CVIndependent

Sun08252019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Campout 11 came to Pappy and Harriet’s for three days starting last Thursday, Aug. 27, bringing to Pioneertown the annual migration of “Campers” and “Crumbs” fanatics from all over the United States, Canada and even the United Kingdom.

Custom, of course, dictates that there are dress themes everyday. Thursday’s unofficial theme was “Pink,” in commemoration of fan Karen Pratt-Mills, aka “KPM,” who passed earlier this year due to cancer. A sea of pink demonstrated the strong bond among this family of music fans.

The Hickman-Dalton Gang was the first band to perform inside. Hickman entered stage-right, strapped on his Gibson Les Paul “Lucky Seven” guitar and said: “Lots of love for Karen.” Johnny Hickman was wearing a pink KPM sticker in the style of the ETG logo (Eurotrash Girl). Claire Wilcox, one of the Queen Crumbs, told me Nancy Wheeler produced the sticker to hand out to fans with the help of Jan Switzer and Steve Rizzari. This example of friendship among Campout fans is the type of bond that keeps this mini-festival going.

The Hickman-Dalton Gang played the first song they wrote together: “Mexican Jail.” Later, Dalton noted: “This song is not on the list, but a pretty girl asked for this song,” as he introduced “My Name Is Dalton.”

With the audience warmed up, bluegrass came to the Campout thanks to Whiskey Gentry, formed by wife and husband Lauren Staley and Jason Morrow. Staley’s voice was impeccable, and Whiskey Gentry hooked me with “Martha”—a song the duo reportedly wrote about a week ago.

The Cracker duo, Johnny Hickman and David Lowery, shut things down Thursday night. Lowery greeted the crowd: “Hello, everybody. Welcome to Campout 11,” before starting with “Torches and Pitchforks,” off of Berkeley to Bakersfield; the lyrics powerfully echo the activism Lowery famously exhibits on behalf of artists’ rights: “We will fight you from the mountains, and we will fight you in the streets, and we will fight you in the valleys; you cannot take what isn’t yours.” The duo also played “Low” in addition to “Eurotrash Girl” and “Duty Free.” Hickman took the lead on vocals for “Wedding Day,” leaving his admirers content.

Friday night’s outdoor stage featured Jonathan Segel on guitar, with Victor Krummenacher on bass, playing cool jams showcasing their instrumental skills. Whiskey Gentry offered a set that was expanded from the night before. Lauren Staley said this was her first time in California; it seemed she might have been hooked on the high desert scene.

Camper Van Beethoven headlined on Friday. The theme: classy dames and able gents. Of course, lead vocalist David Lowery wore a tuxedo. Listening to Lowery sing “Eye of Fatima (Part 1)” was worth the price of admission alone. Segel and Krummenacher shredded and grooved, making people want to dance—with the bonus of hearing Camper Van Beethoven’s cover of Status Quo’s “Matchstick Men.”

Thayer Sarrano, from Athens, Ga., opened on the outdoor stage on Saturday. Her honeyed voice grabbed me, and her song “Shaky,” from her album of the same name, blew me away.

The Queen of Joshua Tree, Jesika Von Rabbit, was up next. Jesika showcased favorites like “You Drive Me Ape,” “Devils Playground,” “Dirty Horse” and “Glamorous Misery,” whose video is astonishing but very NSFW. Jesika ended with “Din Ho,” a fast-paced song about a defunct Yucca Valley Chinese restaurant that gets you wanting to square dance.

Cracker headlined the outdoor show, and many fans wore Bakersfield or Berkeley garb. Cracker played the hits including “The World Is Mine,” “Low” and “Teenage Angst.” Cracker also played the very melancholy but flawless “Almond Grove,” from the group’s latest, Berkeley to Bakersfield: “Yeah, I’m going back home, to the cotton fields to the almond groves, to the old homestead, see my Ma and Pa, see my big brother Jack, he went to Kandahar, but he never came back.”

Cracker does not normally play encores, but the band came back with “You Got Yourself Into This,” also from the latest release. Lowery handed the baton to Hickman to close the outdoor show with “San Bernardino Boy,” a non-autobiographical tune about a young Inland Empire lad who sounds like someone you might run into in this part of the desert.

For those with endless endurance, Frank Funaro played a great Lou Reed set to end Campout 11.

Published in Reviews

There was so much buzz surrounding the Pappy and Harriet’s indoor show by Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real that the crew cleared as much space in the adobe music venue as possible.

Of course, there was the normal droning on social media about how Pappy’s should have moved the show outside, where there’s more space. Never mind that it was hot as hell, plus the logistics of an outdoor show are immense.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, aka POTR, started performing live in 2008. One reason for all the buzz: Lukas Nelson is the son of Willie Nelson, and he has toured with his father.

One of his major influences is Neil Young. Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real played on Neil Young’s 36th album, The Monsanto Years, and POTR just wrapped up a tour with Young. This may explain the demographic shift at Pappy’s that suggested some in attendance might have seen Buffalo Springfield live while in their teens. Even my hemp-fedora-wearing consigliore friend, who believes all music died when the Beatles left Candlestick Park, was in attendance.

The show was a family affair, with Insects v. Robots opening, with Micah Nelson, Lucas’ brother, at the helm. Insects v. Robots is a trippy band that jams the hell out of every tune while mixing genres and having a blast. At one point, Micah asked Lukas to join the set—but he was nowhere to be found, so Micah asked for help from the audience; a brunette with Catherine Wheel and Phil Collins tattoos volunteered to go bang on the tour-bus door. As they say, the show must go on, and Insects v. Robots got everyone harmonizing to the psychedelic vibe. On several occasions, Micah Nelson asked with a smirk: “Does anyone have any questions?”

Joshua Tree’s favorite cowgirl, Jesika Von Rabbit, was briefly front and center to get a picture of Lukas Nelson. POTR opened with a greeting from Lukas: “How are you guys doing? … I think I have a lot of friends here.” Nelson seems not cocky, but cool, when he smiles; he has natural charisma.

POTR’s set included “Don’t Take Me Back,” a authentic song about a breakup: “I was sittin’ in my daddy’s car, with a joint in both of my hands, smokin’ ’til the smoke wouldn’t stop, and the windows roll down, and I’m rolling around in my mind.” Lukas included a cover of “L.A. Woman” by the Doors that was an excellent way to showcase the band’s skills, before switching genres several times, with music including “Diamonds on the Soles of Your Shoes” by Paul Simon. In a nod to “Uncle Neil,” POTR included “Cowgirl in the Sand.”

Nelson guitar skills were hypnotic; at one point, he played the guitar with his mouth as he kneeled on the stage.

