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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Grammy-nominated Swedish electronic band Little Dragon came back to Pappy and Harriet’s on March 2—and two hours before the show, fans were already crowding the stage.

Barriers were set up in front of that stage, because Little Dragon fans get a little crazy—in a good way, dancing as if injected with frontwoman Yukimi Nagano’s personality.

Nagano welcomed her fans by saying, “How are you? Good to be back in the desert.” Her offbeat signature moves were full of vigor as she stepped across the stage—displaying a vitality that was free and unrestrained.

A few songs into the set, Nagano thanked the crowd: “Thank you! Guys, you feel good. Make some noise!” Her request was rewarded by a roar from the audience.

She introduced her melody “Ritual Union” by stating: “This next song is not a love song. The lyrics would enthuse Morrissey: “Love’s sinking in the sand, petals falling on demand, my feet are running like the wind; I’m sorry, boy that we sinned. Love is not like, they say, a lie, that it’s hard to make it stay. I drown my feelings in the sea; I dried out over on the beach.”

Heavy bass lines shivered the adobe walls of Pappy’s as songs transitioned from suave to fast, featuring tunes from the band’s diverse album catalog. Their set list included “High,” “Pretty Girls,” “Strobe Light” and “Crystalfilm.”

Little Dragon’s encore included the song “Sweet,” as well as a light show that was candy for the senses in all forms and hues. As the lights showered fans, Nagano waived her drumstick magically, like a Scandinavian fairy.

“We are Little Dragon, feeling love. Thank you so much,” she said in conclusion.

Published in Reviews

Shovels and Rope brought haunting lyrics and unpretentious harmonies to Pappy and Harriet’s for a sold-out show on Friday, Feb. 23.

Husband-and-wife duo Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent redecorated the stage with wooden pallets lighted by inexpensive Christmas-type lights. Lamps were also added, creating a comforting ambiance.

“It’s going to be a fun night … peace, love and music,” Michael Trent said as he greeted the audience.

“There is so much desert,” Cary Ann Hearst added. “We were having an argument if we played here before. We are grateful to be here.”

Trent then made a quip about the sight lines at Pappy’s: “We are Shovels and Rope, for those not in the front row. We are two people, and we are short.”

Shovels and Rope fuses electric guitar and a roaring kick drum with thoughtful choruses—and the result was the best performance I have seen so far this year. The Charleston, S.C., couple is very comfortable onstage—as if they are allowing you to visit their living room.

My favorite song of the night was “Carnival,” with sad words of a love lost: “Across the world I wonder, my moments made from years. On a still and silent midway, I wait for you to reappear.”

Trent dedicated the song “Save the World” to the kids in Parkland, Fla., recently been victimized by yet another school shooting. The lyrics include: “When you’re caught in the wave of a terrible tide, suddenly you’re struggling to stay astride, so you calm your hands, and you cool your mind, and you wake up happy on the other side.” As they sang, cheers erupted in the audience.

Michael announced: “We are going to play some deep cuts … a song about the West Coast,” by way of introducing “San Andreas Fault Line Blues.”

From the audience someone yelled out, “It’s her birthday,” while pointing to a woman in the crowd. Hearst responded: “Happy birthday! You’re beautiful. Throw her a $10 bill—not in a slutty way, but in a good way.”

In between songs, crowd members would shout out, “Lay Low!”—a song being requested as if Shovels and Rope were a jukebox.

The song “Birmingham” told the fantastic story of their relationship, describing a “Rockmount cowboy” and a “Cumberland daughter” from a “Delta mama” and a “Nickajack Man” who travel across the U.S. performing. The two then pivoted to a broader history with “Missionary Ridge,” a down-home tale about a Civil War battle. Things got rocking when they laid into “Hail, Hail,” one of the most upbeat songs of the night.

Once again, a woman screamed, “Lay Low!” Finally, the duo relented: “Here is an honored request, sweet little tumbleweeds,” Hearst said. Shovels and Rope was quickly rewarded with applause as the first note was played.

Shovels and Rope concluded the night with Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell.”

Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent combined perfectly sung lyrics and blues progressions, converting me into a fan of what I would call alt-country music sung by Southerners who may yearn to be rock stars.

Published in Reviews

The biggest music month of the year—April, of course—is approaching. That’s the month when Coachella, Stagecoach and the return of hot weather (as if it ever left) occur. But we’re not there yet—and March is no slouch, with a whole lot of great music events taking place.

