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For about a year in the mid-1990s, a band formed featuring members of Unsound, Kyuss and Dead Issue. The name was Decon—and the group kicked ass.

However, Decon—with Herb Lienau (vocals), Brian Maloney (guitar), Billy Cordell (bass) and Brant Bjork (drums)—came to an abrupt halt after that great year.

Flash forward two decades or so, to the fall of 2016, when seemingly out of nowhere, Decon announced its first show in two decades, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, as part of The Hellions’ record-release party. Three of the four original members were back, with Rob Peterson taking Brant Bjork’s place on drums. Decon was a hit, and many hoped the band would play again.

Decon will indeed be playing again—at Pappy and Harriet’s, as part of Brian Maloney’s 50th birthday, on Saturday, Aug. 12. Also on the bill will be Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, The Hellions and Dali’s Llama.

I caught up with Decon at Rob Peterson’s house in Bermuda Dunes. The band was running through its old material, with the occasional flub.

“We practice once every 25 years,” Maloney joked, before giving a brief history of the band.

“It was around 1994 and 1995. Unsound was done for about a year, and Brant and I got together and started jamming and started Decon up,” Maloney said. “We enlisted Billy, and then we got Herb. By the time we had Herb, we had about 10 songs. He came in and wrote lyrics really fast, and within three weeks, we had a 10-song set.

“It went really fast. We got a tour going; we had a lot of shows and played around a lot. We had a lot of momentum, and then it went into cruise control. We did maybe 10 shows. We played in Santa Cruz, Humboldt, Chico and San Francisco. We had only one show to start the whole tour. We filled in the blanks about three or four days before we left, getting another one or two here or there. We’d roll into town and be like, ‘Hey, we want to get on this show!’ We’d see a flier and be like, ‘Hey, we’ll open for you guys!’ It went really well. We’d stay in town for a couple of days and end up playing parties. We knew a few people and connected the dots as we went. It was really do-it-yourself, and doing it on a whim. It was fun, and we did great. We generated a lot of momentum.”

The band members were baffled when they showed up to play a show in Berkeley … and many attendees knew the lyrics to their songs.

“We found out there was a pirate radio station in Berkeley,” Maloney said. “There was a guy who had a radio station out of his car and would just drive around Berkeley with no FCC license. He would crank us. We played in Berkeley and wondered how all these street kids knew our songs. We found out he would play us on the radio from some friends of ours who lived up there.”

I had to ask: What made Decon end so quickly? The simple answer: life. All of the members had things going on; Herb Lienau’s son, Quanah, who today plays guitar in the local band Facelift, was just a year old when Decon went on tour.

“I used to bounce Quanah around in his little jumper thing,” Maloney said. “… Shit happens. Things happen for a month, and then things go stale. Dominoes fall in different ways, and there are four people. Things change really quick, and that’s the way it is when you’re in a band, and you have to keep that momentum going.”

Lienau added that things were different for bands back then.

“Things would get very disheartening,” Lienau said. “Progress was slow-going back then. It was very hard to get any kind of break at all. This is long before everyone toured Europe all the time. Back then, Kyuss toured, and that was it.”

Maloney said one venue in particular, in Indio, was essential to Decon’s brief existence.

“Our saving grace was Rhythm and Brews, Mario and Larry Lalli’s club,” Maloney said. “That was at the same time of Decon, and we used to practice there early in the weekdays. It was the apex of the desert scene. It couldn’t get any better than that: Our best friend and godfather of desert rock, Mario Lalli, had a club with a bar, pizza, a pool table and shit going on there six nights a week. We had our own place. It was Mario’s place, but it was all of our place. He really opened the doors in that way to everyone. Even if the door didn’t make money, you still got paid. Mario paid and fed the bands, even if it wasn’t a big night.”

Now that Decon is back, is the band actually back, at least for now?

“We finally put it back together. We’re enjoying it, and we want to try to do it more often,” Maloney said. “We played that last show less than a year ago. We didn’t know what to expect at first, but we felt good going into that show. We’re going to do a few more; this upcoming show is my 50th birthday party. It’s more like a reunion show, and we have people who are our old friends coming in from across the country.”

Decon’s newbie, Rob Peterson, said he’s enjoying his time with the band. The other members praised Peterson’s abilities, calling him one of the best drummers in the valley.

“I love playing this kind of music,” Peterson said. “I can play as loud and fast as I want, and no one is telling me to turn it down. When I was coming up, Unsound and Decon were two of my favorite groups, and I loved being in the pit. I got to watch them play a whole bar show in the Rhythm and Blues days, and I was a kid, stoked on these guys who I considered my big brothers doing rad shit. Now I got asked to play with them—and not to jock these motherfuckers, but it’s pretty fucking cool. I felt honored and stoked. I’m getting to play with guys I look up to.”

