CVIndependent

Mon12102018

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Powered Wig Machine is an unsigned band from a small Arizona town—but they’re starting to make a big name for themselves, thanks to high-quality music and bar-raising creativity.

See for yourself when they stop by The Hood Bar and Pizza for a show that starts at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15.

Powered Wig Machine—the name was inspired by a track on Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions Volume 9—was founded around 2007 in Sierra Vista, Ariz., a town that’s a 75-minute drive from Tucson. The band consists of Wayne Rudell (vocals/guitar), Brian Gold (guitar), Joey Rudell (bass) and Daniel Graves (drums).

The band’s roots are in “stoner rock,” a term applied to a lot of West Coast bands in the early ’90s—including many of our local desert-rock bands.

“A lot of it goes back to music that came out of the ’70s,” Rudell explained, “(with) the fuzzy guitar and the thicker sludge sound, and bands like Foghat and Led Zeppelin. It is such a broad term. If you play vintage style rock ’n’ roll, it can be considered stoner rock.”

Rudell explained some of the technique behind the sound. “Standard guitar-tuning is E-A-D-G-B-E; a lot of times, you can get a deeper and lower sound by dropping the tuning. Queens of the Stone Age drop it down to a C-tuning, which gives them that deep sound. A lot of it is old tube amps, and tube amps in conjunction with fuzz pedals.”

While the band has a heavy sound, they meld that sound with some rather unique songwriting. Their EP Bearded Goddess featured songs such as “Mullet Man,” “Recipe for Badass” and “Death by Suplex.”

Rudell explained that comic books have inspired many of the songs that he’s written—and that inspiration comes to the forefront on Supa-Collider, the band's brand-new independent album.

“This album is sort of a concept based around a comic-book idea that we came up with a while back,” Rudell said. “It never got to paper, and it never got anywhere besides the creative shelf. All the song titles relate to the story, and all the songs are tied together. It’s less satire and more of a story.”

Rudell said he’s had a lifelong love of comic books.

“I’ve always been a fan of a lot of the stuff Marvel puts out,” he said. “I like The Hulk. There was a series called The Infinity Gauntlet that I’ve always been a big fan of; Preacher; and stuff like Watchmen—all that stuff with the huge story lines. I’ve always been a fan of how intricate comics are.”

The band released a music video for their song “At the Helm of Hades,” a track that will be on Supa-Collider.

“It was real fun,” Rudell said. “I wrote most of the story for that video, and we had a friend of mine who was a film student come in and put in all the effects. We actually spent about four months on it, and we recorded it like it was a comic-book story. There are multiple car chases, old vintage bikes and cowboys. I’m real proud of that, and that we put it out in this last year.” (Scroll down to watch the video.)

While the band’s creative juices are definitely at an all-time high after recording Supa-Collider and the music video for “At the Helm of Hades,” Rudell said the band plans to take things to a whole other level.

“We hadn’t really been searching for a record label,” Rudell said. “With the new album coming out and with the tour, we’ll probably be actively seeking one. Personally, I didn’t think we were ready yet, and we were doing a pretty good job ourselves. Now we’re ready to get that extra push.”

Powered Wig Machine will play with Fever Dog and The Hellions at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit www.facebook.com/Poweredwigmachine.

While many great local bands have come and gone, The Hellions are still going strong after 16 years.

Fans will get several chances to see them in March. They’ll be opening for Powered Wig Machine at The Hood at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, and they’ll be headlining the benefit show I am putting on for The NestEggg Food Bank, at Bar in Palm Springs, starting at 7 p.m., Friday, March 28.

When The Hellions came together 16 years ago, they didn’t anticipate becoming an ongoing, serious band. Angel Lua (aka Angel Shakedown, lead vocals and rhythm guitar) and Bob Llamas (aka Bob Smack, drums) remembered how the band began to come together.

“I think the way we met was Angel was one of the only people in the desert who had a leather jacket,” Llamas said. “(Former member Christian Reyes) and I had leather jackets, and we met Angel because he had a leather jacket. He was into the same bands that we were—The Cramps, Social Distortion and other old punk bands and rockabilly music. He stood out, because wearing a leather jacket out here in the summer isn’t too common.”

Lua said fate led him to meet Llamas and Reyes.

“The cool thing about it was we met, and we never asked each other, ‘Hey, you want to play music?’ or anything like that,” Lua said. “We knew on instinct that we were musicians, and we were going to play music. We had common interests in movies and music, and it was weird.”

The Hellions first played at house parties—and anywhere else they could.

“There wasn’t anything out here,” said Llamas. “There was no place to get music or find cool shit. We both somehow found ways to get all the cool shit, and we had a lot in common that way. Back then, there was Record Alley, but even back in those days, we’d have to go in and ask them to order us stuff. That was also back when there wasn’t a lot of shopping to be done over the Internet.”

Lua said he remembers those days well.

“You had to have money,” Lua said. “We had to drive two hours to go to the record store in places like San Bernardino or Ontario, and make a whole day out of it. You’d come home with hours and hours of music.”

Llamas and Reyes were already playing music. They invited Lua to come over one day; they began to write songs as a band. Because some of the members were younger than 21 at the time, they couldn’t play in a lot of places. One of the few was the former Rhythm and Brews in Indio, owned by Mario Lalli of local-band Fatso Jetson.

Eventually, the band added Jamie Hargate (aka Colonel Lingus, guitar). They soon discovered their band name was not all that unique.

“Later on, thanks to computers, we started finding other bands who were called The Hellions,” Lua said.

Hargate chuckled when he brought up one band that e-mailed them.

“We were threatened with a lawsuit once, but that was 10 years ago,” said Hargate. “(It was) some metal band, and they went away; they didn’t try too hard.”

“Generator parties”—often thrown in the desert, with the help of generators—helped launch Kyuss and some of the other desert-rock-scene bands.

“I did a shitload of those,” Hargate said. “I was inspired as a kid going to these parties with older friends. We would drive to these parties in the middle of the desert, and I was blown away every night by these rad bands like Kyuss and Unsound. I caught the last wave of their parties, so I tried to do what I could in high school to bring that back. My stepdad had a generator; I would take it, put it in the back of my little Honda Civic, and drive to the middle of the desert. … Today, you can’t do that—you’ll get arrested.”

While The Hellions are known for energetic shows, they’re also known for their trademark denim jackets. The jackets pay homage to the Norwegian band Turbonegro. “Turbojugend,” which is printed on the back of their jackets, references the Turbonegro’s “Navy” of fans. Turbojugend chapters have popped up all around the world, and The Hellions make up the Palm Desert chapter.

“We came across Turbonegro in late 2003,” Lua said. “I used to read this magazine called Gearhead, and they had a lot of punk and rock ’n’ roll shit in it. There was this chick in there who used to do all these reviews of records, and she talked about Turbonegro, who were broken up at the time. I said, ‘Fuck it; I’ll buy a CD or whatever I could find.’ I bought their Apocalypse Dudes album at Virgin Records in Ontario. On the way home, I put it on, and I was blown away by it.”

That album led The Hellions out of a hiatus.

“There was a point where the original drummer went to school, and Christian moved to Texas, and we almost stopped playing,” Llamas said. “When Angel came over and played us that CD, we started jamming again. That’s where we got Travis, and really got something going. That album really inspired us to keep playing.”

When the band first added Travis Rockwell (Travis Rawkhard) on bass, he had never played the instrument.

“I couldn’t even play standing up,” Rockwell said. “I had to sit for the first seven months, because standing up and trying to play was just too hard—and I’m still learning. … It took a couple of months before I was comfortable playing during practice. I’d fuck up a lot, but I just learned and kept going with it.”

One fabled bit of the band’s history came when they played at a Video Depot Christmas party—with Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes on the drums.

“Somewhere, someone has a video of that, but I’ve yet to see it,” Hargate said. (In fact, if anyone has footage of that show, the band would like to hear from you.)

Since Rockwell joined The Hellions around 2004, the band has been playing on an ongoing basis. They’ve played shows out of town, and have opened for some of the national acts that have passed through town—most recently The Angry Samoans.

The band also recorded six songs at the Rancho de la Luna recording studio up in the high-desert; it’s the studio responsible for some of the recordings of Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, and the Arctic Monkeys. The sessions led to a three-song demo.

“The only time we’ve really recorded and finished something was at Rancho de la Luna,” Llamas said. “We all took the weekend off and did that for a few days. It was awesome. You go up to that place, and you don’t feel like you’re in a recording studio; you feel like you’re in someone’s home.”

Right now, their only release is a self-made EP on a CD-R, which the band selectively distributes.

“That’s the Best of The Hellions at this point,” said Hargate. “That has about four songs from the Joe Dillon era, when Joe Dillon played guitar. … There are three songs … we did at Rancho de la Luna, and then a live song. We made it just to show everyone how we’ve progressed over the years and what’s available.”

They’re looking toward the summer, when they hope to write more songs and finally make it into the studio to record a proper album.

“We’re writing, rehearsing and figuring things out for a new release,” said Hargate. “We finally have some coin in The Hellions fund, and we look forward to getting back into the studio for the first time in five years. It’s time to get back in the studio and give our fans a proper release.”

The Hellions will play with Powered Wig Machine and Fever Dog at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or track down the event page on Facebook. They’ll also perform at The NestEggg Food Bank Benefit Show, at 7 p.m., Friday, March 28, at Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; $5 suggested donation.

The spot that once was home to downtown Palm Springs’ Desert Fashion Plaza—and before that, the legendary Desert Inn—is under construction. It’s slated to eventually become home to a shopping center and a Kimpton Hotel, under the direction of developer John Wessman.

One man has been leading the charge against the project as it is planned: Frank Tysen, the owner of the Casa Cody Bed and Breakfast Inn.

Because of his opposition to what many consider “progress,” some city officials—most notably Mayor Steve Pougnet—have harshly criticized and even demonized Tysen, who has been a fixture in various Palm Springs development battles now for more than two decades.

On Jan. 16, during his State of the City speech, Pougnet issued his most vicious public attack on Tysen to date. He referenced a series of letters that Mike Depatie, the CEO of Kimpton Hotels, was supposedly sent by Tysen and Tysen’s colleagues. Pougnet characterized the letters as “vile.”

“You know what that reminds me of? ‘We don’t want people here,’” Pougnet. “It’s something we got over in Palm Springs. We’re over it: ‘We don’t want Jews; we don’t want gays; we don’t want blacks; we don’t want Agua Calientes.’ We’ve moved past that kind of rhetoric that Frank Tysen continues to spew.”

Given all the controversy surrounding the proposed Hotel Palomar, the Independent decided to take a closer look at Tysen, his motivations and his future plans.

In a recent series of interviews with the Independent, Tysen denied sending any letters to Depatie that were in any way hateful or vile. (More on that later.) We found Tysen to be far from hateful; in fact, he comes off as polite and even charming. He’s also brilliant: In 1966, he was a Guggenheim Fellow due to his work in architecture, planning and design.

While Tysen is passionate, knowledgeable, resourceful and opinionated, he also has a point of view on the city of Palm Springs that may very well be antiquated. Most notably, he criticizes attempts by some city officials and business leaders to aggressively pursue business from younger professionals.

“The stupid thing that goes on is that City Hall has become obsessed about bringing in the millennials,” he said. “What makes this town work is basically an older crowd, because the older crowd has the time to come in mid-week; young professionals don’t have the time to come in mid-week, because they work.

“Every year now, they’re putting on this rock concert called Tachevah that they call a block party. I went there last year to take a look, and I saw all these youngsters from Coachella and Indio. These aren’t people who are staying here; it’s not going to fill the beds during the mid-week.”


