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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

It’s September, so that means it’s time for the Campout at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

The ninth annual Campout will be on Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 12-14, and will feature good barbecue, good music and good times.

The history of the Campout begins with Camper Van Beethoven. The members of the band started playing together in Redlands, Calif., in the early 80s, under the name Camper Van Beethoven and the Border Patrol.

“There were a lot of great musicians who came out of Redlands, but there just weren’t a lot of places for us to play,” lead singer David Lowery said during a recent phone interview. “We never really played in Redlands. We played in Los Angeles and sometimes in Riverside. Backyard parties in Riverside were actually all you could do: People would have a big backyard party, have a band over, and invite the neighbors over. We played at some sort of biker party in Muscoy in San Bernardino County, and things like that.” 

In 1985, the band shortened their name to just Camper Van Beethoven, with the original lineup of David Lowery (vocals), Chris Molla (guitar), Jonathan Segel (violin, keyboards, and guitars), Victor Krummenacher (bass) and Anthony Guess (drums). Chris Pedersen eventually replaced Guess.

The band released their debut album Telephone Free Landside Victory the same year, which featured the hit single “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” along with a folk-style cover of Black Flag’s “Wasted.” The band’s mix of folk with ska, pop and several different types of world music has gained them a diverse audience, along with the acclaim of music critics.

Lowery said the eclectic style is both a blessing and a curse.

“It makes it easier that we don’t really have a specific sound, and it’s actually kind of helpful,” he said. “In another way, it’s kind of hard, because it’s not necessarily easy to make a wild, eclectic collection of songs. When we make an album, we’ll record a lot of songs, and we’ll pull out a couple of songs that don’t work with the rest of the batch. Ultimately, I think it makes it a little easier for us.”

In 1990, Camper Van Beethoven went on hiatus, and Lowery went on to form Cracker with his childhood friend Johnny Hickman. Cracker released their debut self-titled record in 1992, which featured the single “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now).”

“(Camper Van Beethoven) had the usual creative differences,” Lowery explained. “Victor Krummenacher, Greg Lisher and Chris Pedersen went off to do Monks of Doom, and I started doing Cracker. We ended up basically taking about a decade break, and we didn’t make an album for another three years after we got back together. We just kind of went our separate ways for a while, and then eventually came back together.”

Lowery said the band now has a different approach.

“To this day, there’s something about the pace of the band that makes us work in a part-time fashion,” Lowery said. “We’ll get together and write some songs; we’ll go off and do other stuff; then we’ll get together and write more songs, and then put out an album. It’s not like we go out and do a big world tour. We play a few shows here and there; we don’t burn ourselves out. It’s generally been a good thing for the band. It’s not good to treat a band like a full-time job.”

What would go on to become the Campout was not intended to be an annual event. David Lowery and Camper Van Beethoven have ties to the Pioneertown area and the high desert. In fact, Cracker recorded an album in one of the buildings located on the Western movie set in Pioneertown.

“The original intention behind it was that (it was during) my birthday, and a few people who work for us have birthdays around that weekend. We were going to have a combination of a show and birthday party in Pioneertown,” Lowery said. “We have a long history with Pioneertown. We’d rehearse there; we went there to hang out and write songs. It started out in 2005 as this idea that it’d be a birthday party for all of us, but there was also the strategic reason that there was never really a great venue for Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven to play in, in L.A., and we always got shoved into venues we didn’t like. We thought we’d play in what we considered our ‘home turf’ in Southern California and basically have people come to us.

“It just started out by accident and then turned out to be a regular festival event. We didn’t really expect it to become a tradition, but it did.”

While Pappy and Harriet’s is a small venue, Lowery said it’s a great place for this type of event.

“I think it’s a very beautiful spot. It’s the high desert, so it tends not to be as hot as it would be if we played down in the Coachella Valley,” said Lowery. “I don’t really want to play down there in September. With the high desert—the climate, the terrain—the place has a cool vibe. I hope it continues, because it’s a lot of fun.”

