Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Nobody can make rock tracks sound as good in dance remixes as Matthew Masurka—you know him as Gigamesh.

The DJ and producer, known for his remixes of Fleetwood Mac, Yo La Tengo and Radiohead, is returning to the second Splash House of the summer, taking place Aug. 11-13.

His best-known works are probably his remix of Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” and his production of Mike Posner’s “Cooler Than Me.” As a DJ, he’s played to crowds all around the world.

“I’ve always been into electronic music,” Gigamesh said during a recent phone interview. “It’s the stuff I listen to the most. Middle school and high school for me was Daft Punk and DJ Shadow, and I listened to a lot of Radiohead, who I think are electronic musicians, in a sense. I was always attracted to it, and I’ve always been an independent-minded person when it comes to working on music, so it’s always been a natural fit for me.”

Gigamesh takes a lighter hand with some of his remixes. For instance, if you’re not paying attention, you may not realize you’re not listening to the original version of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough”—even though there are big differences, including the drums being set to a house beat. Gigamesh explained how he came to remix older rock and R&B tracks.

“For all that stuff, I’m driven to do it, because they are songs I want to play in my sets,” he said. “A lot of those remixes are three to four years old, before I was really touring. I was in Minneapolis, where I grew up, and wanted to play stuff that appealed to everyone in the room. It would usually be small gigs and a wide variety of ages. I wanted to play something I considered classic, timeless and great, music that didn’t necessarily fit in a set of house and whatever else I was playing—things that didn’t have drums, that were heavy enough and things that wouldn’t be easy to mix in and out of. I was basically just making what some people would consider edits, and I would go a step further and add my own synths and things like that.”

Of course, Gigamesh also remixes works by modern pop artists.

“I recently did a remix for Miley Cyrus,” he said. “This dude asked me if I’d ever do one for her. A few years ago, I would have said no, because she’s kind of a divisive figure, and she’s so blatantly a pop star. But as I listened to the vocal track, I started to get into it. She’s a good vocalist, and part of the fun of remixing is taking something I might not necessarily be into right away, and turning it into something that I do enjoy. I like the vocal on its own, and it was just a matter of re-harmonizing it, and playing around with the tempo and different beats to make it into something I liked. I ended up going back and forth with her management for a while to land on something we were all happy with. It wasn’t the most challenging, but I went through quite a few different versions before I had the final version.”

Gigamesh said that he never knows for sure what a crowd will like before he starts his set.

“It’s really tough to gauge ahead of time, especially with a big festival and a huge crowd—especially if it’s somewhere like South America or Europe, and they want to hear disco or stuff that isn’t so commercialized,” he said. “But then I might play somewhere the next night, and (more commercial music) is exactly what the crowd wants to hear. That’s happened before, and toward the middle of my set, I’ll notice they aren’t feeling it, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. I’ve also been forced sometimes to play to the people in the room or at the festival who are enjoying it the most, versus the people in the front, who just came to hear my remixes and originals. Those are the people I want to make happy the most.”

There are always new remixes coming from Gigamesh, of course.

“I have two completed singles, and I’m working on a release plan for them right now, and hopefully they’ll be out in the next few months,” he said. “I have a few remixes that I just released: one (“Malibu”) for Miley Cyrus, and one (“Fake Magic”) for Peking Duk, with AlunaGeorge as the featured vocalist.”

Gigamesh has played Splash House before, and he said he likes the concept of the festival.

“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a cool tradition, and a lot of people go every year, and it’s an interesting location, because it’s always unbearably hot, but you’re right next to a pool, and it forces people to enjoy the pool versus standing around trying to look cool.”

Splash House’s August edition takes place Friday, Aug. 11, through Sunday, Aug. 13. General admission passes start at $135. For more information, visit

If you’re ever looking for Orlando Welsh, just look for his easy-to-spot hair—and, yes, it’s real. I’ve personally been able to find him in crowds at events from Coachella to the Vans Warped Tour, where he’s been in attendance as a professional photographer. Welsh is also a local musician, and has been in Metroid, Mingtran and Break Dance Vietnam. He now has a project with Metroid bandmate Ryan Jovian called High Fantasy (sometimes stylized as HGH FNTSY); they have put up some tracks on music sources including Spotify and Apple Music. For more information, visit Welsh was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

When I was super-young, my parents took our family to see the Pointer Sisters. I wouldn’t really consider it a concert, but they had a nice stage. It was at some county fair in Kentucky. But I actually consider Lollapalooza to be my first concert. It was the year Green Day and Smashing Pumpkins headlined; The Pharcyde played too—oh, and the Beastie Boys. Damn! That was so epic, and it was the first time I saw a full-blown mosh pit. Unfortunately, I was caught up in the middle of it. I didn’t know what to do, so I got wrecked, but it was so much fun.

What was the first album you owned?

The Jacksons’ Destiny album. It had such an epic cover, and we used to play that on repeat on my dad’s record player.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Goldfinger, nothing,nowhere, Tame Impala, Dreamcar, Tidal Babes, Skepta, Das EFX, The Cure, and HGH FNTSY.

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

Corny-ass country music where the lyrics are just really silly. I am sorry if I offend anyone, but the super-corny stuff makes me laugh—but not all country music is corny, though. There’s some awesome stuff like that one Lady Antebellum song where the dude says, “Another shot of whiskey.” I like that song, and I can relate to them on that song. I love Stagecoach, but not as much as Coachella.

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

Nirvana! I wish I had gone to one of their concerts when I was kid. I think Kurt Cobain is the truth.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Old Mariah Carey songs and music videos, especially that collaboration she did with Ol’ Dirty Bastard. I’m constantly playing her old music videos on YouTube, and if you come to my house, you have been warned: You will probably watch some Mariah videos.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Glass House in Pomona. I love that place so much, and the people who run it are so nice.

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

“Daylight licked me into shape, I must have been asleep for days. And moving lips to breathe her name, I opened up my eyes. And found myself alone, alone, alone above a raging sea. That stole the only girl I loved and drowned her deep inside of me,” The Cure, “Just Like Heaven.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Michael Jackson. After I saw the “Thriller” video, my life was never the same. I became obsessed with music and music videos. I’m still obsessed. It’s one of the reasons I play music.

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

I would ask Kurt Cobain: “Can you stay a little longer?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Hey Suburbia” by Screeching Weasel, or Prince’s “When Doves Cry.”

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

The Get Up Kids’ Something to Write Home About.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Strange Symmetry” by Arwelone featuring HGH FNTSY. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Josh Fimbres is known for his sense of humor: He’ll often crack jokes and tease you. When he and Josh Hall are onstage as Thr3 Strykes, they are known for putting on a great show, full of aggressive and in-your-face rap music with a punk-rock attitude. Thr3 Strykes recently put out a new album, CMNCTN-BRKDWN. For more information, visit Josh Fimbres was kind enough to recently answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” had just debuted. He brought out Dave Grohl to play a few songs, and I went nuts! This is 1993, so Nirvana still existed. That night also coincided with my first beer, and I puked the whole way back. (Thanks, Uncle John!) Mom was screaming so loud in between songs that Tom literally said, “OK, darling! I hear you.” She still talks about it. Pop let me stay home from school the next day, rock ‘n’ roll!

What was the first album you owned?

In the days of cassette tapes, my dad and his brothers kept me laced up with mix tapes, everything from Hendrix and Edgar Winter to King’s X and Judas Priest. But my first tape was the original self-titled Black Sabbath record. I was rocking my little toy harmonica to “The Wizard” at age 7.

What bands are you listening to right now?

My daily playlist is all over the fucking place. Lana Del Fimbres—I mean Lana Del Rey, Suicidal Tendencies, Warpaint, Humble Pie, and a dash of 311 with a splash of Chuck Berry. A Pantera song a day keeps the Top 40 away.

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

I call them “fall down rappers.” You ever notice that shit? It’s sounds like they’re falling as they sing or mumble or whatever you call that bullshit. Then they repeat the hook 83 times, sheesh! More like boraphyll!

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

Led Zeppelin in their prime, or Jimi Hendrix. Early ’90s era Wu-Tang Clan, or Beastie Boys.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I can listen to Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” any time of day or year. It’s kinda musical, but I also have had a severe ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) video habit—these role playing, whispering, tapping audio trips. There’s an English bird I listen to nightly … calms my soul and puts me to sleep.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I still get high on the West Hollywood classic spots, and made my mark on a few, too. (I have a lot) of good memories at Glen Helen (Amphitheater). Locally, The Date Shed; my DNA has been left there on occasion.

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

Sometimes I feel like it’s a curse, but I hear, “Life’s the same, I’m moving in stereooo. Life’s the same except for my shoooes. Life’s the same, you’re shakin’ like tremolooo. Life’s the same, it’s all inside you,” by The Cars, from their song “Moving in Stereo and All Mixed Up,” every fucking day.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

By age 3, I was already jumping on tables pretending my toy rifle was a guitar mimicking Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne and Van Halen. But it was Rage Against the Machine’s debut album and second album, Evil Empire, that became the soundtrack to my life trip. At 15, I scored my first drum set. I wanted to play like Brad Wilk and taught myself to play off those records. Fast-forward to age 18, and they played a small fest called Coachella. I was high on their set for three days and genuinely thought, “I wanna do that.”

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

I’d be asking Dimebag Darrell to not go to that shithole of a venue where he was killed onstage. 

What song would you like played at your funeral?

That’s heavy. For now, I’ll say Suicidal Tendencies, “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today.” The verses start slow soft and sad; then the fast break-down at the end hits, at which point a pit breaks out around a river of whiskey. The sky rips open, and lightning flashes. My spirit pops up to do the guitar solo; a pterodactyl flies by. The song ends; I moon everybody, and Grandpa Carlos scoops me up in his heaven cruiser. Tip your waitresses; after-party at Morrison’s crib!

