CVIndependent

Fri06052020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Matt King

The Academy of Musical Performance, also known as AMP, is a music-education program for Coachella Valley students in grades six through 12. Since 2015, AMP has held after-school programs and summer camps, with local musicians teaching students about the basics of learning instruments, stage performance, songwriting and many other facets of music—all of which rely on the ability of people to get together.

So how does a program in which students learn by forming bands and performing continue at a time when we all have to stay home? Will Sturgeon, the executive director of AMP, explained how he, his fellow mentors and their students found a way.

“We’re currently still running our spring band program, which is ending in the coming weeks,” Sturgeon said. “I’ve been deep in trying to finish that and get the grants that we need to get us through this difficult time. It’s been a unique challenge trying to finish the band programming without having people in the same room together. How are we going to have some sort of final showcase so that the session doesn’t end in a fart?”

Each AMP session has ended with live performing showcases—some of which, I must say, were pretty fantastic. That, of course, won’t be possible this spring.

“So what we’ve been doing is drawing on some business-course lessons from AMP’s Rockin’ On program, which is our band-entrepreneurship program, and we are also working on our first-ever AMP album,” Sturgeon said. “We found a collaborative recording software that we are remotely teaching the kids to use, which had been something we had been wanting to do for a while. In mid-May, we’ll release that album in place of our usual final showcase for this session.”

The ability to record one’s own music is a useful skill in this current age of DIY music—pandemic or not—and the release of this album will give the young musicians an immediate platform they will be able to capitalize on when the COVID-19 scare is gone.

Meanwhile, AMP is offering online education using some of the same lessons used in the face-to-face sessions—and even looking at broadening its mission.

“We’re offering one-on-one instruction over video chat, and taking private students and pairing them with a teacher,” Sturgeon said. “We’d love to offer some more enrichment to our students and to our community, so we’re also going to be working on offering panels eventually. We have been wanting to start this for a while, and we were just getting ready to launch these (online) programs, and it was a perfect opportunity to give these virtual lessons out. People have a lot more time and may want to take up learning a new skill, and we want to be where people go to learn music and be in a music community.”

Courtney Chambers, an AMP teacher and veteran of the local music scene, said that while the shelter-in-place order has forced them to change the way they teach, it’s also made them change some of what they teach—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“We have been teaching the students about social-media marketing, as well as promotional content, and how to practice efficiently and challenge yourself with new music and techniques,” Chambers said. “Our biggest project has been teaching them how to record and collaborate remotely with an online DAW (digital audio workstation) called Soundtrap. It’s been great to use this quarantine as an opportunity to touch on things we don’t normally have the time to in our regular sessions. I’m hoping that when we are able to resume band sessions in person, we can figure out a way to incorporate these into our regular format.”

Josiah Ivy, a current AMP student, said the program has helped him “a ton” to become the musician he wants to be.

“I joined my first AMP camp session after about a year of playing bass, and it was really my first experience playing in a band setting,” he said. “After that, I signed up and auditioned for the following AMP fall session, where I got a chance to really grow with a single group of musicians and learn how to be part of a band—on more than just a surface level. During that session, I was also invited to join a band separate from AMP that has worked out really well for me. If I hadn’t been invited by a friend to join AMP, I wouldn’t have been driven to improve so much at my musicianship.”

Ivy admitted he was unsure how the move to online lessons would work out.

“I was a bit skeptical of the online lessons at first, as I had joined to play with a band and already was recording music for personal projects,” Ivy said. “That said, I think that the focus on recording and collaboration has been really helpful for me and my bandmates, as it has gotten some of us more familiar with the software side of music and recording, as well as learning how to communicate politely and efficiently with each other to keep each other accountable on collaborative projects that take more than one day.

“The lessons have helped me learn to adapt to different types of software and learn to troubleshoot common problems for different software and different types of recording hardware. I’m really proud of the stuff my band has recorded so far, and I’m excited to wrap up what we’re working on—and hear what all of the other bands contribute.”

While the format of AMP’s future sessions remains up in the air, Sturgeon said he’s optimistic about the academy’s future.

“We run a big summer camp and are planning to still move forward with it as of now,” Sturgeon said. “We will adjust to any changes that will need to be made, but are still planning to have summer camp and our next AMP session in the fall. We are very lucky to have a lot of support from our community and board, who have done a great job of fundraising, to a point where we are not worried about AMP shutting down anytime soon. We are just focusing on how to provide types of programming that align with our mission in a time where people aren’t allowed to get together.”

Sturgeon said people will like what they hear from the current batch of students.

“Watch out for the AMP album in mid-May,” Sturgeon said. “I’m hoping to get some of our AMP-lumni bands on the record along with our current bands, and show off what we can do digitally versus on a stage.”

For more information on the Academy of Musical Performance, visit www.ampcv.org.

Local rapper Kurlzzz is a part of the huge hip hop scene in the Coachella Valley. I recently saw him perform at The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert, and was amazed at how he was able to combine tight beats with a flow that was both funny and serious flow. Check out his song “Ice Cream” on all streaming platforms. (Warning: explicit lyrics.) Roos is the latest to take The Lucky 13; here are his (rather brief) answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Kurupt.

What was the first album you owned?

YelaWolf.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Twenty One Pilots.

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

BTS (the Bangtan Boys).

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

Hamilton.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Rap.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Bart Lounge in Cathedral City.

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

“Bop bop gimme top top on the low low,” “Bop,” by Kurlzzz, featuring Chardonnay, Shane Francis and bennubyrd.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Wiz Khalifa. I saw what he did, and knew I wanted to be 10 times better than him.