Lowery explained what sets the Campout apart from other festivals.

“It’s based on friends and family. It’s either people who have played with us, people who are friends of us, and it’s the side bands that have come out of Camper Van Beethoven,” said Lowery.

The lineup for the three-day event includes some great names, including Gram Rabbit; Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett and his band, the Dead Peasants; Jackshit, featuring members of Elvis Costello’s backing band; and, of course, Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker, and the Victor Krummenacher Band.

The ninth annual Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Campout takes place Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 12-14, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $27 for one-day passes, or $68 for a three-day pass. For tickets and more information, visit www.crackersoul.com/fr_home.cfm.

Published in Previews

Purity Ring is about to wrap up a remarkable year of touring behind their debut album, Shrines—and they’re making a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown on Friday, Aug. 30.

The Canadian electronic music duo, consisting of Corin Roddick (samples and instrumentals) and Megan James (vocals), has accumulated a lot of success in a short span of time. The duo’s sound echoes that of Goldfrapp, The xx, and Phantogram.

Roddick and James came together in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, thanks to mutual friends within the city’s music scene. When Roddick saw James perform, he was impressed by her creativity; the two of them eventually became friends.

Roddick was touring with the band Gobble Gobble (now known as Born Gold) as a drummer when he began studying electronic music production, not too long before Purity Ring came together in 2010.

“I would say I’m still very much learning,” said Roddick during a recent phone interview. “Making electronic music is still an ongoing journey, and I feel like I’m still scratching the surface. It took me maybe a year to really focus on it (and) to feel comfortable to the point of actually releasing something.”

James had several books of songs that she’d written, but she never had any intention of performing them or putting them to music; meanwhile, Roddick was determined to develop himself in electronic music. The two wound up collaborating, and released their first song, “Ungirthed,” in January 2011. From there, things moved quickly, and in July 2012, 4AD records released their debut album, Shrines.

“We worked on that record for a year and a half. It was very different,” Roddick remembered. “The first couple of tracks I made when I was on tour with Gobble Gobble. I was just working on headphones in a minivan. … The last two tracks we made in Montreal. We didn’t have a consistent environment. We were just kind of all over the place. We were trying to make things sound the best we could with what we had.”

Shrines was well-received by the critics, earning praises and high ratings from Pitchfork.com, NME and ConsequenceofSound.net. The album was No. 24 on Pitchfork’s “50 Albums of 2012” list and was nominated for a Canadian Polaris Music Prize.

Roddick said the critical praise and success of the album were pleasant surprises.

“We just wanted to make an album we wanted to make for ourselves—and then some other people began to take notice of it,” he said. “That was unexpected and a pleasant surprise for us. When it got picked up by other places on the Internet and the media, it was great. We’re definitely happy with how things have turned out.”

Since the release of Shrines, Roddick has been exploring his love of Southern based hip-hop as well. Purity Ring released a free download of a cover of Soulja Boy’s “Grammy” back in February that was well-received; in fact, excited fans crashed the website’s servers. They also collaborated with Danny Brown on “Belispeak II.”

Working with Danny Brown was a great experience for Purity Ring, Roddick said.

“He works really fast, which is amazing,” Roddick said about Brown. “We worked with him a couple of times, and we have a track coming out on his new record. I think his style, his flow and the sound of his voice works really well with Megan’s voice and my production.”

Purity Ring’s live performances have been noted for a large contraption, resembling a tree, which both Roddick and James utilize.

“There are about eight lanterns that are touch-sensitive,” Roddick explained. “They sort of fan out like a tree around me, and I play them with mallets, kind of like you would a percussive melodic instrument or something like that. All of the synth lines and melodies from the songs I perform by hitting these different lanterns. They also light up in a pattern or color or pulse when they’re struck.” 

While Purity Ring has been classified as electronic dance music, Roddick said he doesn’t really see any relation between Purity Ring and the term.

“I think EDM is one of the most vague labels, because it just implies electronic dance music, which really should be a large bubble,” Roddick said. “I guess the term has kind of come to focus on certain types of music made over the last two years. I never really felt we fit into that bubble. We kind of have some crossover here and there. When we make music, we take a very wide influence from a lot of different places. I wouldn’t say we’re an EDM group.”

As for what’s next for Purity Ring, Roddick said they are getting ready to begin gathering ideas for their next album.

“We’re wrapping up shows for the summer and the fall,” Roddick said. “We’ve played a lot of shows, and we only have about eight left. Once that’s done, we’re just going to be focusing on creating the next album.

“We’ll probably go into hiding, and you probably won’t hear anything from us for a while,” he added, laughing. “Hopefully, we’ll re-emerge next year with a new creation.”

Purity Ring performs at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $16. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

The Melvins don’t take themselves too seriously.

They’re currently celebrating 30 years together while touring behind Everybody Loves Sausages, an album of covers that includes a version of Queen’s “Best Friend.”

They’re also making a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

The Melvins were formed in Montesano, Wash., in 1983 by Buzz Osborne (vocals, guitar). The original lineup also included Matt Lukin (bass) and Mike Dillard (drums). Eventually, Dillard left the band and was replaced by Dale Crover; Lukin also left the band, and The Melvins have gone through several bass players since.

The band’s unique cross between hardcore punk and doom metal has been linked to the grunge bands of the Northwest, largely due to the fact that Osborne was a high school classmate of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, and Cobain supported of The Melvins while Nirvana was going on to become a mainstream success.

The Melvins, meanwhile, have not been such a mainstream success; however, they remain legends of the underground and an extraordinary live band—and they actually look like they enjoy being in a band together.

“We really have nothing to live up to; that’s a plus,” Osborne said during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “I still like doing what I’m doing; I would probably be doing it to some degree in some fashion, whether I was playing sports arenas or not.

“I’m definitely a workaholic. When you stand up next to certain arena-rock people, you think those people would have more time on their hands and certainly more money to do whatever they want to, and they seem for some reason to work less. I’ve never understood that, and it’s very strange to me.”

When it comes to The Melvins’ connection to grunge and the fact that they’re categorized into the same scene as Pearl Jam, Osborne said the connection never boosted their image.

“We certainly sound more like Mudhoney than we do Pearl Jam,” Osborne said. “In a similar position … Pearl Jam’s audience would have no concept or have any interest in either us or Mudhoney. Pearl Jam has sold millions of records, and they’re like U2, which means they’re untouchable. They don’t care. Why should they?”

Beyond their faithful core audience, The Melvins haven’t been opposed to playing to new and mainstream audiences. However, The Melvins list Lollapalooza ’96 and Ozzfest ’98 as their least-favorite experiences. They ended up getting invited to Lollapalooza during the era when grunge was already dead, and the nu-metal bands were dominating the market.

“The interesting thing about Lollapalooza is they never had any interest in us when Perry Farrell was at the helm,” Osborne said. “Perry always thought we were ‘too metal’ for his liking and his festival. They would openly say, ‘Perry doesn’t like your band. We would like you guys to come, but Perry said no.’ … The second Perry wasn’t involved, we were in there. We played the second stage; we played to a lot of people every day, and it was great. But it was hard to be there when people had no interest.”

Osborne has an amusing story about how the band found themselves in Ozzfest in 1998.

“Ozzfest flatly said they didn’t want us to do it. When I say that, I mean they openly said they did not want us to do it. The only reason we did it is because Tool was co-headlining, and they said, ‘We want one band on this tour we can like, so we won’t do it unless The Melvins play.’”

In hindsight, there’s no love lost between The Melvins and the figureheads of those festivals.

“I’ve always said this stuff about Perry and especially Ozzy being drugged-out morons, but when Ozzy’s wife came out and said, ‘I had no idea he was on prescription drugs,’ I mean, I knew he was on prescription drugs! How the fuck could she not had known? She’s just bullshitting us!”

As Everybody Loves Sausages hits the shelves, Osborne said those covers were recorded among a lot of other material.  The band wanted to give fans an inside look at the songs that inspired them. Osborne noted that the cover of Iron Head’s “Black Betty” was not planned for the album, but rather for a commercial contest.

“We did that for a Super Bowl commercial-making contest,” said Osborne. “This company had all these bands record versions of that song, and the winner would get to have their version in a Super Bowl commercial. We didn’t win. They gave us some money to make it, and we could do whatever we wanted with the song, and we didn’t have any problem with that.”

As for what is bringing The Melvins to Pappy and Harriet’s, Osborne explained that the band is booked at the FYF Festival in Los Angeles on Aug. 25, and contractual agreements with promoter Goldenvoice prevent them from playing within a certain radius of Los Angeles.

Osborne also said bassist Jared Wallen will miss the show due to “paternity leave” and said that Jeff Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers will be filling in.

“We’ve never played there before, so it should be good,” Osborne said. “We looked for a venue that was somewhere around the Los Angeles area, and we couldn’t play Orange County, so we just figured it made sense to play Pappy and Harriet’s.”

The Melvins will perform an all-ages show with Honky at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

For fans of Donna the Buffalo (“The Herd,” as the band refers to them), the five-year wait for a new album is over: On June 18, the band released Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday.

However, local fans of The Herd still have a bit of a wait to see the band live: Donna the Buffalo is making a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday, Aug. 2.

“I told my booking agent, ‘We’re not going out West without booking Pappy and Harriet’s,” said Tara Nevins, in a recent phone interview from New York.

Inspired by the old-country music sound, folk music, bluegrass and what has been known as “roots music,” Donna the Buffalo was formed in 1989 in Trumansburg, N.Y., by Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear, the songwriters for the group. In almost a quarter-century together, the band has released 10 studio albums. They even started their own annual live show in upstate New York, the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, which draws around 15,000 people each year.

The band has gone through various lineup changes through the years.

“Jeb and I are the only original members at this point. Right now, I think we’re really enjoying this band out of any version we've had. I think this version somehow really makes the voice come across as the best,” said Nevins.

The band is often labeled as an Americana act.

“Donna the Buffalo was ‘Americana’ from the first day,” said Nevins. “There have always been a ton of Americana bands, and there always will be, and now there’s a home for them. That genre is growing year to year, and now there’s an Americana category at the Grammy Awards. It’s growing in the eyes of the music world. But Americana bands have always been here, and now there’s a name for them.”

As the genre grows, so, too, does Donna the Buffalo’s success. The group’s independent spirit and busy touring schedule has kept them successful. Their 2008 album, Silverlined, reached the Top 10 on the Americana charts. They’ve performed and recorded with some of the biggest names in folk music, including Béla Fleck, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, and Jim Lauderdale. Nevins also performed as a member of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s band BK3.

“We’ve always been a grassroots, self-organized organization,” Nevins said. “We’ve never had to really depend heavily outside of our organization. We’ve kind of built everything ourselves from the ground up, so we’re a well-oiled machine.”

Nevins said social networking hasn’t hurt, either.

“I think with social networking, it makes music and musicians more acceptable to people. It used to be you had your favorite bands, and all you knew was what Rolling Stone was writing about them. Now you can go on your own band’s Facebook page and be in touch with the fans.”

As for Pappy and Harriet’s, Nevins explained why she enjoys the venue.

“I have to say: I love the location,” said Nevins. “I love being out there. It’s gorgeous. It’s a very magical, mystical vibe. As for Pappy and Harriet’s, it’s like a roadhouse where people are up for fun and love music. Everyone is really nice to us there. During our first time there, we had a great crowd, and everyone loved it.”

