album now,” Madd Hatter said. “Some shady things went on between us and him, and now we don’t want to pay for that album. When we announced the album wasn’t coming out, and Bunkz left, (the producer) texted us and said, ‘You still have to pay for this album.’ It was fully understandable, given it was mixed and mastered. Then he hit up Bunkz behind our backs, saying, ‘Hey, I’ll cut you a deal: I’ll cut their parts out, and it’ll be your album.’”

At that point, the two remaining members of The Bermuda decided not to pay for the album. “We didn’t even trust it anymore, and the majority of the beats on the album were done by Bunkz, so it wouldn’t have worked out anyway,” Ivy the Giant said.

Bunkz confirmed the producer did extend that offer to him.

“What happened is that he suggested I remove their verses and drop the album with only my verses on it. And I kindly declined that offer,” he wrote via email.

Despite all the bad, Ivy the Giant said something good has come out of the chaos.

“We were so frustrated when we were recording that album with all the bullshit going on in the studio, and after every studio session, there was something we didn’t like,” he said. “It was back and forth after a session, and now it’s just two minds. We can go back forth, and we don’t have to worry about that third party. I feel like it’s better as it is now. We just wanted to start fresh, and that’s what we’re doing.

“We’re working on a new EP called The Madd Giants Part 1. It’s going to drop in August, so we’re excited for that.”

Both members of The Bermuda expressed optimism about the future.

“It feels good to be doing this music shit again—without any worries, and without any bad thoughts in the back of my mind while we’re performing,” Ivy the Giant said. “Now we know what we’re doing, and it feels good again, so we can continue.”

Bunkz said he’s also found closure.

“My new name is Jon Goat, and I’m dropping my first project called Bunkz Is DEAD soon,” he wrote. “I think I made the best decision of my life. I’m a better solo artist, and everyone agrees. I’m very versatile, and I can rap in Spanish and in English and on any beat—and not to talk shit, but they can’t do that.”

The Bermuda performed at The Hood Bar and Pizza last year with the local metal/hip-hop band Drop Mob. I asked if a rumored recording of the song they performed together exists and will ever come out.

“For a while, we were super-hyped and into the rock/rap thing. Obviously, it’s in the future,” Madd Hatter said. “Drop Mob reminds me of Rage Against the Machine and early Cypress Hill. When I hear them, I hear that sound. We were always like, ‘We have to collaborate with these dudes.’ We did a few shows with them, and then we hit them up and said, ‘Hey, we need to do something together.’ We actually did a demo song together and performed it. It is still in the future, but we haven’t kept in touch with Drop Mob.”

Said Ivy the Giant: “We’re still down to do a rock/rap collaboration. That was different, and we had never heard ourselves in something like that. It’s always cool to do that, and that was a lot of fun. But for right now, we’re focused on getting ourselves back where we need to be.”

For more information on The Bermuda, visit

When I sat down with Sunday Funeral to discuss the band’s latest album, Hit ’Em Again, frontman Justin Ledesma chuckled when I mentioned the band’s history.

After being founded 11 years ago, Sunday Funeral has included a seemingly ever-rotating cast of local musicians with Ledesma. However, the band re-established itself two years ago after parting ways with former vocalist and guitarist Brian Frang. Ledesma has found solid ground fronting the band with Andrea Taboada on bass and Grant Gruenberg on drums.

The group’s once-shaky live performances are now solid, and the band has been nominated for awards by readers of both the Coachella Valley Independent and CV Weekly.

During a recent interview in Palm Desert, the members discussed how Hit ’Em Again—the first album to feature Taboada and Gruenberg—is a far cry from previous releases.

“I hope it goes to show that I put in a lot of work,” Ledesma said. “That third record, Rising of the Dead, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. I was doing a lot of drugs. This one, I spent a lot of time and put in the work, so I hope people can tell. I spent a lot of time on each little section of the songs. I’m pretty sure it comes across as far better than the last ones. On Rising of the Dead, for some reason, I started with the guitar and finished with the drums second, which was stupid! This time around, it was Grant playing live, and Andrea recorded her parts separately.”

Sunday Funeral did include three of the band’s older songs on the album as re-recorded versions: “The Mirror,” “Deadly Kiss” and “Alloy Stars.”

“The brand-new recordings of those songs are nothing like they originally sounded like,” Gruenberg said.

Two of the songs on Hit ’Em Again were originally Taboada’s work.

“‘Battle Cry’ and ‘Who Knows’ are songs I wrote the bass lines for,” Taboada said. “We collaborated on writing the rest of the song, and Justin helped with the structures of the songs.”

