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Powered Wig Machine is an unsigned band from a small Arizona town—but they’re starting to make a big name for themselves, thanks to high-quality music and bar-raising creativity.

See for yourself when they stop by The Hood Bar and Pizza for a show that starts at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15.

Powered Wig Machine—the name was inspired by a track on Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions Volume 9—was founded around 2007 in Sierra Vista, Ariz., a town that’s a 75-minute drive from Tucson. The band consists of Wayne Rudell (vocals/guitar), Brian Gold (guitar), Joey Rudell (bass) and Daniel Graves (drums).

The band’s roots are in “stoner rock,” a term applied to a lot of West Coast bands in the early ’90s—including many of our local desert-rock bands.

“A lot of it goes back to music that came out of the ’70s,” Rudell explained, “(with) the fuzzy guitar and the thicker sludge sound, and bands like Foghat and Led Zeppelin. It is such a broad term. If you play vintage style rock ’n’ roll, it can be considered stoner rock.”

Rudell explained some of the technique behind the sound. “Standard guitar-tuning is E-A-D-G-B-E; a lot of times, you can get a deeper and lower sound by dropping the tuning. Queens of the Stone Age drop it down to a C-tuning, which gives them that deep sound. A lot of it is old tube amps, and tube amps in conjunction with fuzz pedals.”

While the band has a heavy sound, they meld that sound with some rather unique songwriting. Their EP Bearded Goddess featured songs such as “Mullet Man,” “Recipe for Badass” and “Death by Suplex.”

Rudell explained that comic books have inspired many of the songs that he’s written—and that inspiration comes to the forefront on Supa-Collider, the band's brand-new independent album.

“This album is sort of a concept based around a comic-book idea that we came up with a while back,” Rudell said. “It never got to paper, and it never got anywhere besides the creative shelf. All the song titles relate to the story, and all the songs are tied together. It’s less satire and more of a story.”

Rudell said he’s had a lifelong love of comic books.

“I’ve always been a fan of a lot of the stuff Marvel puts out,” he said. “I like The Hulk. There was a series called The Infinity Gauntlet that I’ve always been a big fan of; Preacher; and stuff like Watchmen—all that stuff with the huge story lines. I’ve always been a fan of how intricate comics are.”

The band released a music video for their song “At the Helm of Hades,” a track that will be on Supa-Collider.

“It was real fun,” Rudell said. “I wrote most of the story for that video, and we had a friend of mine who was a film student come in and put in all the effects. We actually spent about four months on it, and we recorded it like it was a comic-book story. There are multiple car chases, old vintage bikes and cowboys. I’m real proud of that, and that we put it out in this last year.” (Scroll down to watch the video.)

While the band’s creative juices are definitely at an all-time high after recording Supa-Collider and the music video for “At the Helm of Hades,” Rudell said the band plans to take things to a whole other level.

“We hadn’t really been searching for a record label,” Rudell said. “With the new album coming out and with the tour, we’ll probably be actively seeking one. Personally, I didn’t think we were ready yet, and we were doing a pretty good job ourselves. Now we’re ready to get that extra push.”

Powered Wig Machine will play with Fever Dog and The Hellions at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit www.facebook.com/Poweredwigmachine.

Published in Previews

While many great local bands have come and gone, The Hellions are still going strong after 16 years.

Fans will get several chances to see them in March. They’ll be opening for Powered Wig Machine at The Hood at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, and they’ll be headlining the benefit show I am putting on for The NestEggg Food Bank, at Bar in Palm Springs, starting at 7 p.m., Friday, March 28.

When The Hellions came together 16 years ago, they didn’t anticipate becoming an ongoing, serious band. Angel Lua (aka Angel Shakedown, lead vocals and rhythm guitar) and Bob Llamas (aka Bob Smack, drums) remembered how the band began to come together.

“I think the way we met was Angel was one of the only people in the desert who had a leather jacket,” Llamas said. “(Former member Christian Reyes) and I had leather jackets, and we met Angel because he had a leather jacket. He was into the same bands that we were—The Cramps, Social Distortion and other old punk bands and rockabilly music. He stood out, because wearing a leather jacket out here in the summer isn’t too common.”

Lua said fate led him to meet Llamas and Reyes.

“The cool thing about it was we met, and we never asked each other, ‘Hey, you want to play music?’ or anything like that,” Lua said. “We knew on instinct that we were musicians, and we were going to play music. We had common interests in movies and music, and it was weird.”

The Hellions first played at house parties—and anywhere else they could.

“There wasn’t anything out here,” said Llamas. “There was no place to get music or find cool shit. We both somehow found ways to get all the cool shit, and we had a lot in common that way. Back then, there was Record Alley, but even back in those days, we’d have to go in and ask them to order us stuff. That was also back when there wasn’t a lot of shopping to be done over the Internet.”

Lua said he remembers those days well.

“You had to have money,” Lua said. “We had to drive two hours to go to the record store in places like San Bernardino or Ontario, and make a whole day out of it. You’d come home with hours and hours of music.”

Llamas and Reyes were already playing music. They invited Lua to come over one day; they began to write songs as a band. Because some of the members were younger than 21 at the time, they couldn’t play in a lot of places. One of the few was the former Rhythm and Brews in Indio, owned by Mario Lalli of local-band Fatso Jetson.

Eventually, the band added Jamie Hargate (aka Colonel Lingus, guitar). They soon discovered their band name was not all that unique.

“Later on, thanks to computers, we started finding other bands who were called The Hellions,” Lua said.

Hargate chuckled when he brought up one band that e-mailed them.

“We were threatened with a lawsuit once, but that was 10 years ago,” said Hargate. “(It was) some metal band, and they went away; they didn’t try too hard.”

“Generator parties”—often thrown in the desert, with the help of generators—helped launch Kyuss and some of the other desert-rock-scene bands.

“I did a shitload of those,” Hargate said. “I was inspired as a kid going to these parties with older friends. We would drive to these parties in the middle of the desert, and I was blown away every night by these rad bands like Kyuss and Unsound. I caught the last wave of their parties, so I tried to do what I could in high school to bring that back. My stepdad had a generator; I would take it, put it in the back of my little Honda Civic, and drive to the middle of the desert. … Today, you can’t do that—you’ll get arrested.”

While The Hellions are known for energetic shows, they’re also known for their trademark denim jackets. The jackets pay homage to the Norwegian band Turbonegro. “Turbojugend,” which is printed on the back of their jackets, references the Turbonegro’s “Navy” of fans. Turbojugend chapters have popped up all around the world, and The Hellions make up the Palm Desert chapter.

“We came across Turbonegro in late 2003,” Lua said. “I used to read this magazine called Gearhead, and they had a lot of punk and rock ’n’ roll shit in it. There was this chick in there who used to do all these reviews of records, and she talked about Turbonegro, who were broken up at the time. I said, ‘Fuck it; I’ll buy a CD or whatever I could find.’ I bought their Apocalypse Dudes album at Virgin Records in Ontario. On the way home, I put it on, and I was blown away by it.”