The McCallum Theatre has a packed month in March. At 8 p.m., Thursday, March 1, folk singer-songwriter Judy Collins will be performing. In the turbulent ’60s, Collins was one of the era’s great folk singers, helping to inspire political change. She’s among the last of the great folk icons remaining from that era—a great reason to go see her. Tickets are $27 to $77. If you were hoping to catch one of the two Beach Boys shows on Sunday, March 4, we have bad news ... the shows are sold out. Tickets were $77. Get thee to secondary ticket-sales outlets if you really want to go. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 13, jazz vocalist Steve Tyrell will take the stage. He’s an icon of vocal jazz; his voice has won him a Grammy Award, and he’s put out nine albums. He’s been performing at the McCallum for 15 years; go check him out. Tickets are $47 to $87. Check the McCallum website for other great events. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a full slate of great events; here are just a few to consider. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 2, you can enjoy a double bill of Starship and Eddie Money. You might remember Starship as a continuation of the ’60s psychedelic-rock band Jefferson Airplane; it surfaced in the ’80s with a new wave sound—as in “We Built This City” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” You probably remember Eddie Money as a late ’70s and early ’80s pop-radio staple, known for songs such as “Take Me Home Tonight” and “Two Tickets to Paradise.” Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, female-blues powerhouse Bonnie Raitt will be performing. I saw Raitt when she performed the last time at Fantasy Springs—and I truly enjoyed the show. She has a set of great songs and a fantastic backing band. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 30, Trump supporter and comedian/singer Rodney Carrington will be performing. Remember that time in the ’90s when you opened your AOL account, and one of your friends had sent you that long, 30-minute download (via dial up) of that stupid song “Dear Penis?” Well, Carrington wrote that. You’re welcome. Tickets are $39 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has several fine events coming in March, and there’s at least one you won’t want to miss: At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, Mexican romantic-music group Los Temerarios (above right; photo by Carlos Perez) will be performing. Founding brothers Adolfo and Gustavo Angel have been going since 1978, recording 20 albums and winning multiple awards. Tickets are $45 to $85. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is going to be a fun place to be in March. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 3, jazz guitarist George Benson will be performing. Jazz guitar is a tough subgenre to appreciate, but Benson is talented enough to win almost anybody over. Tickets are $55 to $75. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, comedian Carrot Top will bring the funny. If you like rather stupid prop comedy, Carrot Top is your man. He and his suitcase full of props were popular in the ’90s. He’s well aware of the scorn he’s gotten from people who don’t like him—but he’s made fun of his critics in an amusing way that sells tickets. Also … his muscular physique and red hair, in combination, are quite scary. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 31, R&B/funk superstars Kool and the Gang will return to the valley. I love Kool and the Gang; they made so many great songs from the ’70s and ’80s that were the soundtrack of my childhood. Fun fact: Eagles of Death Metal sometimes use “Ladies Night” as an entrance theme. Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a special St. Patrick’s Day-themed event planned. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 16, Irish punk band Flogging Molly (below) will be performing. There was a time when it seemed like Irish punk was trending, with Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly packing venues across the country. Flogging Molly has more of a traditional Celtic sound; while the band calls Los Angeles home, frontman Dave King is originally from Ireland. Tickets are $49 to $105. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some big sold-out shows, and is starting to make announcements about the outdoor season—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves: March has some great events with space still available. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 10, the best Johnny Cash tribute you’ll ever see, Cash’d Out, will be performing. This band is legendary—and goes well beyond a standard tribute act. In fact, Johnny Cash’s drummer, W.S. Holland, has sat in with this band before. Cindy Cash, Johnny Cash’s daughter, gave the band a glass locket that belonged to the Man in Black himself that supposedly holds some of his hair. This is Columbia Records-era Johnny Cash in a way you’ve never heard before. Tickets are $15. At 10 p.m., Friday, March 16, FYF presents OH SEES and Pretty Eyes. OH SEES is a great psychedelic rock band; this show is definitely going to be noteworthy. Tickets are $26. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 23, singer-songwriter Pearl Charles will be performing. I’ll let this description from her press kit explain it all: “Pearl Charles lives in the moment, seeking excitement whether it leads her down a dark, dusty road or into the arms of a trouble-making lover.” Sounds great to me! Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has a couple of events you’ll love if you enjoy dinner and a show. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 16, enjoy a tribute to Palm Springs with Palm Springs Jump! The show is a high-energy tribute to stars such as Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley and many others. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 23, if you’re an Elvis fan, you’ll love Scot Bruce’s Elvis: The Early Years. Elvis’ early years are the years that I prefer, when Elvis rocked and captured the imagination of the youth of America. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Date Shed seems to be doing one show, more or less, per month, and in the month of March, it happens at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 17, when So-Cal reggae band Fortunate Youth will be performing. Fortunate Youth is a regular at The Date Shed, and the shows are always popular. Tickets are $20 in advance. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

The Copa Room Palm Springs has a couple of fun March events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 3, a tribute to Bette Midler titled The Divine Miss Bette, featuring Catherine Alcorn, will most likely be well-attended. The previews of this show look spectacular—it’s a must-see for any Bette Midler fan. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, actress and singer Mary Bridget Davies will take the stage. She’s performed in many blues-tribute bands, and supposedly did a fantastic job playing Janis Joplin in the Broadway show A Night With Janis Joplin. Tickets are $25 to $35. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Published in Previews

It’s unbelievable that Earthless puts out such a big sound with just three musicians.

Think of Earthless’ sound this way: Imagine an instrumental version of Led Zeppelin, occasionally with a darker, psychedelic-rock sound. If you want to hear for yourself, check out “Uluru Rock” and “Lost in the Cold Sun.”

The group’s new record, Black Heaven, is coming out March 16; it was recorded at the Rancho de la Luna recording studio in Joshua Tree, with studio owner and Eagles of Death Metal guitarist Dave Catching as the producer. To celebrate, the San Diego-based group will perform at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Thursday, March 8.

Earthless is made up of Isaiah Mitchell (guitar), Mike Eginton (bass) and Mario Rubalcaba, who is also the drummer for the punk band Off!

During a recent phone interview, Mitchell said he often hears people criticize Earthless for not having a vocalist.

“It’s not for everybody; I know that much” Mitchell said about the band’s music. “But I don’t pay attention to (the criticism) and don’t really notice it. I know a lot of people are like, ‘I can’t stand instrumental music. You guys just jam on forever.’ The people who like instrumental music are pretty into it.”

Earthless writes songs in a variety of ways, Mitchell said.

“There are all sorts of different ways to do it,” he said. “Mike and Mario had a couple of songs that were already pretty well worked on and finalized as far as the instrumental bits. … I went in and altered them a bit to make them the songs that they are now. There’s no one way of doing it, especially on this new record. Before, on previous records, Mike would have a riff; I’d come up with a riff; and we’d go back and forth, and it would be one song. Some songs come out of a jam. There’s usually a moment of creativity we all really dig on—and there’s a motif for a song. I haven’t thought of a way that we don’t use to write.”

Mitchell said he has not found his band to be a hard sell for live shows due to the lack of vocals.

“If you have a reputation, word of mouth is really the best way for that reputation to get around,” he said. “We’ve had some people who have never even heard of us go to a show, and they couldn’t believe it. Their minds were blown. I’m not saying we’re blowing minds all the time, but for a lot of people, it’s an experience they’ve never had before, and have never seen anything like it.”

However, things change—and on Black Heaven, there are some vocal tracks.

“I think it might have had a lot to do with time constraints, with getting together and working on multiple large pieces of instrumental music. This just came more naturally with the time we had,” he said. “We do have other instrumental songs that are longer, but we feel like we just haven’t ironed them out yet. They’ll be ready for the next record, though.

“It’s fun to do something different. We’ve done some stuff with vocals before, but not on an album—only splits or compilations. With the time we had, it just felt natural, and it’s a fun experience. We have to block out time for getting together. I live in San Francisco, and everyone else is back down in San Diego. We have to plan it out in advance. I have my things going on; Mario has his; and Mike has his.”

Beyond the vocals, Mitchell said there aren’t too many differences between Black Heaven and Earthless’ previous recordings.

“I think if you listen to our other instrumental songs, the title track ‘Black Heaven, or the track ‘Demon Lady,’ those songs are definitely in line,” he said. “It still sounds like us, instrumentally or with vocals, from our past recordings. There’s a song called ‘Sudden End’ that’s slower with vocals; that’s probably the song that’s so unlike us on that record, because it’s darker and moodier.”

Some instrumental bands find success in scoring films.

“I would love to do that,” Mitchell said. “I think there was something offered to us not too far back for scoring for a film. We’ve done stuff with Vans and surf-movie footage, but it wasn’t the big screen; you’re watching the video and composing on the spot. But I would absolutely love to do something like that and put something together along with a movie.”

Mitchell spends a lot of time teaching guitar lessons via Skype through his personal website—at a pretty reasonable rate.

“I just got off a lesson right as you called me. I stay pretty busy doing it, which is a lot of fun,” he said. “Getting people to come to your house in person, or going over to someone’s house in person—that eats a bunch of time up. So having that schedule on a computer is great. Advertising on the band’s website and social-media pages is also really helpful. People see the ads and think, ‘Oh, I’m in Russia, but I can take a lesson with this guy and pick his brain.’”

Earthless will perform with Kikagaku Moyo and JJUUJJUU at 8:30 p.m., Thursday, March 8, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53668 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20 to $25. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

February is the month for love—and there’s plenty of love to go around at fantastic events throughout the month.

The McCallum Theatre has numerous events you’ll love in February. At 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 19, classical organist Cameron Carpenter and his electric International Touring Organ will take the stage. I interviewed Cameron two years ago, and not only is he a brilliant organist (with a rather unorthodox appearance compared to many other organists, starting with a Mohawk); the story of his electric organ is pretty remarkable. Tickets are $27 to $77. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 23, Broadway singing sensation Linda Eder will be performing. If Eder’s name doesn’t ring a bell, check out her impressive performances from the Broadway musical Jekyll and Hyde on the interwebs. Tickets are $37 to $87. At 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, you’ll get to see one of the talented women shown in the documentary 20 Feet From Stardom: Lisa Fischer. She has toured with Nine Inch Nails, Chris Botti, The Rolling Stones and many others. Tickets are $37 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a busy February; here are just a few events from the awesome schedule. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 3, R&B and hip-hop star Nelly will perform. Nelly has accomplished a lot in his career, with diamond and multi-platinum albums, big awards, successful acting gigs and a stint as a judge on CW’s The Next. Tickets are $39 to $79. Continuing on with R&B in the month of love, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, Charlie Wilson will perform. He’s had 10 No. 1 singles, and 11 Grammy Award nominations … without a win. Consider surprising your sweetheart with this show as an early Valentine’s Day gift. Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, crooner Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will appear. Just a warning: Frankie Valli shows often sell out! Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some fun shows on the calendar. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 16, soft-rock duo Air Supply will be performing. It’s close to Valentine’s Day, so you could take your sweetheart to the show if you love him or her … or maybe if you don’t. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, comedian Sebastian Maniscalco will be performing. Maniscalco has a lot of funny jokes about his family life, as well as every-day idiots you encounter in life; one of his more amusing bits is about how he had to start shaving at a very early age. Tickets are $65 to $95. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is set for a fantastic February. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, the folk-rock duo America will be performing. Chances are you’ve heard “A Horse With No Name” in a film, television show, commercial or video game. America is highly influential to many artists, while Fountains of Wayne; James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins and A Perfect Circle; and Ryan Adams (just to name a few) have recorded with America. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, former Chicago vocalist Peter Cetera will sing. A great documentary called Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago recently appeared on Netflix. Not surprisingly, Peter Cetera’s contentious departure from the band is widely discussed, although he did not participate in the making of the film. Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is rocking in February. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 15, country-rock band Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight (below) will be performing. Back in November, I hosted Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight at The Hood Bar and Pizza—and it was fantastic. Mick has a great repertoire of country-rock originals that are fun, funny and sometimes sad. The band has a new record coming, and you’ll want to see this show. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 16, Los Angeles rock band Valley Queen will take the stage. This is a band on the rise. NPR and the rock zine Stereogum have given this band a lot of props for an original sound with influences such as Fleetwood Mac, Patti Smith and others. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb., 22, Southern California country-rock band Calico the Band will be performing. When I think of Pappy’s, I think of Calico the Band: The group’s sound is perfect for the high-desert roadhouse scene. Admission is free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed is back! After going dark last summer and mostly through the season, the venue is again holding events, even if the venue’s website doesn’t show any. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, it’ll be a night of local rap music when J. Patron (above right), Thr3 Strykes, Provoked and Thoughts Contained will be performing. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased through Eventbrite. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has some top-notch entertainment in February that’s perfect for a romantic date night out. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, Crissy Collins, known for her roles in Tyler Perry’s films, will be appearing. She’ll be performing an evening full of love songs! Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, dance-music star Debby Holiday will sing. Who can ever forget her 2004 smash hit “Half a Mile Away”? Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa Room has a couple of notable events in February. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, comedy-and-music duo Amy and Freddy will be performing. The Copa regulars have appeared on America’s Got Talent and have shared the stage with Kathy Griffin, Mary Wilson and the Supremes, Bea Arthur and many others. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16 and 17, jazz vocalist Spencer Day will be performing. You might remember Spencer Day from Star Search back in 2002-2003. Since then, he’s released five albums; his most recent, Angel City, was crowd-funded through Indiegogo. Tickets are $35 to $55. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Published in Previews

The Reverend Horton Heat returned to Pappy and Harriet’s for the third time on Thursday, Jan. 11—and the band was welcomed by a sold-out crowd.

But first, Riverside’s Voodoo Glow Skulls brought their ska punk—with a heavy emphasis on punk—stirring up the crowd, especially three corn-feed bro-punks who moshed while the rest of the crowd was buffeted in their wake. As the band chanted “Who Do Voodoo We Do!” the crowd responded by replying, “Fuck You!”—which fed the fury of the moshers, who splashed perfectly good beer on the crowd.

Big Sandy was slated to go next—but Jim Heath, the Reverend himself, announced with a grin that this is a “Pioneertown psychobilly freakout!”

The Rev delighted the crowd with the hits, including “Five-O Ford” and “In Your Wildest Dreams,” off 1994’s Liquor in the Front. Heath caused some rockabilly gals to swoon with these words from the latter song: “My breath on your neck, the touch of my hand, you’ll awake in a room of steam, I’ll see you in your wildest dreams.”

Halfway through the set, Heath introduced the group’s new, husky, drummer, R.J. Contreras, who was incredible, keeping the beat strong and acknowledging the crowd with a “What’s up Pioneertown?” Heath added that R.J. “is young enough to put up with his bad habits.”

Jim Heath shared many stories about bassist Jimbo Wallace, including the time the Reverend performed in Seattle during the grunge-rock era for free—while Wallace bled on the crowd after cutting his hand. The injury drew the attention of executives from Sub Pop Records who were in the audience—and the whole thing led to the band getting signed to the label. This tale segued into the “Jimbo Song.”

At one point, Heath talked about the time they played in Fresno. “Fresno is every bit as redneck as Lubbock, Texas,” he said, leading to a big cheer from Jen Ault Michalk, a super-fan of Fresno who was at Pappy’s celebrating her son’s 18th birthday. Heath went on to say that “Cowboy Love” was inspired by a gay cowboy bar in Fresno, with the lyrics: “Yeah, I know that us as a couple, will cause talk, but I wouldn’t mind; those cowboys will be pea-green with envy, when they see his cute behind.”

The Reverend threw a curveball halfway through the show when he introduced Big Sandy as the best rockabilly singer today. Big Sandy proceeded to sing his song “Hot Water” with perfect pitch—living up to the compliment bestowed by Jim Heath. Sandy reciprocated his love for the Rev, saying, “I am very blessed playing with the Reverend Horton Heat.”

While all this mutual admiration was in the air, I overheard a father saying that his boy, Steven, who is 6, was at his second Reverend Horton Heat show—although Steven does not remember the first time, because he was much younger. Steven was all smiles, sitting on the edge of the stage watching the show at one point when Jimbo handed him a bottled water, causing the child to smile.

As things were winding down, the tempo wound up with “Let Me Teach You How to Eat.” I spied David Catching, a member of the Eagles of Death Metal, rocking out while wearing a hoodie towards the back of the venue.

Big Sandy returned to the stage: “We are going to dedicate this song to all of you,” he said as he took the lead on vocals. Meanwhile, Jimbo Wallace brought up little Steven to the stage. “Steven, have you ever had a bass lesson?” he asked. “Uncle Jimbo is going to give you a bass lesson.” The show ended with “School of Rock and Roll” by Gene Summers.

As I left the stage area after the show, Jimbo asked me if I got a shot of Steven playing the bass. I told him I didn’t, since I was only supposed to shoot during the first three songs. He then asked me to take photos of him and Steven.

“The future of music rests with kids,” he explained.

Published in Reviews

Anticipation is building for the long-awaited new album by Jesika von Rabbit—and the former Gram Rabbit frontwoman promises it’s coming soon.

The Queen of the High Desert will be performing at Pappy and Harriet’s with the psychedelic Western music outfit Spindrift on Friday, Feb. 9.

During a recent phone interview, von Rabbit said she’s been hard at work on the new album with her producer and former Gram Rabbit bandmate, Ethan Allen—and talked about a cover song that has led to big things.

“The new album just got finished,” von Rabbit said. “I put out ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ back in June. I gave KCOD a song that probably wasn’t in its completed state, but I really haven’t released anything since June.

“I thought about covering Culture Club’s ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ a couple of years back, and I wasn’t figuring out the chords right away, so I figured out how to play Cyndi Lauper’s ‘She Bop’ instead. That came easier to me, but I always thought ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ would be a cooler cover. But then a year ago, I was hanging out in Los Angeles with Ethan Allen, my producer and guitar-player, and he started playing the chords to ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ and it sounded really pretty. We just kind of plugged in and did it right there. That was recorded on the spot, and I did it in one vocal take. I’ve always loved Boy George.”

Boy George heard the cover—and gave Jesika von Rabbit a shout-out on Twitter. He even found a photo of von Rabbit as a child, with a poster of Boy George, and asked, ‘Is this you?’”

“I thought that was awesome,” von Rabbit said. “I’ve been waiting for his phone call to do lunch, but I haven’t gotten it yet.”

One newer song by von Rabbit, “Going Down,” received airplay on KCRW. The song is brilliant and eerie, with a haunting chorus.

“I released that back in December 2016, right before the new year, but I’ve been sitting on that one for a while, and it actually will be included on the new album,” she said. “There will be another phase with that song.”

On the new album, there will be a lot more instrumental contributions than there were on her first solo effort, 2015’s Journey Mitchell.

“It’s more than just electronic music like my last album was,” she said. “There will be full guitars played by Ethan Allen; I’ve got drums on it from a couple of different drummers, and it’s a lot more soulful than my last album. There’s a lot more of a world-music feel to some of my songs. It’s a lot more diverse and a lot deeper. It’s a little tropical.

“There’s a great song called ‘Palm Springs Living’ that I can’t wait to release. It’s deeper, and it has more layers and is a lot more organic. It’s still a little electronic, but organic. There’s also a country-twangy song that’s like Gram Rabbit’s ‘Devil’s Playground’ at the end of the record.

“It’s a short album; it’s only 38 minutes, and I don’t feel there are really any filler tracks. I think there’s something for everybody on this album. There’s this song that’s kind of science fiction, ’70s outer-space, and starts off Steve Miller and goes into some crazy Western world. There’s a song that’s super-trippy and has a bass line that’s kind of like stoner trance music. … I keep going back and forth on all the songs, but I really love the opening song of the album, which is kind of tropical and Beck-sounding. It’s really positive and catchy. I guess people will have to hear it and pick their own favorite song.”

Von Rabbit’s sound combines the weirdness of the high desert with the glamour of Palm Springs; I asked her what she’d do if she lived in another part of the country.

“I used to be in a band in Minneapolis, and we kind of had some fame there. I think I have my own Jesikaisms and my own personal style that would come out no matter where I was,” she said. “I think living in this weird sunny landscape definitely adds its own little slant to my music. I think I will always have that core sense of my writing, no matter what it is.

“But maybe I’d be a little angrier on the East Coast or something,” she added with a laugh.

Von Rabbit’s band includes Lee Joseph, the CEO of Dionysus Records.

“He’s really smooth bass-player and has been playing forever. I don’t ever have to give him any instruction at all as to what to do,” von Rabbit said. “He’s really excited to be a part of this and hadn’t been in a band for a while, and he didn’t expect to be back in one—and now here he is. He also brings a wider awareness of music and can turn us onto things we’ve never heard before, because he’s in-depth and expansive in his knowledge of music. Also, he’s a pretty snappy dresser.”

Von Rabbit said she was looking forward to sharing the Pappy’s stage with Spindrift.

“We haven’t played with Spindrift for a while, and they’re good friends, plus I love their sound and their energy,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a good combination, and there will be a lot of happy people there excited to see us play together. Spindrift is adding a nice spin to the night, too—no pun intended.

“It’s our first Pappy’s show of the year. We have our new drummer, Dan, who is really good, and Ethan and Lee (Joseph) are also great. We’re coming out fresh, debuting some new music in 2018 and spreading positive vibes.”

Jesika von Rabbit will perform with Spindrift at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53668 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

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As of Jan. 1, the holiday season is over—but the tourist/snowbird season is cranking into high gear, meaning there are a ton of fabulous events to take in across the Coachella Valley.

The McCallum Theatre is hosting a lot of sold-out events in January, but there are still tickets left for a few great shows. At 8 p.m., Monday, Jan. 22, operatic baritone singer Nathan Gunn will be performing from the Great American Songbook, as well as songs by Leonard Cohen and … Pearl Jam. Operatic Pearl Jam? Whoa! Tickets are $27 to $87. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 25, Broadway legends Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune will take the stage. These greats have 12 Tony Awards between them! Tickets are $37 to $67. At 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 29, piano virtuoso Jeffrey Siegel will be performing his variations on classical piano pieces, all while offering commentary. Siegel has played with some of the world’s best orchestras, so this is one you won’t want to miss. Tickets are $22 to $42. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino had a rocking holiday season and is sailing into January with a great schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 12, Motown R&B and soul legend Smokey Robinson will be performing. Smokey Robinson is an icon—even Bob Dylan listed Smokey Robinson as one of his favorite singers. His list of awards and honors is endless. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 19, if you’re a man wondering where your wife is, she might be at the Michael Bolton concert. Bolton is a good sport and hasn’t been afraid to poke fun at himself, as seen in Netflix’s Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Special. Oh, he’s won two Grammy Awards and has sold more than 65 million records, too. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 26, witness the spectacle of Adam Sandler going back to standup comedy and performing his comedy songs. It’s been years since he’s performed these types of shows; given his massive Netflix contract; he certainly doesn’t need the money. Tickets are $79 to $139. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is going to be sizzling in January with hot events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 13, our favorite show is coming back: It’s Thunder from Down Under! That’s right, the all-male Aussie review that makes women scream will return to the Coachella Valley. Tickets are $15 to $25. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 20, crooner Burt Bacharach (right) will perform. The “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” scribe is always popular when he comes to the Coachella Valley, which is no wonder, considering Bacharach has written some of the greatest songs ever—plus he performs them beautifully. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27, comedy great Howie Mandel will be performing with Preacher Lawson. I’ve always found Mandel a little odd, with his fears of germs and his refusal to shake people’s hands, but he’s an icon. Tickets are $35 to $55. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has some fantastic weekend shows coming in January. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 12, comedian and actor Mike Epps will do his thing. You might remember Epps for performing opposite Ice Cube as Day-Day in Next Friday and Friday After Next. One of Epps’ funniest moments in my opinion was when he told the story of Baby-D and her “Y2K snacks” in Next Friday. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 26, recording artist and television star Tony Orlando will be performing. I had a chance to interview Orlando last year, and it was a pleasurable experience. Growing up, I remember seeing him on many television shows, and hearing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon,” which received heavy airplay on the radio. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a January event with a limited number of tickets still available as of our press deadline. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 5, comedian Sinbad will bring the funny. Sinbad seemingly disappeared for a while … until he had financial problems. However, he seems to be finding his groove and is getting good reviews for his “family friendly comedy.” Tickets are $29. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a ton of events in January, featuring acts both national and local, so be sure to check the full schedule. Here are a few highlights. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 19, punk/rockabilly band The Flesh Eaters will take the stage. The Flesh Eaters have some dark themes in their music and were a hit in the Los Angeles punk scene. Also on the bill are Sean Wheeler and the Reluctant Messengers. Tickets are $25. At 8:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 21, Monkees guitarist/vocalist Michael Nesmith will be performing with his band, The First National Band. Fun fact: During the ’70s, Nesmith wrote and performed country music. Just a heads up: Nesmith usually avoids performing Monkees songs. Tickets are $30 to $40. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27, country and rock singer/songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield (below) will be performing. Mayfield has shared the stage with rock contemporaries such as Ryan Adams, and has collaborated with The Black Keys. Given she’s from Northeast Ohio like me, I’m rooting for her. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is always a popular place during season. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 6, jazz singer Jonathan Karrant will perform. The Arkansas native has been on stages since he was a young child and says that he cherishes the storytelling aspect of performing. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 12, Tony Award-winner Levi Kreis will be performing. The Broadway singer and pianist from Tennessee is quite popular, and overcame personal beliefs and issues to embrace the fact that he’s gay. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 26, Barbra Streisand impersonator Steven Brinberg will be doing his show Simply Barbra. Considering Streisand is unlikely to be performing locally anytime soon, these types of shows are a great way to celebrate Bab’s music and style. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa has one event in January worth noting: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 20, get ready for Lee Squared: An Evening With Liberace and Miss Peggy Lee. This show will be performed by David Maiocco and Chuck Sweeney, who are both dazzling and acclaimed performers. Tickets are $25 to $40. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

