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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Jeff Bowman has largely been a quiet guy in the background, kicking ass on the drums in the local music scene for the better part of three decades.

But he recently had a fantastic idea that brought him into the spotlight: He’s bringing a variety of local musicians to The Hood Bar and Pizza on Saturday, Aug. 25, to play a benefit concert for the Desert Cancer Foundation.

However, this is not a normal benefit show. Here’s how it will work: Various musicians, many of whom have never played together before, were grouped up and given a band name by Bowman. Each group was then given a list of songs to cover—songs the musicians need to learn, rehearse and perform the night of the show.

“I thought that it’d be cool to get a few local people together, learn a set and try to play as a brand-new band by the end of the summer,” Bowman said during a recent interview in Palm Desert. “Then I thought, ‘I wonder if I could get a few more people together, and we could make a whole night of it. Maybe even five bands.’ I’ve played music in the desert now for about 30 years, and there are still a ton of people I haven’t played music with, and we have a ton of talent out here. I called Nigel (Dettelbach) at The Hood Bar and Pizza and asked, ‘You have anything (open on the schedule) at the end of the summer?’ He had something open and booked it.

“I put a Facebook post together on a Wednesday afternoon, and I said, ‘OK, here are some rules, and if everyone abides by these rules, this is going to work. Be open to doing your homework and learning these songs; be open to playing with people you’ve never played with before; and be available on the night of the show. I put it out there around noon. I was practicing with Waxy that night; I had to put a stop on the post because I had so many responses.”

There is a personal reason Bowman chose to do a benefit for the Desert Cancer Foundation.

“My mom is a cancer survivor, but my aunt was not and passed away,” Bowman said. “My uncle was also recently diagnosed with cancer, and it’s stage 4. I think that (cancer) affects all of us.

“Originally, we wanted to do something for the American Cancer Society, but that’s a national organization, and anything we raise will just go into the national pot. Also, because The Hood Bar and Pizza allows smoking on the patio, (the American Cancer Society) won’t support it. But the Desert Cancer Foundation does cancer-treatment assistance for people with cancer right here in the valley, and they were OK with The Hood Bar and Pizza allowing smoking on their patio.

“I think it’s great our local music scene can support people with cancer. It’s a theme that’s close to home.”

After more than 30 local musicians responded to Bowman’s post, he had to turn others away.

“I had a lot of people tell me, ‘I didn’t hear a thing about it!’ It’s true: They didn’t, because it was an idea that I had on a Wednesday afternoon that I put out on Facebook,” Bowman said. “If you weren’t logged into Facebook from noon to 6 p.m. on that Wednesday, you missed it. But there was enough interest in it to where I could see this being a semi-annual or even an annual event. If I did it again, I’d put it out there, saying, ‘The window is open from this time to this time.’”

Bowman said it was surprisingly difficult to completely mix up the one-night-only bands: Each one includes at least two musicians who are currently in bands together, while others used to play together.

“I tried to be as random as I could with the band selections and the song selections, but there were certain band members who have a depth of history to where that was impossible,” Bowman said. “I literally did little pieces of paper with everyone’s name on them and put them together by the drummers, the bassists, the guitar players and the vocalists to try to make it an interesting experience of people playing with others they’ve never played with—generating relationships, generating energy, storytelling and things like that.”

Of course, the newly created bands have had to overcome some obstacles. Coval had issues with rehearsals because the drummer, Benny Cancino Jr., has been on a tour—so Bowman has filled in. The Oneders had to switch gears after Herb Lienau needed to back out. That band, which includes Sleazy Cortez bassist Derek Timmons, will be fronted by Timmons’ girlfriend, Stevie Jane Lee, who will be making her local live music debut after moving here earlier this year from Utah. Lee said she is thrilled to be taking part.

“I am really excited to be a part of it—and what better way to get to know all the musicians in the area that I don’t know already?” Lee said. “I was a bit worried at first, because most of the songs we we’re assigned, I didn’t know, but we have been rehearsing at least once a week, if not two, since the bands were announced. I can honestly say that I couldn’t have hoped for a better group of people to be in. I am getting to do one of my favorite songs that I have always wanted to cover, so I have no complaints.”

Coval will include a reunion, of sorts: Monreaux frontman Giorg Tierez will be performing publicly with Monreaux guitarist Marcus Bush for the first time in two years, as Monreaux has been on an extended hiatus.

“I asked to participate because I needed an outlet back into the scene, and the show is the night before my birthday,” Tierez said. “It just made sense to me. Plus, I didn’t know Jeff Bowman personally, but I knew of him, and after meeting him and jamming with him, I can say that he’s one of my favorite people, by far, and probably one of the best musicians I’ve ever seen.”

Bowman said the show has been the subject of some inaccurate rumors.

“I’ve heard people calling it a competition, and I need to put the kibosh on that: This is NOT a competition. This is not one of those things that’s, ‘Let’s find the best guitar player!’” he said.

