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The 15th and apparently final Campout came early to Pappy and Harriet’s, July 31 through Aug. 3. Yeah, the July 31 gig was technically a solo David Lowery show—but don’t tell that to all the Campout fans who came out.

The Campout started when Cracker recorded the record Kerosene Hat in Pioneertown. Lead guitarist Johnny Hickman shared via social media: “Memories of the morning that Pappy and I were making go-bos (sound walls) to use in the soundstage/barn where we recorded Kerosene Hat. Our producer, the late Don Smith, came in and yelled, ‘Johnny … get your guitar-playing fingers away from that skill (sic) saw.’” The gold record for Kerosene Hat hangs on the Wall of Fame at Pappy and Harriet’s.

Wednesday night featured Peter Case, who had a short but incredible set that was briefly interrupted by a young lady who was asked to leave. That was followed was a very intimate set by the ringleader himself, David Lowery, who performed songs from an autobiographical record he recorded on a four-track in his bedroom titled In the Shadow of the Bull. Lowery sat on a stool and said, “Good evening, this is the first time we’ve tried a pre-Campout Campout.”

His show was, for me, the highlight of the four days of music. The songs included one about the time he remembered his father, who was in Korea—but Lowery used artistic license and changed the location to Vietnam, because it rhymed with the verse. He also sang about growing up in Southern California, via the song titled “Superbloom.” The personal solo appearance helped solidify the bond Lowery has with fans.

Thursday night featured the Trippy Trio (David Lowery, Johnny Hickman and Matt “Pistol” Stoessel), Monks of Doom, Ike Reilly, The Hula Girls, and the Suffragettes, all officially starting off the yearly family reunion—this time with some sadness, because this would be the last Campout. Johnny Hickman could easily be found—just look for legion of female fans who normally surround him. He always takes the time to talk and mingle with his Crumb family.

David Lowery introduced the Monks of Doom, who engaged in some epic shredding. Ike Reilly, a true charmer and Campout regular, had the audience come onstage during “Put a Little Love in It,” and also had Johnny Hickman join him during his performance.

The Trippy Trio was a great, stripped-down version of Cracker, with the band wearing their liberal interpretation of ponchos. The group opened with “Teen Angst,” and the set also included “Dr. Bernice.” Ike Reilly came out to help with “Duty Free.”

The indoor set on Thursday is usually a highlight, but the Suffragettes fell short with a redundant instrumental performance. The Hula Girls were fun, but the tiki-themed surf music did not mix well with the Americana being served outside.

Friday night brought back Jesika Von Rabbit. She is such a regular at the festival that fans bring their own ears—a tradition going back to her original band Gram Rabbit, whose members referred to themselves as the Royal Order of Rabbits. Jesika, too, went way back to the Gram Rabbit days, playing “Devil’s Playground.” Her new record Dessert Rock, is a must listen.

Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven played on both Friday and Saturday, as did many of the members’ various solo projects—perfect for Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven fans, because they get to see the talents of each member.

On Saturday, as I sat outside on a bench, I saw Peter Buck of R.E.M. walking around, admiring the 80-plus-year-old building. I spotted another quarter of R.E.M., Mike Mills, taking photos with fans.

I ran into super-fan Ben Wariner, who informed me that Peter Buck plays with Saturday performing band the Minus 5, and Mike Mills sometimes joins in. This was news to me, and I was elated. The lead singer of the Minus 5, Scott McCaughey, summed up the festival by saying this: “This is a great place to be. Lots of great bands with the same people, and then there is us.”

I was disappointed that this was supposed to be the final Campout. There are no greater fans than Cracker and Camper fans; their intensity is a little strong, but it comes from their connection to these two bands lead by one man. Crumbs and Campers were full of speculation and gossip, with lots of hopes that the tradition would continue via a stripped-down version of the Campout under another name. David Lowery gave hope for a return when he shared this: “It’s been a great run … plenty of opportunities to play in the future, including here.”

Until next time, Mr. Lowery.

Published in Reviews

Although August is one of the slowest months for entertainment in the desert—and the second half of this particular August is especially dead—there are still many events, many places to catch a drink, and many bands coming through town.

Interestingly, most of the events this month are either ’90s projects (the kind of artists that will make you say, “Oh I remember them!”) or contemporary underground acts. Whether you like throwback pop or underground alternative rock, there is something for everyone across our vast, eclectic desert community.

Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage has the first notable event on the Venue Report this month: At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 2, the legendary Chicago band Styx will take The Show stage. Tickets start at $65. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 3, Spotlight 29 will host the Pop 2000 tour with host Lance Bass and performances by O-Town, Aaron Carter, Ryan Cabrera and La Quinta-native-turned-Hollywood-star Tyler Hilton. Unfortunately for those wanting to hear “Bye Bye Bye” or “It’s Gonna Be Me,” the event details say Lance Bass is only hosting and not performing. I know from experience that hosts don’t usually perform; I once went Wango Tango, crossing my fingers for the host, Britney Spears, to drop a surprise performance. Didn’t happen. Nevertheless, the show will be interesting if you are nostalgic for the third wave of ’90s boy bands. Tickets start at $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 31, UB40 will arrive at Spotlight 29 for a performance as part of the British reggae band’s 40th Anniversary Tour. Tickets start at $35. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

On Sunday, Aug. 4, The Alibi, downtown Palm Springs’s coolest new venue (learn more here), will welcome ’90s alt-rock band Imperial Teen; the exact show time has not been announced. The four-piece multi-instrumental band from San Francisco has an alt/grunge, instantly recognizable sound, with alternating male/female vocals. The group’s most-famous song, “Yoo Hoo,” is featured in the cult classic film Jawbreaker, starring Rose McGowan. The video for the song features the Imperial Teen lead singer being tied to a bed and teased by the actress herself. Lucky guy! The event is free for those 21 and older. The Alibi Palm Springs, 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-656-1525; www.facebook.com/palmspringsalibi.

Be prepared for a short drive up Interstate 10, because at 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 8, Morongo Casino Resort Spa is hosting a show by Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds (below). He’s mostly known for his production talents and for writing songs for many other people, including Madonna, so it’s interesting to see him embarking on a solo tour. Together, Madonna and Babyface released one of my favorite songs, “Take a Bow.” Here’s hoping Babyface plays it, or that Madonna will be there, or that she herself returns to the desert one day (insert cry face emoji). Tickets start at $49. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 9, Pappy and Harriet’s will welcome Oh Sees. You can read an interview with the band’s leader, John Dwyer, here, but I’ll add this: The group’s wild, exciting, antic-filled show is guaranteed to be worth the drive. The band puts on an in-your-face, loud performance that’s perfect for the outdoor stage at Pappy and Harriet’s. Want a hot summer night with some exciting, skuzzy, punk-rock sounds? Cold beer? And views? Check. Check. And check. Tickets start at $30—but they were listed as sold out as of our press deadline. You can get them on secondary-sales websites, but you’ll pay a lot more. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 10, Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will feature a performance from Mary J. Blige. She has many hits, and it promises to be a good throwback night. Tickets start at $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 23, Fantasy Springs will host another Grammy Award-winning singer, Boz Scaggs. You most likely have heard the song “Lido Shuffle” at some point in your life, but you somehow haven’t, do your ears a favor, and bless them with the song. Tickets start at $49. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

At 8 p.m., Monday, Aug. 12, Indio’s Club 5 Bar—along with Ian Townley and Kylie Knight, Indio-based artists and musicians—will host Host Family, Flexing, The Teddys and Carlee Hendrix. Flexing is a touring band from Corvallis, Ore., that has a dark, angular post-punk sound with a female vocalist, reminiscent of Savages, as well as Editors. The group is coming down to Indio to support recent release Modern Discipline. The Teddys is the new project from Indio’s Bryan Garcia, drummer for the recently defunct Town Troubles. Host Family is an up-and-coming indie band that is making big splashes in the desert and beyond, with a sound reminiscent of Beach Fossils or Mac DeMarco—a laid back, original and refreshing sound compared to the punk/metal that is popular in the desert at the moment. Carlee Hendrix is a talented local singer-songwriter from Bermuda Dunes; she hasn’t played a show in a long time, so anyone who attends is in for a real treat, as she has a wide catalog of acoustic and electric indie/pop songs from which to pull. This promises to be a unique night of underground music. Bring $5. Club 5 Bar, 82971 Bliss Ave., Indio; 760-625-1719; www.facebook.com/Club5Bar.

At 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 15, local event promoters Queer Cactus Presents will welcome El Paso, Texas-based indie rock band Sleepspent, as well as Palm Springs’ Host Family, Indio’s Blue Sun and Palm Desert’s Plastic Ruby, to play at Coachella’s newest bar, the appropriately-named Coachella Bar. This show promises to be an interesting night of DIY alternative rock bands. Coachella Bar; 85995 Grapefruit Blvd., Coachella; 760-541-9034; www.facebook.com/events/335607437106254.

Published in Previews

KOLARS, a Pioneertown favorite, returned to Pappy and Harriet’s on July 13 to open for Guster.

The members of KOLARS apparently love the desert; Rob Kolar and Lauren Brown have been regulars since the days of former band He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, and they performed at the Joshua Tree Music Festival last October. The fan composition tilted toward Guster, with many fans wearing handmade T-shirts declaring their love for the headliners. I did run into a few Crumbs (Cracker fans), introduced to KOLARS via the annual Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Campout; these fans made the trip just to see KOLARS.

KOLARS’ can-do attitude and musical energy won over a whole new group of fans. Rob Kolar greeted the crowd: “How is everyone doing? In honor of Guster, we will count down this song backwards, 4321.” On the third attempt, the audiences members’ synapses synced, and they accomplished the complex counting task. The dynamic duo ignited the crowd. Rob Kolar’s voice is perfectly suited for classic rock ’n’ roll and would fit effortlessly in every decade since Elvis first sang in blue suede shoes. “This goes out to our friends who came out tonight,” he said, dedicating “One More Thrill,” inspiring the audience to dance.