That album led The Hellions out of a hiatus.

“There was a point where the original drummer went to school, and Christian moved to Texas, and we almost stopped playing,” Llamas said. “When Angel came over and played us that CD, we started jamming again. That’s where we got Travis, and really got something going. That album really inspired us to keep playing.”

When the band first added Travis Rockwell (Travis Rawkhard) on bass, he had never played the instrument.

“I couldn’t even play standing up,” Rockwell said. “I had to sit for the first seven months, because standing up and trying to play was just too hard—and I’m still learning. … It took a couple of months before I was comfortable playing during practice. I’d fuck up a lot, but I just learned and kept going with it.”

One fabled bit of the band’s history came when they played at a Video Depot Christmas party—with Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes on the drums.

“Somewhere, someone has a video of that, but I’ve yet to see it,” Hargate said. (In fact, if anyone has footage of that show, the band would like to hear from you.)

Since Rockwell joined The Hellions around 2004, the band has been playing on an ongoing basis. They’ve played shows out of town, and have opened for some of the national acts that have passed through town—most recently The Angry Samoans.

The band also recorded six songs at the Rancho de la Luna recording studio up in the high-desert; it’s the studio responsible for some of the recordings of Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, and the Arctic Monkeys. The sessions led to a three-song demo.

“The only time we’ve really recorded and finished something was at Rancho de la Luna,” Llamas said. “We all took the weekend off and did that for a few days. It was awesome. You go up to that place, and you don’t feel like you’re in a recording studio; you feel like you’re in someone’s home.”

Right now, their only release is a self-made EP on a CD-R, which the band selectively distributes.

“That’s the Best of The Hellions at this point,” said Hargate. “That has about four songs from the Joe Dillon era, when Joe Dillon played guitar. … There are three songs … we did at Rancho de la Luna, and then a live song. We made it just to show everyone how we’ve progressed over the years and what’s available.”

They’re looking toward the summer, when they hope to write more songs and finally make it into the studio to record a proper album.

“We’re writing, rehearsing and figuring things out for a new release,” said Hargate. “We finally have some coin in The Hellions fund, and we look forward to getting back into the studio for the first time in five years. It’s time to get back in the studio and give our fans a proper release.”

The Hellions will play with Powered Wig Machine and Fever Dog at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or track down the event page on Facebook. They’ll also perform at The NestEggg Food Bank Benefit Show, at 7 p.m., Friday, March 28, at Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; $5 suggested donation.

Published in Previews

It’s February, and you know what that means: Love is in the air for Valentine’s Day, and it’s also the month of Modernism Week.

Here are some local events during our shortest month.

The McCallum Theatre is booked solid through February with a ton of events. Cesar Millan will be stopping by the McCallum at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9. Although his famous show on the National Geographic Channel, Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan, has ended, Millan is still sharing his techniques and wisdom in the field of dog-training; this live show should be a real treat (no pun intended) for dog-owners. Tickets are $45 to $75. Frank Sinatra Jr. (right) will be stopping by post Valentine’s Day, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15. Although the younger Frank may be best known as the victim of a famous kidnapping, he is a talented performer in his own right, and has also branched out into acting over the years. Tickets are $45 to $85. Boz Scaggs will be at the McCallum at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 18. The sometimes-lead singer of the Steve Miller Band was a songwriting powerhouse in the ’70s and continues to put on a great show. Tickets are $55 to $95. Roberta Flack will be appearing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22. Flack had a No. 1 hit in with “Killing Me Softly With His Song”; The Fugees would return the song to the top of the charts in 1996. Tickets are $35 to $85. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

After a slower January, Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some fantastic events in the second half of February. If you’re a fan of soft rock, Air Supply (bottom of page) will be softly rocking for a special performance on Valentine’s Day, at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14. Tickets are $35 to $55. The great Johnny Mathis will be appearing at 6 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16. The romantic-ballads singer has been performing since 1956 and was one of a handful of crooners from his era who survived the wave of rock ’n’ roll. Tickets are $60 to $100. For fans of Jeff Dunham, you’ll be pleased to know that he will be joined by Walter, Peanut, Achmed the Dead Terrorist and the rest of the puppet gang at Agua Caliente at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22. Tickets are $85 to $135. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino doesn’t have a lot of events in February, but there are a couple worth noting. Kenny “Babyface” Edwards will be performing on Valentine’s Day, at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14. The ’80s R&B star has had a long and successful career; not bad for a guy who originally started playing with Bootsy Collins—the man who gave Edwards his famous “Babyface” moniker. Tickets are $55 to $75. There will also be a tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21. Attendance is free. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a spectacular list of events for February. Chicago will be appearing at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7. The band has been around since 1967, and still features four of the founding members. Since Terry Kath’s unintentional self-inflicted shooting death in 1978, the band has experienced a series of ups and downs, but they are survivors and have continued to make great music. Also: In Little Nicky, Adam Sandler discovered a rather hilarious subliminal message if you play their self-titled debut album backward during “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” If you haven’t seen it, YouTube it! It’ll blow your mind. Tickets are $39 to $69. CeeLo Green will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15. The singer of “F**k You” (or “Forget You,” whichever version you prefer) has managed to escape the potential one-hit wonder status used to describe his former project, Gnarls Barkley. While Danger Mouse swears that he and CeeLo will make another Gnarls Barkley album, Green’s success as a solo artist seems to throw that into question. Tickets are $39 to $69. Rick Springfield will be performing the following evening, at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16. The soap opera actor and “Jessie’s Girl” hit-maker has a fanatical, mostly female following. He’s still wildly popular and is the subject of a recent documentary, An Affair of the Heart, currently available via Netflix. Tickets are $29 to $49. Fresh out of bankruptcy court, Wayne Newton will be performing at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23. While Newton was the king of Vegas and has remained a music icon, recent photos of him seem to prove that age and plastic surgery don’t always go hand in hand. Tickets are $29 to $49. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, per usual, has some good shows booked for February. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 2, Futurebirds will be performing. The experimental indie band recently released a new album, Baba Yaga. They have been described as a “psychedelic country” band and have toured with the likes of the Drive-By Truckers, Widespread Panic and others. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, Pappy’s will host a Valentine’s Day show with Ferraby Lionheart. Lionheart is an indie-rock performer out of Los Angeles. He has some very catchy tunes that will make for a non-traditional Valentine’s Day show. Take your sweetheart to Pappy’s for some pre-show barbecue and then enjoy the show; you won’t be disappointed—plus admission is free. There will be a show not to miss from Moistboyz (right) at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 27. Moistboyz is a project that includes Dean Ween, formerly of Ween; Nick Oliveri, formerly of Queens of the Stone Age; and vocalist Guy Heller. The project has been around since 1994, when they released their debut album on the Beastie Boys’ now-defunct Grand Royal label. After the breakup of Dean and Gene Ween, it’s not a surprise Dean Ween has resurrected Moistboyz. The current touring lineup also includes Hoss Wright of Oliveri’s Mondo Generator. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

