CVIndependent

Wed12122018

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Best Auto Service for Honesty’s Sake

Cam Stone’s Automotive

Cam Stone’s Automotive in Palm Desert is the kind of auto-service shop every woman dreams of—at least women (and men) like me who know little to nothing about car repairs.

The people at Cam’s do good work, are honest, and never seem to recommend anything you don’t really need. And if money’s really tight … you can ask them what absolutely, positively has to be done; they’ll let you know how far you can push the part you can’t afford to have replaced today before a major mishap occurs.

Guy Allchin (pictured here with his family), who runs it, and Karl, his excellent sidekick, are straight-up guys who explain things so you can understand them and so you can make the best decisions to keep your wheels on the road. 74867 Velie Way, Palm Desert; 760-568-2999; camstonesautomotive.com.

—Anita Rufus


Best Sandwiches Inside a Convenience/Liquor Store

Larry’s Gourmet Market and Deli

From the outside, Larry’s Gourmet Market and Deli looks like a run-of the-mill liquor store, selling the usual stuff. But … go inside, and you’ll see Larry’s is an unexpected, family-run treasure chest.

For one thing, the deli is really good. We’ve enjoyed everything we’ve gotten there, but our favorite is the meat-filled Don Veto specialty sandwich (pictured here).

Larry’s also has a variety of interesting gourmet items you might not find elsewhere. One example: On a recent trip, we got a box of delicious rose-flavored Turkish delight candy.

Along with a nice variety of beer and hard liquor, Larry’s carries a respectable wine selection that goes from very cheap to the $100-a-bottle range. There’s even a refrigerated wine room in the back that feels great in the heat of summer.

Just don’t go to Larry’s looking for lottery tickets. They don’t sell them … which, for us, classes up the place. 2781 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-832-7188; larrysgourmetmarket.com.

—Jeffrey Clarkson


Best Place to Avoid If You’re Arachnophobic

The VW Spider on Indian Canyon Drive at Interstate 10

When you’re driving by, you can’t help but notice the massive spider looming large in front of a warehouse with “Hole in the Wall” emblazoned across the front. And you may have wondered, like me: What? How? Why?

After some sleuthing, I discovered that the 28-foot high, eight-legged hunk of metal formerly fronted a Volkswagen repair shop, Hole in the Wall Welding. The enormous recycled artwork (the spider body is a full-size VW bug) was created by owner/welder/mechanic/desert rat Bob Miner, who passed away in 2008. The repair shop no longer exists, but Bob’s family still resides in the warehouse.

If you’re into kitsch and not afraid of creepy crawlers, this hairy-legged arachnid is a quirky must-see landmark. If you are afraid … avoid Indian Canyon Drive (next to Jack in the Box), just south of the Interstate 10.

—Beth Allen


Best Place to Pretend You’re on the Set of a David Lynch Movie

Open-Mic Night at the Palms Restaurant in Wonder Valley

The Palms is one of those middle-of-nowhere places that’s really a groovy hangout. It’s a throwback, with very affordable booze—$1.50 for a can of Pabst beer; $3 for a domestic bottle; shots starting at $4—and cheap tasty, eats (the onion rings and fried zucchini are delish), all in an atmosphere that’s weathered, worn-in, kooky and cool.

Every Friday at 7 p.m. (with signups starting at 6:30), The Palms hosts an open-mic night, where there’s a good chance reality may become fuzzy—all in the name of “entertainment.” Spoken word, comedic acts, genuinely gifted musicians, not-so-gifted musicians … there’s something for everyone. You may witness folks like “Grannie”—a toothless senior in a cute wig and cowboy hat—crooning “Stand by Me,” a cappella, in a gruff, “I’ve been smoking a pack a day for the last 60 years” voice. The Palms’ open mic is truly strange and endearing at the same time. The Palms Restaurant, 83131 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley; 760-361-2810. (Pictured: Guitar-player Karl Van Dyke performs at The Palms’ open-mic night. Photo courtesy of Joseph Barrett.)