One last note: Billy Cordell, who remained quiet for the entire interview, received some grief from his bandmates. He chuckled and wished to be quoted as saying, “Mmhmm, yep” as his contribution.

Decon will perform at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Also on the bill are Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, The Hellions and Dali’s Llama. Tickets are $10. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

The biggest month for music in the Coachella Valley is here, thanks to Coachella and Stagecoach—and even if you’re not going to either of the fests, there are still plenty of other things to do.

The McCallum Theatre has a variety of shows in April, the last big month in the theater’s 2016-2017 season. At 8 p.m., Thursday, April 6, the daughter of Lucy and Desi, Lucie Arnaz will be performing her favorites from the Great American Songbook, backed by the Desert Symphony. Tickets are $67 to $115. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 7, get ready to laugh with Rita Rudner. Rudner is a legendary comedienne and will have you in stitches. Tickets are $37 to $87. At 8 p.m. Saturday, April 22, actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth will perform songs from Glee, Wicked and various Broadway standards. Tickets are $57 to $97. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a great April schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 7, Kenny Loggins will be performing. Loggins has had quite a career, including “Danger Zone” from Top Gun (and, more recently, Archer), “I’m Alright” from Caddyshack, the main song for the Footloose soundtrack—and a lot of hits that weren’t in movies. Alas, when I interviewed Loggins at Stagecoach in 2013, he was more interested in the M&Ms he was eating off of a napkin than my questions. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 8, Creedence Clearwater Revisited will be returning to the desert. The PR rep told me the group has a new singer, Dan McGuinness, who had subbed at various times for former vocalist John Tristao. Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 21, David Crosby will be stopping by for a solo performance. On top of his work with Crosby, Stills and Nash, he was a member of The Byrds, and he’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with both bands. Tickets are $39 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is hosting several sold-out shows in April, but as of our press deadline, there was still one show with tickets left: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 22, actor and comedian Kevin James will be appearing. James had a successful run on the show The King of Queens, and achieved some degree of movie fame by playing Paul Blart: Mall Cop. It seems in recent years that he’s been in too many bad projects produced by Adam Sandler. It should be interesting to see how his stand-up comedy will be after years of sitcoms and films. Tickets are $65 to $95. 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 events to consider. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 22, ’80s/’90s R&B sensation Keith Sweat (upper right) will be performing. Some of the best R&B music of that era was written and performed by Sweat; he’s released 12 albums and won the Favorite Male R&B/Soul Artist Award at the 1997 American Music Awards. Tickets are $25 to $45. I can’t believe I am about to write this sentence: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 29, Extreme Midget Wrestling will be returning to Spotlight 29. I honestly don’t know what to say here. Like anyone else, people with dwarfism are doctors, scientists, actors and actresses—yet people often first think of crap like this when it comes to dwarfism. Also, most people with dwarfism prefer the term “little people.” Whatever entertainment floats your boat, I guess. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa, much like Agua Caliente, is hosting a lot of great April shows that are already sold out. Get ready for glistening beefcake when Thunder From Down Under returns at 8 p.m., Friday, April 7. Tickets are $25—and the show was close to selling out as of our deadline, so act fast. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 28, Jana Kramer will take the stage. You may know her from One Tree Hill or (gag) Dancing With the Stars, but both her albums have reached the Top 5 on the U.S. country charts. Tickets are $29. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is the place to be in April, especially during Coachella and Stagecoach, when a lot of the festival acts stop by. At 8 p.m., Thursday, April 6, the band named after a KCRW DJ, Cherry Glazerr will be performing. Considering KCRW has been playing the band quite a bit, and Chery Glaser herself said she’s honored by the band’s name, it’s worth going to check them out. Tickets are $14. At 4 p.m., Saturday, April 8, Brant Bjork will be bringing back his Rolling Heavy-sponsored Desert Generator festival. On the bill this time are Earthless, Orchid, The Shrine and Black Rainbows. Tickets are $55 to $295. At 9 p.m., Sunday, April 30, hot off a Stagecoach performance, Son Volt will perform. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Take note of this Coachella-related event: At 9 p.m., Thursday, April 13, Goldenvoice and FYF will present Young Turks in Palm Springs at the Palm Springs Air Museum. The show will feature Ben UFO, Four Tet, Francis and the Lights, Jamie xx, Kamaiyah, and Sampha with special guests PNL. Tickets are $30. Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs; 760-778-6262; aeglive.com.