The Reverend Horton Heat has gone on to do many things that most rockabilly bands could never imagine.

The band’s music has been featured on soundtracks for television, films and video games; the group has toured with acts such as the Sex Pistols and Motörhead; the members have collaborated with rock ’n’ roll heavyweights; and it has been labeled as one of the hardest-working bands and best live acts in America.

The Reverend Horton Heat is returning to the desert for a show at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Thursday, Jan. 11.

During a recent phone interview, the Reverend himself, Jim Heath, said he never imagined what would happen after he started the band in 1985 in Dallas.

“I just wanted to do my own songs within the rockabilly framework, and I was just giving up on the idea of being a rock star,” Heath said. “We ended up on a major-label deal, and we worked with Al Jourgensen of Ministry and Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers, and some other pretty heavyweight people. This has been quite a ride! We were on the tail end of major labels giving out big money. It’s been a lot of fun.”

If you’ve been to a Reverend Horton Heat show, you know that all kinds of music fans, across all age ranges, come out to see them play.

“In the early days, we would play a punk-rock room one night, a country bar the next night, and then a heavy-metal place the next night,” Heath said. “Even though we were playing our own original music, we could tailor the set list to fit any situation we were in. That really helped make ends meet when we were just trying to do it full-time, so no one needed to have a full-time job. It’s a blessing, because now, we have shows where we have a really diverse fan base. We have rockabilly guys, heavy-metal guys, old guys, country guys—it’s crazy! It’s flattering, and it’s a real blessing.”

In some places, the mixture can lead to chaos. During a Reverend Horton Heat show I once attended in Cleveland, a fist fight broke out between a couple of older guys and some young punk-rockers who had started a mosh pit. Heath agreed that the diverse range of fans can sometimes lead to drama.

“We played quite a few gigs on our first trip to California where they would swing-dance,” he said. “For those clubs, we would tailor our gigs to a swing-dance crowd. But there was one particular gig in Long Beach (at a place) called Bogart’s where we showed up and started playing, and the swing-dancers started swing-dancing—and the mosh pit started. It was a clash of cultures, and we had to stop the show because five to 10 fights broke out all at once. Some sweaty alternative rocker goes slamming into some girl in her perfect little ’50s dress, and her boyfriend hits him. It was just a big brawl. It is what it is, and people want to have fun, but I want them to have fun and not hurt each other.”

The Reverend Horton Heat was once on tour for 250 to 275 dates a year, but that number has been decreased to a still-substantial 120 to 150. Heath said the band has always been a touring band first, regardless of album sales.

“With where record sales are now and that side of the industry falling apart, the lucky thing for us is that our art form is playing music, which has nothing to do with recordings,” he said. “Music is about a live thing with people having fun, socializing and enjoying the music together. That’s my art form, and that’s what I do.”

The list of legends with whom the Reverend Horton Heat has shared the stage is quite impressive.

“One of the best shows we ever did was opening for Johnny Cash at the Fillmore. We got to meet Johnny Cash and June Carter, and guys in his band to this day still keep in touch with us,” he said.

“I did a recording session, played golf, had dinner and played golf again with Willie Nelson. We opened for Carl Perkins, and after the show, he sat and told me stories for over an hour and a half. He was so funny and had some of the best stories. Johnny Rotten, when we toured with the Sex Pistols, would come up to me and tell me the craziest and funniest stuff. We did a TV show that included Wayne Newton, and he told us stories ’til 4 in the morning.”

The band’s last album, REV, was released in 2014—but Heath said to expect some new material soon, despite delays.

“We took most of the summer off to try to record a new album, and in the middle of all that, we switched drummers,” Heath said. “The album project got a little bit pushed back, and now we’ve been so busy that we almost don’t have time to do an album. I think we have 10 basic tracks pretty well, but we might go back and try to redo some of them. The good news is we have 10 songs, and it’s coming. We just need to get in the studio and finish it out.”

A word to the wise: It’s well-known that throwing beer is a no-no at a Reverend Horton Heat show. Heath took a serious tone when he told me his thoughts on the matter.

“I don’t like it; it’s stupid, and it’s ridiculous. I’m not into it at all,” he said. “You’ll get your ass thrown out doing that, and it’s not right. The first thing you learn in kindergarten is don’t throw stuff; the first thing you learn in college is don’t waste beer. There was a guy who threw beer on me in Denver one time, and I told him, ‘I always wondered what kind of person throws beer, and I figured it out—it’s rich kids!’ If you’re a rich kid, you can afford to throw beer and then call Mommy and Daddy, saying you need money for laundry or whatever. He got mad at me, and he was a writer, so he wrote a bad review of the show, saying what a wuss I was, and I was going, ‘Who is this guy?’ I Googled him, and he was a lead singer in a band whose stage antics were throwing beer. I kinda blew his stage shtick, which is awesome!”

The Reverend Horton Heat will perform with Voodoo Glow Skulls and Big Sandy at 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 11, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $25 to $30. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

A few months back, the band known as The BrosQuitos decided it was time to make some changes.

The Desert Hot Springs-based group went from a quartet to a trio after the departure of guitarist John Clark—and the remaining members decided the band’s name needed an update, in part because they wanted to be taken more seriously.

The band Sleeping Habits was born. On Thursday, Jan. 25, Sleeping Habits will be unveiling a new live set and a new sound at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

During a recent interview in DHS, James Johnson (guitar, vocals) explained the changes that he, Max Powell (bass) and Hugo Chavez (drums) recently made.

“The honest word is that we lost a member, so we had to change the position of the band,” Johnson said. “We wanted to go in more of an edgier direction, something that was less high school. Our old name did hold us back from a lot, and … we’ve already been taken more seriously as far as Los Angeles County and outside of here. You say, ‘Yeah, we’re The BrosQuitos,’ and we’re going to be downplayed. ‘The BrosQuitos’ was created when I was 14 years old, and we’re all going on 22 years old now. We had to change it. It got some new songs out of us, as well as a new style.”

Johnson said he could not explain why Clark left the band; Clark stopped communicating with the other members rather suddenly, Johnson said. On a lighter note, Johnson also could not really explain the band’s new sound.

“Our style has definitely changed. I honestly don’t know how to describe it and haven’t found a word for it,” he said. “To me, it sounds a lot more full. … The stage presence is there; the organization is there; the lyrics are there; and if you were to ask me what it sounds like, I couldn’t tell you.

“We have a song that is about prostitution in Hollywood; we have a song about rumors and sex … and an anthem song that leads into a chant. We all feel confident about it. It’s not so much (like) the first songs I wrote as a 13- or 14-year-old. I went through a breakup; I went through the loss of a friendship; and I went through a transitional period with a band. There’s a meaning behind it, and I think a lot of people appreciate it.”

The members are currently putting together an EP that they hope to have out later this winter.

“We will be finishing up our EP shortly,” Johnson said. “Our connections this time around have greatly improved, so I’m working on getting a few producers for the studio. I’ve been talking to Esjay Jones to see what she has to offer, and I know she has a lot going on. I’ve been talking to Will Sturgeon from Brightener, and I’m hoping he’ll be in the studio with us to produce one of these songs. I also have Sean Scanlon from Smallpools who will hopefully come on board. We’re trying to make it more of a learning process this time around, because that’s what we didn’t take advantage of the first time we recorded. We really limited ourselves to letting everyone take a piece into the project who wanted to.”

Johnson said he’s happy that The BrosQuitos record, Vinyl Image, finally came to fruition earlier this year—but that he’s already grown beyond it.

“I love it. It’s my first record,” he said. “As a 13- or 14-year-old writing those pieces and finally seeing them when I’m 18 and 19 being put together in the studio—it’s chilling to me. I mean that in all honesty. It’s amateur, though—the writing style and the chord structures. I’m not going to say I’m embarrassed by it, but I look back on it realizing I could have done so much more. I could have seized more opportunity at that time of my life. But it’s still a good record to me.”

Sleeping Habits will perform with Foxtrax at 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 25, 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.

Published in Previews