POTR was getting ready to head out the side door—until a chant of “five more songs!” started from frenzied fans. To pump up the audience, Lukas turned out an excellent cover of “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones. Then he remarked: “This is a song we wrote a while ago, ‘The Joint.’”

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real showed why they more than held their own onstage with Willie Nelson and Neil Young.

As the show ended, I bumped into Jesika Von Rabbit at the bar. She was excited that her favorite Neil Young song had been played.

Published in Reviews

It’s a light month for live music in the Coachella Valley—although the Coachella Valley Independent and I are doing our part to fill the entertainment void.

We’re holding a series of benefit shows for the NestEggg Food Bank at Chill Bar Palm Springs; call it the NestEggg Food Bank Summer Concert Series. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 7, EeVaan Tre and the Show will be performing. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 14, Independent resident DJ Alex Harrington will get the crowd dancing. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 21, Derek Gregg of The Hive Minds will turn in a solo show. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 28, DJ Aimlo will be featured. Each show is free, but we’re asking for a donation of $5 or more—all of which will go straight to the food bank! Chill Bar, 216 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs; 760-327-1079; chillbarpalmsprings.com.

You won’t want to miss the 1950s Mid-Summer Dance Party, benefitting the Desert AIDS Project, at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 25, at the Palm Springs Pavilion (401 S. Pavilion Way). The ’50s themed party will feature live DJs, go-go dancers and an open bar. This is definitely the function of the summer! Tickets are $40 to $75; www.desertaidsproject.org.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some great events on the schedule. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 3, Calibre 50 and the Banda Carnival will take the stage. Calibre 50 was created in 2010 and hails from Sinaloa, Mexico. The band has sung about some very controversial subjects about life in Sinaloa. Meanwhile, Banda Carnival has been nominated for a Grammy; the group also hails from Sinaloa. Tickets are $65 to $85. America will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 25. The trio started in 1970 and was a big hit when the song “A Horse With No Name” hit radio waves. Dan Peek left the group in 1977 (and passed away in 2011), but Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell are still going strong. Tickets are $30 to $60. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 31, the legendary classic-rock outfit The Steve Miller Band will perform. Since founding the group in 1966, Steve Miller has not only written some of the best songs in rock history; the group has gone on to become a primary influence for many guitarists and bands, even in the current generation. Tickets are $75 to $150. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has one event worth noting. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 10, Alejandra Guzman will rock the Special Events Center. Guzman is one of Latin music’s most successful modern artists and has a history of Latin rock hits going back to 1988. Tickets are $29 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a full schedule of events for July. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 3, The Family Stone (right) will be performing. Unfortunately, Sly Stone won’t be with them—although one of the first multi-racial and multi-gender American rock bands will still entertain. A blend of soul and psychedelic rock took the group to unbelievable heights when frontman Sly was in the band. Unfortunately, drug use and other problems have kept him absent from the group. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 18, actor/comedian Paul Rodriguez will be stopping by. He’s starred in films such as Quicksilver with Kevin Bacon and Born in East L.A. with Cheech Marin. He’s also had various successful stand-up specials on HBO. Tickets are $25 to $35. For those who have argued over that great music question—The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?—you can hopefully settle that argument at 8 p.m., Friday, July 31, when tribute bands Abbey Road (Beatles) and Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Rolling Stones) will engage in a “Musical Shootout.” Tickets are $10. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a couple of intriguing events coming up. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 10, country-music duo The Swon Brothers will be stopping by. The brothers from Oklahoma were a sensation on The Voice in 2013 and released their self-titled debut album on Arista Records in October 2014. Tickets are $29 to $39. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 31, former Doobie Brothers front man Michael McDonald will be performing. The five-time Grammy award winning artist was also a studio member of Steely Dan. Tickets are $55 to $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some great listings in July. At 9:30 p.m., Saturday, July 4, Nick Waterhouse will be returning to Pappy’s. Waterhouse’s retro sound, featuring ’60s rock ’n’ roll and R&B, has earned him accolades; he’s also been featured in a commercial for Lexus. Take note: If you go to the show, don’t wear tennis shoes; Waterhouse prefers those who put effort into their appearances. Tickets are $15 to $18. At 9 p.m., Thursday, July 9, there will be a vinyl release party for Jesika von Rabbit and her album, Journey Mitchell. Tickets are $10. At 9 p.m., Saturday, July 25, 10 year-old Emi Sunshine (below) will be performing. The Tennessee native and performer of Appalachian music is a wunderkind. Tickets are $10 to $12. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Jam in the Van is an Internet music program that’s taking the music world by storm. It is quickly becoming as recognizable as the giant music festivals to which it travels. What MTV was to music videos in the early ‘80s, Jam in the Van is to music festivals and independent artists today.

The van is a moving piece of art, covered with colorful portraits of rock legends and wallpapered in memorabilia from shows gone by. It is also a solar-powered recording studio that travels to the hottest music festivals. Parked outside of Bonnaroo, High Sierra, SXSW and Bottle Rocket, JITV entrepreneur Jake Cotler and his crew invite performing artists inside for a three-song set, documented with state-of-the-art recording gear by pros who are passionate about capturing the magic.

The concept was born in 2011 in the expanded consciousness of Jake Cotler. In a psychedelic haze at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn., beneath the starry sky on top of their rented RV, Jake and his and partners, Dave Bell and Louis Peek, thought, “What if we could bring the music to us?” The young festies had been attending Bonnaroo since 2002, and each year, they rented an RV to the tune of a couple of grand. They began contemplating what would happen if they bought an old RV, loaded it with recording gear, and got the bands they were traveling to see to record live sets inside the van. They bought the first jam-van off craigslist for $800, parked it in the alley behind Cotler’s Venice Beach home, and began inviting bands to come play.

Cotler remembers the first time they were invited to park the van backstage at Bonnaroo in 2012.

“Everything but the engine is powered by the sun,” he said. “The studio is fully solar-powered, amps and all. We use four-domestic sized solar panels on the roof of the van to run everything. That’s why we can pull up literally anywhere and film our sessions.

“… The first Bonnaroo we worked at was pretty surreal for us. That was probably the last year that Bonnaroo was really awesome, 2012. Just three months prior, we’d been on the side of the road in Fort Stockton, Texas, broken down in a 1984 Jam Van that died on us on the way back from SXSW. We had to sell the van to a sheriff on the side of the road who was going to use it for storage and to let his nephew sleep in. We packed everything up in a U-Haul and drove back to L.A. with two choices on our minds: Throw in the towel and say it was fun while it lasted, or crowd-fund a new van, and make shit happen. We went with option B, because we don’t quit shit, and we succeeded.