—Beth Allen


Best Tapas and Wine Hideout

Counter Reformation at the Parker Palm Springs

With its semi-mandatory valet parking, fancy-schmancy main restaurant and well-heeled celebrity clientele, the Parker Palm Springs can be a bit intimidating … despite the hotel’s ostensible casual-hip vibe. However, we’re madly in love with Counter Reformation, the hotel’s cozy wine bar, featuring friendly service and great music.

The door to the bar is hard to find—head toward the pool and take a left—but discovering this well-designed and inventively Catholic-themed spot is serendipity. The wine choices are not extensive, but the selections are diverse and interesting enough. And at the prices … well, at the Parker, at least, they’re bargains.

We’ve sampled about half of the tapas on the menu, and everything so far has been delicious. These small plates, along with the free loaves of fresh-baked bread and the complimentary olives and cornichons, can make for a filling meal … a meal you can partially work off during the walk back to your self-parked car on the street outside. 4200 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-770-5000; www.parkerpalmsprings.com/food-and-drink. (Pictured: The Jamón Iberico at Counter Reformation.)

—Jeffrey Clarkson


Best New Band

Mega Sun

Mega Sun arrived in early 2018—and the group quickly earned the admiration of the local music scene.

The band’s sound reminds of stoner rock, circa the early ’90s, and the group’s live shows are always loud and fantastic.

The power trio is currently in the process of completing some recordings. I’m excited to see what this band will do in 2019 … and beyond.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Album

Throw the Goat, The Joke’s On Us

Throw the Goat had a great year in 2018 after finishing off 2017 on a mind-blowing note: The group won a contest, as announced on New Year’s Eve 2017, put on by Dave Ellefson of Megadeth to release an album on his Combat Records label. The Joke’s On Us was released shortly thereafter.

The name of the album is a reference to the presidency of Donald Trump and has political themes. Produced and recorded by guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell, the album shows the band going heavier with more punk. It’s a great example of a musical evolution.

While Throw the Goat might confuse audiences who question whether the band is punk or metal, we can all agree: The Joke’s On Us is a great album.

—Brian Blueskye


Best All-Female Band

The After Lashes

I have enjoyed watching the all-female four-piece band The After Lashes improve its sound over the course of 2018; in fact, every time I take in one of the group’s shows, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much the talented band has improved since I first saw The After Lashes.

Why has the band improved? The members of The After Lashes put in the work. Combine that hard work with talent, attitude and energy, and The After Lashes are amazing.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Pizza Joint You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Pizzeria Bambinos

I’m kind of shocked that Pizzeria Bambinos wasn’t a Best Pizza finalist this year. But then again … this fantastic pizza joint seems to be flying under the figurative radar. In fact, it may be the valley’s best kept pizza secret.

Maybe it has to do with the location; this small pizzeria is tucked away in the same shopping plaza as Big Lots in Cathedral City, and has limited seating … but it makes fantastic pizza, with other delicious options as well. 69040 Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City; 760-770-0505; pizzeriabambinos.com.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Comfort Food in a Desert Dining Wasteland

Two Guys Pies

I moved to Morongo Valley a year ago from the Bay Area … and my taste buds have been suffering terribly in this desert wasteland. Nearby Yucca Valley is more of a mecca for fast food (including ridiculous overexcited buzzing about the recent opening of a Popeye’s Chicken) than any sort of place for fine dining. However, all is not lost.

I am in the midst of a comfort foodgasm over my discovery of Two Guys Pies, aka TGP. Specializing in brick oven ’za, Guy and Guy, the two guys behind Two Guys Pies, promote rock ’n’ rolling all night and ’za-ing every day. Their double-decker pepperoni pizza ranked 24th in the world at an international pizza expo just last year!

Aside from the delicious pizza, Two Guys has salads, pastas and sandwiches … all with creative rockin’ names like Sound Tomato Garden, Bon Chovies, The Hungry Rollins Band, Spinach Tap, Weird Al-Fredo, Run DMCaesar, etc. The Basket Case bread balls with Love Potion No. 9 dipping sauce are an absolute must-have.

It’s hard for me to refrain from eating at TGP every night. My only complaint: It closes at 4 p.m. on Sundays. 56969 Yucca Trail; Yucca Valley; 760-418-5075; 2guyspies.com. (Pictured: A Two Guys Pies employee hard at work. Photo by Shawn Smith.)

—Beth Allen


Best Local Event for Car Lovers

McCormick’s Palm Springs Collector Car Auctions

Keith McCormick is a classic-car guru, and whether you’re looking for a rare foreign vehicle or a domestic beauty from the ’50s, a Porsche or a Corvette, chances are you can find one at McCormick’s showroom on Indian Canyon Drive downtown Palm Springs—or at his twice-a-year car auction.

McCormick is an import himself: He moved from the outskirts of Liverpool in England to Palm Springs in 1981.

“I’ve been into the cars since I was 18,” he said. “Moving my exotic car biz here was a no brainer: It was the same (here) as in England, except for the sunshine and no rain over here.”

In 1985, he put together the Palm Springs Vintage Grand Prix and Concours d’Elegance show to help promote local tourism.

“We raced the vintage cars where now the new Convention Center is,” he said, proudly pointing out that he himself owns a cool Ferrari 488 GTB.

The McCormick family—with his wife and son, Jason, working alongside—has put together 65 Palm Springs Collector Car Auctions so far. The event is held twice a year, in February and November, with more than 500 cars at each event.

The McCormicks sell and ship cars all over the world, from Japan to Germany.

“We have sold Sinatra’s, Liberace’s and Elvis’ cars—even the Batmobile,” McCormick said with a grin. “Classic cars are like art to me—it’s like looking at ‘Mona Lisa,’ but a lot less expensive.” www.classic-carauction.com. (Pictured: Keith McCormick. Photo by Brane Jevric.)

—Brane Jevric


Best Artery-Clogging Meal

The Disco Superfries at Blackbook

If you’ve ever been hungry while in downtown Palm Springs, you know there are many, many options for food … but when my friends and I are in the mood to be bad, we always pick the cardiac special of disco superfries at Blackbook on Arenas Road.

These little yummies are a home run every time. Think nachos … but instead of chips, you get fries! That’s right—fresh fries topped with gooey cheese, sour cream, tomatoes and hot sauce.

You can share them, or you can make them a meal—you get a whole small cookie sheet of them! Warning: This is an item that’s just begging to be shared, so even if you’re alone and intend the superfries to be your meal … you will always have “friends” magically appear, even if you didn’t bring any with you. 315 Arenas Road, Palm Springs; 760-832-8497; blackbookbar.com.

—Dwight Hendricks


Best Karaoke

Peabody’s Café

The Coachella Valley is certainly not suffering from a lack of talented professional singers. But if you’re not a professional … it’s hard to carry your shower out on the town with you, so check out Peabody’s Café on Friday and Saturday nights for karaoke.

Even if you don’t want to croon yourself, you can kick back and hear some great singers … and some not-so-great singers. There is a great music selection, and the DJ is a nice guy. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m., but get there early—it fills up fast!

Enjoy the menu and bar while you’re waiting for your turn on the mic; Peabody’s has killer Bloody Mary’s. Heck, bring your friends and make a night of it! 134 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-1877; www.peabodyscafeandbar.com.

—Dwight Hendricks


Best Weekend Culinary Classes

Wabi Sabi Japan Living

One of my favorite places to hang out is Wabi Sabi Japan Living. It may sound weird that I like to hang out at a small Japanese-goods store, but don’t judge.

Not only does Wabi Sabi have great merchandise; the owners, Darrell and Sam, offer amazing classes on how to enjoy and use their products. Check out the website for dates and times; the classes are usually held on Saturday afternoons. I have been to the bonsai tree and ramen classes … but I have yet to attend the class I want to take most of all: the sushi-making class. You learn how to make three rolls by actually making them … then you get to eat them! You have to sign up early; the class fills up quickly. Wabi Sabi also offers sake and Japanese-grilling classes.