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

311’s Transistor. There are a ton of songs, and it takes me back to a pretty far-out era in time. I have to hear it in order; each song sets up the next. I can also smell the high school naivety and reefer.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Because it’s a Saturday night when I’m doing this, and I’m in a fucking rock ’n’ roll, bang-your-head mood, let’s crank Rainbow’s “Man on the Silver Mountain.” Party on, Garth! (Scroll down to hear it.)

First, you notice the band’s name … Fartbarf. Enough said about that.

Second, you notice that all three of the members are wearing Neanderthal masks. Enough said there, too.

Third, you notice that the band plays … synth music? Yes—really awesome synth music.

The Los Angeles trio will be bringing a live show to Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday, July 21, sharing the bill with the queen of the high desert, Jesika von Rabbit.

Fartbarf is either one of the funniest names for a band you’ll ever hear, or it’s one of the most disgusting, depending on your sense of humor. But whatever your opinion is on the name, the band’s sound will leave you in awe. It’s as if Daft Punk, Devo and Minor Threat had a threesome, with Fartbarf as the result.

Josh McLeod, one of the band’s two synth players, explained how Fartbarf came into existence.  

“It was kind of a response to what we thought was happening to the record industry in the early 2000s,” McLeod said. “It was pretty much just a play on primitive meets futuristic. Cavemen playing electronic music was kind of what we were going for.”

The name came about, in part, to keep expectations low.

“It was very self-sabotaging,” he said. “We figured if we picked a name that a bunch of 12-year-olds wouldn’t even want as their punk-band name, and this name is just terrible, it would keep us grounded in our idea that we would probably never deal with record labels and do this all on our own. We’d play venues that liked our music and thought we’d fit in their bar well. … More recently, I think it’s been a benefit to us. But it’s a terrible name and one you can’t believe people are actually using as their band name.”

When I saw Fartbarf last year at the Palms Restaurant in Wonder Valley, I was shocked when I saw the synthesizer setups. Moog synthesizers, which are heavy and require a lot of tuning, can be a hassle if you don’t have a road crew ready to work on them when they break down. McLeod conceded that it’s a challenge to tour with them at times.

“It’s actually pretty difficult. The Moogs and the bigger analog synths weigh a ton,” he said. “If we need to fly somewhere, we have to pay extra. It’s normally quite a hassle. We never went into it thinking we’d get as far as we did, but being totally analog synthesizer players is pretty easy these days. Before we started Fartbarf, there wasn’t a big resurgence of these things, so we had to find vintage synths or use what we had at the time. Now, manufacturers are coming out with brand-new versions of this stuff. It makes it a lot easier with portability, because Korg has come out with versions of their MS synthesizers that weigh a lot less and are more accessible and reliable.”

McLeod said audiences sometimes struggle with everything surrounding Fartbarf—the name, the masks, the synths and so on.

“Normally, if we play for an audience that has never heard of us or never seen us before, it is kind of hard to register all this stuff at once,” he said. “Our name sets the standards real low, and with our outfits on top of that, it’s kind of a mass of confusion. If people have an open mind within the first three or four songs, they’re usually dancing at the end of the set.

“We never really thought we’d be doing this almost 10 years later. The latex masks were never taken into consideration when we’d be rocking out onstage, and it’s so hot in the masks that you almost just want to die. It’s really difficult; you can’t see much of what you’re doing, and when we rehearse at our studio, we do it with our eyes closed so we know what it feels like when we’re playing live. I think a lot of the stuff that Fartbarf does, we set these limitations just to see how creative we can become with these limitations.

“We noticed when we first started that there was a lot of electronic music coming out, and none of us really came from an electronic-music background. A lot of the music is interesting, and when you go see some of these people live, it is just a dude hitting play on a laptop and pretending to do something. We really set the limitations so that we would never play live with a computer, and there would be a lot of mistakes. We have a live drummer with real drums, because we don’t want to feel like those shows you go see, and it’s like, ‘Eh, it’s all right, but I can do this in my living room.’ I don’t know if setting limitations is for the greater good of anything, but it’s kind of fun to try to work our way out of the rut we create for ourselves.”

Fartbarf has released one album, Dirty Power.

“We’ve talked to a handful of different record labels over the years, especially when we first introduced our album in 2014,” McLeod said. “We had a lot of interest, because we were playing a ton of shows, especially for a couple of years; we played over 100 shows a year. We’re three guys who have careers on top of this side project. At the end of the day … would major labels really do for us what we could do on our own if we got our hands dirty and put our minds to it?”

Playing with Jesika von Rabbit and at Pappy and Harriet’s is pretty cool for Fartbarf, McLeod said.

“We actually don’t know (Jesika) too well, and that’s the crazy thing: We’re actually really excited right now,” he said. “We’re obviously excited about playing Pappy and Harriet’s, given we’ve been there. We love their chili, and we love the vibe. We’re pumped to play there.