About 25 years ago, Frank Tysen and his business partner were shown the Casa Cody Bed and Breakfast Inn. Tysen immediately fell in love.

“I thought it would be fun to have a little hotel here,” Tysen said. “(Palm Springs) was dead at the time, and there was nothing happening. Palm Springs was at a real all-time low in the ’80s.

“People complain now, but there’s nothing to complain about, because the town is hopping,” he said with a laugh.

“I loved the whole feeling of the place and the natural beauty, but also the lovely architecture, the beautiful estates, and so on. (Casa Cody) was in shambles because it was run like a flop house. We saw the potential and started to restore it. It’s been a nonstop restoration ever since. We’ve added three other properties … over the years.”

Over the last two and a half decades, Tysen has watched as Palm Springs has evolved.

“Several people came to the city (around the same time that I did) and started picking up the old inns and fixing them up,” he said “Basically, that started what I believe is the revival of Palm Springs in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. People started to discover it again.”

Flash forward to November 2011, when voters in Palm Springs approved Measure J, a 1 percent increase in the sales and use tax, with that money dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Palm Springs. Tysen said he was supportive of the measure.

However, as plans for the old Desert Fashion Plaza emerged, Tysen soured on that portion of downtown redevelopment. One of his main complaints involves the design of the Hotel Palomar, slated to be operated by Kimpton. In particular, the modernist design and height of the hotel was questioned and opposed by Tysen. (Most reports say that the hotel is slated to be six stories tall; however, Tysen insists that he’s seen plans showing the hotel could rise up to nine stories.)

In May 2013, Tysen and his group, Advocates for Better Community Development, filed a lawsuit to block hotel construction; the group also started to collect signatures to force an election on the hotel plans. The group eventually submitted 2,700 signatures—seemingly enough to send the matter to voters. However, the city refused to place the matter on the ballot, claiming the issue was not subject to voter approval. In December 2013, a Riverside County Superior Court judge ruled in the favor of the city; Tysen and his group appealed.

Then came that Jan. 16 State of the City address by Mayor Steve Pougnet. In addition to calling out Tysen’s “rhetoric,” Pougnet shocked the crowd by announcing the city would send the hotel decision to voters after all—during an April special election.

Then on Jan. 29, the city made yet another about-face, agreeing to pay Tysen and ABCD $50,000 (apparently to cover legal fees) to drop the lawsuit, and canceling the April election.

Tysen said he decided to drop the lawsuit because it felt like the right thing to do.

“At that point, there was such a show of hysteria,” said Tysen, who reportedly received a death threat after the State of the City speech. “The city, especially, approached me to drop it. So I tried to look for another way we can solve these problems.”

However, that doesn’t mean it is clear sailing for the redevelopment of the old Desert Fashion Plaza: A remaining lawsuit, also filed by Tysen and ABCD, challenges various approvals of and changes to the redevelopment project.

As for Pougnet’s claims that Tysen and his fellow hotel opponents were sending rhetoric-filled letters to Kimpton hotels, the matter remains unclear. However, Tysen provided the Independent with a copy of a letter that he sent to Mike Depatie, the CEO of Kimpton Hotels. The letter is well-written and politely lays out Tysen’s concerns about the hotel, with no “vile” rhetoric to be found.

“I am very much aware of the wonderful reputation of your company and the sensitive way in which you have fit your hotel in historic areas such as Alexandria, Virginia, and I hope for something like that,” Tysen wrote. (See the letter for yourself at the story's bottom.)

The Independent left multiple messages with Pougnet to discuss Tysen and his opposition to the downtown redevelopment project; the mayor did not return the calls.

What is the point behind Tysen’s opposition to the hotel? He said it’s all in the design.

“The whole thing started off fine,” Tysen said. “Everything looked like it was going to be exciting. There was no mention of a nine-story hotel in the visioning sessions. It was completely different and looked very European, very low-key; they talked about world-class architecture. … Then, suddenly, the mayor decided to drop the eminent domain and started working with a developer (John Wessman), and what came out of that had no relation to the visioning sessions.”

Tysen insisted the architecture is not appropriate for Palm Springs.

“If you see the pictures, it looks more like downtown L.A., in the area near the Staples Center,” Tysen said. “It certainly doesn’t look like Palm Springs. … It’s really nothing that people are going to come and look at. It’s a glass box.

“The whole thing is very dense. Also, the whole surrounding retail … is another stupid thing to do, because we already have so many vacancies that haven’t been filled. To add another couple hundred thousand feet of retail makes no sense.”

Several times, Tysen insisted that the voices of tourists and part-time residents are being ignored—in part because they are unable to vote in local elections.

“The tourists are shocked,” Tysen said. “Unfortunately, they don’t have any voice in it. If they asked the tourists, they wouldn’t build it. Somehow, there’s a group of people in town who are so tired of nothing happening for 10 years, that now, suddenly, they think we should do anything that comes along. To me, it’s something you just don’t do. You do the right thing instead. … The people who are really affected don’t vote here. The tourists and the second homeowners—all these people coming in don’t have any idea of what’s going on.”


Some of Tysen’s critics have speculated he is fighting to protect his own interests, because his hotel is just a few blocks away from the redevelopment site. Tysen insisted that’s not the case; he said he simply believes that the hotel is a bad fit for Palm Springs.

“If anything, we might get more business if people walk around, and they see a small place that looks charming,” Tysen said. “It’s going to affect the feeling of the town and those who do or do not come here. The world is getting so crazy, crowded and congested, and right now in L.A., you can’t even move around anymore. People go to places like Catalina, Carmel or Santa Barbara to get away from all that. People come here to savor the nature of it, and also the feel of a small town. To have this thing sitting in the middle of it—it’s a terrible mistake.”