After requesting a list of events from The Date Shed, I was informed that the venue is now heading in a direction toward more private events. However, the venue still hosts shows from time to time. Along with the Tribal Seeds show, The Date Shed has Ozzmania booked at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7. Ozzmania, a local Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath tribute band, has received acclaim for excellent covers. A true metal fan wouldn’t miss it—plus it’s a free show, so there’s no excuse for not attending. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has some great local shows going on. At 10 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 6, The Hoodwill host the second monthly Industry Night, featuring DJ Angelique. Attendance is free. At 10 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, Mikey Raines Acoustic Movement will be performing, with The Hive Minds opening. Derek Gregg and Sean Poe of the Hive Minds are starting to sound tighter and tighter as they keep playing regularly. Since they parted ways with bassist Patrick “Tricky” Mitchem, they have yet to find a permanent replacement, but have brought in friends on occasion. Attendance is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8, the aforementioned Mondo Generator will take the stage. While Nick Oliveri and some of the members of Mondo Generator are playing with Moistboyz at Pappy and Harriet’s later in the month, this is another not-to-miss show featuring Oliveri. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, Long Duk Dong will be returning for a Valentine’s Day Show that will be themed like a 1980s prom. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com

The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs will be hosting Haunted Summer at 10 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21. After a successful show at Pappy and Harriet’s in January, the Los Angeles dream-pop duo is happy to be doing a performance for us here in the low desert. The Ace Hotel, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

Published in Previews

In the 1990s, “third wave ska” brought the genre to new heights in terms of popularity—and San Diego’s Buck-O-Nine was one of the bands that enjoyed the ride.

On Friday, Jan. 17, the band will be making a return performance to The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert, after playing there about a year ago.

Ska—a Jamaican style of music that combines Caribbean elements with jazz and R&B—originated in the late 1950s. It found popularity in the United Kingdom in the late 1960s; in the late ’70s and early-to-mid ’80s, a second wave known as 2 Tone began with groups such as Madness, The Specials and The English Beat. During the ’90s, American bands created the third wave by combining it with a punk-rock sound.

Buck-O-Nine started in 1991 in San Diego; frontman Jon Pebsworth became involved after answering a newspaper ad looking for a singer. During a recent phone interview, he talked about his love for ska music at an early age.

“Ska music and punk rock were my two favorite styles of music,” he said. “When I was a really young kid in sixth-grade—when I was buying my own records with my own money that wasn’t my parents’ kind of music—it was all 2 Tone ska like The English Beat, Madness, The Selecter, and all that stuff. I got into punk rock when I was in junior high and high school.”

When he saw the ad the band put in the San Diego Reader looking for a singer, he knew he had found a place for himself. “It said, ‘Ska band looking for punk singer.’ I was like, ‘Fuck, dude! That’s the band for me right there.’ The rest is history.”

Pebsworth said punk and ska have a history of working well together.

“Both styles of music are high-energy. … The melding of punk and ska together (actually began in) the 2 Tone era, when you think about it. They took traditional ska from the late ’60s and early ’70s and infused it with the punk rock that was happening in the late ’70s and early ’80s. That second wave already has a lot of punk rock in it. They seem to go hand in hand.”

The early third wave also included bands such as the Voodoo Glow Skulls, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and No Doubt, just to name a few. Buck-O-Nine released its debut album, Songs in the Key of Bree, in 1994. The band’s fourth album, Twenty-Eight Teeth, featured the song “My Town,” which made it to No. 32 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The band was a heavy favorite in San Diego’s music scene, and wound up on tour opening for The Specials.

Third-wave ska wound up becoming watered down, and eventually left the mainstream as quickly as it arrived. No Doubt eventually went toward a pop sound, while other third-wave bands went back into the underground.

“It was a trippy time,” Pebsworth said. “With bands like Green Day and The Offspring bringing actual punk rock to the more-popular culture, a lot of people were interested in … making records that had more broad appeal. I think it had a positive and negative effect. … It was definitely positive, because a lot of people got turned on to that music, but it was also a negative, because when you have something like that that’s generating money, and bands being signed to major labels, you’re going to see watered-down versions of these bands pop up. The media sort of turned it into a frat-boy, rock ’n’ roll house-party kind of music.”

Pebsworth said the band members currently refer to themselves as “semi-retired.” The band members have families, live in different cities, and have other commitments and even day jobs. Therefore, they play eight to 12 shows per year.

“Honestly, at this point, we don’t really make any money doing Buck-O-Nine,” he said. “We do it for the same reason when we first started: Because it’s fun as shit.”

Buck-O-Nine hasn’t recorded an album since 2007’s Sustain—and it appears fans will be waiting a while longer.

“We’d like to, and seem to think we will,” he said about a new album. “We talk about it every time we’re together. Unfortunately, nothing has really materialized in the way of songs or new ideas.”

So what keeps Buck-O-Nine fun for Pebsworth?

“Obviously, the most fun part is walking out onstage with the guys,” he said. “I also love the stuff that goes on after the shows. … When we get together, we’re still the best of friends, and we have a blast. Whether it’s hanging out at the club we’re playing at, going to a bar down the street, or buying beers at a 7-Eleven and going back to our hotel, just telling jokes and fucking around—that’s the most fun.”

Buck-O-Nine will play at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 17, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $10 at the door; Machin’ and Spankshaft are also on the bill. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or track down the event page on Facebook.

Published in Previews

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time for a breather.

During the month of January, the Coachella Valley is experiencing a slowdown in the number of music events—so it’s all about quality over quantity. Thankfully, there’s plenty of quality.

