CVIndependent

Fri12152017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Cakes, aka Monica Morones, is “a bad bitch.”

Those are her words—told to me during a recent phone interview. The local visual artist and musician is holding an art show, Bipolar, at Flat Back Art Supplies in Palm Desert on Saturday, Dec. 16.

I asked Morones to explain what makes her a “bad bitch.”

“I’m independent; I think for myself; I stick to my beliefs; and I feel like I’m a beast,” Morones said. “I feel like I can handle myself in any situation, and I feel like it’s not a defense mechanism, but that I’ve hardened myself into a bitch. I could tackle anything. I could do video; I could do photography; I could do painting; I could do modeling; and I could get up onstage and be a singer. I can do all of those things because I said so. That’s what being a bad bitch to me is.”

She explained what inspires her artistically, both as an artist and as a musician.

“My art is very raw, and I can’t even give myself a specific style because I don’t really have one,” she said. “The show ranges from abstract to fine art to super-detailed to random stuff I did on wood. I added in some photography pieces of mine that I really like. My art is kind of all over the place, but when people see my work, I know that they know it’s mine, because I stick with bubblegum pink, and I have a certain aesthetic.

“The inspiration definitely comes from being a bad bitch. I’m a bad girl, and I like in-your-face stuff. I like to shock people, and I like to make people think and make them think about me after that. I’m not narcissistic, but I like making people feel shocked. That’s an inspiration—and music is an inspiration. Anytime I make anything—I make the video; I make the song; and anything I put out—I try to do it entirely myself.”

I asked Morones why being provocative is her modus operandi.

“I can’t speak for other artists, but that’s the only way I know,” she said. “If you ever met my mother, you’d know why: Her favorite word is ‘motherfucker.’ It’s just who I am. I’m abrasive, but I’m also kind. Most of the time, I’m too honest for most people, and that reflects in everything that I do. I try to keep it in check, but most of the time, I’m an artist.”

Fashion is another outlet Morones has found for her art.

“I started sewing a long time ago and started making purses and wallets,” she said. “I learned how to put art on clothes and painted directly onto clothes. When I made a little bit of money off of it, I’d spend whatever extra money on screen printing and putting my art onto shirts, because I was tired of people not buying my purses and wallets. They weren’t too expensive, but they weren’t $20. Back in 2002, I had screen printers put my art onto a shirt, and I said, ‘OK, I’m going to make money this way.’ In the beginning, it was about money; now it’s about art. That’s the difference between being a younger artist and an older artist. But this has been 18 years for me, doing art.”

Morones said it is not easy to be a young artist in the Coachella Valley.

“I think that’s been my biggest struggle as an artist—being validated by others,” she said. “I think it’s horrible, but let’s be honest: That’s what happens when you’re an artist. You make art, and you want to be validated by people, and you want people to like it. … I can’t specifically say if it’s in the Coachella Valley, but I do know that in order to get any type of publication writing or any kind of thing like that, you can’t piss off people. It doesn’t matter what your talent is; you have to know the right people.”

Morones hinted that there might be a Cakes performance at the Bipolar art show, but she made no promises. She described her art and her music as “two very segregated things.”

“When I make art, it’s personal,” she explained. “… I don’t paint live, and I’m not a lab monkey, but kudos to whoever does that. I like to sit in my cage, watch my favorite show, smoke some weed get in a mind-space where I can freely let go. For me, painting is painting. To perform music—that’s a show. When I do shows, I try to touch all the bases of visuals and sound. What can I do to make it different? ‘Let’s put big pink cornrows in my hair; let’s get two big homosexual dancers with their shirts off wearing bunny masks to make people feel a little weird about themselves. Let’s do some weird stuff to make people feel entertained.’ When I perform music, that’s for entertainment, but when I’m an artist, that’s just for me.”

Bipolar, an art show by Cakes, takes place from 6 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, at Flat Black Art Supplies, 74275 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. An all-female slate of DJs will perform. Admission to the 18-and-over event is free. For more information, call 760-340-4307, or visit the event’s Facebook page.

It’s a common argument in the local music scene: Is Throw the Goat a metal band … or is it a punk band?

The Idyllwild three-piece’s new album, The Joke’s on Us, settles the argument once and for all: Throw the Goat is definitely a do-it-yourself punk-rock band.

The band is currently taking pre-orders for The Joke’s On Us, which will be released Jan. 26, via PledgeMusic. If Throw the Goat receives more than 100 percent of goal, the members will donate 10 percent of the overage to the American Red Cross.

During a recent interview at The Hood Bar and Pizza, we talked about the title of the EP the band released last year before the presidential election, Vote Goat, as well as the title of the new album.

