CVIndependent

Sun06162019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Brian Blueskye

What do you get when you take ’50s-style rock ’n’ roll and meld it with folk-music songwriting?

The answer: You get Don McLean.

The man—best known, of course, for his wildly successful 1971 single “American Pie”—last year released his first new studio album in nine years, Botanical Gardens. McLean will be stopping by Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Saturday, July 13.

McLean—a Palm Desert resident—has called Botanical Gardens his “most reflective” album, saying the title uses gardens as a metaphor for heaven, in the context of life and death. During a recent phone interview, McLean said Botanical Gardens may be his final original album.

“I may do one more, but I don’t know,” McLean said. “I’m at the end of the road as far as writing and recording. I think I have fairly interesting songwriting ideas that other people can use.”

The material on Botanical Gardens is beautiful, and it doesn’t stray too far from his past recordings.

“I don’t really pay attention to what the times are like—and that’s part of my problem,” McLean said. “I’m sort of an unreconstructed ’50s man. I live in my own world and try to tell the truth, but also try to realize what people are going through. I keep one eye on where people are at, but most of the time, I invent song ideas that I think are wonderful. I have fun trying to make those things happen. What I do is I fuse old-fashioned popular music and rock ’n’ roll, like Elvis Presley and Gene Vincent, and folk music. I try to find a feeling that I want to get, an emotion of some sort, and then I try to get it so when I hear a song, the emotion comes back to me.”

McLean returned to Nashville to record Botanical Gardens.

“I started (recording in Nashville) in 1978, and I immediately had hit records,” McLean said. “I worked with a guy named Larry Butler, and he was brilliant. Unfortunately, he passed away. I didn’t want to go to Nashville, because I was more into Los Angeles or New York, where there was a whole different music scene. The Nashville thing seemed to be pretty cookie-cutter, and I didn’t want that sound. What I found when I got there was they were all so happy to do new things—anything but country. They were just excited about doing Chain Lightning,” McLean’s 1978 album.

“In the studios (in Nashville), I have it together. Everyone knows what’s going on, and they’re swinging with it. In New York, they have a lot of attitude, and the studio musicians have their heads up their asses sometimes thinking they know everything. But these guys in Nashville do know everything and act as if they heard this idea for the first time when you tell them. I ended up recording there for the past 35 years, and it had everything I wanted.”

At a benefit show in 2018 for UCLA Health and Teen Cancer America, McLean performed a cover of his hit song “Vincent” with Ed Sheeran.

“(Ed) is really a remarkable fellow, because he seems impervious to his success, his ego and the pressures that are all around him; he’s like a Cheshire cat,” McLean said. “He’s very mellow and asked me if we could do this. It took two seconds of rehearsal and worked out perfectly. He’s done it his own way, and I applaud him.”

“American Pie” has been covered and parodied many, many times. However, McLean said one of his favorite covers of his music was actually of “The Grave,” done by another legendary artist back in 2003.

“I want songs to be useful for people. That’s the folk side of things. ‘American Pie’ has had so many brilliant parodies, and it’s unbelievable,” McLean said. “I sit there and read these things, (wondering) how people make these things up; it’s terrific! I’m always interested in hearing those. I think one of my proudest moments was when George Michael did ‘The Grave’ to protest the war in Iraq, because no one else had the balls to stand up and say, ‘No! This is wrong!’ But he did, and he sang that song. I was so proud of him and the fact he used my song.”

While McLean is at an age when many people are pondering retirement, he said he still loves the thrill of a tour, even if his show at Fantasy Springs is just a short drive from home.

“I love to get set for the next gig, the next plane flight, and I don’t do well sitting around for too long,” he said. “I get too antsy. For me to do what I did as a kid—playing for a whole week in a nightclub—I think I’d have to hang myself, and I couldn’t do it now. I can’t go to the same place every night and do it again. But I can say that I’m in very good shape; I have a great band; and we’re going to kick some ass.”

Don McLean will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 13, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $29 to $59. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

It’s been a long and winding road for the YIP YOPS, a band many touted as the Next Big Thing to come out of the Coachella Valley.

It all started when the members of the band were still in high school, and the band won a spot to play at the 2014 Tachevah Block Party in Palm Springs. The band then signed a contract with a management group that later fell apart; recorded an album with famed local producer Ronnie King that the band members went on to disavow; and crossed playing Coachella off their bucket lists in 2017.

However, as the summer of 2019 arrives, the community has not heard much from the YIP YOPS as of late, with no new releases and few local shows.