“We are coming back in December,” Kolar stated.

Later, as the set came to a close, Kolar asked: “Are you guys excited for Guster?” The audience quickly responded with screams and a new hymn of, “Hey! Hey! Hey!”

Ryan Miller, the lead singer, greeted the patient audience, some of whom started to line up at 6 p.m. “Hi. Hello. This is an unusual David Lynch Valhalla,” which I am sure was acknowledged by both Pappy and Odin looking from above. Miller was very chatty, talking almost manically about the time he first came to Pappy and Harriet’s while staying in Joshua Tree. The story was hard to follow but involved a group of 100 friends dressed as pirates.

I briefly spoke to a super fan, Stephanie Young from Moreno Valley, during the pirate story, asking asked if Guster’s songs were ever played on KROQ the dominant L.A. alternative radio station. She responded, “I don’t know, but I have heard them at the grocery store.”

Guster played fan-favorite “Happier,” from Lost and Gone Forever.

The band’s relaxed and magnetic stage presence had been flawlessly honed over decades of live performance—but I suspect the energy was partially restrained by the stage cramped by a voluminous amount of equipment.

Miller announced: “We are playing our next song. We don’t do the encore thing. What song should we do for the encore? Which song? Now you are just making noise.” Guster then broke out into a cover of “Seagulls! (Stop it Now)” by Bad Lip Reading, a YouTube sensation; “Seagulls!” is an interpretation of some scenes from The Empire Strikes Back. Miller explained to me after show that the band is “obsessed” with Bad Lip Reading. 

Miller said, “Thank you. Good night; this is our last song. Thank you everyone!” before the band walked off stage … and back two seconds later. The first encore was the deep cut “X-Ray Eyes.” That was followed by “One Man Wrecking Machine” from 2006’s Ganging Up on the Sun.

Ryan Miller asked, “Wow. We should do an entire cover set!” As a few notes of a Violent Femmes tune were teased, Miller added, “But we need bass.” A few chords of “Blister in the Sun” were played to clown the audience further. Miller asked: “Should we try it?” A sing-along of “Blister In the Sun” took place, and Miller then announced: “OK, this is our last song.” The band played “Terrified,” from Guster’s newest release, Look Alive.

“Thank you so much,” Miller said in farewell. Based on the sold out show and the fan reaction, I suspect the desert will see Guster back very soon.

Published in Reviews

You may know the band as Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees, OCS or one of several other names that have changed along with the lineup over the last two-plus decades.

However, one thing has remained constant: founding-member John Dwyer’s blistering guitar and crunchy vocals. Oh Sees, as we’ll call the band today, puts on one of the best live shows around—meaning that the group’s Friday, Aug. 9, show at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is not to be missed … that is, if you can get tickets, because it is currently listed as sold out via the venue.

During a recent phone interview, I asked Dwyer—who said proceeds from the show would be donated to an as-yet-undetermined local charity—whether he thought the band’s name was important to its success.

“No. In fact, if anything, now we just change the name to irritate reviewers and journalists, because they took such umbrage to it being moved around a couple of times,” he said. “I started my own label (Castle Face Records) so I could do whatever the fuck I want, because with personnel and tone changes, we’d change the name around a lot. I’d talk to PR people, and they’d ask, ‘How are people going to know it’s the same band?’ I say that if somebody’s enough of an idiot to not know that this is the same band, then I don’t want them watching our band. That being said, our fans are smart enough to follow the lead. I don’t know if it’s been a detriment or not, but honestly, I don’t really care. It’s such a nonstory to me that it became a point of humor for us to slightly change the name to irk Pitchfork.”

OCS was at first Dwyer’s solo project, started while he was in other bands with names such as Pink and Brown, Zeigenbock Kopf and Coachwhips. I was curious whether it was hard to turn his solo project into a full band.

“The very first (OCS) record is really long, almost three LPs into one record, and most of it is just improvisational noise stuff,” Dwyer said. “It wasn’t hard at all to change it into something else, because it was always this amorphous, shifting, protean thing. I don’t know why I kept the name—that would be a better question, because nobody knew who the hell OCS was anyway, but it just sort of fell into place.

“It started when I brought in a guy named Patrick Mullins. He started playing drums for me. … Then he just started writing with me, and that planted the seed that it could be a full band. Twenty years later, it is what it is now, but we just got stuck with the name. People ask me what the name means, and I have no fucking idea. … I grew to like it. It took me 20 years to get there, though.”

Since 2003, Dwyer’s band has released a whopping 22 albums.

“It’s all I do. I don’t have a job anymore, because this is my job, but I really enjoy it,” Dwyer said. “I’m very lucky to have made this happen. We have slowed down, though. People always throw around the word ‘prolific.’ It’s almost a detrimental tag—prolific, as in these guys put out a ton of garbage.