“In the midst of our crowd-funding venture, we signed a deal with Bonnaroo to be part of the festival and film bands backstage. So that first time we … got to be backstage at the festival that started it all. That was really a good feeling.”

The show has picked up sponsors and has filmed hundreds of live music segments. The crew visits major music meccas and music festivals. In April, the crew visited our high desert for a two-day shoot before making their way down to Coachella to record some of this year’s best acts, wrapping things up with desert-based War Drum.

Day one took place outside the van at desert rock icon Brant Bjork’s Low Desert Punk studio in Joshua Tree. The shoot started off with several songs by Brant’s band Low Desert Punk, fresh off this year’s Coachella stage. They included a track from his recent release, Black Flower Power. Next up was DRUG, a surf-punk trio featuring Jamie Hafler on guitar and bass (using a custom built double-neck guitar, allowing him to pull off the feat), and the dramatic impassioned vocals of frontwoman Cristie Carter. A last-minute addition to the lineup was Gram Rabbit songstress Jesika von Rabbit, who took the intimate route with her vocals and guitar. The grand finale featured The Atomic Sherpas.

Day two occurred inside the van at the world renowned Rancho De La Luna Recording Studio in Joshua Tree, where the cream of the desert rock crop gave the crew a taste of what our underground music scene is all about. Guitarist Bobby Nichols (Inner Planetary Monks), drummer Rob Peterson (The Pedestrians) and bassist Armando Flores (The Pedestrians, Blasting Echo) recorded as Sundrug Experiment. They set the mood for the day with fiery psychedelic jams. Next up was Americana indie-band Gene Jr. and The Family, making Joshua Tree proud with its polished pop-infused rock. Waxy then delivered an authentic set of desert stoner rock; Fatso Jetson made the trek from L.A. and blew EVERYONE away with a flawless set of pounding compositions. The evening ended with punk-laden power pop by desert bad-boys, Eagles of Death Metal. Dave Catching and Bingo Richey were going over new tunes that are part of their latest project, the Mojave Lords, predicted to be the desert’s new supergroup.

Visit Jam in the Van at www.jaminthevan.com. Read more from Robin Linn, including an expanded version of this story with video imbeds, at www.desertrockchronicles.com.

Jesika Von Rabbit has worked hard over the last year to establish herself as a solo artist and complete work on her debut solo effort, Journey Mitchell.

The work has paid off.

While she’s performed some of the Journey Mitchell songs live over the past year, others made their debut on the album. It opens up with the haunting instrumental “Metanoia,” which features barely heard messages about taking a journey. After about a minute, a few distorted notes lead into “Glamorous Misery,” a song Von Rabbit has been recently using to open shows. It’s a mix between psychedelic-pop and a dance song.

Another well-known live track is “Psychic Spice,” on which Von Rabbit declares, “I’M PSYCHIC!” before a chorus of “woooo” starts. (Scroll down to hear the song.) Jesika and her grundles have been known to put on an amusing dance routine to this song. “Glamorous Misery,” “Spooky Action” and “Gaydar” are also known to fans who have seen her recent live shows.

However, they won’t be familiar with “Looking for a Weirdo,” which features the pleasant singing voice heard on Gram Rabbit’s albums; the song even includes a few seconds of the piano instrumental of Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” “The Way That I Want” contains more of an upbeat rhythm and makes for a great dance track. There’s also a fine cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “She Bop” that’s slower-paced and more haunting than the original.

Journey Mitchell was produced by Von Rabbit’s Gram Rabbit bandmate, Todd Rutherford. Ethan Allen from Gram Rabbit also appears on “She Bop.” Robbie Waldman from Waxy plays bass on “Looking for a Weirdo.” (On a side note, War Drum frontman Jack Kohler has said Von Rabbit makes an appearance on the upcoming War Drum album. Ah, collaboration.)

This album is a strong effort to begin her solo venture. It also appears that Von Rabbit has more tracks in the works, given she has played live material that doesn’t appear on Journey Mitchell. One thing is for certain: When Von Rabbit says she makes “the devil’s dance music,” she’s right—that’s a perfect way to describe the feel of Journey Mitchell.

Published in Reviews

Welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2014-2015!

Here’s how these results came to be: Between Aug. 29 and Oct. 3, Coachella Valley Independent readers voted at CVIndependent.com in an open ballot in the categories listed below.

No finalists were selected in advance; readers had to write in their selections.

We then took the top three to five finishers in each category and put them on a final-round ballot, which ran at CVIndependent.com from Oct. 8 to Nov. 7. 

Readers had to provide an email address, and were allowed to submit only one ballot in each round. We sent an email to each voter; if the email bounced, we did not count the ballot associated with that email address.

Here are the results of this first-ever Coachella Valley Independent readers’ poll.

Enjoy!


Arts

Best Art Gallery

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. Gallery 446

3. Heather James Fine Art

4. Archangel Gallery

5. Stewart Gallery

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Show at Agua Caliente

4. The Hood Bar and Pizza

5. The Date Shed

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre

3. TIE

Coachella Valley Art Scene

Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

5. Backstreet Arts District

 

Best Local Band

Queens of the Stone Age

 

Runners up:

2. Machin’

3. The Rebel Noise

4. TIE

CIVX

Slipping Into Darkness

 

Best Local DJ

Alf Alpha

 

Runners up:

2. All Night Shoes

3. House Whores

4. TIE

CoffeeBlvck

Femme A

 

Best Local Musician (Individual)

Jesika von Rabbit

 

Runners up:

2. Mark Gregg

3. Giselle Woo

4. Charles Herrera

5. Gene Evaro Jr.

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Elena Bulatova

 

Runners up:

2. Ryan “Motel” Campbell

3. Michael Weems

4. Jennifer Stern

5. Lon Michels

 

Best Movie Theater

Camelot Theatres

 

Runners up:

2. Cinemas Palme d’Or

3. UltraStar Mary Pickford

4. Regal Palm Springs

5. Century Theatres at The River

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley History Museum

3. Children’s Discovery Museum

4. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

5. Palm Springs Art Museum Palm Desert

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Empire Polo Club

3. Pappy and Harriet’s

4. Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs

5. The Palms Restaurant


Life in the Valley

Best Alternative Health Center

Stroke Recovery Center

 

Runners up:

2. Nature’s Health Food and Café

3. All-Desert Wellness Centers

4. Live Well Clinic

5. Palm Springs Healing Center

 

Best Farmers’ Market

Palm Springs VillageFest

 

Runners up:

2. Camelot Theatres

3. Old Town La Quinta

4. Palm Desert (Chamber of Commerce)

5. Joshua Tree Certified

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

4. Shelter From the Storm

5. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

 

Best Gym

Gold’s Gym Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. World Gym Palm Springs

3. World Gym Palm Desert

4. Palm Springs Fitness Center

5. 24 Hour Fitness

 

Best Public Servant

Congressman Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. Mayor Steve Pougnet

3. County Commissioner John Benoit

4. Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez

5. Assemblyman Brian Nestande

 

Best Yoga Studio

Bikram Yoga University Village

 

Runners up:

2. Urban Yoga

3. TIE

Coachella Valley Art Scene

Power Yoga

5. Evolve Yoga

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Lanes at Fantasy Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes at Morongo

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Not So Innocent

 

Runners up:

2. Skitzo Kitty

3. Q Trading Company`

4. Gay Mart

5. Red Panties Boutique

 

Best Auto Repair

Desert Classic Cars

 

Runners up:

2. Performance Plus Automotive

3. TIE

Chuck’s Automotive

European Auto Service

Palm Springs Tire and Automotive

 

Best Car Wash

TIE

Airport Quick Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash (pictured)

 

Runners up:

3. Desert 100 Percent Hand Car Wash

4. Executive Car Wash

5. Red Carpet USA Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

Moller’s Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Vintage Nursery

3. Bob Williams Nursery

4. Cactus Mart

5. Moorten Botanical Gardens

 

Best Pet Supplies

PetSmart

 

Runners up:

2. Petco

3. Bones ’n’ Scones

4. Cold Nose Warm Heart

5. Exotic Birds

 

Best Annual Charity Event

Evening Under the Stars, by the AIDS Assistance Program

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Walk, by the Desert AIDS Project

3. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, by the Desert AIDS Project

4. Paint El Paseo Pink, by the Desert Cancer Foundation

5. Center Stage, by the LGBT Community Center of the Desert

 

Best Place to Gamble

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

3. Spa Resort Casino

4. Spotlight 29

5. Augustine Casino

 

Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. CBS Local 2

3. KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

 

Runners up:

2. Gino LaMont, KMIR Channel 6

3. John White, KESQ News Channel 3

4. Brooke Beare, CBS Local 2

5. Thalia Hayden, KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Radio Station

Mix 100.5

 

Runners up:

2. Big 106 (KPLM)

3. KDES FM 98.5

4. TIE

KWXY FM 107.3

K-News 94.3

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Jeff Michaels, Big 106 (KPLM)

 

Runners up:

2. Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5

3. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3

4. Joey English, K-News 94.3

5. Dan McGrath, EZ-103

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. Just Fabulous

3. Revivals

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley

 

2. Palm Springs Vinyl Records and Collectibles

3. Best Buy

4. Barnes and Noble

5. Video Depot

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Hoodoo

3. Barnes and Noble

 

Best Video Game Store

GameStop

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Video Depot

Walmart

 

Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Runners up:

2. Riviera Palm Springs

3. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

4. Saguaro

5. Renaissance Palm Springs


Fashion and Style

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Bobby G’s

 

Runners up:

2. Glossy Boutique

3. R&R Men’s Wear

4. Fine Art of Design

5. Wil Stiles

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

Revivals

 

Runners up:

2. Resale Therapy

3. Angel View

4. The POP Shop

5. Fine Art of Design

 

Best Furniture Store

Plummers

 

Runners up:

2. Ashley Furniture HomeStore

3. Marc Russell Interiors

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Erik’s Furniture

 

Best Antiques/Collectables Store

The Estate Sale Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. Gypsyland

4. Pioneer Crossing Antiques

5. Sunny Dunes Antique Mall

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

El Paseo Jewelers

 

Runners up:

2. Smoke Tree Jewelers

3. Leeds and Son

4. Hephaestus Jewelry

5. ASC Jewelers

 

Best Hair Salon

J Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Heads Up Hair Designs

3. Brien O’Brien Salon

4. Turquoise A Salon

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Spa

DHS Spa Hotel

 

Runners up:

2. JW Marriott Desert Springs

3. Studio M

4. The Canyon Spa

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Florist

3. Rancho Mirage Florist

4. Jensen’s

5. Blooming Events

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

Strata Tattoo Lab

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

Bloodline Tattoo

TG Tattoo

5. Flagship Tattoo

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. TIE

Elegant Eye Optometry

Oh La La de Paris Eyeware

5. Desert EyeCare Center


Outside!

Best Urban Landscaping

El Paseo

 

Runners up:

2. Downtown Palm Springs (general)

3. College of the Desert

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. Moorten Botanical Gardens

4. Ruth Hardy Park

5. El Paseo

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Palm Springs (general)

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta (general)

3. Frank Sinatra Drive

 

Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons

3. Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness (Top of the Tram)

4. Salton Sea State Recreation Area

5. Tahquitz Canyon

 

Best Hike

Bump and Grind Trail

 

Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons

3. Mount San Jacinto

4. Tahquitz Canyon

5. Mission Creek Preserve

 

Best Park

Whitewater Park

 

Runners up:

2. Demuth Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Wellness Park

5. Dateland Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Big 5

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Off the Grid

4. Second Amendment Sports

5. Walmart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Cyclery

3. BikeMan

 

Best Sporting Goods Store

Big 5

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Sports Authority

4. Lumpy’s

5. Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis

 

Best Public Golf Course

Desert Willow

 

Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Creek

3. Indian Wells

4. Eagle Falls

5. Escena


For the Kids

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. Demuth Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. La Quinta Park

5. Whitewater Park

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Mr. G’s for Kids

 

Runners up:

2. Toys “R” Us

3. Target

4. Walmart

5. Goodwill

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Janie and Jack

4. Goodwill

5. Justice

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Ruby’s

4. Islands

5. Dickie O’Neal’s

 

Best Place for Family Fun

Wet ’n’ Wild

 

Runners up:

TIE

2. Boomers!

Rock-N-Roll Mini Golf

4. Palm Desert Aquatic Center

5. Chuck E. Cheese

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

Children’s Discovery Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Chuck E. Cheese

3. Boomers!


Food and Restaurants

Best Casual Eats

LuLu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

3. Sherman’s

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Caterer

LuLu/Acqua Pazza

 

Runners up:

2. Lynn Hammond

3. Fusion Flair

4. Dash and a Handful

5. Savoury’s

 

Best Diner

Elmer’s

 

Runners up:

2. Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

3. Sunshine Café

4. Rick’s

5. John’s

 

Best Organic Food Store

Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Sprouts Farmers Market

Whole Foods

4. Nature’s Health Food and Café

5. Harvest Health Foods

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. Appetito

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Pastry Swan Bakery

3. Sherman’s

4. Exquisite Desserts

5. Jensen’s

 