The McCallum Theatre will host Shirley MacLaine at 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 19. MacLaine will be speaking about her experiences in Hollywood, her private life and her spiritual journey. Tickets are $35 to $75. Jazz vocal artist Patti Austin will be performing at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28. Austin, best known for her 1981 duet “Baby, Come to Me” with James Ingram, is a live delight. Tickets are $35 to $75. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 1, Pink Martini will take the stage. The modern-day alternative lounge-music act has always had a feel good vibe and will definitely put on a fun show. Tickets are $35 to $95. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a solid schedule throughout the month. The Golden Boys will be performing at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 3. The supergroup includes three heartthrobs from the early days of pop: Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell and Fabian. They’ll be onstage together crooning each of their hits. For those who remember the heyday of these singers back in the ’50s, it will be a special night. Tickets are $29 to $59. And now for something completely different: At 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, Snoop Lion, aka Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop Doggy Dogg, will be performing in the Coachella Valley for the first time since his headlining slot with Dr. Dre at Coachella in 2012. It’s hard to predict what to expect from Snoop, since his recent conversion to Snoop Lion has also included a shift in sound. His most recent release, Reincarnated, is a reggae album; Snoop’s conversion to the Rastafarian religion was shown in the documentary with the same name. He was a no-show at a scheduled performance in Portland, Ore., a few months back, and he seems to be more open to being called Snoop Dogg again, so who knows what to expect? (He turned down an interview request from the Independent, for what it’s worth.) Tickets are $39 to $89. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31, country-music star Martina McBride will close out the month in style. Her career goes all the way back to 1988, and she’s had quite a run ever since; she also has a new album slated for release in 2014. This should definitely be a treat for country-music fans. Tickets are $39 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa has a slower January compared to other recent months—but the resort’s schedule does feature an undeniable legend. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, country legend Dolly Parton will bring her classics to the Agua Caliente. The “9-to-5” singer is still going strong and is inspiring younger generations after being covered by artists like the White Stripes. Tickets were $90 to $160, but the show is sold out. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a couple of great events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, comedienne Kathleen Madigan will be performing. Thanks in part to her high-profile comedy specials, including Gone Madigan on Showtime, she’s become a huge success. Tickets are $20 to $40. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, Morris Day and the Time will be performing with Sheila E. Morris Day is a well-known cult hero thanks to his song “Jungle Love.” Day was also in Prince’s Purple Rain as Prince’s nemesis. Speaking of Prince: His former drummer, Sheila E, will also be performing. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com

Morongo Casino Resort Spa doesn’t have much going on in January, but the Cabazon resort will kick off the next month with Foreigner, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1. While Mick Jones is the only remaining member, the band’s hits make them worth experiencing live. Also, for those of us who watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force, we know the powers of the “Foreigner Belt.” Tickets are $59 to $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s, meanwhile, has another great month of shows booked. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 9, Pappy’s will host the Bobby Nichols Band. The high-desert band is a hit with the local crowd, thanks to their smooth electronic instrumental grooves; it will be a perfect night to be in Pioneertown for dinner and a show. Admission is free. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, The Palominos (right) will be performing. The San Diego based honky-tonk band is helping keep the California country music sound alive. This show is free, too. After hosting the Weirdos in December, Pappy’s will be hosting another punk band at 9 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 19: Parquet Courts. Since forming in 2010 in Brooklyn, N.Y., the band has been a hit in the underground—and has even gained some attention from the mainstream music press. Tickets are $12. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza is unfortunately losing booking mastermind Brandon Henderson. The good news is he will be replaced by War Drum frontman Jack Kohler. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 9, The Hood will host its new Industry Night. DJ Bent will be spinning during the all-vinyl night. Attendance is free (21 and older). At 10 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18, Flower Boy and Giselle Woo and the Night Owls will be playing. Attendance is again free (21 and older) The Independent wishes Brandon Henderson well in his new journey. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com.

We’re finally getting a better look at the Hard Rock Hotel’s entertainment plans. The hotel will now feature DJs every Friday and Saturday in the lobby from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., and poolside from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hard Rock Palm Springs, 150 S. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-325-9676; www.hrhpalmsprings.com.

Vicky’s of Santa Fe has some great music events to go hand in hand with the restaurant’s fine dining. Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 6:30 to 10 p.m., jazz musician Pat Rizzo performs with the All That Jazz Band. Every Tuesday, from 7 to 10 p.m., the restaurant features Michael Dees and Trio. Fans of swing music can enjoy Carolyn Martinez and Trio every Thursday from 6:30 to 10 p.m. John Stanley King performs every Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. Vicky’s of Santa Fe, 45100 Club Drive, Indian Wells; 760-345-9770; www.vickysofsantafe.com.

The Ace Hotel has added a monthly event to its lineup in the Amigo Room. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, The Full House Band featuring Nena Anderson will perform “gypsy jazz,” Americana and Western swing. The event will be every second Friday of the month going forward. Attendance is free to those 21 and older.The Ace Hotel, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The newly opened Copa Room is hopping; the new spot has a lot to offer thanks to its old-school lounge appeal. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Jan. 3 and 4, the Copa will host Well-Strung (below), an all-male string quartet playing the works of artists from to Mozart to Vivaldi to … Lady Gaga? Yes, that’s right. Tickets are $25 to $35. Check the Copa’s website, as the folks there were adding a variety of shows to the lineup as we went to press.The Copa Room, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Zena Bender, in collaboration with the folks at Radio Free Joshua Tree, will be holding a second fundraiser at the Sky Village Swap Meet in Yucca Valley, at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 8. The nonprofit radio station was founded by Teddy Quinn to serve as an outlet for Coachella Valley and high-desert musicians, poets and artists. The effort is worth your support. A suggested donation is $10. Sky Village Swap Meet, 7028 Theatre Road, Yucca Valley; www.radiofreejoshuatree.com.

Published in Previews

The month of December is full of holiday magic—and many of the local venues are bringing in great holiday-themed shows, along with other worthy acts.

The Palm Springs Festival of Lights starts at 5:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. It’s a huge parade on Palm Canyon Drive featuring floats, marching bands and other special participants. Past guests have included the Budweiser Clydesdales, Snoopy and the Gang, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Attendance is free. 760-323-8276; www.psfestivaloflights.com.

The newly formed Modern Men, the Coachella Valley Men’s Chorus, is holding an inaugural concert at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs. There will be a second performance at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Tickets are $20. The chorus is also asking those who attend to bring a nonperishable food item to donate to the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s NestEggg Food Bank. Temple Isaiah, 332 W. Alejo Road, Palm Springs; 760-992-5109; www.modernmen.org.

The Classic Club in Palm Desert will host a special fundraiser thrown by Opera Arts and the Steinway Society for their children’s music programs in the Coachella Valley. For the Children starts at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8, with a wine-and-cheese reception; it’s followed by a sit-down dinner at 7:15 p.m., and a musical presentation at 8:15 p.m. with Shana Blake Hill and Gregorio Gonzalez. Tickets are $125. 75200 Classic Club Drive, Palm Desert; 760-323-8353; www.operaartspalmsprings.org.

The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus will be performing their holiday concert “With Bells On” at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, and 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Palm Springs High School Auditorium. They say they’re going to be performing a mix of sentimental, spiritual, humorous and classical songs. Tickets are $25 to $50. 2401 E. Baristo Road; www.psgmc.com.

The city of Palm Springs is hosting yet more special events at Forever Marilyn. The free Forever Marilyn Holiday Concert Series will take place at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21, and 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 22. The performers include Celine Dion tribute performer Brigitte Valdez, Just Like That and local band New Sensations. 101 N. Palm Canyon Drive; www.visitpalmsprings.com.

