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Blag Dahlia is more than just the frontman of the notorious punk rock band the Dwarves. He is an author, actor, music producer and aspiring film producer.

He has two novels under his belt, Armed to the Teeth With Lipstick and Nina, and a follow-up to Nina is in the works. He has scored films—and once did a song for an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. He hosts an online radio program, Radio Like You Want, and has expanded beyond punk to make both bluegrass and pop records. He has produced 15 full-length albums with the Dwarves over a 25 year span—and he has no intention of stopping.

In 2004, the band released The Dwarves Must Die, marking the first time former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri made an appearance with the band. Since then, Oliveri and Dahlia have been musically intimate: Besides recording five Dwarves records together, Dahlia produced several Mondo Generator records, Oliveri’s project that often includes Josh Homme.

Today, Oliveri’s Uncontrollable picks up where Mondo Generator left off. Uncontrollable’s latest release on Schnitzel Records, Leave Me Alone, was recorded at Thunder Underground Recording Studio in Palm Springs.

The Dwarves, with Oliveri in tow, will be playing at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, March 18; tickets are $15. In advance of the show, an email chat with Blag Dahlia seemed to be in order.

Who does the majority of the songwriting?

For the last few records, it’s really been a group effort. That’s been the really fun part of it for me. It’s actually been that way since the beginning of the band, with various guys contributing songs or co-writing stuff. I usually like a band better if it has a more three-dimensional songwriting process like that, but sometimes, you get a really unified vision for a batch of songs, and that can work, too.

What do you think about the music industry today, as opposed to when you started?

The more decentralized it is, the better it works. That’s what allows something new to develop. When the music-making is all concentrated in one place, they make the same thing over and over again. There used to be more money spent making records both big and small. On the other hand, even in today’s dismal musical climate, how can guys pushing 50 get their cocks sucked if not by playing rock ’n’ roll music?

I read that you would like to do a musical someday.

I have always loved musicals; I can’t help it. The older and cornier, the better, but I watched Glee all the time, too. Yeah, it’s pretty fucking gay—but someday, I’ll do it!

Who inspires you musically?

Initially, it was Frank Zappa. He was always so eclectic and funny. Also, (I’m inspired by) great frontmen like Iggy, Lux and Stiv Bators. I like people like Lady Gaga who go from dance-floor queen to the new Barbra Streisand in a couple years. Also, it would be nice to fuck Ariana Grande.

Who have you worked with that really blew you away?

I’ve been really lucky with my band members. Some bands are totally dominated by one guy who writes everything and calls all the shots. We’ve never been like that. Since the earliest days, all the Dwarves write songs, and that makes for a way more interesting body of work. … We even play songs that our drummers write!

How do you like doing the acoustic set live? Did you co-write the Uncontrollable material with Nick?

I like to play acoustic, because it gives me a chance to sing some funny songs I’ve written. The downside is my guitar-playing, which kinda sucks. For Uncontrollable, that was Nick’s name and his thing, but sometimes I get invited along, and he’ll play my songs on guitar, and we’ll sing together. Nick is so incredibly talented. No one sings like him; no one writes lyrics like him; and he’s the best rock bass-player there is, period.

Do you have any musical aspirations apart from what you do with the Dwarves?

I want to write a big hit song just to make my dad happy. He collects sheet music and hasn’t heard a new record in 50 years, but I think he’d love to see my name as a songwriter “on top of the hit parade.”

I know you did that pop album with Angelina Moysov (Candy Now) and a bluegrass record. Are there any other styles or genres you wish to visit as a recording artist?

I love punk rock, and I always will. It’s the most fun thing to play, and I’ve been doing it steadily since the mid-’80s. But I never listen to it—I just play it. When I’m not playing punk, it’s the last thing I want to hear. Candy Now was an international retro pop kind of a thing; the blackgrass record was a dark modern country kind of a thing. I love to get out of my comfort zone and into all kinds of weird music.

What is the live show like today compared to the early shows?

I’m fatter now, but I can actually sing, so that makes up for it. Also, we get paid now!

Read more from Robin Linn, including an expanded version of this story, at www.desertrockchronicles.com.

Published in Previews

Before I dive in to all of the great February goings-on around the Coachella Valley, I want to pay tribute to two big names in music we just lost.

Rest in peace, Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club will be holding a Modernism Week-themed event at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13: There will be a screening of Visual Acoustics in the Commune. The film is a celebration of modernist architecture and a joyful portrait of renowned architecture photographer Julius Shulman. Admission is free. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The McCallum Theatre is fully booked with great stuff in February. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5 and Saturday, Feb. 6, Frank Sinatra Jr. will be performing. The son of the Chairman of the Board is a great singer and will be singing in celebration of his father’s 100th birthday. Tickets are $61 to $111. Continuing with the Sinatra centennial celebration: At 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 14, crooner Steve Lawrence will take the stage. Lawrence was a close friend of Sinatra—in fact, when Sinatra retired, Sinatra gave Lawrence a book of his arrangements. Tickets are $67. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 24, get ready for a night of awesome country music: Wynonna Judd will be performing. After starting out as part of a smash-hit duo with her mother, Wynonna has been quite successful on her own. Tickets are $47 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa obviously made a wise choice when it booked with Johnny Mathis, considering his Feb. 13 show is sold out—but cheer up, because at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 12, you can rock out to Air Supply, or whatever it is crazy fans of Air Supply do. The Australian duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock has been soft-rocking since the ’70s and recently had a hit with “Desert Sea Sky,” which was remixed and played in dance clubs. Tickets are $40 to $60. 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 a fine slate of February events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, the original Jersey Boy himself, Frankie Valli, will be performing. He was a member of the Four Seasons, and he had a spectacular solo career, so you won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 27, there will be a double bill with The Commodores and The Jacksons. Both groups have continued on without their famed frontmen, and to an extent, it’s worked for them both. The Jacksons’ reunion since Michael Jackson died in 2009 has come with mixed live reviews, though. Lionel Richie is currently not joining The Commodores, and it doesn’t look like he will anytime soon. Nonetheless, if you’re a real fan, you will enjoy both. Tickets are $39 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of great events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 6, easy-listening superstar Engelbert Humperdinck will be coming back. The ballad singer has spawned numerous legends, including one that claims he’s bagged an impressive number of women—a number that puts Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead and Gene Simmons of KISS to shame. Whether or not that’s true, there’s one thing he gave to us millennials … Fly with me, lesbian seagull! Tickets are $45 to $65. Are you a fan of the ’70s? Did you live through the ’70s but don’t remember it? Either way, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 20, the ’70s Time Machine Tour will take you back. Featuring performances by Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night, and Denny Laine of Wings, the show will happily invoke the decade of leisure suits, pet rocks, shag carpet, van living and waterbeds. Yay! Tickets are $35. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

As for Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace: I’m sure we’ll be hearing some very big announcements soon regarding outdoor shows for the spring and summer, especially with Coachella right around the corner. But in the meantime, the February schedule is wonderful. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5, Joshua Tree locals Gene Evaro and the Family (right) will be appearing. Gene is one of the most talented musicians in the Coachella Valley; Alf Alpha has told me stories about Gene’s production skills in the studio as well. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 14, it will be time for local rock fans to rejoice and celebrate Eddie Spaghetti’s victory over throat cancer, because The Supersuckers are back! Funny story: I saw The Supersuckers in 1995 in Cleveland; the band was opening for White Zombie and the Ramones. Let’s just say The Supersuckers didn’t get a welcome reception that night—and I was one of the hecklers. But over time, The Supersuckers grew on me; they’re an excellent rock ’n’ roll band. Also worth mentioning: My friend Charlie Overbey will be opening. His new record The California Kid is awesome. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has one event we know about worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend—at a prom out of a John Waters film, that is—with Shannon and the Clams (below). Desert Hot Springs’ finest, Slipping Into Darkness, is also on the bill. Shurpadelic, dude! Admission is $10 at the door. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

It’s January. That means the holiday season is over—and it’s a brand-new year! That also means the busiest portion of season is here—and there are some great events going on throughout the month.

The McCallum Theatre has some fine shows in January. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli (right) will be performing. Known for his modern interpretations of songs by John Lennon, Gershwin and Antonio Carlos Jobim, he’ll definitely put on a good show. Tickets are $37 to $77. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26, Burton Cummings will be stopping by. As the former lead singer of The Guess Who, he’s known for his golden voice—and for writing some huge rock hits, including “American Woman.” Tickets are $37 to $57. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has quite a lineup in January. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 8, the resort will host some much-loved teen idols … from the 1950s. The Golden Boys, consisting of Bobby Rydell, Fabian and Frankie Avalon, are all still big names in the music industry. If you’re a fan of the ’50s and ’60s heartthrob era, you’ll want to be here. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, Kathy Griffin will be bringing her “Like a Boss” comedy tour to Fantasy Springs. Griffin is a two-time Grammy winner and pulls no punches when it comes to her routines. Tickets are $39 to $69. You’ll be thrilled to know that Tony Bennett (first below) will be coming back to Fantasy Springs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 16. I saw his excellent show last year, and I can say you do not want to miss Bennett when he comes to town. Tony Bennett has truly done it all in the music industry. Tickets are $49 to $99. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 22, Mike Epps (second below) will be bringing his comedy tour to Fantasy Springs. One of my favorite performances by Epps was in Next Friday. I still can’t contain my laughter when his Day-Day tells Ice Cube’s character, Craig, the story of “Baby-D.” Tickets are $39 to $79. If you need another reason to love Fantasy Springs in January, Heart will be performing at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29. Remember during the 2008 election when Sarah Palin stole the song “Barracuda” as her theme? Heart was not pleased. The members of Heart are legends and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members. Tickets are $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente has two excellent events scheduled this January. First, there’s Styx, which you can read about elsewhere in this issue. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, the red-headed stranger himself, Willie Nelson, will be appearing. Willie has made stops in the Coachella Valley in each of the past two years, proving he’s still a fantastic draw. Tickets are $95 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 an excellent January calendar. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, you won’t want to work; you’ll want to bang on the drum all day when Todd Rundgren stops by. I once read that Rundgren was asked by punk band Bad Religion to produce the The New America album. It was not a good experience, according to bassist Jay Bentley. Tickets are $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 23, get ready to honky-tonk harder than you’ve ever honky-tonked before, because Dwight Yoakam will be coming back. After seeing Yoakam perform three times now, I can tell you he’s consistently spectacular. I still can’t stop talking about his performance as Doyle, the alcoholic boyfriend, in Sling Blade. Remember, “Stuart Drives a Comfortable Car.” Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino has some intriguing stand-up shows this month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 8, Sinbad will be coming back—not too long after a performance a few months ago at Spotlight 29. The star who was all over television in the ’90s is apparently doing stand-up again after hitting hard financial times. Warning: The reviews of his recent shows have not been excellent. Tickets are $29 to $39. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29, Bob Newhart will be stopping by. Newhart is a legend from the golden era of comedy. Tickets are $35 to $45. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has one event worth noting that we know about at this time: At 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 23, T.S.O.L. will be appearing. If you’re not familiar with T.S.O.L., it is only one of Los Angeles’ most notorious punk bands. Frontman Jack Grisham has spoken extensively about how much mischief he got into, and how bad of an addict he once was; he tells some truly insane stories about how bonkers he can be when he’s under the influence. At the same time, Grisham’s honesty and sobriety has been an inspiration for addicts; it’s been said that he’s given some talks at the Betty Ford Center and other rehabilitation facilities. Tickets are $12. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Copa Palm Springs has a lineup that will attract American Idol fans for sure. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 16, and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 17, Frenchie Davis will perform. Davis has been seen on American Idol and The Voice. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 22, and Saturday, Jan. 23, former American Idol contestant Melinda Doolittle will be appearing. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

The Date Shed has one event on the schedule that we know of: At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29, the acts of Puro Oro will be performing. Puro Oro is the local coalition of artists including J. Patron, Thr3 Strykes, Slum the Resident and many others. Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

Sunday Funeral has been rocking in the Coachella Valley for many years now. Co-fronting the band with lead guitarist/vocalist Justin Ledesma is rhythm guitarist/vocalist Brian Frang. Sunday Funeral recently added drummer Grant Gruenberg to the mix. Sunday Funeral was recently part of two battle-of-the-bands contests that took place at The Hood Bar and Pizza. For more information, visit www.sundayfuneral.com. Brian Frang and Grant Gruenberg were kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are their answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Brian: The Wallflowers, when I was 15. Can’t remember much of it, though.

Grant: Fabulous Thunderbirds and Dr. John, at Oasis Waterpark.

What was the first album you owned?

Brian: Oh, hell … I think it was a Marty Stuart album. I was pretty young.

Grant: Weird Al Yankovic’s Even Worse.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Brian: Mostly metal: Nightwish, Iron Maiden, Type O Negative, and Judas Priest. Mostly I just listen to whatever sounds good.

Grant: Zebrahead, Avenged Sevenfold, and Reel Big Fish.

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

Brian: Dubstep. I’m sorry, but it sounds like two washing machines trying to screw.

Grant: Goblin core. I don’t get that crap.

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

Brian: I would have loved to see Type O Negative live, before Pete Steele’s untimely death.

Grant: Easy one: Pink Floyd.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Brian: “Careless Whisper” by George Michael.

Grant: New Kids on the Block and DJ Mustard.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Brian: Oh, I can’t pick a favorite; everyone’s treated us really well. On the other hand, The Hood has pizza.

Grant: Local: What used to be J Dee’s Landing. Out of town: Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

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

Brian: “It’s a small world after all.”

Grant: “Fuck you too bitch, call the cops! I’m a kill you and them loud ass motherfucking barking dogs.” Eminem, “Forgot About Dre.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Brian: Michael Jackson probably had the biggest impact. He’s the reason I became a singer. Saw him perform at the Super Bowl in ’93 (on TV), and I pointed and said, “I wanna do that when I grow up.”

Grant: Eminem, because I realized my life really wasn’t that bad. I stopped caring about a lot of things after hearing him.

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

Brian: I’d ask Anthony Kiedis. “Where do you think you’d be today if you hadn’t gotten into music?"

Grant: I’d ask Jim Morrison: “Why are we here?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Brian: “A Tout Le Monde” by Megadeth.

Grant: “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen.

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

Brian: You just love making these hard. Probably Judas Priest’s Painkiller.

Grant: Reel Big Fish, Why Do They Rock So Hard?

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Brian: “What It’s Like” by Everlast. It’s got a message I think more people need to take to heart before judging others.

Grant: Reel Big Fish, “Another FU Song.” (Scroll down to hear them!)

Published in The Lucky 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Previews

On the surface, this “Best Of” package may seem pretty simple: It’s a list of winners and finalists in more than 115 categories, as voted on by Coachella Valley Independent readers, along with a handful of staff picks and photos—with a feature on the Best Local Band thrown in for good measure.

But if you look a little deeper, you’ll see these results paint a fairly interesting picture of the Coachella Valley as it stands today. For example: The fact that such varied and diverse local bands, musicians and DJs were chosen by our readers as winners and finalists points to an increasingly varied and diverse local music scene. If you peruse the places selected as winners and finalists in the various food and restaurant categories, you’ll discover the vast majority of them are locally owned places—pointing to an increasingly good local food scene.

On the flip side, you can find hints of deficiencies in the valley as well. For example: Because there are only three finalists in the Best Indian food category, one can guess there aren’t all that many Indian-food joints in the Coachella Valley. (In fact, you can guess there are probably three, give or take.) And a chain won in the Best Chinese category. ’Nuff said.

I could go on and on, but I won’t; I’ll simply leave you to the results instead.

Oh, one more thing (maybe two): Thank you to all of the many, many readers who voted—and congratulations to all of the winners and finalists. And mark your calendars: The Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016 Awards Party will be on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Details coming soon.

Welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016!

—Jimmy Boegle, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Arts

 

Best Art Gallery

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. Heather James Gallery

3. CODA Gallery

4. Archangel Gallery

5. Hohmann Fine Art

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Hood Bar and Pizza

4. The Show at Agua Caliente

5. Fantasy Springs Special Event Center

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre

3. Palm Springs Art Museum

4. La Quinta Arts Foundation

5. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

 

Best Local Band

The Flusters

 

Runners up:

2. IIIZ (formerly The Yip Yops)

3. War Drum

4. Thr3 Strykes

5. R. Buckle Road

 

Best Local DJ

Alf Alpha

 

Runners up:

2. DJ Day

3. Alex Harrington

4. House Whores

5. One4All/Tommy Locust

 

Best Local Musician (Individual)

Jesika Von Rabbit

 

Runners up:

2. EeVaan Tre

3. John Robbins

4. Steve Madaio

5. Kal David

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Sofia Enriquez

 

Runners up:

2. Michael Murphy

3. Elena Bulatova

4. Ryan “Motel” Campbell

5. Michael Weems

 

Best Movie Theater

Century Theatres at The River

 

Runners up:

2. Cinemas Palme d’Or

3. UltraStar Mary Pickford Stadium 14

4. Camelot Theatres

5. Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum

3. La Quinta Museum

4. Coachella Valley History Museum

5. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Empire Polo Club

4. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

5. La Quinta Civic Center

 

Best Theater Company

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Coyote Stageworks

5. Dezart Performs


Life in the Valley

 

Best Alternative Health Center

Palm Springs Healing Center

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Hot Springs Health and Wellness Center

3. Neuro Vitality Center (formerly the Stroke Recovery Center)

 

Best Farmers’ Market

Old Town La Quinta Certified Farmers’ Market

 

Runners up:

2. College of the Desert Street Fair

3. Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market (Saturday)

4. Palm Desert Certified Farmers’ Market (Wednesday)

5. Palm Springs VillageFest

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

4. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

5. Mizell Senior Center

 

Best Gym

World Gym Palm Desert

 

Runners up:

2. In-Shape Cathedral City

3. EOS Fitness Palm Springs

4. Palm Springs Fitness

5. World Gym Palm Springs

 

Best Public Servant

Congressman Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans

3. Palm Springs City Council Member Ginny Foat

4. Palm Springs City Council Member Paul Lewin

5. La Quinta City Council Member Robert Radi

 

Best Yoga Studio

Bikram Yoga University Village

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Art Scene

3. Urban Yoga

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes Bowling at Morongo

 

Best Auto Repair

Desert Classic Cars

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Andy’s Auto Repair

Palms to Pines Automotive

4. European Auto Service

5. OMAG Automotive Machine

 

Best Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Car Wash

3. TIE

Airport Car Wash

Desert 100% Hand Car Wash

5. Red Carpet Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

The Living Desert’s Palo Verde Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Moller’s Garden Center

3. Moorten Botanical Garden

4. Bob Williams Nursery

 

Best Pet Supplies

PetSmart

 

Runners up:

2. Cold Nose Warm Heart

3. Petco

4. Bones ‘n’ Scones

5. Pet Oasis

 

Best Annual Charity Event

La Quinta Arts Festival

 

Runners up:

2. Paint El Paso Pink (Desert Cancer Foundation)

3. Evening Under the Stars (AIDS Assistance Program)

4. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards Gala (Desert AIDS Project)

5. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

 

Best Place to Gamble

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

3. Morongo Casino Resort Spa

4. Spa Resort Casino

5. Spotlight 29

 

Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. KMIR Channel 6

3. CBS Local 2

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. Ginger Jeffries, KMIR Channel 6

3. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

4. Jenifer Daniels, CBS Local 2

5. Gino LaMont, KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Radio Station

KCRW 89.3 FM

 

Runners up:

2. Q102.3 Classic Rock

3. Mix 100.5

4. The Bull 98.5

5. K-News 94.3

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Jim "Fitz" Fitzgerald, 103.9 FM The Breeze

 

Runners up:

2. Jeff Michaels, Big 106 (KPLM)

3. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3

4. Dan McGrath, 103.1 Sunny FM

5. Joey English, K-News 94.3

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. Crystal Fantasy

3. The Book Rack

4. Just Fabulous

5. Revivals

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley

 

Runners up:

2. Best Buy

3. Barnes and Noble

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Barnes and Noble

3. JB Sports and Varsity Jackets

 

Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Runners up:

2. Riviera Palm Springs

3. Renaissance Indian Wells Resort and Spa

4. La Quinta Resort

5. The Saguaro

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty

 

Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Red Panties Boutique


Fashion and Style

 

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Bobby G’s

 

Runners up:

2. Grayse El Paseo

3. Wil Stiles

4. R&R Men’s Wear

5. Glossy

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

TIE

Angel View

Revivals

 

Runners up:

3. Gypsyland

4. Resale Therapy

5. The Fine Art of Design

 

Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Misty’s Consignments

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Scandinavian Designs (formerly Plummers)

 

Best Antiques/Collectibles Store

The Estate Sale Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. Antique Galleries of Palm Springs

4. Victoria’s Attic Antiques

5. The POP Shop

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

Leeds and Son

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo Jewelers

3. The Jewelry Bar

4. Hephaestus

5. B. Alsohns Jewelers

 

Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Dishwater Blonde

3. Brien O’Brien Salon

4. Razors

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Spa

JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Resort

3. Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa

4. Studio M

5. Miracle Springs

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Rancho Mirage Florist

3. Palm Springs Florist

4. The Flower Company

5. Vaso Bello Celebrations

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

The Tattoo Gallery

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

Strata Tattoo Lab

4. Art and Ink Tattoo Studio and Design

5. Contrast Tattoo Studios

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. Ooh La-La de Paris

4. Desert Eyecare Center

5. Old Town Optometry


Outside!

 

Best Urban Landscaping

Sunnylands

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo

3. Palm Springs (downtown)

4. Rancho Mirage (general)

5. Palm Springs International Airport

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. El Paseo

4. Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the PS Art Museum Palm Desert

5. Palm Desert Community Gardens

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Palm Springs (general)

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta (general)

3. Frank Sinatra Drive

 

Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Idyllwild

3. Indian Canyons

4. Whitewater Preserve

5. Tahquitz Canyon

 

Best Hike

Indian Canyons

 

Runners up:

2. Bump and Grind Trail

3. Painted Canyon

4. Palm Springs Art Museum Trail

5. South Lykken Trail

 

Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Francis Stevens Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5

3. Yellow Mart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Cyclery

3. Tri.A.Bike

4. Mike’s Bike Truck

 

Best Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5

3. The Sports Authority

 

Best Public Golf Course

Indian Wells Golf Resort

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Willow Golf Resort

3. Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort

4. SilverRock Resort

5. The Lights at Indio GC


For the Kids

 

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Cathedral City Town Square

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Toys “R” Us

 

Runners up:

2. Target

3. Mr G’s For Kids

4. Big Lots

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Crazy 8

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Islands

4. Ruby’s

5. Burgers and Beer

 

Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Wet ’n’ Wild

3. Children’s Discovery Museum

4. Boomers

5. Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum

3. TIE

Boomers

Chuck E. Cheese’s

5. Peaks Restaurant (Top of the Tram)


Food and Restaurants

 

Best Casual Eats

Eureka!

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Stuft Pizza

4. Bill’s Pizza

5. Pho 533

 

Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Lavender Bistro

3. Dash and a Handful

4. Desert Cities Catering

5. Lynn Hammond

 

Best Diner

Keedy’s Fountain Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. King’s Highway at the Ace

4. John’s

5. Bit of Country

 

Best Organic Food Store

Whole Foods

 

Runners up:

2. Sprouts Farmers Market

3. Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods

4. Nature’s Health Food and Café

5. Harvest Health Foods

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Cafe

4. Real Italian Deli

5. It’s a Deli

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Pastry Swan Bakery

5. Exquisite Desserts

 

Best Desserts

Manhattan in the Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. French Corner Cafe and Bakery

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Pastry Swan Bakery/Fix a Dessert House

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Great Shakes

 

Runners up:

2. Cold Stone Creamery

3. Ben and Jerry’s

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Lappert’s Ice Cream

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Palm Greens Cafe

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

Beach House

 

Runners up:

2. Tutti Frutti

3. Yogurt Island

4. Jus Chillin

5. Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt

 

Best Bakery

Aspen Mills

 

Runners up:

2. Nothing Bundt Cakes

3. French Corner Cafe and Bakery

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Frankie’s Old World Italian Bakery

 

Best Barbecue

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Jackalope Ranch

4. Smoke Tree BBQ Bar and Grill

5. CV BBQ

 

Best Burger

Eureka!

 

Runners up:

2. Grill-A-Burger

3. Woody’s Burgers

4. Burgers and Beer

5. Smokin’ Burgers

 

Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Grill-A-Burger

4. Lulu California Bistro

5. Woody’s Burgers

 

Best Sandwich

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. The Sandwich Spot

3. TKB Bakery and Deli

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Aspen Mills

 

Best Pizza

Stuft Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Bill’s Pizza

3. Piero’s PizzaVino

4. Matchbox

5. Giuseppe’s

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Upper Crust Pizza

3. TIE

Bar

The Village Pub

5. Lulu California Bistro

 

Best Bagels

Einstein Bros. Bagels

 

Runners up:

2. New York Bagel and Deli

3. Townie Bagels Bakery Cafe

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Sherman’s

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Jamba Juice

3. Juice It Up!

4. Koffi

5. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Buffet

Grand Palms Buffet at Agua Caliente

 

Runners up:

2. Emperor Buffet

3. Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

4. Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Coffee Shop for Coffee

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Old Town Coffee Company

3. Starbucks

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Tea

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

 

Runners up:

2. Teavana

3. Koffi

4. Starbucks

5. Ristretto

 

Best Breakfast

Wilma and Frieda’s Cafe

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. John’s

4. TIE

Lulu California Bistro

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Trio

Zin American Bistro

4. Tropicale

5. Copley’s on Palm Canyon

 

Best Brunch

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Escena Lounge and Grill

4. Vue Grille and Bar

5. Tropicale

 

Best Chinese

P.F. Chang’s

 

Runners up:

2. City Wok

3. Wang’s in the Desert

4. China 8

5. New Fortune

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Koutouki Greek Estiatorio

3. TIE

Miro’s Restaurant

Nina’s Greek Cuisine

5. Santorini Gyro Hamburger/Greek Food and Grill

 

Best French

Le Vallauris

 

Runners up:

2. La Brasserie

3. Pomme Frite

4. Cuistot

5. Chez Pierre

 

Best Indian

India Oven

 

Runners up:

2. Monsoon Indian Cuisine

3. Naan House

 

Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

3. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

4. Shabu Shabu Zen

5. Sushi Domo

 

Best Italian

Ristorante Mamma Gina

 

Runners up:

2. La Bella Cucina

3. Mario’s Italian Cafe

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. Trilussa

 

Best Sushi

Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

3. The Venue

4. No Da Te

5. Sushi Domo

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

3. Ruben and Ozzy’s

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5.Oceans Seafood Restaurant

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

LG’s Prime Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Sullivan’s Steakhouse

3. The Steakhouse at Spa Resort Casino

4. Outback Steakhouse

5. Chop House

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Thai Smile of Rancho Mirage (now in Palm Desert)

3. Blue Orchid

4. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

5. Le Basil

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Rooster and the Pig

3. Pho 533

4. Pho of the Desert

5. Le Basil

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Wally’s Desert Turtle

3. Lavender Bistro

4. Jillian’s

5. Tropicale

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. Lavender Bistro

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. Le Vallauris

5. Tropicale

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. King’s Highway at the Ace

3. Smokin’ Burgers

4. Alicante

5. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

 

Best Mexican

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. El Mirasol

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Pueblo Viejo Grill

5. La Tablita

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Pueblo Viejo Grill

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Loco Charlie’s Mexican Grill

5. Los Pepes Mexican Grill and Bar

 

Best Burrito

Chipotle

 

Runners up:

2. El Ranchito Taco Shop

3. El Gallito

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. La Tablita


Spirits and Nightlife

 

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Bart Lounge

4. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

5. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

 

Best Local Brewery

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

The Beer Hunter

 

Runners up:

2. Bart Lounge

3. Hunters

4. Neil’s Lounge

5. Palm Springs Lanes

 

Best Cocktail Menu

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Bar

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Tropicale

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Toucan’s

 

Runners up:

2. Hunters

3. Chill

4. Tool Shed

5. Streetbar

 

Best Happy Hour

La Quinta Cliffhouse Grill and Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Wang’s in the Desert

4. Hunters

5. Tropicale

 

Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Red Barn

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Score

5. Toucan’s

 

Best Margarita

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Armando’s Dakota Bar and Grill

3. El Mirasol

4. TIE

Los Pepes Mexican Bar and Grill

Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Best Martini

Mastro’s Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Melvyn’s

3. The Falls (no longer in business)

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Tropicale

 

Best Nightclub

Bart Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Copa

3. Chill

4. Hunters

5. Bardot Nightclub

 

Best Sports Bar

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. The Beer Hunter

3. Burgers and Beer

4. Playoffs Sports Bar and Lounge

5. Score

 

Best Wine Bar

Zin American Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. La Rue Wine Bar

3. Sullivan’s Steak House

4. La Brasserie

5. 12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar at Fantasy Springs

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. LQ Wine

4. Desert Wines and Spirits in the Go Deli Market

5. Fame Lounge

 

Best Bar Ambiance

Bart Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Melvyn’s

4. Tropicale

5. Chill


Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016: Staff Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016: Best Local Band: The Flusters

Best of Coachella Valley 2014-2015

Published in Readers' Picks

Stephen “Fish” Ellsworth is one of the more famous bartenders at The Hood Bar and Pizza, known for his exceptional bartending knowledge, his fast service—and his shenanigans while behind the bar. Fish is newly engaged, and he recently shared the news that his fiancée will be having a baby, so be sure to tip him well. He was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13, and here are his (rather brief) answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Lynyrd Skynyrd.

What was the first album you owned?

Megadeth, Countdown to Extinction.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Everything.

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

Psy, “Gangnam Style.”

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

Band of Horses.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Sia.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts and Festival.

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

“Dayman. Aaaaahhhhaa! Fighter of the nightman! Champion of the sun, you’re a master of a karate, and friendship for everyone,” “The Dayman,” from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Amigo the Devil. It’s enlightening folk music.

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

I would ask Tenacious D how they get their inspiration.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“The Funeral” by Band of Horses.

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

Silent Alarm, Bloc Party.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Midnight City” by M83. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

Thr3 Strykes is best known for hip hop, although the group sometimes includes a punk-rock set in a show. Catch Thr3 Strykes at The Date Shed on Friday, Oct. 16, the STREET party at the Westfield Palm Desert on Saturday, Nov. 7.

During a recent interview, Josh Fimbres and Josh Hall talked about how much Thr3 Strykes has changed since its formation.

“During high school and after high school, I was in a lot of punk bands and played drums,” Fimbres said. “Anywhere we could play when I was a teenager, we played. I was in one band, and we even did a little mini-tour and had Island Records interested in us for a little bit.

“I did that for a long time, and our friend Jesse—who doesn’t even fuck with us anymore—we started rapping. We all grew up in La Quinta, and we’d do parties and other shit. We had the little 8-track analog recording, and we did ridiculous shit with cheap microphones from Toys ’R’ Us. We went from party to party with nothing else to do but memorize each other’s shit.”

Hall said, with a laugh, that the group became known for being “white guys who rap.”

What are some of Thr3 Strykes’ songs about?

“Some are political, and some are about partying,” Hall said.

Fimbres offered a different answer: “Some are just stupid shit we say to each other at 3 in the morning playing FIFA Soccer, over and over.”

There are not a lot of local rap acts in the Coachella Valley, beyond local rap artist J. Patron and Thr3 Strykes. Fimbres said he remembers when the hometown crowd wasn’t showing them a lot of love.

“When it’s all said and done, and we’re 45 and still fucking rapping, or not rapping: We were doing it back when people were rejecting us, and venue owners we’re saying, ‘No, you can’t play here.’ Years later, we’re still doing it, when venue owners are telling us they don’t want anything to do with our scene or our crowd—and we’re still doing it. No matter where we went, people didn’t want to hear it, and it wasn’t cool.

“All of a sudden nowadays, with J. Patron, who is a close friend of ours, we’re getting noticed. That’s what I’m going to hang my hat on.”

Hall remembered one of the first shows that helped the group get noticed.

“It was underground, and we were different. We were influenced by punk rock,” he said. “People wouldn’t accept us for years and years—and then we realized people were starting to come to our shows. They started accepting us more and more, and trying to be our friends. I remember one year, they invited us to play at Chicago Freddy’s, which is now Cactus Jack’s, and we were super hyped up. It was cool, and it was one of our premieres. But we had (a person) who is now an ex-member jump off stage and punch a guy in the nose. It probably wasn’t the best first impression. But we came back in; people loved it and went insane, even with the little bit of drama that happened.”

While sitting in The Hood being interviewed, Fimbres remembered when Thr3 Strykes was not welcome there, either.

“We’ve been kicked out of a lot of places,” he said. “For a lot of years, they didn’t want us here at The Hood. Neither one of us were allowed here because of pre-show things or after-show things. We’re not crazy, and we’re not the first fucking band to deal with a crazy following or crowd. It’s always been someone stepping on our neck … but then we get these huge shows, opening for Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.”

Said Fimbres: “We opened for (Bone Thugs-n-Harmony) twice. We’ve done enough shows where we can judge each show on the vibe and how good the set was, and both times we played with them, it was the best it could fucking get. The first show, and we’re talking in Indio, there were a lot of hard motherfuckers, and they were there to see Bone. They paid good money too—those tickets were 40 bucks!”

Thr3 Strykes has always had a DIY approach.

“We used to make little six-song EPs,” Fimbres said, “just burning them on CDs with CD burners. We’ve also done stuff over Myspace back in the day, and things like that. Actual full length records—we just have the one that we put out in 2012 that’s 15 songs. All of those were good, but they’re all over the place with reggae, hard shit and real heavy rap shit. In the middle of making this new one, we had seven or eight songs with Jesse (Brown), who isn’t playing with us anymore, and who we have some bad blood with, so we dropped those songs.”

That new record, Communication Breakdown, will be out soon.

“Josh and I have 15 songs for Communication Breakdown,” Fimbres said. “In actuality, this feels like our first record to me. This is us at the core of what we do. All 15 of these songs are cohesive. They all go into each other. It’s our proudest shit to date right now.”

Hall agreed.

“Our producer, Tariq Beats, told us he loves it and says it’s one of the best albums he’s done, and he messes with a lot of big names in Los Angeles like French Montana and Xzibit.”

Thr3 Strykes will perform with Calico Wonderstone and Drop Mob at 9:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16, at The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., in Indio. Admission is $5; visit www.dateshedmusic.com for more info. The group will also play during STREET, which takes place from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Westfield Palm Desert, 72840 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission to the all-ages event is free; visit www.westfield.com for more information. For more information on Thr3 Strykes, visit www.facebook.com/3STRYKES.

Published in Previews

It’s been a long, hard road for D.R.I., but the band—known as a “thrash metal” band, although the group has the respect of punk-rock contemporaries—is still doing its thing some 33 years after its formation.

D.R.I.—that’s an abbreviation for Dirty Rotten Imbeciles—will be performing at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Oct. 30.

D.R.I. formed in 1982 in Houston. Spike Cassidy (guitar) and Kurt Brecht (vocals) are the only remaining original members. It’s been said the band’s name came from Brecht’s father, who hated listening to the band practice in the family home. In fact, Brecht’s father—interrupting the band’s practice—can be heard on the “Madman” track.

“We never saw ourselves making a living doing this,” Brecht said during a recent phone interview. “But we wanted to, and we thought about it—but it’s hard being that young and thinking that far in advance. We wanted to do what we saw other bands doing, which was touring and putting out records. I remember at one time, when we started getting a little popular, we realized we were still living in a van and not making any money.”

A 1983 “Rock Against Reagan” tour, often headlined by the Dead Kennedys, gave D.R.I. some of its first exposure.

“That was our first tour ever,” Brecht said. “We moved to California, lost our bass player and found another bass player. The band MDC was also from Texas, and they were living in the same squat thing that we were, and they invited us to go on the Rock Against Reagan tour. It was literally no pay. You got gas money and got fed whatever food the people that put together the tour had to give you. It wasn’t a show every night; it was a flatbed truck and a PA system, and they would take that around and set it up at different colleges. It was kind of cool, and people got to see it for free, but bands kind of came and went. People would walk by and check it out. It was kind of interesting to shove the music down people’s throats.”

Brecht was surprised years later by someone who told him about one of those shows. 

“Dave Grohl was just a kid, and he came and saw us play in Washington, D.C.,” Brecht said. “He told me that he bought a 7-inch record off of me from out of the back of our van.”

Metal Blade Records—known as the home of various thrash metal bands, and the first label to sign Metallica—signed D.R.I. and released the group’s first full length album, Dealing With It!, in 1985. The album showed that the band’s hardcore punk sound was becoming more thrash metal.

“At that point, we had only just started letting out our metal influences that we grew up with,” Brecht said. “We grew up listening to rock and metal, and we discovered hardcore and liked that better. But eventually, all the cool metal stuff started leaking out. Spike let someone from Metal Blade listen to the record, and they decided they wanted it. I still talk to Metal Blade, and they still pay us royalties, and we’re still in good relations with them at this point.”

The ’90s were a hard time for D.R.I., after Metal Blade released the band. The group put out two records on the label Dirty Rotten, but D.R.I. has not released a new album since 1995’s Full Speed Ahead.

“We call it the ’90s slump,” Brecht said. “When you’re in it, you don’t know what’s going on, and you can only look back at it later on. It was rough for us. We continued touring, and we weren’t making any money, and we had to change the way we toured: no more tour bus, no more roadies, no more big truck with equipment. We just shaved off all the fat. We were still hurting.”

Brecht said D.R.I. almost called it a day several times.

“There were times we talked about it, and asked how much longer we could do this, because it was going out on tour for two or three months and coming back with nothing,” Brecht said. “Your girlfriend, wife or whatever—they’re not going to put up with it very long, and you need to figure out what you’re going to do. Even bigger bands like Slayer weren’t doing good in the ’90s. They were doing better than us, but Metallica was the only band still doing good during that period.”

In 2006, Spike Cassidy was diagnosed with colon cancer.

“During the times when Spike had cancer and was sick for a while, thrash metal became popular again,” Brecht said. “We were excited to get back on the road again. Grunge wasn’t as popular any more, and kids wanted to see thrash metal bands again from the ’80s.”

Cassidy’s cancer also led to hard times for the band. In fact, Cassidy is still trying to raise money to pay his medical bills through D.R.I.’s website.

“Spike is doing fine now, and we have full tours scheduled—and it’s a brutal schedule for anyone, even if you’re not sick,” Brecht said. “He’s the one booking it all, so he’s obviously capable. Spike has a cancer fund, and he had some insurance at the time, but it’s still financially damaging. He said he was almost done paying it off, and all of a sudden, they dropped another $150,000 bill on him for some surgery he had that he thought was paid for, and insurance supposedly covered. I went on a few tours without him to help make money for him when he couldn’t go.”

Will there ever be another D.R.I. album? Brecht hinted that a new release is just around the corner.

“It’s recorded and everything, and as far as I know, it’s in post-production,” he said. “It should be out this year, but I haven’t heard Spike talk about it much. Records aren’t important as they used to be, especially not for us. Now we don’t have to deal with all that stuff of a label, and our label now is not bothering us to put out a record. They probably don’t want to pay for it, and it’s not a lucrative endeavor.”

D.R.I. will perform with Fissure, Green Terror Grind, Facelift and Panzram at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, located at 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $20 at the door, and the show is open to all ages. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or check out one of the Facebook pages for the event.

Published in Previews

When Sonny McEachran decided to move up north, that meant the end of popular local band Boycott Radio.

However, Chris Long and Dan Dillinger pressed on—and soon, with the addition of Troy Whitford, the Sweat Act was born.

During an interview one afternoon not too long ago at The Hood Bar and Pizza, Long and Dillinger discussed how they met.

“My dad knew that I was playing music with Sonny McEachran in Boycott Radio, and he knew that I was heavily looking for a bass player,” Long said. “My dad finds this post on Craigslist that said, ‘Looking for a punk rock band.’ My dad said, ‘He’s a bass player; you should hit him up.’ I was like, ‘Dad, whatever. I’m not looking on Craigslist, and that’s kind of weird. Why are you on Craigslist, Dad? You have Mom at home; get off Craigslist!’”

Nonetheless, Long contacted Dillinger.

“He hit me up, like, ‘We’re not really a punk band, but we’re looking for a bass player. Maybe you’d like to come and check it out; here are some videos on YouTube,’ and all this other shit,” Dillinger said. “I looked them up. … I watched the videos, and I was like, ‘That dude is wearing a V neck; he’s probably a douche bag! I don’t wanna go over there!’ I went and thought, ‘This is gonna suck, but I might as well try it.’

“It worked out fine.”

When McEachran moved away last year, Boycott Radio was finished. Dillinger continued to play with local punk band Bridger, and metal band Remnants of Man. He also went on tour in a Sublime tribute band. However, Long and Dillinger missed having their own band.

“Dan and I were sitting there with our dicks in our hands like, ‘What’s next?’” Long said. “Well, here comes our archangel, Troy Whitford, coming down from the heavens and being like, ‘Hey, I play drums!’ It turns out I work with him at Babe’s in Rancho Mirage. I was like, ‘Let’s give it a shot sometime!’”

Whitford and Long then began to practice together. Long is not a fan of social media; in fact, he said he really doesn’t do anything with computers except play video games. So Whitford reached out to Dillinger via social media, and asked him to come to a practice session. He did, and before long, Dillinger and Whitford were chumming it up, talking about their favorite records and comparing influences.

“I was like, ‘Get a fucking room, guys!’” Long said. “I’m the third wheel. … They started doing this whole thing where Troy was like, ‘Can you play this song?’ and Dan was like, ‘Can you play this song?’ And, of course, they can play every song, because they both love NOFX, and they lived happier ever after.”

Dillinger remains with Bridger. When I asked him how he makes playing in two rather active bands work, he said it’s not that hard. The Sweat Act practices on weekdays, while Bridger practices on weekends. When it comes to gigs or practices, Dillinger said it’s first come, first serve.

“It’s a lot easier now being in two bands than it was being in four bands,” Dillinger said. “In anything that I’ve ever done … I always make it work. If I have to pull double-duty, so be it. One time, I played a Boycott show, and then ran over to do a Remnants show. I love what I do; I need to do what I do; and I’m not going to fucking piss off the people around me to do it.”

Whitford said he was surprised at how fast the Sweat Act developed a good following.

“We were only a band for three months, and we all looked at each other like, ‘Hey, that was a great show!’ ‘Hey, we’re nominated in CV Weekly for Best New Band!’” Whitford said. “When it comes to fan response, and I relate this to online and social media, it’s not that big. … It’s still very small, but just the fact that people in the industry and peers of ours give us a lot of praise and respect, that’s enough.”

Whitford said he’s been working hard to push the band forward.

“After the whole CV Weekly thing, it lit a fire under my ass,” Whitford said. “I did the most groundwork I could during the summer, which is the slow time, to get as many shows as possible. We played two shows a month throughout the summer. We did that so we could get exposure for when the big shows start coming up. I’m hoping we did a good enough job.” 

Dillinger said the band members hope to do some recording soon.

“I got someone on board, and I’m just waiting for the green light,” Dillinger said. “We’re kind of shopping, but at the same time, we’re musicians, so we’re broke as fuck. We want to record, and we know that we’re ready to, but it just all depends on who, when, and how much?”

The Sweat Act will perform with War Drum, the Electric Blankets and Fleischman and the Librarian at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 18, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, visit the event page on Facebook. For more information on the Sweat Act, visit www.facebook.com/TheSweatAct.

Published in Previews