Donna the Buffalo will perform at 8:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 2, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

When I asked Teddy Quinn to tell me about his life, he didn’t know exactly where to begin.

The host of the famous open-mic nights at Pappy and Harriet’s and the Joshua Tree Saloon, and the owner and founder of Radio Free Joshua Tree, is a colorful figure of the high desert, and he’s been in the entertainment business for more than 50 years. In fact, the story of Teddy Quinn begins in Hollywood in the ’60s, where he was a child actor who made appearances on Bonanza, Bewitched and General Hospital. He also had a recurring role on the short-lived sitcom Accidental Family.

“I retired of my own free will when I was about 12,” he said in a recent phone interview from Joshua Tree. “I was more interested in rock ’n’ roll, poetry and art. I wasn’t really into TV. Even before that, I was always into music; I grew up on The Beatles, of course.”

Throughout his childhood, Teddy would act as a DJ for his older siblings; he also began writing songs at an early age.

After his “retirement,” as his adulthood years began, Teddy tried to establish himself as a musician in Hollywood, eventually ending up in a band with Fred Drake, who would become his close friend and confidant. The two of them made regular trips to Joshua Tree, and fell in love with the high desert.

“We would always try to go to the Joshua Tree Inn and try to get the room that Gram Parsons died in, and we’d go visit Cap Rock in Joshua Tree National Park, where the unsuccessful attempt to cremate (Gram Parsons) happened,” he said.

He and Drake eventually made the move to Joshua Tree, where they co-founded the famous Rancho de la Luna recording studio 20 years ago, which they co-owned until Fred Drake’s death in 2002. Teddy handed his portion of the studio to Eagles of Death Metal guitarist Dave Catching, who is still the owner and who lives at the studio.

When I asked Teddy what it is that makes him continue to stay in Joshua Tree, I could feel his love for the high desert in his voice. “I’m sitting here in my room looking outside at this beautiful sky, the mountains surrounding me, the desert, and the vastness of what I’m looking at outside. It just feels like it’s open to all possibilities,” he said.

Teddy fell into doing open-mic nights about 10 years ago, on Monday nights at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown, and on Tuesday nights at the Joshua Tree Saloon. The open-mic night at Pappy and Harriet’s, in particular, is known for luring in local musicians and residents of Joshua Tree. Some of the performers Teddy tells me about: a retired man who served in the Marines with the late George Jones, a harp player who has been known to sit in through the night, a couple in their 60s who both play accordions, and a variety of other local musicians.

“I never know what to expect,” he said. “The variety is always completely amazing. I’ve never once left there feeling disappointed, and I’ve always left surprised every time.”

Teddy told me about one night when a young woman asked to sing.

“I had no idea who this girl was; all she told me was her name was Leslie. She got up and sang, and all the employees from the kitchen ran out, asking me, ‘Do you know who that is?’ And it ended up being Leslie Feist (Feist), who at that time had the No. 1 hit song in the world.”

He also has a story about how he and a friend of his played a cover of “19th Nervous Breakdown” by the Rolling Stones, at first completely oblivious to the fact that Theodora Richards, daughter of Keith Richards, was sitting at one of the tables with friends.

“I went up to Theodora and told her, ‘I hope it’s OK we were singing your dad’s song,’ and she said, ‘It was fucking brilliant!’ It was just a funny convergence of things,” he said with a laugh.

Ted said he advises potential performers to get there early for either of the open-mic nights, as the lists tend to fill up—usually before he even arrives. He also recommended that those who make it on the list be patient and hang out through the entire thing.

And if you’re planning on just showing up to observe, chances are you’re going to have a really good time.

Teddy Quinn hosts an open-mic night at 7:30 p.m. on Mondays at Pappy and Harriet’s, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956. He also hosts the open mic at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Joshua Tree Saloon Grill and Bar, 61835 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree; 760-366-2250. For those who don’t get up to Joshua Tree, you can hear Teddy on Radio Free Joshua Tree at www.radiofreejt.com.

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