CVIndependent

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Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

In 2013, a new band with a funny name played its first show.

In 2017, Upper Class Poverty is still playing live shows—including a late October gig at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, opening for Michale Graves, the former lead singer of the Misfits. Some recorded material may be coming soon, too.

I spoke to the band at The Hood Bar and Pizza, where the band will perform on Saturday, Nov. 18, during a benefit show for Hollace’s Alex Perez, who is battling brain cancer

“The first show we ever played was here at The Hood Bar and Pizza,” drummer Corwin Hendricks said. “It was back when they first opened this location, because I was working here at the time and booking the bands, so I figured we’d just throw ourselves in there. We had a different bass-player at the time; we had our buddy Chaz Shapiro playing bass with us.”

Videos from that first show can be found on the Internet.

“Some of our only live footage that we have on YouTube is from that show,” said guitarist and lead vocalist Rob Lawrence. “When we watch it, we think, ‘We weren’t too bad for our first show.’

“We’ve always loved The Hood. We were in a band before this one called Sol Jah Rock, and (in that band) was the first time I had ever sang and played guitar at a venue, when The Hood was at the original location down the street from here.”

Corwin Hendricks’ brother, Michael, replaced Chaz Shapiro in Upper Class Poverty.

“It took a while to persuade me to be in the band,” Michael Hendricks said. “They moved in with me and played their last show with Chaz—and then Chaz moved. I was just like, ‘I don’t want to do the band thing anymore.’ And then slowly, they were like, ‘We have a show coming up. Do you want to play the bass?’ I said OK, given I really liked the music. That’s the cool thing about it—plus I get to play with my brother and my best friend.”

The band members are recording some of the songs they have been playing over the past four years at their home studio.

“It’s in the midst right now. Mikey is actually doing a lot of the production and engineering,” Lawrence said. “I don’t know if we have an ETA for when it’s all done, but I’m hoping sometime soon. Don’t get too excited. I’ve put down a bunch of guitar tracks, and they aren’t sounding exactly like I want them to sound, so we don’t want to rush it. We said three months ago about three months ago, and it’s not where we want it to be yet. After this album is done, we’ll probably have another new album’s worth of material to play live.”

When I asked what’s been hardest for the band since it formed, Michael Hendricks said it’s always been a struggle.

“It’s a continuous struggle, and that’s what the name represents, Upper Class Poverty,” he said. “We try to do the best we can with the funds that we have, and we’ve put ourselves in poverty to do so. The toughest period is now—because it always is now. What you expect of your life and the money you make never adds up.”

The members explained how the band’s name came to be.

“It was supposed to be a song, and it was our original bass-player, Chaz, who came to Corwin and me after we stopped playing in Sol Jah Rock,” Lawrence explained. “He was like, ‘I had a great idea for a song name, and lately, I’ve been thinking it’d be a really cool band name.’ He told us the name, and we were like, ‘Bro, we have to use that as the band name, not a song, because that’s the perfect band name.’ It represents everything that we’ve gone through and that we stand for. I’ve always been pretty broke, trying to make ends meet. But we love it because we get to go to really cool places and play our songs for awesome people, and we party. It’s a win-win situation. We’re pretty blessed, and we’re lucky people.”

There is one show in the band’s existence that the members said they’ll never forget.

“The backyard show that we did—Schmidy’s Tavern closed, and we bought their stage and put it in the backyard at our house in Thousand Palms, and we had Corwin’s birthday party there,” Michael Hendricks said. “We had a bunch of really cool bands, cool people, and it was just a good time. It was a really memorable show. As for our neighbors … it’s in Thousand Palms.”

Corwin Hendricks fondly remembered that birthday show. “We had six bands, and it was like a small music festival. We had acoustic acts between the bands. It was just a good time. We were competing with a mariachi band that was playing next door.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/upperclasspoverty.

Published in Previews

Traffic is increasing on Highway 111. Pumpkin spice lattes (ew!) are here. Yep … fall has arrived, and that means season is here, too—and October has plenty of events great for locals, snowbirds and tourists.