The Date Shed has one event scheduled. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 8, Katchafire (below) will be performing. The reggae band from New Zealand is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and the stop at the Date Shed should be pretty epic. Tickets are $25 to $35. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

The best bands in stoner rock flooded the Desert Generator festival at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, April 9. But unlike the legendary generator parties of the past, this party had a strict 11 p.m. curfew.

Gotta keep the neighbors happy, after all.

In association with Rolling Heavy magazine, the event featured a vintage-van contest. Only American-made classic vans were allowed to enter, but thankfully, VW buses were still permitted in the parking lot, which allowed a groovy set of fans to arrive from Joshua Tree. Brant Bjork, co-founder of Kyuss, helped plan the event.

I was expecting a smooth night, because as a rule, one associates vans with mellow dudes with long hair, swaying to the music and perhaps occasionally banging their heads against the stage monitors. Everything started out as expected, with Ecstatic Vision laying down a mood-altering set. Their set was a catalyst for one Mr. Tripped Out Dude to shadow me through out the festival.

He asked me to dance. I don’t dance.

Golden Void was one of the highlights, with fans positively reacting to the song “Shady Grove.” Acid King from San Francisco offered stoner rock with a dash of psychedelic guitar. Lori S., backed by a stack of Marshall amps, kept things loud with her low-fi guitar riffs and absorbing singing.

Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band had the home-field advantage, but Bjork’s following goes well beyond the desert, with fans coming from all over to see this desert legend. Brant did not dissatisfy, delivering the classic desert rock he helped spawn. He sucks you into songs that meld, one into to the other, as you lose yourself in a symphony of desert-music goodness; the song no longer matters, because you are enthralled by the artist that is Bjork and how he weaves his guitar into an incredible piece of harmony.

I was getting ready to see Red Fang, the headliner, when Mr. Tripped Out dude kissed me on the cheek. I thought it must be my new French cologne, but I was wrong: It was an omen to the fun and crazy chaos that was to follow.

After the first guitar strum, a half-dozen bros wearing classic flat-billed ball caps decided to violate the Queensberry rules of moshing by creating a mini-riot in the middle of the crowd. Jason, the mellowest sound guy around, had to be brought in to help quell the crowd. No real harm came to anyone, but my Nikons received a drenching from a beer delivered by Mr. Tripped Out Dude, who was having fun in his own way. But even during this chaos, a man offered me his clean shirt so I could wipe the beer off my camera.

Red Fang was incredible—but with so much going on, I headed to the back of Pappy’s to enjoy the end of Red Fang’s set in peace.

Read more from Guillermo Prieto at www.facebook.com/irockkphotos and irockphotos.net.

Published in Reviews

What do you get when you combine custom vans, psychedelic rock ’n’ roll and desert scenery?

A kick-ass music festival, of course.

Desert-rock icon Brant Bjork and Rolling Heavy magazine have teamed up to produce “Desert Generator,” an event featuring all of that stuff on Saturday, April 9, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. He’ll also be performing with his band, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, along with a half-dozen or so other acts.

During a recent phone interview, the former drummer and co-founder of Kyuss said he saw an opportunity after being introduced by a friend to the people at Rolling Heavy, a magazine that focuses on custom vans.

“They also sponsor events and have a scene going on,” he said of the Rolling Heavy people. “After I talked to them, they seemed they were like-minded people. We hit it off, and they’re coming from their rock ’n’ roll thing involving custom vans and cars, and I’m doing my rock ’n’ roll thing, and I was like, ‘Why don’t we just combine our rock ’n’ roll thing? We’re kind of doing the same thing from different sides of town, so why don’t we just do it together?’”

A lot of stoner-rock and desert-rock bands have featured vans from the ’60s and ’70s in album artwork and merchandise, after all. “I think from back in the day, a lot of the rock bands in our scene, we dig the old classic ’60s and ’70s counterculture, custom cars—and that’s all part of the scene,” Bjork said.

While the festival has “generator” in the title, it is not a true generator party. Last month, Zach Huskey of Dali’s Llama told the Independent that generator parties were often difficult and dangerous. Bjork said that is absolutely correct.

“Speaking for myself and a lot of the people I know who were there, Zach is right: They were scary,” he said. “They were very intense events that we all were willing to participate in and help make happen, because we were suffering from boredom and nothing to do in the desert. The generator party was an act of us trying to develop a source of something to do to express our creativity, be with our friends, party and get away from the lameness of our town. There weren’t any rules; there wasn’t any security; and there was no general setup. It was truly an anarchy style situation, and I’ve seen a lot of heavy stuff go down at generator parties. I’ve seen people to this day who were scarred from them, (and I know people) who lost their lives going to generator parties.”

