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30 May 2018

Getting Loose, Having Fun: The Paul Chesne Band Brings Its Alt-Country Music Back to a Favorite Haunt—Pappy and Harriet's

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Paul Chesne. Paul Chesne. Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net

A handful of performers are semi-regulars at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace—and Paul Chesne is fortunate enough to be one of these select few.

He performed at the Campout in 2014, and has turned in some New Year’s Eve concerts there in the past. He’ll be returning for a show on Saturday, June 16.

Why is Chesne a Pappy’s regular? For one thing, his band’s alternative-country sound works nicely on Pappy’s stage—and Chesne’s stage presence works nicely anywhere. During a recent phone interview from Los Angeles, Chesne talked about why he loves coming back to Pappy and Harriet’s.

“The people (who go there) are great,” Chesne said. “There’s something about it that I say sometimes from the stage: Because you’re so far away from everything, you can do whatever the hell you want, as long as you don’t hurt anybody. You have freedom, and it’s close enough to Los Angeles, but you’re in a whole different world. You’ve transferred into a place where you can let loose, and the crowd really does let loose.”

The crowds at Pappy and Harriet’s New Year’s Eve shows were huge when Chesne played them.

“It’s kind of like that every night there now,” he said. “It’s a congregation of people on any given night, and Pappy’s always has that certain vibe. I always thought of New Year’s Eve in general as arbitrary numbers that were sort of meaningless. It’s a reason for amateurs to get drunk—but I’ll take a gig if they’re getting drunk and having fun. (At Pappy’s), it’s getting loose and having fun in the desert. It’s always nice to bring that kind of milestone in people’s lives, and we all share that changing of the number, whether it’s arbitrary or not.”

Playing country-style music in Los Angeles can be tough, but Chesne said he has it figured out.

“Over the years, I’ve sort of honed in on places that are welcoming through a collective of musicians and friends,” he said. “The interesting thing about Los Angeles is that it’s so compartmentalized, and there are so many different neighborhoods, so we can play in Hollywood and have no people come out from the westside of Los Angeles. It feels like you can do a tour of Los Angeles where you have different crowds every night. We’ve gone from Venice to Santa Monica, playing two nights in a row, and having 150 people each night.”

In 2016, Chesne teamed up with singer-songwriter Matt Ellis for a song called “They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To,” which talked about the changing times in terms of culture and music.

“I’m pretty progressive and open to the things that are happening technologically and culturally,” he said. “… The resistance parts and women’s rights are at the forefront with gay rights, and Black Lives Matter is still trying to fight back against the never-ending war that we’ve been fighting forever in this country. It feels like things have only gotten better slightly.”

Chesne comes from a unique family: His father is a surgeon, and one of his siblings has had a successful career in music.

“My brothers are both very talented. One of them wrote music for television shows like Family Matters and Full House and other ones back in the ’80s or ’90s,” Chesne said. “Now he’s a music teacher and has a music institute that he runs out of his house with his wife for kids. My other brother taught me everything I know about guitar. When I’d ride in the car with my dad, I heard a lot of Mozart and Beethoven. My brothers would always bring around The Beatles’ Let It Be or Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. I wound up with the bug, and I’m mostly self-taught, but I started writing and singing—and I couldn’t really stop.”

There are a lot of reasons to go see the Paul Chesne Band—and there are testimonials in that regard, ranging from serious to funny, on his website. Here’s my testimonial: Seeing him at Pappy’s is always a treat.

“It’s a great place to let the city sort of wash off your back and get some fresh air,” he said. “They have great food, and we put on a happening, spectacular extravaganza of music.”

The Paul Chesne Band will perform with the Shadow Mountain Band at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 16, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53668 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

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