However, never fear: The YIP YOPS are alive and well … albeit at half their former size: The band recently announced both keyboardist/guitarist Mari Brossfield and bassist Jacob Gutierrez had left the band, after completing a Monday night residency at The Echo in Los Angeles. The two remaining members, frontman Ison Van Winkle and drummer Ross Murakami, recently sat down with the Independent in Indian Wells, where Van Winkle filled us in on what was going on.

“We’re obviously writing, recording and trying to develop ourselves more and more,” Van Winkle said. “We obviously had some great milestones over the past couple of years that we hit and we’re proud of, but the goal is still the same: Play bigger shows, and run with bigger artists. I feel like we have a certain head-down-and-work mentality.”

Murakami added that the band has been working hard to expand its name beyond the Coachella Valley.

“The writing has always been constant,” Murakami said. “… I don’t know how it’s possible with all the things going on, whether it’s touring or music videos and all these other things we need to work on. The ideas are still being flushed out and written, and new music is always there, and it’s building up behind us. The main thing we’ve been doing specifically for the past couple of years or so has been creating a buzz in other markets. That’s been the focus point. We have pretty big goals in mind, and they are not going to be achieved by sticking around in one market. Expansion is always on our minds.”

Mari Brossfield and Jacob Gutierrez played their last show with the YIP YOPS at The Satellite in Los Angeles back in December.

“Basically, the next day, we started this next phase where we started reworking everything,” Murakami said. “Every song that we play live is now reworked and revamped to fit a duo. We decided that playing as a duo was the best way to move forward. We’re both really excited about it.”

Van Winkle said the material will probably not very different.

“We’re still playing the same songs in the same structure with the same lyrics,” Van Winkle said. “I think that the songs, because I’ve written all the ones we play—they all come from the same place. In that respect, I wouldn’t say it’s changed as much as it’s evolved.”

Brossfield and Gutierrez left the band to focus on their college educations; Murakami said he and Van Winkle supported them in making that decision.

“We’re still great friends,” Murakami said. “It has nothing to do with anything other than where your hearts are at. Our hearts are in the music, and it just has to be that way. But I think anytime someone makes a decision to move toward something that will make them happier in what they are doing, they should absolutely do it. That’s what that was.

“Since then, I feel like the band has really shifted to where it hasn’t ever felt as good as it feels now.”

Despite all the highs and lows, Van Winkle said there’s nothing they would have done differently.

“It’s so easy to look back on it and think, ‘Oh, we could have done that,’ or some shit like that,” Van Winkle said. “I always think if it got us to this point, I don’t see the need to change much. Going through all these experiences is what got us to this point. Going through the good times and the not-so-good times is what shaped us. If we didn’t have those experiences, we wouldn’t see it the same way as we do now.”

When I first met the YIP YOPS back in 2014 at Ison Van Winkle’s house, he showed me material that he had recorded on his computer. His father, Tony, told me Ison could sit there all night long working on material.

“That hasn’t changed,” Murakami said with a laugh. “He’s still doing that.”

Van Winkle explained: “To me, it’s like a first love. You’re almost obsessed with it, and you’re so attached to it. I can’t imagine not doing it.”

When you look at the social media accounts for the band, it appears that Van Winkle is aspiring to become some sort of fashion icon; his wardrobe looks like a mixture of the clothes from any recent Gucci runway show and a ’70s thrift-store rocker. It’s a long way from the early days when the entire band would wear hazmat suits and sunglasses onstage.

“I like to wear certain things, and if I like a certain thing, I’ll wear it,” Van Winkle explained. “It’s not a master plan or anything; it just happens. Some days are better than others, and we try to keep Instagram (posts) to the better days of fashion and try to hide the bad decisions.”

What can we expect from the YIP YOPS near future?

“We’re hoping that we can get a show or two locally this year,” Van Winkle said. “We miss playing here, and the struggle has been finding the right venue to play at. Other than that, we’re going to continue to play shows in Los Angeles and Orange County, and we have a few festivals lined up in October and November. We’re taking advantage of those opportunities to do more touring and hook up with local bands.

“Musically, as we speak, we’re continuing to write and record. We’re ready to release, but we want to be smart about it and have enough (material) … so that we can build momentum. We have to think like that, because we’re doing it all ourselves. It’s literally just us, and that goes for recording, and I’ve been spending most of the past six months developing my skills to where we don’t have to go to a studio to record and can take the bedroom-pop approach. We can record as many songs as we can and do whatever we want—and make it sound just as good as in a studio. There’s so much freedom.”

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

Jason Stuart has taken on a lot of different roles in his career. As of this writing, he has 145 IMBb.com acting credits listed, going all the way back to 1980.

