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Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Brian Blueskye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brice was a late addition to Stagecoach.

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

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

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

Friday, April 27

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

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

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

Saturday, April 28

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

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

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

Sunday, April 29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frank Eats the Floor stands out in two ways.

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

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

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

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

How has the name worked for them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

King laughed when he remembered that jam session.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit frankeatsthefloorfetf.bandcamp.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The band has also had the pleasure of touring Europe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marlon Wayans has come a long way since In Living Color, Scary Movie and Requiem for a Dream.

Last year, NBC gave him his own television series, Marlon. After premiering for 10 episodes in the fall of 2017, Marlon was renewed for a second season, set to air later this year. He also had the leading role in the Netflix movie Naked in 2017, and in February, Netflix released his standup comedy special, Woke-Ish.

He’ll be returning to the area to perform at Spotlight 29 on Saturday, April 7.

During a recent phone interview, Wayans said he was proud that Marlon had been renewed for a second season.

“I worked hard to promote it, and I’m glad that it found an audience,” Wayans said. “People enjoy it, and I’m hoping we can build on that this upcoming season. The episodes have been really funny so far, and I can’t wait to just stand behind it and present it.”

Despite many years as a comedy-film star, Marlon had never done standup comedy until fairly recently.

“When you do these jokes and tour around the country with them, and it sticks, then you present it to the home audience, and they appreciate you. A good joke is a good joke,” Wayans said. “When you put it on Netflix, and it’s worldwide, you hope it connects as well. … I feel a difference when I hit the stage, and it’s exciting. Before, (audiences said), ‘Let me see if he’s funny,’ and now it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s funny!’”

Wayans said it has not been a problem to balance a television series with doing standup comedy at venues across the United States.

“I love it. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and I don’t have idle hands at all,” he said. “To me, it keeps me focused, keeps me grounded, keeps me in front of audiences—and I’m only getting better. When I do a movie or TV, I have that audience in my head. I think of what joke works the best or what joke goes too far. Everything prepares you for something, and I’m happy I found my purpose at a young age, but I’m mad that I started doing standup too late. My peers are tired of doing standup while I’m excited.”

In 2000, Wayans starred in a live-action film based on the famous role-playing board game Dungeons and Dragons. While the movie was a failure, he said the experience was a lot of fun.

“I did Requiem for a Dream, Scary Movie and Dungeons and Dragons concurrently. I was hopping between Vancouver, New York and Prague doing those three movies at the same time,” he explained. “It was fun to do Dungeons and Dragons, and it was a cute movie, but I wish it had a bigger budget. A movie like that should cost millions and millions of dollars.

“My kids cried when I died, given they were little at the time—all like, ‘Daddy’s dead!’ I had to reaffirm to them and be like, ‘No, Daddy is right here! That’s TV; Daddy is here.’ I used to play Dungeons and Dragons growing up during high school, so it was really surreal doing that movie.”

Despite being mentioned many times in Wayans brothers productions. Mrs. Wayans, his mother, has never made an appearance in any of their films.

“She keeps asking, but I know my mom,” he said. “I tell her, ‘Ma, you’re not going to like fame! If someone bothers you while you’re eating, you’re going to cuss them out.’ We call our mom the creative producer; she created all of us.”

There is one topic Wayans is dismayed to discuss.

“I hate having to talk about race in 2018,” he said. “I think South Africa had it right when they imprisoned someone for being racist. I think at this point in time, we should try to do away with racism and stop seeing the world in black and white. It’s sad.”

Marlon Wayans will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 7, at Spotlight 29, 46200 Harrison Place, in Coachella. Tickets are $25 to $45. For tickets or more information, call 760-775-5566, or visit www.spotlight29.com.

Barring any huge surprises, Coachella 2018 will be known as the year of Beyonce … and no rock headliners.

The lineup might be hard to navigate—but I have you covered with this compilation of acts you should make time to check out.