It’s been an interesting time for desert rock as of late. For example, two different documentaries that shined the light on the Coachella Valley’s history with desert rock both recently enjoyed local premieres. Bjork said that Desert Age and Lo Sound Desert are each good in their own way.

“I liked them. I thought they were entertaining and informative,” he said. “It’s hard for me, because I’m a little biased, and I was part of the subject matter directly, but I think overall, I respect their decisions to choose our environment, choose our scene and to film it, and they both went all the way to finish their projects.”

Bjork continues to stay busy and said that new music is coming—sooner than most people may have expected.

“We just delivered our new record to our label, and we’re in the process of creating the art work for it,” he said. “We’re hoping it will come out sometime this summer. We’re going to be playing some new songs at the festival on Saturday, so we’re excited.”

Bjork said Pappy’s was definitely the place to host such a festival.

“It’s a destination that’s exciting for people from out of town,” he said. “It’s beautiful, and it’s set up to have rock shows. There wasn’t a whole lot of having to put together something from the ground up. It made a lot of sense, and we didn’t think twice about it. It’s a good foundation for what we’re doing. We’ll see how it turns out.”

I had to ask: Does Bjork own a custom van?

“I don’t,” he said with a laugh. “Maybe someday I’ll get into the custom vans, but right now, I have a family, so I have my hands full. I don’t need to take care of a van, too.”

Desert Generator takes place at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, April 9, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $48. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Coachella and Stagecoach arrive this month, which means the season is at its busiest—and will soon be coming to an end.

Enjoy the craziness, folks. It means all sorts of great things are taking place.

April is the McCallum Theatre’s last full month of regular activity before the summer lull. At 8 p.m., Monday, April 4, get ready for the original sexy-sax man, Kenny G. That’s right: Everyone’s favorite soft-rock jazz saxophonist will be stopping by again to ROCK THE COACHELLA VALLEY! All kidding aside, Kenny G is actually pretty damn good, and his soft-rock jazz sound was a sign of the times a couple of decades ago. While he might not bop or swing, he does what he does very well. Tickets are $37 to $80. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 9, singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka will be performing to celebrate the Desert Symphony’s 27th anniversary. Sedaka is an awesome showman and still has a great voice at the age of 77. Tickets are $77 to $202. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs has some fantastic events in April. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 1, enjoy a fantastic night of Latin rock with Los Lonely Boys and Los Lobos. Los Lobos is legendary in the Latin rock scene and was a big hit in the Los Angeles music scene in the early ’80s. Los Lonely Boys came out of Texas in the late ’90s and found an audience when “Heaven” became a No. 1 hit on the radio in 2004. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 2, Il Volo will be performing. This Italian trio sings what it calls “popera” and has become a hit with both classical-music lovers and those who fall into the “opera music for people who hate opera music” crowd. Tickets are $59 to $109. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 9, Gladys Knight will be performing (sans the Pips). Knight started her R&B singing career at the age of 16 when she signed to Motown, and she’s been a big name ever since. She’s also ventured into gospel and religious music affiliated with the Mormon faith, into which she was baptized in 1997. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 will be heating up with a couple of interesting shows. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 16, it’s going to be a special night for ladies thanks to Hunks. The Las Vegas-style production is similar to that of Thunder From Down Under and the Chippendales; these guys will have the ladies sweating and screaming. Tickets are $20. If dancing near-naked men aren’t your thing, relax: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 23, R&B superstar Keith Sweat will be performing. With hits that include “Something Just Ain’t Right,” I Want Her” and “Make You Sweat,” this will be a popular show. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa has some fun events on the slate. First, at 9 p.m., Friday, April 1, get ready to groove at the love shack, because The B-52s are returning to the area. One of the biggest names of the ’80s came out of the punk-rock scene in New York. The B-52s have recorded some truly timeless music that continues to gain them younger audiences and—makes the old audiences love them even more. Tickets are $65 to $75. At 11 p.m., Friday, April 8, the Village People will be performing. That’s right: It’s the Village People, known for hits such as “Macho Man” and “YMCA.” Tickets are $10. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 15, Shinedown (upper right) will take the stage. The Jacksonville, Fla., band has sold 6 million albums since starting in 2001 and is currently touring to promote album No. 5, Threat to Survival. The members of Shinedown have stated that they are simply a rock ’n’ roll band and don’t want to be labeled as “post-grunge” or “alternative.” Tickets are $40 to $50. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is again enjoying a kickass Coachella season. The bad news: Some of the Coachella-related shows are sold out. The good news: There are still plenty of shows with tickets available. At 12:30 p.m., Saturday, April 9, desert-rock godfather Brant Bjork will be putting on Desert Generator, a day of heavy psychedelic rock ’n’ roll. Also on the bill: Red Fang, Acid King, Golden Void and Ecstatic Vision. This is definitely going to be a great show—and a throwback to the days of generator parties, albeit in a legit setting. Tickets are $48. At 9 p.m., Saturday, April 23, country-bluegrass singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale will take the stage. Jim has written songs that have been recorded by artists such as the Dixie Chicks, Elvis Costello, Blake Shelton and many others. It’ll be a nice event to get you in the mood for Stagecoach! Tickets are $15. You’ll be happy to know that Har Mar Superstar (below) will be performing at 9 p.m., Saturday, April 30. OK, here’s the deal: You might not have heard of him … or perhaps you’ve heard of him for the wrong reasons. He’s basically a guy who looks like Ron Jeremy and performs R&B-style music in a Speedo. His shows are typically funny and impressive—but he dances, too, so prepare yourself for that. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Palm Desert Amphitheater is hosting an intriguing event: At 7 p.m., Saturday, April 9, a rock opera titled Untamed will be performed. Untamed is written by Palm Desert resident Kara Aubrey and is about a millennial man in search of significance in these troubled times. Good news: Admission is free! Palm Desert Amphitheater at Civic Center Park, 43900 San Pablo Ave., Palm Desert; www.tobeuntamed.com.

