Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Matt King

It’s sometimes hard to keep track of all the new acts emerging onto the music scene—but in the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing shows with and attending performances by a new band called Milhan. Milhan, pronounced Milan, has performed at frequent backyard shows, bringing a unique brand of dreamy indie music to every performance. They will be playing at Little Street Studio in Indio on Thursday, Feb. 20; find out more on Instagram At the helm of the group is Hannah Mills, whose vocal delivery and reverb-soaked guitar create a dreamscape of a show.

What was the first concert you attended?

I went to a lot of concerts as a child, because my mom is a musician, and I grew up around a lot of music, but the first concert I remember being really stoked about and begging my mom to take me to was Panic! at the Disco. I had the biggest crush on Brendon Urie, and still do, if I’m honest.

What was the first album you owned?

An album released in 2002 by Joy Williams of Civil Wars. I was raised in the church, and she was a big Christian artist back in the day.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Oh my god, this is such a hard question, because the list is so long, so I’m going to break this up into genres. French electronic: La Femme, Paradis, and Agar Agar. World music: Altın Gün, Tinariwen, and Vaudou Game. Throwbacks: Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Tangerine Dream, Aphex Twin, and Oingo Boingo. New discoveries: George Clanton, Venetian Snares, The Rebels of Tijuana, A.G. Cook, and Caroline Polachek. Solid go-to’s: Tame Impala, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Wild Nothing, Toro Y Moi, Washed Out, and HOMESHAKE.

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

Soundcloud rappers. Sorry, not sorry.

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

Danny Elfman, who just so happens to be playing Coachella this year, so I’m pretty pumped about that! I’m really hoping he plays some Oingo Boingo tunes.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Not (feeling) very guilty about this, though some may think I should be: I’m a huge fan of The 1975. I have been since they first released their Facedown EP in 2012. I had the unique experience of seeing them perform in a grimy little underground club in L.A. with a good friend back in 2013.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I love the Teragram Ballroom in L.A. I just have a lot of fond memories of seeing some great bands perform there, and it’s pretty intimate, so that’s my go-to. My cousin and I call it our rat hole.

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

This question triggers me. My dad has this song that he sings specifically when he wants to piss me off: “Ain’t Got No Home,” originally performed by Clarence “Frogman” Henry, made popular by The Band (prior to Bob Dylan). It’s kind of become a running joke between my dad and me, because all he has to do is sing that taunting little "doo doo do do do do do doo doo," and it’s stuck in my head for at least a week to follow. I’ve been humming that melody in my head the whole time I’ve been answering these questions.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Honestly, Tame Impala has played a huge part in my development as an artist. It’s just really inspiring to me that Kevin Parker is able to create such good songs and unique tones with his guitar and drums, and he does everything himself, from start to finish. I’m a big fan. Also, as generic as it sounds, The Beatles have also played a big role for me as well.

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

I’d love to talk to George Harrison about the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass. I feel like we could have some good meaty conversation on that.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“River of Happiness” by Dolly Parton.

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

I guess if I had to pick one, it would be Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd; it may seem like a generic answer, but come on—that album can really take you on one hell of a journey. Tell me I’m wrong!

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“People” by The 1975! Better yet, watch the music video. Trust me: It’s not what you’re expecting. (Scroll down to watch it!)

We truly do live in the land of music festivals.

As the 2000s have progressed, the Coachella Valley has become a hotspot for music festivals, with up to 125,000 attendees flooding the streets from Palm Springs all the way to Indio and beyond for one weekend event alone. Whether it be for the extremely hip Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (best known as simply Coachella), the country-tinged of Stagecoach, or any of the one-offs like the headbanging Big 4 or the classic-rockin’ Desert Trip, there is no doubt: The Coachella Valley is one of the world’s most popular places for music festivals.

The year 2020 brings yet another festival to the fold: On Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19, 4xFAR, presented by Land Rover, will bring a new kind of festival experience to the valley—specifically, Empire Grand Oasis in Thermal.

Some of today’s top artists are set to perform, with a little something for everyone. Saturday headliner Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals’ beautiful combination of funk and hip hop is sure to get any music fan bobbing their head. (.Paak plays the drums and raps at the same time; it’s truly a sight to see.)

Sunday’s headliner is a DJ set by acclaimed producer Mark Ronson, and A Tribe Called Quest alum Q-Tip. Both have producer credits scattered across the past 30 years, so this set should be as interesting as it will be dance-able.

Other notable acts include folk-rockers Kurt Vile and the Violators, whose music will remind attendees of some Neil Young and Tom Petty tunes; and indie group Young the Giant, which makes music that just makes you feel good.

But music isn’t the only thing 4xFAR will have to offer. It will feature an “Adventure” section alongside the musical lineup. Land Rover is bringing its brand-new 2020 Defender to Thermal for festival-goers to test-drive on a 15-acre course. Other activities include mountain-biking, rock-climbing, ax-throwing and even fly-fishing.

The festival will take place at the Empire Grand Oasis, which is one of the most beautiful locations in the valley. It includes 35 acres including date-palm groves, a freshwater lake and a waterfall!

A standard one-day ticket costs $95, with a weekend pass sitting at $185. There’s a VIP option for $349, which allows earlier entry into the festival, as well as access to a VIP-only lounge with elevated seating and premium food and beverage. Or, one can go all out and purchase the Private Palapa ticket for $3,000, which will provides a party of six with a private hangout spot for the festival, complete with a service staff and two VIP parking passes.

Garth Trinidad, a DJ and host on KCRW, is the festival’s music curator. “4XFAR is set to be the first experience of its kind in lifestyle focused entertainment—an intimate, celebratory adventure where guests can taste the cross pollinated nectar of music, art, adventure and culture in a gorgeous oasis under the desert sky,” he said, in the type of quote that could only come from a press release. “I'm elated to be in the mix as music curator!”

The 4xFar festival takes place Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19. For tickets or more information, visit

Country rock has an undeniable feel-good vibe. When you encounter it in the right situation—driving home from a long trip as the sun is setting, or simply sitting on your porch and watching life go by—it can help one appreciate the little things in life.

This brings us to Ted Z and the Wranglers. I’ve been stomping along to their brand of “outlaw country-charged rock”—and the Americana lyrics, backed by acoustic rhythms and the occasional minimalistic-yet-oh-so-great guitar solos, have made me an instant fan. Check out their Jam in the Van performance of “Rambler” to see exactly what I mean—or see the group in person on Friday, Jan. 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s.

The Wranglers are Collin Mclean on bass; Jackson Leverone playing lead/slide guitar and providing background vocals; and Jordan Lipp on drums, with Ted Z being the leader, on acoustic guitar and vocals. I got to talk to Ted Z, aka Ted Zakka, about his upbringing and the history of the Wranglers.

“When I was a kid, my mom and dad used to spin a lot of cool stuff at the house,” Zakka said. “I grew up listening to Elvis and The Beatles. It just all started as a child, listening to these iconic musicians that I still really love today.”

It’s easy to hear some of these influences in his songs. Take “Ball and Chain” for example, as Zakka’s screaming and stuttering vocal lines rival Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” phrasing, while the instruments provide a dance-y sound in a style that reminds of early Beatles tracks like “I Saw Her Standing There.”

Zakka talked about how his love for music turned into a love for playing music.

“I picked up a guitar at 16, and started playing in bands,” Zakka said. “When I first started, I was figuring out a lot of punk-rock stuff, just things that were easy to play. I actually started off playing bass for those first few bands. Then I transferred over to the acoustic guitar, and started writing songs about 12 years ago.”

Another distinguishing thing about the group is just how gosh-darn cool the name is.

“The Wranglers have come and gone since the group was started,” Zakka said. “Jackson is the one who’s been around the longest, but none of the guys in the band now were in the original lineup. The name kind of started as a joke. I wasn’t sure what to call anything, and I thought that ‘Ted Z and the Wranglers’ was kind of funny, and kind of cool. And it stuck!”

The Wranglers have been releasing music now for nearly seven years.

“The first thing we ever put out was called My Blood’s Still Red, in 2013,” he said. “After that, we did an EP called Afraid of Dying, then we did Ghost Train in 2015, but that's the first thing we have on Spotify. We have the older two on sites like ReverbNation and BandCamp.”

Listening to Ted Z and the Wranglers improve with each album—becoming more confident and popular—is a wonderful experience. The most recent album is Southland, released last October.

“The new one is awesome,” Zakka said about Southland. “It turned out spectacular, and sounds really clean and big. We recorded this one in our home studio in Costa Mesa, rather than going back to Texas where we recorded Ghost Train. It came out the way we wanted it to; we self-produced it and made our own decisions on the sound. We had a lot more fun on this record.”

Some of the Wranglers’ best online videos were recorded during Jam in the Van performances. Jam in the Van is pretty self-explanatory: It’s an entity that invites bands to come and, well, jam in a van. Jam in the Van records high-quality video and audio, and releases it on YouTube to more than 312,000 subscribers.

“That was really fun. It was so cool to play live and have it be recorded so well,” Zakka said. “They do a pretty good job of capturing the realness of the songs. I had been wanting to do that for so long, and it was cool to finally make it happen.”

Ted Z and the Wranglers’ venture into Pioneertown is one of only a handful of shows the band currently has scheduled—but that shall soon change.

“We’re doing some work as a unit, and trying to tighten up and get three hours of original stuff to go out and tour,” he said. “… And then I’m gonna start booking us more and more!”

Ted Z and the Wranglers will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

Is there anything as cool as that good ol’ rockabilly sound? The old greats really knew what they were doing … but we haven’t heard much of that classic sound recently.

Then again, maybe we just haven’t been looking in the right places: If you’ve got the no-blues blues, check out Molly Hanmer and the Midnight Tokers. Debut record Stuck in a Daydream covers all the bases of blues essentials. “Take a Walk with Me” kicks off the record with a rockabilly jam that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Johnny Cash record, while the title track is a soft, somber, slow-burning blues song that’ll rip your heart out with a tale about a lack of confidence. Hanmer’s voice is perfect for these different scenarios; it sounds so meaningful on the slower tracks—and playful, yet sinister, on the faster ones.

The group will perform at Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Jan. 23.

“My love for music started when I was a kid,” Hanmer said during a recent phone interview. “My mom and dad were always playing music around the house. My dad listened to The Beatles, The Beach Boys and the Grateful Dead; my mom was more into Etta James and Aretha Franklin.”

I could hear bits of these inspirations sprinkled throughout the album, with a little Etta on “Outlaw Blues,” and a little Paul McCartney on “Dead Happy.” Hanmer explained how she started to be more of a music-maker, and not just a listener.

“My dad always had this guitar lying around the house,” said Hanmer, “a Lyle Dove, which was a copy of a Gibson Dove. He would play around just for fun on it, and I started to get interested in it. He showed me some basic chords—C, F, G. Then he got me lessons, but I was only 9 years old at the time, so I ended up not being able to hold enough attention. When I turned 13, though, I got my first electric guitar, and things took off from there.”

Another of Hanmer’s inspirations is Bob Dylan. You can hear this love for him on her “Mama’s in the Spirit World Now.”

“I wrote my first song when I was 17. It’s called ‘Song to Bob,’ and it was a play off of Bob Dylan’s song to Woody Guthrie,” Hanmer said. “After that, I didn’t write songs for a couple of years; I just didn’t have the self-confidence to do it. I met my friend Claudia Miles, who is my manager now, and she got me back into writing, and helped me figure out how to approach it—to just sit down and write whatever comes out. Once I tried that, I wrote a song called ‘Little Song,’ which is on my first EP.”

Hanmer went on to play and write more, steadily increasing her musicianship skills and confidence, before the inception of her current band.

“In high school, I didn’t really want to sing,” Hanmer said. “I mostly considered myself a guitar player. But then I realized: I really didn’t have anyone who could sing, so I had to start doing it myself. For a few years, I was just playing at home, but after I turned 21, I started going to open mics around San Francisco, where I lived at the time. I played mostly covers and a few originals, until I moved to L.A. and met my band.”

The move to Los Angeles shifted Hanmer’s dream into high gear.

“I was a little wary about moving to L.A., because everyone in Northern California has this negative stigma about Los Angeles; I think they’re just jealous of the sun,” Hanmer said. “My manager convinced me to move to L.A., so I did, and met John Bird, my keyboard player, and Keith Palmer, my drummer, through a friend of my dad. I met our bass player, Alex U’Ren, at a bar three years ago, and he’s been playing with us for a year. I was kind of nervous to ask them to play with me at first, because they’re older and more experienced, but they were more than happy to play with me.”

As for the name, Hanmer explained that an unintentional bit of plagiarizing proved fateful.

“When I first moved here, I was trying to figure out what a cool band name would be,” Hanmer said. “After brainstorming a few names, I came up with the Midnight Tokers. I thought it was a great name and that I was so clever, but when I presented it to the guys, they said, ‘Like the Steve Miller Band?’ and I realized I subconsciously stole that. But it really fits the vibe of the band, so we’ve stuck with it.”

Blues music has always been popular in some circles, because everyone has experienced pain—and sometimes, it helps to just sing about it.

“The blues is a very authentic and genuine genre,” Hanmer said. “You’re just laying out life and the struggles that everyone goes through, and putting it to beautiful music. That’s really what I love about it.”

Molly Hanmer and the Midnight Tokers will perform at 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan 23, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

January is bringing a brand-new festival to the land of festivals!

4xFAR, presented by Land Rover, is a brand-new music, food and adventure festival coming to Empire Grand Oasis in Thermal on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19. It will feature music with headliners Anderson .Paak and Mark Ronson, as well as a plethora of adventure activities, such as mountain biking, climbing, fly fishing and off-roading! General-admission tickets are $95 for one day, or $185 for both; head to to get ’em.

The illustrious McCallum Theatre is featuring wonderful events throughout January. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, double-trouble actor and singer Jack Jones will grace the McCallum stage. He has more than 50 years of jazz and pop performances under his belt, so it’s no wonder The New York Times said that “he is arguably the most technically accomplished male pop singer.” Tickets are $40 to $90. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14, put on your green duds, and head to the McCallum to enjoy the Derina Harvey Band. This Celtic-rock group is described in press materials as being like “a rockier version of Canada’s Great Big Sea, if fronted by Adele.” Whoa! Tickets are $25 to $55. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787;

Fantasy Springs is hosting a plethora of big acts to start off the New Year. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, George Thorogood and the Destroyers will bring 45 years of hard rock to Indio. While the weather may be freezing you to the bone, come and get “Bad to the Bone” with bona fide rock legends. Tickets are $39 to $59. If you’ve been missing the classic sounds of the Motown era, you’re in for a real treat on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., as both The Temptations and The Four Tops are returning to town. Both groups’ hits have been tugging on your heart strings for more than five decades. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, the legendary Tony Bennett will bring his “I Left My Heart” Tour to the Fantasy Springs stage. He’s been performing for nearly 70 years, with more than 50 million records sold; come witness one of music’s living icons while you still can. Tickets are $49 to $109. If you don’t want to bother paying for heat in your own home, come out at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, when 98° promises to set the stage on fire. If the ’90s is what you’re longing for, both music-wise and temperature-wise, this show is for you. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000;

Spotlight 29 is showcasing a few festive events in January. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, Mexican singer-songwriter Pancho Barraza will return to Coachella. Do you really need more of an excuse to go dance? Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, Spotlight 29 is featuring a very unique event titled ¿Y Si Me Caso? This “musical wedding” promises to be as musical as it is dramatic, as one man decides which woman he should marry. Tickets are $25 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566;

Agua Caliente intends to turn the heat up on those cold winter nights.At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, the one-and-only D-O-double G is coming to town. That’s right, Snoop Dogg, with openers O.T. Genasis and Warren G, is bringing that West Coast gangsta rap to Rancho Mirage, and you’d be a fool to miss out. Tickets are $85 to $115. If R&B is more your speed, then on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., make sure you catch Boyz II Men. Since the ’90s, the boyz have been putting audiences in their feelings with emotional ballads and sweet harmonies, so be there! Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, the Long Island Medium herself, Theresa Caputo, will return to The Show. This night will include Caputo’s stories about her experiences as a medium, and will feature interactions with some of the audience members. Tickets are $75 to $120. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995;

At Morongo, you can catch a few fun performances this month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, enjoy Baby Bash performing for Jimmy Reyes’ Birthday Bash. Come get your 2000s rap fix and celebrate a birthday at the same time! Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, Hollywood Medium Tyler Henry brings “An Evening of Hope, Healing and Closure” to Cabazon. This is a brand-new live show, that, of course, includes an audience Q&A and readings. Tickets are $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499;

Pappy and Harriet’s is the home of more than a few rockin’ shows this month. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, Pappy’s will host the Americana-folk of Justin Townes Earle (below). The son of Steve Earle, who was named after the legendary Townes Van Zandt, has more than lived up to his impressive musical pedigree. Jonny Two Bags opens, and tickets are $25. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 16, indie surf-rock group Surf Curse will jam the night away. This is one of my favorite bands right now, offering an extremely dance-y and catchy vibe across songs that are sure to make any one with ears wanna jump around. Tickets are $16 to $18. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956;