“The thing is that everybody works at different rates. For a long time, though, with more drug consumption, we were working a lot more. Now that I’ve gotten older, we spend a little more time, and there’s more of a cooperative element to the songwriting process. It’s takes a little longer, because I’m not alone writing. I prefer it this way, because it’s more fun, and it makes it more diverse.”

Dwyer said he rarely encounters writer’s block; instead, he distances himself from projects when he begins to struggle. He cited a solo project under yet another name, Damaged Bug, as an example.

“I’ve been working on a new Damaged Bug record for about two years now, which is pretty unusual for me, but it’s not so much writer’s block,” he said. “I’ve written 30 to 40 songs, but they’re just not done, so I’ve taken a break and switched gears onto a different project. It’s important to take breaks. Our band takes breaks from each other for vacations or for other side projects, and then we come back.”

Dwyer said he’s constantly on the lookout for bands to add to Castle Face Records.

“I always try to watch every band I play with,” he said. “Before I had the label, I always watched for bands to play with, write with or just meet. I have the easy job at the label. There’s a guy named Matt Jones who’s my partner at the label, a 50-50 kind of deal, and he does a lot of the heavy lifting with the bureaucracy of it—all the bullshit that I don’t want to deal with. I have the job of going around the world, playing shows and meeting bands. People send me shit all time, and we go through demos. I listen to everything people send us.”

One of the bigger names on the label is Ty Segall, who just performed at Coachella.

“Me and Ty are very good friends, but I don’t see any collaborations happening in the future,” Dwyer said. “If anything, I would provoke him to play further out into black space. … That dude is on his own trip—heavily. I do love his collaboration with Tim Presley, though.”

Oh Sees will perform with Earth Girl Helen Brown and DYNASTY HANDBAG at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 9, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $30-$35, but are currently listed as sold out. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

The Regrettes have in youth achieved what most musicians spend their entire lives trying to achieve.

The band, which has more than 250,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, earlier this year completed a European stadium tour. Debut album Feel Your Feelings Fool! achieved critical acclaim in 2017, and follow-up How Do You Love? is scheduled for an Aug. 9 release.

The four young adults in the Los Angeles-based punk/alternative-rock band are creating the soundtrack for the lives of teenagers everywhere—and the band will be kicking off its latest U.S. tour on Friday, July 19, at all-ages Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

Frontwoman Lydia Night talked about opening for Twenty One Pilots during a European tour earlier this year.

“That was an insane experience, something that I never would predict to happen so soon, or just at all,” Night said. “Playing in front of that many people is something that you can’t really prepare for. (Opening for) a band that size, you just don’t know what’s coming at all. You just have to hop in with both feet and hope for the best, just go for it, and learn from experience with each show. … To see all of that was so exciting and inspiring.”

The Regrettes did not have a lot of time to prepare.

“The craziest thing about that tour was that we found out we were going on it six days before it started, so that was pretty fucking nuts,” Night said.

The band is starting off its tour in Pioneertown, in part because Night has a lot of personal experience at Pappy and Harriet’s.

“Pappy’s is somewhere I actually started doing open mics at, when I was 9 or 10, really young,” she said. “My dad owns a hotel out there, and Joshua Tree has been a big part of my life as a musician. I remember walking around with a tip jar at Pappy’s after doing open mics and shows on the indoor stage. Playing on the outdoor stage has always been a goal and dream of mine, so the fact that we’re playing there is so special to me and really exciting.”

Night is 18 years old; I’m a 17-year-old musician (I also got my start at Pappy and Harriet’s, coincidentally), so I was curious to hear her thoughts on the treatment of younger bands at 21-and-older shows.

“Yeah, it’s so frustrating,” she said. “It hasn’t happened in so long, since we’ve gotten bigger, but in my old band, which was a two-piece, there were a lot of shows we’d play that weren’t all-ages, and they’d be weird about us even being in the venue before playing, which just made no sense to me. We’d have to wait outside or go kill time before the show and be escorted to the stage, always with X’s on our hand.”

One of The Regrettes’ standout tracks, “Seashore,” mentions getting looked down upon because of a young age: “You’re talkin’ to me like I’m dumb / Well I’ve got news; I’ve got a lot to say / There’s nothing you can do to take that away.” Night said she’s learned how to deal with people treating her differently due to her age.

“It used to be something that was just talked about in press or media. People sometimes do, but not nearly as much now,” she said. “It’s more of other bands approaching us or people at venues approaching us. It hasn’t been in-your-face disrespectful, but there’s an underlying tone, because there are three women who are all pretty young. Sometimes people approach us like they’re more knowledgeable about our gear, or about the way a show is run, and we’re like, ‘Actually, we’ve been touring for a very long time. Thank you very much, but we know how to work our amps.’ But honestly, it doesn’t happen too often, and we’re pretty good at avoiding it and standing up for ourselves.”

Many Regrettes songs cover the emotions and insecurities teenagers face; Night said she hopes the songs serve as consolation.