Published in Previews

The holiday season is upon us, which means things hectic, and you may feel the need to escape—or find something to that doesn’t involve shopping. Fortunately, there are plenty of great events going on in December (especially in the first two-thirds of the month) for people looking to escape, as well as people looking to celebrate the holidays.

The McCallum Theatre has an awesome December schedule. If you missed Merle Haggard at Stagecoach back in April, you’ll be happy to know the Okie from Muskogee will be coming back at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 2. Haggard, one of the creators of the Bakersfield sound, has written an astonishing number of great country songs throughout his long career. Tickets are $77 to $97. At 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 15, there will be a performance of The Nutcracker performed by the Los Angeles Ballet. Tickets are $27 to $87. At 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20, country star LeAnn Rimes perform a Christmas-themed concert. Back in the ’90s, Rimes captured the admiration and support of people everywhere as a star at the age of 13. She’s since carved out a fine career, with two Grammy Awards, a Country Music Association Award, 12 Billboard music awards and an American Music Award to her credit. Tickets are $37 to $87. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some great holiday events on the schedule. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, you’ll know it’s time for Christmas when Mannheim Steamroller returns. This is the 31st year that Mannheim Steamroller has taken its rock and electric-synth style Christmas show on the road; the concert includes dazzling multimedia effects, too. The group has sold 28 million copies of Christmas albums! Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19, it will be time to boogie for the holidays when The Brian Setzer Orchestra takes the stage. Setzer’s swing/rockabilly holiday shows have become a Christmas tradition; if you haven’t had the pleasure, check it out. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a light schedule, but there are two great events you should to know about. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4, Mama, the star of Mama’s Family, and comedienne Vicki Lawrence will be performing her “Two Woman Show.” Tickets are $20 to $40. If you don’t have plans for New Year’s Eve, you’ll be happy to know that at 10:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 31, former Runaways member Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (right) will be rocking into 2016. Forget attending those expensive parties where you stand in line all night to buy expensive drinks, and create fond New Year’s Eve memories with a legend! Tickets are $60 to $80. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a great list of December shows. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 17, Brant Bjork and the Low-Desert Punk Band will take the stage. Bjork, a founder and former drummer of desert rock gods Kyuss, performed at Coachella back in April. If you call yourself a fan of desert rock, you need to get your ass to this show—because Bjork delivers live. Tickets are $15. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 26, you can celebrate the day after Christmas with The Evangenitals. If you had a good Christmas, the Evangenitals will make it even better! If you had a bad Christmas, the Evangenitals will have you laughing, therefore lifting you out of your holiday blues. It’s become a tradition at Pappy’s to have the Evangenitals perform after Christmas, so go partake! Admission is free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed has some nice things happening in December. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4, things are going to get festive thanks to EeVaan Tre and the “Holiday Show.” EeVaan and the boys have quite an impressive R&B act, so you know their holiday show is going to be something you don’t want to miss. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, the vibe will be quite different, because rapper Paul Wall will be performing. The Houston-based rapper has been going since 1998 and has had songs on the charts. Tickets are $20 to $23. If you were concerned the Date Shed’s schedule was initially missing some performers who come back year after year … relax: Ghostface Killah is indeed returning to the venue, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19. Ghostface, a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, performed a hop, skip and a jump from the Date Shed at Coachella back in April with fellow Wu-Tang member Raekwon. Tickets are $28 to $38. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has released a list of nice events for the month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4 rock/reggae band Fayuca will be stopping by; Machin’ and DJ Alf Alpha will also perform. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 10, you’ll be happy to know that Chicano Batman (below) will be coming back to perform at The Hood—and, of course, their compadres Slipping Into Darkness are also on the bill. Yay! Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Tryst Bar and Lounge continues to diversify downtown Palm Springs’ music offerings, with free shows at 10 p.m. virtually every Tuesday and Saturday. The month’s highlights include Derek Jordan Gregg on Tuesday, Dec. 1; and local metal-punk favorites Gutter Candy on Tuesday, Dec. 22. Tryst Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-832-6046; www.facebook.com/trystpalmsprings.

