Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Beyoncé’s Coachella Weekend 1 performance made news around the world.

Well, her Coachella Weekend 2 performance was just as impressive, even if it was pretty much a direct copy of her set last week, complete with the Jay Z appearance, and the Destiny’s Child reunion.

Although Beyoncé started about 15 minutes later than scheduled, it was an incredible spectacle—with the energy of a crowd of more than 100,000 people.

The Internet stream truly didn’t do her performance justice. Being there in person to witness the show—to hear Beyoncé’s voice and feel the energy of that crowd—was amazing. This is what big-time live music is truly about and why people go to shows. Beyoncé held the crowd for close to two hours—and there were people as far as the eye could see until the very end.

Of course, there were some other great performances during the day.

• X Japan had the unenviable task of headlining the Mojave Tent on Saturday night during Beyoncé’s set. However, I was able to take in some Japanese rock in the Sonora Tent in the afternoon, thanks to the all-female Japanese punk band Otoboke Beaver (below). This group was quite a sight. I’ve seen some all-female Japanese bands in the past, and they seem to always be entertaining, with a cranked-up stage presence and performances that always go above and beyond. The mosh pit the group stirred in the Sonora throughout the performance wasn’t for the physically weak.

• Shortly before CHIC was scheduled to perform on the Main Stage in the afternoon, the video wall suddenly turned on—and showed Nile Rodgers walking through the crowd with his guitar on. He was talking with and meeting fans who were already gathered in the area.

• Like Beyoncé, David Byrne—the former frontman of the Talking Heads—turned in a buzz-worthy set during Weekend 1, and recaptured the magic during Weekend 2. The stage setup one would expect—guitars, bass, drums and keyboards—were gone. Instead, Byrne and his backing band played on a bare stage with only a curtain of streamers hanging behind and to the sides of them. Byrne still sounds fantastic, and it seems as if he has many ideas left in that brain of his (or at least the brain he was shown holding up at the beginning of the performance—while seated at a table and singing).

• Haim, an all-female pop trio of sisters from the San Fernando Valley, had to feel a little pressure, given they were playing right before Beyoncé—but they put on one hell of a show. Bassist Este Haim reminded the audience that it was the second anniversary of the death of R&B and rock legend Prince, and then added that it was also the 10th anniversary of Prince’s fantastic performance at Coachella in 2008, which she attended. She said that if it had not been for Prince’s inspiration, she wouldn’t have been playing music today. To conclude the set, all three sisters pounded out a drum/percussion solo before they stood in the middle of the stage, hugged each other and walked off the Main Stage.

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone about Coachella, and specifically this year’s lineup.

“It’s not as fun as it used to be,” he said.

On Friday, as I walked around the Empire Polo Club, I pondered my friend’s assertion. I don’t agree: Coachella is still fun!

There were a lot of changes made to the layout this year. The new Sonora Tent, an air-conditioned space inspired by the Glass House in Pomona that hosts a lot of the smaller rock acts, has been moved to where the Mojave Tent used to be. The Mojave Tent has been moved to where the Sahara Tent used to be, while the Sahara Tent moved to the front lobby area, close to the Ferris wheel.

I spent a couple of hours of wandering aimlessly and taking in the vibrant art installations. One highlight: Spectra, designed by design studio NEWSUBSTANCE (right). I was in awe: At 75 feet tall, the interactive tower features colored windows that spiral along with the design to the top. These different colors make for interesting views when you stop to look out the windows as you go up and down.

Here are some music highlights from Friday.

• Fazerdaze, a band from New Zealand, rocked the Sonora Tent’s early-afternoon crowd. Frontwoman Amelia Murray said it was surreal to go from recording music in her bedroom to playing at Coachella just a year after releasing the band’s first album, Morningside. The garage-rock-meets-dream-pop sound was a hit with the crowd, who gave the band a fantastic round of applause at the end of the 45-minute set.

• Cash Cash, a house-music trio, performed an energetic set in the Sahara Tent in the late afternoon. At one point, they stopped to lead the crowd in a sing-along of Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” Hearing the entire tent sing the chorus was beautiful, and the trio complimented the crowd, saying we were all beautiful singers, before continuing on with the blasting set. 

• SuperDuperKyle, a rap and pop star on the rise, put on a hilarious and entertaining set on the Main Stage in the afternoon. When Kyle went crowd-surfing, one of his onstage collaborators screamed at the crowd to bring him back to the stage: “Get in, loser! We got a Coachella to do!” During Kyle’s final song, he was on a surfboard—being passed around by the audience as he told them in which direction to send him.

• Whatever The War on Drugs’ sound is—’70s? ’80s?—it was perfect for the early evening as the sun set behind mountains. The drummer is a show of his own, looking like he came right out of a time machine from the ’70s. 

• After all the talk about St. Vincent’s Weekend 1 performance, she managed to live up to the hype during her Weekend 2 set: It was everything that’s awesome about pop and rock, with intense 3-D visuals and a psychedelic pop feel. I suspect that Lady Gaga wishes she was St. Vincent, because St. Vincent has edginess and charisma—a woman who isn’t afraid to make people shake their asses and rock out during the same show

• Jean-Michel Jarre (below) might have played to crowds of more than 1 million, but at Coachella, his crowd was sparse during his Outdoor Theater-headlining slot. This is a shame, although it’s understandable: He’s in the midst of his first-ever American tour, and he had to compete with SZA and Soulwax, Jarre did start to win people over at the end, who were most likely wondering what in the hell was going on, as the visuals from the stage included pyramids, distorted video footage of Edward Snowden talking about Internet privacy, lasers and lights shooting around everywhere—all along with the French electronica that is Jarre’s sound. The further you stepped away from his show, the more impressive his visuals looked.

• Whether or not you’re a fan of The Weeknd, it’s indisputable: He was incredible on Friday night. His visuals on the Main Stage were over the top and intense. At times, The Weeknd reminded me of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, as he’d perform—and you’d only see a little bit of him as visuals played over the entire stage.

As people were exiting the festival for the night, many of them felt compelled to stop and watch The Weeknd a bit—it was hard to walk away.

Rap music is arguably the most popular music genre in America—but it’s been slow to take hold in the local music scene.

However, that’s starting to change—and one of the artists leading the way is Al Rossi. He’s quickly picking up followers on Spotify; his music shows clarity and quality—attributes of possible future hits.

During a recent interview, Rossi explained where he’s at in terms of his music.

“I’ve been doing music for the last eight years,” Rossi said. “Now I’ve been taking it more seriously since I’ve been getting a lot of new listeners, and people are starting to know who I am now. It runs in my blood. A lot of my older cousins had their own little projects among their friends, and I picked it up. My grandfather was a blues musician, and I have a bunch of equipment I don’t even know how to use, because he gave it to us. He would do little tours around the South … and he got back into doing church music. Music runs in my family.”

Rossi said most of the local rap music is coming from the East Valley.

“There are not a whole lot of venues, but the ones who really give us support are the Red Barn, who do some hip-hop stuff; The Hood Bar and Pizza, who do some hip-hop stuff; and we have Sol Nightclub in Coachella, and they’re really open to a lot of music, and they have a lot of good people working there,” Rossi said. “Those are our central spots that really support our scene. Not too many places in Palm Springs (support us), but I have gotten a little bit of play in Palm Springs. Copa Nightclub spins my records, and a DJ who goes to Zeldas will spin some of my records.”

Rossi said he doesn’t relate to much of the current chart-topping rap music.

“It’s a little too simple to me right now. The old ’90s music would give you some food for thought—always talking about what’s going on,” he said. “Now it’s just competitive and about nothing. It’s too basic for me. I like a little word play and some substance. Today’s music is nothing but beats. It’s not really lyrical. Now all they want to do is talk down on the legends that started rap. You can’t talk down on who helped build this platform that we’re able to work on. I don’t understand it.

“I’m all about clarity. I want to make sure the vocals sound right. This EP I put out cost me quite a bit, because I paid to be in a good studio and use a good microphone. … The guy I mess with is out of Palm Desert, Tariq Beats, works with rap artists and has even made beats for Chris Brown, and he’s not really being seen yet, but he’s made a lot of impact. He might not have that No. 1 track on the charts, but he’s on a lot of people’s albums, and you’ll find his name in small print in the album credits. Production means a lot to me, along with clarity. It what makes music better. I critique myself a lot, too. Every song I do, I want it to sound like a single. I’m trying to fight for that one song to go mainstream. I’m paying for my quality to be sharp.”

I asked Rossi if he feels that the artistic sides of songwriting are sometimes sacrificed for success or plays.

“The club scene is popping right now. I make things club-friendly. It’s catering to that party life, and that’s what’s in right now,” he said. “If you can get mainstream in the club, you’re solid in a lot of spots. I talk a little bit about my life and stuff that’s relative. I want people to play my music, and that’s where my focus is now. Everybody is chasing a catchy hook, chorus and a bouncing beat, and that’s all it comes down to—but if you hear rap music on the radio, you’re probably changing the station, because they aren’t saying anything. I have a couple of records like that, because that’s who you have to cater to. … I believe history repeats itself, and I believe it’s going to loop itself back around to where it’s more emotional, with more feeling in the music. Tupac (Shakur) could rap about the whole economy and things going on, and it was going to be an anthem in the club. But do people really want to know what’s going on? I already know what’s going on. I want to be peaceful, sit at home and not think about what’s going on—because the world is crazy right now. Pop-ups on your Facebook and all your feeds—it’s always something negative.”

