CVIndependent

Wed09182019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

There are only a few local musicians who are able to make a living via music—and that rather short list includes Derek Jordan Gregg.

The Hive Minds frontman plays gigs throughout the valley in hotels and restaurants, and that inspired him to make his first batch of solo recordings while The Hive Minds was on a short hiatus.

During a recent interview in La Quinta, Gregg said his solo material has more of a folk sound.

“I think when I play by myself, I’ve always gravitated toward that sound,” Gregg said. “I’ve always been a fan of Bob Dylan since I started writing songs. It’s not necessarily a new endeavor, but Hive Minds wasn’t the place for me to let this stuff out, and we were doing so much that that was where my creative energy went. It’s something I’ve always loved, and it’s a lot easier to do by yourself.

“The big difference between this and the Hive Minds stuff is the lyrics are so much more personal. I didn’t worry about any of the songs being upbeat or catchy, and they all cut really deep. They’re the heaviest lyrics I’ve written in my life.”

Gregg said these songs would probably not go along with the Hive Minds’ indie-rock sound.

“I think that Sean (Poe) and Sam (Gonzales) really like my folk stuff,” Gregg said. “I have a whole catalog of folk material, but I’m really more protective of these songs. If I did put these in a band, I wouldn’t want to play them as a trio; I would want a huge Americana band. I don’t know if that would change the trajectory of the Hive Minds songs or the Hive Minds sound, but it would mess with the cohesiveness of the album, because you’d have really mellow, slow and depressing indie rock.”

Gregg plays solo in a wide variety of venues, some of them rather challenging—ranging from clubs to restaurants to hotels.

“It takes a lot of energy just to come into these shows with a positive outlook and never look at it like a job. I’ve been in those head-spaces where I’m like, ‘Ugh! Time to go to a gig!’ and I have to snap myself out of it,” he said. “I do a fair amount of covers, and I make those covers my own, but the minute that it starts to feel like a job to me, I’ll quit, and I’ll go wash dishes. I’d rather wash dishes and hate it than hate playing music.

“Where I’m at now, it doesn’t hinder my creative process. I play a ton, and I’ll even create stuff on the spot at these gigs. If I get into a negative head space or a depression and start to look at this as work, I either need to learn a lot more stuff and make it my own, or I need to start doing more original music at these shows. That’s the tightrope that I walk.”

He even went so far as saying that a scene in the movie Fight Club—during which Edward Norton goes into a meditation and sees a penguin that says the word “Slide”—inspires his views on being a musician.

“I almost want to get that tattooed on my arm,” he said. “I think that it’s more about the place that he goes, and it’s like when you’re spacing out at work, and it takes you out of the moment. You’re pissing on the moment if you’re just chugging through your chords and letting the words come out.”

He’s recently been using a looper during his shows.

“When I bought it, it was supposed to be for me to practice at home with. Once I got it out of the box and started dicking around with it, I used it for the show I had that night,” he said. “I don’t think I have as good of chops as Calvin Williams—who plays with Eevaan Tre—Bobby Nichols or Kal David, but my rhythm (is just as good). It’s all about rhythm, which has never been an issue for me. I play with a really simple looper. I’ve never been much of a guitar nerd, which is why the folk music thing works for me.”

The Hive Minds have had some local success, including a few high-profile shows, but Gregg expressed humility regarding the band.

“When we first started, Patrick Mitchem was on bass, and then we went to being an acoustic duo with Sean and I, and then playing with Sam Gonzales … playing TED talks, and playing the Bernie Sanders rally,” he said. “It’s almost like it doesn’t feel like it’s happened. I don’t know if that’s how people feel when they do something they’re really proud of. … I’ve always believed if you’re living in the past, you’re living on memories or anxiety. If you’re living in the future, you’re existing in your imagination. But now that I’m thinking back on it, it is pretty crazy.”

For more information on Derek Jordan Gregg and the Hive Minds, visit www.facebook.com/thehiveminds.