Published in Previews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coachella 2015’s second weekend kicked off at 11 a.m., Friday, April 17, with a bang for local music fans.

Alchemy—which also played at Tachevah earlier this week, and at Coachella’s first weekend—launched the weekend on the Outdoor Stage. While their Tachevah performance was good, their Coachella performance was even better. Vocalist Andrew Gonzalez noted that the audience was much better this week—and some fans even started a mosh pit during the performance.

After Alchemy, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger took to the Outdoor Stage. The band is fronted by Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl; it was a homecoming, of sorts, since they met at Coachella 10 years ago. Their music at times sounded like Deep Purple, with a little bit of Pink Floyd thrown in. Lennon made reference to a couple of the band’s music videos, once claiming: “You’ll like it if you like nipples.”

After Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band took the Outdoor Stage. Bjork, the drummer of the pioneering desert rock band Kyuss, should have had a bigger turnout. The crowd was thin, but full of desert rock devotees. Bjork and his band managed to pump out a lot of volume and rock the audience at the same time. Desert local and Throw Rag frontman Sean Wheeler joined in for his last number.

I walked into the show by Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires—and soon discovered that the 66-year-old soul singer had young folks swaying and dancing to his sounds of love. However, Bradley went a few minutes over his scheduled set time—and show organizers cut the sound. Nonetheless, the band continued to play the last two minutes of his song without the PA system.

In the late afternoon, Azealia Banks took the Coachella stage. Banks has taken the world by storm, and I admit I was turned on by the first 15 minutes … however, I quickly grew tired of her act. I like my hip-hop with some rhyme and reason to it.

Speaking of rhyme and reason, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah began playing on the Outdoor Stage toward the middle of Banks’ set. The Wu-Tang Clan’s crowd was huge at the Outdoor Stage in 2013; Raekwon and Ghostface Killah managed to get a pretty large crowd crammed into the Outdoor Stage area for their performance this year. Raekwon handled the first two songs by himself, stating, “Ghostface is out back taking a shit.” After the photographers were ushered out of the photo pit, however, Ghostface Killah appeared. Their set was energetic, and featured songs from their solo efforts along with Wu-Tang works including “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Wu-Tang Ain’t Nuthin’ to Fuck Wit” and “Triumph.”

As the sun began to set, Lykke Li began to play in the Mojave tent. The Swedish indie-pop singer put on a mesmerizing performance with a combination of songs both slower and upbeat. The visual effects at times made it look as if she were performing in a forest; at other times, the effects offered a light show.

I admit I had my doubts about Steely Dan performing at Coachella. Well, now, I can eat my words: Steely Dan performed to a large crowd, including many younger fans who obviously knew the material. The jazz/blues combo sound of Steely Dan was a hit, with many festival-goers screaming “STEELY FUCKING DAN!” in between songs.

While Steely Dan came from the initial psychedelic era, Tame Impala comes from a new era of psychedelic music. The Australian outfit had a large turnout at the Outdoor Stage when they played Coachella in 2013, and it was fitting for them to play on the main stage before AC/DC. The intro was Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” As Tame Impala played, the psychedelic visuals were fantastic; a combination of older songs and new songs filled the setlist. Tame Impala is new and improved: The band sounds a lot tighter now than it used to. When frontman Kevin Parker announced their last song, he told the crowd not to be sad, because AC/DC was going to come out—and it was going to get crazy.

He was right. AC/DC took the Coachella stage crowd by surprise when the stage got dark and the band got down to business—with no intro whatsoever—opening with “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be.” The setlist was pretty close to the Weekend One show, and the performance was just as good.

I overheard many younger people saying things like, “I can’t believe I’m seeing AC/DC,” and, “My dad is going to be so jealous.” This proves that AC/DC is for everyone, including the children.