The McCallum Theatre certainly is the place to be during the month of December. The McCallum will host The Ten Tenors for five shows, Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8. The Australian musical ensemble is well known for choral covers of Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” as well as other pop and rock classics. Here, they will be performing an all-new show of holiday classics. Tickets are $25 to $95. Willie Nelson will be making a stop at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 17. The Red Headed Stranger is still going strong at 80 years of age; he’s still doing what he can to help out farmers through his Farm Aid concerts; and, yes, he’s still advocating for the legalization of marijuana. Tickets are $60 to $100. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Of course, the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some fine holiday shows on tap in December. Jazz saxophonist Dave Koz will be performing a Christmas show at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14. He’ll be bringing special guests Oleta Adams, Jonathan Butler and Keiko Matsui. Tickets are $40 to $60. If you’re suffering from a Christmas hangover, Chris Isaak can help at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27. While Isaak is a well-known actor with roles in Little Buddha, The Silence of the Lambs and The Informers, he’s also a brilliant recording artist with a music career that goes back almost 30 years. Tickets are $40 to $75. At 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Agua Caliente will be hosting Danny Bonaduce’s ex-wife, Gretchen Bonaduce, and her band, The Fatal ’80s. I don’t know what to make of a woman who divorces Danny Bonaduce and continues to keep that last name, but more power to her! Tickets are $25. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will be hosting Mannheim Steamroller (right) at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Not to be confused with the near-heavy-metal, prog-rock Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mannheim Streamroller is also known for holiday shows full of MIDI-sounding keyboards and an electronic-symphony sound. Tickets are $39 to $69. America’s Got Talent star Jackie Evancho will be appearing at Fantasy Springs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14. Evancho, now 13, won the hearts of America during the fifth season of the show and finished as the runner-up—sparking outrage among her fans who felt she should have won the competition over Michael Grimm. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino is hosting the Winter Gathering Pow Wow from Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8. The pow wow will include Native American tribes from across the country sharing clothing, dances, songs, arts, crafts and food. There will also be a drum and dance contest. Hours are 7 to 11 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6; 1 to 11 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7; and 1 to 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8. Admission is free. The Spinners, a legendary Motown R&B group, will be making a stop at Spotlight 29 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 28. Most of the original members of the Spinners are not active, but original member Henry Fambrough remains. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Stayin’ Alive, a tribute to the Bee Gees, will ring in 2014. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a solid schedule for December. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13, Charo will be performing. The Spanish-American actress known for both her campy comedy and her flamenco-guitar music is still going strong—and she’s a huge hit in the LGBT community. Tickets are $20 to $29. Hiroshima plays at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 20. The Japanese-American act was a hit in the ’70s in the electric-jazz scene, and even performed as the opening act for Miles Davis. While the band has gone through several lineup changes, Dan Kuramoto, June Kuramoto and Danny Yamamoto are still around. Tickets are $15 to $20. Morongo’s Vibe Nightclub will host a New Year’s Eve Party at 10:30 p.m. The Dazz Band will be performing their high-energy R&B to bring in 2014. Tickets are $25, or $40 on the day of the show. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s will be hosting Dengue Fever (the band, not the virus) at 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7; the show is one of the highlights of an absolutely packed month for the Pioneertown venue. The Los Angeles band is known for combining Cambodian pop music with psychedelic rock—a unique and eccentric combination. If that wasn’t enough, Jesika von Rabbit from Gram Rabbit will be the opening act, performing under the moniker JVR. Tickets are $10. Pappy’s will be throwing a New Year’s Eve concert featuring the blues-rock sound of the Paul Chesne Band. Doors open at 6, and tickets are $5. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert has established itself as a hot place to be, especially after November’s show with Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. Rick Thorne and his band Thorne will play at 10 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6. Thorne is one of the most-recognizable BMX riders around today—but he also puts on an excellent show as a punk-band frontman. Attendance is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21, The Hood will host Strung Out. The Simi Valley band has been performing its brand of punk since 1992 and has been on Fat Wreck Chords since its debut, Another Day in Paradise, in 1994. There’s talk of a new record coming out in 2014. Given the intimate size of The Hood, Strung Out should be another wild show. The cost is $10 at the door for those 21 and older; or $15 for those 18 to 20. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com.

Clinic Bar and Lounge in Palm Springs is picking up steam with a regular schedule of music nights. On Thursdays at 9 p.m., Symara Stone hosts Spotlight, a local talent showcase. A variety of performers bring their own instruments, and it’s guaranteed to be a good time. On Wednesday nights at 10 p.m., Derek Gregg and Sean Poe, now known as the Hive Minds, are putting on a show. Considering the quality of Derek’s originals, it’s not a surprise he’s continuing to make a name for himself in the local music scene. Clinic Bar has a lot more to offer with regular DJ sets by talented people including Independent resident DJ Alex Harrington (aka All Night Shoes) and various other music nights. Admission is free. Clinic Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-864-4119; www.clinicbarps.com.

The Purple Room in Palm Springs is back, and the Rat Pack-inspired lounge is now hosting a regular schedule of shows. The Judy Show, a comedy and song show, will take place on Sunday nights at 9:30. Tickets are $20. The Gand Band will perform on Friday and Saturday nights at 9 p.m. The cost is $10. The Michael Holmes Trio will perform on “No Cover Wednesday” nights from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and Machin’ will be bringing the Spanglish Jive every Thursday at 7 p.m.; there is no cover. Watch the website for yet more shows. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Below: Strung Out: The Hood, Dec. 21.

Published in Previews

On what promises to be a night of acoustic mayhem, Supersuckers frontman Eddie Spaghetti and former Custom Made Scare frontman Charlie Overbey will play at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Thursday, Dec. 5

The Supersuckers formed in 1988 and have appeared on many indie-band “best of” lists. The band’s combination of rock and country has led many to list them in the “cowpunk” subgenre. The Supersuckers have toured with bands such as Pearl Jam, Motorhead, Reverend Horton Heat and many others.

Eddie Spaghetti, the frontman of the Supersuckers, is also a solo artist. He’s touring behind his latest album, The Value of Nothing. For Spaghetti, this is his first solo album to offer originals instead of covers.

“(The album) was kind of more my views on things, I guess,” Spaghetti said. “… I just worked hard at making up some good songs, and didn’t think about what should be a solo song or a Supersuckers song. I think there are a couple of songs that could have been Supersuckers songs pretty easily, but that’s not always the case.”

Spaghetti said he has one goal. whether he is performing with the Supersuckers or at a solo show.

“I just want people to hear the songs and come out to the show. The music has kind of become the advertisement for the live show,” he said. “It’s the one thing left that you can’t download, and you can’t experience a live show any other way besides going out to see it. It’s the one thing we, as artists, have left that’s still enjoyable.”

The Supersuckers were involved in the campaign to free the West Memphis Three, three teenagers who were apparently wrongfully convicted of the murder of three young boys in West Memphis, Ark. The case received national attention after the documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills aired in 1996 on HBO. The band auctioned off items to support the legal defense, and Spaghetti produced a compilation album to raise awareness.

They were released on Aug. 19, 2011, after reaching a deal with prosecutors, following 18 years in prison.