Tysen also said he believes the proposed hotel and shopping center are bad ideas because the millennials who are coming to the city are not spending any money. He claimed that most of the corporate hotel chains in Palm Springs are suffering through too many vacancies.

“The average occupancy at the Hyatt Hotel in Palm Springs is no more than 50 to 60 percent,” Tysen said. “Palm Springs, like many resort cities, is a seasonal town. The high season is February, March and April. Most of the hotels fill up during those few months of the year. With the young market, the Hard Rock Hotel was selling rooms in November for $59 a night during the middle of the week, and that’s the ‘hot, crowded Hard Rock.’ The Saguaro was selling rooms for $69 during the middle of the week in November. The Riviera was selling Thanksgiving for $109. There’s a lot of foolish stuff going on. This would be a big, subsidized thing.”

The Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism did not respond to requests from the Independent for demographics and specific hotel-vacancy information.

“You can’t do everything, and I think … Palm Springs has spontaneously become very popular with young people. They enjoy coming down here, so we’re doing fine, and I’m not worried about it. But these people who say, ‘We need more millennials!’ don’t understand that they have no time or money to spend in the hotels!”

Tysen claimed Palm Springs’ quiet, lovely nature attracts more visitors than anything else.

“Everyone is so impressed by what’s going on at the Coachella festival once every year. Coachella is Coachella, but Palm Springs is Palm Springs. There’s no one at the Palm Springs International Film Festival under the age of 40. Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg! Don’t kill the flavor of the whole town.”


John-Michael Cooper, the general manager of Palm Springs Rendezvous and the president of Small Hotels of Palm Springs (SHoPS), has worked closely with Tysen, a fellow SHoPS board member. He said portrayals of Tysen as a radical are off-base.

“People judge Frank in a very general way,” Cooper said. “There are a lot of things about (Tysen) that are completely ignored.”

Cooper said he’s worked with Tysen on various matters for five years now. While he does not always agree with Tysen, Cooper said he has a lot of respect for him.

“He’s one of the founding members of the association of which I’m now president of, and he’s a very skilled hotelier,” Cooper said. “We’re all in favor of Measure J, and he’s been very accommodating. But he is very motivated in what he does, and he’s super-passionate. I’ve agreed with him on a lot of sides of this thing that is known as Measure J. I can’t say I think one way or the other about (the proposed hotel and shopping center), because it is pretty multi-faceted—but I have a lot of respect for Frank.”

Tysen said people are quick to make assumptions about him.

“The real sad thing is there are a lot of people who have a lynch-mob mentality,” said Tysen. “You know, ‘Oh, let’s go get him—the son of a bitch! He’s stopping progress and everything.’ Most of the time, they don’t even know what’s going on; they don’t even know the issues. It’s scary to see people crawling out from under the rocks. I came to Palm Springs because I liked what I see. I don’t know why they came to Palm Springs—they could have gone to Las Vegas if they liked that kind of stuff.”

Make no mistake: Agree or disagree with Tysen, he’s no dummy. In fact, before he became a hotelier, he had a long career in urban design, planning and architecture. He also has a history of public opposition to controversial projects.

“I taught for many years at USC in urban and regional planning. I have done lots of studies about all of this. I was a Guggenheim Fellow, and I spent time in India (working) on master-planning in Calcutta. I worked with Gov. Ronald Reagan and had a lot of impact in not moving the (main L.A.) airport from Los Angeles to Palmdale. I was very instrumental in stopping the freeway that was going to go through Malibu and Santa Monica, and I stopped two oil refineries when I was on the … environmental council, in Beaumont and Banning. So I’ve tried to protect the environment all throughout California. It’s not just that I own a small hotel.”

He also took credit for helping make Palm Springs a successful destination.

“The reason this town is so special is because people like me have fought these battles,” Tysen said. “It starts when Nellie Coffman owned the Desert Inn (which was located on the Desert Fashion Plaza site); they fought an asphalt plant that was going to be up the street. There was a group here called Citizens United that had a building moratorium here.

“All kinds of battles have been fought. Pearl McManus would cancel an escrow if somebody built something she didn’t like. All this stuff has been going on, and that’s why this town is special. It isn’t special by accident. Otherwise, it would look like Beaumont, or it would look like Fontana. It’s special because people like me have fought these battles.”

Photo by Kevin Fitzgerald

Nick Waterhouse is a rising star, and at the age of 27, he has found success playing rhythm and blues, jazz … and old-school soul?

Yes, that’s right, old-school soul. See for yourself when he stops by Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, March 15, for his third appearance at the Pioneertown venue.

The Southern California native first picked up the guitar at the age of 12. When he started to develop his interests in music, they were somewhat atypical for a teenager.

“It was one out of 100 songs on the radio,” Waterhouse said. “I remember hearing songs like ‘Gloria’ by Van Morrison or ‘Shop Around’ by The Miracles, and those all were more visceral than the stuff I had been exposed to. I just kept trying to chase that feeling.”

What were his peers listening to?

“Blink-182, Limp Bizkit and stuff like that,” Waterhouse said. “That all felt like fake anger. There was no relation or affirmation of life in that music.”

He honed his guitar skills by playing in a band while he was in high school. He moved to San Francisco to attend San Francisco State University; while there, he fronted another band. Unfortunately, San Francisco’s music scene didn’t seem to appreciate his musical ambitions. Nonetheless, he found inspiration while working at Rooky Ricardo’s Records in the Lower Haight.

“It’s great, because it also serves as a hub for other people to turn you on to things,” Waterhouse said about his time at the record store. “You get to meet other people and find out about other walks of life. Some of the most important people in my life, I’ve met in record stores, and not just over music. It’s a way to interact.”

Waterhouse also mentioned the pitfalls of becoming a music aficionado.

“Anybody who gets obsessed with collecting music … is never going to be fulfilled. You always want more,” Waterhouse said. “You just keep thinking, ‘If I just figure this out, I’ll be fine.’

“It’s a much better pursuit than gambling or drugs, I guess.”

In 2012, Waterhouse released his debut album, Time’s All Gone. After a successful North American tour, he moved his show to Europe. He also began recording his follow-up album, Holly, which is due out on March 4.

As Waterhouse’s career began taking off, he made time to collaborate with a childhood friend, Ty Segall, of Fuzz, the Ty Segall Band and other projects. While Segall is primarily known for playing rock—in fact, he’s said in interviews that Hawkwind is his favorite band—he and Waterhouse have found common ground. Waterhouse, for example, covered Segall’s “It #1.”

“We met when we were young,” Waterhouse said. “We were both playing in teenage rock ’n’ roll bands. To me, it’s really a testament to the fact that our music comes from the same place, but comes out differently. Ty expresses himself in a different way, but I felt like me covering his song put the differences aside.”

Holly features more of a jazz feel, an electric organ that Booker T. Jones would envy, and sleek guitar solos. It certainly shows Waterhouse’s progression in songwriting.

“I was really pleased,” Waterhouse said about the new album. “I’m just constantly working toward an ideal. If things are going right, it’s like I’m progressing any time I’m doing something. I see it as adding to a body of work or continuing to gain knowledge and experience. I was very fortunate to have a very talented crew of musicians on this record. I auditioned a lot of different people, and tried to record the record once before with different players, and this one I was really pleased with.”

While Holly is a great album, it did not take long to record.

“Most of the primary tracking, which was live, was done in about five days,” Waterhouse said. “The rest was sort of mixing and doing an overdub here and there. What’s funny is it’s kind of like launching a space explorer or something: You do a year of work, setting up and making sure everything is right, so you don’t blow yourself up.”

Waterhouse said his love of classic R&B and soul with a jazz influence comes naturally: There is no commercial influence, even though folk music, Americana and other older genres are again becoming popular with contemporary bands.

“I don’t get to control that stuff,” Waterhouse said. “My job is just to make the records. … It’s a filter people see music through. It’s kind of hard to make a case, and it’s like being guilty until proven innocent.”

He said people should look at music and its different eras and genres differently, perhaps.

“I think that people maybe need to use a different metric for interpreting art other than looking at other things and seeing it as a strictly corollary process,” he said. “I think that’s something fairly recent in Western culture, because in the past, it wasn’t that unusual for a 15th-century Italian painter to paint something that occurred in biblical times, or Shakespeare to write about something in Denmark that was already told. It’s not about the thing itself, but what’s being expressed through it.”

When it comes to Pappy and Harriet’s, Waterhouse said he feels a closeness to the Pioneertown venue.

“The place feels like my home,” Waterhouse said. “I grew up in Southern California. I used to race motorcycles in the desert until I was about 15, and my dad was a big desert guy. A desert roadhouse feels like where I was when I was a little kid—and that’s where I probably learned a lot about American music as well.”

Nick Waterhouse will perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $12. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 15:30

The Lucky 13: DJ Femme A

DJ Femme A (aka Annie Flores) has made a name for herself during her first year in the local music scene. She’s DJ’d special events at Saks Fifth Avenue (on El Paseo in Palm Desert) and for the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. She also performs regularly at Clinic Bar and Lounge in Palm Springs. She can mix up a variety of different genres, from hip hop and Top 40 all the way to EDM. Hear more and get more info at soundcloud.com/femme-a—and enjoy her answers to the Lucky 13!

What was the first concert you attended?

The first concerts I attended were concerts through the Los Angeles-based radio station KROQ, and they all had tons of different bands playing, but I remember enjoying Linkin Park, Incubus and Hot Hot Heat.

What was the first album you owned?  

Wow, I feel really old, because I don’t remember what my exact first album was, but I know that I owned a bunch of “singles” cassette tapes, and they were mostly R&B and hip hop: Soul for Real, The Notorious B.I.G., New Edition, Michael Jackson and Mary J. Blige, to name a few.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Bands? Lately, I’ve been listening to Santigold, Salt-n-Pepa and some psytrance, when I work out and drive.

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

(English dance-music group) Above and Beyond. Is that even considered EDM?

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

I’d like to see a sweet DJ (maybe Day Din) in Germany at a festival; I’ve seen videos on YouTube and they look awesome. Santigold would be nice to see as well.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

When I really, really love a song, I can listen to it on repeat for days.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I’ve been to a handful of outdoors events and festivals, and they are, by far, my favorite. (I love the) feeling of being free, having friends with you, dancing during the day and at night, frolicking in the grass, and the fact that I don’t need to be dressed up or wearing heels as one would for a “nightclub.”

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

“Ey, ey, ey, ey, you don’t lie,” from “Unstoppable” by Santigold.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The Cure! I first heard them when I was 18. I went to this small club/dive bar every Sunday night that played new-wave and electro, and I remember whenever “Just Like Heaven” played on those club speakers, we’d drop our dirty cigarettes and run to the dance floor. Having that music during that moment in my life created memories for some of the best times of my late teens and early 20s—being young, free, underage and having fun. During that same period, I discovered so many new types of sounds that still influence me today, like Benny Benassi, and Felix Da Housecat and Miss Kittin (which led to me have an appreciation for EDM—electro house, progressive house and psytrance, to be exact).

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

The question is for Gwen Stefani: “Will you marry me?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Wolfsheim, “Once in a Lifetime.”

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

No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Chali 2na’s “Gadget Go Go.” (Scroll down to hear it!)

Friday, 14 February 2014 08:00

The Lucky 13: MIX 100.5's Valerie Kattz

If you’ve listened to MIX 100.5 (KPSI FM) during the midday hours, you’ve heard local radio DJ Valerie Kattz. Valerie has been on the radio locally since 1993, when she moved to Palm Springs and started with RR Broadcasting. She donates a lot of her time to local animal-related charities, such as Loving All Animals. She recently took some time away from her busy schedule to answer The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

George Strait and Highway 101 in Lake Charles, La. I was 15 at the time.

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I remember begging my parents to purchase for me was Michael Jackson's Thriller.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I'm at work, and "Why Can't We Be Friends?" by War is playing on the overhead at this time. Oh, the joys of working at a radio station!

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

I do not get rap/hip hop music. Apparently, I am just not THAT down with my homies, yo.

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

My dream performance would be to see Journey reunite with Steve Perry. Journey is my all-time favorite band, and I would love to see them in concert one day.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

1980s music is my favorite, and I don't feel guilty at all!

What’s your favorite music venue?

I think we have a lot of nice venues in the desert. The casinos offer good acts, and the rooms are intimate enough to make you feel like you’re pretty close, even if you have the worst seats in the house. The Show at Agua Caliente is a really nice venue, as is the McCallum Theatre. For bars, I love the Palm Canyon Roadhouse. It's a fun place; the owners are great, and they always have great local musicians playing. But my absolute favorite is whichever one my boyfriend's band, Lost in Los Angeles, is playing at—so call me if you want to book them.

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

“Don't stop believin’, hold on to that feeling,” from Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” (It runs on a loop non-stop in my head.)

What band or artist changed your life? How?

I would have to say there were different bands for different stages of my youth. It started out with Duran Duran, then in junior high, it was Mötley Crüe and all the "big hair" bands. In high school, I became a huge of alternative music, with Depeche Mode being my favorite. My all-time favorite is Journey.

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

Steve Perry: "Will you PLEASE get back with Journey and go on tour?"

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Don't even like thinking about this one.

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

Journey, Greatest Hits.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

You can probably guess where this is going by now: "Don't Stop Believin.” I will never stop believin'!

Many people have a hard time understanding and grasping transgenderism—and a local woman, Kaitlin Sine Riordan, is trying to change that by telling her story with her book, Bondage of Self.

Born a boy, Riordan was raised in Richmond, Va., by a father who was extremely self-disciplined and into bodybuilding, and a mother who was a housewife. During her childhood, she found herself confused about her gender identity.

She describes a moment, when she was 6 years old, on a shopping trip with her mother: She was playing with dresses in a clothing store. When her mother said she would tell Riordan’s father, she disciplined herself by bashing a toy rifle against her legs, leaving big, purple welts. It turns out that her father was cold and indifferent to the whole matter.

Riordan also shares details about her life as a teenager—revealing a person in serious pain. She played basketball and displayed the typical masculinity of a teenage boy, but would find ways to be home alone so she could wear women’s clothing. She later got married and was a devoted husband and father—but Riordan drank, straining the relationship with her wife and children. She was in management at a Philip Morris production plant, but secrets in the workplace eventually forced her into early retirement.

A key moment in Riordan’s life occurred when she started a relationship with a female co-worker who had no problem with Riordan’s love of dressing in women’s clothing; that woman would go on to become Riordan’s second wife. Meanwhile, Riordan started to reach out to others who were dealing with gender-identity struggles, including a support group who sought to embrace and encourage members to come as their “true gender.”

Riordan eventually found the support and the courage to go through the process of transitioning from male to female. She also confronted her alcoholism at Michael’s House in Palm Springs in 2008, after which she returned home and went through with her gender-reassignment surgery.

It’s obviously been a long road for Riordan, and she shows great courage in telling her story. She details the ridicule that many transgendered people suffer through, as well as the struggles one goes through while in the process of transitioning—including problems with friends and family, and the interpersonal issues one deals with while going through the many preparations. In the end, Riordan has emerged as a stronger, happier person.

While the book is quite descriptive, it exhibits flaws that are all too common with books that are self-published: There are grammar and punctuation errors, and several of the chapters should be split. When I asked Riordan about these flaws, and she said she is working with an editor on a second edition which she hopes to have out soon.

Those errors aside, Bondage of Self is a book that not only someone who is going through transgenderism will appreciate; it’s also a great read for people who want to better understand the trials endured by men and women struggling with gender-identity issues.

Bondage of Self

By Kaitlin Sine Riordan

Purple Books Publishing

370 pages, $19.95

Renowned local architect Hugh Kaptur will be, in many ways, the star of this year’s Modernism Week, which kicks off this Thursday, Feb. 13.

At 2 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, he’ll be honored with a place on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, at the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Baristo Road. This is just one of several Modernism Week events focused on Kaptur.

Hugh Kaptur was born in Detroit in 1931. His father worked as a designer for General Motors and Packard—so you could say that he had some design inspiration from his father. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he moved to Palm Springs in 1956. He interned with Wexler and Harrison before being laid off; he then decided to strike out on his own and went on to design homes for the Ranch Construction Company. He designed the Palm Springs Fire Stations No. 3 and 4, as well as numerous homes, apartment complexes, office buildings and hotels, including the Casa Blanca, now known as the Musicland Hotel.

Matt Burkholz, a local Modernism historian and tour guide, will be giving a free lecture on Kaptur at the Palm Springs Library at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 22.

“Kaptur is the man for not only residential architecture in Palm Springs, but also commercial architecture in Palm Springs,” Burkholz said. “His most famous residential structures are the Steve McQueen house and the William Holden house. In terms of his commercial work, that would be pretty much everything on Tahquitz Canyon, which includes the 600-700 building right across the street from the Regal Cinemas, and the Fragen Building, which is a really early geo-berm building where the lawns go right up to the roof line. In fact, he even wanted grass on the roof.”

Burkholz says that the tour he will be doing at 1 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21 (tickets are $50 and available at www.modernismweek.com) will include the Ranch Club Estates, now known as the Desert Park Estates, and Racquet Club South, north of Vista Chino.