The band has a newfound obsession with the ’30s and ’40s. Ledesma has performed wearing a vintage military uniform; Sunday Funeral has done covers of ’30s and ’40s songs; even Ledesma’s microphone stand is inspired by the era. The group sometimes performs with a rotating list of local female vocalists called “B Company,” who also wear military uniforms.

“I liked Indiana Jones when I was a kid,” Ledesma said with a laugh. “I’ve always liked 1930s and 1940s things like the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the movie Swing Kids. I’ve always liked that kind of culture and don’t really know why. Originally, I didn’t want to go full-on military when we would perform live with B Company. That first night, I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll do some kind of soldier thing, too,’ and went, ‘Nah, that’s taking it too far.’ The whole Hit ’Em Again thing really fits in. The more I stopped holding back, the more it worked.”

While Ledesma has endured hard times with Sunday Funeral, he said he couldn’t be happier with where the band is now.

“I’m happy I stuck with it—but there was never a point where I wanted to give up,” he said. “I want to play music, and it’s just really neat that we struck upon something that people are really enjoying. I hope not to take it for granted, because there was a time when people used to think we weren’t that great.

“I have our Coachella Valley Independent award hanging in two rooms of my house,” he said, referring to the band’s Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018 staff pick as Best Re-Established Band. “It lifts my spirits when I look at it, and it means a lot to me. It’s really neat to be recognized for something you do. It feels really good.”

For more information, visit

The Flusters have been busy playing shows in Los Angeles and San Diego, and preparing the band’s second EP; according to frontman Doug VanSant, the new music will drop in the fall. For more information, visit In the meantime, we checked in with guitarist Danny White and asked him to endure the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

KISS in Jackson, Miss. Skid Row and Ted Nugent opened.

What was the first album you owed?

Tom Petty’s Wildflowers or Huey Lewis and the News' Sports. My mom used to put CDs in my Easter basket. I don’t remember which came first.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I've been on a Gary Clark kick for the past few weeks. I've also been inspired lately by a lot of deep funk. Mickey and the Soul Generation has been playing a lot; the Poets of Rhythm as well. I’ve been really enjoying Bird Concerns, a band we did a show with in Los Angeles not long ago. Amazing harmonies!

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

It's not up to me to “get” anyone’s music.

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

Jimi Hendrix.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

1950s doo-wop.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Any (venue) that has a shower. If we are talking about to attend, I like dark, intimate venues. I’m not big on stadium and arena shows.

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

“Kiss of mountain air we breathe; goodbye, it’s time to fly,” from “Surprise Valley,” Widespread Panic.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Widespread Panic. It was my first love and a long one. I don’t listen a lot these days, but every now and then, I'll stream a live show from the ’90s, and sit down for a listen.

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

I would probably ask John Bell of Widespread Panic where he found his inspiration.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I'm not gonna die.

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

If I had to choose, maybe I’d go with Little Creatures by the Talking Heads, just because there is never a bad time for that album.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Casual Sex” by Bird Concerns. (Scroll down to hear it.)

If you’ve seen Gutter Candy perform recently, you may have noticed a new yet familiar face behind the drums: Dani Diggler, also a member of Sticky Doll, and the guitarist and drummer for Van Vincent. That’s not all: Diggler is also a solo artist. Catch him in action with Gutter Candy this Friday, July 13, at The Hood Bar and Pizza; and Friday, Aug. 3, at Gadi’s, in Yucca Valley. See him with Van Vincent on Friday, Aug. 10, at the Joshua Tree Saloon, in Joshua Tree. Diggler was kind enough to take the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Aerosmith, 1993, in Costa Mesa. Jackyl was the opening act. It was a great show, and I remember most of it.

What was the first album you owned?

Too far back to recall, but I believe it was a cassette tape given to me by my aunt: Draw the Line by Aerosmith. (Aerosmith was) also my first favorite band.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m always listening to Tool, Primus and The Doors.

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

Rap. It’s just not music at all.

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

Without a doubt, it would be The Doors. I can’t think of a show that could be more legendary than that.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Tori Amos. She’s amazing. Most people can’t believe I’m into her. Why not? She’s amazing!

What’s your favorite music venue?

I’d have to say the Greek Theatre (in Los Angeles). Great place to see a show.

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

“Death makes angels of us all, giving us wings where we had shoulders, smooth as ravens claws,” The Doors, “A Feast of Friends.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Again, The Doors.

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

Les Claypool: “How the hell do you do what you do on the bass so well?” Greatest bassist of all time. Period.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Two songs: From a band I was in years ago Chili Cow, “... And the Story Begins,” and an original I wrote, currently unreleased, "Death My Friend."

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

Tool, Ænima.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Right in Two,” again by Tool. So accurate. (Scroll down to hear it.)