One of his latest credits is the titular role in the short film Hank, which will be screening at the Palm Springs International Shortfest as part of the “Coupling and Uncoupling” program on Wednesday, June 19, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.

The Hongyu Li-directed short features Stuart as the main character, Hank, who is feeling down about the desire of his husband, Tommy, to open up their relationship. Tommy is a gorgeous musician, while Hank is overweight and bald. Over the course of a day, Hank feels even more alone and alienated as he tries to deal with the predicament.

During a recent phone interview, Stuart—who has also made a name for himself as an openly gay comedian—talked about how he was approached for the role.

“I had done another film called Tangerine a couple of years ago, and it was the first (feature-length) film to be shot on an iPhone,” Stuart said. “It was directed by Sean Baker, and it was written by Sean and Chris Bergoch. This Chinese kid (director Hongyu Li) saw this movie and said he wanted me to play (in Hank),” Stuart said. “I got this part of this sweet, kind, middle-aged gay man who didn’t have a voice but gains his voice through the film.”

I asked Stuart if he felt the short-film format was restrictive.

“In the old days, I would agree with that. When you do an independent film, you want people to be able to see it, and that’s important,” Stuart said. “Now, it seems like everything is every size, every length: You watch things online, and it doesn’t matter what it is.

“The world over the past five years has changed so much. I would love for it to be in the theaters, and I hope it gets a decent release. That’s what you care about these days. In every film that I’m in, I ask, ‘How do you get people to see it?’”

One of Stuart’s biggest roles came in the 2016 film Birth of a Nation, playing Joseph Randall, a plantation owner. He said that while the film was disturbing to many, it has important historical context.

“That is probably one of the top 10 things I’ve done in my career. It changed me completely,” Stuart said. “I think that it’s the antithesis of Black Lives Matter. It’s the antithesis of saying, ‘Hey, we’re not going to take this anymore,’ and the antithesis of paying it forward in life—to the worst of consequences.”

Surprisingly, he said it was easier to play Joseph Randall than it was to play Hank.

“When I did Hank, I had just broken up with a boyfriend,” he said. “ … It was one of the hardest roles to play, because he was a different character to me. People say, ‘Was it hard to play a plantation owner?’ I say, ‘Not as hard as it was to do Hank, because I worked on (a character like the plantation owner) in a different project in my acting class. I worked on it years ago when I was cast in something about Vietnam that was never made. (The plantation owner) was kind of a show-off and a guy with an odd sense of humor. In Hank, I had to be so quiet. I had to actually ask the director to cut the dialogue down, because I thought it would be better that he didn’t have a voice.”

Stuart said he was impressed by working with Hongyu Li.

“He had a bit of a challenge with language, but he was so open,” he said. “… What was really interesting was his youth: He’s only 25. That was wonderful, and I couldn’t believe that he had so much intelligence for that. I think he would love to do a full-length film, and I hope that he does.”

Stuart continues to act and do comedy—he’s slated to appear at Oscar’s here in Palm Springs on Aug. 1—but he’s also excited about his soon-to-be-released autobiography.

“It’s pretty exciting, given I’ve never written a book or even thought I could get a book published,” Stuart said. “It was really an exciting thing, because (the publishers I went with) weren’t the only people to say yes. The book is called Shut Up, I’m Talking!

He said the personal reflection required for the book was not easy.

“It was fucking awful!” he said. “The first chapter is all about my dad leaving Poland running away from the Nazis, and it was really difficult. The second chapter is about me. My mom also has a chapter in the book, and I really love my mom a lot. My mom is 82, and she still shops at Forever 71. She, very much so, gave me the title of the book, because the original title was supposed to be I’m Not Barbra Streisand because of a story that happened to me as a child when I went to see Funny Girl. As a kid, I see this woman on a stage, and she’s funny on the outside, but sad on the inside and looks like someone from my neighborhood. I’m attracted, just like her, to Omar Sharif, and if I’m attracted to Omar Sharif, who is left for me to be attracted to?”

Hank will be screened as part of the Palm Springs International Shortfest at 1:15 p.m., Wednesday, June 19, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $12 to $13. For tickets or more information, visit www.psfilmfest.org.

When Juli Crockett of the Evangenitals called, I asked her how she felt about the band returning, yet again, to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

“We can only go so long without returning to the source!” she replied.

The Evangenitals band has become a Pappy and Harriet’s regular due to its popularity among the crowd, and will be returning on Saturday, June 29.

Crockett explained the mutual love between Pappy’s and the Evangenitals, a self-described “folked-up genre-bending good time band.”