Scroll down to see a photo gallery from Friday’s Coachella goings-on.

Published in Reviews

It’s becoming an age-old tradition to gripe about the Coachella headliners. However, if you look past the big names on the poster, you’ll find a lot of great acts. Here are some to consider including in your Coachella schedule.


Friday, April 10 and 17

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger

I’m amazed that this band is listed so low on Friday’s lineup. The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger consists of American fashion model Charlotte Kemp Muhl and Sean Lennon (yes, John Lennon’s son). After meeting each other and falling in love at Coachella in the mid-2000s, Lennon realized Muhl had talent as a singer. In 2010, they released their first album, Acoustic Sessions, which was warmly received. This band definitely belongs at Coachella.

Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band

Sadly, this is another small-print booking. Locals should recognize this name—and if you don’t, you have some learnin’ to do. Brant Bjork was one of the founding members of the legendary desert-rock group Kyuss, with John Garcia and Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. You definitely don’t want to miss Bjork’s performance at Coachella, given he’s one of the people who put the Coachella Valley on the map, music wise. Check out our interview with Bjork at the start of the music section.

Trippy Turtle

Last summer during one of Splash House parties, Independent contributor Guillermo Prieto and I were mystified by this young DJ who wore a green hoodie with a turtle on it. His DJ set was upbeat and fun—and you’ll hear a clip of that YouTube video of the little boy saying “I like turtles” several times throughout his set. (See a photo from Prieto at the top right.)

Steely Dan

This was the one listing on the lineup that had me saying “WTF?” when I first saw it. Steely Dan is a delight for true music-lovers, even though many of the people who will be at Coachella did not yet exist (myself included) back in 1972 when they first formed. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are musical geniuses, and while their blend of jazz and rock is considered “soft rock,” Steely Dan shouldn’t be lumped into the same genre as the Eagles and Michael Bolton. This is a strange booking for Coachella—but it will probably still be awesome.


Saturday, April 11 and 18

Parquet Courts

This New York City post-punk/garage band has managed to drum up momentum from the DIY, indie and mainstream scenes since it seemingly came out of nowhere in 2010. I’ve seen them once before, and I can say that if you like an edgier and dirtier (in a good way) sound, Parquet Courts are for you.

Royal Blood

A gentleman I talked to not too long ago at Pappy and Harriet’s suggested this band to me after we talked about the White Stripes and the Black Keys. This duo from the United Kingdom has an impressive sound, and the self-titled debut album is balls-to-the-wall rock ’n’ roll from beginning to end. I can’t wait to see Royal Blood’s live show.

War on Drugs

While the name is amusing, War on Drugs is no joke: Front man Adam Granduciel has exemplary skills as a singer-songwriter. War on Drugs, which once included Kurt Vile, has a sound similar to that of Destroyer, The New Pornographers, and Real Estate. Make sure you check this band out. (Photo below.)

The Weeknd

In 2010, this guy became the talk of the underground-music scene, and his debut album, released a year later, was highly anticipated. The Weeknd has an interesting genre listing: PBR&B, in reference to the hipster culture’s love of Pabst Blue Ribbon and R&B, or hipster-based R&B. Whatever. The bottom line: The Weeknd makes great R&B that is soulful and dark at the same time—and the fact that he’s on the reclusive side adds a little mystery.


Sunday, April 12 and 19

The Orwells

This Chicago outfit has been on the rise since 2009. After they toured with the Arctic Monkeys, played at Lollapalooza and recently appeared on Late Show With David Letterman, it makes sense to see The Orwells playing at Coachella in 2015. I suggest listening to the band’s most recent album, Disgraceland, before the festival; you won’t be disappointed.

Chicano Batman

I have had a number of opportunities to see this band—and thanks to bad luck, I’ve missed them every time. These guys are not only one of the best DIY indie-bands in the Southwest U.S.; they also have a unique sound that combines Latin music with soul and psychedelic rock. Check out The Lucky 13 on Page 38 for more info.

Jenny Lewis

When I was a third-grader, I was a Nintendo-playing kid who was fascinated with the movie The Wizard, which Jenny Lewis, then a child actress, appeared in with Fred Savage. Lewis is now all grown up and playing music—and she’s pretty awesome. Her Americana-meets-pop sound is a lot of fun; she was even a part of Bright Eyes at one time. For giggles, look up the Christmas-themed comedy skit she took part in with Megadeth back in 2013 on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Marina and the Diamonds

Marina and the Diamonds were beloved by some of my co-workers at Borders Books and Music (R.I.P.) back in 2010 after she dropped her debut album, The Family Jewels—and Marina Diamandis has been pushing the envelope ever since. She has a new album out, and Marina and the Diamonds should be a highlight of the festival.