The Hive Minds are one of the Coachella Valley’s most consistent and well-liked bands.

However, the reach of the Hive Minds may soon reach beyond our dusty little valley: The group recently recorded an album with famed producer Ronnie King, a Palm Springs local, and hopes to finally tour outside of the Palm Springs area.

While the group was recording the album, the Hive Minds launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project, offering presales of the EP and other incentives. How did it go?

“It was unsuccessful,” said frontman and guitarist Derek Jordan Gregg during a recent interview in Palm Springs that included all three members of the group. “A lot of people think some guy is online doing (crowd-funding campaigns) to buy mayonnaise or some stupid shit like that, so there’s a stigma of some sort. People think you're asking for a handout when we’re really just trying to get something in exchange for all the time we put in.”

While the Kickstarter campaign failed, the group found success working with King, who has produced for Rancid, Mariah Carey and the local group IIIZ (formerly the Yip Yops), along with many other acts.

“He gets really good work out of you,” Gregg said.

Drummer Sean Poe seconded Gregg’s comment.

“You'll work all day and just get the best take you can get,” Poe said. “We would do it; we'd think it was good, and that was the take. Ronnie would be like, ‘No, do it again.’ We'd do it again and again and be like, ‘That's the take!’”

However, bassist Matt Styler conceded the process was not always easy.

“We definitely had to learn (how to deal with) thinking we had put out a really good take or a song and hear, ‘Oh no, there's still a lot of work to be done.’ It's learning to be OK with that process and having the presence to know you could put together something better, even though you already love what you did before.”

When I visited IIIZ while they recorded with King last summer, King was making IIIZ guitarist and vocalist Mari Brossfield do multiple takes for a track. Gregg said he was put to the test a few times himself.

“I remember doing a take on our song ‘Wish You The Best,’ thinking I had just nailed it, and Ronnie said, ‘Yeah, it was good, but I didn't buy it.’ He pointed to the part and had me change it, saying, ‘There's no emotional content.’ He had me going over and over it. He knows what makes a hit song for sure.”

The group hopes the new EP will be released within several months.

“Probably in May or June,” Gregg said. “It's a bit of a story, and it’s conceptual. It's all love songs and based on the building and the breaking of a relationship. It's just five tracks, but it's really upbeat and sounds different from the first record. The first record was really mellow and Americana; this one is totally different and indie-pop.”

Ronnie King ended up playing keyboards on most of the tracks. The members of the group enjoyed the sound, and as a result, they are now looking for a keyboardist.

The album includes other guest appearances, too.

“Mari (Brossfield) from IIIZ is on it,” Gregg said. “A local sax player named Aaron Merc is on it, too. He visited us, and we were listening to one of the tracks. … I was like, ‘Aaron, do you happen to have your sax with you?’ He was on his way to rehearsal, and it was in the car.”

Poe talked about how Mari Brossfield became involved.

“We were like, ‘It would sound so much better if we went an octave up,’” he said about one of the band’s songs. “We’re all sitting there trying to sing it and hit that note. Derek was like, ‘I wish we had a girl here,’ and Mari was right there, and (Derek) goes, ‘Hey, you want to sing on it?’ IIIZ was really supportive and came out several days when we were in the studio.”

With the new album came a new and interesting endeavor: a music video, for the song “Chasing You Around.”

“Robert Sandoval did it,” Gregg said. “He helped us out when we made our Kickstarter music videos, and he's really good. He kind of works how we work, where if you have an idea, and you start to wing it a bit, you just to allow yourself to be open to new possibilities.”

Styler explained the theme of the video.

“It's a love story: Guy sees girl, and guy chases after girl,” he said. “It's basically someone chasing her around. But it's in the least-stalker way as possible. We want to make that clear.”

Gregg thought of an amusing alternative ending for the video.

“The ending of it should have been the guy getting a cease-and-desist letter,” he said.

The Hive Minds will perform with Monreaux, Higher Heights and the CMFs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 20, at Playoffs, 12105 Palm Drive, in Desert Hot Springs. Admission is $5. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/thehiveminds.