“There are a lot of people in the political climate who dismissed certain things last year, thinking, ‘It’s just a joke.’ I think now, with how the way things turned out, the joke is on all of us,” said guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell.

Drummer Troy Whitford, who is celebrating his one-year anniversary with Throw the Goat and will also appear for the first time on the band’s recordings with The Joke’s On Us, said it was important to “go there” politically.

“It’s almost kind of like a responsibility to say something,” Whitford said. “We all have our own opinions toward the political climate, but it would be bullshit and against ourselves to write more songs about drinking and having a good time, boys and girls, and all that other bullshit. There are things that need to be put into perspective, and people need to acknowledge what’s going on.”

The recording sessions for the album started on Halloween.

“I guess if you put it all together, it took about a month,” Parnell said. “Recording, editing, mixing and getting the masters back took about 32 days.”

Bassist and lead vocalist Michael Schnalzer said there are pluses and minuses when it comes to DIY recording.

“It gave us freedom we never had, which can be positive and a negative,” he said. “I think it made it easier to work through the problems we ran into. But it also made it harder, because you can do whatever you want. We’re really fucking picky when it comes to ourselves. The vocals drove me insane.”

Parnell laughed and added: “It would have only taken three weeks if we were less picky.”

Schnalzer said a couple of the tracks stray from the typical Throw the Goat formula.

“Puke wrote a song called ‘High,’ and it’s going to be the lead single on the album,” Schnalzer said. “That one is just an ear worm and is probably one of the poppiest tracks we’ve ever written—not that that’s a bad thing, because it’s still heavy as shit. This album gets a little weird for us, because it also has our heaviest song ever, ‘The Joke’s On Us,’ which is the title track. That song is about as metal as Throw the Goat will ever get.”

Earlier this year, Throw the Goat went on a national tour, and also played in the United Kingdom.

“We were gone for six weeks,” Schnalzer said. “In the middle of a trip like that, it feels like it’s never going to end. Once it’s over, it seems like a blur. Getting the opportunity to go to the UK again was pretty mind-blowing. But getting to tour around the country and getting to play for people who we’ve never seen, and play with bands we’ve never met before—it was super-cool.”

Of course, it was the first Throw the Goat tour for Whitford.

“(Troy) was the man!” Parnell said. “If I was riding shotgun, and Mike was in the driver’s seat, Troy would all of a sudden appear out of the back and be like, ‘A little peanut butter cracker sandwich, gentlemen?’”

Parnell said the band has big hopes for The Joke’s On Us.

“We’re trying to be on the charts, which is the main reason behind the PledgeMusic thing,” he said. “For an independent band to register with SoundScan, and do all that other kind of chart stuff that people have to do independently, it’s a big pain, but PledgeMusic makes it super-easy. With the way album sales go these days, it doesn’t really take that much overall to make an impact. It’s the first time we’re going to be doing that, and it’s the first time we’re doing vinyl and doing it ourselves. There are people we’ve been talking to about taking it a little further, like independent labels who are somewhat interested if we chart in that opening week.”

Schnalzer agreed that using PledgeMusic was a fine idea.

“The response has been good,” he said. “I’ve always been personally hesitant at crowd-funding, but PledgeMusic is a lot more legitimate and made specifically more for musicians. It’s not just trying to crowd-fund an album; you do a pre-order and (there are) all kinds of major acts on there. It’s a professional venue to find bands, check them out and help along with the process—and there aren’t really record labels anymore. It’s a way for bands representing themselves to professionally and legitimately get the money raised to put out merchandise and albums.”

Whitford said the options for musicians on PledgeMusic are far better than those on other platforms.

“On Kickstarter, you’re trying to raise funds to do something,” he said. “With PledgeMusic, you’re doing something, but you’re making it available beforehand, and you’re able to give different options for purchase to help out the cause itself. You don’t have to buy the album; you can buy other things to help it. It’s like pre-ordering a video game and getting that package that won’t be available once it’s released. It’s like you’re saying, ‘We’re doing it; here’s a chance to get it before everyone else.’”

Whitford added that PledgeMusic has given them the opportunity network with other bands, and breaks down the demographics of who is buying the record—some of which have surprised Whitford.

“You have people pre-ordering your album all over the world,” he said. “There have been the same amount of people pre-ordering our album in the UK as there have been in the desert.”

Parnell said that the process has made them add another goal to their 2018 list.

“Arthur Seay from House of Broken Promises has told us, ‘Hey, man, you definitely want to go play in (continental) Europe,’” Parnell said. “For 2018, that’s one of the things we want to do. We’ve played the UK a couple of times, and it’s cool that we have a solid fan base there, but the next time we do that, we’re going to attach it to a European tour playing in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and places like that.”