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

Nipsey Hussle: “Looking back at your life, would you do anything differently?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“I’ll Be Missing You” by Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans.

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

E-40, Revenue Retrievin’: Night Shift.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Ice Cream” by Kurlzzz. (Scroll down to hear it; warning: explicit lyrics.)

If you’ve been to one of the backyard shows that take place behind the scenes in our valley, you may have come across Koka. In the likely event that you have not … the band’s unique brand of indie music has garnered the group tens of thousands of streams on SoundCloud, and Koka has made every show a packed-house sing-along. At the microphone is Edith Aldaz, whose great voice and catchy melodies have taken the band to the next level. Here are her answers to The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

The first-ever concert I went to was a One Direction concert my freshman year. After that, I stopped going to those types of concerts, and started going to more shows/festivals with multiple random artists.

What was the first album you owned?

One of the first albums I bought physically was Vampire Weekend’s Contra.

What bands are you listening to right now?

SIN 34, Willie Bobo, Astrud Gilberto and Sharon Van Etten.

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

Hobo Johnson. No explanation. Just Hobo Johnson.

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

I’d like to see Tame Impala, The Strokes and Astrud Gilberto. The Strokes, because they are my first favorite band, ever since middle school. I found out about Astrud a few months before leaving to college in Pasadena, and I still haven’t been able to put her music down. Usually, I go through phases with artists and stop listening to them after a couple of months, but not with Astrud. Tame Impala doesn’t really need an explanation.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Singing in an “operatic” voice. I love seeing how high and clear I can hit notes. I definitely annoy my parents when doing this randomly around the house.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Smell in Los Angeles. I feel like I have some sort of connection with that venue and the people who go there. When I lived in Pasadena, I would go every other weekend to make friends, and I did! It is so easy there: There’s a whole community of kids who come together to share something that they love and forget anything that was bothering them before. Everyone is so kind there. If someone falls in the pit, everyone stops and reaches out to help them. Everyone knows everyone there, and they love bringing in new people.

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

“I don't think you understand! There's nowhere left to turn. The walls keep breaking. Time is like a leaf in the wind. Either it's time well spent, or time I've wasted,” “Telescope,” Cage the Elephant.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The most recent artist that has affected me is Astrud Gilberto. She’s affected me vocally, because I love the little melodies that she is able to come up with. Because of Astrud, I found other artists that I love like Stan Getz, Luiz Bonfá and João Gilberto.

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

I would probably just say hi to Astrud Gilberto.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“India” by Luiz Bonfá.

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

One of my favorite albums of all time is Portamento by The Drums.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Enchanted Mirror” by Luiz Bonfá. (Scroll down to hear it!)

We’re under an emergency shelter-at-home order in California, with a lot of businesses closed down—meaning many people are now without a steady income, including the Coachella Valley’s hard-working, talented musicians.

Many of us also now have a lot of time on our hands … so why not use that time to get to know the local music scene better—while supporting these musicians in the process?

Also, remember that music can be a healer of wounds! For me, music can turn a terrible day into a great day—so I hope that this list can bring you joy in this uncertain time.

Because of all this, I’ve compiled a “Coachella Valley Quarantine” playlist of some of my favorite songs by valley bands. By streaming their songs on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube or any other service, you will also assist them financially … not much, but every little bit helps!

Click here for the Spotify version of the playlist.

Click here for the YouTube version.

“Last Day,” Captain Ghost

I started the playlist off with this one, because the only way to transition into the apocalypse is with roars and sick guitar riffs. This song is as heavy as it is funky—dare I say, with perhaps a hint of ska? The screamed-out chorus lines of “set forth your hands / like it’s the last day on Earth” make this song a perfect soundtrack for the end times. You can read more about Captain Ghost in the interview I did with them last year at CVIndependent.com; facebook.com/CaptainGhostBand.

“Coachella Gold,” Giselle Woo and the Night Owls

After being announced as part of the 2020 Coachella lineup, Giselle Woo and the Night Owls’ profile in the music scene became bigger than ever. Alas, the postponement of the festival means the world will have to wait to experience in person the greatness we’ve seen evolving over the past few years. “Coachella Gold” makes you proud to live here—and a sense of community is definitely something we all need during this time. Learn more about Giselle here; facebook.com/GiselleWooandTheNightOwls.

“Beat Up Your Mom (Sides One and Two),” Sleazy Cortez

In these times of mass hysteria and paranoia, you really could use a good laugh. Sleazy Cortez’s comedy stoner-punk jams are a perfect 20-second hand wash to take your worries away. You don’t even have to worry about too many lyrics, because the only words to this song are: “Beat up your mom.” Side One’s fast punk transitions beautifully into Side Two’s slow-burning blues groove for an epic 3 1/2-minute track. Learn more about Sleazy Cortez here; sleazycortez.bandcamp.com.

“Alone,” Black Water Gospel

“This is how it feels to be alone,” sings Lance Riebsomer in the chorus of this song. The desperation in his voice echoes many people’s uncertainties in this time of isolation—yet this song has one of those guitar solos will help you feel amazing. It’s hard to describe, so just listen. I challenge you to not bob your head at least once throughout the entire track; it may be impossible. Read more about Black Water Gospel here; facebook.com/BlackWaterGospel.

“Back on Track,” Brightener

Whenever I listen to Brightener, I can’t help but smile. Will Sturgeon has a voice that just makes you happy, and any track from his band will lift your spirit. It’s no wonder the band has played many top-notch gigs in Los Angeles, not to mention Coachella in 2016. “Back on Track” is one of Sturgeon’s funkier songs, and will make your stay-cation a lot dancier. Learn more about Brightener here; brightener.bandcamp.com.