“I was elated. I was in Germany when I heard, and I just couldn’t believe it,” Spaghetti said. “It was such a phenomenal experience; to think you had anything to do with it at all is super-gratifying. To see them getting out of prison was great.”

When asked what attendees can expect from his set, he replied that his show will be entirely acoustic.

“You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll become a part of it,” he said. “I think what differentiates an Eddie show (from) a Supersuckers show is how the audience gets to participate in an Eddie Spaghetti show. They’ll shout out a song they think I might know; if I even kind of know it, I’ll give it a shot. It’s a good chance for me to flex my entertainer muscle and not try to be some boring singer-songwriter guy up there.”

For Charlie Overbey—who has opened shows for both the Supersuckers and Eddie Spaghetti before—the art of songwriting runs deep. You can hear Springsteen, Cash, Haggard and other influences at play in his from-the-heart songs.

He released an album in 2011 with his former band the Valentine Killers, and he just finished recording another album.

“I come from the school of ‘a good song is a good song,’” he said. “If it makes you feel something, it’s good. As long as it’s coming from the soul, and it’s real, people are going to feel that. If it makes you feel sad and remember something you don’t want to necessarily remember … it’s good to remember that kind of stuff—to remember the good times.”

In recent years, Overbey has gone through the breakup of the Valentine Killers, a divorce, the death of his father and the death of several friends via suicide. It’s no surprise, then, that he wrote some dark stuff—but he said he didn’t want that to taint his new album.

“I thought, ‘I don’t want to make this dark, depressing record right now,’” he said. “I rehashed the whole thing and busted out a bunch of tunes and wrote some new stuff that’s upbeat, and it’s positive.”

In an interesting twist, Overbey recently performed a live Neil Diamond tribute show after friends—who know about his love of early Neil Diamond songs—suggested he do so. He’s also hosted a jam session at the Slidebar in Fullerton that featured regular guests such as Steve Soto of Adolescents, Zander Schloss of Sean and Zander, and Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters.

“Usually, I pretty much stuck to playing my own material. I did know some cover tunes, but I’m not the greatest guitar-player in the world. (I’m) kind of like Bob Dylan: not the greatest songwriter in the world, but wrote some great songs,” he said. If someone wanted to play something simple, I could pretty much do that. Most of the guys who came in and played it were great musicians and would follow what I would do and play anything.”

Overbey said he enjoys performing with Spaghetti.

“Eddie is a standup, solid dude. We have a good time together and have a lot of laughs,” Overbey said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a writer and an artist. He’s just an all-around strong talent. I always feel blessed to share a stage with Eddie.”

Eddie Spaghetti performs with Charlie Overbey, as well as The Hellions, at 10 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111 in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or find the event’s page on Facebook. Below: Charlie Overbey.

Published in Previews

Who knew this band from Desert Hot Springs would taste the “big time” so quickly?

Slipping Into Darkness was selected as the local act to perform at Coachella back in April; they’ve wrapped up recording on their first album, which is due to be released any day now; and the show they played at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Nov. 15, was extraordinary, despite the absence of a band member.

The band is a throwback to the days of psychedelic rock, melded with a more-modern sound. Echoing guitars, hard rock, and bits that remind of Black Angels and the Brian Jonestown Massacre are all part of the Slipping Into Darkness mix.

The show started off with the band playing possibly the best cover of Link Wray’s “Rumble” that I’ve ever heard. They then jumped into their set of energetic, psychedelic rock ’n’ roll. “Ahh Doo” was a poppy ’50s-style rock ’n’ roll anthem. “Tell It Like It Is” could have used one of those trippy videos playing in the background with tie-dye or a blast of multiple colors.

Michael Durazo traded guitar riffs with Adrian Carreno Lafarga, while drummer Nigel Carnahan was a well-oiled machine; his performance had the audience screaming his name in between songs—or were they screaming for the other Nigel, bassist Nigel Dettelbach?

The band sounded tight, but there was something missing: Natalie Alyse, the band’s tambourine player and backup vocalist. (Before the show, Durazo told me The Hood’s security team turned away Natalie, as well as some of the band’s friends who were either younger than 21 or without ID.)

Durazo is a man of few words. I tried to interview him back in October, and it did not go well. Durazo is not interview-savvy, a fact which is evident in the interview the band gave to KMIR Channel 6 back in April before Coachella (embedded below). Durazo is either very shy, or he simply lets the music do the talking—I haven’t determined which one yet. The only thing he had to tell me about playing Coachella on the main stage before bands such as Ghost B.C. and The Gaslight Anthem: “It was cool.”

I was surprised that I didn’t hear chants of “shurp” or “shurpadelic” from the band’s friends in the audience—it’s a reference the band made up for having “good times” in Desert Hot Springs. Shurpadelic is also reportedly the title of the band’s upcoming album. Durazo played me some tracks when I attempted to interview him, and the band’s recordings sound just as incredible as their live shows. When Shurpadelic drops, and the band announces more local shows, take note: They’re worth seeing.

Slipping Into Darkness has the potential to be the next local band to make it big. We’ll be watching.

Published in Reviews

Season is finally here! As you make plans for Thanksgiving and prepare for the other big holidays just around the corner, you should also plan on attending some of these great shows.

The McCallum Theatre has an amazing variety of events booked solid through the month. One show that definitely won’t disappoint music-lovers is an appearance by Crosby, Stills and Nash’s Graham Nash at 8 p.m., Monday, Nov. 18. While he may be best known for his work with Stephen Stills and David Crosby, he’s had a long and successful solo career; his 1971 solo debut album, Songs for Beginners, was critically acclaimed and reached No. 15 on the Billboard albums chart. Tickets are $35 to $75. Herb Alpert will also be stopping by the McCallum, at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, along with his wife, singer Lani Hall. The jazz trumpeter, known primarily for his years with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, was a pioneer in jazz because he mixed Latin, funk, pop and R&B styles into his sound. While jazz has been on the decline with audiences over the years, Alpert is still going strong. Tickets are $35 to $75. The Kingston Trio will be appearing at 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 24. Before folk music became political in the 1960s, putting the genre on the path to a major revival, The Kingston Trio was paving the way for that revival. One downside: The original three members are long gone from the group, so the trio continues in a “third phase” with collaborators who worked with the original lineup or were otherwise affiliated with the trio. That shouldn’t stop you from going to see them and taking in some of the songs that inspired the folk revival of the 1960s. Tickets are $25 to $45. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Aaron LewisAgua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is hosting some big events, too. Theresa Caputo, aka the “Long Island Medium,” will be there at 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15. What can be expected from Caputo? Well, it’s a safe bet that she’ll be communicating with the spirits and talking directly with their living relatives in attendance. Tickets for the event were $60 to $100, but we received word just before our deadline that the show is sold out. (I do NOT suggest shouting out a request for “Freebird” to her.) The following night, Neil Sedaka will take the stage; the “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” crooner will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16. Sedaka was a pop icon before the British Invasion and rock ’n’ roll took America by storm. He’s still a success today; he’s been involved with American Idol and had his first big-hit album in two decades in 2007 with The Definitive Collection. Tickets are $50 to $75. For those who remember the band Staind from the infamous nu-metal era: Aaron Lewis, the frontman of the band, will be there at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30. Lewis became a hit after he did a live duet at Korn’s Family Values Tour in 1999 with Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit of a song Lewis penned called “Outside.” He turned in solo acoustic performances in the later part of the last decade and has now transitioned to country music while Staind is on hiatus. Fun fact: In July 2012, Lewis had a bitter feud with Carrie Underwood after she released her song “Last Name,” which he said “made her sound like a complete whore.” Whoa! Tickets for the event are $25 to $55. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

The Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has two big music events booked this month. Modern R&B superstar Ne-Yo will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16. The three-time Grammy Award-winning artist is currently touring behind his latest album, R.E.D., an acronym for Realizing Every Dream. He has crossed over into pop and dance-pop; his recent single with Sia Furler, “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself),” was well-received and even included a successful music video—in an era when the music video isn’t appreciated much any more. Tickets are $49 to $109. Burt Bacharach will follow in Ne-Yo’s footsteps a week later, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23. Like Sedaka, Bacharach was part of the pop scene that came before the British Invasion and rock ’n’ roll, but he always stood out because of his unique songwriting. With 73 Top 40 hits in the U.S., Bacharach has also won Grammys, Academy Awards and pretty much every other award a singer-songwriter can win. 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 light music schedule for the month of November; however, the resort’s Free Friday Concert Series kicks off with a Johnny Cash tribute by Rusty Evans at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15. Admission is free. Also, the venue will be hosting The Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience: Moonwalker at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9. With a live band and a cast of singers, the show is a must-see for Michael Jackson fans. Tickets are $15. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has just one big scheduled November event: The Cabazon resort will host comedian and TV host Craig Ferguson for a standup performance at 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8. Ferguson has established himself as the host of The Late Late Show and is a possible replacement for David Letterman if The Late Show host ever decides to step down. We’re dying to know: Will Ferguson bring along his robotic skeleton sidekick? Tickets are $55 to $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s has booked Cass McCombs for a gig at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 12. McCombs blends folk, rock, blues, country and several other different styles into one big, awesome mess. He’s toured with the likes of Band of Horses and Cat Power—and he’s definitely someone you should see live at least once. Tickets are $15. (Read my review of his latest album at CVIndependent.com.) The following evening, at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 13, Bill Callahan will take the stage. The underground rock artist, who has also performed under the moniker of Smog, continues to push the boundaries of simplicity in songwriting; it’s said that he can repeat the same chord progression throughout the entire song. He’s another musician who has tried his hand in writing, releasing a novel, Letters to Emma Bowlcut, in 2010. Tickets are $15. After an appearance earlier this year at The Date Shed, Reverend Horton Heat will be playing Pappy and Harriet’s at 8 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 24. The Texas trio and warriors of the road never disappoint and always put on a great show. I saw them on the same night as the 2009 Academy Awards when they played the House of Blues, right down the street from the awards ceremony and Vanity Fair after-party; the show was packed despite the traffic and all the Oscars craziness. They’re truly one of the hardest-working independent bands in the business today. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.

The ExpendablesThe Date Shed hosts The Expendables at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16. No, this group does not include Sylvester Stallone, the Governator or any of those guys; it’s the Santa Cruz surf-rock band that mixes reggae and punk. The resulting sound is similar to that of Sublime. Tickets are $15. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza continues to get some great bands thanks in part to their booking genius, Brandon Henderson. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, the Palm Desert venue hosts a retro-themed show going back to the big-band and rockabilly eras featuring Vicky Tafoya and the Big Beat, the Jennifer Keith Quintet and the Deadbeat Daddies; the show will include a pinup contest. Admission at the door is $10. Guttermouth plays at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16. Guttermouth’s shockingly humorous and offensive lyrics reportedly got them booted from the 2004 Warped Tour; you never know what to expect from the Huntington Beach group. Antics aside, they’re a great punk band that shouldn’t be underestimated. Admission to the 21-and-over show is $10 at the door. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com.

Azul Tapas Inspired Lounge and Patio features a November party that is not to miss—Bella Da Ball’s Star Dedication. It will take place at 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, in front of Azul, followed by an all-star concert at 7:30 p.m. with food and drink specials. Performers such as Allison Annalora, Doug Graham, Keisha D, Marina Mac and others are all scheduled to perform. Admission is free, and the full menu is available, but reservations are suggested. Azul Tapas Inspired Lounge and Patio, 369 N. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs; 760-325-5533; www.azultapaslounge.com.

The Hard Rock Hotel is open for business and moving forward with events. The hotel will kick off an entertainment series titled The Edge at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, with repeats on Friday and Saturday the following two weekends. The Edge is variety show that brings together actors from the screen and the stage in a production of rock classics, similar to Rock of Ages and other Broadway productions that include classic rock and stage performance. November’s show is titled “Top Rock.” Tickets for the event are $45. Hard Rock Hotel, 150 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; www.theedgepalmsprings.com.

Neil Sedaka

Published in Previews

Many bands meld politics with their music. However, no one does it quite like Jello Biafra.

The former Dead Kennedys frontman is coming to Palm Desert for a post-Coachella encore at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Nov. 8, with his band, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine.

Dead Kennedys formed in 1978 in San Francisco as part of the hardcore punk scene that was sweeping America. When Dead Kennedys guitarist East Bay Ray put out a newspaper advertisement for band mates, Jello Biafra (vocals), Klaus Flouride (bass) and Ted, aka Bruce Slesinger (drums), joined together and took the hardcore punk scene by the horns thanks to their psychedelic, surf-guitar-infused sound, and Biafra’s political satire-based lyrics. Songs such as “Holiday in Cambodia,” “California Über Alles,” “Too Drunk to Fuck” and “Police Truck” became their most recognizable anthems. The band released its albums on its own label, Alternative Tentacles; Jello Biafra presides over the label to this day.

The band quickly drew the attention of police in San Francisco and other cities—as well as, most notably, Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center. When the band put out the album Frankenchrist in 1985, the Dead Kennedys members found themselves in a world of trouble over the H.R. Giger-designed poster insert showing rows of penises and vulvae. They were charged with distributing harmful material to minors and faced a criminal trial. While the trial ended in an acquittal, the controversy and the ever-changing punk scene led to a breakup in 1986.

Biafra’s fascination with music and politics came in part from his parents, who encouraged him to take an interest in current events as well as music. During a recent phone interview, he said his music was a product of the times in which he grew up.

“In a way, even the music that didn’t have political lyrics back then scared people. Even liking … the harder-edged, garage-rock side of rock ’n’ roll, or even the Beatles—or long hair, for that matter—was all kind of an outlaw act, and therefore, political,” Biafra said. “It was a real struggle, though, to find music that rocked as hard as I like it (and that’s) a tad overt with political lyrics instead of the same old sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll with a little Satan thrown in.”