To pre-order Throw the Goat’s The Joke’s On Us, visit www.pledgemusic.com/throwthegoat. For more information, visit www.throwthegoat.net.

Hundred Forms has been getting consistent local gigs lately, and I’ve been trying to come up with a proper description of band’s sound. The best I can come up with so far: “something fascinating.” The band includes elements of punk rock, desert rock and ’90s underground alternative. For more information on Hundred Forms, visit www.facebook.com/hundredforms. Larry Ellison, the band's guitarist—not to be confused with the guy from Oracle—was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13. Here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

AC/DC. I got invited to join some friends of mine our sophomore year in high school. I believe it was The Razor's Edge tour.

What was the first album you owned?

Michael Jackson's Thriller. I became obsessed with the dancing zombies in the video and had to have the song at my disposal.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Hey, that's my line! I really like what Puscifer has put out recently. Royal Blood has captured my attention. Lately, I've been on a Subhumans and Silversun Pickups kick. Them Crooked Vultures are good long drive companions.

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

Rap.

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

Tchaikovsky. That sounds so pretentious. Either way, I'm just a sucker for moody and dramatic music. Maybe I should say Kyuss (with the Reeder, Hernandez, Homme and Garcia lineup). Or Crash Worship—yes, definitely Crash Worship.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Oh boy, time to come out: Lady Gaga. I want to crawl inside her vocal chords and marinate myself for a lifetime.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Nowadays, almost anything in a theater type setting. I saw Puscifer at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside and loved it.

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

“I know the pieces fit …” from “Schism” by Tool. That goes really well with my day job.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys. I had never heard punk rock music before that. Let me just say I haven't been right since.

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

Jim Morrison of the Doors: “Me first or you?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Ooh, I don't know where to start. Perhaps “The Wind” by the Zac Brown Band. Hopefully that will get the party started.

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

Neurosis, Souls at Zero.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Three Days” by Jane’s Addiction. (Scroll down to hear it!)

In 2001, the DREAM Act was introduced in Congress. If passed into law, the DREAM Act would grant legal status to undocumented children who were brought to and educated in the United States.

Sixteen years later, the act has never been passed. DREAMers, the young men and women who would be affected by the law, received some help in 2012 when the Obama administration enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy—but in September, the Trump administration announced it was repealing the program. (See “A Nightmare for Dreamers,” Oct. 19, at CVIndependent.com.)

As a result, Hugo Chavez, of Desert Hot Springs, fears for his future.

Chavez is well-known in the Coachella Valley music community. He’s the drummer for local band Sleeping Habits (formerly The BrosQuitos), and is one of the many DREAMers across the country who hope to become a legal resident or citizen someday.

“I was brought here from Mexico when I was less than a year old,” Chavez said during a recent interview. “It’s something that has always affected my life in some way or another. It’s hard to explain, because when you’re not in that situation, you are very unaware of how it really is. You have what you want, but you can’t really do anything.

“(DACA) helped out a lot. As a musician, the fear of crossing somewhere or playing somewhere like San Diego—it wasn’t a possibility. You can’t go somewhere like San Diego over the fear of being deported, and (DACA) took that fear away. … It’s like being trapped in a golden cage: You’re where you want to be, but you can’t really do anything.”

Chavez said he lives in Desert Hot Springs for a reason.

“I’ve stayed here in Desert Hot Springs my whole life, because it’s more of a safe haven than anything else,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about Border Patrol coming through here, especially for our families. … It’s a safe haven for them, and they don’t have to worry so much about hiding or going to the local grocery store.”

Chavez said he really started to understand the gravity of his situation when he was in high school.

“You see your friends when they turn 16 going to get their licenses and doing the typical American teenager stuff, and you’re always questioning, ‘Why am I not doing that?’ or, ‘Why can’t I do that?’” he said. “Then it all hits you that you can’t get a license or even an ID card because of your status. It sucks, because I had opportunities to take trips with the marching band or do other extracurricular activities that I couldn’t do.”

Chavez’s parents—like the parents of many DREAMers—came to the United States in search of the American dream.

“It’s the same story that anyone would tell you: It’s the pursuit of a better life,” he said. “When you’re living in Mexico, some people work all week to make 100 pesos, and that’s not even $10 in the United States. They can’t survive, making so little money. Parents want their kids to go to college; they want something bigger for them, or at least some opportunity for their children to pursue a dream. That’s why my mom and dad have to do what they do.”

When we discussed the arguments people opposed to the DREAM Act often make, Chavez said the opponents oversimplify things.

People like to say, ‘If you don’t like your country, you should fix it.’ But it’s not that easy,” he said. “People can vote and start as many petitions as they can in this country, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to change anything. It’s the same thing there. People can speak out, but when you have a government that controls the people as well as they do there, there’s not much you can say or do without fear of repercussions.”

Chavez’s family has been trying to get legal status for several years.

“It’s something people are really misguided about. A lot of people just say, ‘Go get your citizenship!’ It’s not like I can walk into an office and pay to get my citizenship. It doesn’t work like that,” he said. “My family has been in the process of getting our citizenship and visas for over 10-plus years. We’ve supposedly been approved, but there’s no actual date to go and do our fingerprints or anything like that. … It’s not simple at all, and you have to go through so many background checks, and they check your health, your status, where you work, and everything before you’re approved. It’s not something that takes 10 minutes, like it’s in and out at the DMV. … If it were so easy, this wouldn’t be such a big deal.”

Despite his legal status, Chavez said he wants to pursue as many of his dreams as he can.

“Now that I have (DACA), it allowed me to get my license, get my ID, and get everything that I needed in order to make that next step into getting citizenship,” he said. “The fear of going somewhere is not there anymore. I can freely go to the courthouse or go somewhere to pay a fee knowing that I’m going to make it home that same night. It’s a liberating feeling.

“Having the option to go to college and do anything that I want to do is something I don’t take for granted. Some people live in this country and have all these opportunities by birthright, and then they blame society for all the things they haven’t done. I’d rather fight for what I got and work my way up.”

I asked Chavez what the repeal of DACA, without a replacement by Congress, would mean for him.

“The basic fear is the fear of having to go back into hiding—the fear of not being accepted in general,” he said. “I have nothing different than my fellow band members or my friends in college; I’m just the same as a person as they are. The fear of having to dwell back and not be able to do the things I do now—it’d be a step in the wrong direction, especially for people like me who have so much to offer, and so much to do, and (our legal status) is the only thing holding us back.”

In 2015, Cam lit up the country-music charts with her album Untamed—and she may very well do so again next year, when she releases a new album.

In the meantime, she’s bringing her small-scale West Coast tour to Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Dec. 7.

Born in Lafayette, a Bay Area suburb, she decided to pursue a music career after attaining a degree in psychology from University of California, Davis, and working in research labs.

During a recent phone interview, Cam discussed her new single, “Diane.”

“It’s basically the mirror image of the Dolly Parton song ‘Jolene,’” Cam said. “In this story, the other woman is coming forward saying that the guy she is with—she didn’t realize that he was married. When she finds out he’s married, she goes to the guy’s wife, tells the truth and apologizes. But it’s all wrapped up in this kind of ABBA-meets-Fleetwood Mac, dance-music, up-tempo vibe. You’re kind of dancing along and singing, ‘Diane, I’m really sorry I didn’t know he was your man,’ and you’re having a lot of fun, and then it’s, ‘Oops, wait. What is she saying?’”

With two albums under her belt, Cam said the upcoming album was easier to record—and that she had more resources to work with.

“There’s always the challenge of art—when you get in your own head and … you go through the process, and suddenly everything you have is horrible,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just wading through inner turmoil to figure out what you want, in terms of the process, and it was a lot easier this time around. When I first started in 2010, I was still doing psychology research, and when I first went into music, I started from scratch and was still learning how to write what I wanted, and how my voice should sound. I did it all on a Kickstarter budget.

“This (new) album, after winning a Grammy nomination for the last one, I have a bigger budget and things like strings on this album. I recorded it at the Capitol building in Los Angeles. The songwriters who wrote ‘Girl Crush’ are on it, and it was much easier.”

While songwriters helped with the album, Cam said she writes the vast majority of her material herself.

“It’s a very rare instance where I don’t (write all of it), and that may happen on one song on this next album. But I generally always write it,” she said. “For me, it has to touch base with the emotional part … by writing about the experiences that define you. It has to touch you with some kind of emotion behind it. That’s worth all the work and effort that goes into it. I have to feel pretty intense about it, and that includes me feeling very vulnerable when I’m writing.”

Speaking of songwriting: Cam wrote a song on Sam Smith’s new album.

“I felt like, sitting down with Sam, he already heard some of the new album and liked it, but he knew what he was going into and said, ‘I want to write with her,’” she said. “We sat down, and it was like there was a similar concept that’s floating between you, and you both identify it. If you don’t speak the same language or you’re not on the same wavelength, then it doesn’t work.”

As a Californian, Cam said she struggled when she first arrived in Nashville.

“People definitely have a way of doing things … and tell you, ‘That’s the way it’s done,’” she said. “… Sometimes, when you get into Nashville as a new artist, people are like, ‘Here’s the big-hit producer; here are the big-hit musicians you have to use; and here’s the big-hit writer!’ You just kind of get pushed into the factory line, but then in the end, you get music that sounds like everyone else’s, and it feels like it could be replaceable.”

Cam is currently touring smaller West Coast venues. She said she wants to show appreciation for the West Coast while introducing songs from the upcoming album in intimate venues.

“I lived in Portland at one point in my life. I was raised in the Bay Area, (lived in) Los Angeles at one point, and I got married in Pioneertown. These are all places that I love,” she said. “For me, bringing a show to an intimate place after playing big shows—it’s really cool to be in a venue where you can see people and their faces at an intimate level. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do in my life: play music in the places where I want to play and for the people I want to play it for.”

Cam will perform 9 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 7, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

It’s that wonderful and crazy time of the year again: The holiday season is upon us, and you’re probably looking to celebrate with some fun events. With that in mind, here’s your final Blueskye Report for 2017.

The McCallum Theatre always brings great holiday cheer in December. At 3 and 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2, the mostly instrumental prog-rock-meets-pop-meets-synth-meets-classical project known as Mannheim Steamroller will be returning with its holiday show. Mannheim Steamroller has selling out venues doing this for 30 years, so don’t miss it if you’ve never seen it before. Tickets are $47 to $87. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 3, don’t miss All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914. This is one of the best-known true holiday tales in history, about the Christmas when Allied and German soldiers decided to call for a temporary truce during World War I. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, comedian Tom Dreesen will be performing his show An Evening of Laughter and Memories of Sinatra. As Frank Sinatra’s opening act for 14 years, Dreesen has stories that will be great to hear. Tickets are $27 to $67. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is definitely in the holiday spirit. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2, Alaskan folk-singer Jewel will be performing as part of her Handmade Holiday Tour. She’s put out two albums’ worth of Christmas music that have been well-received. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, jazz-legend Tony Bennett will return to Fantasy Springs. What can be said about Tony Bennett that hasn’t been said already? This show will most likely come with Christmas tunes as well! Tickets are $49 to $99. If you want a little more swing in your Christmas step, you’re covered: At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 22, the Brian Setzer Orchestra will be performing. This is the 14th year that Brian Setzer has set out on his famous Christmas tour. I caught his Christmas show a couple of years ago, and I can tell you that it’s a lot of fun, featuring Christmas music as well as the Brian Setzer classics that you love. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a solid schedule during the month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 1, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies (upper right) will take the stage. Expect the outspoken Jefferies’ career to continue to rise while Trump is president; his Comedy Central talk show was recently renewed for a second season. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 5 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 3, Dance to the Holidays will take place, featuring Dancing With the Stars Mirrorball champions Tony Dovolani and Karina Smirnoff. The event will also include finalists from American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. This is one big mess of holiday awesomeness! Tickets are $45 to $75. If you’re looking for a festive way to bring in 2018, look no further, because at 10:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 31, KC and the Sunshine Band will be performing. With disco hits you know and love such as “Get Down Tonight” and “That’s The Way (I Like It),” you’re guaranteed a great time. Tickets are $75 to $95. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has some fine shows on the schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 1,’70s rock band Ambrosia will be performing. The group has been nominated for five Grammy awards and is responsible for hit songs “How Much I Feel” and “Biggest Part of Me.” Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, country music superstar Clint Black will take the stage. He’s had more than 30 country-music hits—ְand performs some Christmas music as well, so expect to hear some of that country Christmas twang. Tickets are $35 to $55. Do you like to party? Of course you do, so you won’t want to miss the New Year’s Eve celebration at 8 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 31 when Gap X—The Band performs. The group includes six original members of the Gap Band, famous for songs such as “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and “Outstanding.” Tickets are $35 to $55. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a couple of holiday offerings for December that aren’t yet sold out (at least as of our press deadline). At 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, enjoy a holiday “sleigh ride toy run” with ’80s metal bands Slaughter and Great White. Tickets are $17.50 to $20. At midnight, Sunday, Dec. 10, the “sleigh ride toy run” continues with Vixen and Autograph, both from the ’80s metal world. Vixen is an all-female band that proved they could play metal just as good as men. You might remember Autograph for the song “Turn Up the Radio,” which was featured on the Hot Tub Time Machine soundtrack. Tickets are $17.50 to $20. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some good events to consider. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, singer-songwriter Terry Reid will be performing. When I interviewed Terry a couple of years ago, he told me a variety of hilarious stories, including one about the time when Chuck Berry stole his amplifier while he was on tour with the Rolling Stones. Yes, Terry is a legend—and tickets are just $15. At 9:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, stoner-rock band Fu Manchu will take the stage. If you’re a fan of desert rock and love fuzzy guitars, sweet riffs and that funny stuff kids are smoking, you’ll love Fu Manchu. Advice: Don’t forget your ear plugs. Tickets are $15 to $18. At 8:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 22, the Supersuckers (below) will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. Eddie Spaghetti seems to have won his battle with cancer, so the band is still kicking ass and taking names. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs will have a fun month full of holiday events. At 7 p.m., every Sunday in December, Michael Holmes will be doing his holiday themed Judy Show. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 1, enjoy a holiday show by Kate Campbell and the Martini Kings. I chatted with Martini Kings frontman Anthony Marsico last year on the patio at the Paul McCartney show at Pappy and Harriet’s, and enjoyed his stories about playing with Bob Dylan. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 22, get out your blue suede shoes when Scot Bruce performs his Elvis-themed Blue Suede Christmas! show. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa Nightclub has some fun shows slated for the month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2, and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 3, Steve Grand will take the stage. He’s the young gay singer who rocketed to stardom when his song “All-American Boy” went viral on YouTube. Tickets are $35 to $55. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, Ty Herndon will perform. The country star enjoyed big success with a couple of gold records in the 1990s, and came out of the closet in 2014. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 23, Frenchie Davis will return to the Coachella Valley. Fun fact: The alumnus of both American Idol and The Voice has had several successful singles, but has not yet released a full album. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

