CVIndependent

Sat08172019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Day 2 of Coachella’s second weekend started off on the breezy side—but it still felt fairly comfortable. As the day went on, however, the wind picked up, and the nighttime actually felt … chilly.

The weather aside, Saturday offered a fantastic variety of music. Here are some highlights:

• Christine and the Queens cancelled the group’s Outdoor Stage appearance due to a death in the family, moving all the acts up an hour. When Ty Segall and White Fence (right) took the stage on Saturday afternoon, two factors worked against them: the wind and a lack of acoustics. The wind indeed blew away some of their thunder, but the group still managed to put on a great early-afternoon set that drew interest as attendees arrived at the site.

• The Interrupters, the go-to ska-punk band at any Southern California music festival (first below), took the Outdoor Stage later in the afternoon. Guitarist Kevin Bivona informed the crowd that the band didn’t tolerate sexism, racism, homophobia or any kind of discrimination, as the Interrupters played the group’s politically themed anthems. It’s no mystery why the Interrupters are becoming ever-more popular: The band has something interesting to say in each of its songs—and is fun as hell to watch.

• The Coachella Stage was the place to be early in the evening when Colombian reggaeton performer J Balvin (second below) performed an energetic and fun set, complete with a huge inflatable … something. Whatever it was, it looked like it was from a video game that sat on the stage; meanwhile, a bunch of trippy pop-culture-related images flashed on the video screens.

• I was surprised by how good Weezer’s Saturday-evening set was—and by how many people showed up for it. Weezer started off the show by appearing in barbershop-quartet outfits, singing breakout 1994 hit “Buddy Holly” in barbershop-quartet fashion. It was quite a sight. This was the theme for the entire set: Play the old hits everyone knows. Most of the songs came from the Blue album, Pinkerton, the Green album, and the Red album. Oh, and they did play that cover of Toto’s “Africa” about halfway into the set … and about 20 percent of the crowd disappeared right after. It was a highly enjoyable and energetic set that truly kicked ass—proving Weezer is still one hell of a live act.

• Headliner Tame Impala, the Australian psychedelic-rock project led by Kevin Parker, took the Coachella Stage shortly after 10:30 p.m. to colder-than-usual temperatures and a lot of wind. Nonetheless, the band attempted to use smoke machines to keep the same trippy visual effects—which were quite intense at times. During the extended opening song, “Let It Happen,” the band blew out confetti, which was carried away by the wind and pelted everyone in the face. From what I heard about the poor turnout last weekend, Tame Impala’s audience may have been larger this weekend. I personally love Tame Impala and think it’s a fantastic live band—but it’s too early for Tame Impala to be a headliner, especially since the group had little new material to offer, and has no announced release date for a new album.

I’ll admit it: I was skeptical as I walked into the Empire Polo Club for the start of Coachella Weekend 2—but a relaxed vibe and above-expectations performances led to a wonderful Friday of music.

Here are some of the things I took in:

• Just after 3 p.m., I found myself at the Coachella Stage watching Los Tucanes de Tijuana for the second time this week. The Coachella performance was much different than the one at Chella—and the Coachella crowd couldn’t seem to get enough. The band played 1994 hit “La Chona” early in the set and also at the end. “La Chona” has become a verb, of sorts, as people like to post online videos dancing to the song, and the Coachella crowd was happy to do so as well.

• Late in the afternoon, I was blown away by Calypso Rose’s set in the Gobi Tent (right). The 78-year-old calypsonian from Trinidad—she announced she’ll be 79 in two weeks—is now the oldest performer to grace the stages at Coachella. Despite falling down last week, she stood right back up as if nothing happened. She can no longer do the crazy calypso dances, but she teased the crowd a few times by pulling up her ankle length dress to her knees and moving a bit. She’s adorable … and she’s fierce. In fact, after her second song, she declared herself the “Queen of Coachella.” She also told the men in the audience to never raise a hand toward a woman, because they spent nine months in a woman’s womb, and they wouldn’t want anyone to hit their daughters—and she spoke from a place of authority, as she’s battled sexism in the calypso scene from men who were intimidated by her or felt inferior to her. It’s a wonder why more people weren’t at her set—because she is a true living legend.