Toucan’s has some appealing LGBT-slanted events on the January docket. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 4, country-music man Ty Herndon returns to Palm Springs for a night of country hits from his late ’90s heyday, with newer songs as well. Tickets are $30 to $40. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, Jai Rodriguez kicks off his 2020 cabaret tour with “Tales of an Aging Twink.” He’s appeared on Broadway in Rent, and was part of the original Queer Eye cast, so it’s safe to say this night will be one to remember. Tickets are $25. And on Friday, Jan. 31, at 7:30 p.m., drag queens Jackie Beat and Sherry Vine will bring their comedy show “Best Frenemies” to Toucan’s. Tickets are $25. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584;

The Purple Room promises to entertain with a packed January schedule. At 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, catch two-time 2018 Grammy nominee Clint Holmes sing both hits and originals with his jazz vocal stylings. Tickets are $60 to $65. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, Amanda McBroom will return to the Purple Room—this time performing songs from noir films! Tickets are $35 to $40. And on Friday, Jan. 31, at 8 p.m., witness the Black Market Trust combine jazzy hits with Django Reinhardt-style guitar-playing into one magnificent show. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422;

If you’ve been itching to support local talent, get thee to The Date Shed at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, to catch local rappers Provoked Poetry, Willdabeast, Thoughts Contained and DJ ODC for Provoked Poetry’s album release. Tickets are $10. And on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m., you can see three of the valley’s best young rock groups: Pescaterritory, Israel’s Arcade and Instigator, at Pescafest. Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699;

Imagine this: You’re at a concert. It’s finally time for the curtains to roll back, and you see … four middle-age dudes, with a piano and a cello?

Yep. Before you can turn away, you’re hit with the piano melody of one of your favorite songs. One man is playing the piano while the other guys are making drum beats on the sides, or even pulling the strings of the piano, to create all the parts of that song.

The Piano Guys are doing what they do best—and you just can’t help but be amazed. See them for yourself on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 17 and 18, when they perform three shows at the McCallum Theatre.

Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson and Al van der Beek are four Utah dads who—with a little charm, luck and what they call blessings from God—have been winning the hearts of audiences as The Piano Guys since 2010. Their unique approach to creating music—performing covers of modern hits in a classical style—as well as their astonishing filming locations, including the Great Wall of China and the Christ the Redeemer statue, have made them viral-video sensations, resulting in more than 6.6 million YouTube subscribers and close to 2 billion views.

“It’s kind of serendipity, one of those happy accidents,” Schmidt said during a recent phone interview. “God brought us together. I really don’t know how else to explain it. Paul was doing his piano store, and had an interest in videography. I was doing a solo piano act and had eight albums of my own piano compositions, with a small following. Steve was doing music, and Al had his own recording studio that he was producing stuff in.

“Steve played a song with me at a gig one day, which turned into more songs, and collaborations in the studio. Then we gave him a microphone—which was one of the greatest decisions that I ever made: He’s got a world-class sense of humor, seriously a comic genius, and that added this sort of Smothers Brothers element to our show that was really cool and unforeseen. I would act like a goofball at my shows before, but when he joined, we were just put on a whole new level, and audiences love it. My favorite thing is when someone in the audience yells something random, and he’ll turn it into something so hilarious in a flash.”

Schmidt and I discussed the mysterious ways in which musical inspiration occurs.

“I think the music chooses us,” Schmidt said. “We’ve tried to work on stuff that makes (logical) sense, but you just don’t feel it. You know within an hour that something will never work. I’ve heard it compared to sculpting, where sculptors just have to look at the marble and can tell if it will be worth it to go in that direction or not. Concepts are rarely introduced; they just kind of hit you, and you know it’s worth it just by how it feels.”

The Piano Guys’ distinct creative process helps make them unique. You probably never knew you needed to hear “Let It Go” from Frozen in the style of classical music—yet you adore it once you hear it.

“When I was a teenager, I had a brother—12 years older than me—who was always trying to find music to show me,” said Schmidt. “It didn’t matter the genre—classical, Janis Joplin or choral music. But one day, he showed me this new album from a group called Mannheim Steamroller. It wasn’t their Christmas covers; it was their early originals. They mixed classical and rock ’n’ roll, and that captivated me, because growing up, my German immigrant parents would always be playing classical music. I was immersed in classical music at home, and when I was with my friends, I’d listen to the radio—so this Mannheim Steamroller group brought both those worlds together in such a cool way. When I started writing my own original music, it was in that style. I tried to rock-ify and modernize my classical piano training. Steve, our cellist, had the same sensibility, so we sprinkle classical all over our originals and even our covers. … People are intrigued when you mash up two appealing elements into one work.”

If The Piano Guys’ music wasn’t intriguing enough, each of their videos also features a beautiful backdrop. The guys have gone everywhere from various wonders of the world to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

“Paul really has a great mind for this project,” Schmidt said. “… He has a piano store, friends with helicopters and a great can-do attitude. My favorite place to film was the Iguazu Falls in Brazil. … Pretty much everywhere you look, you’ll see waterfalls and green. It was such an amazing place to make music. Another great place was the Lincoln Memorial. It’s one of those moments when I’m glad my parents made me practice.”

The Piano Guys first found success on YouTube—but weren’t sure their songs would translate in a live, theater setting. But they’ve been taking chances their whole career, and going out on tour was just another leap of faith.

“The thing that blows me away is that booking managers will tell us that we’ve been the greatest show they’ve ever seen,” Schmidt said. “It always fills me with wonder. Steve and I will walk out onstage and think, ‘Do these people realize this is a piano and cello concert?’ I really don’t understand it; it’s not a likely scenario. We’re not shredders by any means, but we just pray that we can put on a show where people can feel the love of God—and somehow, it just works.”

The Piano Guys will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 17; and 2 and 8 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 18, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $65 to $125. For tickets or more information, call 760-340-2787 or visit

There’s a reason you don’t often see the “bored-bassist” look on the faces of our valley’s musicians—and that reason is the leadership of Dan Dillinger, who has been moving, jumping and kicking all over Coachella Valley stages and beyond for more than a decade now. He performs with punk-rockers The Sweat Act ( and the more-alternative collective Black Water Gospel ( Dillinger is the latest to take The Lucky 13; here are his responses.

What was the first concert you attended?

I went to the Orange Show in San Bernardino to see Good Riddance, Dead Kennedys and Strung Out. I've still got the stub. I'll never forget the bruises. So much fun.

What was the first album you owned?

When I was 4 years old, my baby sitter gave me a Young MC tape and a Kris Kross tape. I loved those tapes, ha ha. But the first albums I bought (together) with my own money were Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill and Green Day’s Dookie when I was in the fifth-grade.

What bands are you listening to right now?

In the car, I've had Bracket’s Requiem on repeat for about three weeks, but my go-to just about any other time has been both the "Angsty Pants" playlist I put together compiling all the skate punk bands I've been into for the past 20-ish years; and the "Behind BARS" playlist, compiling a handful of hip-hop tracks I can't get enough of. There's too much radness to choose just one thing at a time.

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

I get it all. Just because I don't like it, that doesn't mean I don't get it. If it makes you feel something, then that's all that matters. I listen to plenty that others don't like. That doesn't make what I'm into good or bad. It just makes it my thing. Same for anyone else's interests. So what's not to get?

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

I'd take a kick to the junk to see The Dillinger Escape Plan just one more time. That's probably one of the most satisfying bands I've ever seen.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

No music is a guilty pleasure.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Hard choice. The El Rey and The Wiltern have been a couple of my tops, but … I'm less concerned with the venue and more interested in who I'm going to see.

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

"Sometimes a knife right through your heart is exactly what you need. Sometimes the things that you're ashamed of make you who you're supposed to be," “Tapestry,” Protest the Hero.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Everything I love has molded my life. I am the music I love.

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

Gene Simmons: "What's it like knowing you've had sex with pretty much everyone's moms?" Ha ha ha. No, seriously, I have no idea.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Dynamite Hack, "Laughter." Because, damn, I had fun. Smile for me.

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

A Wilhelm Scream, Ruiner.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Whatever song makes you feel the best you can, right now. Listen to it loud and proud. Scream it. Get on that vibe.

The band Saints and Rebels has gone from occasional cover-song performances at The Hood Bar and Pizza’s open-mic night to frequent gigs around the valley—all within a matter of months. Catch Saints and Rebels at The Hood on Saturday, Dec. 14, opening for punk legends Guttermouth. At the helm of the group is Austin Lawrence, an eccentric frontman and bass-player who knows how to give a great performance. For more information, visit Lawrence recently answered The Lucky 13; here are the results.

What was the first concert you attended?

Lynyrd Skynyrd, when I was 7. I hated it.

What was the first album you owned?

A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out by Panic! at the Disco; and Move Along by The All American Rejects.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Mom Jeans, Remo Drive, McCafferty, I Hate Sex, and Joyce Manor.

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

Anything on the radio.

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

Grant McDonald.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I don’t have guilty pleasures, because I love what I love … but I guess “Barbie Girl” by Aqua.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The House of Blues in Anaheim.