“Gallium,” Calico Wonderstone

Calico Wonderstone dominated the backyard music scene, but has only played a few shows at local venues, so the band’s name is unknown to many. The band dropped a five-song EP, but has not played a show since releasing it, meaning it has been severely underappreciated. “Gallium” is an indie-rock jam, and lead singer Ramses Lopez’s unique vocal style adds an edgier tone to the groove; soundcloud.com/calicowndrstne.

“Mainframe,” Fever Dog

Fever Dog has brought full effort into each of the genres the band has pursued. The group’s first two albums were heavy stoner rock, and then in 2017, Fever Dog released the Mainframe EP—three tracks of psychedelic jams. The title track sounds like something straight out of Pink Floyd, and is the perfect track to let your mind wander away from the negativity. Learn more about Fever Dog here; feverdog.bandcamp.com.

“Elevator Dance,” The Flusters

The Flusters offer a perfect mix of dreamy grooves and rockin’ choruses. Take “Elevator Dance,” for example; the verses are very Doors-esque, with lead singer Doug VanSant’s reverbed voice haunting the listener’s ear. But then, the guitar turns up for the choruses—and turns the slow groove to a full-on jump-around-and-dance vibe. Check out more about The Flusters here; theflusters.com.

“Wao Wao,” Ocho Ojos

Ocho Ojos’ catalogue features the best of the best when it comes to psychedelic cumbia. The band has played Coachella twice, and has performed at pretty much every venue in the valley—a handful of times—while sprinkling some out-of-town shows in between. The Latin rhythms shine bright on “Wao Wao,” and the 4 1/2-minute banger features synth player Danny Torres and guitarist Cesar Flores trading off solos in epic fashion; facebook.com/ochoojoscv.

“Funk Jam,” Desert Rhythm Project

This is a pretty self-explanatory track from Joshua Tree favorites Desert Rhythm Project. Funk is a healer of many things; in fact, I’ve been told there’s nothing a little groove can’t fix. Lead singer Mikey Reyes' soothing voice guides listeners through this song; it’s almost as if he’s checking in with us after every extended groove to make sure we’re OK. And this track is packed tight with groove, as it’s a six-minute song that features every essential funk instrument—horns, bass and, of course, a talk-box solo; desertrhythmproject.com.

“Sand Dune,” FrankEatsTheFloor

Shameless self-promotion: This is my band, and a song I wrote—of which I’m particularly proud. I used our desert landscape to represent how lonely you can feel in a situation of unreciprocated love. I wrote it when I felt lonely; I was sitting inside all day staring at the sand dunes, but now that I have to stay inside, I truly understand how lonely it can be living in a sandy jungle. The bassline is prominent, primarily because I wrote the song around the riff—but also because it sounds cool. Learn more about us here; facebook.com/FrankEatsTheFloor.

“Tied Up,” Instigator

We’re all tied up at home, so why not throw on this aptly named metal tune from local rockers Instigator? The intro riff has been stuck in my head ever since I first heard it; about 40 seconds into the song, the headbanging begins in full effect. Leader Mark Wadlund just posted on Facebook: “‘Coronavirus’ is a great name for a song on a heavy-metal concept album about disease,” so maybe something good will come out of this situation. Read more about Instigator here; facebook.com/instigatorofficial.

“Isolated,” Israel’s Arcade

Speaking of aptly named songs, this indie-rock track from Israel’s Arcade is the perfect song for your isolation blues. “Don’t come find me … let me rot,” sings Israel Pinedo over a melancholy instrumental—featuring some sweet saxophone backup. The standout part of this track is the lead guitar, as its back-and-forth rhythm, while extremely catchy, elicits a true sense of loneliness. Learn more about them here; instagram.com/israelsarcade.

“Strange,” Ormus

Ormus’ first album was a collection of hard-hitting metal-punk tracks, complete with frontman Martin Posada’s death growls. But “Strange” sounds like something straight from the ’70s, with Posada and bass-player Serene Noell sharing vocal duties on a rock track that’s very Black Sabbath-esque. However, Ormus’ signature sound comes back in the middle of a song, for a minute-long metal-punk death-growl interlude; facebook.com/ormusband.

“Bad Conscience Blues,” Plastic Ruby

Plastic Ruby’s unique “Desert Jangle” sound slows down a bit on “Bad Conscience Blues.” Lead singer John Marek’s reverb-caked voice sings over a slow-burning psychedelic-blues track that is as groovy as it is bluesy. The three-minute-long jam would not be complete without the organ solo, however—as everybody knows that you can't have psychedelic jams without an organ. Learn more about the band here; plasticruby.com.

“King Street,” Pescaterritory

“King Street” is one of those songs that makes you feel cool. The pounding rock beat of the song may just lead you to strut around your isolation chamber. Halfway through the song, guitarist Jason Zembo steals the show with what may be one of my favorite guitar solos of all time. The best way to beat the virus is with rock ’n’ roll! Read more about the band here; facebook.com/pescaterritory.

“Ppl Like U,” Throw the Goat

The first release from Throw the Goat after a recent lineup change proves that the same ol’ Goat is still there. It’s a punk outcry against hypocrites and the current state of the world—a perfect song for letting out your rage. The band is setting up for a full album about the political nonsense, appropriately titled Vote Goat 2020. Read more about the group here; facebook.com/throwthegoat. (Photo below by Keleigh Black)

“The Death of a Gentleman,” YIP YOPS

The Yip Yops’ recent lineup departures left the group as a two-piece—but the boys are determined to not change the sound that much. “The Death of a Gentleman” is an ’80s-style synth-rock gem that sounds so much like Depeche Mode. It’s groovy; it’s danceable; it even has somber moments. A lot of ground is covered in three minutes, and will cover many of the moods you are feeling during this time. Read more about them here; yipyops.com.