Not only do Darrell and Sam know what they are talking about; you can feel their passion. Take note: Wabi Sabi is set back off of the road a bit; look for the Rising Sun flags. 258 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-537-3838; www.wabisabijapanliving.com.

—Dwight Hendricks


Best Seafood Towers and Tostadas

Mariscoco’s Culiacan

Because I am a west valley resident, I don’t get down to the east valley that much … but I can tell you that an east valley trip is coming soon. In fact, it’s probably already happened by the time you’ve read this.

The reason: I have a huge, honking hankering for the food at Mariscoco’s Culiacan.

The last time I was at this Coachella mainstay, I ordered the tostada especial (pictured here): an individual-sized plate of delicious, fresh and cool seafood, including shrimp, abalone, octopus, fish, sea snail and scallops—plus cucumbers, onion, avocado and other ingredients—all mixed in with Mariscoco’s special smoky-tasting sauce. It was really, really good.

Still, I looked longingly at the seafood towers—including many of the aforementioned ingredients, and then some—as they went by to other tables. These huge creations are meant for more than one mere mortal … so next time I go to Mariscoco’s, I won’t be going alone.

Hey, west valley friends: How about a short road trip? We can meet our east valley friends at Mariscoco’s. 51683 Harrison (Cesar Chavez) St., Coachella; 760-398-5666; www.facebook.com/mariscocosymaristorresculiacan760.

—Jimmy Boegle

Published in Staff Picks

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

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

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

Published in Reviews

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

What was the first concert you attended?

Mötley Crüe's Shout at the Devil Tour.

What was the first album you owned?

KISS, Alive.

What bands are you listening to right now?

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

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

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

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

AC/DC with Bon Scott.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Old Elton John.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Showbox in Seattle.

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

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

What band or artist changed your life? How?

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

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

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

What song would you like played at your funeral?

James Taylor, “Fire and Rain.”

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

Rush, 2112.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

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

Published in The Lucky 13

It's been a big year so far for local-band Mega Sun. The group played its first-ever show just after the new year—yet it took home Best New Band honors at the CV Music Awards, and drummer Tyler Ontiveros was named Best Drummer. For more information on Mega Sun, visit www.facebook.com/megasuntheband. Ontiveros was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

It was either Thrice with Deftones, Journey or Blue Man Group.

What was the first album you owned?

The first album on CD I owned was Boston’s self-titled album, given to me by my dad. The first two I purchased with my allowance were Follow the Leader by Korn and Nevermind by Nirvana. Around the same time, I also acquired two tapes. Yes, tapes were still a thing. They were Dookie by Green Day and a random and literal find, His Greatest Hits and Finest Performances by Fats Domino. What a mix!

What bands are you listening to right now?

To feed my desert rock/doom cravings, I’ve been listening to Nightstalker, The Sword, Earthless and Red Fang. Some others I’ve been into are Katatonia, Ghost and TesseracT. The most recent artist I discovered is Anderson .Paak, who sings/flows and plays drums at the same time. The live performance of him with The Free Nationals on Tiny Desk Concert, which you can find on YouTube, is straight fire.

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

I just can’t seem to grasp country music. Although I’ve heard there’s good money in country, I’d rather play what I love.

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

Led Zeppelin, with “The Beast,” aka “Bonzo,” aka John Bonham. Come on, man!

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

No guilt, but something most don’t know is that I listen to classical music almost daily.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I haven’t ventured out enough to answer that honestly quite yet, but I would really like to check out the venue at Hollywood Forever at some point. There has to be some crazy energy there.

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

Since I just recently came across this, it would have to be: “That’s a whole lot of reefer; let me help you with that pre-roll,” from Anderson .Paak’s “Come Down.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

As much as I’d like to credit just one specific band or artist, I’d have to credit my instrument. I don’t want to go in depth on the importance of rhythms and vibrations, but drumming is so powerful. Just research Shamanic drumming.

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

To Frank Sinatra: “If your perceived affiliation with the Mob is true, how did it impact your career, and what doors were opened because of it?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I would prefer to have all attending participate in a drum circle with numerous percussive instruments, especially hang drums.