“In the ‘50s and ‘60s, (the homes) were really considered out of town—literally in the middle of Saharan-style sand dunes,” Burkholz said. “When the houses were finished, each homeowner was given a shovel to shovel blown sand away from their front doors, because it was that far out of town. Because the houses were out of town, and Kaptur is the kind of architect who is very aware of the area he’s designing for, the homes are extremely substantive and well-insulated—actually, much more so than the resort-style homes that are closer within town.”

While Kaptur’s work is considered part of the Modernism movement, elements of his work put Modernism to the test, and incorporate other architectural designs and a great deal of geometric inspiration.

“He’s not a purist Modernist architect,” Burkholz said. “He is interested in several different aspects of life here. A lot of the other local Modernist architects, like Albert Frey and William Cody, were influenced by Los Angeles architecture. Kaptur realized Palm Springs was an entirely different ecosystem and environment than Los Angeles. A lot of the things that were modern and stylish for L.A., aspects of them could work here. But we are more of a desert climate than a coastal climate, so he looked east of here to Arizona and New Mexico—things like … Santa Fe centennial architecture, and adobe architecture. They’re more substantive, and they can take the great heat, the wind, and can take the super-extreme conditions of our ecosystem here.”

There are some recognizable patterns and elements to Kaptur’s work. For example, he didn’t use that much steel.

“He didn’t think that steel heating up to 125 degrees baking in the sun was quite the right material,” Burkholz said. “He preferred stone, thick wood, and he did incorporate glass as well. He really looked around the area for his inspiration when it came to the mountains, to the east, to the Native American cliff dwellings, and caves. His style is not as sleekly futuristic. He lived so long and worked so long that as fashion and style changed, he moved from Jetsons futurism to more of an organic quality.”

Kaptur’s work is still relevant today, Burkholz said.

“He and his wife, Helen, are kind of an advertisement for life in the desert,” Burkholz said. “They’re older folks, but they’re great-looking; they live a fabulous life; they have a great home off Bogert Trail in the Southern part of town. Pretty much everyone involved in Palm Springs planning and Palm Springs politics knows him, because he’s been here since 1958. He’s part and parcel to the residential and commercial texture of the whole city.”

The Blue Hawaiians—a surf-rock band that came together in the ‘90s—will be playing at Purple Room on Tuesday, Feb. 18, as part of Modernism Week’s “Modernism After Dark.”

The surf-rock genre of the 1960s—with bands such as The Ventures, The Challengers, Link Wray and, of course, the legendary Dick Dale—was the inspiration for the Los Angeles-based band.

“It all starts with my friend Michelle, who owned the Lava Lounge in Los Angeles,” said bassist/front man Mark Fontana. “I was playing in a band in Laguna Beach at the time with the guitar-player and drummer of what would become the Blue Hawaiians. We had a band called the El Caminos, and Michelle was a huge fan of the El Caminos. She wanted us to play the Lava Lounge on New Year’s Eve. Joey—the singer we had (in the El Caminos)—would always say stuff to piss people off, and Michelle called me and asked, ‘Could you put a band together to play the club without Joey?’”

Fontana seized the opportunity and put together a surf-rock sound for the show.

“My favorite guitar-playing is a lot of the old, obscure surf tracks from the early ‘60s. It has such a great tone with that reverb and stuff, so I thought it was the perfect blend to do at the Lava Lounge,” he explained.

The Blue Hawaiians went on to make their mark and play many of the legendary venues in L.A., such as the Viper Room and the Hollywood Palladium; their music was also part of a successful ad campaign for GUESS? Jeans. Because of their affiliation with the late, lamented Lava Lounge, they made a fan out of Quentin Tarantino, who was working on From Dusk Till Dawn at the time.

“He used to hang out at the Lava Lounge,” Fontana said. “This is before Pulp Fiction. He dug what we were doing, and I think it somehow influenced the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, but I don’t know. It had the surf thing. He hired us to play for a set party on From Dusk Till Dawn with all the zombies or whatever the heck they were. Then he got so big that the last time I saw him at the Lava Lounge, I said, ‘That bastard! I’m going to get him for not putting us on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack!’

“But he left before I could beat him up.”

Being in a surf-rock band, Fontana is appropriately a surfer himself.

“The steel guitar-player and I surf on a more-regular basis than any of the other members,” he said. “I started surfing when I was 11, and I still surf today. I surf as much as I can. I love to get away from the cement, the people, the cars and technology. Sitting on the ocean and riding waves is a great form of meditation.”

As far as the dangers of surfing go, Fontana tries not to think too much about them. 

“If you throw sharks or big waves into the mix, it’s dangerous,” he said. “Anytime you deal with nature, there’s going to be some element of danger involved. Certainly with surfing, your surfboard can hit you in the head and knock you out, and you can drown. So, yeah, there’s definitely an element of danger. … Occasionally, I hear the theme song to Jaws playing in my head, and I start looking around for fins in the water, but you don’t see them too often.”

The Blue Hawaiians are one of the many bands that have contributed music to SpongeBob SquarePants. Fontana said he found the experience enjoyable—and it helped him become a hit with his own children.

“I think it was back in 1999. We were brought on in the early first season of the show,” he said. “It was really cool, and the thing that was cool about it: At the time, my son was about 4 years old. They sent me a VHS copy with some episodes for inspiration, and my son was literally falling off the sofa laughing so hard—and I was doing the same. I thought, ‘Man, they’ve really got something here when you have a 4-year-old falling off the sofa and an adult doing the same thing.’ It was really cool to be a part of that in the early day, and we still make money every quarter from BMI because of SpongeBob all these years later.”

Not long ago, the Blue Hawaiians took a two-year hiatus after their drummer Maxwell (Maxwellvision) moved to Colorado. While the Blue Hawaiians used to play three times a week, they now usually play a couple of times per month, on average.

The Blue Hawaiians’ show should fit in nicely at the Purple Room, due to the throwback nature of the band’s music.