“When we played at The Palms, we just kept driving and driving and driving, not knowing where in the hell we were going, and that place is out there. … For us, playing in the desert, it’s definitely out of our comfort zone.”

Fartbarf will perform with Jesika von Rabbit at 9 p.m., Friday, July 21, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

In the 1990s, rappers were not afraid to produce amusing songs. Naughty by Nature made “O.P.P.”; Duice had “Dazzey Duks”; and then there was Sir Mix-a-Lot, with “Baby Got Back.”

On Saturday, July 8, Spotlight 29 will host the Old School Freestyle Festival, with Sir Mix-a-Lot as the headliner. The show will also include Taylor Dayne, Stevie B, Sweet Sensation, Ying Yang Twins, Debbie Deb, Snap!, Pretty Poison and DJ Unk.

During a recent phone interview with Sir Mix-a-Lot, aka Anthony Ray, I was surprised by not only the smooth tone of his voice, but his extensive musical knowledge—and his business acumen. I asked him what he’s been doing in between sporadic live appearances since releasing his last album, Daddy’s Home, in 2003.

“I’ve been doing all kinds of stuff, man,” Ray said. “I do pretty well with publishing and licensing. I have a tech company I started called True Human Interface, and we’re finally close to a first product, so that’s going pretty good. I’ve also been dabbling in some real estate and had bought some things in the down market in 2008 and got out of them now, so that’s looking good.”

Given the current state of the music industry, Ray seems like a genius for not putting all of his eggs into one basket.

“The industry now is so different than back then,” he said. “I’m definitely not a ‘get off my lawn’ kind of guy, but at some point, you have to see it for what it is. The old guys are being stupid, because they don’t want to let their music be posted on any streaming service, but these are the same old fucks who beg people to ‘please play my record for free on the radio.’ I always tell people that I always pitch myself, because in this day and age, it’s not normal in hip hop to be doing pretty well.”

Ray, originally from Seattle, said he loves different types of music. He recorded the song “Freak Momma” with the band Mudhoney for the Judgment Night soundtrack, and he performed and released several songs with the band the Presidents of the United States of America under the name Subset.

“I love music. I’ve never been a one-genre kind of guy,” Ray said. “I love hip hop. I’m crazy about EDM at my age, and then into old-school funk like Parliament-Funkadelic. The only thing I’m not crazy about is straight pop music. It’s always about been rock music with an edge—grunge music, obviously, and stuff like Metallica.

“Me recording with the Presidents of the United States of America years ago was a natural progression. We never released a record, because the old guys with money never gave a shit,” he added with a laugh.

Ray said he felt a little bit out of place in Seattle’s music scene early in his career.

“When I released my first record, Swass, in 1988, there really wasn’t any grunge music,” he said. “Seattle wasn’t musically dormant, because there was music being made; it just wasn’t national. It felt a little strange, and I felt a little guilty, because you had great bands who were just starting to come together. The Soundgardens and the Pearl Jams were just starting to get the momentum going, and I sneak in with this song called ‘Posse on Broadway’ and get a platinum record out of it. But once the grunge movement hit, and people realized Jimi Hendrix was from here, everything started to catch on, and I felt more comfortable.”

Some bands that have come out of the grunge world have said they hate the term “grunge.” Ray said he finds that opinion to be … well, stupid.

“I hate that,” he said. “Can you imagine Run-DMC saying to you, ‘Please don’t call us rap,’ at any point? I don’t understand why grunge is something to be ashamed of. It’s still rock ’n’ roll. It’s uniquely Seattle, and I personally think when artists diss that term or that name, they’re actually telling people not to take them seriously, because grunge is a unique sound.”

Of course, Ray’s biggest hit is “Baby Got Back,” released in 1992.

“‘Baby Got Back’ was actually a serious track,” Ray said. “The reason the song was written was because at that time, back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the African-American idea of beauty was never represented publicly. You only saw three types of African-American women on TV: a prostitute, a heavy-set woman who gave advice to white children on their way to school in the morning, or a black woman who had to assimilate to another culture to be accepted.

“After talking to the director (for the music video) and telling him the same thing, I was blown away when I walked in and saw this girl on a pedestal, which is what I wanted, but she’s wearing this … oh my God, talk about stereotypical. I thought someone was playing a joke on me. She had this big gold chain, and she looked like a prostitute with these cheesy shoes and leopard print, and I was like, ‘Whoa! You guys got me all messed up.’ It got me off on the wrong foot, and I had to explain to everyone in the room that this song was a serious subject wrapped in novelty. Those who did know that said, ‘Thank you,’ when I made that song. After that, the video went fine.”

“Baby Got Back” was controversial due to its sexual content.

“The song was banned from MTV, which I felt was ironic; that song wasn’t racy or sexist,” Ray said. “I was a little surprised that there was any issue whatsoever, to be honest. I made sure that in the song, I’m lusting for this girl, but I actually never get her. I never conquer. So it comes off like I’m a sexist pig, but I can’t get her because I’m a sexist pig, and that’s why, I think, the video really worked.”