Best Desserts

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Crave (now Plate | Glass)

5. French Corner Café

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Cold Stone Creamery

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Lappert’s Ice Cream

4. Lique at Fantasy Springs

5. Ben and Jerry’s

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Hadley Fruit Orchards

4. Palm Greens Café

5. Lappert’s Ice Cream

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

TIE

Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt

Tutti Frutti

 

Runners up:

3. Beach House

4. Yogurt on Tap

5. Cactusberry + Frozen Treats

 

Best Bakery

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Aspen Mills

3. Frankie’s Old World Italian Bakery

4. Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Café

5. TKB Bakery

 

Best Barbecue

Pappy and Harriet’s

 

Runners up:

2. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

3. Cowboy Way

4. Jackalope Ranch

5. Big Willie’s Catering

 

Best Burger

In-n-Out

 

Runners up:

2. Grill-A-Burger

3. Woody’s

4. Tyler’s

5. Smokin’ Burgers

 

Best Veggie Burger

Grill-A-Burger

 

Runners up:

TIE

2. Woody’s

Ruby’s Diner

4. Palm Greens Café

5. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Sandwich

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. The Sandwich Spot

4. Aspen Mills

5. L’Atelier Café

 

Best Pizza

Bill’s Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza

3. Piero’s PizzaVino

4. Giuseppe’s

5. Ciro’s

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

3. LuLu California Bistro

4. Bar

5. Village Pub

 

Best Bagels

New York Bagel and Deli

 

Runners up:

2. Panera Bread

3. Sherman’s

4. Townie Bagels

5. Bagel Bistro

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Koffi

3. Juice It Up

4. Jamba Juice

5. Luscious Lorraine’s

 

Best Buffet

Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Grand Palms Buffet at Agua Caliente

3 TIE

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Coffee Shop for Coffee

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

3. Old Town Coffee Company

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out

Starbucks

 

Runners up:

2. Koffi

3. Ernest Coffee

4. Ristretto

5. Espresso Cielo

 

Best Tea

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Teavana

3. Ristretto

4. Old Town Coffee Company

5. Espresso Cielo

 

Best Breakfast

Elmer’s

 

Runners up:

2. Cheeky’s

3. Sunshine Café

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Louise’s Pantry

 

Best California Cuisine

LuLu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO

3. Acqua Pazza California Bistro

4. Jake’s

5. POM—The Bistro at Fantasy Springs

 

Best Brunch

Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Pinocchio’s

4. Escena Lounge and Grill

5. Las Casuelas Nuevas

 

Best Chinese

Wang’s in the Desert

 

Runners up:

2. China Wok

3. JOY at Fantasy Springs

4. New Fortune

5. Supreme Dragon

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Nina’s Greek Cuisine

3. Miro’s Restaurant

 

Best French

Le Vallauris

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Café

Pomme Frite

4. La Brasserie

5. L’Atelier Café

 

Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine

 

Runners up:

2. India Oven

3. Naan House

 

Best Japanese

Shabu Shabu Zen

 

Runners up:

2. Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

3. Gyoro Gyoro

4. Otori Japanese Cuisine

5. No Da Te

 

Best Italian

Nicolino’s

 

Runners up:

2. Giuseppe’s

3. Il Corso

4. Johnny Costa’s Ristorante

5. Mimmo’s

 

Best Sushi

Wasabi

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro

3. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

4. Edoko Sushi

5. The Venue

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Ruben and Ozzy’s

3. Shanghai Reds

4. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

5. Oceans Seafood Restaurant

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

LG’s Prime Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Chop House

3. Mastro’s

4. The Bistro at Fantasy Springs

5. The Steakhouse at Spa Resort Casino

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Thai Smile Rancho Mirage

3. Peppers Thai

4. Le Basil

5. Thai Kitchen 1

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Pho 533

3. Bangkok Noodles

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Le Vallauris

4. Johannes

5. Figue Mediterranean Cuisine (no longer in business)

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Spencer’s

4. Las Casuelas Terraza

5. The Falls

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

LuLu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Village Pub

3. Bar

4. Alicante

5. King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel

 

Best Mexican

El Mirasol

 

Runners up:

2. El Gallito

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. La Tablita

5. Tlaquepaque

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Nuevas

 

Runners up:

2. Rincon Norteno

3. Maracas

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Margaritas

 

Best Burrito

El Gallito

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

La Tablita

Santana’s

4. El Taco Asado

5. Jalisco Restaurant


Spirits and Nightlife

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

TIE

2. The Beer Hunter

Eureka!

4. Village Pub

5. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Local Brewery

TIE

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

La Quinta Brewing Co.

 

Runner up:

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

TIE

Hunters

Palm Springs Lanes

 

Runners up:

3. Pappy and Harriet’s

4. The Beer Hunter

5. Sharky’s Family Billiards

 

Best Cocktail Menu

Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Purple Room

3. Eureka!

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Workshop Kitchen and Bar

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Streetbar

 

Runners up:

2. Hunters

3. Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

4. Score

5. Digs

 

Best Happy Hour

Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. LuLu California Bistro

3. TIE

Hunters

Stuft Pizza

5. Village Pub

 

Best Dive Bar

Neil’s Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Score

4. Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

5. The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Best Margarita

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Maracas

5. Blue Coyote Grill

 

Best Martini

The Falls

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Zin American Bistro

4. Copley’s

5. Workshop Kitchen and Bar

 

Best Nightclub

Hunters

 

Runners up:

2. Copa

3. LIT at Fantasy Springs

4. TIE

Schmidy’s Tavern

Village Pub

 

Best Sports Bar

Burgers and Beer

 

Runners up:

2. Yard House

3. The Beer Hunter

4. TIE

Tilted Kilt

Village Pub

 

Best Wine Bar

3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar at Fantasy Springs

Zin American Bistro

4. Wine Bar Bistro

5. Fame Lounge

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro

4. Fame Lounge

5. LQ Wine

 

Best Bar Ambiance

Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Melvyn’s

4. Schmidy’s Tavern

5. Copa


Staff Picks

Best Story From an Annual Festival

“The Moneymaker”

A woman who appears to be about 65 and who is here for the American Heat Bike Weekend event in downtown Palm Springs comes in to Crystal Fantasy and wants to use some tape, because her “moneymaker” is broken. I give her some packing tape, and she takes something out of her pocket she is trying to fix.

After a few moments, she says, “OK, I’ll see if it works”—and proceeds to swallow a foot-long (now-taped) all-beef hot dog down her throat; she then pulls it out of her mouth. The tape wasn’t really sticking, and all I had otherwise was some purple duct tape.

That seemed to do the job. She very professionally deep-throated the hot dog, thanked us and left.

—Joy Brown Meredith, as told to the Palm Springs Neighborhoods Group on Facebook, adapted with permission by Jimmy Boegle


Best Band Militia

Machin’

I first met David Macias of Machin’ for an interview at Starbucks in Desert Hot Springs, and I was rather surprised when he told me about what he called the “Machin’ Militia”—the band’s loyal fans who turn up for their shows.

Well, I’ve seen Machin’ perform several times over the last year—and I’m not surprised that the Machin’ Militia is growing rapidly.

Perhaps David’s military background explains his terminology. He was born in Mexico and completed two deployments to Iraq as a Navy corpsman. When he gets together with classically trained violinist Bri Cherry and upright-bass-player/accordionist Andy Gorrill, they make attention-grabbing music that combines Latin, hip-hop and rock sounds. Their sound is instantly recognizable wherever they go.

Crowds of all sorts adore Machin’. They have a weekly residency at the Purple Room in Palm Springs; they busk on street corners in various places while on tour. Wherever Machin’ is, people can’t help but clap or dance along when the group performs.

Machin’ is truly what the name means in Spanglish slang—supremely excellent.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Food and Drink Trend That’s Finally Arrived in the Valley

Craft Cocktails

Tucson, Ariz., the city in which I used to live, is the home of one of the leaders in the craft-cocktail revolution. Scott and Co.—a speakeasy-style bar that’s received national attention for its amazing and innovative drinks—was perhaps the place I missed the most when I moved to the desert several years ago.

Look at the Best Cocktail finalists here, and you’ll see why I used to miss Scott and Co. so damned much: When I first started making preparations to move here, four of the five finalists picked by our readers weren’t yet in existence.

Today, however, I don’t miss Scott and Co. all that much—because over the last couple years, the craft-cocktail revolution has belatedly arrived in the Coachella Valley. In addition to our readers’ five Best of Coachella Valley finalists (great picks, readers!), you can find fantastic hand-crafted beverages at locations all across the valley, from Indian Wells’ Vue Grille and Bar, to retro-tiki newcomers Tonga Hut and Bootlegger Tiki in downtown Palm Springs, to Citron at the Viceroy (pictured), also in Palm Springs.

Cheers, folks. The local craft-cocktail scene is getting better by the month.

—Jimmy Boegle


Best Local Social Trend

The Increasingly Busy Summer

Let’s face facts: The business and tourism cycle in the Coachella Valley will always have seasonal highs and lows. The power of the weather is undeniable: Temps in the 70s and 80s will always draw people to the valley during the winter, and temps in the 110s will always push people out during the summer.

However, that seasonality is beginning to lessen—just a little.

I live in downtown Palm Springs, and last summer, the streets near my home weren’t as lonely as they used to be in years past. In fact, on some summer weekend nights, Palm Canyon Drive foot traffic was even something approaching busy. (Not April busy, but still.) The reason? More people are starting to brave the toasty temps to come to the valley, thanks to great events like Splash House (which was so nice, they did it twice during the summer of 2014; pictured), fantastic deals (like those offered during Restaurant Week) and the realization that the slower summer pace here has its benefits. (No snowbirds on Highway 111?! YES!)

Can one argue that the Best Season here in the Coachella Valley is, in fact, the summer? No … we won’t go that far. But the summers here are certainly not as dead as they used to be—and that’s something worth celebrating.

—Jimmy Boegle

Photo credits: Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash courtesy of elephant-carwash.com. The Living Desert courtesy of Greater Palm Springs CVB. Machin’ courtesy of Chris Miller via Machin’ Facebook. Splash House by Guillermo Prieto/IROCKPHOTOS.NET.

Published in Readers' Picks

When Jesika Von Rabbit takes the stage these days, she’s often accompanied by a 70-year-old man who’s dancing his tail off.

Meet the life of the party, Larry Van Horn, aka OO Soul.

Van Horn grew up in Atherton, Calif., in what he described as a wealthy family. He eventually attended the University of Southern California.

“USC … is what they call a closed campus,” Van Horn said during a recent interview. “Back in the ’60s, even though they had Fraternity Row—which is a few blocks away from the main campus—you could not visibly have alcohol at a fraternity party. When the fraternities would organize their parties, they would organize them off-campus. That created a very unique campus atmosphere as far as weekend activities go, in and around USC.”

Van Horn lived in an apartment building off-campus.

“I wanted to have a social life,” Van Horn said. “I had enough money to be able to do my own thing and could get my own apartment, which provided me with a recreation room, in which I could throw parties. I also had a car and enough disposable income to where I could put together the rudimentary equipment you’d need for a party.”

Van Horn, a fan of Motown music, was able to organize some memorable parties.

“Because I had the money, I procured the music, and I also DJ’d the music. That’s how the whole Motown thing came into play,” he said. “I was intrigued with the music, and I was intrigued with the dancing. A lot of the moves you see me do onstage now were inspired by Motown and my days at USC. My nickname, OO Soul—that was inspired by a song done by Edwin Starr called ‘Agent Double-O Soul.’”

The parties reportedly became legendary.

“I had an old record player, and we’d play ’45s. We’d put a stack of records on and just let them go, one after another, and we’d be dancing to them all night. We were doing line-dancing before Soul Train, which didn’t come out until 10 years later.”

Following his graduation from USC, he found himself self-employed and living in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. Larry, being Larry, soon found himself involved with a local disco.

“The discotheques needed equipment that was produced in the states—turntables, record needles, strobe lights and all kinds of different supplies you needed to maintain the atmosphere of the discotheque, including the music, which was all disco music,” Van Horn said. “I subscribed to Billboard and was constantly keeping up with the music. The owners would give me money when I would leave Mexico, and they’d say, ‘Bring us back $200 or $300 worth of albums.’ They were looking for someone who had expertise and knowledge of this music—and that was me.”

He was in a relationship with a woman he planned to marry. However, his mother was stricken by Parkinson’s disease, and he decided to return to the United States to take care of her.

“I didn’t realize at the time when I committed to take care of her that she would live as long as she did. I started taking care of my mother in 1988, and the commitment in doing so completely changed my life,” Van Horn said. “I didn’t have the freedom to go down to Los Mochis as much as I liked; I didn’t have the opportunity or circumstances where I could leave her for long periods of time. It became a choice: Care for her, and abandon my dreams of Mexico; or abandon her, and go to Mexico. I chose my mother.

“I was involved in caring for her from 1988 until she died in 2001.”

While he took care of his mother, he found comfort in food.

“I put a lot of weight on, because I didn’t know how to cook until I started taking care of my mother,” Van Horn said. “I got extremely obese, which made it a lot easier not to be concerned about traveling anywhere, because I got so obese I couldn’t even travel. Just driving 30 minutes in my car was a real challenge. My back couldn’t support the weight that I had, and it was a disaster. When I started taking care of my mother, I was about 225 pounds, and I went from that to almost 500 pounds. I don’t know (the weight) exactly, because I didn’t have a scale that could weigh me—and I didn’t really want to know.”

He eventually started to lose weight in 2007, simply by watching the amount of calories he consumed. After he moved to the Yucca Valley area in 2010, he began Zumba-dancing at his gym. He beat colon cancer last year, he said, and has been working to lose more weight.

Not too long ago, a chance encounter at the gym led to the return of Larry Van Horn, Life of the Party.

“I met Jesika (von Rabbit) in the gym,” Van Horn said. “She came into the room where we had been doing Zumba, and I was dancing freestyle to a song, and Jesika saw me. I didn’t realize she was watching me. Twenty minutes later, she came up to me in another area of the gym and asked me if I had ever danced publicly. I told her, ‘No. You sure you got the right guy?’ She was producing a music video and wanted to know if I would perform in the music video.”

Van Horn went on to become part of Jesika Von Rabbit’s live show—instantly charming her fans. Other musicians soon began taking notice, too; Brandon Henderson of The Pedestrians demanded that Van Horn come to a recent show at The Hood in Palm Desert, for example. Van Horn has quickly become the talk of the music scenes in the low and high desert.

Did Van Horn ever imagine anything like this would happen to him this late in his life?

“Hell no!” Van Horn said. “I’m in a twilight zone! I have you youngsters telling me, ‘You’re such an inspiration. I hope I get to be you when I’m 70 years old.’ I have people telling me that all over the place.”

Below: In 2006, Larry Van Horn weighed about 500 pounds. To lose weight, he took up Zumba-dancing—and was “discovered” by Jesika von Rabbit. Today, the dancing 70-year-old is the talk of the local music scene.

Almost everyone in the Coachella Valley and high desert music scenes knows the name Jesika von Rabbit. Heck, she even has a menu item named after her at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

However, not everyone knows about the person behind that famous name.

Her half-eponymous band, Gram Rabbit, is currently on a break—no, the band has not broken up—and von Rabbit has been spending time completing her first solo album and playing shows locally and regionally.

The story of Jesika von Rabbit starts in Green Bay, Wis.

“I was kind of a musician naturally by birth. I think I came out of the womb as a musician,” she said, with a laugh, during a recent interview. “My mother was a singer; she sang in cover bands in Green Bay, and she also sang in some commercial jingles. So I grew up with a singer for a mother, and my mom started me out on piano lessons around the time I was in first-grade. I loved music from a young age, given I was around it. I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

While she has happy memories of Green Bay, von Rabbit felt that she had to get out of Wisconsin.

“As far as growing up there, I always felt like a fish out of water,” she said. “I really couldn’t wait to move away. The one of the cool things about my high school years is that there was a really cool and thriving punk-rock scene that I had discovered when I was 14, and all these punk bands would play at this Polish dance hall right down the street from my house, so I got to see a lot of punk bands like the Dickies when I was really young. I saw Soul Asylum before they blew up, and all kinds of cool stuff. That was my outlet given I wasn’t into football, hunting and cheese so much.”

She moved to Minneapolis when she was 19, and eventually left there for Los Angeles before finding her way to the desert—where she’s been ever since.

“I was living in Los Angeles, and I was kind of drowning a little bit,” she said. “I was a little lost while trying to put a band together in Los Angeles, and a couple of my friends at the time rented a house out in Joshua Tree. I came out to visit, and there was something about it—it was a little strange, and there weren’t that many people, but there was something about it that I liked, and there was something drawing me to it. My friends had a big house and offered me a spare room if I wanted to move out to Joshua Tree. I moved to Joshua Tree; I loved it, and I started to writing so much music—and I’ve never left.”

In 2003, von Rabbit met Todd Rutherford, with whom she would go on to form Gram Rabbit. Success for the band came fairly quickly: Gram Rabbit would earn a spot on Coachella’s main stage in 2005, and has put out six albums. Gram Rabbit has been featured in various commercial campaigns, and the band’s music has been used in films such as Crazy, Stupid, Love; War, Inc.; and Interview; as well as TV shows such as The Real World, Sons of Anarchy and Crash.

Recently, Gram Rabbit decided to take a break, and von Rabbit seized the opportunity to put together a project that she calls “the devil’s dance music.” During her solo live performances as of late, she has been performing all keyboard and sampling duties with help from her “Grundles.”

“I’m a musician, and I constantly have to be making music,” she said. “Gram Rabbit just kind of needed a break, and we’ve been doing it for a long time, but I’m constantly writing songs and getting ideas, so if Gram Rabbit isn’t going to be active right now, I’m still going to be active.

“Instead of sitting here and trying to put a new band together with new people that come with their own problems such as scheduling and this and that, I found this to be easier for me. I figured I’ll just be a solo act; I’ll have the Grundles, and it’s not necessarily that I want to be a solo act, but it’s hard to find the right people, and starting a new band takes a lot of work. It wasn’t something I sat down and planned, but I’m doing this now, and I enjoy it.”

Her solo material may surprise Gram Rabbit fans—but it’s undeniably fun. With songs such as “Glamorous Misery,” “Psychic Spice,” “Put Your Weight On Me,” and “Gaydar,” she’s exploring new territory. She’s taken the act on the road, playing dates locally and throughout California.

One memorable gig came at San Francisco’s Gay Pride celebration this summer. The driver who was assigned to take Jesika von Rabbit and the Grundles to the stage was late to pick them up, she said. 

“The car was moving inches every minute, and I was about to have a heart attack,” she said. “I had to be there at 1:30 p.m., and we got picked up at 1 p.m., and they don’t run behind, so if you’re late, you don’t play. We made it seven minutes before we were supposed to get onstage, and I get out of the town car, go onstage—and I see 200,000-plus people. I was like, ‘Oh my god!’ I was so nervous, and I felt like a football player approaching a big game.

“I thought of two possibilities: I’m either going to kill it and do awesome, or I’m going to sink, and it’s going to be horrifying. I went for it the whole time, and I rocked out, and I did it. It was awesome, and I had a great time.”

She performed “Ring of Fire” with Jello Biafra at a recent show in the high desert. “If you would have told me when I was 14 I would someday do that, I wouldn’t have believed you,” she said.

She has a busy fall ahead of her, including a scheduled performance at the Desert Stars Festival at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, Oct. 4, and Gram Rabbit’s Halloween dates at Pappy’s later in the month.

“I’m always excited to play festivals at Pappy’s,” she said about the Desert Stars Festival. “I’m probably going to be the only dance-music act there, given it’s mostly psychedelic rock bands. I’m always worried when I play in that situation, given there are a lot of music-snob people in that scene, to where if you don’t sound like Pink Floyd meets whomever, you’re not cool,” she said with a laugh.

She promised the Gram Rabbit Halloween shows, on Friday, Oct. 31, and Saturday, Nov. 1, would be crazy fun.

“We’re going to do two of those (Halloween shows) this year,” she said. “We did one last year, and it was so crazy in there, you couldn’t even move. Robyn (Celia), one of the owners of Pappy’s, and I thought, ‘Why don’t we do two nights?’ We’ll give people a chance if they couldn’t make one night to see the other night. We’re going to have two opening bands. The first night, we’re going to have O’Death, and the second night, we’re going to have my friends Well Hung Heart from Orange County.”

David Lowery, the frontman of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, doesn’t think some musicians fully understand their rights.

“A lot of the younger artists don’t realize that the pay was considerably higher about 15 years ago,” he said. “It’s kind of like a one-two punch. First, you’re affected by online piracy, where that knocked off about a third of our income, and then the thing that’s happened lately—and none of us saw coming—is that our share from online streaming services is so low.”

Lowery is bringing Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker to the bands’ 10th annual Campout at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, from Thursday, Sept. 11, through Saturday, Sept. 13.

During a recent phone interview with the Independent, the former Redlands resident said that while he loves streaming music, there is a big downside to it.

“I have Beats Music on my phone; my kids have it on their phones, and we listen to it and find it convenient,” Lowery said. “But between the services and the record labels, the artist is getting a really small premium from that revenue that comes from streaming. With Spotify being valued at $6 billion now, and Beats Music being sold to Apple—and that’s $3 billion there—it doesn’t seem right to us. It’s not that we’re against streaming; it’s the share of revenue.”

He said that most people don’t understand what goes on behind the scenes regarding streaming music.

“It’s really hard to explain it to the general public. Basically, when the labels cut their deals with the streaming services, it looks like they trade in equity, given they own a part of Spotify,” he said. “Universal Records owns part of Beats Music, and Apple gave them a big payout. So, essentially, the labels traded our songs for … ownership in the services.”

Lowery conceded that the struggle between musicians and record labels is not new.

“There are these stories that go back to the ’50s about the blues band going to the record label and saying, ‘Hey, where’s my money?’ And they’re like, ‘Well, we got you this Cadillac.’ The Cadillac was worth less than the royalties. By the way, this story about the Cadillac: It’s true, because my mother-in-law worked for Sun Records, and my father in law was a car-dealer, and that’s exactly how they met each other. That really did happen!” he said with a laugh.

However, Lowery said there was a progression toward protecting artists and their royalties.

“There was a period in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s where the artists kind of finally worked it out,” Lowery said. “Between our unions and our songwriter groups, that were kind of like unions for songwriters, we could work out some pretty equitable pay arrangements—and we’re sort of back to square one right now. It’s not like it can’t be worked out, but it’s not going to get worked out without us bitching, moaning, screaming and holding these people’s feet to the fire. That’s how it’s going to get sorted out. It’s not pretty, but that’s the way it’s going to go.”

At stake, Lowery said, is the standard of living for a lot of musicians, some of whom struggle to make ends meet even after a hit song or record.

“They’ve seen their revenues fall from maybe having a nice middle-class existence to, ‘Oh, shit, I can’t even support my family on this!’ So, it’s tough times. It’s going to take guys like me, East Bay Ray from Dead Kennedys, John McCrea from Cake, and some (other) older musicians with a sense of what’s fair in this industry to speak out and explain this to people.”

He said the modern economics of the music business have led to some musicians deciding not to record new material, because it’s no longer economically beneficial.

“There are a lot of artists doing that,” he said. “I’m essentially an optimist for the long-term. Eventually, I assume these streaming services are going to have to start paying more to give people the incentive to make albums again. It’s going to have to work itself out.”

Camper Van Beethoven has recorded two albums in recent years: La Costa Perdida, which Lowery said is Northern California-themed, and El Camino Real, which is Southern California-themed. Cracker also has a new album in the works.

As for this year’s Campout, Lowery conceded he’s had some booking challenges, but he promised it’s still going to be a lot of fun.

“We had a few people who were in, and then they were out, and then someone bigger might come in, and we’ve delayed announcing a lot of details,” he said. Chris Shiflett from the Foo Fighters was going to come and do his country thing again, but he had to drop out. But we do have Brant Bjork from the Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age family. We have The Dangers from Riverside; we’ve got the various Camper side projects … and there will be local people like Jesika Von Rabbit, who’s going to do some stuff again. It’ll be great and just as good as last year.”

The 10th annual Campout with Camper Van Beethoven and Camper takes place Thursday, Sept. 11, through Saturday, Sept. 13, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $75 for a three-day pass, or $25 for one day. For tickets or more information, visit crackersoul.com.

Published in Previews

Jesika Von Rabbit is truly a legend of the high-desert music scene. She is the frontwoman of Gram Rabbit, and is now performing solo material. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/jesikavonrabbitmusic or www.gramrabbit.com.

What was the first concert you attended?

My first arena show was Metallica’s … And Justice for All tour. My first punk-rock show was The Dickies’ Killer Klowns From Outer Space tour.

What was the first album you owned?

Kiss, Destroyer.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Courtney Barnett, Django Django, Kendrick Lamar and The Pretenders.

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

Ahhh, I don’t particularly like the trend of being barefoot on stage. This is show business; put some shoes on!

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

Madonna.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

LMFAO.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

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

Well, this is embarrassing to say, because I don’t even care for this song, but I can’t get “Diamonds” by Rihanna out of my head lately—most likely because it is a little on the annoying side.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Metallica. As I mentioned, it was the first concert I attended. The production of their live show blew my mind. It was so powerful. The music was tough. The guys were black-clad, skinny-jeaned, superhero rock gods, and huge white pillars were breaking and crumbling to the ground while lightning and thunder artificially struck.

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

I want to ask Boy George if he really wants to hurt me.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Knights in White Satin,” The Moody Blues.

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

Ugh! So hard to decide. Beck, Midnite Vultures.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Avant Gardener” by Courtney Barnett, and “Dimestore Diamond” by Gossip. (Scroll down to hear them!)

Published in The Lucky 13

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