CVIndependent

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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

“Lucky” Campout 13, the annual resettlement of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven fans, came to Pappy and Harriet’s for three days and nights over Labor Day weekend.

A new fan who came to the Campout for the first time summed up the level of Crumb love: “Man, I am a Cracker fan, but nothing like these fans. This is incredible.” I see the Campout as an annual family reunion—full of traditions and a family you actually want to see.

Thursday night customarily features “acoustic” sets by Johnny Hickman and David Lowery, but it is really the first night of the family get-together, where fans first get to catch up. Claire Wilcox, a Crumb super fan, greeted me with silver beads she was handing out in celebration of Cracker’s silver anniversary.

Jonathan Segel started things off on Thursday. Segel mentioned: “There is a guy who is playing later. He lent me his guitar. What is his name?” He then gestured at the guitar all Crumb fans know belongs to David Lowery.

Segel is the violinist for Camper Van Beethoven, and his backing band, 20 Minute Loop, opened by playing tracks from the band’s new record, while Segel played violin in support. Segel then introduced fervent Camper fans to new solo material.

David Lowery walked onto the stage and declared: “Welcome to Lucky Campout 13. We will be playing some songs we will not play out there,” pointing to the outdoor stage. His solo show included “Let’s Go for a Ride” from Kerosene Hat; the gold record for that album, well-worn from age, is nailed to the Pappy and Harriet’s Wall of Fame, a few feet away.

The set also included “Let’s All Be Someone Else,” which began a chorus of sing-alongs that lasted the rest of the show. Lowery later mentioned, “I had my phone on shuffle, and this song came up,” as he began singing “Bad Vibes Everybody” which sparked another cheer. Then came the very wonderfully sappy lyrics of “Something You Ain’t Got”: “Well the first dance cost me a quarter and the second dance cost me my heart. … Like a circle it ends where it starts, and it goes something like this, always a swing and a miss.” Lowery ended his solo set with the rebellious “Torches and Pitchforks.”

Johnny Hickman then entered stage right and saluted his predecessor to the stage: “The mayor of Campout, David Lowery.”

Lowery may be the mayor, but Johnny Hickman is the suave marshal, always surrounded by a posse of his female fans. Hickman set low expectations with his devotees: “I have a couple of new songs that I am hesitant to play, because they will end up in a crappy You Tube video.” Without a set list, I could not identify some of the new songs, but the fans were pleased.

Toward the end of his set, Hickman asked for direction on how many more songs he could play; the pause resulted in some requests from the crowd. Arie Haze, to the left of me, yelled out: “Little Tom,” and Johnny obliged the request, before asking for help with a new song, “Poor Life Choices”: When he pointed to the audience, they needed to shout out “Poor Life Choices!”

A few signals got crossed: Johnny announced, “It’s time to welcome back the mayor of Campout,” but David Lowery was not there quite yet. Hickman, with tongue firmly placed in cheek, noted: “This is the beauty of Thursday night; we don’t give a shit.” So Hickman strapped on his acoustic guitar to play a few more songs.

Closing out the first night, the Cracker duo was in great form, playing cuts normally not heard during a normal Cracker show.

Campout tradition dictates that special appearances are made at a nearby location. This time, Douglas Avery, a hardcore fan, rented a “shack” a few yards away from Pappy’s—the third year he had done it. There, a small stage illuminated by a lamp and run with a primitive mixing board greeted Thayer Sarrano (who performs with Cracker), who played an acoustic set followed by Johnny Hickman, playing solo under the desert stars—as the nearby desert sparkled by way of lightning. It was magical moment and a great example why Hickman is so loved.

On Friday, the outdoor stage brought the always-wonderful jam session fronted by Jonathan Segel, with Camper bandmate Victor Krummenacher in support.

David Lowery came out personally to introduce Coachella Valley’s Tribesmen, who followed these music veterans without a hitch, playing a interpretation of instrumental rock that delighted hardcore music fans.

Once again, Camper Van Beethoven headlined on Friday. Did Camper forgo the dress theme, or did I miss a subtle reference to the theme of for the night, “All Her Favorite Fruit,” a song about a civil servant yearning for another man’s wife: “She serves him mashed potatoes; she serves him peppered steak with corn.” Campout attendee Molly Thrash depicted the theme beautifully and explained the meaning of the melody with a tray full of vittles outlined in the song. David Lowery sang popular tunes, including “Eye of Fatima (Part 1),” “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” “Pictures of Matchstick Men” and “White Riot.”

Prior to the start of the show, fan Jenny Wariner asked to borrow a pen, because she wanted to write “S.P. 37957” on a Wendy’s Hamburgers white paper bag in hopes that the medley would be played live. Jenny drove from Utah with her husband, and the song came on via shuffle during the long drive. She said she realized that she had never heard the song live, and she did not have time to go to the store to get “proper supplies” for a sign. As fate would have it, this CVB uber-fan got to hear the song.

After the CVB show, Thelma and the Sleaze tore things up on the indoor stage.

One always meets lots of different people at the Campout, including Rosario Romero, a Campout regular who always dances by herself stage right, near the large speakers. Over the years, she has mentioned that her son Indio Romero is a performer, even playing at the House of Blues in San Diego—so I was pleased to find out that Indio Romero was going to be able to play at the Campout on Saturday, on the indoor stage, the same stage that has the sweat and tears of such bands as Babes in Toyland, the Savages and Sir Paul McCartney. The indoor stage was packed, which would be expected since a member of the “family” was playing. Romero killed it, explaining that the song “Headlights” got him the gig.

Saturday headliner Cracker actually complied with the night’s “movie stars” dress code, as the entire band dressed as the cast of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. David Lowery, of course, played the part of Steve Zissou. Cracker gratified with all the hits, including “Eurotrash Girl,” ‘“Teenage Angst,” “The World Is Mine” and “Low.”

On a personal note, I would like to mention one last family tradition. Bradford Jones takes the band photo every night, with fans in the background. However, this year, Jones could not make it, because his father passed away during the Campout weekend. Arie Haze was deputized to fill Bradford Jones’ big shoes, and Arie—a very serious math teacher by day—drafted me to take the backup shot. Bradford has set the bar high as a professional photographer, and Arie wanted to make him proud. I hope he approves.

Another Campout is in the can, as they say. With such a rich catalog of songs to pull from, Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker always connect. The only thing that changes every year is that the family gets bigger and stronger, making the patch of desert called Pappy and Harriet’s feel a little more enchanted.

Published in Reviews

Local music fans have been waiting for years for Tribesmen to release some recordings. Back in October, that finally happened—albeit in limited fashion.

The band’s new EP has just two songs: “Oceans Ocean” and “Ethos.”

The instrumental band from Coachella offers hints of psychedelia, ambient and rock in its sound. The band played at the first Tachevah Block Party in 2013 in downtown Palm Springs, and has developed a loyal following that shows up whenever and wherever the band plays.

During a recent interview at Tribesmen’s practice space in Coachella, drummer Freddy Jimenez said “Ethos” was the second or third song the band wrote—about three years ago.

“We wanted to save the rest, just in case we get hit up by a label or something. We’ve spent so much time writing and recording,” Jimenez said. “It takes forever to do all of that for us, because we have shit going on.”

Guitarist Wilber Pacheco explained why these two songs were released first.

“We’ve recorded all of the songs we have written so far,” Pacheco said. “These are the two songs that came out the best. In case we do get hit up by a label or something, we have time to make adjustments to those songs we previously recorded.”

Bassist Leslie Romero talked about the origins of “Oceans Ocean.”

“‘Oceans Ocean’ is kind of a mixture of an old song that we stopped playing for a while,” Romero said. “We had new ideas for it, so when we brought Christian (Leon) into the band, we combined his style of playing into that song, and we updated it.”

Guitarist Leon said that when he first joined Tribesmen more than a year ago, “Ethos” was the first song for which he wrote parts. In fact, writing that song was deceptively easy.

“For ‘Ethos,’ it really wasn’t hard,” Leon said. “It came right off the bat. Everything just popped. … At first, it was a challenge, but then it was like, ‘Yay! Everyone is cool with me now.’ It then became really hard to write parts for the other songs.”

While the band includes three guitar-players, it does not include a vocalist—a fact which has led some local musicians and music-writers to criticize Tribesmen. However, all-instrumental bands are far from obscure, and those who say Tribesmen needs a vocalist don’t understand what the band does.

“That whole thing doesn’t bother us anymore. We’re so used to it by now. We’re over it,” guitarist Alec Corral said about the criticism.

Pacheco said he understands why people question Tribesmen’s lack of a singer—although he does not agree with those questions.

“We hear that, but it’s not from people who have made music their passion,” Pacheco said. “It’s so common. … If you don’t have (a singer), it’s going to raise questions like, ‘Why don’t they have a singer? Can’t they find one? Are they not good enough?’”

Some instrumental bands record albums with tracks that transition into each other. Corral and other members of the band said they like that idea.

“We’ll get into that over time as we record in the studio,” Corral said. “Most of our songs are in the same key, so we can really do something with that.”

Tribesmen continues to improve and evolve, the members say. In fact, the band no longer plays some of its older material.

“There are a bunch of songs we have that we don’t play anymore, because we’ve grown out of them,” Pacheco said. “We matured a little bit, and we’ve outgrown them.”

The band members have struggled to properly record their own music. Thankfully, Jimenez spent time as an intern at Indio’s Music Proz and has recorded other bands, including as CIVX. That experience has proven to be helpful.

“We were just trying to do it in the garage here, and one of us would mess up and be like, ‘Oh man! Let’s do it again!’” Romero said. “We had to do that whole thing again, over and over. But Freddy found little techniques that they taught him where we didn’t have to scrap the whole thing and start from the beginning. It made it a lot easier to record.”

What does the future have in store for Tribesmen? The members say they’re continuing to spread the word about the band, and they’re planning more shows—including a possible summer tour.

For more information on Tribesmen or the ‘Oceans Ocean’ EP, visit tribesmenmusic.bandcamp.com.

The area surrounding the city of Coachella is dominated by farms, ranches, orchards and the laborers who work on them.

As I drove to meet Armando Lerma at his Date Farmers art studio, I passed fields where migrant farmworkers were doing their jobs under the brutal summer sun. This is one of the places where Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers union fought for the labor rights of these migrant farmers.

Today, Coachella is becoming known for more than agriculture; it’s also getting more and more attention for its rising arts scene—and much of that attention is directly due to Armando Lerma and the Date Farmers studio.

When I arrived at the studio, which Lerma started with Carlos Ramirez (who was not present; he apparently avoids interviews), Lerma greeted me. Lerma’s two large dogs jumped around in excitement as he opened the door to show me the garden area out back as he explained what made him and Ramirez start the Date Farmers.

“It’s complicated,” Lerma said. “We try to keep the tradition alive of Mexican art—the culture and the traditions from the ancients to modern Mexican/Chicano art. That’s always been the inspiration. It’s something that relates to our community.”

Lerma said that when he began making art two decades ago, there wasn’t much inspiration to be found in Coachella.

“It’s kind of hard for us, because we weren’t taught those traditions and were kind of out here by ourselves,” he said. “We had to teach ourselves. Back in the ’90s, when I was in high school, there was no real art or anything that really talked to us. The art I remember that people would be talking about would be on El Paseo in Palm Desert in those galleries. I’d be looking and trying to understand whatever it was. I wanted to understand it, but I couldn’t—and I didn’t feel anything there.

“I met and talked with people who pointed me in the right direction and started teaching myself about the traditions. I found my way and the direction I wanted to take.”

Lerma said his initial ignorance of traditional Mexican art has made him appreciate art even more.

“No one in my family understood art. My parents had no clue and didn’t teach me about art,” Lerma said. “We had encyclopedias, and I remember going into those for art. Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh—all that stuff was cool. When I got a little older and started learning about Mexican history and people like Diego Rivera and all the Mexican muralists, I went deeper and deeper.”

He said a pilgrimage to Mexico helped inspire him and his works.

“I saw all the Aztec murals, the Mayan ruins and all that stuff,” Lerma said. “It’s a tradition that I wasn’t taught. That’s where I come from, and I had to teach myself, because the generations before me didn’t have time for that. Through my parents’ hard work, they were able to give me a good education. … I felt fortunate I was able to meet so many people pointing me in the right direction.”

Lerma said the collective’s name comes from the heritage of both his family and his hometown.

“That’s what established this community—the agriculture and farming,” he said. “My parents were migrant farmworkers and worked here in the desert. We had a date farm; my grandfather was a farmer, and my uncles are farmers.”


The Coachella Valley consists of nine different incorporated cities and various unincorporated communities, ranging from some of the richest areas of the country to the poorest. As he was growing up, this disparity confused Lerma.

“I felt stupid! I felt really dumb. For so long, I was like, ‘Why are things the way they are? I’m living in Coachella. I guess this is kind of cool,’” he remembered. “Back then, things were sort of junk (in Coachella) and not looking so nice. I went to school in Bermuda Dunes, and when you are going through Palm Desert, you can see the transition—and you don’t understand it. My parents didn’t know how to explain it to me. No one talked about it.

“When I came into my own and started understanding these things, I felt like that tradition (of understanding my community) was taken away from me. I should have known that stuff; I should have been more aware, and I should have been more self-confident and proud, but I wasn’t. I thought we must have been doing something wrong, because I didn’t know why we were in that position when I was growing up.”

Some other members of the Coachella Valley arts community believe this perspective has led Lerma to, at times, be over-protective of his community and his art. I reached out to a variety of people to discuss the Date Farmers—and almost none of them were willing to discuss the Date Farmers on the record. Off the record, some noted that Lerma can be eccentric, is often unafraid to state his opinions, and is overly suspicious and untrusting of anybody he views as an outsider.

However, almost everybody I talked to praised Lerma for being an inspiration to his community—and mentioned that he’s becoming more and more of an influence in the California art scene.

One person who was willing to talk to me is Freddy Jimenez, an artist and the drummer for the band Tribesmen. He has been working with the Date Farmers for years and has played various shows at the Date Farmers studio. He said he understands where Lerma is coming from.

“He doesn’t want anybody to just come in here, because this part of the desert has been neglected, and a lot of people have talked bad about it, especially from the west side of the Coachella Valley in Palm Springs,” Jimenez said. “Now all of a sudden, Armando is doing murals in the city of Coachella, and we’re doing shows here, and a lot of people are starting to recognize it and wanting to do shit out here. People just want to suddenly jump on the bandwagon. … You just don’t want to let everybody in. I don’t want to work with just anybody when it comes to throwing shows or doing art. We’ve been building this local scene up.”

As a result of the Date Farmers’ increasing influence, their pieces have been seen everywhere from the Ace Gallery in Los Angeles to the most recent Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival—you know it simply as Coachella. Lerma said he’s happy to have his art in these places, in part because he feels people can learn from his art.

“With Mexican art in general, I think a lot of it has to do with teaching,” Lerma said. “If you take anyone’s art at the highest level, it’s teaching you something. That’s in Egyptian art, Chinese art—and you learn from it. It’s not just art for art’s sake.

“In Mexican culture, it’s also ceremonial to teach the young people to hold to the traditions. We’re kind of like orphans culturally. My generation, my parents’ generation, my grandparents’ generation—there was no art, and it kind of stopped. They had to work and do what they had to do to survive. But the spirit is strong, and it came back. That’s how I see art and where we’re coming from.”

The Date Farmers’ piece that was on display at Coachella, “Sneaking Into the Show,” was sitting in the gallery disassembled during my visit. Lerma mentioned during an April interview with LA Weekly that the work symbolizes the disparity between Coachella, the city—low-income, working-class—and Coachella, the music festival.

Lerma told me he is not a fan of Goldenvoice, the promoter that puts on Coachella and the other gigantic festivals that happen at Indio’s Empire Polo Club.

“It’s not something that’s talked about: Even the politicians here don’t step up and say, like, ‘Hey, we’re right here!’” Lerma said of the disparity between the festival and the nearby areas. “The things Goldenvoice does, like stopping people from selling T-shirts, is something I don’t understand. As an artist, I feel the most important aspect is to be honest, and I think we’re lucky, because we can talk shit. (The piece) was about bringing people from Coachella into the festival.

“I have this cousin who’s very inspirational to me as a kid. He was a gangster, and he had the cholo tattoos back in the ’80s when no one had tattoos. He looked like a pirate back then or something. I remember looking at him back then and saying, ‘You’re never going to get a job!’ He didn’t have to worry about it, because he ended up in prison. But he was a bad-ass artist, and that’s kind of the artwork he did, that reflected his experiences and his friends and family. It inspired me how he used art to tell his own story. He passed away recently, and the piece was a nod to him, because he sort of started me off.”

Lerma is also outspoken about the bad rap Coachella gets in the media. Earlier this year, The Desert Sun published a piece titled “The Warlords of Coachella,” about the city’s gang problems. Lerma said the piece was not a fair representation.

“That’s all bullshit!” Lerma said. “It makes us look so bad when it’s on the front page. … There are gangs here, but I don’t see them as much as I did when I was a kid. There used to be a lot. I probably wouldn’t have come to a party in Coachella during that time. It’s changed, and it’s not like that anymore.

“We were at a City Council meeting, and there were some kids from Coachella Valley High School, and they took it upon themselves to do this video, asking people at their school: ‘Do you feel safe?’ ‘How do you feel about the gangs?’ Everybody was saying there were some knuckleheads, but there were mostly good kids.

“This is my community. I live here every day, and I don’t see the gangs anymore.”


The city of Coachella and the East Valley in general have not been embraced as vibrant arts communities. However, the Date Farmers are helping to change that perception.

The Crisalida Community Arts Project was designed to also help change that perception. The two year project, an effort of the McCallum Theatre, fostered connections with local artists of all types in the East Valley, and culminated in a showcase this past spring at the McCallum.

Lerma—ever territorial and opinionated—said that he was not a fan of the project, in part because he was not included in it.

“That was a bummer for me. David Gonzalez, who is from New York, came to our community, and the project was funded by the James Irvine (Foundation) through the McCallum Theatre. I don’t know what started their interest in coming out here, because they never came out here before. I’m a big influence on these young people doing art out here, and for them to just not even contact me—it was bullshit.”

Lerma was also displeased that the Coachella Valley Art Scene’s Sofia Enriquez painted a mural in Coachella as part of the Crisalida project. He said it did not sit well with him, in part because the Date Farmers were already working on another mural nearby.

“It’d be one thing if there was no mural project, but there was already something going on that we were working on,” he said. “Right now, we have 10 murals up, and we’re going to get some more up, but I was really pissed off with the Crisalida Community Arts Project.”

David Gonzalez was in Europe and unavailable for comment.

Lerma explained that art is not as simple as some people make it out to be. He said that art needs to be taken seriously, and should not just be made in an effort to achieve fame and fortune.

“You have to be honest with yourself. I get turned off by people acting like they’re artists,” Lerma said. “… Honesty makes good art. It doesn’t come easy, and there aren’t too many art geniuses. (Date Farmers co-founder) Carlos (Ramirez) is an art genius. He’s been drawing since he was out of the womb, and he knows how to draw. It took me a long time to learn how to draw and how to paint. With social media, it’s just so fast now, and that dedication to the craft isn’t there.”

The Date Farmers’ interest in art goes beyond what one would find in a gallery. In an area that is currently going through a resurgence of the house-party-style concert, the arts collective has been also focusing on music. During New Year’s Eve in 2015, Brant Bjork performed at the studio, and local bands including Tribesmen have played there as well.

“We’ve had a lot of music shows. We had parties on Friday and Saturday during Coachella,” Lerma said. “We can have 300 people in here, and they’re all mostly locals, and it’s kind of the way to give back to the kids who can’t go to Coachella. We go all out and throw a good party, exposing them to good music and art.

“They’re all cool art-type kids. When I was a kid, you’d get beat up for being an art kid.”

Jimenez, of Tribesmen, said that the Date Farmers’ music space is a throwback to the backyard scene that is now making a comeback in the Coachella area.

“Armando has provided a safe haven for the local East Valley scene,” Jimenez said. “It’s the same kind of feel and the same kind of passion that the backyard-music shows had. No other venue in the desert has the same kind of love. That studio makes it feel like you’re at home and shit. It makes you feel like you’re playing to people who actually care about the music as opposed to playing in a bar and people who are just there to drink and party.”

The Date Farmers studio is currently dealing with a financial setback, due to the bankruptcy and questionable financial dealings of Ace Gallery founder Douglas Chrismas.

“I should really be jaded with everything I’ve gone through as an artist,” he said. “We just finished working with the Ace Gallery in Los Angeles. They showed Andy Warhol and all kinds of big names. The guy who owned it, Douglas Chrismas, is notorious for being crazy, and he rips you off. It was all part of the experience. The business of art is why you can’t take the business so seriously—but then you do (need to take it seriously), and it’s a weird balance. It’s not easy.”

Lerma explained that there’s no grant money supporting the Date Farmers.

“We make money through making and selling art,” he said. “Most people never get to live off their art and have to do something else. We’re so fortunate to be able to sell artwork. But it hasn’t been easy, and people aren’t just throwing money at us. I don’t know where the money is going to come from, but I know that I have to sell some art. We don’t have the Ace Gallery anymore, so we have to find a new gallery to sell art through.”

Lerma is clearly proud of his hometown. He said that after dealing with the hustle and bustle of the Los Angeles art world, he’s happy to be home.

“After coming back here, I just want to start a garden and slow things down—slow it down as much as I can,” he said.

Published in Visual Arts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Previews

By day, Freddy Jimenez is a talented screenprinter; by night, he’s the drummer for Tribesmen, the Coachella-based all-instrumental band. Jimenez’s drumming is extremely technical and compliments the Tribesman sound nicely. The band is recording an album that the members hope to have out soon. For more information, visit tribesmenmusic.bandcamp.com and www.facebook.com/tribesmencv.

What was the first concert you attended?

Coachella 2003, for the White Stripes and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

What was the first album you owned?

Hmm, I think it was a Tupac cassette my uncle bought for me on my birthday many years ago.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m actually listening to the new Title Fight album, Hyperview, as I’m typing this. Amazing stuff! The new Turnstile album is pretty tight, too; Blonde Redhead here and there; and a whole bunch of other stuff that jumps around The Doors Pandora station when I’m screenprinting. Ha ha!

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

Dang, don’t really know. If I don’t really dig a scene, I just brush it off and try not to really think about it.

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

I’ve seen Radiohead and Sigur Rós both, and, dang, I’ve never experienced anything like that at any show. I would love to see both of those bands again, again and again.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

One Direction. Ha ha! Just kidding.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Any backyard in Coachella.

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

For me, it’s more of a melody that gets stuck in my head.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Metallica and Blink-182. I guess my taste just branched out after obsessing over those bands when I was 10.

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

I wouldn’t want to ask a question, but observe how Thom Yorke works during the writing process of a piece.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Well, that’s simple: It would have to be that one song by Rick Astley, “Never Going to Give You Up.” Ha ha! 

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

That answer changes every other week, but as I took a break from typing, I snapped a glance at my records and saw the Stan Getz and João Gilberto album, Getz/Gilberto, all out in the open, and that record is super-sick! So, as of now, that’s the one.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Pretty much anything on that Getz/Glberto album. You won’t regret it. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

One year after winning the chance to play at the Tachevah block party in Palm Springs, Tribesmen continue to gain notoriety throughout the Coachella Valley.

The group came together through jam sessions scheduled with the intention of forming an actual band. Alec Corral (guitar), Leslie Romero (bass) and Freddy Jimenez (drums) played a distorted style of rock ’n’ roll that Corral compared to that of the White Stripes.

Wilber Pacheco (guitar) was in another band at the time that Tribesmen formed, but soon became interested in what the three members were doing.

“I went to one of their band practices, and they were just going to play rock stuff,” Pacheco said. “I was like, ‘I’ll just hang out,’ and then (Corral) starts playing in this awesome tone. I was like, ‘Holy shit, dude! Does the offer still stand to be in this band?’”

Tribesmen doesn’t have a vocalist, and the band doesn’t plan on adding one any time soon; they originally intended to have a vocalist, but were unable to find one and decided to instead make instrumental music—something that few bands have managed to make work, outside of Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Red Sparowes and a few other groups. However, none of those groups were among their influences.

“We make the songs more along the lines of cinematic scores,” Corral said.

Pacheco explained further why the band doesn’t have a singer.

“We’re very specific,” Pacheco said. “… To be honest, I think (a singer) makes or breaks a band. I’ve heard some really sick (in a good way) intros before, and I think, ‘Oh, this band is going to be sick, I can tell!’ Then the lead singer starts singing, and I’m like, ‘Oh, never mind.’

“I’d rather be criticized at first because people aren’t used to it. We got a lot of criticism after our first shows, and people asked us, ‘Why don’t you have a singer?’ Now, people get it, or they’re starting to get it.”

Corral said the members of Tribesmen don’t necessarily think of themselves as musicians.

“We don’t know all these notes, time, key and all that stuff,” Corral said. “We just play whatever sounds good to us. If it sounds good, we’ll keep playing it and keeping it going.”

Their songwriting process tends to be rather complex.

“When we’re creating songs, we jam for two hours just on random stuff,” Pacheco said. “Either a small clip or just 10 seconds can make us stop and go, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa! What was that you just played?’ We’ll just play that, and then we’ll work off of that for the next week or so, trying to make that into a song.”

All of this takes place in a Coachella practice space that has no air conditioning or heat.

“We’re working on it, though,” Corral said. “We’re working on adding more guitar pedals, and an A/C unit to help us out.”

Of course, the heat didn’t stop the band from holding an after-party at their practice space after playing The Hue Music and Arts Festival in Coachella last year.

“It was really hot,” Pacheco said. “I don’t know why, but we felt really compelled to have an after-party in our band room. More people than we expected came through. We had probably like 50 or 60 people; 30 of us were in the band room, and the rest were outside.”

When the band won the chance to play at the first Tachevah block party last year, the members were elated and nervous at the same time. They enjoy having a few alcoholic beverages before they perform, but one of the members of the band Passion Pit had just been through rehab—and the backstage area was an alcohol-free zone.

“They specifically said no beer in the green room or anywhere,” Corral said. “We were just in the green room chilling, just dry as fuck.”

The nervousness led to a bit of paranoia about their equipment.

“Nothing was going to mess up,” Pacheco said. “I opened up my amp and made sure there were no loose screws. I made sure everything was working, and I bought a bunch of new cables.”

Corral said his uncle helped ease their fears.

“As soon as he heard (about the show), he asked me if I needed anything. I didn’t ask him for anything, but when it came down to the wire, I asked him for some new cables. I bought a new amp at time—a tube amp instead of a solid state. We didn’t want to fail to impress.”

However, once they took the stage, the band members felt like they belonged, Corral said.

“It was an amazing experience,” Corral said. “As soon as we got onstage to set up our equipment and heard our sound, we went back in the green room, and we’re like, ‘You know what? We’re not going to play to a bunch of people, because we’re opening.’ As soon as we came back on, there were loads of people everywhere.”

Tribesmen went on to play several local shows in the past year, as well as gigs in Los Angeles and San Francisco. A local show with the Sweedish band Truckfighters last fall wound up being particularly helpful.

“They gave us some good advice, along with touring advice,” Pacheco said. “The drummer, Poncho, bought one of our band shirts, and he was wearing it while he was playing the show! I was like, ‘The drummer from Truckfighters is wearing our shirt!’”

The band is hoping to play at the Tachevah block party again this year, and are one of the 10 finalists. (Cathedral City’s CIVX was selected to perform by judges after the March 12 battle-of-the-bands showcase; Tribesmen will play at the second showcase, on March 26.) They submitted a music video that they recorded recently for their song “Alpine.”

“Last year, Bolin Jue from the Town Troubles filmed our video, and we thank him so much,” Pacheco said. “This year, we couldn’t ask Bolin again, because he did it for us last year, and his band didn’t win, so I felt bad. Freddy and I know this guy named Manuel, and we decided to hit him up to make us a music video. Our good friend, Ken Foto, let us use his studio at the Coachella Valley Art Center.”

Corral said they were happy with the end result

“After we saw Manuel’s work, we were sold,” Corral said. “He did a good job with us. He had a good camera, good editing, and all of that. It was entirely last minute, and we told him, ‘We leave it in your hands; whatever you want to do, and we’ll do it.’ He said all he needed was a projector and a warehouse, and we couldn’t find a warehouse, but props to Ken Foto for letting us use his studio.”

As for the future, the Pacheco and Corral said they have a surprise for their fans that they will reveal within the next year, but they wouldn’t elaborate. They did say they’ve begun work on recording a full length album.

“We’ve been having some issues with recording,” Pacheco said. “We’re trying to do it ourselves and then send it out to get mastered. We’re having trouble getting the timing on the metronome. ‘Alpine’ was the first song that we were recording, so, fortunately, it was ready by the deadline to enter Tachevah.”

Corral said the band is continuing to work on new material.

“Definitely more songs,” Corral said. “Vocals, maybe: We’ve been talking about little oohs and aahs and some spoken-word stuff, but only on some songs, and we’re going to drown them in reverb to hide our ugly voices. We don’t want to sound too poppy.”

Tribesmen will join other Tachevah finalists at a show at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 26, at the Hard Rock Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. The show is free.

Published in Previews

Meet the Tribesmen, one of the busiest local bands these days—and specifically, meet Wilber Pacheco. The 24-year-old Indio native works in retail when he’s not playing indie rock with his bandmates—and you can catch Pacheco and co. on Sunday, June 16, the final day of downtown Cathedral City’s AMFM Fest. For more information on the inaugural film, music and art festival—including ticket information—scope it out at amfmfest.com or the festival’s Facebook page. For more on the band, peruse their Facebook page.

What was the first concert you attended?

Interpol, when I was 13 or 14.

What was the first album you owned?

Blink-182, Enema of the State.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Wild Nothing, This Will Destroy You, and Foals.

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

Anything industrial or progressive, like Nine Inch Nails, for example. I just don’t get it.

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

Every now and then, I think about the fact that I will never see the Ramones live, and it depresses me.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Taylor Swift. Don’t judge me.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Out of the ones I’ve been to, it’s probably the Glass House (in Pomona).

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

"Enjoy the Silence," Depeche Mode.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The former local band Something Vague. I had no idea there was a local music scene down here until I discovered them. Their shows really encouraged me to get a band of my own started.

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

Yannis Philippakis from Foals, and I would ask him if he wants to party.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Saves the Day, “At Your Funeral.”

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

I would figuratively be dead, because I wouldn’t be able to choose.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Las Feas, “Porn Star Love.” (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

Jack Kohler, 23, sings and plays the keyboard for War Drum, a band described on their Facebook page thusly: “From the sun-dripped hills of the desert comes WAR DRUM, a self-described psychedelic spook rock sound.” When he’s not playing psychedelic spook rock, the Indio resident and La Quinta native works in music promotion at the Ace Hotel, among other activities; he is also a member of the band WAXY. War Finder just got done with a European tour in support of its latest album, Fortune Finder, and they’ll celebrate their homecoming on Friday, May 24, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Tribesmen will join the men of War Drum for the free show, which kicks off at 9 p.m. For more, head to www.wearewardrum.com, or seek out the band on Facebook.

What was the first concert you attended?

Probably Styx or something weird with my parents.

What was the first album you owned?

The Doors, The Soft Parade.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Tame Impala, The Black Angels, Sleepy Sun, Father John Misty, The Asteroid #4, WAXY.

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

Dubstep. What’s going on there?

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

Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett era. I always wanted to see what that was all about.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

ELO. I don’t know why I like them so much, but every time I put them on at a party, everyone hates it.

What’s your favorite music venue?

No brainer: Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. Long live Pappy’s!

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

“And I’ve made my mind up, you’re going to be mine!” Donovan, “Sunshine Superman.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Pink Floyd. I remember hearing them for the first time and having this overwhelming desire to find out how and why they did what they do. Still figuring that out to this day.

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

I’d ask R. Kelly why he’s such a genius.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

My band can pick that one. They know me best.

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

Lonerism by Tame Impala. These guys are way ahead of our time, or maybe way behind in the best way. All the tones are there; the lyrics are relevant; and the musicianship is unmatched. Best band playing right now.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Low Light,” War Drum. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13