Ray has made a new album—but he said he’s hesitant to release it.

“I have an album that’s actually ready … and what’s keeping me from releasing it is I have this issue with how it would be perceived,” he said. “I don’t want people to think I released a record only because I’m desperate. That’s kind of a fear I have, and I don’t know where that comes from.

“People are shocked when they meet me and learn that I’m not broke. I was driving my Lamborghini the other day, and I had a guy come up to me and ask, ‘Did you rent that, or do you own it?’ Perception is that I must be broke, and that’s not the case. I don’t want that perception to be the reason that I tarnish things I do in the past, because I love making music, and I’m doing what I’m doing because I love music. It’s not as easy as it sounds.”

The current state of rap music came up during our conversation.

“It’s just like it was in any era. I say this about rock and rap: In any era, the cream rises, and the bad stuff sinks,” Ray said. “The kids grab a song, and it blows up. That’s good, but if those kids grow up and resent the fact they ever liked that song, that’s bad. Is there a formula for retaining those kids as they grow up? I don’t know. I got lucky, and three of my songs are still holding on, but it’s hard to do.

“There was some bad stuff out there in my era, and some people say I was that bad stuff,” he added with a laugh.

The Old School Freestyle Festival takes place at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 8, at Spotlight 29, 46200 Harrison Place, in Coachella. Tickets are $39 to $59. For tickets or more information, call 760-775-5566, or visit

If you watched Mad TV in the early ’00s, you probably remember the guy who played George W. Bush and John Madden. You probably also remember he was on Fox NFL Sunday for a while.

That guy is Frank Caliendo, and he’ll be bringing his standup show to Morongo Casino Resort Spa at 9 p.m., Friday, July 7.

During a recent phone interview, Caliendo talked about his five seasons on Mad TV.

“The opportunity to be on TV and do different characters with the impressions and different makeup was always great,” Caliendo said. “The disadvantage was going up against Saturday Night Live: They can be live and up to the minute. Ninety-nine percent of Mad TV was (made) two weeks in advance. It’s amazing to think how Saturday Night Live is able to put that show on. Some people got flustered with Mad TV, but Saturday Night Live was always going to get the accolades and the attention, because something could happen that day, and they could add it to the show and make multiple jokes about it. But Mad TV was great for trying to do different things and learning about acting from the ground up.”

When I asked about his George W. Bush impression, Caliendo imitated Bush’s voice, telling me: “Always simple, man. Always stuff to do.”

He then returned to his normal voice. “They weren’t sure if they were going to have me doing George W. Bush. They let me do a sketch with Michael McDonald, who was playing John Kerry, and it was a debate sketch. I kind of just took the sketch over, improvising. It just got laugh after laugh. That really was a lot of fun, and a great time for me.”

Caliendo is a football fan, so his Fox NFL Sunday years were also great times for him, he said.

“It was a lot of fun, given I was a Packers fan who grew up in Milwaukee. It definitely was pretty cool to be around those Hall of Fame football people. Some of those sketches worked, and some of them didn’t, but it was pretty amazing, because that’s really what took me to another level. Jimmy Kimmel used to bring me on to do the John Madden sketch with him, and he moved on, and I took over for him and started doing different characters each week. That was a huge deal for me.”

Caliendo is a warrior of the road when it comes to standup comedy, but he said he’s now trying to slow down.

“I’ve done so much over the years that now, I’m actually trying to work more on the acting side,” he said. “I don’t audition stuff, but I’ve been working on the skill set and learning the craft a lot more. I do workshops and take classes. That’s been more of my focus than standup. I’m just doing a casino show here or there, and corporate and private shows once a month, but I’m not on the road like I used to be. I used to be out 45 weekends of the year, and I don’t really want to do that anymore. I’m trying to develop a one-man show and do things outside of the impressions.”

Even though he once impersonated Bush for a living, Caliendo said politics is not his favorite subject. “If you’re listening to me for politics, you’ve got problems,” he said.

Caliendo said it’s his kids who make him laugh more than anything.

“The fact that my daughter, who is 10, wants a YouTube channel—what are you going to do with it?” he said. “My son and I are lazy and play video games, but my son is so lazy that he watches people play video games on YouTube. What is that about? I don’t even get it anymore. Things don’t make sense. The Internet has changed everything. … It’s going to be like that WALL-E movie, where everyone just wheels themselves around.”

Frank Caliendo will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, July 7, at Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. Tickets are $31 to $124. For more information, call 800-252-4499, or visit

With a discography going back to 1969, multiple covers by various artists, and a reputation as a fantastic live band, one has to wonder: Why isn’t NRBQ a bigger name in music?

After almost 50 years, NRBQ is still going with founding member Terry Adams, and the group will be playing at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday, July 7.

During a recent phone interview, Scott Ligon, who has been working with Terry Adams since 2007, discussed how he discovered NRBQ, which stands for New Rhythm and Blues Quartet.

“I’ve been a fan of the band since I was 18 years old,” Ligon said. “I’m 46 now, and they became my favorite band when I heard about them in 1988. I couldn’t even believe there was a band like that, that existed on the planet. I immediately started buying every single record on cassette and driving around in my car, listening to them. I just had a real instant connection with all of the music. There’s a certain kind of attitude, a feeling and a spirit to this music that is different. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s a real spirit of positivity and possibility that I related to right away as a young guy.”

Ligon knew all the songs, so it wasn’t hard for him to learn the material when he joined the group.

“I don’t remember ever sitting down and picking out the chords to these songs, but I knew them all,” he said. “I had them in my spirit. When it came time to be the guitar-player in the band, I already knew them all, but I had to sit down and ask, ‘What’s the chord on that bridge?’ and that kind of thing. Their catalog was in my soul similarly to the Beatles or the Beach Boys. That’s how highly I thought of this music.”

NRBQ is a band crate-diggers and audiophiles have known about for years, but the average music fan has probably never heard of it. I asked Ligon why that is the case—and he struggled to answer the question at first.

“I think that slowly but surely, people who are really music people find out about us,” Ligon said. “There’s just so much to wade through. The thing about NRBQ is the volume of work—there’s so much there. You really have to decide you’re going to do this if you’re going to dig in. There are about 30 to 40 albums. There’s just so much music out there, but I think true music-lovers find their way to it. But isn’t that a great thing when you go, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’ve never heard this before!’? That’s the way I felt when I was 18 in 1988. I couldn’t believe this band existed.

In the 1980s, NRBQ enjoyed a colorful period during which WWF/WWE wrestler and manager “Captain” Lou Albano managed the band.

“There was something about this band I couldn’t put my finger on when I first started to see them, and I eventually figured out it was this wrestling thing,” Ligon said. “When I was growing up in the ’70s, my older brother would take me to see wrestling. I saw Andre the Giant, The Crusher, and Mad Dog Vachon, and this was a whole subculture onto itself back in the ’70s. It was really entertaining. These guys who ended up doing this, they had huge personalities that couldn’t be contained. There were 200 people at these things—old ladies to see Andre the Giant and people giving Dick the Bruiser the finger. It was crazy! I recognized this wrestling thing in NRBQ, and I had to discover that Lou Albano was their manager for several years. That was a really amazing chapter in the band’s history, and that happened before I became aware of them. But because I had an older brother who took me to see wrestling when I was a kid, that was another connection I had to this band.”

Considering how many live shows NRBQ plays—always without a set list—it seems like fans would often tape bootleg recordings, and that the band would be releasing a lot of live albums itself.

“I’m sure people do (record bootlegs),” Ligon said. “I’m not really an archivist, and as far as releasing another live record goes, that just depends on if we have a night when we really like the sound and feeling of it, and think people would be interested in hearing it. There’s no current plan to do it, but if something comes along that we really like, we’ll do another live record.”

I asked what those who attend an NRBQ show can expect if they’ve never seen the band before.

“I don’t even know what to expect!” Ligon said with a laugh. “Maybe in some weird way, that does answer the question. Nothing is off limits, and the whole catalog is fair game. We never know what song Terry will call next. It could be from the first record, or it could be from the last record. We never really know. Expect to have a good time and be happy when you walk out of there.”

NRBQ will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, July 7, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

We’re in the depths of summer. Some venues, like the Purple Room (as of July 2), are on summer break. However, there are still hot events taking place in the Coachella Valley—in locations where you can stay cool.

Get your dancing shoes ready for two events at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 15, CHIC featuring Nile Rodgers will be performing. At one point, Nile Rodgers claimed that he and CHIC would be appearing at Coachella in 2017—yet they weren’t part of the lineup. If you found that disappointing, here’s a great opportunity to see them. Nile Rodgers has been on the rise again thanks to his work with Daft Punk on the Random Access Memories album. Tickets are $39 to $69. If that isn’t enough … do you like dancing on the ceiling? At 8 p.m., Friday, July 28, the legendary Lionel Richie will take the stage. I remember when I was a small child in the 1980s hearing Lionel Richie on my mom’s car radio, and seeing his videos on MTV—when MTV was still a new thing. Don’t miss this one. Tickets are $89 to $159. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000;

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is hosting some smaller events worth noting. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 1, Imparables will be appearing. Imparables features two of Mexico’s funniest comedians, Adrian Uribe and Omar Chaparro, who will definitely leave you laughing. What more could you ask for? Tickets are $55 to $85. At 7 p.m., Monday, July 3, you will be in heaven if you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, thanks to The Boy Band Night, featuring a variety of top-notch entertainers paying tribute to the boy bands you know and love. Another reason you’ll be in heaven: Admission is free! The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995;

Spotlight 29 will have a fairly low-key July, but at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 8, the Old School Freestyle Festival will be happening, featuring acts such as Sir Mix-a-Lot (read my interview with him on coming up at next week), Taylor Dayne, Stevie B, the Ying Yang Twins and others. Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 15, Elton John impersonator Kenny Metcalf (right) will be returning to Spotlight 29. His shows are always an impressive tribute to the legend. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566;