The lineups as of this story’s deadline:

The Oneders: Derek Timmons, Stevie Jane Lee, Cara Makuh, Tom Edwards, Nick Hales, Matt King and Troy Whitford.

Blonde Moment: Noe Gutierrez, Natasha Carian, Alex Mirage Burdon, Randy Caserta, Damian Lautiero, Armando Flores and Rob Peterson.

Bounce Haus: Robbie Waldman, Linda Lemke Heinz, Lindsey Bowman, Robert Bowman, Bobby Nichols, Matt Whyte and Robert Garcia.

Banned Four: Chelsea Sugarbritches, Nico Flores, Pakko Lopez, Josh Heinz, Rob Martinez and Jeff Bowman.

Coval: Giorg Tierez, Esther Sanchez, David Burk, Chris Rivera, Marcus Bush and Benny Cancino Jr.

A Mixed Up Music Party!, an event to benefit the Desert Cancer Foundation will take place at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 25, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $5 at the door. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit facebook.com/HoodBarAndPizza.

Published in Previews

Robbie Waldman’s WAXY may be the next great American rock band to come out of our California desert.

Waldman has a lengthy local history, but he has used this project to truly hone his skills as a writer and performer. In its earliest incarnation, the ever-evolving band had a different feel and vibe: A group with a softer underbelly fueled by acoustic instruments has evolved into a full-blown desert stoner-rock band with a heavy rhythmic infrastructure, poetic lyrics and gorgeous hard-rock vocals offered up by Waldman.

With a collection of memorable, melodic, heavy psych-rock songs under their belts, the members of WAXY have worked their way to the top of the Coachella Valley's original rock-music scene—which is no easy accomplishment. In fact, the band is about to embark on tours to Australia and then Europe.

The band's most recent record, Without Any Explanation Why, is a true stoner-rock classic that features guest performances by some of the most pivotal artists to come out of this music mecca we call home: John Garcia (Kyuss, Vista Chino), Mario Lalli (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson), Gary Arce (Sort of Quartet, Yawning Man), Jesse Hughes (Eagles of Death Metal), Brandon Henderson (Pedestrians vs. War Party, Parosella), Ed Mundell (Monster Magnet, Ultra Electric Mega Galactic) and Alfredo Hernandez (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Brave Black Sea) all contribute their unique sounds to the recording.

Meanwhile, Robbie has been back in his studio (Unit A Recording and Art in Palm Springs; www.unit-a.com) banging out the next record, anticipated to be released in November 2014.

“I’m of the philosophy that a recorded version of a song should be a complete vision for that song, and if you're making an album, one piece of a larger puzzle,” Waldman said about the recording process. “I think it's OK to double the vocals, even though that can't really be done live. I think it's OK to layer instruments and have small intricate parts that would require 10 people to pull off live.

“In other words, my mindset when it comes to making records is: This is a timeless piece of art. … Splash all the color and shapes you can at the canvas, and see what you get. Sometimes, you get magic; sometimes, you get mush, but the process is what's key—trying to get what’s in your head out on the tape.”

I heard five new tunes from the upcoming record at a live show at Furst Wurld Theatre in Joshua Tree recently, and I was blown away. The show also included the premiere of WAXY's new video for “Over Before It Began,” a first-rate production by Bon Nielsen and Blanton Ross. Robbie said more videos, to support the upcoming record, are coming in the near future.

Waldman has used a revolving cast of musicians to help him live out his musical fantasies within the framework of WAXY, including drummers Sean Landerra Carrillo (Lakota) and Mike “Pygmie” Johnson (Mondo Generator, You Know Who, John Garcia); bassist/guitarist Damian Lautiero (a huge part of the live WAXY sound); and keyboardist Jack Kohler (War Drum).

In September, WAXY will take off for Australia as a supporting act on the John Garcia solo tour. John's latest self titled debut solo album (available on Napalm Records) is getting rave reviews from the press and fans alike.

While Waldman sees the recording process as making art, he views live shows differently.

“Playing shows is about the moment—different song orders, new songs mixed with old ones, etc.,” Waldman said. “Playing live also has the unique ability to move air: The sound actually hits you! There's nothing like it when the kick drum is thumping you right in the chest. It's like the difference between seeing a movie versus going to the theater and seeing actors onstage. One is a deliberate, enormous and repeatable act, while the other is different every time simply by its very nature. … When we play live, it's always an adventure!”

Before John Garcia and WAXY leave for the land down under, desert fans will be treated to a live show by them at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert, at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5. Also on the bill is space-rock jam-band Fever Dog. Admission is $15, and this show WILL sell out. It has been a good long while since Garcia fans have been able to see a live set here at home, and we will be out in droves to hear his long-awaited desert performance—and to say a temporary goodbye to what could be the desert's next great band.

For more information on WAXY, visit www.facebook.com/WAXYOfficial and www.waxy-music.com. Read more from Robin Linn at rminjtree.blogspot.com. Photos by Samantha Schwenck.

Published in Previews