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

“Trash hangs with trash, and I’m the worst of the worst,” from “Trailer Trash,” McCafferty.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Streetlight Manifesto, because they told me that they “guarantee I’ll wake in a better place in a better time.”

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

To every ska band: Can I play trombone for you?

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“All Star” by Smash Mouth.

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

Talon of the Hawk by The Front Bottoms.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Ram Ranch” by Grant McDonald. Do it. You won’t. (Scroll down to hear it! Warning: explicit lyrics.)

Canadian rock-band Black Mountain is on its 15th lap around the sun—and each year has seemingly been different for the group.

The members have constantly explored different genres—including hard rock and long psychedelic jams—and founders Amber Webber and Joshua Wells are no longer with group. Still, the band plays on, releasing its fifth album, Destroyer, in May of this year.

Black Mountain will perform at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday, Dec. 6. The band got a taste of the high desert earlier in May when it played at a famous desert-rock festival.

“We recently played at Stoned and Dusted, and thought it was a beautiful zone,” said keyboard-player and founding member Jeremy Schmidt. “We’ve never played at Pappy and Harriet’s, so we’re excited for the debut.”

Black Mountain recently performed at the Levitation festival in Austin, Texas.

“I wouldn’t want to just do festivals, and I wouldn’t want to just do club shows. I like the variety,” Schmidt said. “Festivals can be a little hectic in terms of the scheduling, and you don’t have as much time and attention that you’re used to when setting up. Often, it is a bit of a mad rush to get everything set up and then get everything off stage. That part’s not fun, but otherwise, I enjoy them. It’s cool to get to go see a bunch of other bands—but it sucks when you playing at the same time as one of your favorite bands. That has happened before. Or if you arrive at the festival, and someone you really want to see is playing on a day that you are not going to be there. That has happened before; it’s kind of frustrating.”

Black Mountain’s name has been on many, many bills over the last decade and a half—and that name is pretty badass.

“There’s not really any great story behind it,” Schmidt said. “There are a few stories out there about how we came up with the name, and we just kind of left those floating around. I mean, there are a few places called Black Mountain, but it was just an obvious name that for some reason hadn’t been used yet. We haven’t really thought too much about the story behind the name, because when you’ve been toiling under that name for many years, you kind of forget.”

Over the years, Black Mountain’s music has traveled into and through many different genres, from the alternative/stoner-rock grooves of the debut self-titled LP, or the long space-rock jams from the album IV.

“Our tastes don’t adhere to any one genre,” Schmidt said. “We don’t deliberately try to move around to different genres; we just assimilate different things since we’re drawn to such different things. But it always ends up sounding like Black Mountain somehow. Whatever sticks to the wall after we throw everything in the pot sounds like Black Mountain in some way.”

Destroyer takes the Black Mountain sound and puts it in the speakers of a car during your first road trip—literally: The car-centric album revolves around frontman and founder Stephen McBean’s first time behind the wheel, after he waited 40 years to get his driver’s license. There is something for everyone to enjoy on the LP, as McBean and Schmidt take the genres they’ve loved throughout their careers—and make things a little heavier. Standout tracks include “High Rise” for the headbangers, and “FD’72” for the fans of David Bowie.

All of Black Mountain’s records include wonderful album art to gaze at while listening. Schmidt shared some insights about Destroyer’s cover, which depicts a gigantic speaker towering over an ocean front, with a rock formation in the background.

“I’ve done the art for all the albums,” Schmidt said. “With the artwork, I try to think of the record in some abstract way. That one was kind of quick, as I thought that both images went well together, and the stormy scene goes well with the name of the album. I didn’t want to use something that was obviously connotating destruction, but something that had the same energy as that, like a stormy aura.”

Black Mountain will perform with Ryley Walker at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

The holiday season is here! It’s December in the Coachella Valley—which means venues are hosting a whole lot of events that’ll put you in the holiday spirit. Here’s but a sampling of the offerings local venues have in December.