“We try to keep it on a schedule of at least once every three months, or at least once a season,” Crockett said. “Every time we play, we kind of start the process of, ‘When is the next time we can come back?’ Robyn (Celia, Pappy’s co-owner) loves us, and we love Pappy’s.

“It’s funny, because people in Los Angeles ask us where we play locally, and we always say, ‘Um, Pappy and Harriet’s?’ We’d always rather take the trek to the desert and play there than play in Los Angeles.”

In 2014, the Evangenitals released Moby Dick; or, The Album. Since then, there have no new Evangenitals recordings.

“After you do an album on Moby Dick, the question is, ‘OK, now what?’ You’ve taken on a literary epic,” Crockett explained. “One of the jokes that we have is (our) repertoire is so gigantic. We have so many songs, and we’re so behind schedule in releasing them. We’ve been trying to catch up. The working title that we’ve been talking about forever for the next album is The 100-Song Demo. Everybody asks us, ‘What kind of music do you play?’ And we’re like, ‘Hmm, I dunno.’ We can always say, ‘Well, you can listen to our demo; it’s 100 songs!’ We figured that should fulfill the requirements for an epic follow-up and give people a real overview of the things we do.”

How, exactly, would a 100-song demo work?

“How do you release such a thing? Are we really going to release an eight-volume album?” Crockett said. “I recently gave a CD to a millennial artist who I met on the Melissa Etheridge Cruise, but she’s like, ‘I don’t own a CD player! Who owns a CD player anymore?’ So … our idea is to release the 100-song demo as a podcast, so every episode is another song, but then after 20-odd episodes, we’ll release these in albums, and call (the first one) Season 1. I also want to do the 100-song livestream where we actually play them all over a span of 24 hours. We’ll move from being a band into performance artists.”

Wait, the Melissa Etheridge Cruise?

“It was amazing. It’s ruined cruises for us forever. It was incredible,” Crockett said. “Her cruise is its own floating country. It was such an incredible experience. For one, just the demographic: The cruise was 93 percent women, so it was just the energetic difference of not being in a patriarchal society, (but instead a society) dominated by women. It was like being in the Amazonian culture for a week.

“It was such a bad-ass, loving, supportive, talented group of people, from the artists to the fans. My husband, Michael (Feldman), who plays keyboards in the band, said it was such a weird experience, because of the 7 percent of men on the cruise, 1 percent of them were in the Evangenitals. He said it was an interesting experience to see every conversation and every important decision made between women. Women were the deciders of everything. I got to kick off the ’80s-night show in a metallic thong singing Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy.’ I’m still having a hard time coming back from that experience.”

One of the obvious influences of the Evangenitals is Ween.

“We’ve been playing ‘Alone’ from The Pod album a lot lately. That’s one of our favorite things to play right now, period,” Crockett said. “Sometimes we do ‘Cold Blows the Wind’ from The Mollusk album. It’s a Chinese poem that they sing that goes into our sea-shanty aquatic theme. We’re actually going to license ‘Alone,’ because we’ve been working on a recording of that.”

I asked Crockett what the best part of an Evangenitals show is.

“I have no idea what it’s like to see our band, because I’m in it, so I’m always asking, ‘What is this like for a human being to come to Pappy and Harriet’s and be like, What the fuck is happening?’ The feedback that I get that I love the most is that it’s so different than what anyone’s expectation might be. If you think it’s going to be a punk band, it’s like, ‘Yeah, but there’s this other stuff.’ If you think it’s going to be a country band, it’s the same thing. People tell me how life-affirming it is, because it’s so open, so dynamic, and so full of love and humor—which I feel is what the world needs right now. That’s why we keep it so open in terms of genre and everything else.

“There’s a Kierkegaard quote that says (paraphrased), ‘Either God is everything, or God is nothing.’ Part of the Evangenitals is, ‘God is everything, including the fucking shit on the ground, anal sex and anything else you can think of.’ You don’t have to exclude parts of yourself to be alive or have an experience.”

The Evangenitals will perform with The Shadow Mountain Band at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 29, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Readers of the Independent voted for Avenida Music as the Best Local Band in the 2018-2019 Best of Coachella Valley. Behind the drums of Avenida Music is Sean Poe, who also plays in the Hive Minds. Poe is a fascinating drummer to watch, given his technical prowess and jazz-inspired style. For more information on Avenida Music, visit www.littlestreetmusic.com or www.facebook.com/littlestreetmusic. For more on the Hive Minds, visit www.hivemindsmusic.com. Sean Poe was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

I went to a bunch of concerts growing up, but the first concert I chose to go to was Avenged Sevenfold.

What was the first album you owned?