“I just speak on things I know about and am experiencing,” she said. “… I’m just a very honest songwriter, and stuff that’s being talked about in our music is from a truthful place. I think it’s important as an artist to take a stand like that when writing music. … I like doing that, because it lets others know that it’s OK to be confident in those feelings and emotions, whatever they’re going through.”

The band’s three newest singles—“I Dare You,” “Pumpkin” and “Dress Up”—offer more of an alternative-rock feel, in contrast to the punk-heavy songs on Feel Your Feelings Fool! Night said to expect more of this on How Do You Love?

“It’s more of a mix of Blondie/’80s pop meets early Strokes meets Regrettes,” she said.

The Regrettes will perform with Hot Flash Heat Wave at 9 p.m., Friday July 19, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

July and August are the slowest months for entertainment in the Coachella Valley, with multiple venues on hiatus—but the casinos and Pappy and Harriet’s are still offering plenty of great events.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a fabulous Independence Day week slate. At 9 p.m., Wednesday, July 3, enjoy a free Independence Day Fireworks Show. The fireworks will be blasting off from the Eagle Falls Golf Course, and The Eagle 106.9 will be playing some great songs to accompany them. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 5, enjoy the rocking flute-driven tunes of Jethro Tull. The band has extended its 50th Anniversary Tour, and considering the band rivaled the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Elton John in its early years, you won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $59 to $129. Later in the month, at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 27, Mexican singer-songwriter Gerardo Ortiz will return to Fantasy Springs. The 29-year-old was actually born in Pasadena, and he has two Grammy Award nominations to his credit. Tickets are $39 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage is offering a busy July calendar. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 13, Hotel California: A Salute to The Eagles will take the stage. Hotel California is an Eagles tribute band that has been performing for 30 years and is known for masterfully replicating the sounds of the Eagles songs you love. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 19, check out The Ultimate E.L.O. Experience: A New World Record. This is an Electric Light Orchestra tribute, including the lights and all of the string arrangements. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 26, enjoy ’80s R&B and pop at the Freestyle Jam, featuring Stevie B, Trinere, Nu Shooz, Debbie Deb and Connie. These were some of the biggest names in ’80s pop and are often sampled or remixed in today’s digital era. Tickets are $40 to $60. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is hosting a couple of hot July events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 20, the Spanish Comedy Slam will take place. The show will feature performances from Alex Reymundo, who recently had his own Comedy Central special; Luz Pazos, a former beauty queen from Peru who has performed at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles and appeared on PBS’ First Nations Comedy Experience; Rene Garcia, who has performed with Tommy Davidson, Ron White and Bill Bellamy; Carlos Rodriguez, a Sacramento native who has been voted the Best Comic by the Sacramento News & Review; and Anthony K, another Sacramento resident who has a one-hour special available on Spotify and Google Play. Tickets are $20 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 27, go back four decades during the ’70s Soul Jam, featuring performances by Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes and The Stylistics, as well as Mr. Dyn-o-Mite himself, Jimmie “JJ” Walker. Tickets are $39 to $59. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is hosting some great July events. At 9 p.m., Saturday, July 6, country star Lee Greenwood will be appearing. One of his biggest hits is his 1984 song “God Bless the U.S.A.” In fact, a lot of his material is ’Merica themed, to give you those July 4th feels. Tickets are $29 to $39. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 12, Chicano rock-band Los Lonely Boys (upper right) will be performing. The South Texas trio was a staple of contemporary radio in the mid-2000s with “Heaven” and “More Than Love.” Tickets are $55 to $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s has a packed schedule; here are a just a few shows you may want to consider. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 5, Welsh musician and producer Cate Le Bon will be performing. Le Bon has toured with acts such as St. Vincent, Perfume Genius and John Grant—if that says something in regard to her talents. While she has a rock sound, she also goes into folk and pop territory. Tickets are $18. At 9 p.m., Saturday, July 20, up-and-coming country performer Gethen Jenkins will take the stage. Jenkins’ bio reads like a character out of a bad ass adventure novel—born in the West Virginia, raised in a rural Indian village in Alaska, a stint in the U.S. Marines, etc. He’s performed with the Marshall Tucker Band, Wanda Jackson and others. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Wednesday, July 31, on the eve of what will be the 15th and final Campout, Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery will be performing solo; Peter Case will also take the stage. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

When Guster went to Calgary to record the band’s new album, Look Alive, producer Leo Abrahams made it very clear: “The world doesn’t need another fucking Beatles pastiche!”

Guster, known for quirky folk rock and pop songs, has constantly evolved since the band started in 1991—now fusing colder sounds with the usual warmer sounds. Look Alive is by far Guster’s most bizarre and darkest album so far—and it’s brilliant.

For the first time, Guster will be appearing at Pappy and Harriet’s, on Saturday, July 13.

During an interview with frontman Ryan Miller, he agreed that Look Alive is the band’s most distinct album to date.