Pappy and Harriet’s has a lot going on; here are just a few events. At 9 p.m., Saturday, July 15, Shooter Jennings will be appearing. The son of Waylon Jennings, Shooter has made a name for himself with his own brand of country music, as well as some very strange rock music on his 2009 album, Black Ribbons. Tickets are $25. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 21, the Queen of Joshua Tree herself, Jesika von Rabbit, will be performing. She recently released her version of the Culture Club single “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” which caught the attention of Boy George himself, who praised von Rabbit via Twitter. Also on the bill: Fartbarf (below), one of the most underrated acts to come out of Los Angeles in recent years. Imagine if Devo and Minor Threat had a baby … and then named it Fartbarf. Tickets are $15. At 9:30 p.m., Saturday, July 22, Terry Reid will be come to Pioneertown. Reid, a UK native who lives in the Coachella Valley, toured with the Rolling Stones and was almost a member of Led Zeppelin. He has a lot of stories, and he’ll gladly tell them to you. One of the funniest stories he told me involved Chuck Berry stealing his guitar amp. Tickets are $15 to $18. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956;

Copa Palm Springs has an intriguing entertainer returning to the reigning Best Nightclub, as picked in the Best of Coachella Valley by Independent readers: At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 1, through, Monday, July 3, everyone’s favorite small-in-stature comedian, Leslie Jordan, will take the stage. Famous for roles in Will and Grace (will he be in the revival?), American Horror Story and Ugly Betty, Jordan is no stranger to the Copa. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021;

The closing of Roy’s Resource Center in North Palm Springs—what was the western Coachella Valley’s only shelter for the homeless—has thrown many people onto the streets, and Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) is trying to act.

However, on June 20, the Desert Hot Springs City Council voted against a proposed program that would offer 12 rental properties across the west valley for up to 90 days to those who are homeless or at risk for homelessness. The council decided to revisit the issue in September.

The proposed program is a collaboration between CVAG and Path of Life Ministries. Desert Hot Springs City Councilmember Russell Betts said that he doesn’t feel the program is a good idea.

“They keep deflecting to, ‘Oh, this is just trading a home for anyone who you’d love to have as a neighbor,” Betts said. “That’s the rapid rehousing portion of it. The part that is really objectionable is the emergency housing component: That’s where homeless (people) straight off the street get put into a house in a residential neighborhood. It’s basically putting a homeless shelter in the middle of a residential neighborhood—only it’s a homeless house instead of a homeless shelter.”

Cheryll Dahlin, the CVAG management analyst, said CVAG would continue to work with the city of Desert Hot Springs while implementing the program in Palm Springs and Cathedral City.

“The representative on the Homeless Committee for Desert Hot Springs is Councilmember Joe McKee, and he’s been very supportive of this. But he did inform us at our last meeting that he would vote ‘no’ based on the decision of his council,” Dahlin said. “The city has traditionally not contributed toward Roy’s Resource Center, and we are going to continue our outreach with the city to address any questions they might have about the program. … Our staff recommendation and the recommendation from the Homeless Committee is that we focus on getting services up and running in Palm Springs and Cathedral City.

“Councilmember Ginny Foat, of Palm Springs, and Councilmember Mark Carnevale, of Cathedral City, have been very supportive. The city of Palm Springs has put in their budget about $103,000 for this program, which was the requested amount … we made to each city in the Coachella Valley for Roy’s Resource Center. Cathedral City has put up half of that amount, and the other half will be discussed at a future meeting.”

Desert Hot Springs resident Judy Shea has tried to help by opening a rental property to house homeless veterans in Desert Hot Springs. Shea, who said she would speak to the Independent after the City Council meeting, had not returned post-meeting phone messages as of our press deadline.

Betts is not a fan of Shea’s efforts.

“Eight years ago, she volunteered that same facility as an overnight cold shelter,” Betts said about Shea. “She went down to CVAG back then and offered it, and they took her up on it. It got red-tagged because … it was an unsafe building. They had 40 people staying there, with buses sitting out front of it, idling overnight. At 5 a.m., people would go there to pick them up and take them back down to Cathedral City or wherever else in the west valley, and bring them back again later. … It got shut down, and that was right around the time that Roy’s Resource Center was getting ready to open. They moved everyone down there.”

According to DHS city officials, Shea once owned a home in Glendale and did work on it without permits; the property was eventually seized by Los Angeles County. Betts said that Shea has been doing the same thing to the property she has in Desert Hot Springs.

“She wants to put 40 people in there again. She said at the meeting that it wouldn’t be all veterans, but maybe other homeless,” Betts said. “She’s once again trying to operate a homeless shelter in the middle of a residential neighborhood. The worst thing is she has not pulled any permits. It’s common sense that when you do work on your house, you have to go to City Hall and file for a permit to go start doing this work, and an inspector goes out and has a look at it. She just started working with volunteers.”

At the June 20 DHS City Council meeting, several residents expressed concern about Shea’s efforts. Marjorie Snell was worried because Shea’s proposed location was close to an assisted-living facility.

“Caring for veterans requires trained professionals who deal with PTSD, alcoholism, addiction and anger management,” she said.

Betts also said DHS’ location on the outskirts of the Coachella Valley make it a poor location for a homeless shelter. One of the downfalls of Roy’s was its middle-of-nowhere location.

“Let’s say that you get someone; they get stabilized, and now it’s time that they go look for work,” Betts said. “They’re not going to have a car, and they’re going to have to ride the SunBus. Anyone in Desert Hot Springs knows that it can be a 2 1/2 hour ride to get to your job. It used to be 2 1/2 hours just to get to College of the Desert. If Roy’s was too remote, downtown Desert Hot Springs is even more remote. We’re six miles further away. It’s real nice that everyone wants to push this off on Desert Hot Springs, but we have so many challenges here.”

Dahlin conceded that the location of Roy’s played a role in the decision to repurpose the building into a long-term care facility for adults with mental illness.

“The location of Roy’s Resource Center was a much debated topic. I think if you talk to Ginny Foat, she’d tell you about the challenges we had over locations back then,” Dahlin said. “As we embark on what we’d be doing in this next phase, we’ve discussed some possible locations for shelters, and you do run into questions and concerns from the city and the neighborhood when you talk about a physical building. The biggest upside to Roy’s re-purposing is that it’s a long-term board-and-care facility, so the need for daily transportation has been eliminated. You don’t have clients coming in and out every day.”

Jeff Bowman is downright intense behind a drum set. He’s played in various groups, including legendary desert-rock band Unsound, Mondo Generator, The Agents, Waxy, and Mighty Jack. He was kind enough to recently answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

It was my two favorite bands at the time, Anthrax and Iron Maiden, 1989, at the Long Beach Arena. I can still picture it in my mind. Ah, such a great night for a young metal head: “Scream for me, Long Beach!”

What was the first album you owned?

Kiss, Alive. I got it in kindergarten. I would sit and listen to it on my little yellow record player and study the double-album cover. I was fascinated by everything I saw and heard.

What bands are you listening to right now?

My kids have got us on a Beatles kick right now, and it’s been great to revisit them and watch my kids fall in love with them. Such a great variety of music from one band. I really don’t have enough time to explore new music these days.

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

The first artist that comes to mind is Bob Dylan. Sorry if that offends anyone, but I don’t get him, and I’ve never been able to tolerate listening to him long enough to try to get him. So I may just never get him, and from what I’ve heard, I’m OK with that.

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

I’ve been lucky enough to see most of my faves over the years, but I would have loved to have seen the Waters/Gilmour-era Pink Floyd. If you could stretch the definition of “defunct” to “dead,” it would be Johnny Cash.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure? 

I own a double CD of dance/electronica music called Fired Up that I purchased after hearing it on a late-night infomercial. I bought it right there off the darn TV. It gets me fired up.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Viper Room in Vienna, Austria, is awesome. It’s a place like no other. I was told by a guy who worked there that the building is about 600 years old, and it was originally a monastery. The stage is underground, and the ceiling is arched, so it’s like playing in a cave. The bass tones literally rattle the plaster off the walls and ceiling! The staff and catering were so amazing, though, and there’s a Starbucks within walking distance.

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

I just volunteered to play a few kids’ church songs on bass guitar for an end-of-the-year “chapel jam” at my daughter’s preschool, and I listened to the songs over and over again so I could learn them for the one 15-minute performance, and now I can’t stop singing: “Whether it rains, whether it pours, wherever I go, I will trust you, Lord.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t listening to music or singing along to songs, but I can narrow it down to one piece of music that changed my life as a musician: It was the guitar solo part of the live version of a song called “She” on Kiss’ Alive. I was very young when I first heard it, but it completely filled me with the power of music, and made me feel that, for me, it wasn’t enough just to listen. It made me want to play. It made me want to participate in what those freakin’ guys were doing! I had to learn how to do it. I had to teach myself how to play those instruments. … To this day, I still just play with the pure, simple power and heart of a little boy listening to and emulating Kiss.

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

I’m asking Glenn Danzig to strongly consider dumping the overqualified and presumably overpaid Dave Lombardo and let me play drums for the Misfits!

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Synchronicity II” by The Police. It’s pretty humbling to know that the exact moment I die, many miles away, there will be some creature swimming around in a dark Scottish loch that doesn’t know or care the least bit ... .

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

It so depends on mood, but I’d have to say Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I was in first-grade when I got the 8-track, and it’s been part of the soundtrack of my whole life. I just got the re-issue double album from my kids for Father’s Day.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

The song that reminds you of being in love with your soulmate. Listen to it, and fall in love again and again. It should never get old. That’s Sting, “Fields of Gold,” for me. (Scroll down to hear it.)