“Baby’s Breath,” Koka

Another notable band in the backyard-show scene in the valley is Koka, an indie-rock group with soothing melodies that offer a bedroom-pop vibe. Their sounds have brought them Internet attention, with “Baby’s Breath” nabbing more than 37,000 listens on Soundcloud alone. Lead singer Edith Aldaz’s vocal lines are catchy; singing the oohs of this song’s chorus will definitely help alleviate some stress; instagram.com/koka.wav.

“I Wanna Be Over You,” The Hive Minds

The last song on this playlist ends things on a high note. A happy instrumental is met by lead singer Derek Jordan Gregg reminiscing about the good times: “Remember the way that I fell when I held you, December.” Gregg wants to go back to “feeling himself”—don’t we all? This song is cheery and proves that music can be a source of joy, even in times like these; www.facebook.com/thehiveminds.

It all started—or, well, seemed to start—with Goldenvoice’s cancellation of Coachella and Stagecoach.

“I completely understand the stance of Goldenvoice in postponing Stagecoach in light of the virus threat right now,” said Alice Wallace, who was slated to play in Nikki Lane’s Stage Stop Marketplace at the festival. I had an interview scheduled with her, and she was kind enough to give me a statement after the postponement was announced. “From everything I'm reading, the postponements and cancellations of this festival and others are warranted and necessary, and I certainly want all of my fans to remain safe and healthy.

“But as a musician who makes her living playing music on stages across the country—as so many do—the next few months could prove to be pretty devastating. I think we are only seeing the beginning of cancellations, and I worry about the impact it could have on the music industry as a whole.”

Of course, we now know that Wallace’s fear of more cancellations was correct.

Giselle Woo and the Night Owls were selected to bring their Latin rock to this year’s Coachella festival. Before the cancellation, I spent a few hours talking with them about the upcoming performance—and I could see how excited they were for the show.

Then the news broke about the cancellation.

“It was a shock to us all, but I’m glad that it was postponed rather than canceled,” said drummer Jose Ceja. “We’re all in good spirits. We are excited to play, and now we have more time to prepare a better show. For some of our friends, it has affected their shows, and it has unfortunately canceled a lot of really important events, but our hope is that all safety precautions are being taken, and that it will help prevent the spread of this virus.”

When the governor of California directed that all bars be closed, a shock wave went though both the bar and music scenes.

“It's hitting the local economy pretty hard,” said Josiah Gonzalez, of Little Street Studio and local band Avenida Music; he’s in a unique position, being both a gigging musician and a talent-booker. “Multiple hotels have suspended music programs and residencies until further notice. Events are either moving to the fall or being cancelled altogether. Enquiries about new events have slowed to almost a halt.”

I, too, am a musician, and I’ve seen all my gigs pushed back or flat-out cancelled. Not surprisingly, morale among local musicians is very low—but if there’s one thing I know about music, it’s that it will never die. People aren’t letting the fear of the virus take over; they are taking precautionary measures to combat spread of the virus and “flatten the curve”—to ensure music is still able to be enjoyed by all.

One of my favorite musicians—also a friend—helped pioneer an idea that is now being used by other performers during this shelter-at-home stage. Garage-rocker Ron Gallo, out of Nashville, Tenn., as of this writing has so far hosted two Instagram live shows, during which he and his band performed a set to anyone watching—from the safety of home. He is encouraging everyone to #StayTheFuckHome, while throwing up a Venmo so people can support the band. Check out his Instagram, @rongallo, for more info.

“As artists, our livelihood depends on traveling around and cramming as many people as possible in not-always-big spaces, so if we all sacrifice that right now, it’s 1,000 percent the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s a really powerful message to get people to take this seriously, and in turn, do our real job—which is make people happy and use our voice for truth and positive influence on the world.”

“This kind of lifestyle change doesn’t have to be a bad thing, either. Trust me: I can’t sit still for five minutes, and I’m enjoying it. … The time is NOW, and there is a lot of positive in slowing down, being with loved ones, and returning to simplicity and pausing the chase for a minute.”

He said he came up with the Instagram idea when the show cancellations started.

“My brain started racing to figure out how to get creative with this situation,” Gallo said. “So I got some necessary gear and we … broadcast two shows from my house on Instagram live (one for the U.S., and one for Europe). This gives people what they need right now while also being in the safest place we can all be—home. Not to mention, there’s more freedom in this way to be conversational directly with people in the audience—from afar! We can offer comfort, play new songs, etc. Feels like everybody wins.

“Until this looming crisis, I never even considered something like this, but now that I have, I do see a future in it. I kind of want to find a way to do the first online world tour, or even the first world virtual-reality tour. … Possibilities are endless, and I think artists just have to get super-creative with it right now. Hit me up. I’m ready.”

Ron is setting an example for what could be the (at least temporary) future of live performances. If we need to stay inside for longer than anticipated, we could very well see many bands turning to live-stream shows. Along with those shows, Gallo is hoping the kindness of others can help substitute for the money being lost due to the inability of musicians to play in-person gigs.

“I’ve been telling people to Venmo or PayPal me if they can or want,” he said. “It’s not exactly covering the money lost on cancellations yet, but even one day after announcing (the first show, contributions by fans) at least covered the flights to get my drummer, Josh, here for the show. That's a positive, and I will give and take any and all of that I can get right now.”

Other artists have followed suit. The Purple Room broadcast a show by Michael Holmes and Keisha D live on March 16 (which you can watch at www.facebook.com/purpleroomrestaurantstage), and there are talks among various local bands to begin live-streaming shows. I’ll be posting updates on the Independent’s Facebook page as these develop, so please follow along, and feel free to message us.

The Coachella Valley is one of the world’s music epicenters. The current situation is less than favorable—yes, that’s a gross understatement—but it’s up to all local musicians and music-lovers to band together, and make sure that music continues to thrive.

If I was in charge of HGTV, I would use PUP’s music as the soundtrack for the home-demolition processes in each show: Songs like “DVP,” “Reservoir” and “Back Against the Wall” make you just wanna go destroy things. Heck, the video for “Mabu” even features the guys destroying their car, in true punk-rock fashion.

However, a handful of tracks are more somber, and may even bring a tear to your eye. “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will,” “Sleep in the Heat” and “Dark Days” still bring that heavy sound, along with a little bit of sentimentality. It’s OK—it’s totally punk rock to cry.

PUP has a story unlike any other, and I was excited to get the chance for an interview. The Toronto-based band’s decade of screams and headbanging could have been cut short a few times, yet here they are, about to play one of the biggest stages in the world, barring any pandemic postponements: You can catch them at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, aka Coachella, on Friday, April 10 and 17.

“It’s crazy,” said guitarist Steve Sladkowski during a recent phone interview about the Coachella booking. “I still remember when I got the email. I was walking home, and it was freezing cold outside. I was alone and walking to my apartment, and when I saw it, I just blurted out, ‘Woah!’

“It’s still a very surreal feeling. The guys were in shock. We thought it was fake. It’s gonna be a great time, and we’re all looking forward to it. Just being able to see Rage Against the Machine, I’d do it just for that.”

PUP includes Sladkowski, drummer Zack Mykula, bassist Nestor Chumak and frontman Stefan Babcock. The quartet has been crafting its unique punk sound and going batshit insane at live shows for a decade now. I saw them in San Diego last year, and the entire crowd was a mosh pit. Take my word for it, or check out “PUP Live in the K! Pit (Tiny Dive Bar Show)” in the media section below.

“Our first record came out in 2013, but we played under a different name before that,” said Sladkowski. “We’ve been writing songs, hanging out, drinking beer and piling into a van for a hell of a long time. We’ve been able to see so much more of the world that I’d ever thought I’d see: Europe, Australia, weird Spanish islands off the coast of Africa, every province in Canada and Late Night With Seth Meyers. It’s been a whirlwind, and it’s so crazy to me that this is our job and that we can make a living while still being a close, tight-knit family.”

There have been no lineup changes since the inception of the group, which is uncommon these days. I mentioned this to Sladkowski, and he explained the amazing relationship he and his bandmates have.

“We spend New Year’s together every year, so it’s not like the four of us are just in this because we’re having success; we’re truly friends,” he said. “The band is so dependent on the four of us, both socially and musically. Each of us brings something to the table when we are working together to write songs. It wouldn’t be the same without any one member.”

I was curious if this concept of working together translates to how the group crafts their songs.

“It’s totally a group effort,” Sladkowski said. “Some days, someone will come in with a song that’s as close to fully formed as you’d hear on a record, and other days, someone will come in with a shell of an idea, and the four of us will work together to build on it. We’re willing to do whatever works, and are willing to try to serve the song, and not repeat ourselves creatively, which can be a challenge, and very-time consuming. But at the end of the day, putting in that time and effort to find new ideas and creative directions is totally worthwhile.”

PUP’s success is due in large part to the band members’ tremendous work ethic. They’ve released three albums, two EPs and 15 music videos, all while touring relentlessly.

“When we’re at home, we always try to work on stuff,” Sladkowski said. “We’ll send around demos to each other, or try to relearn some of the songs that didn’t end up on Morbid Stuff (the band’s most-recent LP) just as a creative exercise. We’re always working, tinkering and writing. We’ve never been the type to stick to one process at a time—writing, recording, touring. It’s kind of a mish-mash of whatever is happening at the time, but we’re always very intent on working. We’ve gotten to a level of success that no one could ever have dreamed of, and it doesn’t feel like the time to coast on that. It feels like the time to continue working, and trying to make interesting things.”

While this does sound rigorous, Sladkowski assured me that it never feels like a hindrance.

“This is what I’ve always wanted to do, so even on days when it’s tough, it’s a lot easier to make sacrifices for it,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is my job, and it’s the best job ever. You never know when something like this is gonna end, so you have to make the most of it.”

Part of the reason for the band’s opportunity-seizing ethos has to do with a moment that every musician fears: Babcock at one point was diagnosed with a cyst on his vocal cords. His doctor told him “the dream was over.”

“That’s the kind of thing that makes you realize how lucky you are to be in that position, but how fragile that position can be,” said Sladkowski. “It’s something as random as a cyst on a vocal cord that shows you how quickly everything you have can unravel, but I think that made us really strong as a band, as friends, as family. I remember Stefan coming to us and him fearing he wouldn't be able to sing again, and him blaming himself for it.

“We got through it, and came out stronger as a unit. We learned there were some things we had to do, long-term-oriented, in terms of health and wellness, and learned how to take care of ourselves. Not only was it a wake-up call, but it was an opportunity to really figure out how to do this in a more physically sustainable way. It’s something you could have never predicted. We had shows to play, and then we had to finish and tour the record. All of a sudden, Stefan couldn’t talk for a month, and he had to relearn how to speak and sing. We’ve been through so much together that it would be crazy to do anything other than have unwavering support for one another.”

In true punk-rock fashion, the group named that album The Dream Is Over. Since then, the group has been on a roll, releasing Morbid Stuff last year and landing a spot at Coachella.