“I think if you saw us back in the ’90s or when we opened for Barenaked Ladies, and you’re just sort of plugging back in, it’s a pretty massive shift,” Miller said. “But I think every record is a different approach. This is the eighth record for us, and I don’t think we approached any of those records the same way. They were all super-informed by songwriting situations, instrumentation, and a lot by our producers. This one was really different; all of them have been different. But this one feels like more of a definitive statement.”

Miller said Abrahams was an appealing choice to produce the album for a number of reasons.

“We talked to a few different producers before we started it, and he said something pretty interesting about how all of our records have a warm vintage feel, and that we were super-cool Paul McCartney kind of dudes, and that we love The Band and The Kinks,” he said. “But he said, ‘I’m more interested in cold and icy sounds.’ I think that was really intriguing to us. It’s not like we wanted to chase the zeitgeist or be like, ‘This is the hit sounds that the kids are listening to!’ We’re very avid listeners and consumers of music, too. I listened to a James Blake record and was like, ‘Whoa, what is this?’ I think there was a purposeful idea of how we would approach this, and we gelled really quick with Leo.”

When the recording sessions began, they had to venture to Canada in the middle of winter.

“We were booked at a studio in El Paso, Texas, called the Sonic Ranch. Leo is from England. About two weeks before, he said, ‘I’m having trouble finding my visa, you guys.’ So we had to scramble and go to Canada. … We did a few weeks in Calgary and a week in Montreal. Then the visa issue was sorted out, and we did about a week in New York, and we also did a week in Los Angeles.”

Guster was once known for a sound with just two guitars and bongo drums. Miller said he is happy with how the band has evolved over the years.

“When I play the new stuff, it’s the most fun for me when we’re out on tour. But we just did this NPR show, and we really stripped it back to two acoustic guitars and a drum kit. We can present ourselves that way still, but I think we tire of those textures and rhythms over the course of a set. It’s really hard to be dynamic that way. I’ve seen few shows where it’s just dudes with acoustic guitars, and it feels compelling. Neil Young might be the exception. I think at this point in our career, the reason that we’re still able to keep going is because we keep it challenging and changing it for ourselves. I don’t think we’d still be a band after 26-plus years if we would have stayed in the same lane.”

Miller shared an amusing story from the band’s touring experiences in the ’90s.

“There was an infamous show at a very corporate festival that was put together … like it was done by someone who has never put on a concert before—like, ‘Let’s get the biggest names in music and put them on a festival together,’” Miller said. “It was us, The Tragically Hip, Barenaked Ladies, Limp Bizkit, and probably Metallica or something. It was sponsored by Oldsmobile. There was this huge Oldsmobile banner behind us, and they were showing commercials. I was freaking out, given I was in my 20s and was like, ‘I don’t know, man. This doesn’t feel right.’ Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip was there, and we were on the same label, and I told him about how I didn’t feel right about it and asked him what I should do. He said, ‘Speak your heart, Ryan.’ I said something into the microphone and got in a trouble with the people who were supposed to pay us, and it was documented in papers like the Chicago Tribune. That was some real low-hanging fruit for sure.”

Miller said the band’s popularity has led to some odd tour pairings.

“We opened up for Widespread Panic for an entire tour, and it was our first national tour. It was a disaster! Their fans hated our guts,” Miller said. “They hated us so much that they wouldn’t even go into the building. We’d finish playing, and 20,000 people would stream in. We were the go-to college band, and colleges would be like, ‘We’re going to do Guster for these guys, but we’re also going to do hip hop.’ We opened for Nelly, and we opened for Kanye West. There was no overlap between fan bases. I can’t believe we opened for Kanye; that’s crazy, in retrospect.”

Miller said one of his favorite things to do while on tour is check out the Atlas Obscura website for odd things to see in each place—and, of course, Pappy and Harriet’s is listed.

“I celebrated my 40th birthday there,” Miller said. “I took a few friends of mine from Los Angeles, and that was our first stop. I have crazy stories from that weekend. (Performing there) has been on the bucket list for a long time. It just ended up being part of a weirdo West Coast run that we’ve had in our dreams for a while.”

Guster will perform with Kolars at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 13, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $31. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Chris Shiflett’s new album, Hard Lessons, proves that he’s onto something with his high-energy, kick-ass rock-country sound.

After touring with the Foo Fighters behind the band’s 2017 release, Concrete and Gold, Shiflett released Hard Lessons in June and announced a four-date record-release tour—and one of those dates is Friday, July 12, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

During a recent phone interview before he was scheduled to go back to Europe with the Foo Fighters, Shiflett discussed how Hard Lessons was recorded in Nashville during a hectic time.

“I made this record in the middle of a Foo Fighters tour schedule,” Shiflett said. “We toured behind Concrete and Gold for about a year and a half, and in the middle of all that, if we had a week or two off, I’d head out to Nashville. It was kind of nuts.”

Shiflett said that he enjoys heading into the studio, even in the middle of a tour.