The glorious McCallum Theatre has a packed schedule of shows that’ll get you in the Christmas mood. On Sunday, Dec. 1, at 3 and 7 p.m., come experience one of the greatest musical groups ever: The Beach Boys. While the group is famous for surfing hits and the visionary masterpiece Pet Sounds, the band is coming to Palm Desert on the “Holiday, Harmonies and Hits” tour; expect songs spanning the Boys’ entire career, as well as some holiday greats. Tickets are $68 to $118. This is the giving season, so it makes sense that the McCallum is hosting its 2019 McCallum Theatre Annual Gala, featuring legendary singer Seal. Proceeds from the gala help fund theater operations and arts-education programs across the valley. It takes place at 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 5. Tickets are $100 to $125. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787;

Fantasy Springs’ lineup this month has shows for lovers of all sorts of different genres. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, Old Dominion—with opener Ryan Hurd—will bring its “Make It Sweet” tour into town. Grab your cowboy hat and boots, and go square-dance the night away to the critically acclaimed country stylings! Tickets are $49 to $129. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, witness the Peanuts gang come to life at A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage. Enjoy holiday cheer with Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and more! Tickets are $39 to $69. Fresh off of Queen’s summer tour, where he again did an excellent job of filling the late Freddie Mercury’s shoes, Adam Lambert comes to Indio at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 20. Come enjoy an evening of Lambert’s pop hits—and perhaps some Queen covers. Tickets are $59 to $99. Legendary soul and gospel singer Dionne Warwick will bring her “A Holiday Celebration” tour to town at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21. The night will be filled with holiday and pop classics, and will feature Warwick’s signature voice backed by a 14-piece string section. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000;

Spotlight 29 is featuring a few fun events in December. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, The Dan Band will bring comedic interpretations of pop songs and hilarious stage banter to the Spotlight Showroom stage. This is the band featured at the end of The Hangover. Tickets are $20 to $30. Also coming to Spotlight: Femmes of Rock, rock violinists who cover your favorite classic-rock tunes, from AC/DC to ZZ Top. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, come find out what your favorite classic-rock song would sound like played by four violin-istas! Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566;

Agua Caliente will host legendary recording artist Chris Isaak at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13. Best known for his song “Wicked Game”—one of the most covered songs in music—Isaak is bringing his rockabilly sound to Rancho Mirage for an entertaining night of songs. Tickets are $50 to $275. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995;

Morongo Casino is showcasing a festive lineup of music and comedy acts throughout December. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, The Charlie Daniels Band is coming to Cabazon looking for a soul to steal. Country, Southern rock, and badass solos and beards—what more could you ask for? Tickets are $49. If you’re looking to laugh until you cry, come to Morongo on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 7 or 10 p.m., to witness one of the funniest comics of our time, Gabriel Iglesias. With numerous of specials, and his own series on Netflix, Iglesias is at the top of his game. Tickets are $69, and were close to selling out at press time. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499;

Pappy and Harriet's features a plethora of bands to warm you up during cold Pioneertown nights this month. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, psych-punk outfit KOLARS will grace the Pappy’s stage. Considering the band’s ability to combine vastly different genres into one live set, the show will have something for everyone. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 28, The Evangenitals will return to Pappy’s for a night of alt-country and fun! The show is free, so why not go and enjoy it? Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956;

Toucan's Tiki Bar and Cabaret Lounge is hosting a couple of December events. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, Joel Kim Booster (pictured below) will come to Palm Springs for a night of comedy. He has written for shows such as Big Mouth, and has had specials on Comedy Central. Tickets are $25. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13, Frenchie Davis brings her Soulful for the Holidays show to the desert. Davis has done both Broadway and the televised singing-competition shows during her career, so it’s safe to say: She can sing. Tickets are $35 to $45. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584;

The Purple Room promises to keep you entertained this month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, Levi Kreis brings his annual Home for the Holidays show to the Purple Room. Go watch as Kreis infuses gospel, country, rockabilly, jazz and Christmas hits into one show. Tickets are $40 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, Scot Bruce returns to the Purple Room to become Elvis for the Elvis: Blue Suede Christmas show. If you weren’t around during Elvis’ day, or even if you were, go see the next best thing! Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27, Palm Springs JUMP! will pay tribute to some of the best artists who lived and performed in Palm Springs. This event will feature tunes from Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and others. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422;

The Ace is home to a lot of fantastic December happenings. From Friday, Dec. 20, through Sunday, Dec. 22, experience a weekend of comedy, music, movies and more at the Old St. Shtick festival. A plethora of comedians will be featured, such as Guy Branum, Billy Wayne Davis, Chris Estrada and others. Admission is free on Friday; tickets are $15 the other nights. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 26, gather for a night of tales at Campfire Stories With Desert Oracle’s Ken Layne. He was the subject of our September cover story. This is a perfect time to warm up by the fire and hear conspiracy theories regarding the monsters that surround our desert. The event is free! Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900;

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