• Anderson .Paak (first below) started off his early-evening set on the Coachella Stage with a blasting performance of “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” from his 2016 album, Malibu—and then was seen performing behind the drums. When I saw him perform at Coachella in 2016, I figured he was only going to become a bigger name—and he’s now a main-stage talent. He joked with the audience that the first-week jitters were gone, so he could relax—and that he was happy to see a turnout bigger than last weekend’s crowd. There were times in the set that felt like a Stevie Wonder set in the 1970s, and there were times that felt like a high-energy rap concert.

• U.S. Girls’ Meghan Remy is a bit eccentric, and the group’s headlining performance in the indoor Sonora Tent was a bit strange (second below). Performing right after punk/hardcore band The Frights was probably not easy for a psychedelic pop band—and the crowd was pretty dismal, to say the least, despite all the positive press the group has garnered over the last year. After about the third song, there was a minute of very awkward silence as Remy stared into the audience and calmly asked: “Are you out there?” The end of the performance was also strange, when she and two other band members got down on the floor of the stage, performed some strange movements, and literally crawled away to conclude the performance … something the audience wouldn’t have known if one of the band members hadn’t walked by and threw some guitar picks to the crowd while waving goodbye.

• As I waited for Lady Gaga’s headlining performance two years ago, DJ Snake’s wild DJ set—complete with a crazy light show accompanying it—offered great entertainment. On Friday, DJ Snake returned to the same stage, with almost the same scenario—playing right before the headliner. This time around, I decided to actually watch rather than just listen, and it was … let’s call it over the top. It was an absolute banger of a set that could probably be heard all the way in Palm Desert. DJ Snake went hard, and—other than an earsplitting number using high-pitched bird sounds—it was flawless.

• Childish Gambino’s intro was the same as it was last week: He started off on a platform about 25 feet off the ground that slowly lowered him down. His eyes were wide, as if he were ready for war, as he walked through the gospel choir accompanying him. After the first song, he took it down a notch, giving the audience two rules: Get down to the performance as much as possible; and put down the fucking phones and live in the moment. He saved his best and newer material for the end, after delighting the crowd with some of his lighter-hearted material.

The second-annual Goldenvoice event known as Chella took place at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio on Wednesday night, and local Latin-music lovers packed into the Fullenwider Auditorium to catch performances by Giselle Woo and the Night Owls, Cola Boyy, Mon Laferte and Los Tucanes de Tijuana.

Giselle Woo and the Night Owls—the show’s local act—sounded incredible. If there was a standout beyond Woo herself, it was her guitarist, Christian Colin, whose solos left many of the attendees in awe. After Woo’s brief set, the crowd demanded one more song—which unfortunately never happened.

After a bit of a delay due to technical issues, Cola Boyy finally took the stage. The Oxnard native has a very distinctive voice, and his show was a ’70s throwback, of sorts, thanks to modernized takes on soul and disco. Some of those beats were pretty sweet.

Mon Laferte, one of Chile’s biggest music stars, took the stage to a loud welcoming ovation, with her fans sticking homemade signs in the air. From the moment she started singing through the end of her performance, you could feel the emotion. It was as if the audience was watching a diva give the performance of a lifetime.

The stage setup for Los Tucanes de Tijuana was a show of its own: Towers with lights were carted out; lighting was mounted on the front part of the stage; dry ice was tested, as were other stage effects. After a brief video intro, the group came out and got right down to business with smash hit “La Chona.” The energy level in the auditorium from both Los Tucanes and the audience felt like the energy at an amazing metal concert.

Scroll down to see photos from the show.

When Senate Bill 239 took effect last year, it made knowingly spreading the HIV virus a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

Opponents of the bill, which was signed into law by former Gov. Jerry Brown, were furious, speculating it could lead to an increase in HIV transmissions. However, people on the front lines of the fight against HIV/AIDS said the new law was a much-needed step in the right direction, considering treatment and prevention methods have changed significantly since the AIDS epidemic began in 1981.

“If you criminalize HIV, it discourages people from getting tested,” said Carl Baker, the director of legal and legislative affairs for the Desert AIDS Project. “Under the old statute, if you didn’t know your status, you didn’t commit a crime (if you passed the HIV virus to someone else). It was better to be dumb and spread the disease than to be smart and prevent the disease.”

Samuel Garrett-Pate, the communications director for Equality California, said via e-mail that potentially criminalizing those with HIV proved to be bad public policy.

“HIV-specific criminal laws hurt rather than help,” Garrett-Pate said. “There is no evidence that laws targeting people living with HIV for criminal penalties actually reduce the number of new cases of HIV or improve public health in any way. In fact, research suggests that such laws may be a disincentive to testing and disclosure of one’s HIV status and a barrier to seeking care for people living with HIV. In addition, these laws may give HIV-negative people a false sense of security with respect to the health of their sexual partners, thereby encouraging riskier behaviors and more sexually transmitted infections. … HIV decriminalization encourages HIV testing, treatment and disclosure to sexual partners.”

Baker said only one group of people in recent years faced prosecution.

“The only real people who were prosecuted in the last 15 to 20 years were sex workers,” Baker said. “It wasn’t used for the everyday person; it was only people who were picked up for prostitution. That was the targeted audience. I can see the rationale, because if you’re in the sex industry, you’re going to spread it to a lot more people than Mr. Smith on the street.

“But way back in the ’80s, there were some bad actors. There was a male who was infected and was intentionally sleeping with women without telling them. There’s always that one bad actor.”

Garrett-Pate said the law was used to disproportionately target women and people of color.

“Overall, 800 people came into contact with the California criminal-justice system from 1988 to June 2014 either under an HIV-related law or under the misdemeanor exposure law, as it related to a person’s HIV-positive status,” Garrett-Pate wrote. “Black and Latino people made up two-thirds of the people who came into contact with the criminal-justice system based on their HIV status, even though just half of the population living with HIV/AIDS in California is black or Latino. Women made up 43 percent of those who came into contact with the criminal-justice system based on their HIV-positive status, even though just 13 percent of the HIV-positive population in California is women. … White men were significantly more likely to be released and not charged.”

Baker emphasized that testing and public-health awareness are the best ways to battle HIV—not criminalization.

“We want people to be tested and to go into treatment; then they are not infectious and are undetectable,” Baker said. “That’s our goal to ending this epidemic. The combination of Truvada and antiretrovirals keep the likelihood at 99.8 percent of the virus never being transferred. It’s as effective as using a condom. By having something on the books that discouraged people from finding out their status and pushing them underground, that was going to encourage more behaviors that will spread the virus.”

Baker said that despite the progress the Desert AIDS Project and other public-health groups have made in battling HIV, minority groups remain the most at risk.

“The spike in transmissions (has been) in the transgender population and in the minority populations in Riverside County that don’t identify as gay. They use the term ‘men having sex with men,’ because they could be married or have a one-off with another man, and they aren’t out,” Baker said. “That’s the issue, and those are the people we want to get tested, because they aren’t identifying as gay and think they don’t have anything to worry about. Those are the hardest people to get tested—and where the virus is blowing up.”

For information on free and confidential HIV testing, visit gettestedcoachellavalley.org.

Robert Bowman is best known in the local-music world as the guitarist for WiseMan. However, WiseMan is not currently a thing—but Bowman was recently announced as the new bassist for local desert-rock outfit Waxy, and he made his live debut with Waxy earlier this month. For more information on Waxy, visit www.waxy-music.com. Robert Bowman was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Dire Straits, the On Every Street Tour at the Great Western Forum, in 1992.

What was the first album you owned?

The first albums I bought with my own money were Poison’s Look What the Cat Dragged In, and Europe’s The Final Countdown, bought on the same day with birthday money.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Dream Theater, Deftones, The War on Drugs, Interpol, Waxy, Tool, The Secret Post, The Hellions, Vega, Alice in Chains and Pink Floyd. They’re pretty much always on rotation for me.

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

Artists who have never written their own music, or have loaded and unloaded their own gear for a show that paid $0. Also, any “artist” who has been signed to a major label for creating a catch phrase like “cash me outside.”

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

This is a tough question. I’ve seen most of my favorite current bands, so I’ll go with a defunct band: Pink Floyd, as cliché as it is. They’ve been my biggest inspiration in music.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Sade. I can’t get enough. She’s unbelievable.

What’s your favorite music venue?

As of last month, it’s The Wiltern. It’s a beautiful venue. I love the grandeur and opulence of that theater.

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

“You get the news yeah, you hear the words, you take your time, you pay your dues, nothing seems to touch your heart, you’re bored and your feeling like your torn apart,” “Firstlast,” The Secret Post.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Dream Theater. They made me appreciate complex arrangements in a style of music that I had not been into until my mid-30s. The more I listen to them, the more I have realized there is no limit to what we as humans are capable of when playing musical instruments. They are truly masters and have set the bar high. They make me want to be a better musician.

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

Another tough question; thanks a lot. Not only am I going to choose an artist who has passed on; I’m going back in time to ask my question. I’d have to ask Richard Wright of Pink Floyd: “Would you mind if I sit in and observe your magic as you record keyboards on Animals?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Where We Start,” David Gilmour. Go ahead and have a listen if you’re not familiar with it. It’s absolutely perfect.

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

I hate this question. Gun to my head … I guess I’d have to say Alice in Chains’ Dirt. Reason being: It really ties in all of the sugary memories of my adolescence: first love, my rebellion against authority, going through military school, and (being molded) into a music-loving kid whose biggest dream is to play music with eyes closed while on a big dark stage.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“At Wit’s End,” Dream Theater. Not many folks are up to it, but for those who really listen, YOU’RE WELCOME! (Scroll down to hear it!)

J. Patron often wears clothing with the slogan “Puro Oro.” This translates to “Pure Gold”—and that’s exactly what J. Patron is in the local hip-hop scene, as an artist who has opened doors for many others.

J. Patron (Camilo Gomez) came to the United States from Colombia when he was 4 years old and grew up in the Coachella Valley. Local hip-hop artists Provoked and Willdabeast have talked to me in recent months about J. Patron’s hip-hop talents, which developed at an early age during high school during rap battles. In recent years, J. Patron has toured the United States and Latin America, including a SXSW appearance in March.

During a recent interview, Patron explained how he grew up listening to Latin music—and how that went on to meld with his hip hop.

“It was everywhere!” Gomez said. “It was all my parents listened to. There is a cool little Colombian community here in the Coachella Valley, and they would throw parties all the time. I grew up around cumbia, merengue and stuff like that.

“The hip-hop stuff was my influence just being here. Going to school with friends—that’s the stuff we were listening to. As far as the Latin roots go, that’s the stuff I grew up with at home, and I never really had the desire to make that type of music. I was more interested in making hip hop, so it was later on, after a few years of rapping, that I started experimenting and mixing the two, and I realized that people were already doing that. There was a scene already going on in Latin America, so that’s what united me and the cats down there.”

Gomez said he’s always felt attached to his Colombian roots.

“Back in the early ’90s, (the Colombian community) was all over the Coachella Valley. (There were) a few families here and there; everyone would get together and throw stuff,” he said. “Obviously in bigger cities, there are bigger communities. But they would just be really active with the Independence Day festivals and soccer games.

“That’s part of our religion,” he added, laughing.

Gomez said he’s excited about the growing popularity of Latin music in the United States.

“It’s always been there—but for it to be so Americanized, it’s something new,” he said. “They said at the Latin Alternative Music Conference that I used to go to in New York, ‘It’s going to take over, and it’s growing.’ I believed in it, but just this last year, in 2018, it was a crazy year for Latin music, where it’s on English radio stations. It’s opened a lot of doors for me as a Latino making Latin-American Spanglish music in the United States. At first, it was super-hard; nobody wanted that shit anywhere. People were telling me I wouldn’t go anywhere with that. … Now it’s like everyone is accepting of it, and it’s opening doors. It’s truly a blessing to have this wave that it’s having right now, and it feels like it’s only going to get bigger.”

That growing popularity is taking place locally, too.

“It was about three years ago that I stared doing shows at The Hood and the Red Barn,” Gomez said. “Everyone was like, ‘This is predominantly a Caucasian music scene, so you’re going to play rock, some type of country or some other shit like that.’ Everyone (else) was like, ‘Bro! No! Stick to the nation! They are the ones showing you love.’ Even when I was doing shows at The Date Shed, everyone was fucking against each other over it, and I was like, ‘Dude, if these people are opening the doors for me, I’m not going to shut anyone down, and I’m going to take advantage of everything.’ The Hood was like, ‘OK, let’s see what’s up,’ and I did a few shows and brought out a couple of local guys and Giselle Woo, and we threw a sick-ass party. It was like, ‘Boom! There it is!’ We just kept doing it.

“I remember one time we had a salsa night at The Hood, and it was pretty sick,” he said with a laugh. “You should have seen the dance floor; everyone was dancing salsa, and it was insane! At the Red Barn, I was always doing Latin trap, mixing the Latin and the American trap and stuff, and it was a hit; people would jump like a punk-rock show. At first, the venues weren’t what they were now, and since they’ve opened themselves to that, it’s been going really well for all of us.”

However, not all venues have been welcoming.

“I played somewhere north of Los Angeles. I was on tour at that time and … doing my Spanish thing,” he said. “The club owner or whoever it was told me that it wasn’t going to fly there. I said, ‘Well, let me finish my show. I’m still going to get paid, and I just won’t come back here. We’ll both be happy.’ That was a couple of years ago—but now it’s a whole different story. I’m sure if you go back to that place with the same kind of shit now, they’re going to open the doors for people to come in.”

His brand-new EP, My American Dream and Colombian Fantasy, represents a new direction for J. Patron.

“I started working on this EP about a year ago,” he said. “It’s a new genre for me that I’ve always wanted to be a part of, but I never really felt like I was ready: I started working on some reggaeton two years ago, and then officially started to make the EP a year ago; 75 percent of it is reggaeton. There’s one trap song on there. It’s entirely produced by a good friend of mine who goes by Deltatron, from Lima, Peru. I met him at SXSW about two or three years ago, and we’ve been making music together ever since.”

“Even Goldenvoice is throwing more Latin-infused parties up in Los Angeles and now down here, too,” he said. “It’s exciting, and it’s very beneficial to someone like me who is an independent artist to be able to bring home the bacon.”

For more information, visit jpatronmusic.com.

In June 1969, the Stonewall riots took place, marking a seminal moment in the gay-rights movement—and the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus has joined forces with other LGBT choruses across the country to mark the occasion in a big way.

The chorus will conclude its season with Quiet No More–A Choral Celebration of Stonewall with shows Friday through Sunday, April 26-28. During a recent phone interview with Douglas Wilson, the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus’ artistic director, he explained the highlight of these concerts.

“It’s a new masterwork that was commissioned by 20 choruses in the United States, and it was composed by six different composers who each wrote a different movement—and it’s a big production,” Wilson said. “The whole piece is in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, the moment that really started the gay pride movement. The first four movements focus on that night and what happened later that night. The next movements talk about where we’re going now that we have marriage equality and gay people running for office. What are we doing now? What’s next? What can we do to keep this going?”

The PSGMC shows will mark the West Coast premiere of the new piece.

“This one has a big social message,” Wilson said. “This is when the piece was ready, and it was commissioned so the New York Gay Men’s Chorus could do it on the anniversary of Stonewall on June 27.”

The piece has not been an easy one for chorus members to learn—although they’ve been happy to do so.

“This was very interesting to work on. Our rehearsal time took much longer than we thought it would,” Wilson said. “There’s some very difficult rhythms and some parts that take a while to get used to.”

The rest of the show will be dedicated to songs about fights for equal rights—and Wilson promised the show would be uplifting rather than depressing.

“We don’t want to do something that will leave our audience depressed and feeling like we’ve drilled gay rights into them. The piece ends on a very positive note: Go out and vote; go out and run for office; go out and do all these different things, and the world will be a better place,” he said.

“The second part of the program, we’re doing different songs that are connected with different protest movements over the years. We’re doing suffragette songs; we’re doing civil rights songs; we’re doing songs of the United Farm Workers; and, of course, we end up with a couple of gay songs. We’re looking at all of these people struggling for their freedom and getting their freedom.”

Wilson said the chorus members are excited about the show’s message.

“I think this was really good for us. Those cover songs and those spring things that we (normally) do, they’re very fun to do, but they aren’t really challenging,” Wilson said. “It gives everybody a great sense of accomplishment. They say, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t think we could ever learn that, and we learned it and performed it.’ I think they’re feeling very positive about it.”

Would the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus take on something like this again? Wilson said yes—as long as audiences respond positively.

“We’ll see how the audience reaction is,” he said. “I hope that they’ll find it’s something they enjoyed coming and listening to. I hope they’ll want to hear more.”

The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus will be performing Quiet No More–A Choral Celebration of Stonewall at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27; and 3 p.m., Sunday, April 28, at the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $25 to $50. For tickets or more information, visit www.psgmc.com.

Big things are happening for local metal band Ormus. Late last year, the band released its debut album, Apocalyptic Transmissions. Playing guitar for Ormus is Chaz Marriott (who has also been moonlighting in The After Lashes as “Gina”). Ormus will be playing at the Music Benefit for Champion the Dog and Animal Abuse Awareness at Gadi’s Bar and Grill on Saturday, April 13. For more information on Ormus, visit www.facebook.com/ormusband. Marriott was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

I saw my first concert when I resided in Utah. It was my 16th-birthday present. It was Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer on their Jägermeister tour. I remember getting a chair seat, and I just wanted to get down to the pit. I went outside after Anthrax played … and the metal gods shined upon me as I found a pit bracelet on the floor, so I picked it up and pushed through the front to see Megadeth and Slayer up close. It was an amazing first concert experience, seeing all of my influences at the time under one roof.

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I remember getting was Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast. (I was) blasting “22 Acacia Avenue” and “The Number of the Beast,” but that album was short-lived, as my mom was very Christian and tore it up with scissors as soon as the infamous chorus went off.

What bands are you listening to right now?

As of this moment, I have been listening to a lot of System of a Down, Dio, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Tenacious D, Slipknot, Lamb of God, Arch Enemy and Rebelution. I’ve been trying to listen to a variety of music keeping me inspired to keep writing and pushing myself as a musician.

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

Honestly, certain kinds of rap, especially the new rap artists people go crazy for. It’s not for me.

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

I would love to see Van Halen back in the day. Nobody can shred like Eddie Van Halen.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I love me some hair metal! Ratt, Dokken, Quiet Riot, Warrant, Skid Row, Motley Crue, Def Leppard (Bring out the tight leather and hairspray for Gina.) I would always hear it growing up, and it has always stuck with me.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I have not gotten to venture out of the desert too far yet to have a favorite venue, and honestly, I haven’t been blown away by a venue out here in the desert yet. We go for the music, not the venue, though, and all the amazing local talent we have out here makes the trip to any place in the valley worth it.

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

“She’s so elusive magnetically drawn, day tripping lady, what have you done?” from “Strange” by Ormus. We’re going to San Diego soon to record that single. I’m excited and can’t get it out of my head. My bandmate Serene is quite the lyricist.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

I’m not the kind of person that says, “This band saved my life,” or anything. Playing music is what changed my life, and all of my influences around me in my personal life support me doing music, and I’m grateful for that.