“When I go out to Nashville to record, I tend to feel pretty single-minded about it. I jump in the studio, and I’ll be in the studio all week,” he said. “… If I’m not in the studio, I’m back where I’m staying, making little tweaks on the lyrics or working out the guitar parts.

“If I had been home during that time—home is very busy. I’m married, and I have three kids. My kids are either teenagers or about to be teenagers, so life is very busy at home. Touring and going to record records is almost a more-relaxed environment for me nowadays.”

In the past, his solo records have offered more of an Americana or Bakersfield sound, but Hard Lessons is a Telecaster-plugged-into-a-Marshall-JCM800 blast of country-rock from beginning to end.

“It’s definitely a louder record than the last one, that’s for sure,” he said. “I think on one hand, that was certainly the influence of (producer) Dave Cobb, and he was pushing me in that direction. It also lends itself to having more fun when I go out and play these songs live. It works a little better in that environment, at least for me.”

While many country music fans are at odds with Nashville’s powerful grip on mainstream country music, Shiflett he respects the people working behind the scenes.

“(East Beach Records and Tapes) put out my record, and they are based out of Nashville, and they are wonderful. As far as the mainstream Nashville stuff goes, I have no experience in that scene,” Shiflett said. “I’ve never been in a band that sounds like that, and I don’t exist within that. I have a lot of friends out there who work in that world in one capacity or another. I find that a lot of the people who work behind the scenes and the studio musicians have deep musical taste. They’re cool and hard-working musicians just trying to get by. I have a lot of respect for people just trying to make a living through their craft, because it’s not easy.”

The Foo Fighters announced a hiatus in 2016—and it turned out to be a joke. In fact, the band has been busier than ever.

“We wrapped up touring for the last record in the fall. This year was intended to be a bit of a break, and it is by Foo Fighters standards, but we’re still doing shows,” Shiflett said. “We’re leaving to Europe to do some festivals, and then we’re going back over there in August to do a bunch more festivals. It’s not crazy busy, but we’re still playing.”

When I brought up the subject of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes—a supergroup Shiflett played in with Spike Slawson of Swingin’ Utters, Joey Cape and Dave Raun of Lagwagon, and Fat Mike of NOFX—he explained he was no longer involved.

“For a really long time, it was always the same five of us when it came time to record,” he said. “But Spike and his wife, who have both taken over the band, decided to start releasing music that I wasn’t on. That was a line in the sand for me. … It was always important to me that it stayed as the original five on the recordings, and that went out the window. That’s the end of my involvement in that.”

Shiflett said he’s happy to be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s for one of his four summer shows.

“I’m viewing these dates as my record-release shows,” he said. “We haven’t officially announced them yet, but I’ll have more shows coming up. Touring is always tough, because it’s the most time-consuming part of what we do. Time is the thing I have the least amount of to spare. Pappy and Harriet’s is one of my favorite venues in the whole world. The shows there are always great.”

Chris Shiflett will perform with Jade Jackson at 9 p.m., Friday, July 12, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Several weeks ago, I got an email from music photographer Christina Sanchez, asking me if I was going to see The Longshot at Pappy and Harriet’s. Sanchez does not often go to Pappy’s, and because she covers bands that almost guarantee you’ll get hurt in a mosh pit, I figured The Longshot was some hard-core punk band.

Nope: She later explained that The Longshot is Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s side project—and the band is on a small, intimate tour, which included a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s. Since Green Day can fill the Rose Bowl, I had to make sure I saw The Longshot last Monday.

I was tipped off that hardcore fans had tried to camp out the night before at Pappy and Harriet’s. With that in mind, I arrived at Pappy’s at 4:30 p.m., with doors opening at 5—and there was already a long line of people waiting to get in for a 9 p.m. indoor show. You could hear Armstrong’s voice during the sound check through the 80-year-old adobe walls, and I knew I was in for a treat—but hardcore fans also mean potential mayhem. Thankfully, I was able to get a spot near the stage behind some fans. Casual polling revealed they came from Indiana, England, France, Germany and Finland. Behind them was a group of younglings dressed exactly like the Karate Kid, with matching bandannas; and some fans who took punk fashion cues from Hot Topic. I gave myself 50/50 odds that I would break a bone, or worse, a camera.

Billie Joe Armstrong walked onstage and said, “Welcome to Pioneertown! Come a little closer. … Support your local taxi drivers!” The proclamation started the first tussles and pushing and moshing. Two songs in, Big Dave, the bouncer, ejected a man-bun-wearing, middle-aged German fan for moshing aggressively.

Armstrong seemed a little rusty, sharing with the crowd on several occasions, “I am forgetting the lyrics of the song.” This mattered little to the fans and was made up for by the vocal accompaniment of the audience. Armstrong pointed to the audience and asked, “Who is going to dance on the tables?” Fans went crazy when he played The Longshot song “Turn Me Loose,” followed by a cover of Clash’s “I Fought the Law.” After the song, Armstrong said, “You know? It’s so fucking beautiful in Pioneertown, Are you guys ready to go crazy?” followed by “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones.

