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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Jane Lee Hooker is not your average blues band.

The New York-based, all-women band features members of Nashville Pussy, Helldorado and Futurex—and they’re bringing their music to Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, Feb. 1.

The members of Jane Lee Hooker are Tracy Almazan, aka High Top Tracy (formerly of Nashville Pussy and Helldorado); Tina Gorin, aka T-Bone (formerly of Helldorado and Bad Wizard); Melissa Houston, aka Cool Whip (sister of semi-local musician JP Houston); Hail Mary, aka Mary Zadroga (formerly of Wives and Futurex); and Dana Danger, aka Dana Athens.

During a recent phone interview, both Almazan and Gorin said it seemed inevitable that they would share the same stage again.

“Tracy and I were in Helldorado together in the late ’90s,” said Gorin. “We both played guitar in the five-piece band that was very heavy and guitar-driven. We bonded way back then, and we’re great friends, too. We knew one day that we’d find ourselves back to playing together.”

Added Almazan: “This is the first time I’m in a band where everybody is really on the top of their game on their instruments. I get to play with people who are really at the highest level of playing. That’s so much fun, and I’ve never really had that before.”

The band has not put out an album and has gigged mostly around New York City, meaning many music-lovers have not yet been exposed to Jane Lee Hooker. The band’s sound offers a harder-edged version of the blues and Southern rock for which both Helldorado and Nashville Pussy have been known. The sound is aggressive—and not traditional by any means.

“I’ve always loved the blues and all kinds of other music that weren’t necessarily blazingly loud and harder,” said Gorin. “The bands that we were in were extremely loud rock bands. When you go through all that, and years of tours with that kind of attitude, even when you go back to playing the blues … we have it in our blood to turn it up very loud.”

Added Almazan: “I think that Tina and I have a great love of guitars and blues music. We decided to just play blues tunes together. When you put all these people in the same room who have all these different influences, this is what came out. It’s been really great. It’s got the blues-guitar playing I love, and the aggression that I love from hardcore and punk music. It’s kind of everything I like rolled into one band.”

Gorin shared a story about a conference gig the band played in Austin, Texas.

“Somebody from Texas at the conference in Austin said to us after we finished playing, ‘You guys are so New York!’ I was so surprised and said, ‘That’s how we sound? New York?’ I guess it’s the attack, or there’s the anger or aggression that you see in New York. I didn’t realize we were that heavy.”

When many people think of women in rock who play on the aggressive side, it’s the “Riot Grrrl” scene of the early to late ’90s that comes to mind, led Kathleen Hanna and her band Bikini Kill, and the band Hole.

Gorin and Almazan were not fans.

“I loathed and hated it. I was never more lost than in that time, and I still don’t like that stuff,” Gorin said. “It was like I was expected to be so happy for them and be like, ‘Yeah, you’re waving the flag for me!’ No, I don’t like that kind of music.”

Almazan was in a band called Wives during Riot Grrrl’s popularity.

“We were really lucky we were never really grouped in with any of them, because we played so well,” Almazan said. “Instead of opening up for Riot Grrrl kind of bands, we were opening for 7 Seconds and more established male punk bands who showed us an enormous amount of respect because of our playing.”

Jane Lee Hooker should see its fan base grow as the band gets exposed to new potential fans; the band is playing three California dates with The Bluebonnets.

When I told them about the rural Pioneertown location and atmosphere of Pappy and Harriet’s, Gorin and Almazan both expressed excitement.

“I can’t wait!” said Gorin. “That’s how I picture us being really happy—onstage in a club like that. We’re from Manhattan, which is distractions everywhere, and I just want to play in a honky-tonk.”

Added Almazan, with a laugh: “We may not come back to New York. We might just stay there.”

Jane Lee Hooker plays with The Bluebonnets at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Since the age of 17, JP Houston has been building his impressive musical résumé.

Houston, a native of Toronto, has written songs for recording artists, theater and television. He’s composed for BBC, HBO, CBC, PBS and many others; he was even nominated for a Gemini Award, which is the Canadian equivalent of an Emmy Award.

Since relocating to the Los Angeles area about four years ago, he’s been involved with The Relationship, the side project of Brian Bell from Weezer. He’s also part of Pappy and Harriet’s The Sunday Band, up in Pioneertown.

On top of all of that, he’s been leading a unique variety show that has been compared to A Prairie Home Companion: Since February, he’s been producing American Parlor Songbook, a podcast that’s recorded live in the Ace Hotel’s Amigo Room every Wednesday evening, featuring a variety of guests. Previous performers have included Blasting Echo frontman Josh Heinz, former Beastie Boys keyboardist Money Mark and singer Keisha D.

While the show is recorded weekly, Houston is currently saving up an archive of unreleased shows for possible radio broadcast down the line. As of this writing, six recordings are available at americanparlorsongbook.com and iTunes. Houston said another is due to be released this week, followed by one in July, and one in August.

Houston said that American Parlor Songbook is partly inspired by his childhood.

“I grew up with my parents being theater people,” Houston said during a recent phone interview. “We would have these parties where all the people were actors, dancers and writers, and there would be a piano-player at the parties. We would sing show tunes, play games and tell jokes. The structure of the show is sort of based on those parties.”

The show has made him step outside of the norms of being a musician, Houston said.

“I think for me personally, the first performance—going from a singer and musician to a speaker—was a real turning point,” Houston said. “When I was scripting out the show and then went in front of an audience and had to execute it, the words came out, and they made sense—it worked. That was a really exciting moment for me.”

While his show has been compared to A Prairie Home Companion, Houston said there some definite differences.

“I would say it’s a silhouette of A Prairie Home Companion; you could put it in the same place and category shelf in a library,” said Houston. “(A Prairie Home Companion) is a variety show where they tell stories, sing songs, and the guests come out. American Parlor Songbook is a very different show in its structure and tone. I call it a parlor act, because it similar to a parlor with the piano-player and the bantering with the audience. It’s more interactive.”

For those who have never attended an American Parlor Songbook show, Houston said it’s different than what people are accustomed to—and that makes things fun for both himself and the audience.

“It’s not just an event. It’s a fun show to watch, and it’s a fun show to participate in. … We play musical charade-type games where the audience can shout out the answers. After the show is done recording, I stay and keep play sing-along songs, and we keep playing games through the night.”

American Parlor Songbook podcasts can be found on iTunes or at americanparlorsongbook.com. The show is recorded at 9 p.m. each Wednesday at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive (760-325-9900; acehotel.com/Houston). Admission is free.

It all began at an Ace Hotel job fair in 2009.

“Our vice president saw Linda in line, with this fabulous glittery dress and a pair of her signature glasses,” recalled Jason Dibler, the hotel’s general manager. “He said, ‘I don’t know what she does, but we need her.’”

That’s how Linda Gerard started her rapid ascent toward becoming something of a Palm Springs icon. Sadly, the hostess of the Ace’s wildly popular Sissy Bingo Monday nights is currently in the battle of her life: Several weeks ago, Gerard was diagnosed with lung cancer. Now, her friends and fans are joining forces to put on a fundraiser at the Ace next Monday evening, March 25.

That Ace’s vice president’s instincts have paid off: It turns out that woman in line is one hell of a performer. She was Barbra Streisand’s understudy when Funny Girl was on Broadway. She became a Provincetown singing legend, and opened one of the East Coast’s biggest lesbian bars in that town in the 1970s. Later, she moved to West Hollywood and opened The Rose Tattoo cabaret club. She even made a splash on Deal or No Deal, with the briefcase-holding models wearing oversized glasses in tribute as she won some good money.

Of course, Linda made an instant splash at the Ace. Her first gig was as the hostess at the King’s Highway restaurant, and somewhere along the line, she started singing—for a diner’s birthday, perhaps. So then she became the singing hostess, which led to a bingo night in the Amigo Room bar. Of course, this was no regular bingo night; Linda often would stop calling numbers and break into song, or a story about her life, or something else entertaining.

“It got so busy, so fast, that we moved (the bingo night) to the restaurant,” Dibler said, citing social networking as being key to Linda’s rise: Someone would post a video on Facebook, for example, of Linda doing her thing, and people would decide they needed to check her out themselves.

The Ace also released a compilation album of some of Linda’s songs, Fabulous Selections, on vinyl. (You can listen to some excerpts online at the Ace website. Good stuff.)

Gerard said that on a Monday in February, Linda showed up for bingo not feeling well—she was having difficulty breathing—but she still put on a fine show. She was soon thereafter diagnosed with lung cancer.

This Monday, March 25, starting at 7 p.m., the Ace is throwing a “Linda Fabulous” party. A portion of bar proceeds and all revenues from rooms booked for that night with the code “fabulous” will be donated to Linda (plus, the resort fee will be waived, and patrons will receive a 25 percent discount). Linda will also receive the proceeds from raffle tickets, and the raffle prizes look pretty sweet, with well more than a dozen businesses—from LuLu California Bistro to Vons to the Living Desert to the Ace itself—chipping in.

The entertainment lineup is impressive as well. Performers include Lady Tigra (of L’Trimm), Sean Wheeler (of Throw Rag and a frequent collaborator with Zander Schloss), JP Houston and the Fabulous Band, DJ Day, Rachel Dean, Giselle Woo, Alf Alpha and Ace karaoke host Kiesha. Manny the Movie Guy will host.

There’s also a chance of an appearance by Linda, the OWL (Older, Wiser Lesbian) herself, depending on how she’s feeling. Here’s what she wrote in a letter to friends and fans posted on the Ace website: “Thank you so much for your love and support. I look forward to returning to the Ace very soon. I will do everything in my power to rid my body of the monsters inside me and once again join you in King’s Highway, outside on the patio, the Amigo Room or wherever you are at the Ace. I will wear my giant glasses, sing lots of songs and even play some fucking bingo Monday nights. I hope to see many of you on the 25th. And again, thank you. This will be a celebration for all of us.”

Hear, hear.

Linda Fabulous takes place at 7 p.m., Monday, March 25, at the Commune space at the Ace Hotel, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Admission is free, but donations, raffle-ticket purchases and generosity are appreciated. For more information, visit acehotel.com/fabulous.

Published in Local Fun