It would be nigh impossible to find a band more deserving of being voted Best Local Band by the readers of this fine publication than The Flusters.

The “California dreamsurf quartet” ended 2016 by releasing a well-received EP. They played a wildly successful Coachella “4/20 Inbetweener” show at The Hood—a year after playing at Coachella itself. The group then mounted a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised an impressive $21,000. That money helped the band members quit their day jobs to prepare for their first national tour—which was a rousing success. And The Flusters are now working hard on a sophomore EP, slated for release early next year.

In other words, it’s been one hell of a year for The Flusters, who were voted Best Local Band for the second time in three years. They’ll perform at the Best of Coachella Valley Awards Show and Party at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Dec. 15.

I rode along with The Flusters when they recently headed to Hollywood to play at the Viper Room. The crowd loved them, with one person remarking that they will do very well in Los Angeles if they continue to play there.

In mid-November, the band performed in front of a nearly sold-out audience at The Hood to celebrate the release of the music video for “Everyday Dreaming.” After the show, we discussed their Best Local Band win.

“Frankly, we were surprised,” frontman Doug Van Sant said. “You go away on tour all summer, and we came back, and we had this post-tour blues going on. We were our own bosses for the first time. None of us had a job to go back to, and we were kind of twiddling our thumbs—and you think people have forgotten about you after you haven’t played a local show in seven months. But when you get talked about, win something like this, or have a successful show like we did tonight, it feels like nothing changed, and we weren’t forgotten.”

Guitarist Danny White said he felt gratified after returning home from the national tour.

“We were all extremely relieved to have completed the task at hand,” he said. “There was a lot of … what I wouldn’t call doubt, but people trying to put doubt in our heads by telling us what we needed to do and how we needed to do it, and people telling us, ‘When you get to here, this is how you’re going to feel.’ We talked about it nonstop, and we had to find peace within ourselves and realize we’d given up control over what’s going to happen. All we can do is do our best, get there and be on time—and it led us to the end.”

Bassist Mario Estrada discussed one of the tour stops—in Iowa City, Iowa.

“There were about two people in the bar when we started playing, and by the end of the set, there were a bunch of people walking in, who were all saying, ‘Our friends told us to come over and check you guys out. We just rushed down here. Are you guys still going to keep playing?’ We had already started packing up and had somewhere to go. They were all bummed out.”

Van Sant said he has fond memories of being on the road, including a regular occurrence when White and photographer/videographer Wolf Mearns would be driving and navigating at night.

“(Mearns) would hit a rumble strip, and it would wake me up. I’d feel a blast of cool air, smell a cigarette being lit, and hear the crack of the tab of a Red Bull,” Van Sant said with a laugh. “You should have heard some of the late-night conversations that (White) would have with Wolf. Wolf got some of them on camera, and they were some the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard in my life.”

The Flusters could teach other local bands a lesson on how to market themselves: They know what they’re doing, and are very creative while doing it.

“Marketing, to me—it’s presence and pulse,” Van Sant said. “(It’s important to) make yourself present digitally and through merchandising—and the advantageous thing through merchandising is it’s a two-fold thing. Yes, you can make some good money, but merchandising (means) your name is everywhere, and the advantageous thing about your name being everywhere is that you become a household name. All I do is create a presence for us where there is not one, and I think outside the box. I try to connect us as a band to things that other bands might not find interesting. For me, it’s just about being persistent.”

As the band sat in the green room of The Hood after performing at that November show, drummer Daniel Perry said the feedback on the show was almost entirely positive.

“A lot of people tonight told us, ‘I saw you at the 4/20 show the last time, and you guys have really improved, and you’re so cohesive. Everybody really thought you had achieved that next level.’ It’s amazing to see how our local support has continued to grow more and more.”

Perry joined The Flusters just two weeks before that 2016 Coachella performance.

“It was a flood out of the gates,” he said. “As soon as I joined The Flusters, one of the first shows I played was Coachella. It was amazing and one of the most anxious moments I’ve had in my life. … We’ve been doing nothing but leaps since then, and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come since I’ve joined.

“I can’t wait to see where we go next.”

Of course, every band is going to have its critics, and Van Sant said after that Hood show that he doesn’t worry about them; instead, he focuses on his fans.

“We’re getting the corporate events; we’re getting the outdoor events, and that’s all good, but the people who were in here tonight—those are the people we really, really want to please,” he said. “The people who buy the tickets and have watched us since Day 1 and compare our shows—we try to give them something rad and new, and throw in some surprising moments.”

John Stanley King is a man of many talents, covering multiple genres of music.

The brother of local musician and famed music producer Ronnie King is widely known after performing for decades at venues valley-wide. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Independent readers voted him the Best Local Musician for 2017-2018.

King explained during a recent phone interview how he’s been able to remain passionate about music—after some 45 years as a performer.

“It’s been such a strange upbringing for me here in the desert,” King said. “I had to figure out how to not only make a living playing music, but I also had to figure out how to play music and not get bored or burned out with it. What I figured out, because I love so many genres of music, is that by putting a blues band together and playing blues tunes, I have enough blues in me to be considered a blues guy. So I’ve gotten awards for being a blues artist.

“I started performing with my grandfather’s band when I was 12 out here in Cathedral City, and in his band, I had to learn all that Frank Sinatra stuff. … The jazz part of me—that, I do at Vicky’s of Santa Fe on Sunday, and I sing all that stuff from my grandfather’s band with jazz guys and with a jazz bass player and a jazz piano player. I’ve learned how to mix and match talents, and I’m able to sing a certain genre and present a theme. On Friday night, I get to be myself at Vicky’s of Santa Fe, and that’s where I do stuff I grew up with, like Pink Floyd, Steve Miller, Carlos Santana and Neil Young. I also get to perform my original music that I’ve been writing since I was 15. I’ve been able to stay busy that way.”

There is one song that King said he’s very much tired of.

“If I had to sing ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ five nights a week, I think I’d just cut my wrists,” King said with a laugh. “Luckily, I haven’t had to do that song in nine months, thank God. But I can count the thousands of times I’ve had to do that song.”

King almost always has a band with him—because he does not like performing solo.

“I can’t stand playing music by myself. I lose the passion with the music part,” he said. “It’s almost like shooting baskets when you’re a kid at the park by yourself, and you’re waiting for somebody to come, and no one comes, so you just give up. It’s the same way with me and playing music: I have to have someone to play off of, and at least have that much. I like the back and forth communication between musicians. I’ve seen it go away in many friends of mine who get used to that (solo) routine, and you’ll see them at the street fair, looking miserable. I’ve tried to protect myself from that for a number of years by always having at least one person with me. The bigger, the better.”

Despite his long and successful career, King insisted that he does not take music for granted.

“I just figured this was a good way to make a living,” he said. “I asked God when I was in high school: ‘Just let me make a living playing music, and I’ll be good. It’s OK if I don’t have stardom and stuff; just let me play music for a living so I don’t have to work in the desert digging holes.’ Back in the ’70s and ’80s, there weren’t many houses, so building was huge, and all my friends were in construction. I didn’t want to do that. This has been a great way for me to make a living and enjoy music. I’m still loving every moment, and it’s a lot of fun.

“I recently played at the McCallum Theatre with Jimi Fitz, and that was a lot of fun. … I was, like, 18, and somehow I got into Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians and toured the country. We did the Kennedy Center, the Greek Theatre and Carnegie Hall, and I did that for 2 1/2 years and then decided to play my music again. I’ve played in the clubs and backed many of the local legends who have come and gone through the years.”