“We have this unique ability to play for an audience and have a 15-year-old kid tell us, ‘Dude, you guys rock!’ and have someone in their late 50s say, ‘Wow, that was really cool!’” Fontana said. “We have this really unique thing that we do that can satisfy all these different age groups, which is actually hard to do.”

The Blue Hawaiians will perform at the Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Dinner begins at 7 p.m., with the show taking place at 8:30 p.m.; tickets for dinner and the show are $75. For tickets or more information, call 760-322-4422, or visit purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Despite a series of personal struggles, the multitalented Rick Springfield is still going strong—so don’t be surprised if he draws a large, female-dominated crowd to Fantasy Springs at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16.

The Australian-born Springfield is most remembered for his 1981 hit “Jessie’s Girl.” The single from his album Working Class Dog was an instant hit; it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, was played in heavy rotation when MTV launched later that year, and won him a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.

During a recent phone interview, Springfield discussed what made him want to play guitar.

“I was living in England when I was a kid, and I went to one of those horrible Christmas shows where everybody’s kid gets up and does what they think is a song,” he said. “This kid went onstage with a guitar, and I fell in love with it right away when I was about 10 years old.”

When Springfield was about 18, he joined a group called MPD Ltd.; they toured South Vietnam during the Vietnam War to entertain the troops. It was an experience that he would never forget and would write extensively about in his 2010 autobiography, Late, Late at Night.

“It was insane,” he said. “I could write a whole book on it. We were there for about six months. It was unbelievable. Looking back, it was a historic war, and we were right in there with the troops. We weren’t going out in the jungle fighting, but we were on the bases getting shot at, rocketed, mortared and almost killed by a hand grenade. When we got home, the band leader of MPD Ltd. died from a disease he caught over there, so it was a pretty brutal time. If you can survive rockets and mortars, someone throwing a beer can at you is nothing.”

After his stint in MPD Ltd., Springfield joined the Australian boy-band Zoot. When he joined the group, they were trying to shake their boy-band image. Their cover of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” became a hit in Australia, as did several songs that Springfield wrote, “Hey Pinky” and “The Freak.”

The group broke up in 1971, and Springfield struck out on his own, releasing his first album, Beginnings, in 1972; it was a modest hit in the U.S. and Australia. However, it wasn’t until Working Class Dog, with “Jessie’s Girl,” that he finally captured mainstream audiences.

One thing has been certain throughout his career: Ladies love him. He was the subject of a recent documentary, An Affair of the Heart, which showed some of his female fans talking about how much they love his live shows. Springfield said he’s experienced many instances of women hiding, sneaking into his hotel rooms, or otherwise trying to meet him.

“There was one lady in the ‘80s claiming she was an heiress to the Marriott family,” he said. “She just kind of got into the touring group and started getting us free hotel rooms at all the Marriott hotels we were staying at. After the tour, the FBI came looking for her because of all the bad checks she wrote to cover all the rooms. She was just a fan and made it all up. It was incredible; it lasted for three whole months, and she hung with the band the entire time on the road.”

Springfield laughed. “I’ve been looking for her, and I think I want her to work for me if she could fool us for that long.” 

While he’s long been a hit with the ladies thanks to his music, he picked up yet more female fans with his acting. He was added to the cast of daytime soap-opera General Hospital in 1981, around the time “Jessie’s Girl” became a hit. He stayed in role until 1983, and has returned to the show several times since 2005. He’s also appeared in various films, as well as the Showtime series Californication. When he started his career, he had no idea that he would also be successful as an actor.

“I picked up acting later on after the music thing in between record deals,” he said. “… As I’ve gotten older and more into it, it’s more fun, and I have more to offer in the acting world.”

While he has achieved a remarkable amount of success, he’s long struggled with depression-related issues. In 2000, he was arrested for spousal abuse. He was also arrested for driving under the influence on the Pacific Coast Highway in 2011, and reportedly threatened to kill the deputy and his family if his 1963 Corvette was towed. Through it all, his wife, Barbara, has stayed by his side for almost 30 years, as he’s received treatment.

“It wasn’t hard to ask for help, but it took a long time to recognize what it was,” he said. “Now we know what it is. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, I was just looked upon as a moody kid. It took a long time for me to really figure out I needed some help with it. I’ve been into a lot of therapy, which is great for a writer. I think that’s why a lot of writers are such depressed bastards.

“It’s a life sentence. It’s not like something you can go to rehab and fix. I just deal with it when it lands. I’m a lot more thankful for my life now, which is a big help. I meditate and do certain things I’ve learned that counter it. It’s all I can do.”

While music and acting are on his resume, you can also add novelist: He’s about to release his first novel, Magnificent Vibration, slated to hit shelves in May.

“My publisher pushed me to write more after I wrote my autobiography,” he said. “I wrote that without a ghost writer, and she really liked my writing voice and said I should be writing novels. I took up the challenge. I used to write when I was a kid, and I thought I’d be a writer before music took over, and it channeled itself into songwriting.”

In 2013, he collaborated with Dave Grohl on “The Man That Never Was” for the Sound City soundtrack. The release won the 2014 Grammy for Best Soundtrack.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “The Foo Fighters are all great musicians, and (Grohl) is a champion of music. He’s very open to everything. I’m still in touch with him, and I played a benefit with him a couple of months ago. The experience taught me that collaboration is a good thing. I kind of used to stay away from that in my younger days. It made me realize a lot of good things can come from it.”

While many artists who have had one song define their career get sick of singing their signature hit, Springfield said that he never gets tired of playing “Jessie’s Girl.”

“Joe Walsh had a great line when he played ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ for the 20,000th time: ‘If I knew I was going to play this song for the rest of my life, I would have written a different song.’ With ‘Jessie’s Girl,’ I think it’s a moderately complex pop song, and it’s really instrumental in my life. I have nothing but admiration and happiness for the song, and I’m glad that I wrote it.”

Rick Springfield will perform at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16, at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $29 to $49. For tickets or more information, call 800-827-2946, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.