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

Given the first song I learned on drums was “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” I’d have to say Nevermind by Nirvana. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

I’m really diggin’ that song “Come Down” I mentioned earlier. Paak is a genius and locks into that pocket so hard and so effortlessly. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

Shortly after the new year, a new band arrived called Mega Sun—and thanks to a great sound that comes straight out of the desert-rock scene, the group has become something of an overnight success.

The band first played at The Hood Bar and Pizza as part of the CV Weekly Music Showcase back in January—and in February, the group returned to The Hood, opening for Se7en4.

Mega Sun consists of Jeremy Parsons (bass, vocals), Chris Rivera (guitar) and Tyler Ontiveros (drums). When I showed up to interview them at Rivera’s home in La Quinta, they seemed astounded by how much buzz they’ve received after only a few shows.

“What’s crazy is our early practices … were so spread out,” Parsons said. “We’ve been kinda making stuff up for months, and it would go for one practice—and four weeks would go by, and then we’d have another practice. Then we decided we were going to start playing shows, and we started getting serious about it.”

That first practice actually led to a police presence.

“I guess they thought it was a big ol’ party happening, and it was literally us three, and my roommate sitting there watching us,” Parsons said. “I blame it on grumpy neighbors. One of the hardest things is trying to find a place to play. I remember for the longest time it was just like, ‘Come on!’”

The band members have already learned about the dangers of equipment failure: Rivera’s amp head blew a fuse during the Se7en4 show. But after borrowing an amp head from Nick Hales of Sleazy Cortez, Mega Sun was back rocking, as if nothing happened.

“The show with Se7en4 had some bumps in it,” Ontiveros said. “But overall, I think it went well, with all of the technical problems that went down.”

So how did Mega Sun start?

“We just wanted to get something going,” Rivera said. “We started looking for a drummer, and Jeremy was actually playing guitar when we first got together. He decided to go to bass, because we couldn’t find a bass player. We found Tyler—and then we knew that was it. Bass is definitely an instrument to learn if you want to get in a band really quick, because it feels like there’s a shortage of bass players.”

The band’s sound came from the members’ influences and what felt comfortable to them.

“It’s naturally what came out,” Ontiveros said. “Initially, we started writing or playing some songs that Jeremy had written already and put our own little twist on them, and then when we started writing some originals together as a three-piece, it kind of went down that alley with that desert vibe and all of our different influences. There’s metal in there, too, because Chris comes from playing in metal bands.”

When I mentioned that the band’s name and logo were actually decent, Rivera asked with a laugh: “Our logo with the three sperms?” Ontiveros then explained the inspiration.

“We were trying to come up with something that (referred to) that three months of being here during the summer,” Ontiveros said, “something that was on the level of the sun being brutal and beating down on all of us. But we didn’t want to be cheesy and throw ‘desert’ into the actual name, even though Mega Sun is pretty cheesy. But those three things in the logo are supposed to be heat waves … and there are three of us.”

Mega Sun did not win that CV Weekly Music Showcase, nor did the members expect to win—it was their first show, after all. However, they were hoping to get some good advice from the judges.

“We knew going in that we had a lot of work to do, but we wanted the criticism to move forward and pick apart what we needed to work on,” Ontiveros said. “We didn’t really expect anything out of it—and the response we got blew us away, plus being asked to play on Se7en4’s comeback show. There was a packed house that night, and we got a great time slot right in front of them.

“We had some promising doors open to us, and we’ve had some people come up to us and offer to record us for free, which is awesome,” Ontiveros continued. “That’s definitely one of the biggest factors: the financial standpoint. But quality is what we’re looking for, too. We don’t want to keep people waiting who really want our music.”

Parsons agreed and said that having music available for purchase is an advantage.

“It’s better when you know what’s about to be played (at a show),” Parsons said. “I can go see a band and be really into it—but after I get their CD, and the next time I go to (a show), that’s where it’s really cool.”

For more information on Mega Sun, visit www.facebook.com/megasuntheband.