Published in Previews

The Coachella Valley today is home to a healthy, growing music scene—but it wasn’t always that way. In the 1980s, young local musicians were forced to basically create their own music scene.

These kids had no idea they would one day be considered pioneers.

One of these pioneers is Brant Bjork, the drummer for and one of the founders of Kyuss. He’ll be appearing at Coachella on Friday, April 10 and 17, with his latest project, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band.

In 1987, while in high school, Bjork got together with Josh Homme and John Garcia to form the band that became Kyuss. Of course, Kyuss went on to become one of the most influential rock bands of the early ’90s, putting Palm Desert on the map for desert rock—or stoner rock, as some people called it. In 1994, Bjork left Kyuss due to a conflict with Homme.

During a recent phone interview, Bjork said he’s proud of what Kyuss accomplished.

“I’m most proud of Kyuss because we were offered a once-in-a-lifetime shot, at a time and a place where it was highly unlikely that shot was going to come to us,” Bjork said. “I’m proud of the fact that we were true to where we were from, and we took that shot and went out in the world and said, ‘We’re from the desert, and we’re a desert rock band.’”

What does he think about the “desert rock” and “stoner rock” labels?

“Being an artist or a member of a band, you don’t really get the luxury of deciding what people are going to call your band. I’m not in the business of coming up with genre names,” he said. “I can’t argue with either term. Desert rock is pretty obvious and appropriate. As for stoner rock, (the term) certainly wasn’t around when we were in Kyuss—but we were stoners. A big part of what we were doing involved marijuana. I think whether people like it or dislike it, it’s pretty authentic.”

During his days in Kyuss, he formed a bond with the band Fu Manchu, another big name in the “stoner rock” era.

“Through a mutual friend, I met the Fu Manchu guys while I was in high school,” he said. “… They were beach guys, and I went out to the beach one weekend, and I met them, and we kind of became friends. They were kind of different but had a similar spirit. … We were tapping into returning to rock music—shameless rock music, like ’70s rock music. We were like brother bands.”

Bjork joined Fu Manchu in 1996 and played drums in the band until 2001.

“After I left Kyuss, Fu Manchu signed a solid record deal and started touring,” he said. “Then the drummer and the singer-songwriter in Fu Manchu parted ways, and Scott (Hill, guitarist and vocalist) called me up and asked if I wanted to join the band. I said yes.”

Bjork later decided to release albums under his own name. He also took part in the Desert Sessions series at the Rancho de la Luna recording studio, which reunited him with Josh Homme.

“Desert Sessions wasn’t really about the desert. That was something that was conceptualized by Josh Homme, and it involved musicians who weren’t from the desert,” Bjork said. “I can’t speak for Josh, so I don’t know what his idea was, but he asked me to take part in the first one, and even though I was questioning the concept, as a musician, it’s hard to say ‘no’ to playing with some accomplished musicians like John McBain from Monster Magnet, or Ben Shepherd from Soundgarden. These were great bands I admired and respected, and this was an opportunity to play music with them.”

In 2010, Bjork got together with John Garcia and Nick Oliveri to play and tour as Kyuss Lives! However, they changed the name to Vista Chino after a lawsuit from Josh Homme and bassist Scott Reeder. The project dissolved after several years.

“For the people who were there and for those of us who were involved, it was beyond a success, and it went way beyond everyone’s expectations,” Bjork said. “We never sounded or played better, and the music was wonderful. In fact, that’s why it stopped—it was stopped because it was so awesome.

“As far as going into the future and getting back together with Kyuss again involving Josh Homme, who willingly didn’t participate—I don’t know. I don’t plan on it, that’s for sure.”

Bjork explained his current project, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band. Last November, the project released Black Power Flower.

“I returned to my solo work, and I just felt like I wanted to rock,” he said. “… It’s been years since I put out a solo record, and in returning, I felt I wanted to make a solid rock record—and sort of scream and shout.”

Bjork said he and his fellow desert-rock founding fathers back in 1987 would have never dreamed the Coachella Valley would once be home to a music festival as prominent as Coachella.

“No,” Bjork said with a laugh. “I think I can count on one hand the artists who came through the desert when I was growing up. It’s a bit crazy. When you break it all down, as crazy it is, it makes good sense, too. It’s a beautiful area; the weather is great; you’re a couple of hours from L.A.; and I think the powers that be hit it out of the park as far as the location and concept—so hooray for them.”

Published in Previews

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