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Anticipation is building for the long-awaited new album by Jesika von Rabbit—and the former Gram Rabbit frontwoman promises it’s coming soon.

The Queen of the High Desert will be performing at Pappy and Harriet’s with the psychedelic Western music outfit Spindrift on Friday, Feb. 9.

During a recent phone interview, von Rabbit said she’s been hard at work on the new album with her producer and former Gram Rabbit bandmate, Ethan Allen—and talked about a cover song that has led to big things.

“The new album just got finished,” von Rabbit said. “I put out ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ back in June. I gave KCOD a song that probably wasn’t in its completed state, but I really haven’t released anything since June.

“I thought about covering Culture Club’s ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ a couple of years back, and I wasn’t figuring out the chords right away, so I figured out how to play Cyndi Lauper’s ‘She Bop’ instead. That came easier to me, but I always thought ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ would be a cooler cover. But then a year ago, I was hanging out in Los Angeles with Ethan Allen, my producer and guitar-player, and he started playing the chords to ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ and it sounded really pretty. We just kind of plugged in and did it right there. That was recorded on the spot, and I did it in one vocal take. I’ve always loved Boy George.”

Boy George heard the cover—and gave Jesika von Rabbit a shout-out on Twitter. He even found a photo of von Rabbit as a child, with a poster of Boy George, and asked, ‘Is this you?’”

“I thought that was awesome,” von Rabbit said. “I’ve been waiting for his phone call to do lunch, but I haven’t gotten it yet.”

One newer song by von Rabbit, “Going Down,” received airplay on KCRW. The song is brilliant and eerie, with a haunting chorus.

“I released that back in December 2016, right before the new year, but I’ve been sitting on that one for a while, and it actually will be included on the new album,” she said. “There will be another phase with that song.”

On the new album, there will be a lot more instrumental contributions than there were on her first solo effort, 2015’s Journey Mitchell.

“It’s more than just electronic music like my last album was,” she said. “There will be full guitars played by Ethan Allen; I’ve got drums on it from a couple of different drummers, and it’s a lot more soulful than my last album. There’s a lot more of a world-music feel to some of my songs. It’s a lot more diverse and a lot deeper. It’s a little tropical.

“There’s a great song called ‘Palm Springs Living’ that I can’t wait to release. It’s deeper, and it has more layers and is a lot more organic. It’s still a little electronic, but organic. There’s also a country-twangy song that’s like Gram Rabbit’s ‘Devil’s Playground’ at the end of the record.

“It’s a short album; it’s only 38 minutes, and I don’t feel there are really any filler tracks. I think there’s something for everybody on this album. There’s this song that’s kind of science fiction, ’70s outer-space, and starts off Steve Miller and goes into some crazy Western world. There’s a song that’s super-trippy and has a bass line that’s kind of like stoner trance music. … I keep going back and forth on all the songs, but I really love the opening song of the album, which is kind of tropical and Beck-sounding. It’s really positive and catchy. I guess people will have to hear it and pick their own favorite song.”

Von Rabbit’s sound combines the weirdness of the high desert with the glamour of Palm Springs; I asked her what she’d do if she lived in another part of the country.

“I used to be in a band in Minneapolis, and we kind of had some fame there. I think I have my own Jesikaisms and my own personal style that would come out no matter where I was,” she said. “I think living in this weird sunny landscape definitely adds its own little slant to my music. I think I will always have that core sense of my writing, no matter what it is.

“But maybe I’d be a little angrier on the East Coast or something,” she added with a laugh.

Von Rabbit’s band includes Lee Joseph, the CEO of Dionysus Records.

“He’s really smooth bass-player and has been playing forever. I don’t ever have to give him any instruction at all as to what to do,” von Rabbit said. “He’s really excited to be a part of this and hadn’t been in a band for a while, and he didn’t expect to be back in one—and now here he is. He also brings a wider awareness of music and can turn us onto things we’ve never heard before, because he’s in-depth and expansive in his knowledge of music. Also, he’s a pretty snappy dresser.”

Von Rabbit said she was looking forward to sharing the Pappy’s stage with Spindrift.

“We haven’t played with Spindrift for a while, and they’re good friends, plus I love their sound and their energy,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a good combination, and there will be a lot of happy people there excited to see us play together. Spindrift is adding a nice spin to the night, too—no pun intended.

“It’s our first Pappy’s show of the year. We have our new drummer, Dan, who is really good, and Ethan and Lee (Joseph) are also great. We’re coming out fresh, debuting some new music in 2018 and spreading positive vibes.”

Jesika von Rabbit will perform with Spindrift at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53668 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

The Eighth Annual Desert Stars Festival brought more than 30 bands to two outdoor stages and one indoor stage at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 25 and 26.

In other words, attendees really had some tough decisions to make regarding which bands to see.

The Desert Stars Festival is a traditional celebration of all things desert. Promoter Tommy Dietrick started the event as the Clean Air Clear Stars Festival in 2007, and changed the name in 2013. Via the festival, Dietrick did a excellent job of promoting the galactic efforts by the Mojave Desert Land Trust. MDLT had a petition table to urge POTUS to create several new land monuments. Dietrick reminded everyone to sign the petition and thanked MDLT for preserving 60,000 acres in the desert.

To my surprise, I ran into some music fans I met at a metal show in Orange County, and a couple I saw at the mega FYF Fest earlier this summer. I also saw a handful of West L.A. faux-hippies who apparently get their fashion cues from H&M, creating a look that would cause Ken Kesey to roll over in his grave.

Thankfully, music took center stage over fashion.

On Friday, Dead Meadow was a highlight. Dead Meadow perfects the new psychedelic genre with an original interpretation of bass, guitar and drums that allows you to just relax and listen as you groove under the Mojave sky.

Spindrift was on early on Friday; the band is always a crowd favorite with spaghetti-Western instrumental surf-rock. New song “Kama Sutra Tiger Attack” would be outstanding in a remake of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Alex Maas of the Black Angels is a regular at this festival—and to Pappy and Harriet’s. Maas had the honors of playing on the handmade Tee Pee stage, constructed by Tommy Dietrick himself. Alex Maas used minimal equipment and kicked ass.

I was relaxing in the billiard room waiting for the Lemonheads when I spied Cain Motter, Venice artist and owner of Domeland, walking outside Pappy’s with a hula hoop. Since flash is always a no-no in music photography, Caine showed off fire-breathing to illuminate himself. Just a normal happening in these parts of the desert.

I was really excited to see the Lemonheads headline. The band kicked things off with “Hospital” and delighted fans through a 12-plus-song set—but there was no cover of “Mrs. Robinson.” Sky Parade with Tommy Dietrick on vocals was great in the indoor stage.

On Saturday, the Cosmonauts spread gloomy acid rock to the main stage—and I loved it. The jam-filled set let one appreciate the difference that psych rock bands bring to this festival.

The Entrance Band is another regular at Pappy and Harriet’s. Guy Blakeslee and Paz Lenchantin form the core of the band, which is well-known in the L.A. music scene. Paz has been the touring bassist for the Pixies for a few years, too. Together, they stood out at Desert Stars, especially with “Back in the City” from the EP Dans La Tempete.

U.K. band Swervedriver headlined the last night of the festival. This group indeed has some dedicated followers; one fan tried to call dibs on the set list while it was being taped to the stage. Swervedriver is touring to promote a new album, I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, and the band included “Autodidact,” “Lone Star” and “Setting Sun” from the new release. The new material was well-received by the hardcore fans.

If you want to experience a buffet of psych rock, Desert Stars is the place for you—and the majestic views that only the Mojave Desert can bring are more than a bonus.

Published in Reviews

You’d never expect for the worlds of psychedelic rock and spaghetti Westerns to mix—but to the members of the band Spindrift, they go hand and hand.

The group will be performing and showing their new film Spindrift: Ghost of the West at Rock Formations II on Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Palms Restaurant in Twentynine Palms.

Spindrift formed in 1992 in Delaware. With influences such as The Doors, Hawkwind and My Bloody Valentine, the band was a heavy experimental rock group with a sound that was a far cry from that of their current incarnation.

After losing two original members in the early part of the last decade, the group rebranded.

“In the 2000s, we moved from Delaware to Los Angeles,” said frontman Kirpatrick Thomas during a recent interview. “At that point, we obviously had lineup changes and (a change in) playing style as well. We went from the experimental East Coast version of the band to the Western psychedelic version of the band. The journey itself from the East to the West Coast was relevant with our sound and experience.”

So how do spaghetti Westerns influence psychedelic rock?