Friday, April 13 and 20

The Buttertones: OK, we did not say Coachella 2018 was going to be completely devoid of rock. The Buttertones are a Los Angeles outfit that has been getting buzz for its brand of garage rock. The band features Sean Redman on bass (formerly of Cherry Glazerr) and Modeste Cobián on drums and other instruments. (I remember Cobián from Jeffertitti’s Nile; he’s a show of his own.) If you want to hear how weird this band can get, check out new track “Baby C4.” If you’re a fan of bands such as Shannon and the Clams and Ty Segall, you’ll love The Buttertones.

Perfume Genius: I first saw Perfume Genius at Coachella in 2015—and it was one of the most mesmerizing things I’d ever seen. Mike Hadreas has invented a pop sound that’s all his own. A lot of his songs are semi-biographical and address the bullying and death threats he received during his youth for being gay. He’s also written songs addressing other controversial subjects, ranging from domestic abuse to the problems younger gay men face in today’s LGBT world.

The War on Drugs: I know a lot of local musicians who were playing the War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream in their cars or in their practice spaces circa 2014 and 2015. Why? Because the War on Drugs is a great band that has warm psychedelic jams. The band’s keyboard and guitars make me feel like it’s well worth putting down some hard-earned money on their vinyls.

Jamiroquai: My Jamiroquai superfan editor would raise hell if the British nu-funk band were excluded from this list. I’m fascinated by Jamiroquai, given the group is downright huge in Europe—yet all Americans seem to remember about Jamiroquai is the smash-hit song from the late ’90s, “Virtual Insanity.” Jay Kay and co. have been on many Coachella attendees’ wish lists for years. If you’re in the mood for some disco dancing and fantastic funk music, Jamiroquai is who you should see.


Saturday, April 14 and 21

Cherry Glazerr: Named after NPR news personality Chery Glaser, this Los Angeles indie-rock band fronted by Clementine Creevy has been plagued by lineup changes—including going from a four-piece to a trio—but the music has remained fabulous, including sophomore album Apocalipstick in 2017. Creevy is the subject of a documentary put out by VICE called Clementine Creevy: The Millennial Punk Feminist Icon.

Jason Bentley: You might know him from your daily commute as the DJ on KCRW, but he’s also a DJ in the Los Angeles club scene. He told me when I interviewed him a while back that his favorite music to play is house music—specifically at 124 to 126 BPM. Considering he has an ear for great music, Bentley will be a fine Coachella catch.

Chic featuring Nile Rodgers: Nile Rodgers told Rolling Stone that he would be playing Coachella in 2017. That didn’t happen; turns out he was a year off. He played a big part in Daft Punk’s 2013 megahit album, Random Access Memories, and he’s been part of recordings with David Bowie, Duran Duran, Madonna, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga and so many others. Oh, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Need any more reasons to see him?

David Byrne: Many Coachella attendees will be millennials who have never heard of the Talking Heads; they will be wondering who in the hell David Byrne is. Well, he’s not just a musician; he’s an author, a soundtrack composer, and an artist who created an interactive exhibit combining music and technology, allowing people to “play the room.” Considering he’s worked with St. Vincent, who is performing on Friday night, they may appear during each other’s sets.


Sunday, April 15 and 22

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Thisis a pop band out of Australia that has received praise from a lot of rock writers, including the legendary Robert Christgau, who is not easy to win over. The band has a lot of catchy tunes that will get stuck in your head. The group put out the EP The French Press on Sub Pop Records last year, and fans have been waiting patiently for a full-length album. This is one band that could make pop music cool again.

Motor City Drum Ensemble: German house-music producer Danilo Plessow (below) goes by this moniker and is becoming one of the most recognizable producers in the world. The one thing I love about his stuff is that it has elements of soul, disco, jazz and ambient music. Just about anything he puts together can get you grooving. He’s proclaimed he’s bringing the soul back to techno and house … and it’s about time!

The Drums: The Drums made a big splash in 2010 with the group’s self-titled debut album. The duo of Jonny Pierce and Jacob Graham did quite well for themselves in subsequent years, too—but Graham announced he’d left the group last year, leaving Pierce to carry on. The latest album, Abysmal Thoughts, is solid all around, so it will be interesting to see The Drums live without Graham. I’m betting that Pierce will keep the band going successfully for years to come.

Kamasi Washington: You probably recognize his name if you’re a fan of Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar or Run the Jewels—and his collaborations with these acts have made him almost as famous as they are. This jazz saxophonist is no stranger to Coachella, having performed here in 2016—and it has warmed my heart to see jazz at Coachella in recent years. I’m really stoked for Kamasi Washington.

April is the final month of the busy season—and it seems like some venues have saved the best for last.

April marks the final full month of events at the McCallum Theatre. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 3, Lucie Arnaz—actress, singer, producer and daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz—presents Stepping Out for College of the Desert: Latin Roots. The show will pay tribute to Arnaz’s Latin roots, especially the man who helped bring Latin music to America—her father. Tickets are $67 to $127. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 7, enjoy a rock show by Boz Scaggs. His soulful singing combined with his rocking guitar is always a treat—and “Lowdown” is a great song to hear live. Tickets are $100 to $250. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 14, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra will be performing A Tribute to John Williams. Considering how many great films for which Williams has composed soundtracks, this should be a wonderful show to take in. Tickets are $87 to $137. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting two fine events in April. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 7, comedian and puppeteer Terry Fator will be performing. Fator’s wildly popular shows are always funny and entertaining. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 14, enjoy a double-bill of Latin music when Los Lobos (right) and Los Lonely Boys perform. While Los Lobos is best known for the cover of “La Bamba” for the 1987 biographical Ritchie Valens film, there are a lot of cuts the band recorded early in a 45-year career that are political and go deep into the Latin-music genre. Hopefully some of that will be played here! The group Los Lonely Boys is best remembered for hit-song “Heaven,” and the band has sold millions of albums. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has one compelling music event in April: At 8 p.m., Friday, April 6, The Doobie Brothers will be performing. The famed Northern California rock band is no stranger to the desert. The group has won four Grammy awards and has sold 48 million records. Tickets are $60 to $80. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has an event in April comedy fans will love: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 7, Marlon Wayans will be returning to the area. I spoke with the comedian and actor last year, and during the interview, his mother—the famous “Mrs. Wayans” referenced in Wayans brothers comedy—actually called him on his other phone. Marlon is hilarious, and he’s proven himself to be a talented actor outside of the comedy genre—see Requiem for a Dream—and has worked as a screenwriter and producer. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa doesn’t have any big music events in April, but get ready to celebrate, ladies … that’s right: At 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28, Australia’s Thunder From Down Under is BACK! The all-handsome, all-hunk, all-male revue is a hit, and the shows usually sell out—so get your tickets while you still can. They cost $25. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will probably be bonkers with surprises in April thanks to Coachella and Stagecoach—and already, there are a lot of sold-out events. Here are some great shows with tickets left as of our deadline: At 9 p.m., Thursday, April 5, bass-and-drum duo Sumo Princess will take the stage. Sumo Princess features Abby Travis (KMFDM, Eagles of Death Metal, The Bangles) and Gene Trautmann (Queens of the Stone Age, Mojave Lords, Mark Lanegan). Also on the bill is Elettrodomestico, featuring Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Gos. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 6, talented local musician Gene Evaro Jr. (pictured below; photo by Guillermo Prieto/irockphotos.net) will be performing an outdoor show. Also on the bill: His sister, Gabriella Evaro. Tickets are $15 to $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has a busy month of April, per usual. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 14, Palm Springs cabaret star Jerome Elliott will be performing. Elliott will sing hits from Broadway, the world of pop music, and the Great American Songbook. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 21, internationally known singer and pianist Lori Donato will take the stage in a show celebrating Marilyn Maye. Donato has a vocal range that allows her to master blues, jazz and other genres. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 27, Ann Hampton Callaway will perform songs from all the divas that we love—Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and many others. Tickets are $55 to $65. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Punk-rock band FIDLAR released its self-titled debut full-length in 2013—creating a wild party that seemed like it would never end.

FIDLAR’s songs—with lyrics paying homage to wild partying and skateboarding, all with a psychedelic/surf-rock feel—were a breath of fresh air, and paid tribute to the original days of Los Angeles punk.

Then came follow-up Too in 2015. Frontman and guitarist Zac Carper was singing a different tune with a new perspective after a stint in rehab—although the songs sounded just as gnarly and chaotic.

The Los Angeles outfit, whose name stands for “Fuck It Dog, Life Is a Risk,” also features Elvis Kuehn (guitar) and Max Kuehn (drums)—both of whom are sons of T.S.O.L. keyboardist Greg Kuehn—as well as bassist Brandon Schwartzel. The group will be performing at Coachella on Sunday, April 15 and 22.

During a recent interview with Schwartzel, he said the band members were amused that they were finally offered a Coachella slot.

“Funny enough, we never thought we would ever get to play Coachella,” Schwartzel said. “Bands that we knew or played with were playing it, and we were like, ‘What? Why don’t we get to play?’ Then we kind of just figured, ‘Fuck it; it’s never going to happen, so let’s just not even think about it anymore.’ Then when we stopped thinking about it, it happened. I don’t know how it happened, but we were like, ‘OK!’ That’s par for the course for our band: As soon as we stop caring, shit starts happening, and we get the thing we were thinking about.”

FIDLAR had been busy after the release of Too.

“We had been touring for a while before and after the record came out, until early 2017,” Schwartzel said. “We took a minute just to be human beings again and live in the apartments that we pay rent for. We kept busy doing a few shows. I worked on a lot of artsy video shoots for other people and arts-department kind of stuff, keeping busy. Half the year passed by, and we started working on new material that we’re finally starting to finish up.

Too had a lot of lyrically heavy songs about sobriety and a new sober perspective on life from Carper. I asked what’s ahead on the third record.

“The first record was where we were at as an individual collective; that was the vibe of partying and getting fucked up,” Schwartzel said. “On the second record, Zac had gotten sober, so a lot of it was us and him collectively dealing with that. The third record will be about what’s been happening since then. It’s always very in the moment. We’ve been a band for a while now, and now people know who we are, and with that comes a lot of different things. We’re not four dudes living in the same apartment anymore. We’re not dealing with Zac getting sober anymore. It’s just about life now, dude.”

On Too, there’s a song called “Stupid Decisions,” on which Carper screams: “And I took too many drugs, and I drank too much. Yeah, I made some stupid decisions!” I asked Schwartzel if he feels like the band is maturing as the members get older.

“I think the biggest thing we joke about is that we wish we didn’t start playing live as high-energy as we did, because now it’s a lot more exhausting than it used to be,” he said. “You go from being 21 to 30, and your back hurts; your neck hurts; and you start to feel it a lot more. I think that’s the biggest insight to getting older so far. We’re still who we are at the same time, so we’re not completely changing who we are.”

The subject of what, exactly, is or is not punk rock has been thrown at FIDLAR before—and Schwartzel has an interesting perspective.

“It always comes down to: ‘What is really punk?’ That’s something that we’ve always had trouble defining for ourselves,” he said. “We have an attitude that’s very punk, I guess. We’re not a super-agro ‘fuck the government’ punk band, though. When it gets genre-specific, there are electronic artists who are more DIY than the most-DIY punk bands, but it just sounds different. I feel like (the members of) Die Antwoord are the most punk people out there, because they just do whatever the fuck they want, and are wild and weird.

“Who fucking knows what punk is anyway? There’s nothing more freeing than creating stuff. You get good at it and don’t have to worry about having to pay a bunch of people to make a bunch of mediocre shit for you.”

Skateboarding and surfing have been the subjects of FIDLAR songs in the past—but probably won’t be in the future.

“None of us really skateboard anymore,” Schwartzel said. “We’re in a band that tours all the time, and we can’t afford to get hurt. We can’t play through a 10-week tour, break an ankle, and do what we do.”

Being one of the few rock bands at Coachella this year is not a problem for FIDLAR.

“In a way, it’s kinda tight, because we don’t have much competition in our genre,” Schwartzel said. “If there are any rock people who go to Coachella, hopefully they watch us play. Hip hop is the new rock, or something, and it’s cool because it’s different. We’re not all like, ‘Fuck, we need more rock bands out here!’ We just happen to be a band that plays loud rock music.

“I’m stoked to play with Beyoncé. Hopefully she’ll come onstage during one of our songs, and we’ll try to work it out. But I’m stoked to see her, and I’ve been a long-time Beyoncé fan. It’s cool that there are no scenes or genres anymore. Everyone listens to everything, and that’s cool. You just like the music you like.”

In 2014, Benjamin Booker became one of the most-talked about independent artists of the year—earning a slot at Coachella in 2015. Today, he’s still dazzling audiences with his brand of garage rock mashed up with soul.

He’ll be making his second trip to Coachella on Saturday, April 14 and 21.

Booker released his self-titled debut album in 2014, and spent two years touring behind it. He emerged again in 2017 with his second album, Witness.

During a recent phone interview, Booker discussed what happened after the tour was over, and he returned to his home in New Orleans.

“I was riding my bike—and I got shot at while I was on my way to a dinner party,” Booker said. “I don’t really like to talk about it, though, because I don’t want to give New Orleans a bad reputation.”

After touring extensively, Booker was exhausted.

“We did a lot of touring,” he said. “This time around, I’m not doing that much touring. That is very intentional: It was way too much. But you don’t know your limits until you push them. It took me a really long time to get back to a good place after that, and it was a long recovery. It wasn’t until a year after that I started writing again. It was probably longer than that—maybe a year and a half.

“The first record was so surprising, and I didn’t really plan on playing music; I didn’t have a game plan. I think that was something I had to figure out at that point: If I was going to keep playing music, where was I going to go with this?”

After the trauma of being shot at, Booker took off to Mexico City, where he wrote the new album. The legendary Mavis Staples sings the title track with Booker.

“She is the best. I’m playing with her for the first time in the United Kingdom, and I’ll be opening for her, and I’m really excited about that,” Booker said about Staples. “I just like hanging out with her. When we were hanging out one time, she was telling me this story about how she met ‘Martin,’ and I was like, ‘Are you talking about Dr. Martin Luther King?’ She is one of those people whose life is just so rich and full of events and stories. It’s cool to hang out with people like that. I think that was a bigger deal for me than the first album I did. Everyone knows who Mavis Staples is, including my parents. I felt like my parents were so proud of me, and it was special to be able to do it.”

Booker said he still has a lot left to accomplish musically.

“I think that as a musician, you have to look at this whole thing as a process,” he said. “I don’t think that I’m where I want to be as a musician yet, but I think I’m working my way toward that point. That’s how I’m looking at this whole thing. We’re all just trying to make that record exactly the way we want it, so it fully expresses the feelings you want. Until I get to that place, I’m trying to enjoy the ride.”

What does Booker find enjoyable to listen to these days?

“I like SZA and that album Ctrl—that’s what I’ve been listening to a lot lately,” he said. “I listen to a lot of Frank Ocean, and I like Margo Price and saw her perform recently. I saw Parquet Courts perform here recently, and I love them. I’ve felt recently that I have that love of music thing going again, so I’m going to concerts and checking out new people.”

I asked Booker if he lost his love of music at some point

“Oh, definitely. Somewhere after that first album, I didn’t really want to play music anymore,” he said. “You really have to be strong to do this, and I didn’t think it was really for me. I had no idea what was going to happen when I made that album. When you listen to it, it’s literally a live album: We just pushed play and recorded songs. We did it in two days, and nobody thought anything of it.”

Booker said he’s looking forward to his second time performing at Coachella.

“I had a great time last time,” he said. “Good music is good music. I’m not one of those people who just listens to rock music, and I like a lot of the things Goldenvoice does. So I’m excited to see a bunch of people.”