Biafra said his parents’ tastes in music led to his diverse tastes.

“My parents were mainly classical-music listeners. At that point, they were still listening to a fair amount of folk music, too—Pete Seeger, Joan Baez … Gateway Singers, who were a local group back there that they saw perform live a lot. My dad had this Japanese kabuki record with kabuki musicians. By the time I was a teenage pothead listening to Hawkwind, among other things, I dug that kabuki record out of his collection and thought it was really cool. It had some of the same driving feel to it. My pothead friends agreed. I traded (my father) an Erik Satie album to get the kabuki record.”

After the Dead Kennedys split, Biafra stayed active in music while he also made spoken-word appearances. He made records with Mojo Nixon, D.O.A., The Melvins, and his previous band, Lard. However, he didn’t return to material that was as hard-hitting until he formed his current band, the Guantanamo School of Medicine.

“It was never my intention to not ever have another band. I just kept getting derailed on good and bad adventures. When I saw the Stooges on Iggy Pop’s 60th birthday, I thought, ‘Oh shit! I’m turning 50 next year. I’d better get this band thing together one of these days.’ So I finally had a deadline.”

Since forming in 2008, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine have put out two albums and toured the world—including an appearance at Coachella in April.

The band’s most recent album, White People and the Damage Done, released in April, includes a song called “The Brown Lipstick Parade” that references some of the Tipper Gore/PMRC fiasco.

“I got the term ‘brown lipstick’ from Frank Zappa when he testified at that Senate hearing that Al Gore had arranged for his own wife to investigate evil music—you know, how Ozzy makes you kill yourself, AC/DC causes crime to increase, and later on, if you listen to political hip-hop written by African Americans, you might turn into some kind of gang-banger or something. One of the things Zappa said in a prepared statement to those pompous senators was, ‘No one looks good in brown lipstick.’”

“What he meant was the way things are done from City Hall to Washington: People get themselves elected—or should I say selected—not to do anything for the voters or the public good, but to prove themselves to be as corrupt as possible, as quickly as possible, and put on as much brown lipstick as possible, so when they leave Congress or the Pentagon or whatever, they can get on corporate boards of directors and rake in millions of dollars through lobbyists.”

When it comes to Tipper Gore, he expressed an amusing point of view.

“Let’s put it this way: I think Tipper Gore had more to do with costing her husband the 2000 election than anything Ralph Nader or the Green Party would have hoped to have done. Where was the youth support for Al Gore in 2000?”

While Biafra has earned success and praise from the punk-rock community, he isn’t without critics. Punk-rockers with a libertarian ethos, as well as foes of the punk-rock ethos in general, have chided Biafra for being a hypocrite, in part because he makes money from his political works.

“They’re people who have their heads firmly up their asses and never bothered to research any fact, that’s for damn sure,” he said. “It’s not as though I’m rolling in mountains of money. I’ve never made a dime off Alternative Tentacles, either, and I think in any society where the mass media continues to be corporatized, censored and dumbed down, it’s that more important for the artist to speak out and tell people what’s really going on. For some reason, because I’m a musician, I shouldn’t speak out on anything besides shop talk on the punk-rock scene? That sounds as boring as talking to anarchists about anarchy all night long.”

Biafra made it clear that he is no fan of libertarianism and its influence on punk rock.

“As far as I’m concerned, Libertarians are Republicans who smoke pot. I have a very different attitude about what they do—not just about guns, but also about taxes,” he said. “I don’t think taxes should go down; I think they should go up, especially on people who have made so much money that they can’t figure out what to do with it all.

“Drug addiction causes enough problems in the world, but the far worse addiction is wealth. The only way to put wealth addicts into rehab is to follow the suggestion of the California Green Party and enact a maximum wage. The first six figures are free—OK, I’ll compromise—the first seven figures, and then it’s payback time.”

And speaking of the Green Party, of which Biafra is a member: He offered the 1992 election as a history lesson when asked if the country will ever see a third-party president.

“It depends on which kind of party it is,” he said. “I mean, the closest in this lifetime was clear off the scale, Tea Party, right-wing, and that was Ross Perot. He got something like 15 percent of the vote (actually 18.9 percent) when Clinton defeated daddy Bush in 1992. Michael Moore made the point later: How disillusioned are Americans with their lack of choice in the electoral process if that many millions of people voted for someone they knew was crazy?”

He’s also no fan of former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

“He’s good on pot and good on pulling the military out of our stupid wars. Beyond that, he should just go back to being some exhibit of a crackpot under glass who looks way too much like E.T.’s grandfather. Some of his comments about race, a woman’s right to choose … and taking an issue with the Civil Rights Act—he strikes me as far-religious-right and quite possibly a white supremacist.”

While fans have hoped for a Dead Kennedys reunion that includes Jello Biafra, it’s unlikely to happen. Biafra fought a bitter legal battle with some of his former band mates, who have since began performing again under the Dead Kennedys name. They’ve gone through a cycle of replacements for Biafra, one of whom was Brandon Cruz, a former child actor (The Courtship of Eddie’s Father). Currently, Ron “Skip” Greer is the lead vocalist.

While bad blood remains, Biafra does agree with East Bay Ray’s position on royalties and online streaming companies such as Spotify and Pandora.

“I know Ray is kind of on a crusade against file-sharing, and he’s not very good at communicating his point of view to the public,” Biafra said. “I probably agree with him to some degree that … (it’s not) cool for Google to be running ads on illegal file-sharing sites. As an independent artist and especially an independent label, I’m experiencing firsthand when people would rather file-share than support an underground independent artist, and buy the album or song. Of course, our crashed economy feeds into this, because people want to listen to music and have something to cheer them up when they don’t have any money. … Sharing major-label files is no big deal to me, because (the big labels) go so far out of the way to rip off their artists that I don’t really feel like the art itself is being ripped off.

“For a smaller, independent artists and labels like myself and some of the others, it’s very different. We have had several really good bands break up prematurely on Alternative Tentacles, because they couldn’t make a go of things. … Eventually, people decide, ‘I just can’t do this any more,’ especially when they have a family to feed. What happens when you lose some of the stuff when it’s really good?”

When it comes to political action, Biafra encouraged people to become engaged.

“People should show up and vote, especially in local elections, because that’s where people can really make the most difference,” he said. “It really matters who’s mayor, who’s sheriff, who’s on the school board, who the county commissioners and who the city council members are. They are the ones who decide how to spend our money that gets taken in taxes. Do we need to build a shelter for the homeless people? Or do we put up another golf course? Things like that—those things are important and have direct impact on our lives.”

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine performs with Death Hymn Number 9, You Know Who and Fatso Jetson at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $10, and there are no presales. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or find the event’s page on Facebook.

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