Al Rossi said he’s found some comradery in the local scene.

“Thr3 Strykes are my boys. We work with the same producer, Tariq Beats,” Rossi said. “You can hear similarities working with the same person. I went to school with them, too. I’ve known them for a long time. I like J. Patron and have done a couple of tours with him before. Tiptoe Stallone out of Indio is one of my go-to people. When I’ve had questions about music, he shoots me in the right direction.”

For more information, visit

The members of GayC/DC are all characters—but bassist Glen Pavan is a show of his own. Not only is he the bassist for the fabulous all-gay AC/DC themed rock band; he’s also the master of confetti and shenanigans. GayC/DC will be returning to The Hood Bar and Pizza for an encore CV Independent Presents show on Saturday, May 5. For more information on the band, visit Glen was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Stray Cats at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, N.J., perhaps on their first tour, in 1982. I was still in elementary school at the time. My older sister snuck me into the venue by having me walk in behind her, hiding underneath her long winter coat. My mom was pissed when she found out, but I’m still grateful all these years later! The energy level of the band and crowd was a huge thrill (on top of the excitement of being snuck in), and I loved when they played the theme song to the Munsters.

What was the first album you owned?

It’s hard to pinpoint, as my oldest siblings and cousin were all teenagers when I was born, and I would get their hand-me-down records and 8-tracks. By the time I started kindergarten, I had my own collection of Beatles, Cheap Trick, The Cars, Devo, Meatloaf, The Knack, The Police, ELO, Blondie and KISS albums. They’re all still my favorites. I also had a bunch of rock ’n’ roll movie soundtracks as a kid. Anytime I came across movies like Xanadu, Rock ’n’ Roll High School, Tommy, Get Crazy or Sgt. Pepper on TV, I was immediately captivated and in love with the songs.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m turning lots of people onto the Italian band Giuda (pronounced “Judah”). They look like a pub band but play the most authentic glitter rock you’ve heard in 40 years. My singer, Chris, just got me into Muse and Bow Wow Wow, and my drummer, Brian, is getting me deeper into Motorhead. I’ve also been on a huge Johnny Thunders kick since the L.A.M.F. (anniversary) show in December, and a Tubes kick since their show in January.

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

I love the look, the talent, and the camp of the wave (like what I did there?) of “yacht rock” cover bands playing around now, but those songs were boring and neutered then, and remain boring and neutered now—“rock” music for people who don’t rock.

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

I wish I could have seen The Who in 1970, around their performances at the Isle of Wight Festival, or the Live at Leeds/Hull shows. They were finishing up the Tommy cycle and starting to introduce the Lifehouse tunes to the set, and were just the most muscular rock band imaginable. All four members of the band were just on fire, and it’s just complete aural overload. I love when current bands today push themselves to the limits of intensity, creativity and proficiency as The Who did then.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Hard-rock/heavy-metal Christmas music. It’s just so silly and happy and totally rocks. I start listening to it way early each year, like in September. Cheap Trick’s Christmas album from last year was such a wet dream come true for me. I played that album more than 100 times between Halloween and Christmas. My poor partner must have had to endure sitting through it indirectly at least 50 of those times, too. That’s true love right there. I’m very blessed.

What’s your favorite music venue?

When performing: Any outdoor stage. We are the best-looking band in the daylight! I get to see the crowd enjoy themselves more, which keeps me invigorated. For attending shows: I enjoy places with no security barricades. I always try to get right up front and center and be able to closely watch every musician play their instrument. And I love taking home unique souvenirs like guitar picks or setlists and getting killer front-row pictures and videos.

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

I keep coming back to “Be All, End All” by Anthrax. It encourages me to stay motivated while still being realistic, and to never feel sorry for myself; and it reminds me that while I can’t control everything that happens in my life, I can control my reactions. Very Carl Jung. “Nothing’s ever easy when you do it yourself, All you can do is try, life’s not unfair, life’s just life, death not suicide, be all, and you’ll be the end all, life can be a real ball, state of mind, euphoria.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

As I’d expect most kids from the ’70s to answer, it’d be KISS. They took the presentation and mystery of rock music to the freakin’ stratosphere! Experiencing their media onslaught during their original run was just mind-blowing for us kids. It wasn’t just a group of guys playing their music for everyone to enjoy; it was an overload of everything in excess. Costumes! Makeup! Merch! Toys! Comic books! Pyro! And every nine months, they put out another excellent album of songs about fornication, fornication and fornication. It was the coolest and most exciting thing to happen to kids, and it was pure magic. When you find mutual KISS buddies as an adult, you’re instantly best friends. KISS Army is for life.

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

The answer is none of my business, so it’s more of a rhetorical question, but I’d like to ask just what kept the original Runaways from reuniting before drummer Sandy West passed away. Have you seen the documentary Edgeplay? It’s just a heartbreaking story, and I so wish it would have had a happy ending. Seeing them together again is another rock ’n’ roll hope of mine that will never come true.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

My funeral won’t be sorrowful about me being gone; it’ll be about celebrating my friendships and my efforts to live life as largely (ha ha, fat joke) as I could with the time I had. Hence, you all get to hear the “1812 Overture” live, with cannons. And confetti. And fabulous gift bags.

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

I’ll go with Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf. It blows my mind as much now as it did when it came out; it’s so theatrical and over the top and just completely timeless. The production, band performance and backing vocals are breathtaking. The degree to which Meat Loaf pushes the vocals is nothing less than epic, and Jim Steinman’s melodies, lyrics and themes are heavenly. The final song, “For Crying Out Loud,” is my favorite, guaranteed to give me goosebumps for nine minutes straight every single time I hear it. How magnificent is the power of music!

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Dick Around” by Sparks. They’re the band I try to turn friends onto the most, especially with this song. The rapid fire delivery of lyrics, the funny subject matter, the crazy amount of symphonic music for a pop song, the crazy amount of headbanging metal for a pop song—it’s so grandiose. Have a listen, and if you’re intrigued, grab their new album Hippopotamus from last year; it’s their 24th album! (Scroll down to hear it!)

Local band Brightener had been on a bit of a hiatus, but the band has started to resurface recently, including the CV Independent Presents show at The Hood Bar and Pizza with Haunted Summer on April 12. Behind the drums of Brightener is Elias Texel, who recently got engaged to his girlfriend, Ashley. For more information on Brightener, visit Elias was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Whoa, it was actually an MxPx concert! Ha ha! I was in fourth-grade and went with my best bud and his older brother. We were amazed.

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I remember buying was Sum 41’s All Killer No Filler. Really got my 11-year-old angst going.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve been listening to A LOT of Future Islands. Also: Dr. Dog, MewithoutYou, Joyce Manor, Flying Lotus, and Phoenix.

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

People won’t like me for this, but Lana Del Rey.

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

I haven’t seen Death Cab for Cutie yet, but they are on my musical bucket list.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

“The Sound” by The 1975. I never listen to it around people I know. Ugh, I can’t escape it!

What’s your favorite music venue?

I haven’t been to that many, but I really love the Troubadour in Los Angeles.

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

“I farted in a can and stirred it with my finger singin’ oh da da da da da da oh dada dada, threw it out the window,” “Heart It Races,” Dr. Dog.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Snarky Puppy. A whole new world of possibilities with music opened for me when I started listening to them.

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

Brian Blade: “Will you give me some of your powers?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Life Is a Highway,” Tom Cochrane.

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

Menos el Oso, Minus the Bear.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Go listen to “Compromised” by Tim Atlas. I’ve had it on repeat for the last couple of weeks. (Scroll down to hear it!)

If you’ve never heard of Lewis Brice, stop what you’re doing, and check out this new country-music artist.

Brice—he’s Lee Brice’s brother—not long ago left South Carolina for Nashville, and he’s determined to make a name for himself in country music. He will be at Stagecoach on the new SiriusXM Spotlight Stage on Sunday, April 29.

During a recent phone interview, we discussed his music video for “Best Ex Ever,” which may be a first in country music: It’s a song actually praising an ex-girlfriend.

“When I was writing that song, I thought, ‘I have a few exes, and they don’t hate me,’” Brice said. “I told this one story that’s half true where I got into a sticky situation and had one phone call on a pay phone to use, and I remembered my ex-girlfriend from a couple of years before—and she picked up a collect phone call from Lewis Brice. That got me out of my sticky situation, so I wrote a song about it.

“The video was so fun to make. It was my first video where I got to be the actor. We shot it right in Nashville, where a lot of our friends ride by. I was all done up in makeup like I was beat up, so a lot of my friends were stopping in the middle of the shoot, asking me, ‘You OK, man?’ and I was like, ‘Can’t you see I’m shooting a video? Don’t you see all the cameras?’ It was a fun day. I did all my own stunts and had the bottle broken over my head and all that.”

Growing up in a musical family in South Carolina, Brice sang religious music during his upbringing.

“I have my own beliefs, and I think everybody has their own beliefs and whatnot, but when it comes to music, I think it’s a very broad form of having fun,” he said. “Whether it’s singing for religion or singing about the good times and the bad times you’ve been through, I think music is an all-around universal language. Just sing, and have fun.”

While country star Lee Brice—performing at Stagecoach on Sunday, April 29, on the Mane Stage—is his older brother, Lewis Brice is determined to make music his own way.

“When I moved to town, I had my whole life in the back of my truck,” he said. “I was a young kid, and my brother had been up here for a couple of years and had some success. When I pulled up, they were having a little party for me, and before I could get out of the truck, he came up and said, ‘Lewis, I love you, and you made a great decision by moving here, but you have to make your own way up here. I’ll help you in any way I can, but you have to take initiative and do it yourself.’ I thanked him for that. There are a lot of politics here, and people told me being the little brother would haunt me a little bit, but I think it drove me more. My brother is very hard-working, and I learned a lot from him, but he does things his own way, and I have my own way. I’m persistent, and I’ve been lucky with the relationships I’ve had in the business. Between networking and lucky passes, this music business can work out—it really can.”

Brice released his self-titled debut EP last year with six songs, and he said he’s preparing another one that should be out soon.

“I’ve got so many songs. When I play an original set, I can play up to two hours of my own music,” he said. “I really pride myself on that. I played a lot of cover songs, but I got to the point when I got here that I wondered how far I could get if I just sang other people’s songs. It’s worked out well, and I think I’m making that turn and learning a lot from it.”

Country music is one of the genres that continues to do well in the United States; Brice sees that as an opportunity.

“Country music is already a huge platform, and I see it going to an even bigger platform,” he said. “Right now, country music is very accepting to different types of music like pop, deep-rooted country and Southern rock, and I see it getting bigger, because the audiences are accepting country music. I turned on a pop station the other day and heard four country music songs from artists I normally hear on just country stations. That’s a great thing for a country artists when they cross over. I think it’ll just get bigger and bigger, with a broader audience.”

Brice was a late addition to Stagecoach.

“I’m so excited, and I love playing in California. The crowds out there are really awesome,” he said. “When I got the email a couple of weeks ago, I was like, ‘Stagecoach? Wow, that’s a pretty big deal!’ I’ve heard it’s a crazy festival, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Stagecoach has always offered attendees a lot of variety in terms of country-music subgenres—but this year, the lineup seeks to skimp on alt-country, Americana and old-timers (like Willie Nelson).

Still, there is a lot to see. Here are my Stagecoach recommendations.

Friday, April 27

Jade Bird: It’s shocking, yes, but this young woman who excels at Americana … is British. Regardless, she has one hell of a voice. Her music would perhaps better fit a Coachella crowd, but she’s likely going to be awesome at Stagecoach. Her main showcase is her vocals. I highly recommend her single “Lottery” and her song “Something American.”

Joshua Hedley: It’s no surprise Joshua Hedley was named one of the “10 New Country Artists You Should Know” by Rolling Stone in 2016. He’s a throwback to the era of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. He’s a purist, thank you very much, and does not wish to change anything about his vintage sound. Jack White’s Third Man Records will be releasing his debut album, Mr. Jukebox, on April 20, which will make this show pretty sweet.

Molly Hatchet: For country fans who have a bit of a rock edge, Molly Hatchet can’t be missed. The band is certainly one the edgier Southern-rock bands with an extensive history, but it is down to only one original member, bassist Tim Lindsey. If you’ve ever longed to hear “Flirtin’ With Disaster” or “Gator Country” live, here’s your chance.

Saturday, April 28

Tyler Childers: Country music has long had a dark side, and Tyler Childers is continuing that tradition by telling the stories of hardships and day-to-day challenges in his native Kentucky. Fun fact: Sturgill Simpson produced his album Purgatory. Considering storytelling via songs that were darker in nature made the careers of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and many others, Childers should be a hit at Stagecoach.

Ronnie Milsap: Here’s one of the relatively few old-timers! Ronnie Milsap had one hell of a ride in country music in the ’70s and ’80s, when he took Nashville by storm. His sound was a hit with both pop-music and country audiences. The music from his heyday was absolutely unique for its time, and there is not anyone like him. The good news is he’s still going strong. His set will definitely be a highlight of the weekend.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: One of the most-recognized songwriters in the alt-country music scene, Jason Isbell found new life after leaving the Drive-By Truckers in 2007. He found sobriety in 2012 after an intervention that included his management, his wife and singer-songwriter Ryan Adams—and he’s made three fantastic records since. Isbell has played Stagecoach before, and he’s always been welcomed by a large audience.