Green Day, American Idiot.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve been listening to the Gorillaz, The 1975, Young the Giant, Dave Matthews Band, and a lot of Miles Davis.

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

I don’t really understand the whole mumble-rap thing.

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

I would love to have seen Queen with Freddie Mercury.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Definitely emo music! Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, and Thirty Seconds to Mars—stuff like that.

What’s your favorite music venue?

That’s a tie. I love the Big Rock Pub for the sound clarity when I perform there, but I love the La Quinta Brewing Company for the intimate vibe. You’re in a room and can really look all the fans in the eye. That’s really cool.

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

I wish they all could be California girls,” The Beach Boys, “California Girls.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The most life-changing artist is actually a Southern California cover band called Helicopter. I went to the bar and saw them playing, and they let me get up and play with them, even though I didn’t play drums yet. It was the first time I played anything other than marching-band or orchestra music, and it completely shifted the direction of my life! We played “Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh. I’m forever grateful to those dudes.

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

I’d ask Dave Matthews: “How do you keep every show fresh and different after all these years and countless relentless tours?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Oingo Boingo, “Dead Man’s Party.”

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

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

The Dave Matthews Band covering “All Along the Watchtower.” I saw them play it live recently, and it gave me chills. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Pluko could be the next great electronic music artist—even though he’s only 18 years old.

Within days of his high school graduation, he’ll be appearing at Splash House in Palm Springs, on Sunday, June 9.

Pluko (Sam Martinsen) released his album Sixteen on ODESZA’s Foreign Family Collective label last year. Before I called Martinsen for our scheduled phone interview, I listened to Sixteen as it rained here in the Coachella Valley. I found it calming—as if it were made for a rainy day. Strangely enough, Martinsen said that’s what influenced it, in a way.

“I think my biggest inspiration for Sixteen is where I live,” Martinsen said. “I live in Central Pennsylvania; it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. I’m constantly driving around and getting inspiration from being out on the road. The summer, when I spent a lot of the time writing the album, was pretty dreary and rainy. A couple of the more-uplifting songs were written when it was sunny out.

“What really made me want to write that album was my headspace and where I was in my life. It was also where I was at in terms of actual location.”

I asked Martinsen if he approached electronic music as a music composer.

“I like to think of it being more like that,” Martinsen said. “I definitely put a lot more care in the detail and the emotion; it’s not really the traditional DJ mentality. I’m not a DJ. I’ve never done a DJ set as Pluko. It’s been all live-set shows.”

Sixteen includes two tracks that feature guest vocalists.

“The stuff that I do is mostly by myself, because it’s hard to get other people to understand what you’re trying to do,” Martinsen said. “It’s much easier to explain when it’s done, and you can show them. But with the song ‘Asleep,’ MOONZz really understood what I was trying to do. We really worked well together. We both got what we wanted and what we were envisioning for that track. But it’s hard to get everyone to understand what your vision is.”

ODESZA not only signed Pluko to their label; the electronic-music duo personally supported him as he took the final steps in releasing the album.

“When I first started talking to them, and they said that they wanted to do the record, I figured I’d be talking to all the people who work at the label,” Martinsen said. “But as soon as I was on board, I was on the phone with them right away, and they were sending me e-mails and notes. I went to one of their shows to meet them for the first time. They were really welcoming; they are super-great guys. It was such as a crazy feeling to have that support right away and for them to be so genuine and helpful with the entire project.

Sixteen was pretty much done when we were trying to find the home for it. When they said they were going to give me an e-mail with notes, it felt very nerve-racking to see what they had to say. Once I got all the notes from them, it really made me feel good, because most of it was positive, with just a little bit of critiquing here and there. To have the support of two guys who I’ve listened to since I began making music—it was a really crazy feeling.”

Martinsen was focused on film and photography while growing up—until he suddenly found the inspiration to make music while in middle school.

“I never played an instrument when I was growing up,” Martinsen said. “I would go to my sister’s band and orchestra concerts, and that made me not really want to see anything with music, because it was so boring, and I was so young. I’m someone who gets really involved when I find something that I’m excited about. I dive in, and I work as hard as I can. I discovered the world of making electronic music, and I was super-interested in that. I just kept working at it and finding my sound.”

Being in high school while also being a rising music star was tough at times, he said.

“Once I started to make more of a name for myself and get more traction with shows, it was difficult to be able to do those shows, because I was still in school,” he said. “… I always found time to make as much music as possible, even if that meant not hanging out with friends and (instead) staying inside making music. I was willing to do whatever it took to get better and make music I was happy with.”

Martinsen will be releasing a mixtape right around his high school graduation, CLASS XIX—just before Splash House.

“The mixtape is going to have a brand-new and refreshing version of the Pluko sound and vibe,” he said. “It’s a lot more summer-y and a lot more upbeat. It’s a mixtape, so it has a lot more energy behind it, and it’s a lot more fun. It’s something I really haven’t done before. I’m putting it out right before summer, and I want it to be something people can throw on and enjoy.”

Splash House’s June edition takes place Friday, June 7, through Sunday, June 9, at various venues. Passes are sold out, but may be purchased through a fan exchange; after-hours passes remain, starting at $45. For more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.

June means the start of summer—and a relatively quiet month as far as big events go. However, never fear, because there’s still plenty of entertainment to enjoy.

The Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s Special Events Center is fairly calm in June, but the Rock Yard is in full swing on Saturday nights. Here’s the list of performers, with each show starting at 7:30 p.m. June 1: Journey tribute band Escape. June 8: Sammy Hagar tribute band Three Lock Box. June 15: Eric Clapton tribute band Clapton Road. June 22: Ozzy Osbourne tribute band Mr. Crowley. Saturday, June 29: The Who tribute band The Who Experience. All Rock Yard shows are free! Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage has a fine June slate. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 7, Mexican singer-songwriter Christian Nodal will be performing. When he released his first album Me Dejé Llevar in 2017, he took the music charts by storm, with the album reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Latin Albums chart. The 20-year-old recently released a new album, Ahora, and his star is continuing to rise. Tickets are $65 to $125. At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 15, Art Laboe’s Love Jam VIII will be happening. The lineup includes Baby Bash, MC Magic, Tierra, Frankie J, and LSOB. Come celebrate the popular radio show where you can call in your shout-out to your homeboy or homegirl in lockdown. Tickets are $45 to $65. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a June event you won’t want to miss. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 29, the Summer Rap Jam will take place. The lineup includes Warren G, Ying Yang Twins and Petey Pablo. I remember when Warren G released “Regulate” back in the mid ’90s, and everyone was playing it in their cars, on their boom boxes and on their home stereos. Tickets are $30 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa is hosting a couple of great shows. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 14, comedians Jeff Ross and Dave Attell will be performing. Jeff Ross is known as the “Roastmaster General” for his celebrity roasts that have been shown on Comedy Central. He’s roasted some of the best … and some of the worst, including our current president. Dave Attell was the host of Insomniac With Dave Attell, which ran for four seasons on Comedy Central in the early 2000s. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29, the all-male revue show Australia’s Thunder From Down Under returns. Considering how often this show comes back and sells out, it’s one of the hottest tickets around. I picture a mob of ladies screaming their heads off for two hours. Tickets are $25. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a wild June schedule. A few highlights: At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 1, one of my favorite psychedelic-rock bands coming out of Los Angeles, Mystic Braves, will be performing. Organist Ignacio Gonzalez is also one of the owners of Lolipop Records, a popular independent label that has released records around the world. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8 p.m., Sunday, June 9, country/folk artist Patty Griffin will be performing. She recently released her 10th album and will be at Pappy’s right after a European tour. Tickets are $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 28, local musician Gene Evaro Jr. will be performing in celebration of his 30th birthday. After Evaro’s tours with national acts, performances at various music festivals, and music appearances on television shows, one needs to ask: When someone is going to finally sign this guy and make him a bigger name than he already is? Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a big event in June. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 22, fresh off a tour with Tool, All Souls (upper right) will be performing, along with local bands Herbert and Fever Dog. All Souls includes Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson), Erik Trammell (Black Elk, Brothers Collateral) and Totimoshi members Tony Aguilar and Meg Castellanos. Admission is $5. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/hoodbarandpizza.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs has an event booked that fans of the Desert Daze festival should attend: At 9 p.m., Thursday, June 6, the fest presents a performance by the band Traps PS. Admission is free! Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Purple Room will soon enter its two-month summer slumber, but not before a fantastic June. At 6 p.m., Saturday, June 1, singer Jonathan Karrant will be performing. A popular recurring performer at the Purple Room, he’s best known for his excellent performances of Great American Songbook and vocal jazz music. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 6 p.m., Saturday, June 8, Scot Bruce will take the stage. He’s one of the best performers of Elvis Presley’s music that you will find. He’s so good at it that he’s been in music videos with Faith Hill and Sheryl Crow. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 6 p.m., Saturday, June 15, Las Vegas will be coming to Palm Springs with Lady Luck. The trio features powerful voices from Broadway, Hollywood, London’s West End and the Vegas strip—and the group will be doing a Las Vegas legends-themed show. Tickets are $30 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge rolls into June with a couple of fun events. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 1, drag star Sutton Lee Seymour will be performing. Seymour is known as the “Robin Williams of drag” and has entertained in sold-out venues around the world. Tickets are $25. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 8, America’s Got Talent’s Season 8 runner-up Taylor Williamson (below) will be performing. He’s quite funny. Tickets are $25. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; reactionshows.com.

I joined the Coachella Valley Independent in 2013, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The Independent has provided me with many opportunities in my journalism career.

Thus, it’s bittersweet to say that as of June 19, I will be stepping down from my position as the assistant editor/staff writer here at the Independent. I have accepted the position of entertainment, culture and celebrity reporter at The Desert Sun.

In the spring of 2013, when I began writing for the Independent, this was a very new publication. The first issue, a quarterly, had just hit newsstands; we would not go monthly in print for six more months. I was new to the journalism profession and didn’t know what to expect. Now, six years later, as I look back at what the Independent has accomplished, as well as my own accomplishments, it feels incredible.

This publication has won three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. The depth of news coverage we have been able to do, with limited resources, on local elections, state legislation, homelessness, LGBT issues and a broad number of other subjects makes me proud. I’m honored to have been part of this publication.

I’ve enjoyed an incredible number of editorial opportunities in our local entertainment scene, covering both Coachella and Stagecoach every year since 2013; interviewing a long list of nationally touring bands; and getting to cover events such as the Palm Springs International Film Festival. I’ve also covered numerous great local bands. Some of them have said, “This is our first interview,” when I went to meet with them; many of them are still together in the local music scene, doing great things—and even enjoying some success outside of the valley.

All along, I knew that if I wanted to advance my career, it would probably require that I move outside of the area—which presented a dilemma: I’ve called the Coachella Valley home for 15 years now, and I love it here. That’s why I am so thrilled about this job at The Desert Sun.

On the flip side, I’m sad to be leaving a publication I’ve grown along with over the last six years. This publication has taken on such a diverse range of coverage and is an important voice in our local community, from Anita Rufus’ “Know Your Neighbors” column to Robert Victor’s monthly astronomy column, and from all the great food and beverage coverage to the fantastic in-depth arts and entertainment coverage.

The mission statement of this publication says it all: “We believe in true, honest journalism: We want to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted. We want to be a mirror for the entire Coachella Valley. We want to inform, enlighten and entertain.” A lot of work and sacrifice goes into putting that mission statement into action, and I hope that people will continue to support the Independent for a long time to come.

Joan Jett may be 60—but she didn’t show any signs of slowing down in the slightest when she rocked the Fantasy Springs Event Center on Sunday night, May 26.

Jett’s attire—a black bodysuit with bedazzled stars, leaving her arms and shoulders exposed—made her resemble a female pro-wrestler. But she’s an ass-kicker in rock ’n’ roll—so it wasn’t a bad look for her.

After starting with “Victim of Circumstance,” she immediately went into “Cherry Bomb,” the 1976 song made famous by her previous band, The Runaways. She followed that up with her cover of Gary Glitter’s “Do You Want to Touch Me.”

Toward the middle of her show, she talked about the 1987 box-office bomb of a film she did with Michael J. Fox, Light of Day. She mentioned that Bruce Springsteen wrote the title track, which is performed by Jett and Fox at the end of the film—and then said she was going to play it. Her version of the song, combined with the talents of the Blackhearts, was a treat to hear.

The show came during Memorial Day weekend. While Jett has supported anti-war presidential candidates in recent years, she is a staunch supporter of American service members, and she dedicated the night to all of the active and retired members of the military, which earned her loud applause.

She mentioned a documentary that she took part in about her career, Bad Reputation, and played a song from the film, called “Fresh Start.”

Jett briefly discussed Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the East Coast in 2012. Like everyone else, she said, she had a hard time not being able to run out and simply buy essentials, like normal—but that there was a network of people sharing what they had with others. She said to remember people who have survived any kind of disaster and to help them, before playing “Make It Back.”

Of course, no Joan Jett set is complete without “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll,” “Crimson and Clover” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and those were the last three songs in the regular set. When she came back out for the encore, she played another song I considered a treat—a cover of the Replacements’ “Androgynous.” She also added her cover of the Dee Jays’ “Real Wild Child (Wild One),” and then closed with her rad cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People.”

The Blackhearts roster appears to change regularly, given I couldn’t find a current roster—and Jett did mention that her keyboard player couldn’t make the show. Regardless, the guys she had for Sunday’s show played her songs beautifully and kept the energy levels high. Oh … and a shout-out to Jett for the leather pride sticker on one of her guitars.