Toward the end, Armstrong said, “Thank you, guys. We have one more song. This is called, ‘Chasing a Ghost.’ It’s a glorious evening in California. Good night! … Oh no, I know I forgot the lyric!” The audience seamlessly filled in any lyrical gaps. Armstrong then said goodnight before returning with a three-song encore: “Ziggy Stardust,” “Kiss Me Deadly” by Generation X and “Fever Blister” by The Longshot.

It was a special night. I left as a new fan of Billie Joe Armstrong.

Published in Reviews

When Juli Crockett of the Evangenitals called, I asked her how she felt about the band returning, yet again, to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

“We can only go so long without returning to the source!” she replied.

The Evangenitals band has become a Pappy and Harriet’s regular due to its popularity among the crowd, and will be returning on Saturday, June 29.

Crockett explained the mutual love between Pappy’s and the Evangenitals, a self-described “folked-up genre-bending good time band.”

“We try to keep it on a schedule of at least once every three months, or at least once a season,” Crockett said. “Every time we play, we kind of start the process of, ‘When is the next time we can come back?’ Robyn (Celia, Pappy’s co-owner) loves us, and we love Pappy’s.

“It’s funny, because people in Los Angeles ask us where we play locally, and we always say, ‘Um, Pappy and Harriet’s?’ We’d always rather take the trek to the desert and play there than play in Los Angeles.”

In 2014, the Evangenitals released Moby Dick; or, The Album. Since then, there have no new Evangenitals recordings.

“After you do an album on Moby Dick, the question is, ‘OK, now what?’ You’ve taken on a literary epic,” Crockett explained. “One of the jokes that we have is (our) repertoire is so gigantic. We have so many songs, and we’re so behind schedule in releasing them. We’ve been trying to catch up. The working title that we’ve been talking about forever for the next album is The 100-Song Demo. Everybody asks us, ‘What kind of music do you play?’ And we’re like, ‘Hmm, I dunno.’ We can always say, ‘Well, you can listen to our demo; it’s 100 songs!’ We figured that should fulfill the requirements for an epic follow-up and give people a real overview of the things we do.”

How, exactly, would a 100-song demo work?

“How do you release such a thing? Are we really going to release an eight-volume album?” Crockett said. “I recently gave a CD to a millennial artist who I met on the Melissa Etheridge Cruise, but she’s like, ‘I don’t own a CD player! Who owns a CD player anymore?’ So … our idea is to release the 100-song demo as a podcast, so every episode is another song, but then after 20-odd episodes, we’ll release these in albums, and call (the first one) Season 1. I also want to do the 100-song livestream where we actually play them all over a span of 24 hours. We’ll move from being a band into performance artists.”

Wait, the Melissa Etheridge Cruise?

“It was amazing. It’s ruined cruises for us forever. It was incredible,” Crockett said. “Her cruise is its own floating country. It was such an incredible experience. For one, just the demographic: The cruise was 93 percent women, so it was just the energetic difference of not being in a patriarchal society, (but instead a society) dominated by women. It was like being in the Amazonian culture for a week.

“It was such a bad-ass, loving, supportive, talented group of people, from the artists to the fans. My husband, Michael (Feldman), who plays keyboards in the band, said it was such a weird experience, because of the 7 percent of men on the cruise, 1 percent of them were in the Evangenitals. He said it was an interesting experience to see every conversation and every important decision made between women. Women were the deciders of everything. I got to kick off the ’80s-night show in a metallic thong singing Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy.’ I’m still having a hard time coming back from that experience.”

One of the obvious influences of the Evangenitals is Ween.

“We’ve been playing ‘Alone’ from The Pod album a lot lately. That’s one of our favorite things to play right now, period,” Crockett said. “Sometimes we do ‘Cold Blows the Wind’ from The Mollusk album. It’s a Chinese poem that they sing that goes into our sea-shanty aquatic theme. We’re actually going to license ‘Alone,’ because we’ve been working on a recording of that.”

I asked Crockett what the best part of an Evangenitals show is.

“I have no idea what it’s like to see our band, because I’m in it, so I’m always asking, ‘What is this like for a human being to come to Pappy and Harriet’s and be like, What the fuck is happening?’ The feedback that I get that I love the most is that it’s so different than what anyone’s expectation might be. If you think it’s going to be a punk band, it’s like, ‘Yeah, but there’s this other stuff.’ If you think it’s going to be a country band, it’s the same thing. People tell me how life-affirming it is, because it’s so open, so dynamic, and so full of love and humor—which I feel is what the world needs right now. That’s why we keep it so open in terms of genre and everything else.

“There’s a Kierkegaard quote that says (paraphrased), ‘Either God is everything, or God is nothing.’ Part of the Evangenitals is, ‘God is everything, including the fucking shit on the ground, anal sex and anything else you can think of.’ You don’t have to exclude parts of yourself to be alive or have an experience.”

The Evangenitals will perform with The Shadow Mountain Band at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 29, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

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