Sunday, April 29

Colter Wall: He’s from Canada … but there’s a lot of great country music coming from Canada these days. Colter Wall (below) has a rough-and-tumble voice, but his songwriting is top-notch. He has a lot of high-profile fans, from professional wrestler Brock Lesnar, to Shooter Jennings, to Lucinda Williams.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real: I must have caught Lukas Nelson on a bad day last year when I interviewed him before his show at Pappy and Harriet’s. Regardless, he’s one of the best young artists in country music. Yeah, he’s Willie Nelson’s son, but he and his band have accomplished a lot on their own—including backing Neil Young, and doing so marvelously. He’s sure to have a big crowd waiting for him.

Gordon Lightfoot: One of Bob Dylan’s most-comparable contemporaries is Gordon Lightfoot—a true folk-pop icon. Bob Dylan has even covered some Gordon Lightfoot songs, so that says something. Lightfoot has put out more than 200 recordings, and he’s a legend in the business. If you go to Stagecoach and don’t take in Gordon Lightfoot … what was the point of going in the first place?

If you saw Jack White perform at Coachella in 2015, you couldn’t miss his violinist, Lillie Mae.

Well, Lillie Mae is an accomplished musician in her own right; she has released two country albums on Jack White’s Third Man Records, her most recent being last year’s Forever and Then Some.

She’ll be performing at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival on Sunday, April 29.

During a recent phone interview, Lillie Mae—her full name is Lillie Mae Rische—talked about her humble beginnings growing up, including busking around the country with her family, traveling in an old RV.

“You can’t set the bar too high,” Rische said with a laugh. “I’ve had a very unique life, growing up and traveling in a motorhome. We were playing music in new places every day. I’ve been steadily gigging forever. … I’ve done the same thing in different forms. I’ve had a lucky layout. Our family band—it was my father’s dream, and it was the family’s income. It was no picnic, and it was rough. But as time has gone on, I’ve become truly grateful for it, and I love that way of life so much. I still prefer to sleep in the car—and I sleep better in the car. When you grow up traveling in a motorhome, you’re willing to accept such things later on.”

Rische learned how to write songs at an early age by performing—but it wasn’t until her teenage years that she truly discovered she was a songwriter.

“I knew that it was always in me, because I remember coming up with melodies when I was like 4, 5 and 6,” she said. “I didn’t know then it was writing and that I would later do something with that. … I didn’t start finishing songs until I was about 14. It didn’t click until then.”

When Jack White came to Nashville to open Third Man Records’ physical location in 2009, Rische didn’t even know who he was.

“It took me a long time to find out who he was. I was out of the loop like I still am now, and even when I was playing music with him,” she said. “I hadn’t been turned on to his music yet at the time.

“My sister worked at a hot dog restaurant called Hot Dog Diggity Dogs, and I was over there all the time; I also worked there for a very short time. Jack White had bought a building on the street over from there. It was in a rough part of town, and so was the hot dog stand. It was a big deal when he came to town, because it was going to clean up the neighborhood. That’s how I first knew who he was—by buying that building.

“They called me in when they were recording, and I did a bunch of session work over there, and when it came time for him to go on tour, he asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. My family band had broken up not long before that, and so I went out with them, and I’m so glad that I did. I had the time of my life. It was a very special gig.”

Working with Jack White has also given Lillie Mae a sense of artistic freedom, she said.

“I love working with him so much. I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” she said. “People have a tendency to walk into a studio and be like, ‘I’m going to do this, this and this,’ but then you realize you don’t work so well with people. For instance, with my personality, if you tell me to do something and be like, ‘Hey, can you play this?’—I can’t do it. I’ll say that ahead of time: If you ask me for a specific thing, I can’t do it. I do what I do, and it’s a comfort thing. Jack has created this atmosphere where he lets you be yourself. It’s so important. There’s a room full of instruments, and you have the freedom to play them.”

Lillie Mae’s songs are emotional and hard-hitting; there’s no way to describe with words how well the vintage bluegrass and gospel sound comes through her lyrics. She talked about her songwriting process.

“I don’t see what the point is in hiding something or sugarcoating it,” he said. “We’re sugarcoating all over the place, and it’s everywhere. When I write music—I’m blessed to have grown up in a creative atmosphere, and the way that my brain works, I’m grateful for it. It’s an emotional thing. I saw a friend of mine where a situation happened with a relationship. They aren’t together anymore. I just saw this girl heartbroken; it hit me like a freight train. Within two minutes, I’m writing something about this. I had to leave and write this thing down. All these words came pouring out. It’s our obligation as writers to bare all.”