The McCallum Theatre is reopening for the season—and it is opening with a bang. The first event of the McCallum’s season, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, features comedian/actor Bill Murray performing with cellist Jan Vogler, violinist Mira Wang and pianist Vanessa Perez. This collaboration will meld Bill Murray’s love for classical music with the world of literature. Tickets are $57 to $107. At noon, Sunday, Oct. 22, the McCallum will be holding its Sixth Annual Family Fun Day. The event will feature Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live. Tickets are $10 to $30. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, get in the spirit (no pun intended) with Dia de Los Muertos Live. The Day of the Dead celebration will feature the Grammy Award-winning Latin band La Santa Cecilia; the Latin tribute to Morrissey and the Smiths known as Mexrrissey; and the Grammy-nominated Mariachi Flor de Toloache. Tickets are $27 to $67. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a very busy month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6, get ready to get physical, because Olivia Newton-John will be stopping by. The Grease star is still in high demand and just released a new album, Liv On, with Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, it’ll be a double bill when The Isley Brothers and The Commodores perform. I’ve seen the Commodores perform before, and I can say this: The group puts on a show that you will never forget. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 20, Fleetwood Mac members Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie will take the stage. It appears Fleetwood Mac will be going on a farewell tour in 2018. That’s great … but I don’t believe it will be a “farewell” by any means. Tickets are $49 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a packed October that includes two sold-out Van Morrison shows, so consider these other great events. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 20, country music singer and songwriter Randy Houser will be performing. He’s known for penning the hit country song “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” with Jamey Johnson, which was recorded by Trace Adkins. He’s also had success with his song “Boots On.” Tickets are $45 to $65. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 26, blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa (upper right) will be in concert. Bonamassa is on the list of modern greats in the blues world, and he’s performed with Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, Buddy Guy and many others. He was opening shows for BB King before he was 18. Tickets are $89 to $149. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, renowned crooner Johnny Mathis will be stopping by. After 65 years in the industry, Mathis is Columbia Records’ longest-signed artist. He’s never had a slump and has continued to perform sold-out shows all over the world. However, this show hadn’t sold out as of our press time, so get your tickets quick! They’re $90 to $120. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has some compelling Saturday events in October. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 14, Latin-music star Espinoza Paz will be performing. In Mexico, they call him “the people’s singer-songwriter.” He’s one of the most popular performers there, and if you’re a Latin-music fan, this is one you won’t want to miss. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, controversial comedian Andrew Dice Clay will do his act. The Diceman is known for his extremely raunchy comedy, and he smokes while offending the masses. Women’s groups have put him on their hit lists, and he’s been banned by many television networks. Warning: His comedy is not for the faint at heart. Clay also believes that Donald Trump stole his comedy routine and used his persona during his presidential campaign. Tickets are $30 to $50. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a busy October—but it seems most of the shows are already sold out. However, at noon, Saturday, Oct. 7, you can get out your lederhosen for Oktoberfest. There will be authentic Bavarian brews and brats, as well as some fun and games. Tickets are $20 to $30. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Stop me if I am repeating myself: Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a busy October … but some of the shows have already sold out. However, as of this writing, there were still tickets left for some great events. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, jazz organist/pianist and gospel musician Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles will be performing. He’s a two-time Grammy Award winner, and he played the Apollo Theater when he was just 6 years old. His 2016 album The Revival reached No. 5 on the Billboard gospel chart. Tickets are $20. At 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 20, indie-supergroup The Skiffle Players (below) will visit. This band includes Cass McCombs and members of both Beachwood Sparks and Circles Around the Sun. This is a fantastic-sounding folk project that will be perfect for a night at Pappy’s. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, the Los Angeles string-band Moonsville Collective will play. Plan on hearing a lot of harmonies, mandolin, banjos and upright bass. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Now, for some shameless self-promotion: The Hood Bar and Pizza is where you will want to be at 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, for CV Independent Presents Sinner Sinners, Throw the Goat and Dali’s Llama. Sinner Sinners is a fantastic punk-rock band from Los Angeles—but its founders, Steve and Sam Thill, are from Paris, France. They’ve collaborated and toured with Eagles of Death Metal, and recently recorded a new album, Optimism Disorder, at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is back in action. Just so you know, at 7 p.m. every Sunday, owner Michael Holmes performs The Judy Show, a comedy-based drag show devoted to Judy Garland. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6, Kal David and Lori Bono and the Real Deal will take the stage. Kal David has had an impressive career; the native Chicagoan and his wife are residents of the desert and perform locally often. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, Iris Williams will be performing a benefit show for the Love and Love Tennis Foundation. The Welsh cabaret-style singer is well-known for her performance of the song “He Was Beautiful,” and she had her own television series on the BBC. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

Satellite Sky is one of the best bands from Los Angeles’ underground scene that you’ve probably never heard of.

See what you’re missing by checking out the band’s show at The Hood Bar and Pizza at 10 p.m., Saturday, June 24.

I had the opportunity to check out the brother-and-sister duo from Australia back in February at The Echo in Los Angeles. The sound the two of them put out was incredible—and even won over my metalhead friend, Frank Skalsky.

“We’re brother and sister, and we’ve been playing music together for quite a while,” Kim Kicks said during a recent phone interview with both of the siblings. “Through playing various bands together over the years, it’s come down to this two-piece, and we absolutely love it.”

Satellite Sky eventually settled in Los Angeles.

“We grew up in Melbourne, Australia, jamming out in Mom and Dad’s garage,” Pete Kicks said. “Eventually, they thought we were proficient enough in our instruments, and we formed a couple of bands back in Australia and started touring around. We had an opportunity to come from overseas with a different band we were in, and when we got to Los Angeles, that band didn’t work out, and we decided to write some music as the two of us—and it took off from there.

“We’ve been going on now about five or six years. It’s a long flight from Melbourne, and we found ourselves trying to come back over here twice a year. It just seemed like there were opportunities in licensing our music in film and TV, and we wouldn’t have had that if we stayed back in Australia. We pride ourselves in being a live band that can draw people in with performances, and we can back up what we record playing live. We also felt there were touring opportunities here.”

Kim Kicks said Los Angeles simply felt right.

“Every time we came to Los Angeles, we felt a good vibe, and felt that it was a place we needed to be,” said Kim Kicks. “It felt like there was a lot of opportunity here, and instead of just passing through from time to time, we felt the need to be here. Australia is great, but it’s very small. There are a lot of great Australian bands who are content with just touring in Australia. Maybe they have families or something, but we’re travelers at heart. We love to travel. We love to get in the van, get on the road and experience new cultures and people. I think people forget they love rock ’n’ roll until it’s in front of their face. In America, there are a lot of other genres of music that are very popular, but when people find themselves in front of a rock ’n’ roll band, they love it. But they don’t know it until it’s in front of their face.”

Pete Kicks said when they started out in Australia, they played with a lot of rock bands. However, today, they don’t find a lot of Australian rock bands at big international events.

“What we’ve noticed over the years when we’ve played at South by Southwest is that there were eight to 10 Australian bands, and we were the only rock band that was playing this event,” he said. “I don’t know what the reason was, but it was more folk, synth and pop bands. That’s great in regards to what is being exported, but as far as the actual rock scene back in Australia, it shaped who we are as artists, and we were really lucky to have a lot of contemporaries when we started out.”

Satellite Sky has had some success in getting the band’s music in commercials and television shows.

“We landed a song in an NBC Olympics campaign in 2012. They used our song ‘Got This Feeling,’ and they picked three bands and we were one of them. The Black Keys were another band who did as well,” Pete Kicks said. “That got our foot in the door, and we’ve landed some music on shows for ABC and a couple of commercials, one of which was for Spotify, with our song ‘Next Time.’ It’s definitely one of those things where you might not land something every week, but once every few months or once a year makes a difference. It exposes you to a whole new audience.”

Playing as a duo can be hard, but it works to Satellite Sky’s advantage. Pete Kicks talked about how a bass player once had to sit out a tour due to commitments with his day job.

“We weren’t going to go on this tour, because he couldn’t make it. We worked out a way to play as a two-piece,” Pete Kicks said. “I have two guitar amps and pedals that can run with channels, so I can run a bass sound and a guitar sound. We’ve experimented with backing tracks for live shows. I think it’s great for touring, because you can pack a lot more into a van, but we both know we’re on the same page with what we’re trying to achieve. We have the confidence to say, ‘There’s no right or wrong anymore.’ The right way is whatever is right for you. We found as a two-piece that it doesn’t really limit us. We don’t feel we’ve compromised what we do onstage in any way. One of the compliments we get when we step off stage is what a big sound we have for a two-piece.”

The show at The Hood will mark the desert debut for Satellite Sky.

“We’re really excited,” Kim Kicks said. “We have some friends out there, and we don’t know what to expect. We’ve always wanted to stop through there on tour. We’re excited because it’s something different.”

Pete Kicks said he knows a little about the local music scene.

“We’ve heard there’s a great rock scene there over the years—a lot of bands that we’ve listened to in Australia,” he said. “I think it’ll be great to get out there, and we’re really amped to get out there and play.”

Satellite Sky will perform at 10 p.m., Saturday, June 24, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on Satellite Sky, visit www.satelliteskymusic.com.

Published in Previews

Summer is upon us—officially, even, as of the night of June 20. Why don’t you beat the heat and enjoy a great show or two?

Agua Caliente Casino Report Spa’s June schedule is a little light, but there are a couple of things worth mentioning (beyond a sold-out Moody Blues show on Saturday, June 3). At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 17, you’ll need to get your shout-outs to your “shorty in lockdown” ready, because the Art LaBoe Summer Love Jam will return. All joking aside, there’s some great music on the lineup this year. Funk legend ZAPP is one of the acts worth going to see, as the group has been sampled by several hip-hop artists, including Dr. Dre. Tickets are $45 to $65. If you never got to see Pink Floyd play a live show, you missed out, since the members have stated there will be no reunion—ever. But at 9 p.m., Friday, June 30, you can experience Pink Floyd’s music set to lasers at Paramount’s Laser Spectacular. Some of these laser shows with Pink Floyd’s music can be pretty cool—plus it beats sitting at home watching Netflix. Tickets are $20 to $30. 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 just one big show in June—but it’s huge. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, get ready for some serious laughs, because Chris Rock will be stopping by. Chris Rock has been incredible to watch over the years, given how well he always reflects the times in his stand-up routine. I still love the bit he did about Lil’ Jon and rap music, which has become one of his best-known standup moments. Tickets are $89 to $149. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29’s entertainment slate for June is also a little light, but there is one thing you won’t want to miss (aside from the Ziggy Marley show, which you can read about on Friday, June 2, here at CVIndependent.com): At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 24, Los Chicos del 512 will be performing a tribute to Selena. The group will perform all of Selena’s music that you know and love. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa has several great events on the calendar. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, Marlon Wayans will bring the funny; tickets are $23 to $29. Be sure to check out my interview with him here. That same night, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 2, power-pop band The Romantics (upper right) will perform. This is a show you should see if you’re a true rock ’n’ roll fan. The Romantics had a couple of big hit songs: “What I Like About You” and “Talking In Your Sleep.” The band’s lineup once included Blondie drummer Clem Burke; he’s no longer with the band, but three original members are! Tickets are $20. Keeping with the ’80s theme, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 16, new-wave band The Motels will be appearing. The Motels had one or two hits in the ’80s and then faded away, before re-forming in 1998. Martha Davis still fronts the band—and still believes in the music. Tickets are $20. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will be the place to go this summer for great live music—and the venue’s June calendar is packed. Read my interview with the Tijuana Panthers here; the band will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, and tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight will take the stage. Rhodes was once the front man of the Los Angeles punk band Human Therapy, and now performs in this spectacular alt-country band. If you can’t make it to the show, at least check out the band on the streaming services. I can almost guarantee you’ll like it. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 10, New Orleans R&B/country band The Deslondes will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. The band’s New Orleans sound is timeless; The Deslondes really do have something going for themselves. After seeing the group perform at Stagecoach, I can tell you it’s a fun band to watch. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 24, psychedelic rock band The Black Lips will be returning. The band’s shows are often pretty insane. While they’ve behaved themselves at Pappy and Harriet’s the last couple of times, they’ve been known to get naked, vomit, set things on fire and so on. War Drum front man Jack Kohler once told me a story about how when he worked for the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, he was told to deliver shaving cream to the band’s hotel room—and found the band shaving a group of women from head to toe. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has some familiar names returning in June. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, June 2 and 3, America’s favorite dragapella group, The Kinsey Sicks, will be performing the Things You Shouldn’t Say show. Tickets are $30 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 17, The Buddy Holly Review will do its thing. As a fan of Buddy Holly, I’ve been interested in this show; I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 30, there will be a benefit for the American Cancer Society featuring Debby Holiday (below). Debby Holiday is a star on the rise with two hit singles, “Never Give Up” and “Key to Your Soul.” Tickets are $25 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a couple of events, starring local bands, that are worth your consideration. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, there will be a metal show with Drop Mob, Perishment, Instigator and In the Name of the Dead. Considering how long as Drop Mob has been around, it’s good to see the band finally being noticed. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Thursday, June 8, Courtney Chambers, Caxton, and 5th Town will take the stage. This should be a fun show; all of the bands are female-fronted—and rather talented. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

In the summer of 2015, I visited music producer Ronnie King’s studio, “Chateau Relaxo,” in Thermal as the Yip Yops recorded a new album.

At the time, the Yip Yops seemed ready to take the mainstream-music world by storm. The young band had just signed with talent-management company Hood and Associates, which was helping the band create that aforementioned album.

Shortly after that August 2015 article came out, the band’s name was changed to IIIZ. However, after a performance at the 111 Music Festival under that name in the fall, the band announced it had left Hood and Associates and was returning to its original name. Nonetheless, Hood and Associates released the album under the IIIZ name. (Today, the Yip Yops disavow that album.)

However, talent wins out—and the Yip Yops are as popular as ever, as shown by the band’s addition to the Coachella lineup. In between Saturday Coachella performances, the band will play at The Hood Bar and Pizza with the Flusters on Thursday, April 20.

I caught up with frontman Ison Van Winkle and drummer Ross Murakami in Palm Desert to discuss what happened with Hood and Associates.

“Basically, we were a younger, less-experienced band,” Van Winkle said. “We were promised the world, and we believed it. We thought it would be an interesting journey. It just ended up being the worst-case scenario. They wanted to push us in a direction that we didn’t have any desire to go in, and in the moment, we were trying to be open, collaborative and cooperative. … We grew a lot in that process, and looking back on it, we’re a much stronger band and stronger friends. In that situation … we knew we had an out, and we decided to exercise it and void the contract. It was bullshit what they did, and they were completely out of line.”

Murakami said they were saved by a good lawyer.

“The whole thing was a learning experience,” he said. “Now we’re moving forward. In a way, we were prepared for the worst-case scenario. Our lawyer wrote up the contract in a pretty smart way. We didn’t like them, and we didn’t want to be a part of that anymore. Now we’re free.”

Van Winkle said other local publications have incorrectly written about the band’s status, adding that one publication—which he would not name—incorrectly reported that the band members don’t have the rights to their own music.

“We’ve been completely free with no ties whatsoever for the past year,” Van Winkle said. “I think there’s a big misconception, because there have been other articles and such, where people ask if we own the music, and, ‘How can they play these songs live?’ We own the songs, and we have owned the songs this entire time. The way that it was all set up was that we licensed them to use the recordings from Ronnie King’s studio—that’s it. They still have that right, and they can do with (the recordings) what they want. We don’t really care for those recordings, anyway. That’s it, and that’s where the line is drawn. We own all the music; we own all the rights to play it live; and we feel that needs to be pretty clear.”

Van Winkle said Hood and Associates was very controlling during the recording process of that album released under the IIIZ name.

“We don’t think that Ronnie King was able to produce to his full potential because of the label we were working with,” Van Winkle said. “It was a controlled environment, and he would tell us his frustrations as we would tell him ours. Our insight into working with Ronnie King on those sessions is not the Ronnie King most people work with. It was a very controlling, very grueling process.”

The Yip Yops have started to record again.

“We wanted to do some recording and remind ourselves of what we set out to accomplish,” Van Winkle said. “We wanted to do it ourselves and not with anyone else. We’re going to control what it sounds like, and looking back at those recordings, everyone in our band feels they are eons better than what we did with the label. … It was a good reboot to everything. Since then, we’ve never stopped.”

The Yip Yops played with the Flusters on April 20 last year at The Hood Bar and Pizza, and also played at the Flusters’ EP release party last September. That second show was sold out, and The Hood Bar and Pizza’s security team had to turn away people long before 10 p.m., when the Yip Yops took the stage.

“The Flusters are always an amazing band to be working with,” Murakami said. “We’ve had a lot of meetings and calls, and it’s always been so fun to be working on something with the Flusters.”

Van Winkle said the Yip Yops have a lot in common with the Flusters; for example, the bands have similar goals.

“Both of our bands have a similar vision for the potential both of us have—just the drive and desire to keep progressing and keep getting out there,” Van Winkle said. “Both bands realize that this is our home, and it always will be, but to do what we feel the music has a potential to do, you have to get out and expand. Neither one of us wants to just play The Hood every weekend; we want more than that, and there’s more there. It’s good to have that, because we can push each other and reach that goal.”

Van Winkle said  the Yip Yops have no regrets about where they’ve been during the past two years. He also explained where the band is at in the recording process.

“The main question we always get asked is, ‘Where can we hear your music?’ or, ‘When are you going to come out with some music?’” he said. “We know there’s a demand and an interest for it, at least locally, and from our point of view, we want to fulfill that desire, but we want to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward. We want to make sure what we put out can last longer than we can. With that, it’s taken us a little longer.”

The Yip Yops will perform with The Flusters and Quay at 8 p.m., Thursday, April 20, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $8. For more information on the Yip Yops, visit www.yipyops.com.

Published in Previews

The Hood Bar and Pizza, arguably the valley’s top local-music venue, has some talented people behind the bar—and beyond, including bar-back Elexia Volz. Volz is always walking around with a smile, offering people drink refills, delivering food and making sure all guests are well taken care of. Elexia was kind enough to recently answer The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

Thrice! It was at Coachella. It was stupid-early in the day, and there was hardly even a crowd, but I was in heaven. I didn’t know they were playing. I was invited by a friend, and when we got there, I could hear them in the distance, and my first reaction was, “Oh, cool, someone is blasting Thrice!” Of course, my friend was like, “No! They’re actually playing main stage,” and then I remember running straight to the stage. I will never forget that show.

What was the first album you owned?

Green Day’s Dookie. It was totally my mom’s, but the moment I got my own CD player, that disc didn’t leave my room.

What bands are you listening to right now?

A Kiss Could Be Deadly and Murkocet. They’re definitely different types of music, but I have them stuck on a loop. I got to witness Murkocet live recently, and I ended up jumping out of the mosh pit just to watch and listen. They blew my mind!

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

I’ve never enjoyed Mariah Carey. I think she sounds like she’s giving birth, and someone thought it sounded like music. But who am I to judge?

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

Protest the Hero.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Lady Gaga.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Gorge in George, Wash. I went and saw the Dave Matthews Band. It was a three-day concert, and the entire experience was life-changing. 

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

“Shitty music just ain’t worth making, smiles and thank-yous just ain’t worth faking, some assholes’ hands ain't worth shaking, and if it isn’t broken, we need to break it,” “Dunsel,” Protest the Hero.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Eminem. I realized a human could also be a dictionary, and he made me pay attention to lyrics. He opened up a brand-new world of music for me. I remember how excited I would get just to be able to sing “Without Me” word for word.

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

I’d ask Brody Dalle of The Distillers: “Can I borrow/wear that?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers.

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

The Dillinger Escape Plan, One of Us Is the Killer.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Vince Staples, “Norf Norf,” just so you can drink your coffee, put on some gangster rap and have a great day! (Scroll down to hear it; explicit lyrics.)

Published in The Lucky 13

Throw the Goat is a local band that’s finally starting to get the recognition it deserves.

The band has two full albums to its credit—Black Mountain (2012) and Blood, Sweat and Beers (2015). Last year, the band released a new EP, Vote Goat, and picked up a new drummer, The Sweat Act and 5th Town’s Troy Whitford. Catch the group in action at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Saturday, Jan. 21, and The Date Shed on Saturday, Feb. 4.

During a recent interview before a practice session at Whitford’s home in Palm Desert, we talked about the band’s name.

“It’s kind of the Ronnie James Dio heavy-metal handshake (like the devil horns gesture),” guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell said. “There’s also this thing in Spain where these golden eagles co-exist with mountain goats, and it’s part of their food chain: If there’s a wandering goat on the side of a mountain, a golden eagle will come down and lift it up, and drop it off the side of the cliff, which tenderizes it, and then they pick up the whole fucking thing and take it back to their nest. There are videos of it on YouTube. It’s awesome! You gotta check it out.”

Throw the Goat actually calls Idyllwild home.

“It’s actually benefited us more than anything,” Parnell said. “It’s a small town; everybody knows each other, and in the really early days, we would get a lot of people from the town itself who would come to any show we would play—but I wouldn’t call us ‘big fish in a small pond.’”

Frontman and bassist Michael Schnalzer said that being from Idyllwild has helped the group when playing out of town.

“It’s an easy way to stand out when we play in places like Los Angeles,” Schnalzer said. “People usually say, ‘Where the hell is Idyllwild?’ We’re probably one of two or three actual bands up there. I think we’re the only original band currently playing in Idyllwild. Most of the other bands are cover bands that play on the weekends at the restaurants. I’d say it’s helped us a lot and given us an identity we wouldn’t have had if we tried to be a band in a major market like Los Angeles. Plus, we get to drive a lot!”

Throw the Goat has been called a metal band by some, and a punk band by others. So what is Throw the Goat’s real sound?

“When we figure that out, we’ll let you know,” Parnell said with a laugh. “We don’t sound like The Stooges or The Ramones. But when we play to punk crowds, people are like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ and when we play to metal crowds, people are like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ Every show we walk away from, there’s always somebody who’s blown away by it. There’s usually one person who comes up to us and says, ‘I’m not usually into that kind of music, but I love what it is you guys do.’ Whatever ‘that kind of music’ is, we’re pretty clueless.”

Schnalzer said he does not care much for labels.

“We set out to play guitar-based music in a slightly oppressive manner, which could be punk, metal, rock or any sub-genre you want to put a label on,” Schnalzer said. “I’ve never been one to listen to just one type of music. I also don’t identity as exclusively metal or punk. I’ve always listened to all of it. I think on Black Mountain, there’s more of a rock and metal spectrum. But there’s punk in there, too. Blood, Sweat and Beers is like a punk/thrash spectacle, but there’s some metal in there. The new EP is more punk than anything we’ve ever done, but there are some Top 40 arena-rock songs. If you like loud guitars and abrasive vocals, you’ll like Throw the Goat.”

Schnalzer explained how Whitford came to join the group.

“We were looking around for a new drummer, and when we played with The Sweat Act a few times, the first thing I noticed was Troy,” Schnalzer said. “Troy’s drumming stood out, and he was killing it. We’ve been Sweat Act fans since the first time we saw them. We knew we wanted to go in another direction as far as drumming goes, and Troy was the first person we actually hit up.”

Whitford said that when Parnell sent him a message on Facebook, he suspected an invitation to join the group was coming.

“For me, at the time that it happened, my wife was a bigger Throw the Goat fan than I was. It took Brian about 30 minutes to ask me, but I was star-struck. Within the first two minutes, I knew he was going to ask, but I just wanted to see how long I could keep him going,” Whitford said with a laugh. “‘You had me 29 minutes ago. You had me at: Hey, Troy.’” 

Whitford said he feels at home in Throw the Goat.

“I’ve had their songs stuck in my head since the first practice,” he said. “The second band I was ever in was this kind of band, and it’s always been the kind of music that I’ve followed, especially when it comes to tempo. To be part of it now, it’s amazing to me. I can’t wait to play our first show—especially with how fast things have been happening, and the music has been progressing. It is a little different, and I feel like the way that I play and my influences, I bring more of a punk side to it that makes it a little less metal.”

The beer of choice for Throw the Goat: Pabst Blue Ribbon. In fact, Throw the Goat received a grant from Pabst Blue Ribbon.

“They don’t officially sponsor bands,” Schnalzer said. “They gave us $1,000. Any artist can apply to Pabst Blue Ribbon for grants, because it’s part of their branding right now. They’re trying to support DIY musicians and artists trying to do their thing. That’s a cool thing they do. They’re hands-on with all the people they support. For us, it’s a big refund on all the beer we’ve drank. We’ve been drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon since day one.”

Whitford, however, has had to readjust to the iconic lowbrow beer.

“It was my beer of choice until I became a beer snob,” Whitford said. “It’s nice to put it back in my system. Now, I can put down $2 or $3, and it’s like two full mugs of beer. I’m building up my tolerance.”

Throw the Goat will perform with Murkocet, Bridger and Perishment at 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free; visit the Throw the Goat Facebook page for more information. Throw the Goat will play with Mondo Generator and Doors to Nowhere at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4, at The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., in Indio. Admission is $10; visit www.dateshedmusic.com for more info.

Published in Previews

The word “bingo” usually invokes images of a church hall, a smoke-filled room and old ladies.

Then there’s The Hood Bar and Pizza’s weekly bingo event—which has none of these things. Instead, every Tuesday night, this punk-rock pizza bar is the site of Drag Queen Bingo.

The host of Drag Queen Bingo is Sham Ibrahim, a pop artist and television personality. Some may be surprised that The Hood’s regular clientele of punk-rockers, rock ’n’ rollers and lovable misfits has heartily embraced the event—but once you see Ibrahim in action, you’ll understand the popularity. As a host, Ibrahim doesn’t just call numbers; he also tells jokes that are flat-out raunchy, and he’s even known to sing songs between games.

Originally from Peoria, Ill., Ibrahim was born to immigrant parents. He left home for San Francisco at the age of 17. He attended the Academy of Art College and then moved to Los Angeles, where he found his way into films and commercials. During a recent interview at The Hood Bar and Pizza, Ibrahim talked about how he got started.

“The first time I put on makeup, I was about 3 years old,” Ibrahim said. “I came into drag quite naturally. I didn’t really start performing until much later. When I moved to San Francisco, I was surrounded by the most amazing drag queens and performers who were just incredible. … When I was 19, I got a job as a go-go dancer with a fake ID. When I was 19 and a go-go dancer, someone approached me about being in a movie with Timothy Hutton. It was a really small part in the movie. That led to me moving to Hollywood when I was 20. I worked in show business, and when I say show business, I mean you need to get yourself a fucking magnifying glass—but trust and believe me: I am in every fucking movie and commercial from 2000 to 2006. I made my whole living off of it, and joined the union, and I moved to Palm Springs when I was almost 30. I thought it was my retirement, and I would give up on Hollywood.”

However, retirement was not in the cards.

“The whole time I was doing all this, I was an artist. That was my main thing,” Ibrahim said. “I did digital portraits and digital artwork. When I moved to Palm Springs, I had this crazy resurgence of energy. I thought it was over, and I was throwing in the towel on show business and Hollywood. But things are better than they ever were for me now. I think the desert is magical: There’s this magic in the Coachella Valley that is nowhere else in the world. My art and my career flourished more here than I ever could have dreamed. When I thought I was going to give up in 2013, I got a call from an old contact, and they were doing Fashion Week in Los Angeles, and they wanted me to hang my art. I thought, ‘Fuck this: I’m going to get my drag on and do the best art possible.’”

A piece of art that Ibrahim did featuring Lindsay Lohan wound up making him the talk of Fashion Week.

“It was making fun of her going to jail,” Ibrahim said. “Lindsay Lohan came that night to Fashion Week, and I gave her the portrait. Honey, the press didn’t talk about anything else! Read the news! A video guy caught a little piece of it. Her manager took one look at the clown you see before you and was like, ‘No! You stay away!’ Lindsay is walking in, and the cameras are flashing, and I said, ‘Lindsay, I just want to give you something.’ Lindsay herself looked at that portrait up and down—and it’s like a tabloid and has a photo of her crying and shit. She looked at it, knew damn well what it was, and she goes to the manager lady: ‘We’re taking that! We want that!’”

All of a sudden, Ibrahim found himself in demand. He’s since appeared on reality television shows including Vanderpump Rules, K.Michelle: My Life and Botched. He’s also sold more art than ever—and there is more to come.

“I’m taping two new shows, and they’re in the can,” Ibrahim said. “They make you sign contracts, so I can’t talk about it. But I never dreamed this would happen.”

When Ibrahim was approached to do Drag Queen Bingo at The Hood last year, he said he jumped at the chance.

“The Hood to me is like CBGB, or Max’s Kansas City—it’s a historic rock ’n’ roll bar. This place is precious,” he said. “I understand that, and I hope the community understands that, because rock ’n’ roll is a dying thing. Ultimately, I’m a punk-rocker and a drag queen. That’s who I am. What The Hood is, is really me. I feel this is a perfect fit, and I couldn’t be more honored to be where fucking Jello Biafra from Dead Kennedys has stood, or people I grew up looking up to have performed. I don’t look at that as a fucking joke; I would rather be playing at The Hood than Wembley Stadium, because this is real. This is a place where you have to be raw, bring it and be yourself. People know if you’re faking it—and even though my name is Sham, I’m very authentic.”

During my first time at Drag Queen Bingo in December, a heckler in the crowd made the mistake of making some homophobic comments. Dan Wheat, bassist of punk bands Bridger and The Sweat Act, took offense—and quickly shut down the heckler.

“Somebody was saying homophobic things and was angry about me or something,” Ibrahim remembers. “The amazing thing is people got together and stood up for me. I didn’t even see it happen, and they stood up for me. That shows this place is for everybody: You can be a crossdressing clown, and you’ll have homies who have your back.”

If you’ve never attended Drag Queen Bingo, Ibrahim explained why it should become a Tuesday-night ritual.

“I would say that Drag Queen Bingo is a total experience. It’s more than just your regular bingo game,” he said. “You might think of bingo as something grandmas do on a Sunday, but honey, this is a whole different level. If you want to have a great time, see a great show and win prizes for free, come on down to The Hood. I work hard on bringing it every week.”

Drag Queen Bingo takes place every Tuesday at 9 p.m., at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Local Fun

Representatives of many of the Coachella Valley's top businesses, groups and organizations gathered on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Copa Nightclub for the Best of Coachella Valley 2016-2017 Party.

The revelry was the culmination of a process that started back in August, when first-round voting in the third annual Coachella Valley Independent readers' poll began. The top three to five vote-getters in each category then moved on to a second round of voting, which took place through October. The results were announced at CVIndependent.com on Nov. 28 and in the December edition of the Independent

Held at Copa, the Best Nightclub winner, the party was hosted by Independent editor/publisher Jimmy Boegle. After the awards, Best Local Band winner Venus and the Traps treated the audience to a set.

Below are pictures from the evening, by Independent contributor Cory Courtney. Enjoy!

Published in Snapshot

During the month of December, there are more than enough events to keep you entertained—whether you’re in the Christmas spirit or not.

The McCallum Theatre has a great list of Christmas-themed events. At 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 5, enjoy a special Christmas presentation from the Vienna Boys Choir. One of the best known boys’ choirs in the world, the group’s various incarnations perform about 300 concerts a year. Fun fact: The boys in the choir are around the ages of 10 to 14. Tickets are $37 to $77. Locals will take the stage at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, in a show being assembled by Best of Coachella Valley radio personality Jim “Fitz” Fitzgerald of CV 104.3 called “A CV Christmas.” The show will feature Kal David and Lauri Bono, Ronnie King, Brightener, John Stanley King and others. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, and Saturday, Dec. 17, Johnny Mathis will be bringing his 60th anniversary Christmas tour to the McCallum. You can’t go wrong with Johnny, especially when he’s singing Christmas tunes. Tickets are $67 to $137. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some good stuff onstage in December. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2, Celtic Woman will be performing a Christmas-themed show as part of the “Home for Christmas: The Symphony Tour.” Celtic Woman has made a name for itself by performing Celtic music that’s mixed with folk and new-age sounds. The group’s Christmas repertoire is very popular and has added to Celtic Woman’s success. Tickets are $49 to $89. If you aren’t in the Christmas music mood … at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, there will be a performance by ARW (Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman). These three members of YES hadn’t performed together in 25 years, so this is one tour you’ll want to catch if you’re a rock music fan. Rick Wakeman made the Moog what it is today in rock music, and Trevor Rabin’s guitar-playing is legendary in prog rock. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, the Goo Goo Dolls will be returning to the Coachella Valley. I’ve mentioned how annoying it was hearing the song “Iris” over and over during my junior and senior years of high school … and my high school even made the song part of my prom. Ugh! Tickets are $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events worth mentioning. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, Penn and Teller will be stopping by. Originally known for magic shows that included comedy, the duo stepped it up for a television show on Showtime called Bullshit!, which featured the duo taking on a variety of subjects, from Sept. 11 conspiracy theories to bottled water and beyond. Tickets are $45 to $65. Looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve? At 10:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 31, bring in 2017 with Huey Lewis and the News. Huey is a big part of one of my more tortured childhood Christmas memories: I once asked for a Metallica album … and received his Sports album instead. Boo, Huey! Boo! Tickets are $105 to $125. 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 intriguing December offerings. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, former Supertramp vocalist and songwriter Roger Hodgson will be performing. He wrote most of Supertramp’s most well-known hits, which have sold more than 60 million records, so this should be a pretty good show. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 91 and 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10; and 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11, Spotlight 29 will be hosting its Winter Gathering Pow Wow. This Native American custom includes dancing, singing, visiting and the renewing of old friendships. This event is free and family friendly.Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566www.spotlight29.com.

After an epic summer, Morongo Casino Resort Spa’s entertainment schedule has slowed down just a bit—but there are a couple of great December shows worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, Morongo will be opening the Drum Room, a new bar and lounge on the 26th floor of the hotel. The grand opening will feature some great cocktails and appetizers in the venue, which has great leather seating and huge windows offering stunning views of the desert. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, there will be a performance by the Charlie Daniels Band. If you’ve never seen the Charlie Daniels Band, trust me: Mr. Daniels puts on one hell of a show, even though he’s 80 years old and has survived prostate cancer—with a pacemaker installed in his chest to boot. He was a highlight of Stagecoach in 2013. Given this is Christmas, you can expect some Christmas tunes mixed into his Southern-rock set. Tickets are $25 to $35. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some events in December you shan’t miss. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, Hanni El Khatib (upper right) will be returning to Pappy’s after a stunning sold-out show earlier this year. Hanni El Khatib denied being a blues man when I interviewed him last year, but blues and hard rock are definitely part of his sound. This show is a must-see. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 22, it’s locals’ night when The BrosQuitos and Yip Yops play Pappy and Harriet’s. This is a much-deserved gig for both local bands—groups with bright futures ahead of them. Admission is free. After the presents have been opened, and the holiday hangover has set in, get yourself to Pappy’s at 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 26, for the Evangenitals. The Evangenitals is one of the best bands to see when you’re sad—because you’ll enjoy a lot of laughs at the no-holds-barred humor. Oh, and be sure to stay until the end when the band does its own personal rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Admission is blessedly free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has a fine December schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9,and Saturday, Dec. 10, the Kinsey Sicks will be bringing a holiday show, “Oy Vey in a Manger!” to the Purple Room. The Kinsey Sicks is known as “America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet” and is named after the Kinsey scale—with six meaning “exclusively homosexual.” Formed in 1993 in San Francisco, the group has earned a reputation as one of the LGBT community’s most entertaining and hilarious groups. Tickets are $30 to $45. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, the Martini Kings will be performing. Back in October, when I was at Pappy and Harriet’s for Paul McCartney’s show, I had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Marsico of the Martini Kings. He was once a sideman for Bob Dylan, and he told me some fascinating stories from those days. The Martini Kings have a sound that modernism fans will love—and the group should turn in a great Christmas show. Tickets are $25. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has announced a December show you’ll want to mark down on your calendar. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, Dali’s Llama will be performing, along with other great bands such as Supersonic Dragon Wagon; an old group including Zach Huskey of Dali’s Llama, Hot Beat Pussy Fiend; and Sleazy Cortez. Admission is free! The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Date Shed has one event in December worth mentioning. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2, there will be a performance by Too Short (below). During the ’90s, when the whole East Coast-West Coast rap thing was going full-force, one man worked with both 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G.—and that was Too Short. While his lyrics are about pimping not being easy (Has it ever been easy?), and “bitch” is nothing but a word to him, he’s a legend of the genre. Tickets are $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe Street, Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews