CVIndependent

Sun02182018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

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.

Published in Previews

May is here! Congratulations on surviving the uptick in traffic during the festival season—and for dodging all of those confused snowbirds.

Now, it’s time for the heat. Fortunately, there are some great shows coming up to help ease you into summer.

The McCallum Theatre will go dark during the summer months. But before the curtain closes for the season, the theater is hosting several compelling shows. At 7 p.m., Friday, May 5, the Coachella Valley Symphony will join forces with jazz great Diane Schuur for Rhapsody and Blues. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 4 p.m., Sunday, May 7, there will be a performance by the All Coachella Valley High School Honor Band, conducted by Richard Floyd. Tickets are $10 to $12. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a couple of events going on that are worth your consideration. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 19, Ann Wilson of the band Heart will be performing solo. A level of estrangement between Ann Wilson and her sister, Nancy, appears to have broken up Heart for the time being, after Ann Wilson’s husband reportedly assaulted Nancy Wilson’s children outside of a Heart concert last year. Family issues aside, Ann Wilson is a vocal powerhouse and will most likely rock the place. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 26, Mexican music sensation Larry Hernández will be performing. Hernandez is a star in the Latin-music world and has racked up many hit albums and singles. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a great schedule as we slide into the summer months. At 9 p.m., Friday, May 12, country star Dustin Lynch (right) will take the stage. He’s one of the newer stars of the country-music genre, with two high-selling albums and four No. 1 singles on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart; Lynch is definitely a rising star. Tickets are $40 to $60. Fans of international music, take note: At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 20, Filipino duo Martin Nievera and Lani Misalucha will perform their Masquerade show. The duo is well-known for performing pop standards and jazz—to opera music. Go and expand your musical palate! Tickets are $38 to $125. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has some big events on the calendar in May. How big? Really BIG! At 8 p.m., Friday, May 19, guitar icon and Eagles member Joe Walsh will be performing. Although the Eagles broke a promise that they wouldn’t perform after the death of Glenn Frey by agreeing to play at Desert Trip-style festivals in New York and Los Angeles, called “Classic East” and “Classic West,” this is probably the closest thing the Coachella Valley will get to an Eagles show these days. Walsh is a big name on his own, and was cool enough to perform on the Foo Fighters’ most recent album, Sonic Highways. Tickets are $99 to $139. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 20, comedienne and actress Mo’Nique will be at Spotlight 29. Mo’Nique is funny as hell, and her performance in the movie Precious, although disturbing, was epic. You won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is rolling into May with a solid schedule through the summer. Get ready to relive the ’80s in a big way with two big acts: At 10 p.m., Friday, May 12, get ready to jump some rope and bulk up, because Survivor will be performing. Yes, “Eye of the Tiger”! Tickets are $20. At 10 p.m., Saturday, May 20, Culture Club front man Boy George will bring the party. I caught the Coachella Valley stop of the recent Culture Club reunion tour, and I can say that Boy George remains very entertaining as a singer and front man. Tickets are $30. Check the Morongo website for details on other interesting shows, including a couple by comedian Ron White. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is settling down after a slew of Coachella-related shows in April—but there’s plenty to take in at Pappy’s in May. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 6, modern psychedelic-rock wild child Ty Segall (below) will be performing. Segall is a true-blue, no-bullshit psychedelic musician. He can make some pretty fantastic records—and is one hell of a live performer. You really don’t want to miss this show, especially with it being at Pappy’s. Tickets are $27. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 27, Dave Catching and the Rancho de la Luna cast of characters including Alain Johannes, Sweethead, The Mutants and the Mojave Lords will be playing on a bill that’s being called “Shared Hallucinations Part 1.” After seeing Alain Johannes perform solo last year, I must say: Make sure you get there in time to check him out. The Mojave Lords are also a lot of fun. Tickets are $30. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

It appears the Date Shed is going to go dark over the summer once again. If so, these are some of the events that will close out the Date Shed’s season. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 6, reggae singer HIRIE will be performing. HIRIE sure had an interesting childhood: She was born in the Philippines; her father worked for the United Nations; and she had exposure to a lot of different cultures, including Hawaii, which influenced much of her music. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 20, local bands Wild Sons, EeVaan Tre and Kanvaz will take the stage. EeVaan Tre is one of the Coachella Valley’s best talents; here’s hoping he will finally release some recordings sometime soon. Tickets are $8 to $12. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

Culture Club’s performance on Friday night, Nov. 11, at Fantasy Springs made good on a promise.

The well-known ’80s new-wave band, fronted by Boy George, was slated to kick off its current reunion here in the Coachella Valley back in November 2014, but after the show was announced Boy George learned he had a serious throat condition that required surgery. The show was cancelled, and the reunion tour was delayed.

On Friday night, the band gave fans a two-hour performance that was more than worth the wait.

Culture Club started the show with “Church of the Poison Mind,” and Boy George was the last member to walk onstage—dressed in an outfit covered with Xs and Os, which together stand for love. He addressed the audience after the song with his trademark wit and snarky humor, saying that people were probably not sure what they were going to get—and that the band members didn’t know what they were going to give—but he promised the crowd, “Slowly and surely, we will seduce you.” The band then performed “It’s a Miracle.”

“We’re a one-stop shop for those who are different,” Boy George said in between songs. “We have three requirements: Dance like no one is watching you, because if they are, we’re not doing our jobs. Love like no one ever broke your heart, because eventually, they will. And the last one: Dress like every day is Halloween.”

At another moment, Boy George observed a few people in the section where I was sitting using their cellphones to film him. He pointed them out, saying they were too busy on their cellphones, before waving and saying, “Hello! I’m actually here. This isn’t a third-party experience!” The band then launched into a cover of Bread’s “Everything I Own.”

Boy George took a moment to address the passing of Leonard Cohen, explaining how much of an influence Cohen was on him, and sharing some of the lyrics of Cohen’s “Anthem”: “There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.”

After “The Crying Game,” Boy George explained that “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” was the song that gave the band their big break in America. He said the only thing knew about America at that time was Kojack, The Partridge Family and The Jackson 5.

The three-song encore started with “Karma Chameleon,” and was followed by one of the best Prince tributes I’ve heard or seen all year: a full-blown cover of “Purple Rain.” T. Rex’s “Get It On” closed out the show.

Culture Club is band that was far more innovative than many 1980s contemporaries: The new-wave band took the sound of the ’80s and combined it with reggae, Latin, gospel and even easy listening and touches of Dusty Springfield’s style. Today, the band still sounds fantastic, and Boy George is the same sly, sassy and funny showman he’s always been.

Setlist

Church of the Poison Mind

It’s a Miracle

Tumble

Move Away

Everything I Own

Black Money

Time (Clock of the Heart)

Like I Used To

Different Man

Miss Me Blind

The Crying Game

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me

Victims

The War Song

Encore

Karma Chameleon

Purple Rain

Get It On

Published in Reviews