After being onstage most of her life, Lillie Mae said it’s one of the few places she feels totally comfortable.

“I’m playing constantly. I can’t not play,” she said. “If there’s a gig happening, I’m there. Am I going to sit at home? No! The people I play with are very influential to me, and I always look forward to it—every song, every day, I look forward to it. I’m constantly influenced by people who are around me, and that’s why I’m here.”

Frank Eats the Floor stands out in two ways.

First: It is one of the strangest band names in our local music scene. Second: The astonishingly young members show as much passion for music as anyone else in our local music scene.

We aren’t kidding when we say “young”: Bassist and lead vocalist Matt King and guitarist Aleks Romo are both in high school, while guitarist Joseph Beltran and drummer Frank Altamirano are in their first year of college.

So, what’s up with the name? During a recent interview, Altamirano explained it.

“Joe (Beltran) and I used to be in a band called The Power Strangers. It was literally just us two, and we sort of became this passion project that would invite other people to come on board,” Altamirano explained. “In our junior year of high school, we found some members who were willing to commit. We needed a name, and we learned that The Power Strangers was already taken, so we went through this really long and elaborate band-name generator that we found online. It asked a question about who was the leader, and I didn’t want to take full responsibility for this, but I finally bit the bullet and said I was the leader. One of the options it gave us was Frank Eats the Floor.”

How has the name worked for them?

“I think it’s stood out enough to where people remember us and go, ‘Oh, Frank Eats the Floor.’ I think it really stands out and matches our musical personality,” said King.

It has not been easy to be a band full of members who are not yet 21.

“The venues are the hardest part, but I feel like we’ve been doing a good job,” King said. “It’s hard to say, ‘Hey, we’d love to play this show!’ and they come back and ask, ‘Cool! What’s your age?’ It’s like, ‘Really man?’ It’s kind of degrading in a way. Just hear our music. It doesn’t matter what age we are.”

Altamirano said their ages have made it hard for the band to command respect. 

“One of the problems we had when it was just me and Joe was being taken seriously,” said Altamirano. “While we are kids, we’re also really passionate about what we do, and we take this seriously.”

One of the band’s standout songs is “School Food Sucks.” Beltran explained where the song came from.

“Every time we play that song, it’s a lot of fun,” Beltran said. “I look at everyone’s faces, and Franky is smiling; Matt is smiling; and Aleks is smiling. It’s a fun song. There’s a lot of anger behind it, too. The way it was composed was Matt was having the worst day of his life; Frank was having relationship problems; and I was just kinda there the whole time and was like, ‘All right, guys! Let’s make music.’ Matt actually wrote most of it.”

King laughed when he remembered that jam session.

“I gave Aleks my bass and told him to play, because ‘I’m going to go angry for a second.’ But we’ve toned it down and made it into a really fun song,” King said.

Frank Eats the Floor recently released a four-song EP.

“Jerry Whiting at Room 9 Recording in Redlands did it, and his studio is in his house,” King said. “We spent eight hours up there one day last summer. We know him through the guys in Sleazy Cortez. None of us slept the night before, so we were a little groggy. We recorded five songs, and it was a fun time. We’re thinking about recording the other songs this summer.”

The members admit they’re still trying to figure out how to build their sound.

“Here’s how that works: We play at gigs and we notice how different we play. We go to practice and notice how different we play than when we’re in the studio,” Beltran said. “We took note that when we play live, we play at a faster tempo. Me and Aleks were listening to the guitar, and they’re not synched up, and there’s one slightly off beat. We have to touch it up and add a few things. We realized we polished some of the songs and that we’re more consistent in how we play some of the songs than others.”

Still, the members said they’re proud of how far they’ve come.

“The first time we invited Matt to jam with us, he played one note for the entire song,” Altamirano said. “He had just gotten his bass and had only been playing for a few months. He played open E for every song. I go back and watch that video, because it’s on my personal YouTube channel, and I think, ‘We have made it so far!’ The chemistry is there and I love it. When I fill in for other bands or jam with other people, it doesn’t feel the same or as good as jamming with these guys.”

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When you hear the word “Banditos,” perhaps you think of the Frito Bandito. Or maybe you think of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club.

However, you really should be thinking of an awesome rock ’n’ roll band—because that’s exactly what the Birmingham, Ala., six-piece is. See for yourself when Banditos play at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival on Friday, April 27.