“You have to realize that spaghetti Westerns were made during the ‘60s, during the same time as the psychedelic era,” Thomas said. “As far as the Italian cinema is concerned, you wonder about Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and all those other guys, and what they were going through at the time. You can kind of see it in those films, because they’re pretty far out. There’s no doubt that the whole thing crossed over. You definitely get a psychedelic element from the 1960s spaghetti Westerns.”

Guitarist Thomas Bellier agreed that spaghetti Westerns go hand in hand with psychedelic rock within the band’s sound.

“We kind of re-create Italian interpretations,” guitarist Thomas Bellier said. “So you have an American band doing an Italian west interpretation. That’s more Sergio Leone than it is John Wayne.”

Spindrift has also embraced the world of film. In 2008, the band took part in the film The Legend of God’s Gun, which Thomas co-wrote; he also had a starring role. The film featured a soundtrack that included Joshua Tree’s very own Gram Rabbit.

The band just finished the film Ghost of the West, which will be playing at Rock Formations II.

“Since Spindrift moved to L.A., we’ve become more involved in working with indie-film directors,” Thomas said. “The Legend of God’s Gun … kind of boosted things in relevancy as to how people view Spindrift.”

The director of Ghost of the West is Burke Roberts, who nicely captures Spindrift’s persona as the band performs old cowboy classics such as “Cool Water,” “The Ballad of Paladin,” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” in locations across the West.

“He grew up on a cowboy ranch,” Thomas said of Roberts. “He grew up ranching and has that cowboy mentality. His family owns the Roberts Ranch, which is (one of the) largest cattle ranches west of the Mississippi. We knew that we had something collectively to where we should work together.

“When we made the demos, we thought it would be really cool to take this on the road and film ourselves performing these songs all over the West. We said, ‘Well, we have to get Burke to do this; he’s the cowboy of the bunch.’ So immediately, I called up Burke Roberts, and he said, ‘Oh, wow, this is amazing. We’ve got to make this movie.’ Burke is a great director; he’s done music videos and many other features, and he’s got a lot under his belt, including a lot of awards.”

Bellier said the movie shows the band performing dream sequences. “It’s a surreal visual experience.”

Spindrift has proven adept at utilizing social media, and used a Kickstarter campaign to fund an album. With some bands deciding to forgo funding from record companies and just do independent releases, Kickstarter has become commonplace in the music world. However, Thomas said it’s something the band doesn’t plan to use again.

“I think every artist should try something like Kickstarter once, but you know, it’s for charity,” Thomas said. “You’re asking, and then you’re giving. Do it once; do it for a good reason—and you better make that the one and only time you do it. I don’t think anyone should do it more than once, given it could become a crutch for everyone. I think it’s important to be very attentive and understanding of living within your bounds as an artist.”

Spindrift’s members are no strangers to the high desert. In fact, there’s a history with the Joshua Tree Inn and the suite that Gram Parsons overdosed in: Spindrift wrote an entire album there.

At Rock Formations II, the group promises a good time and is looking forward to performing with Jello Biafra.

“We’re going to do some collaborative efforts live onstage together,” Thomas said. “Also, Jesika Von Rabbit is going to join us onstage for a duet, which will be Spindrift backing Jello and Jesika doing a duet. I love Jesika, and she’s been great. We’ve been cohorts for a long time now. The Joshua Tree area has kind of become our second home.”

Rock Formations II, featuring Jello Biafra and Spindrift, takes place starting at 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Palms Restaurant, 83131 Amboy Road, in Twentynine Palms. Admission is $10; a limited number of advance tickets are available at CVIndependent.com. (Full disclosure: The Independent is sponsoring the show.) For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Published in Previews

As we head into August, there’s cause for celebration: Fall, and more reasonable temperatures, are approaching! There’s another reason to celebrate: What’s traditionally been the slowest month in the Coachella Valley is actually packed with great things to do.

The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club is the new hot spot in town. The Hacienda has announced that it will now have “Swim Club” every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with DJs performing poolside. Admission is free for those 21 and older. Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-778-8954; www.haciendacantina.com.