“I think a lot of bands lack great support in their relationships, as (do) a lot of people,” Sladkowski said. “It’s causing people a lot of pain and fear that they can’t come forward and talk about things. No one should ever feel that way, so if there’s anything to be taken from what we went through, it should be that it’s OK to lean on your friends, and it’s OK to ask for help.”

Many musicians will tell you that music comes first—but for Mattson 2, family reigns supreme.

The Mattson 2 is identical twin brothers Jonathan and Jared Mattson, and they’re able to create soundscapes that sound like they’re coming from a larger group than a duo. With only a drum set and a guitar in tow, the two have been masterfully producing jazzy jams for more than a decade—and each track is packed with aesthetically pleasing grooves. Take a listen to tracks “Naima’s Dream” and “Black Rain.”

The Mattson 2 are set to perform at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, March 21. I recently spoke to them over the phone about the upcoming show, the art of improvisation and how they got their start.

“Our mom signed us up for after-school lessons in junior high, mainly to keep us out of trouble while she was at work,” Jared said. “We were the worst kids in the class, horrible at playing guitar, and the teacher really had no interest in us. His partner, however, was the sweetest and most soft-spoken guy, and a really good guitar player. We met him on the last day of class and ended up taking private lessons with him. Those guitar classes really got my dexterity and confidence up.”

Added Jonathan: “After two years of guitar, I wasn’t really vibing with it. One day, I was at my older brother’s house, and I messed around on his drum kit. I played a beat, and he said, ‘It took me a week to learn that; how’d you get that?’ That really boosted my confidence, so I began to save up money for a drum kit, and started making music almost immediately.”

Almost immediately is right: The brothers started up a band soon after getting their instruments.

“Right when I started playing drums is when we got into jazz music,” Jonathan said. “It was the first kind of music we played together, only after a year of me learning to play the drums. We had a few people join us, but they didn’t take it quite as seriously as we did, so we decided to make it work with just a duo.”

Take a gander at some of the Mattson 2’s live performances to see how Jared is able to create both guitar and bass sounds by using pedals.

“The transition is seamless once I saw what my friend Ray Barbee could do with a loop pedal,” Jared said. “It was mind-blowing to see how much music one person could make. I went and bought a loop pedal, and that was that. We were tired of people leaving the band, so it was kind of empowering to be able to do it on our own terms.”

A huge part of the duo’s live show includes improvisation. Every song sounds new when played live—and the brothers, not surprisingly, play well off each other.

“We’ve grown up our whole lives together, side by side,” Jonathan said. “There’s something very connected about that, and music is a part of that connection. We used to practice a lot, but after we got busier, we didn’t have time to rehearse anymore. Because we got so comfortable playing live shows, we got to a point where we didn’t need to rehearse that much, and added improvisation in. Because of our connection as twins and our shared musical dialogue, we don’t really need to rehearse.”

Added Jared: “Vini Reilly said there are three elements of music: physical, emotional and intellectual. Physical is what gets you moving; emotional is the sound that moves you; and the intellectual is the lyrics and theoretical things that are happening. I think the fourth layer is improvisation, and that kind of feeds into all three of those. What I love about improvisation is that it ties all those elements together.”

The group recently performed at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs as a part of Desert Daze Nights.

“Desert Daze Nights put on a great event, and there were some good people there to see us,” Jared said. “We’re super-tight will Phil (Pirrone, Desert Daze’s organizer), and we played one of the first years of the festival. It was a really cool way to kick off the tour.”

Speaking more on the desert, Jared added: “I don’t know anyone who’s not a fan of the desert scene, especially a place like Pappy and Harriet’s, with all its history. It’s such a magical place, and there are so many things interwoven there that make people love it. People from other countries don’t have a desert, so when they come here, they’re in total shock about how beautiful it is.”

One of the most notable releases by the Mattson 2 is the duo’s collaboration album with Chaz Bundick of Toro Y Moi, Star Stuff. Their groovy jazz jams get a psychedelic makeover, and the eight-song track list seems to end too soon on every listen.

“It was our first time working with a super-established producer and incredible musician,” Jonathan said. “We were friends before fans of each other. … We met, with neither one of us having heard each other’s music. I gave him our album, and he invited us to jam with him, and then I went out and bought one of his records.”

Added Jared: “Working with Chaz was like being in the kitchen, baking a cake with three people. Everyone has their own individual task, and we all work off each other and add stuff in. Pretty much everything we tried worked perfectly, and that had never happened before. … Our personalities worked well together, and everything was just super-easy. We actually had a recent jam with him and are still deciding what to do with some recordings we made.”

The Mattson 2 will perform at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, March 21, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

It’s March in the Coachella Valley—but the weather isn’t the only thing getting hotter. Check out some of the fiery entertainment coming to us this month.

The McCallum Theatre’s March schedule is packed. From Wednesday, March 4, through Sunday, March 8, you can catch Pink Martini, featuring singers China Forbes and Storm Large. The group's diverse catalog crosses multiple music genres—and there’s a reason why Pink Martini is one of the most popular acts ever to come to the McCallum. Tickets are $58 to $98. From Friday, March 13, through Sunday, March 15, witness Chicago The Musical. The longest-running Broadway musical ever is coming to Palm Desert for five performances only! Tickets are $65 to $125. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 18, all the way from the East Coast, it’s the New York Philharmonic String Quartet! Four musicians from the famous orchestra are coming to town for an evening of musical expertise. Tickets are $25 to $65. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 27, vocalist Steve Tyrell will take the McCallum stage. With a Grammy under his belt, and a catalog filled with new takes on classic songs, Tyrell should offer a night of vocal greatness. Tickets are $40 to $80. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs is featuring a diverse lineup that has something to please pretty much anyone. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 6, renowned comedian and ventriloquist Terry Fator returns to Indio. He won hearts on his victorious season of America’s Got Talent, and continues to make audiences laugh at his Las Vegas residencies. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 14, Latin superstar Pitbull will grace the stage. Go dance the night away to Grammy-winning radio hits from Mr. Worldwide. Dale! Tickets are $79 to $169. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 21, Daryl Hall and John Oates return. They’re the No. 1-selling music duo in history, and are behind some of your favorite hits, like “Maneater.” Tickets are $79 to $169. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 27, Chaka Khan will be in the house—and 1980s R&B never sounded so good! Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has a March filled with nostalgia. The Tribute Concert Series keeps on truckin’, as you can catch tributes to Queen, Bob Marley, ABBA and the Rolling Stones, Fridays at 8 p.m. All the shows are $10, and are the cheapest form of time travel currently on the market. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Agua Caliente is showcasing a few top events this month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 14, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are coming straight from the ’60s. Experience a great vocal group from the past that still packs a punch. Tickets are $95 to $125. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 28, boogie the night away at Saturday Night Dance Fever. Come enjoy performances from The Trammps featuring Earl Young, Rose Royce, Evelyn “Champagne” King and many other disco greats! Tickets are $60 to $185. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort has some enjoyable evenings in store in March for people who want to be entertained. At 9:30 p.m., Saturday, March 14, Flogging Molly is coming to Cabazon. Wanna learn what the words “Celtic'' and “punk” are doing next to each other? Well, go find out for yourself. Tickets are $69 to $79. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 20, entertainer extraordinaire Marlon Wayans will provide a comedy show for the ages. Go see the White Chicks actor live onstage! Tickets are $29 to $49. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 27, Rob Lowe brings his Stories I Only Tell My Friends tour to town. After 40 years in film and TV, the actor has a lot of stories to tell. Tickets are $59 to $79. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet's March schedule includes a lot of sold-out shows; here are a few shows you can still get into. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 20, local Latin-rock group Giselle Woo and the Night Owls will rock the Pioneertown stage. Catch Giselle and co. before Coachella crowds do in April—and the show is free! At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 28, Rose’s Pawn Shop and The Shadow Mountain Band will serve up a night of genre-bending rock tunes! This show is also free! Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Toucans is hosting two fantastic shows in March. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 7, Leslie Jordan (below) brings his Over EXPOSED show to town. The actor will provide a night of comedy and stories from his long career. Tickets are $35 to $45. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 20, Anne Steele brings her “Made Out of Stars” tour to Toucans. The singer/songwriter recently released a new EP, and is prepped for a night of music and fun! Tickets are $25. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; www.reactionshows.com.

The Purple Room continues to provide many great nights out on the town. From Thursday, March 19, through Saturday, March 21, catch the return of the marvelous Marilyn Maye. This musical treasure has still got it at the age of 91, and has been a performer since she was 9! Tickets are $70 to $90. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 28, Branden and James will return to the Purple Room. This time, catch the duo putting their classical spin on Lady Gaga’s songbook. Tickets are $40 to $45. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club is hosting myriad unique events. At 7 p.m., Thursday, March 12, it’s the return of Campfire Stories With Desert Oracle’s Ken Layne. Come and indulge yourself in the mystique of the desert at this free event. At 1 p.m., Sunday, March 22, experience the first Draught in the Desert beer festival. More than 30 craft breweries will be pouring for your drinking pleasure. Tickets are $55. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Date Shed will feature some local talent this month. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 13, local indie-rock group Blue Sun will be releasing its brand-new EP, Haunted Garden, with support from other great local acts like Milhan, Host Family and Shaman Rock. Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

You can also go support local music at The Alibi Palm Springs. At 6 p.m., Sunday, March 8, local psych/surf rock group The Flusters will perform, with opener 88 MPH. Let them entrance you with dreamy tunes all night long. The show is free! At 8 p.m., Friday, March 13, local indie duo YIP YOPS will make their hometown return. Go experience the group’s first show in the valley in months, with support from groups Gomi Neko and Israel’s Arcade. This show is also free! The Alibi Palm Springs, 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-656-1525; thealibipalmsprings.com.

Embedded in the air of Joshua Tree, one can find the soothing psychedelic folk sounds of the Adobe Collective. Every song from the group sets a listener in a state of extreme calm, and they create a perfect soundtrack for a lazy day. My favorite tracks include “Carousel” and “Home (Sins)”

The band released its third album, All the Space That There Is, in January, and has been playing various shows around the Coachella Valley, including a February Monday-night residency at The Alibi Palm Springs. I spoke to brainchild of the band, Tim Chinnock, over the phone about music, life and, of course, the name of the band.

“It’s always hard to give something a name, but somebody once told me that you just have to name it,” Chinnock said. “In 2011, my wife, Faith, and I were stationed at the Marine base in Twentynine Palms. When we first moved to the area, the first house we found for rent on Craigslist was this old 1937 original adobe house in Twentynine Palms. It was passed down from this guy’s grandma, and he had lovingly restored the whole thing; as soon as we walked in, we just felt at home. It was in that house that songwriting actually started to make sense to me, and songs just started coming one after another.”

Although songwriting didn’t come to him until later, Chinnock’s family has always been around music.

“I was born in Redlands and grew up most of my life in the Inland Empire,” he said. “My family has always been really musical, but it was always something that they did on the side. My dad and his three brothers were in a band in high school, even though they grew up very religious, and it was kind of against the rules. They all went on to get jobs, but they still did music on the side. I grew up kind of religious and kind of conservative, and when John Lennon said that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, my parents went out and burned all of their rock records. So I was just left with my dad’s classical and folk records. I didn’t really get into rock until junior high.”

The Adobe Collective’s discography includes a lot of serene tones, although the most recent LP turns up jams a little bit more—with a bit of a rock flair.

“The first couple of albums are definitely more what you call Americana,” Chinnock said. “At the core of me, I’m a folk singer and a folk writer. What’s so great about the new album is that as we’ve solidified our band lineup, we’ve been inviting other people to take more of an active role in the creation of the stuff. I’d come up with some structure to the song, but then we’d come together as a band to finish it.

“As for the recording process, we recorded with Chris Unck, who’s in the band, at High Lonesome Studio. With this album, he got a little bit more freedom with the palette. What I’m really excited about for this new album is that we’re exploring a bunch of new and different possibilities. It’s much more of a collaborative approach, and we’ve got a little bit more of a rock feel thanks to Chris. We’re taking people’s influences and building on top of what me and Faith started with our first two albums.”

All the Space That There Is comes four years after the band’s last album.

“We took a little bit of time off, because my son was born, and it was also around the time I quit the military,” Chinnock said. “We took a long time to move out of our house, get settled and make the split from the military, which is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. Moving houses and finding a new job took up quite a fair amount of time.

“As for the album, well, it’s actually been in the can for a while. We’ve just been trying to shop it around and get some advertising behind it. Everybody in Joshua Tree knows who we are, but not everybody in Indio knows who we are. It was all super-local in Joshua Tree for the first two albums, so we wanted to bring this new record out to a bigger audience.”

Chinnock said the band has gradually gotten more serious—and that now, after almost a decade, things are truly coming together.

“It’s been a slow burn,” Chinnock said. “When we started, me and my wife were in the military, and it’s hard to get serious about something like that when there’s an overlord in your life. Both of our first two albums coincided with the birth of our kids. Now we’re at a place where our kids are old enough so we can start to get some distance from them—but we’re also getting so much richness from them that we put into our music. It’s a really good time right now, because we can take trips away for weekends if we need to play shows and whatnot.”

For more information, visit www.theadobecollective.com.

The first show I ever went to in the Coachella Valley was a Fever Dog show—and the fusion of blues and psychedelic rock introduced me to the local music scene with a bang.

That performance cemented Fever Dog’s place in my mind’s Hall of Fame, and the band has received a fair amount of attention beyond my fanboy self. It was a part of a European tour in 2015 with Fatso Jetson, and the band’s music has been well-received across various streaming services.

Fever Dog is Danny Graham and Joshua Adams, joined by Ramses Lopez and Alex Galvan. A listen to the band’s earlier work on Volume One and Second Wind will take any rock listener back to the ’70s—albeit with a unique desert twist. Heavy-hitting tracks like “One Thousand Centuries” and “The Great Tree” are rockingly reminiscent of Sabbath and Zeppelin, if those bands had included stoner rock in their songs. The band’s latest EP, Mainframe (2017), offers three tracks that are pure psychedelic rock jams, with the title track sounding like a Pink Floyd B-side.

This takes us to the present day. The release of “Freewheelin’” earlier this year made stereos everywhere sparkle; the track is four minutes of every glam-rock fan’s dream. A second single release, “Solid Ground,” made it clear that the band was prepping for something big this year--so I decided to check in with my Fever Dog friends.

“Our album is planned for release this year, hopefully not too long from now,” said frontman and guitarist Danny Graham during a recent phone interview. “We’re going to try to book some tours as soon as that’s out; hopefully a European tour an Australian tour, and maybe a small American tour, too.”

The upcoming new album is slated to be called Alpha Waves.

“We are shopping for a label right now,” Graham said. “We really want the next album to be released under a European label. The last time we went to Europe, it would’ve helped to have a vinyl release. It’s the best thing to have on your merch table, and we wanted to make sure that we were able to press it on vinyl this time.”

With a big 2020 ahead, Graham looked back on the band’s humble beginnings.

“I was brought up on almost exclusively KISS, and a lot of ’70s rock music,” Graham said. “Me, Josh and Nathan—our old bass player—went to elementary school together and started playing together in 2006. We all picked up our instruments around the same time.

“When we first started, we were mostly a hard-rock, AC/DC-style band. As soon as we started going, we decided that we needed to do this for real and make a recording, even though we were only in the sixth-grade. We wouldn’t have done that, though, if we didn’t have the resources for it. My dad was in a band, so we had a lot of help to make that happen.”

Fever Dog is known for its epic live performances. Long hair flies all over the place, and the jams keep coming as Graham’s disco-ball guitar shines onto audience members’ faces. I was curious whether all the different sounds that Fever Dog has featured would still be represented live.

“For live shows, we’re doing a mix of everything,” Graham said. “We’re doing about half new songs and half old songs, with some improvisation and changes added in. We’re trying to blend pretty much everything we’ve ever done.”

With the change in sound came the addition of the aforementioned two new members. The group didn’t have to look too hard to find them.

“Josh knew our new bass player, Alex, from one of his old bands, The Active Kissers,” said Graham. “He also met our keyboard player, Ramses, through Twitter. They were just friends and then we realized that he also played music, so we asked him to join.”

It’s been pretty lonely in the local music scene without Fever Dog; the band’s two recent single releases are the first in three years.

“We took a break and didn’t really have a specific goal on how anything was going to sound,” Graham said. Josh and I just started recording whatever we wanted. Instead of deciding what kind of songs we’re going to make, we just kind of went for anything. This upcoming record is pretty much a blend of everything we’re into—all the’70s rock, progressive rock, experimental stuff and a lot of glam rock.”

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

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