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

October is finally here, and that means the valley is starting to churn back to life after its summer slumber.

With help from the Independent and Chill Bar, I will once again be throwing a concert series to benefit the Community Food Bank at the LGBT Center of the Desert. The Oktoberfest Concert Series Benefiting the Community Food Bank at the Center will take place every Thursday in October at 9:30 p.m. On Thursday, Oct. 1, Palm Desert band The Flusters will performing a modern take on vintage rock ’n’ roll and ’60s surf rock. On Thursday, Oct. 8, EeVaan Tre and the Show will be bringing its fantastic R&B and hip-hop sound back to Chill. On Thursday, Oct. 15, the high desert’s Gene Evaro and the Family will take the stage. On Thursday, Oct. 22, Tribesmen will play with special guest Venus and the Traps. On Thursday, Oct. 29, Hollace—winners of the recent Hood Bar and Pizza Battle of the Bands—will perform with special guest Johnny Elsewhere. A $5 donation is suggested; 21 and older. Chill Bar, 217 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs; 760-327-1079; www.facebook.com/ChillBarPalmSprings.

You know season is here when the McCallum Theatre is open again, and the McCallum has some great events scheduled for October. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 11, Comedy Central’s Daniel Tosh will be performing. He’s calling his performance the “Tosh Saves the World Charity Show,” and proceeds will go to various charities. Ian Edwards, Tom Papa, Greg Hahn and Lachlan Patterson are also scheduled to appear. Tickets are $75. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23, prepare yourself: Bill Maher is coming back. Just a friendly warning: If you’re in the Fox News-viewing demographic, stay away from this show. Also, if you’re easily offended, Bill Maher will probably not be a good time. Tickets are $57 to $107. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24, get out your Stetsons, and shine up your boots, because Jason Petty is returning as Hank Williams in Hank and My Honky Tonk Heroes. You’ll also be hearing tunes from Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb and George Jones. Tickets are $22 to $52. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino had a fabulous summer, and has a lot of other exciting things booked through the rest of the year. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, there will be a performance by Latin singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas. Venegas is a big name in her native Mexico, and has also found success internationally. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17, sitcom star and comedian George Lopez (above) will be appearing. While Lopez has been wildly successful, he’s also known for explosive tweets on Twitter, including a “Fuck you!” response to a fan. Tickets are $49 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is definitely the place to be in October. While the Duran Duran show on Oct. 3 might be sold out, there are other events to consider. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, Blue Collar Comedy member Ron White will be appearing. “Tater Salad” has had quite a successful career—because he’s freaking hilarious. Tickets are $70 to $245. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 6, country singer-songwriter Frankie Ballard will take the stage. His career started after he won Kenny Chesney’s “Next Big Star” competition, and he has been rising steadily ever since. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23, The Tonight Show house band The Roots (above right) will be appearing. The Roots built their legacy on hip-hop and were an indie success; they are one of the few hip-hop acts to feature live instruments. They were the first hip-hop act I ever saw live in 1996. If you go see them, you’ll be blown away. Tickets are $55 to $75. Stay tuned to CVIndependent.com in October for an interview with The Hit Men (appearing Oct. 16) and a live review of Duran Duran’s show. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, Latin sensation Don Omar will perform. Billboard named Omar one of the top-selling Latin artists. He also appeared alongside Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in the Fast and Furious film franchise. Tickets are $54 to $84. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, check out a somewhat interesting event called Brenton Wood’s Love Jam. Wood was a modestly successful R&B/soul singer in the late ’60s. Also appearing will be the Zapp Band, who Dr. Dre sampled several times; Rose Royce; GQ; Atlantic Starr; Candyman; and Peaches and Herb. Tickets are $40 to $60. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a busy month ahead. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, there will be another celebrity music show by The Kiefer Sutherland Band. That’s right—you read that correctly. After Macaulay Culkin’s rather awkward appearance last year at Pappy’s with his band The Pizza Underground, I hope Kiefer puts on an excellent show. Tickets are $15. Speaking of awkward … at 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, Daniel Romano and the Trilliums will be performing. After Romano’s excellent performance at Stagecoach in April, I had the opportunity to interview him—and, well, he was strange, distant and didn’t seem to like anything or anyone that particular day. He’s a brilliant performer, but skip trying to talk to him on the back patio at Pappy’s. Tickets are $12. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 31, it’ll be that time of the year again: Gram Rabbit takes the stage at Pappy’s for the group’s usual Halloween shows. While Gram Rabbit has basically been on hiatus, front woman Jesika Von Rabbit recently toured with Eagles of Death Metal in the Midwest. Buy your tickets now, because it will sell out, and there will be a large crowd. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is preparing for a busy fall. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, the “Gay Don Rickles,” Jason Stuart, will be performing with special guest, local (and friend) Shann Carr. Hopefully Stuart’s material isn’t as offensive as Rickles’ live album. Tickets are $25. Purple Room Palm Springs, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Tryst Lounge continues to host local bands. At 10 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 13, Derek Jordan Gregg will be performing. At 10 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24, Spankshaft will take the stage. At 10 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 27, an act calling itself the Techno Hillbillies will play. All shows are free. Tryst Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs; 760-832-6046; www.facebook.com/Trystpalmsprings.

The Date Shed has one intriguing event worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17, post-grunge band Puddle of Mudd (below) will perform. During the early part of the last decade, the group had 15 minutes of fame. Alas, today, frontman Wes Scantlin is known to perform heavily intoxicated, or to lip-sync an entire show. Many of the band’s original members have run away from Puddle of Mudd. I will say that you should go to support local opening acts Mighty Jack and the Rebel Noise, given they both put on great shows. Tickets are $20 to $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

For the first time in years, a band performed inside a venue on Arenas Road in downtown Palm Springs.

And it was good.

EeVaan Tre and the Show kicked off the NestEggg Food Bank Concert Series at Chill Bar on Tuesday, July 7, playing to an enthusiastic and late-arriving crowd. The series is presented by Brian Blueskye and the Coachella Valley Independent.

The concert raised $175 for the food bank, which is a project of the LGBT Center of the Desert. The food bank feeds about 275 people, including many seniors and people with disabilities, each week.

The series continues at 9:30 p.m. every Thursday in July at Chill Bar, located at 217 E. Arenas Road in Palm Springs. Attendees are asked to make an optional donation to the NestEggg Food Bank of $5 or more.

On Tuesday, July 14, DJ and EDM artist Alex Harrington (www.alexharrington.co) will perform. Formerly known as All Night Shoes, Harrington has been the Coachella Valley Independent resident DJ for two years, and has gotten crowds dancing with regular shows at The Hood Bar and Pizza, Toucan’s, the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, Birba and countless other venues.

On Tuesday, July 21, the series will go acoustic with a solo show by Derek Gregg (www.hivemindsmusic.com). Gregg is a member of the popular folk-jazz-pop-rock group The Hive Minds, and Gregg has taken his gorgeous music all over the valley, playing at venues ranging from Oscar’s Café and Bar to Coachella Valley Brewing Co. to the Palm Canyon Roadhouse.

On Tuesday, July 28, one the valley’s best and most popular DJs will wow the Chill crowd. Aimlo (dj-aimlo.com) is known for his diverse and eclectic music collection and has performed everywhere from The Saguaro to the Ace Hotel and Swim Club to the Purple Room in recent months.

Scroll down to see a gallery of photos from the EeVaan Tre and the Show performance, thanks to Tommy Locust Photography, as well as some video footage of the show further down.

It’s a light month for live music in the Coachella Valley—although the Coachella Valley Independent and I are doing our part to fill the entertainment void.

We’re holding a series of benefit shows for the NestEggg Food Bank at Chill Bar Palm Springs; call it the NestEggg Food Bank Summer Concert Series. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 7, EeVaan Tre and the Show will be performing. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 14, Independent resident DJ Alex Harrington will get the crowd dancing. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 21, Derek Gregg of The Hive Minds will turn in a solo show. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 28, DJ Aimlo will be featured. Each show is free, but we’re asking for a donation of $5 or more—all of which will go straight to the food bank! Chill Bar, 216 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs; 760-327-1079; chillbarpalmsprings.com.

You won’t want to miss the 1950s Mid-Summer Dance Party, benefitting the Desert AIDS Project, at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 25, at the Palm Springs Pavilion (401 S. Pavilion Way). The ’50s themed party will feature live DJs, go-go dancers and an open bar. This is definitely the function of the summer! Tickets are $40 to $75; www.desertaidsproject.org.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some great events on the schedule. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 3, Calibre 50 and the Banda Carnival will take the stage. Calibre 50 was created in 2010 and hails from Sinaloa, Mexico. The band has sung about some very controversial subjects about life in Sinaloa. Meanwhile, Banda Carnival has been nominated for a Grammy; the group also hails from Sinaloa. Tickets are $65 to $85. America will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 25. The trio started in 1970 and was a big hit when the song “A Horse With No Name” hit radio waves. Dan Peek left the group in 1977 (and passed away in 2011), but Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell are still going strong. Tickets are $30 to $60. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 31, the legendary classic-rock outfit The Steve Miller Band will perform. Since founding the group in 1966, Steve Miller has not only written some of the best songs in rock history; the group has gone on to become a primary influence for many guitarists and bands, even in the current generation. Tickets are $75 to $150. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has one event worth noting. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 10, Alejandra Guzman will rock the Special Events Center. Guzman is one of Latin music’s most successful modern artists and has a history of Latin rock hits going back to 1988. 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 full schedule of events for July. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 3, The Family Stone (right) will be performing. Unfortunately, Sly Stone won’t be with them—although one of the first multi-racial and multi-gender American rock bands will still entertain. A blend of soul and psychedelic rock took the group to unbelievable heights when frontman Sly was in the band. Unfortunately, drug use and other problems have kept him absent from the group. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 18, actor/comedian Paul Rodriguez will be stopping by. He’s starred in films such as Quicksilver with Kevin Bacon and Born in East L.A. with Cheech Marin. He’s also had various successful stand-up specials on HBO. Tickets are $25 to $35. For those who have argued over that great music question—The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?—you can hopefully settle that argument at 8 p.m., Friday, July 31, when tribute bands Abbey Road (Beatles) and Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Rolling Stones) will engage in a “Musical Shootout.” Tickets are $10. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a couple of intriguing events coming up. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 10, country-music duo The Swon Brothers will be stopping by. The brothers from Oklahoma were a sensation on The Voice in 2013 and released their self-titled debut album on Arista Records in October 2014. Tickets are $29 to $39. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 31, former Doobie Brothers front man Michael McDonald will be performing. The five-time Grammy award winning artist was also a studio member of Steely Dan. Tickets are $55 to $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some great listings in July. At 9:30 p.m., Saturday, July 4, Nick Waterhouse will be returning to Pappy’s. Waterhouse’s retro sound, featuring ’60s rock ’n’ roll and R&B, has earned him accolades; he’s also been featured in a commercial for Lexus. Take note: If you go to the show, don’t wear tennis shoes; Waterhouse prefers those who put effort into their appearances. Tickets are $15 to $18. At 9 p.m., Thursday, July 9, there will be a vinyl release party for Jesika von Rabbit and her album, Journey Mitchell. Tickets are $10. At 9 p.m., Saturday, July 25, 10 year-old Emi Sunshine (below) will be performing. The Tennessee native and performer of Appalachian music is a wunderkind. Tickets are $10 to $12. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

It’s been a busy couple years for Derek Gregg and Sean Poe—better known as the Hive Minds.

Their group has gone from being a three-piece to a two-piece. There was a name change, a battle of the bands win, and numerous local shows. And finally, there’s an album.

The Independent recently sat down with Gregg (guitar/vocals) and Poe (drums) to discuss The Hive Minds’ new, self-titled album. They began working on it in October 2013, with Jimmy Heil.

“It was just not a good fit. We were working on it for a while, and we made a lot of progress, but things weren’t really clicking,” Poe said.

Gregg agreed.

“A lot of the guitar tones were weird,” Gregg said. “We have nothing bad to say about (Heil). He had a lot of great stuff, like these expensive old mics, reel-to-reel, and stuff like that, but we weren’t able to get into the studio often enough, and we really wanted to spend a lot of time in there.”

They began working instead with Andrew Allen-Bentley.

“When we started working with Andrew, the feel was right,” Gregg said.

Allen-Bentley also began joining The Hive Minds for gigs, playing bass. However, Gregg said that Allen-Bentley is not an “official” member of the band.

“The Hive Minds will always be a two-piece. He’s in our band, but he doesn’t want to be a full-time member,” Gregg said. “It’s like the Black Keys: It’s a two piece.”

Gregg noted that Allen-Bentley had a lot on his plate. He wasn’t kidding: Shortly after the interview with Gregg and Poe, Allen-Bentley was named the rabbi of Temple Sinai in Palm Springs.

“Every once in a while if he’s available, he’ll come play a show with us,” Poe said.

The songs on the album were written over a long period of time—even before Gregg and Poe started performing together.

“It’s all Derek’s stuff that he’s been writing since he was back in high school,” Poe said. “When we got together and started working on this stuff, we thought these were great songs that we should get out. Derek had all the basic forms, the lyrics, and the riffs, and then I just came in with the drums.”

Gregg said that while they recorded these older songs, they were able to write new material for their next album.

“The next album will have riffs on it,” Gregg said with a laugh. “This record has more jam-band-style guitar on it, but it was mostly acoustic stuff played on an electric guitar. The songs were already there, but the next album is sweet, because it will have riffs and a completely different feel to it.”

Gregg said that he is most proud of his song “Firewater.”

“When I wrote ‘Firewater,’ I had just really started to get into Bob Dylan,” Gregg said. “I had just gone through a lot with ex-girlfriends. I was drinking a bit more, and that song is about coping with things the wrong way. That song taught me how to write without censoring myself or holding back. ‘Firewater’ is just so naked that it’s true.”

Poe said that during the recording process, they would go back and listen to songs they had already recorded, and find imperfections.

“In the studio, there were a lot of times when we’d record a song and then go on to record another song, and we’d go back and listen to that first song, and we didn’t like it. So we’d start over and record it again, because we wanted it perfect. With ‘The Gemini,’ we recorded the whole thing, and we went back and listened to it, and it wasn’t up to par with what the other songs were. So we completely scratched it, and we had to find a way to make it work. We ended up making it acoustic.”

“The Gemini” is now the album’s closing track; the acoustic sound and percussion make it a perfect closing song.

Gregg admitted the band has made some mistakes over the last couple of years. Gregg and Poe stopped playing many of the covers for which they were known, and whereas they used to play a lot of shows at bars, they now play once a month or so at Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar on El Paseo in Palm Desert.

“Playing bars for people who don’t know any of the material … it’s not that fulfilling,” Gregg said. “At the end of the night, you come away feeling really unfulfilled, like you just spent time at work. Our sets have about 10 percent covers now. We noticed it, and my dad (local musician Mark Gregg) told me we’re not a very good cover band. When we play one of our original songs as opposed to a cover, we get a standing ovation. When we play at Wolfgang Puck’s now, no one likes our covers as much as they like our originals.”

Poe agreed.

“We are more happy now playing the originals,” he said. “We have fun doing it, and we have more energy doing it. I think people have picked up on that.”

For more information on The Hive Minds, visit the band's Facebook page.

The Hive Minds are on a roll. Derek Gregg (vocals/guitar) and Sean Poe (drums) won a local battle of the bands at the National Date Festival; they have been busy recording a new album; and they have kept a busy schedule of local gigs. Speaking of gigs: Derek will be hosting an open-mic night at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert, at 9 p.m., Wednesday, June 11. Here are Derek’s answers to The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

When I was younger, I went to an AFI (A Fire Inside) concert with my stepdad. I’m not really a fan, per se. However, they were incredibly polished. I’m not convinced they weren’t lip syncing.

What was the first album you owned?

Oh my … that’s an incredibly tough question to answer. It may have been a greatest-hits album by Steve Miller, although I doubt it. I’ve been a fan of music for as long as I can remember.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Well, I love Tame Impala. I only recently started listening their Lonerism album. Lately, I’ve been stuck on Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not by Arctic Monkeys. However, I’m just revisiting it. Let’s see … The Smiths for sure, The Cure (particularly the Boys Don’t Cry Album), and a lot of Dylan and Cash, too.

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

I can’t stand anything that’s popular right now; it all sounds the same—that techno bullshit.

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

Radiohead.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

The first thing that comes to mind is that Maroon 5 album Songs About Jane. It’s ridiculously overproduced. I hate that squeaky-clean stuff, but it is catchy. It’s good songwriting, but that went down the drain, too, after that album, in my opinion.

What’s your favorite music venue?

There are so many good ones. The Hood has a pretty rad sound system, and whenever we play there, we get to jam out with awesome bands. I dig the Desert Fox bar, too, because it’s always so packed whenever we play there. I have a dozen wild stories from that place. Oh man, that bachelorette party last week!

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

I’ve been trying to get it out of my head because it makes me want to cry: “I am colorblind. Coffee black and egg white. Pull me out from inside. … I am folded, and unfolded, and unfolding. I am colorblind,” Counting Crows, “Colorblind.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Before I started listening to Bob Dylan, I was writing a lot of lame pop songs that will never see the light of day. I realized: Though you have to be honest, you have to be naked, and Dylan reminded me that people will buy honest, pure music. The radio is force-feeding all this garbage techno and pop. Some people don’t even know that there’s incredible stuff out there. You gotta look for it.

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

I would ask Antonio Carlos Jobim how he did it: Come up with an incredibly unique style of music, and have it explode from your home in Brazil to countries all over the world. He’s the pioneer of bossa nova, and when I think about creating a style completely your own, it just blows my mind. Add Stone Flower by Jobim to the list of albums I’ve been listening to. If you haven’t heard “Brasil,” you haven’t lived.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I’m sure it comes off as self-absorbed, but I would want my albums played. My songs are the most important thing to me. My life’s mission is for them to be out and heard. That’s immortality, man!

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

I’d refuse to answer this, but that just seems rude, so I’ll throw out the first one that comes to mind: OK Computer by Radiohead. But ask me again in a week, and I’ll have a different answer.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

There’s so many options. I guess I’ll just throw out one of Led Zeppelin’s more obscure tracks, “Friends.” (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

It was not just another night in downtown Palm Springs.

Hundreds of people from across the Coachella Valley and beyond gathered at Clinic Bar and Lounge in downtown Palm Springs on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 16, for the Coachella Valley Independent's Monthly-Edition Launch Party. 

The crowd was enticed by a live work of art created in front of their eyes by Ryan "Motel" Campbell; a DJ set by All Night Shoes (aka Alex Harrington), followed by several sets from The Vibe; and, of course, two hours of free drinks.

Scroll down to see some photos of the event (most of which were taken by Kevin Fitzgerald). If you have pics you'd like to add to the photo gallery, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thanks to all who came, as well as the fine folks at Clinic Bar and Lounge, and Venus Studios Art Supply.

Published in Snapshot

Mark Gregg is one of the most easily recognizable musicians in the Coachella Valley.

He’s been playing shows here for almost two decades—and he’s still going strong. He has a regular gig at Sullivan’s in Palm Desert on Thursdays and Saturdays with his band, Dude Jones.

Gregg decided he wanted to play the guitar at the age of 13—but his parents made him wait until his 14th birthday to give him his first guitar. Like many great guitar players, Gregg is largely self-taught, although he did take the occasional lesson.

Gregg arrived in the Coachella Valley in 1994. He and his band, Dude Jones, had no problems getting gigs, and Gregg and quickly established himself.

“I came here to just play some gigs. I got a bunch of high-profile gigs, and I started dating a girl down here,” Gregg said. “The first place I played was Redondo Don’s, which eventually turned into Bananaz, then GG’s Island long after. … (I also played at) B.B. O’Briens, which was a legendary place out in Palm Desert.”

One gig that Mark Gregg will always remember is when he played with Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant.

“It was like your feet not touching the ground, and it was like your knees not being able to hold you up,” Gregg said. “Led Zeppelin was my religion when I was growing up. It would be like meeting the pope if you were a devout Catholic. It was an overwhelming experience.”

Gregg said one of his biggest challenges has been keeping familiar audiences happy over the years.

“Usually, when a band plays original music, they have a set. It’s one set, and they do that over and over and over again, so it’s not really sustainable in one area,” Gregg said. “That’s why a lot of the younger bands go out on tour. They have to expose their music to new and different audiences. If you see my band play, I have a varying repertoire that will change from night to night or venue to venue.

“Seems to me, there is a lot of original stuff going on in the valley; some of the local venues are dabbling in it, and some (venues are booking bands) strictly doing original material—places like The Hood, for instance. My son (Derek) is a good songwriter, and he plays a few gigs that are specified as original. He’s doing gigs at the Palm Canyon Roadhouse, which is strictly originals, and they don’t allow any cover music there, and it’s kind of a classic rock joint.”

And speaking of Mark’s son, Derek: It’s not surprising that Derek has managed to become a talented guitar player and songwriter in his own right. Derek is guitarist and frontman of The Vibe, and he also plays solo acoustic gigs. Mark and Derek have played gigs together, too.

“Derek is pretty smart. He’s going to try to take advantage of anything. He and I play together, and he considers it a good opportunity and good thing for him,” Gregg said.

“My feeling about it is if you’re a musician, you have to do everything. You have to be able to play all kinds of music. I think the real musicians have encyclopedic knowledge of music. Guys I know through my business, such as guys who play with Sheryl Crow and Eric Clapton, those guys can play anything and know every song. If you asked them to play something, they can play it. They have encyclopedic knowledge. That’s what I try to press on Derek: If you’re a musician, you’re a musician. If you take any gig, you’d better sell on it. I think that’s what he gets from me.”

While Gregg is a great musician, he’s also crafty when it comes to guitar-maintenance and guitar amplifiers. He owns his own company, Magus Innovations, which sells its “Ultimate Attenuator.” His customer list includes Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, Peter Frampton and Steve Miller, just to name a few.

“An attenuator is for guitar-tube-based amplifiers. They run on tubes instead of transistors. It turns out in guitar amplifiers, the tubes really lend themselves to a certain expression that you can’t get as well from transistor-based amplifiers. The problem with tubes is you have to crank them up to get a good sound out of them, and it’s generally too loud. What an attenuator does is dissipate some of that voltage as heat; however, the problem is it ruins the sound, so we came up with a way not only to control the volume, but preserve the sound and feel. It’s a one-of-a-kind invention.”

Gregg’s music-biz innovations don’t stop there.

“I have a patent on a guitar pickup called the Silverbucker. (I) have a repair facility. I have a manufacturing facility, and I also have overseas manufacturing in Asia. I have a bunch of working prototypes for a new product that I hope to get patents on in the near future.”

While Gregg is a successful entrepreneur and musician, he still has bigger career ambitions.

“The next step for me is to secure a tour with a name band, maybe a band that was big in the ’70s and ’80s, and add credentials to my name, so I can be Mark Gregg from this internationally known band and Mark Gregg from Dude Jones.”

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