Country singer/songwriter Elle King was the opening act—which seemed like a strange pairing, but the audience loved her. King’s voice is sort of an acquired taste, but she’s a smart songwriter and a talented multi-instrumentalist—and sometimes, a gritty voice can work in your favor. She played a good mix of material from her 2015 album, Love Stuff, and her 2018 album, Shake the Spirit, which goes into detail about her failed marriage, substance-abuse problems and spiritual awakenings. Of course, she closed her set with her 2015 hit, “Ex’s and Oh’s.”

Reborn by the Sunshine has flown somewhat under the radar for the last two years—but that’s now changing, thanks to the group’s new EP, These Old Feelin’s.

The five-member band has a rustic Americana sound with some roots rock ’n’ roll thrown in. During a recent interview at Luscious Lorraine’s in Palm Desert with frontman James Dorris and bassist Brett McLaughlin, they explained how they began as a band.

“We started with songs that I wrote myself that were just me and a guitar,” Dorris said. “Once Brett started playing with me, things just started to change, and we started making different songs. Over the past two years, we’ve been a band and have been writing together, and our music has developed differently. I don’t feel there was ever a script, or, ‘This is exactly what we want!’ … We have a broad spectrum of music to pull from, and that’s why it falls into that Americana/roots-rock genre.”

Said McLaughlin: “We definitely wanted a throwback vibe—stuff that we used to listen to when we were kids, something that would jog memories. We wanted our songs to have their own vibe.”

Dorris and McLaughlin said it can be challenging to write songs that represent the band’s identity.

“Finding your own sound is the hardest thing in the world,” Dorris said. “It’s something we’re still doing. We’re writing songs, and we’re more comfortable writing with each other. Our music is still taking all these different turns.”

Added McLaughlin: “What helps is pulling things from different band members. “That way, we can come up with our own genre, just with different riffs. Even Scott (McLaughlin), our drummer, comes up with riffs to incorporate into a jam (with guitarist Brian Gelesko), and we can see if there’s a song later on.”

These Old Feelin’s was recorded at Hi-Dez Recording in Joshua Tree.

“Our engineer was Nathan Sabatino,” Dorris said. “It’s a really cool spot up in Joshua Tree in the middle of nowhere. You have to drive for a couple of miles on an actual dirt road and scratch up your car. But you get there, and it has this beautiful energy to it. I feel like everyone always says that about the studios and Joshua Tree, but there is a great feeling when you walk into the room. We tracked most of the EP live and did overdubs for vocals. Most of it was live runs.”

McLaughlin said the studio felt like home.

“It’s very comfortable. I think it was easy to record in that space because of that,” McLaughlin said. “Nathan’s mixing board is in a shipping container. It’s separate from the actual studio. You’ll see him through the glass in this giant shipping container on his computer.”

Both Dorris and McLaughlin said that recording live, all in a room together, made them a better band.

“You really have to connect in a room like that, because you’ll be staring at each other trying to figure out these songs and tracking them,” Dorris said. “I’d absolutely do it again. There’s something to that. Anyone can track a guitar, drums, bass and vocals individually and do it in a day. It’ll sound decent, but there’s this real warmth from having bleed from the drums, the guitars, and vice versa. That’s how it all used to be, and that’s why there’s all that warmth in those old records.”

Added McLaughlin: “(After) the rigor and that constant playing the songs together over and over like that—we grew as a band. If you ever want to grow as a band, record live, because you have to be a good band to do that.”

Reborn by the Sunshine prefers to play live shows just every so often rather than regularly.

“We get offers all the time to play,” Dorris said. “People who can go out every week and play—that’s great. With a band that’s new, when you’re writing new material, and when you’re trying to develop your sound … we like to play once every six to eight weeks, maybe once every three months. Every time you see us, you might see something different, especially now since we have music out. It gives people more of an opportunity to know our sound.”

Both Dorris and McLaughlin are currently dealing with family additions. Dorris’ wife, Chelsea, the band’s banjo player, is currently expecting their third child. McLaughlin arrived at the interview stating that he only had two hours of sleep after caring for his newborn baby while his wife was recovering.

“You need to have something (creative), especially when you have children,” Dorris said. “I always tell everyone, ‘(Having children) is the most beautiful and amazing thing that can happen to you, and it’s also the hardest thing that can happen to you.’ It makes you a different person. So if you have that release like music to get that creativity out, it’s a good thing.”

Dorris then added with a laugh: “Or, you can start drinking, I guess.”

For more information on Reborn by the Sunshine, visit rbtsmusic.com.

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