I was blown away by how many different things I heard in the sound when I listened to Banditos’ self-titled record from 2015. You hear the Rolling Stones in slower songs, ’60s rock with a kick in the ass on others—and all the songs have an Americana/outlaw country vibe, including banjos. The band’s newest release, last year’s Visionland, sounds as if the members were channeling Ty Segall and the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

During a recent phone interview, vocalist and banjo player Stephen Pierce said the band’s varying styles provide a lot of great songwriting opportunities—and fun recording sessions.

“I think it makes it easier at the end of the day, especially with having different influences,” Pierce said. “We all kind of have the same influences, too, which makes it all over the place. One of us will say, ‘I want to do a boogie kind of thing,’ or, ‘I want to do a Bobby Darin smoother kind of jam.’ We all kind of get the same language that we’re speaking when we don’t really have the right words to say to each other, and we just come up with abstracts--and we know what we’re talking about. I think we’d sound even crazier if we were just one style of music, and only played country or something like that. We’d go insane, and the well would run dry real quick.”

Banditos quickly became known for the band’s marathon of tour dates—600 over three years—before putting out the 2015 self-titled debut.

“It was grueling, but totally fun,” Pierce said. “It was a time when we were rarely home, and we had places we kept our stuff at, but not anything really set up; we didn’t own animals or plants or anything like that. That was just out of the picture. It was a lot of time in the van, a lot of meeting a lot of people—and it was a lot of highway, for sure. It was a lot of hitting places for the first time and being a big question mark, and being surprised, because we had a big team behind us pushing these shows as well. It was great to see the returns we would get. We played the Southeast a ton, and we had gone up through New York and out toward Austin, Texas; those places were really good to us. Colorado and California have been great as well. One of our stronger markets is probably Oakland.”

The band has also had the pleasure of touring Europe.

“It was overwhelming. It was so cool, and people really appreciate this music over there,” Pierce said “We’ve really only been in Scandinavia, but this next European tour we’re going on (this fall) is more spread out through Europe. But as far as Scandinavia goes, they are the most respectful crowds, and everyone is pretty quiet—still rowdy, but quiet when you’re playing. We didn’t feel like we were animals in the zoo; we felt like they were really appreciating this stuff and taking it in. I think they have good taste, for sure. I’m sure we’re interesting to them, being a bunch of Alabama folks getting out there and freaking them out.”

An endorsement from Taco Bell’s “Feed the Beat” campaign helped get the band food while they toured—and also gave the band a little promotion. John and Bridgette Seasons of Haunted Summer also took part in the campaign, and told me that Taco Bell did not make for good band food. Pierce laughed when I told him this.

“I would certainly agree! But we just can’t get away from it,” he said. “You always feel like the dog that got in the trash afterwards and think, ‘Oh, God, why did I do this?’ But it was so good at the time.”

Like many musicians, past and present, the members of Banditos moved to Nashville.

“It was not that hard of a decision. It just was a kind of thing that happened,” Pierce said. “We had been living for a year in Birmingham; we’ve known each other since we were kids, and we were all living in one house. Things got a little too easy in Birmingham. We were comfortable in our home, comfortable in the bars, and we knew everyone in our town. We wanted to have things to do and make it a bit more difficult, to light a fire under our asses. Nashville was the most obvious choice. … It’s been a fantastic move for us.”

Pierce said there is one type of venue where he and his bandmates don’t like to play.

“There have been a few shows in our earlier years when we would play those sit-down dinner kind of places—where you play for three hours, and you’re the band,” he said. “Those felt more difficult to get rolling, because they’re sitting down eating, and you could be anyone up onstage, and they just want noise going on. We haven’t had much of those in the past couple of years, though.”

While Banditos have a “T” in their name, and the Bandidos Motorcycle Club a “D,” the band members are asked quite a bit about the motorcycle club’s feelings about the name.

“We’ve come across a few of (the Bandidos) at shows in El Paso and Laredo, and some in California, too,” Pierce said. “We, for sure, try our damnedest not to act like we’re affiliated with them, because that’s never our intention. But they’ve had a pretty positive response to us and have bought a sticker and a shirt. One guy put one on his bike and was like, ‘THIS IS PRETTY COOL!’ They’ve been pleasant, and we hope to keep our relationship with them that way. We’re definitely not out to step on their toes.”

This will be the first time Banditos are playing at Stagecoach.

“It’s going to be wild,” Pierce said. “We’re really looking forward to it, because we’re huge ’90s country fans, and fans of country music in general. A lot of names on there we’re excited about, for sure. It’d make my world to meet Garth Brooks.”