King mentioned a Facebook thread not long ago on which local musicians listed all of the places at which they’ve played in the Coachella Valley over the years.

“I played them all when they were open, and played them all as they closed,” he said. “In fact, I tried to open two clubs of my own. I had a place called Moonlight Grill in Palm Desert and a spot called King’s Social Club. I learned a lesson that I wasn’t a great businessman, so I don’t want to do that anymore. I just want to play the music part of it.”

Because he’s seen it all, I asked King what he thinks of the current local music scene.

“The Coachella festival has just changed the whole thing,” he said. “It put the whole fricking thing on the map. I remember when I was a kid in Indio, and Iron Butterfly came and played at the Date Festival. Those kind of gigs would come once every 10 years—they’d let someone big perform in the desert. Now? (Indio) is the ‘City of Festivals,’ and Indio is world-renowned for these concerts that have come up. I think it helped the creativity in the Coachella Valley all around. It made it a little more hip for people to enjoy, and we have places like The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert that’s all original music, which is awesome, because those kinds of places didn’t exist in the Coachella Valley. There are probably four more places that let you come in and play your record and rock it out, which has been a great tribute to the kids out here. That’s where Kyuss and all the younger bands came out from—this real creative pocket that exists here. It’s growing and growing and growing.”

Aaron Ramson is well-known in the Coachella Valley music scene … for a bass player. The mighty Hawaiian bassist has played in various metal bands over the years, but is probably best known for his time in both Perishment and Mighty Jack. If you’ve ever seen Mighty Jack in concert, you probably know that every show is “Aaron’s last show.” For more information, visit www.facebook.com/mightyjackband.

What was the first concert you attended?

When I was 15, the drummer from my band and I jumped on a plane and flew 500 miles to see Slayer. The venue was a converted industrial shop; the audience was 90 percent drunken Marines; and my drummer was wearing a yellow “Popo’s Cookies” shirt. It’s the first and still the best concert I’ve ever been to.

What was the first album you owned?

I got both Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Men at Work’s Business as Usual at the same time. I think they were a Columbia House 2-for-1 special. I used all my allowance.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I went and bought all three Run the Jewels albums. I like their style of rap—excellent beats and flow. Pelican is doing really interesting things in the stoner/prog genre. Lhasa De Sela, R.I.P., is what I always play in the background when I have company over. Her voice was a more sultry Fiona Apple.

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

Mumble rap. I don’t know who any of these artists are. I don’t get it.

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

I’d love to go back and see The Mars Volta and System of a Down show I saw in 2005, but watch it not high as a kite this time. Both were in their prime and magnificent, at least from what I can remember …

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Oh, Jesus … Watkin Tudor Jones and Die Antwoord. Don’t tell anyone, please.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The most exciting venue to have played in was The Palladium in Worcester, Mass, but to see live bands, nothing beats a small club like … The Roxy. You can literally reach up and touch the artists.

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

“I know I know, I’m supposed to know, more of Fitzgerald, more of Hemingway, more of Thoreau. But she keeps me distracted this devilish thing. She feels like brimstone, when I take her shirt off, she could have wings,” King 810, “Me and Maxine.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Metallica. I was a big fan of Michael Jackson, Prince and George Michael. But the first time I saw the music video for “One,” it changed everything. Gone were all my pop albums, and I had to explore this new kind of harder music.

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

Wow. That is heavy. I would ask John Lennon if he really beloved love was all we needed. He was an incredibly complex and flawed man—deeply intriguing. His brain would be incredible to pick.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Chlorine and Wine” by Baroness.

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

.. .And Justice for All by Metallica, simply for its influence on my pubescent brain.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Love Again” by Run the Jewels. Because maybe John Lennon was right. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Rick Jervis, the physician assistant at Executive Urgent Care in Indian Wells, is not only a medical professional; he has also been a professional musician. He once worked for Yamaha’s musical-instruments division, and also worked behind the scenes on the Jackson 5 Victory Tour in 1984. Full disclosure: I also work for Executive Urgent Care. During the day, those of us in the office can hear Rick blasting tunes from various genres, from jazz to rock—and yes, Toto, too. Here are his brief but insightful answers to The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

Todd Rundgren.

What was the first album you owned?

A Deep Purple album.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Ed Sheeran.

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

Rap!

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

Toto.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Jazz.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Santa Barbara Bowl.

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

The “99” in Toto’s “99.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The Rascals. I bought my first (Hammond) B-3 (organ) after listening to Felix Cavaliere play.

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

I’d ask Don Henley of the Eagles how the group is adjusting to the loss of Glenn Frey.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

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

Toto, Falling in Between.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Hold the Line” by Toto. (Scroll down to hear it.)

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