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

Mick Thomson of Slipknot: “What got you to this point in your career? How did you go on your first tour?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. Just kidding; have a Nerf-gun fight, and whoever wins can keep my eyeball. Also, play some “Dude (I Totally Miss You)” by Tenacious D.

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

System of Down, Toxicity.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Dan Henig’s acoustic version of “My Neck, My Back.” (Scroll down to hear it! Warning: NSFW.)

Stagecoach has changed in the past couple of years; the lineup is shorter—but Goldenvoice is still including smaller Americana bands and classic country acts while Nashville’s big stars take to the Mane Stage.

Here’s a list of acts I certainly won’t miss at Stagecoach.

Friday, April 26

Cordovas

When I listen to Cordovas (right), I picture them playing in one of those smoky country-Western bars shown in films during the ’70s and ’80s. The band performs country music with a bit of the Grateful Dead and the Band thrown in. Cordovas will help you start off Stagecoach right—along with a cold beer and a comfy seat on a blanket or in a lawn chair.

Cody Johnson

There’s something enjoyable about many country singers from Texas—and Cody Johnson definitely has that certain something. On just about every album of his, you can hear the rodeo, and you can hear the honky tonks. Many of his songs have some grit, while his ballads can bring a tear to your eye.

Bret Michaels

Poison was one of the hardest-partying bands in the ’80s glam-metal scene—and the band is still going fairly strong. While Poison is known for anthems about partying and bagging chicks, there were moments later in Bret Michaels’ career when he showed a softer side—almost in the form of country or honky-tonk ballads; heck, he’s even started to adopt a more country-style appearance in recent years. It’s no wonder, then, that he’s also put out country songs as a solo artist and appeared on recordings with country stars such as Kenny Chesney. Bret Michaels took a long time coming to Stagecoach—but he should fit right in.


Saturday, April 27

Charley Crockett

Charley Crockett has said that he prefers timeless songs as far as songwriting goes. When you listen to him, you’ll hear some of that vintage Hank Williams sound, some old rock ’n’ roll, and even some ’70s-style country. He will be performing criminally early—at 12:30 p.m.—on the Palomino Stage, so be sure to arrive in time to catch his set.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

This will probably be the last time you’ll see the famed Southern-rock outfit play at Stagecoach, because the band is on its final farewell tour—and unlike most of the bands that do these types of tours, it seems as if Lynyrd Skynyrd is really ending for good. You probably know the band was in a plane crash in 1977 that killed original frontman Ronnie Van Zant, as well as guitarist Steve Gaines and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines. Since then, all the other original members of the band have left, save one: guitarist Gary Rossington. He’s kept the band going with Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother, Johnny Van Zant, but it feels like this is the right time for Lynyrd Skynyrd to bow out. If the band indeed calls it quits, this will be your last chance to sing along to “Freebird,” so don’t miss it.

Cam

Cam’s country-music roots come from right here in California: She was born in Huntington Beach and spent time in San Francisco and Oceanside. Her career has been consistently on the rise since she started in 2010; she’s also written music with Sam Smith for his album The Thrill of It All. I highly recommend checking out her 2015 album Untamed for an idea of what to expect.


Sunday, April 28

Jimmie Allen

Jimmie Allen’s music career was bumpy before he really got started. He was struggling so much that he was living in his car; he auditioned for America’s Got Talent and didn’t make it past the preliminary auditions; he auditioned for American Idol and didn’t make it to the live-voting rounds. But the man’s work and talent has finally paid off. He released his debut album, Mercury Lane, in late 2018, and his career has nowhere to go but up after finding success on country radio.

Tom Jones

This is a bit of an odd fit for Stagecoach, but considering The Zombies, Michael Nesmith of the Monkees, and Eric Burdon of the Animals have all played at Stagecoach … why not? Jones should have no problem winning over the crowd at Stagecoach—plus it’ll be interesting watching people in Stetsons and denim swaying to “It’s Not Unusual.”

Diplo

Yep, that’s right … I’m saving the most interesting Stagecoach act for last. The man behind Major Lazer and his own EDM material is stepping out of the dance-music to perform at Stagecoach’s “Late Night in the Palomino” at 10:55 p.m. Sunday night. Having seen Major Lazer at Coachella, I must say: It’ll be interesting to see what Diplo does for country fans at Stagecoach.

A while back, Parker Millsap tweeted: “I ain’t no son of Ronnie.”

Indeed, there’s no relation, and the names are spelled differently, anyway. Still, the men share some similarities; they were both influenced by gospel, blues and rock ’n’ roll—but Millsap’s sound is all his own.

He’ll be coming to Stagecoach on Sunday, April 28.

When Parker Millsap first started, his sound had more acoustic and gospel elements, but over time, he has added more of a rock sound—and his latest album, Other Arrangements, is almost entirely rock ’n’ roll. During a recent phone interview, Millsap discussed the evolution.

“A lot of that is based on the live show,” Millsap said. “I started out doing listening-room and house concerts, and I did an acoustic thing for quite a while. Gradually, as I made money and could afford to have more of a band, I really wanted the shows to move a little bit more. I got tired of singing all ballads. I wrote songs that would be really fun to play live with my band.”

Millsap was raised in a religious household in Oklahoma, and he was exposed to a lot of gospel music.

“I have a bunch of history with that music, given I grew up in church,” Millsap said. “A lot of my musical upbringing was getting to see live music on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night every week for 16 years straight. It’s tied up with my personal experience, with music and spirituality.

“Church music isn’t made for the same reasons that commercial music is made. In the church I grew up in, none of the musicians were paid; you play for a higher power. … Music is a spiritual thing, not a religious thing, at least to me. The melodies, the rhythms and the humanity of gospel music transcend the lyrics for me most of the time. The feeling of the music is almost so true that you could be singing anything, and I’d almost believe it.”

However, gospel music wasn’t the only thing Millsap listened to as a kid.

“I grew up listening to a lot of blues, rock ’n’ roll, and a lot of Texas singer-songwriters,” he said. “(There was) not a ton of radio; radio wasn’t really a thing. My dad had a ton of CDs and tapes, so I got to listen to all kinds of stuff that not a lot of my friends were listening to.”

These days, he said, he rarely feels uncomfortable at a gig.

“I’ve done so many different kinds of shows, playing from county fairs to three people telling us to turn it down,” Millsap said. “I’ve played weird Hooters-type bars with 10 giant TVs playing a UFC fight while we’re playing the show—and it’s pretty hard to offend me. If people just want to sit down and listen, that’s great. If people want to dance through the whole set, even through the ballads, that’s amazing.

“The big challenge of the road is sitting in the van. Playing music, loading in, loading out, soundcheck—that doesn’t bother me. It’s just sitting in the van that’s the hardest part of touring.”

So how does Millsap spend his time in the van?

“There’s a lot of Instagram scrolling,” he said. “We’ve been doing a lot of audiobooks lately and podcasts, but a lot of it is just silence. All of us are pretty independent dudes, and because we are so close to each other, all day, every day, when we’re on tour in a van together, in a little green room together, then a little stage together, and then a hotel room together, we try to respect each other’s space.”

Millsap said he tours so much because it’s the best way to gain an audience.

“Touring is the only sure-fire thing I’ve found,” he said. “I own the label, and I pay for publicists. The best return on investment is playing a show for people, and them telling their friends. The next time I come to town, those people bring three friends, and then those three people bring their friends.”

Millsap said he’s excited to come to Stagecoach, because it’ll allow him to see other musicians take the stage.

“I’m always excited to go to California with my friends to play music and check out other bands,” he said. “Festivals are cool, because a lot of touring musicians get to play music, but don’t necessarily get to go see shows unless we’re opening for someone or unless someone is opening for us. I love going to festivals because I can catch up on a bunch of stuff that I haven’t seen.”