The Palms Restaurant, up in Twentynine Palms, is hosting two great shows put on by High Desert Underground Productions. (Full disclosure: The Independent is a sponsor of these shows, and we’re selling tickets to them in the Independent Market at CVIndependent.com.) Rock Formations II, starring Spindrift and the great Jello Biafra, starts at 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 23. Admission is $10. The following weekend, the Bat Country Labor Day Blast takes place at 5 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 31. Headlining is former Social Distortion guitarist Rikk Agnew (right); Silke Berlinn, Rawbone, 30 Foot Demon and Swords of Fatima will also be appearing. Admission is $10. The Palms Restaurant, 83131 Amboy Road, Twentynine Palms; 760-361-2810.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club is a great spot to lounge around the pool and catch some great entertainment. At noon, Saturday, Aug. 9, Fleetmac Wood, a DJ collective/party, will be performing/taking place by the pool. As you can probably tell, it’s an afternoon dedicated to the music of Fleetwood Mac. Admission is free. At 10 p.m., Friday, Aug. 22, Joel Jerome will be performing in the Amigo Room. The singer/songwriter was part of the psych pop group Dios Malos. Admission is free. At 10 p.m., Friday, Aug. 29, the Amigo Room will host indie-pop band Crystal Skulls. Considering the Amigo Room’s small size, this show should be a great live experience. Again, admission is free. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of noteworthy events coming up in August. First up is a show by Boston, performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 1. The band that took its name from its home city soared to success after its first, self-titled album in 1976. Songs such as “More Than a Feeling” and “Peace of Mind” helped the band fill stadiums—and an incredible 17 million copies of that album were sold. While lead guitarist and band founder Tom Scholz is the only remaining original member, this should still be a great show. Tickets are $75 to $115. The Gipsy Kings will be performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 29. While the Gipsy Kings are from France, they perform Spanish flamenco and salsa music. These highly successful world-music artists have won the praises of audiences worldwide. Tickets are $65 to $95. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a great August slate. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 1, Marco Antonio Solís will be performing. The Latin music singer/songwriter has sold more than 50 million albums, and is a multi-Latin Grammy Award winner. This show’s a big deal. Tickets are $59 to $129. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 2, Daughtry (below) will be stopping by. The American Idol finalist from Season 5 has managed to achieve a higher level of success than many of that show’s winners; in fact, his band has sold 5 million albums. Tickets are $29 to $59. If you’re aching to relive the 1970s era of soft-rock, go see Michael McDonald and Toto at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9. McDonald, who spent time as the frontman of The Doobie Brothers, is still very relevant in the music industry today. Tickets are $29 to $59. Check the Fantasy Springs website for details on more great shows. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has some excellent events in August. KC and the Sunshine Band takes the stage at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 8. The group is well-known for songs such as “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “Shake Your Booty,” “I’m Your Boogie Man” and other disco jams. Tickets are $29 to $39. Jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, who performed at the McCallum Theatre not too long ago, is taking the Morongo stage at 7 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 17. Botti has worked with the likes of Sting, Paul Simon, Roger Daltrey of The Who, and many others. Tickets are $50. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 22, country singer Sara Evans will be performing. She’s one of the most recognizable stars of country music, and she’s touring to promote her new album, Slow Me Down. Tickets are $35 to $55. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace rolls into August with Courtney Barnett (above) performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 8. The Australian singer-songwriter is currently touring behind her 2013 album, How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose. Her psychedelic-meets-country sound has been praised by the indie-music press. Tickets are $12. The Woodsist Festival will start at noon, Saturday, Aug. 16, featuring indoor and outdoor performances by an amazing list of musicians, including Cass McCombs, Foxygen, Amps for Christ and Little Wings. Tickets are $47.50. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 27, the Murder City Devils will be performing. The Seattle punk outfit reunited in 2006 after a five-year breakup—and hasn’t stopped performing since. In August, the band is slated to release its first album since 2001. This show is already generating a lot of buzz, so we recommend getting tickets ASAP. They’re $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza will be hosting a Battle of the Bands every Thursday in August at 8:30 p.m. The judging panel will consist of local concert promoter Ming Bob, CV Weekly editor/publisher Tracy Dietlin, and yours truly. The finals will take place on Thursday, Aug. 28, with the first-place band receiving $1,000. Come on out and support local music! At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 22, psychedelic rock band Sleepy Sun will be stopping by with special guests War Drum. Tickets are $5. So-Cal punk-rock pioneers Agent Orange will be returning to The Hood at 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 30. Be sure to check out this show! Tickets are $10. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews