CVIndependent

Thu02222018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Brian Blueskye

John Stanley King is a man of many talents, covering multiple genres of music.

The brother of local musician and famed music producer Ronnie King is widely known after performing for decades at venues valley-wide. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Independent readers voted him the Best Local Musician for 2017-2018.

King explained during a recent phone interview how he’s been able to remain passionate about music—after some 45 years as a performer.

“It’s been such a strange upbringing for me here in the desert,” King said. “I had to figure out how to not only make a living playing music, but I also had to figure out how to play music and not get bored or burned out with it. What I figured out, because I love so many genres of music, is that by putting a blues band together and playing blues tunes, I have enough blues in me to be considered a blues guy. So I’ve gotten awards for being a blues artist.

“I started performing with my grandfather’s band when I was 12 out here in Cathedral City, and in his band, I had to learn all that Frank Sinatra stuff. … The jazz part of me—that, I do at Vicky’s of Santa Fe on Sunday, and I sing all that stuff from my grandfather’s band with jazz guys and with a jazz bass player and a jazz piano player. I’ve learned how to mix and match talents, and I’m able to sing a certain genre and present a theme. On Friday night, I get to be myself at Vicky’s of Santa Fe, and that’s where I do stuff I grew up with, like Pink Floyd, Steve Miller, Carlos Santana and Neil Young. I also get to perform my original music that I’ve been writing since I was 15. I’ve been able to stay busy that way.”

There is one song that King said he’s very much tired of.

“If I had to sing ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ five nights a week, I think I’d just cut my wrists,” King said with a laugh. “Luckily, I haven’t had to do that song in nine months, thank God. But I can count the thousands of times I’ve had to do that song.”

King almost always has a band with him—because he does not like performing solo.

“I can’t stand playing music by myself. I lose the passion with the music part,” he said. “It’s almost like shooting baskets when you’re a kid at the park by yourself, and you’re waiting for somebody to come, and no one comes, so you just give up. It’s the same way with me and playing music: I have to have someone to play off of, and at least have that much. I like the back and forth communication between musicians. I’ve seen it go away in many friends of mine who get used to that (solo) routine, and you’ll see them at the street fair, looking miserable. I’ve tried to protect myself from that for a number of years by always having at least one person with me. The bigger, the better.”

Despite his long and successful career, King insisted that he does not take music for granted.

“I just figured this was a good way to make a living,” he said. “I asked God when I was in high school: ‘Just let me make a living playing music, and I’ll be good. It’s OK if I don’t have stardom and stuff; just let me play music for a living so I don’t have to work in the desert digging holes.’ Back in the ’70s and ’80s, there weren’t many houses, so building was huge, and all my friends were in construction. I didn’t want to do that. This has been a great way for me to make a living and enjoy music. I’m still loving every moment, and it’s a lot of fun.

“I recently played at the McCallum Theatre with Jimi Fitz, and that was a lot of fun. … I was, like, 18, and somehow I got into Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians and toured the country. We did the Kennedy Center, the Greek Theatre and Carnegie Hall, and I did that for 2 1/2 years and then decided to play my music again. I’ve played in the clubs and backed many of the local legends who have come and gone through the years.”

King mentioned a Facebook thread not long ago on which local musicians listed all of the places at which they’ve played in the Coachella Valley over the years.

“I played them all when they were open, and played them all as they closed,” he said. “In fact, I tried to open two clubs of my own. I had a place called Moonlight Grill in Palm Desert and a spot called King’s Social Club. I learned a lesson that I wasn’t a great businessman, so I don’t want to do that anymore. I just want to play the music part of it.”

Because he’s seen it all, I asked King what he thinks of the current local music scene.

“The Coachella festival has just changed the whole thing,” he said. “It put the whole fricking thing on the map. I remember when I was a kid in Indio, and Iron Butterfly came and played at the Date Festival. Those kind of gigs would come once every 10 years—they’d let someone big perform in the desert. Now? (Indio) is the ‘City of Festivals,’ and Indio is world-renowned for these concerts that have come up. I think it helped the creativity in the Coachella Valley all around. It made it a little more hip for people to enjoy, and we have places like The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert that’s all original music, which is awesome, because those kinds of places didn’t exist in the Coachella Valley. There are probably four more places that let you come in and play your record and rock it out, which has been a great tribute to the kids out here. That’s where Kyuss and all the younger bands came out from—this real creative pocket that exists here. It’s growing and growing and growing.”

Aaron Ramson is well-known in the Coachella Valley music scene … for a bass player. The mighty Hawaiian bassist has played in various metal bands over the years, but is probably best known for his time in both Perishment and Mighty Jack. If you’ve ever seen Mighty Jack in concert, you probably know that every show is “Aaron’s last show.” For more information, visit www.facebook.com/mightyjackband.

What was the first concert you attended?

When I was 15, the drummer from my band and I jumped on a plane and flew 500 miles to see Slayer. The venue was a converted industrial shop; the audience was 90 percent drunken Marines; and my drummer was wearing a yellow “Popo’s Cookies” shirt. It’s the first and still the best concert I’ve ever been to.

What was the first album you owned?

I got both Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Men at Work’s Business as Usual at the same time. I think they were a Columbia House 2-for-1 special. I used all my allowance.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I went and bought all three Run the Jewels albums. I like their style of rap—excellent beats and flow. Pelican is doing really interesting things in the stoner/prog genre. Lhasa De Sela, R.I.P., is what I always play in the background when I have company over. Her voice was a more sultry Fiona Apple.

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

Mumble rap. I don’t know who any of these artists are. I don’t get it.

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

I’d love to go back and see The Mars Volta and System of a Down show I saw in 2005, but watch it not high as a kite this time. Both were in their prime and magnificent, at least from what I can remember …

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Oh, Jesus … Watkin Tudor Jones and Die Antwoord. Don’t tell anyone, please.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The most exciting venue to have played in was The Palladium in Worcester, Mass, but to see live bands, nothing beats a small club like … The Roxy. You can literally reach up and touch the artists.

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

“I know I know, I’m supposed to know, more of Fitzgerald, more of Hemingway, more of Thoreau. But she keeps me distracted this devilish thing. She feels like brimstone, when I take her shirt off, she could have wings,” King 810, “Me and Maxine.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Metallica. I was a big fan of Michael Jackson, Prince and George Michael. But the first time I saw the music video for “One,” it changed everything. Gone were all my pop albums, and I had to explore this new kind of harder music.

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

Wow. That is heavy. I would ask John Lennon if he really beloved love was all we needed. He was an incredibly complex and flawed man—deeply intriguing. His brain would be incredible to pick.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Chlorine and Wine” by Baroness.

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

.. .And Justice for All by Metallica, simply for its influence on my pubescent brain.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Love Again” by Run the Jewels. Because maybe John Lennon was right. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Rick Jervis, the physician assistant at Executive Urgent Care in Indian Wells, is not only a medical professional; he has also been a professional musician. He once worked for Yamaha’s musical-instruments division, and also worked behind the scenes on the Jackson 5 Victory Tour in 1984. Full disclosure: I also work for Executive Urgent Care. During the day, those of us in the office can hear Rick blasting tunes from various genres, from jazz to rock—and yes, Toto, too. Here are his brief but insightful answers to The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

Todd Rundgren.

What was the first album you owned?

A Deep Purple album.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Ed Sheeran.

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

Rap!

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

Toto.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Jazz.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Santa Barbara Bowl.

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

The “99” in Toto’s “99.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The Rascals. I bought my first (Hammond) B-3 (organ) after listening to Felix Cavaliere play.

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

I’d ask Don Henley of the Eagles how the group is adjusting to the loss of Glenn Frey.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

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

Toto, Falling in Between.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Hold the Line” by Toto. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Charlie Overbey has been writing songs for years that hit listeners with raw emotion—and he’s doing so again, with the release of new album early next year.

Area music-lovers will get two chances to see Overbey perform in the coming weeks: He’s performing Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight and others as part of the “Coachella Valley Independent Presents” series at The Hood Bar and Pizza this Saturday, Nov. 25; and he will perform with his band The Broken Arrows at Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Dec. 14.

After a recent battle with pneumonia, Overbey enthusiastically discussed his upcoming new album, Broken Arrow, during a phone interview.

“I made this great new record with Ted Hutt. Ted has done tons of different things (with bands) from the Gaslight Anthem to Dropkick Murphys, and he was a founding member of Flogging Molly,” Overbey said. “He actually won a Grammy for Old Crow Medicine Show, and he recently did the Brian Fallon record. He’s a pretty hands-on guy, and he produced this new record that is due to come out in February or March.

“It’s called Broken Arrow, and it’s a very deep record and goes to places I normally wouldn’t go. I think in this day and age that you have to dig a little bit and give people music that says something and means something, and bring some harsh reality.”

Working with Ted Hutt was a positive experience, Overbey said.

“Ted is genius, really, because he lets you figure out what’s best and what’s not best without telling you somehow,” Overbey said. “I went in to make one record and ended up making a completely different record—not because Ted told me, ‘You have to make this record!’ Ted told me, ‘You have to make this record,’ without telling me that. That’s part of the magic of Ted. I have never really worked with anyone like Ted where I felt free to explore and open up. He took me out of my comfort zone and got me to put songs on this record that I wouldn’t normally be comfortable singing or playing. There are some really deep songs that I had written during times of my life that were private moments. He told me, ‘Those are the best songs, Charlie. Those are the songs that everyone can relate to.’ Anyone can write a song about drinking, partying and fucking. … But at times, you want to hear something with some depth to it. Ted brought me to a place of being OK with releasing a record of songs that say something and mean something and will have some longevity.”

Overbey has a trove of older songs that have not yet made it onto any recordings. Broken Arrow will include a few of those older songs.

“I had been doing ‘Kentucky Whiskey,’ and we ended up changing the title to ‘Trouble Likes Me Best,’ because there are so many whiskey songs,” Overbey said. “I did that song for many years but never actually recorded it. David Allan Coe told me when I was on tour with him, ‘I should have written that song!’ which to me says, ‘That’s a great fucking song!’

“There’s also another song called ‘Shame’ that I’ve been doing for years that has never made on a record. I demoed it and made a crappy video for it, but that one made it on the record. There’s another one called ‘Last Deep Breath’ that I had written 10 years ago that is a really deep one, and it’s the last song on the record. It’s such a heavy tune to me that I wasn’t comfortable ever recording it or even doing it live. Ted convinced me that’s the record I needed to make, so we made it. But there are still elements of the record that are fun and party music, and the band is a bunch of party-type dudes.”

There are some great guest appearances on Broken Arrow as well.

“I used the Mastersons, the husband-and-wife duo who are members of Steve Earle’s band, the Dukes,” Overbey said. “There’s a song called ‘47’ that I wrote about Eddie Spaghetti of the Supersuckers and his battle with cancer. When Eddie was going through that, they had to come down here (to Los Angeles) from Seattle to have his treatments and stayed at our house—him and his whole family and animals. I wrote a song while that was happening about that situation, and once Eddie was free and clear of the cancer, I called Eddie to sing on it, and it ended up being called the ‘Ballad of Eddie Spaghetti.’ It’s heavy, but it’s upbeat. I also had Miranda Lee Richards; Ted Russell Kamp, who plays with Shooter Jennings; Paul Cartwright, who plays with Father John Misty; and a few other people.”

Overbey is also the frontman for Custom Made Scare, a cowpunk band that was signed to SideOneDummy Records in the late 1990s. Overbey said fans should not expect a full-fledged reunion anytime soon.

“Custom Made Scare was an amazing time, and it had its time,” he said. “We were young, full of angst, piss and vinegar—and it was cowpunk at its best. To do it again is always fun, and we do it every three or four years as long as we’re still young enough to do it. We have talked about making another record, but I’m really comfortable and feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing at this point in my life. Climbing in a van to drive around to play punk rock again—it doesn’t really sound inviting. I like doing it every once in awhile, but sleeping on people’s floors and eating 7-Eleven hot dogs and drinking shitty beer doesn’t do anything for me these days.”

Overbey said he’s thrilled to be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s—and mentioned a new business of his that’s taking off.

“This is our first headline show at Pappy’s, which I’m really excited about, because the fucking barbecue ribs there are outstanding,” he said.

“This has been the calm before the storm. I have Lone Hawk Hats going on, too, and I’ve been making hats for the past couple of years. That is fucking exploding, and it’s so out of control that I can’t make them fast enough. I can’t begin to tell you how many cool people I’ve met just by doing that. The hat line seems to really be propelling the music more than anything ever has. I think in 2018, and I don’t want to jinx anything, but it’s going to be a pretty busy year for me as far as roadhouses and touring. I’m pretty excited to get back out and see every bitchin’ roadhouse in America again.”

Charlie Overbey will perform with Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight and others as part of the “Coachella Valley Independent Presents” series at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 25, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit facebook.com/HoodBarAndPizza. He will also perform at 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 14, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

It’s become a Christmas tradition for Dave Koz to go on tour and play holiday favorites.

In fact, this year marks the 20th anniversary of his Christmas tour—and the smooth-jazz sax great is bringing it to the McCallum Theatre on Tuesday, Dec. 19.

During a recent phone interview, Koz explained why he loves jazz.

“I think it all starts with the instruments and playing the saxophone,” Koz said. “I grew up playing saxophone. Even though I didn’t grow up with the desire to be a jazz musician, it’s sort of the music that best houses the instrument. The sax is an instrument that can feel very much at home in so many genres, whether it’s rock, pop, R&B or jazz. I guess at the core of who I am as a musician, it’s best rooted in jazz music.”

Koz has a history of being in the house band on various television shows, including The Emeril Lagasse Show, The Pat Sajak Show and The Arsenio Hall Show.

“Emeril was the best because of the food,” Koz said. “Emeril is a really great musician, too, and he’s a percussionist. He loves cooking for musicians, and I think it’s his favorite group of people to cook for. After we would finish the tapings, he would make us food—just for us. We would all eat together, and that was so much fun.

“Pat Sajak was at the very beginning of my career before I became a recording artist, and I had the opportunity to stand beside one of my saxophone heroes who hired me for that gig, Tom Scott. That was really amazing. Some years later, I did play every week for a year and a half on Arsenio Hall, and that was during the heyday when everyone was watching that show.

“I love crossing over into other arenas to expose (people to) music. I just had a cameo in a Hallmark Christmas movie (now called Sharing Christmas) where I got to play in the movie, but I also had some lines, and I was a nervous wreck for that. It’s one thing to play, and it’s one thing to talk in real life, but to hit your mark and nail your lines in every take, it’s pretty nerve-racking.”

On the subject of where jazz is today, Koz said that he’s optimistic about the future, thanks to technology.

“I think jazz is increasing in its ability to reach new audiences,” he said. “We’re in a very interesting time period in how people consume music. We’ve gone from the albums to the cassettes to the CDs, and now into a streaming mentality where people won’t necessarily buy a person’s album, but they’ll stream it through a jazz playlist or hear it on Pandora through an artist channel. It’s actually reaching a wider group of people now through this new technology. It doesn’t mean it’s a mass-appeal genre; it’s still a niche genre, but I would say it’s extremely healthy right now. I’m surprised to say that, but that’s how I really feel.”

When I brought up some of the covers that Dave Koz has done, including a handful of different versions of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper,” Koz laughed and said: “You picked a good one there!” He then told me about a video on the YouTube channel called Postmodern Jukebox in which he took part.

“That song is very enduring,” he said. “I just got back from playing Europe, and that was on the set list, because people love it, especially after the passing of George Michael. People are obsessed with that song. George Michael was one of my favorite artists, and he made so much great music. I’ll always appreciate him because he wrote this line for the saxophone that is one of the best sax riffs ever in any genre of music. I love playing it, too.”

Koz said that while he’s Jewish, he loves the Christmas season.

“I grew up Jewish, but somewhere along the lines, I’ve picked up this ‘Mr. Christmas’ vibe, but it wasn’t necessarily the holiday I grew up celebrating,” Koz said, “although, I did sneak into my friends’ houses and help them trim the tree and eat some of the turkey dinner. I love the ceremony of it, and I love the music, too. Even my parents, who wouldn’t put up a Christmas tree—they loved Christmas and the Christmas spirit, and they loved the music, too, and I heard it growing up. That’s where I fell in love with it.

“Even after these many years and celebrating our 20th anniversary of Christmas touring, I still am blown away and humbled to play these great songs. They carry such an emotional wallop. They’re more than just songs and melodies; they’re the guidepost of our lives. When the holidays come around every year, we want to hear these same songs, and we want to be taken back to those more innocent times and memories. The music is what gets us there, and it’s almost a passport to another place, so I love playing the music and being on tour this time of year.”

Koz said he’s doing something special to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his Christmas tour.

“Not many things happen for 20 years in a row, especially in a world as fickle as music and music tastes. I’m very honored and flattered that I’m still doing this,” he said. “We’ve seen kids who grew up coming to our shows who now have gotten married and have kids of their own. It’s become like a holiday tradition for our guests and for us. This year, we went back to the original lineup that we had 20 years ago—that’s Dave Benoit on piano, Rick Braun on trumpet and Peter White on guitar. Those are the three guys I started this with many years ago, so it seemed fitting on this 20-year anniversary to reunite the cast.”

Finally, I had to ask Dave Koz one question: What would he do if he was in a dental chair getting a root canal, and his own music came over the Muzak system?

“As long as I’d have the laughing gas, I’d be fine!” Koz said with a laugh. “We don’t want the association of people getting their teeth drilled in the dentist’s chair, but maybe it’s by design. If people in those situations are getting a little saxophone, maybe it’s taking their mind off what’s happening and providing them with some comfort, and that’s not such a horrible thing.”

Dave Koz will perform at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 19, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $61 to $101. For tickets or more information, call 760-340-2787, or visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Not a lot of people have heard of the local band High Fantasy—but that’s likely to change in the upcoming year.

Orlando Welsh and Ryan Jovian, both of whom were in the now-defunct rock/electronic band Metroid, have been creating an interesting blend of indie-rock and dance music, including releasing some material on SoundCloud.

During a recent interview with Welsh in Cathedral City, he explained why he and Jovian took their music in a different direction.

“A lot of it had to do with Ryan,” Welsh said. “He has a completely different music taste than I do. He’s an indie-rocker, and I kind of tend to lean more toward pop music and punk rock. He’s always had the coolest music collection of anyone I know. So he came up to me and said, ‘Hey, man, I have this idea for this band; you just have to trust me.’

“Before, in our old band … we’d have to do everything together, but I said, ‘Why don’t you take the reins, and let’s see what you’ve got.’ That’s how the sounds for this came up. He just wanted to try something different, and he plays just about any instrument, and he’s very heavy on the keyboard and production. He started bringing songs, and we started putting lyrics to them. Before, we’d sit there with a full band, and we’d be like, ‘What do you think, drummer? What do you think, guitar-player?’ … Five people trying to come up with an idea take a bit longer, or there’s a lot of conflict.”

I asked Welsh if he missed playing stuff with more of a rock edge.

“Not really, because this is really fun. … I’m still playing bass, and I’m still singing,” Welsh said. “Ryan is playing guitar, and his guitar is heavily distorted; he has a My Bloody Valentine-loud guitar. It’s also heavy on the keyboard and the electronics. It’s a blend of both.

“I love electronic music, and bands like Reggie and the Full Effect, and how he incorporates rock, Moog sounds and synthesizers. (Before), we were mainly a punk rock band, and it was fast, and sometimes you miss that. I miss it because the music was fresh back then, and it was uncharted territory. There was this place not too far from here called Bobby C’s that we’d play at, and it was always exciting. I guess everybody misses the days when they were young.”

Welsh said High Fantasy is on the cutting edge, much like Metroid was back in the day.

“Everyone was into the ‘screamo’ thing. We were heavy into synthesizers,” he said. “We were more dance-y, and the disco beat was really prevalent in the music, but the keyboards were always there. We’d show up to shows, and they’d be like, ‘You have keyboards? What are all these keyboard noises going on?’ … We were doing that before that stuff got popular, and we stood out. We’d show up, and there would be a hardcore band playing, and we’d have to win the audience over. Sometimes, people didn’t like us and would ask us, ‘What is this gay music you’re playing?’ We’d end up playing in gay clubs, too, and we had gay fans, so they embraced us. We played one show where we stripped down to our underwear onstage, and I had this leopard-print bikini on. If you Google it, you might be able to find a photo of me from that show.”

Welsh said he understands there are many different segments in the local music scene—but that there is more togetherness now than there was 10 to 15 years ago.

“I grew up in Palm Springs. Palm Springs always had more of a dance scene to it, and I think Indio has a good dance scene to it also,” Welsh said. “Palm Desert, not so much, and that’s more of a heavy town, where it feels like you have to come with a 7-string guitar—but I love all that kind of music. … Universally, I believe the valley has become more of a whole because of the Internet and Facebook, and you can see what’s going on with bands now. You hear about a show, and you can watch the show from someone’s Facebook Live footage. There are more dance clubs in Palm Springs, like Toucan’s, Hunters and places like that.” 

Welsh and Jovian have spent a lot of time recording. Welsh said he loves how easy it is nowadays.

“Recording is a lot of fun. Ryan has been building his recording rig for years now, and it’s portable,” Welsh said. “He has it down to a science now to where he uses an iPad, and has pre-amps in a really nice microphone. We set it up in my living room or his sound booth at home. It’s so easy now. … We’ll sit there and track for hours or days until we get it right. It’s awesome, because you don’t have to spend a lot of money in a studio. Our drums are built digitally. … A traditional drum room would cost you a ton of money to get it done. We like being able to do it ourselves.”

High Fantasy has big plans in 2018.

“We’re releasing songs and videos. We’ve gotten to the point where we can make our own videos,” he said. “My brother got into making videos and filmmaking and bought a nice setup. He learned how to use it in a fast amount of time. We just do it all ourselves. Sometime in 2018, we’re going to start playing shows and touring. We wanted to have content out first and build a fan base online first so we’re not playing some bar to five people, which can be discouraging.”

For more information on High Fantasy, visit www.hghfntsy.com.

Theresa Caputo is arguably the most successful television “medium” working today.

The star of TLC’s Long Island Medium, known for her big blonde hair and her New York accent, is currently in the 10th season of her highly rated show. She’s released three New York Times best-sellers and often performs to sold-out crowds; her most recent Coachella Valley shows have sold out well in advance.

As of this writing, tickets are still available for her appearance at The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa on Saturday, Dec. 9.

Caputo has been in the entertainment news as of late after revealing “a strain” in her marriage to her husband—who is often seen on Long Island Medium. This revelation came after we spoke, so it did not come up during our recent phone interview.

Of course, Caputo has her skeptics, including many who say she’s a performer who uses a number of tricks and techniques to dupe people into thinking she’s a medium. However, Caputo said she indeed has the ability to connect spiritually with deceased loved ones—and that everyone else does, too.

“I believe everyone has the gift,” Caputo said. “I also believe everyone has the ability to connect with their own loved ones who have departed, and to sense and feel the souls of their family members. That is something that can never be broken—that soul bond. I just have the ability to connect with everyone’s loved ones. I didn’t realize I had that gift until my late 20s, and God has blessed me with that gift.”

While most faiths reject the idea of mediums, Caputo said she has reconciled it with her religious beliefs.

“It took me many years to embrace that, because I am a practicing Catholic, so I incorporate it with my faith,” she said. “I also worked to understand what the spirit wanted me to say and how to interpret my signs and symbols to complete strangers. It’s a little bit different when it’s your loved ones, but for a complete stranger, everyone’s life is different, and their life experiences are different. I had to learn how it fit to the person I was reading. For me, it’s just a knowing. It’s hard to explain something when you don’t do it intentionally.”

Caputo said she has experienced many difficult moments while doing what she does, and mentioned an instance that she said had happened to her the night before we spoke.

“I say that I make what I do look very easy, because this is who I am, but it is the hardest thing to do,” she said. “I did a show last night, and there was a man who lost his son; he was on his way to pick him up, and his son drowned and died before he got there. I almost cried, but I said to him, ‘I don’t think there is anything that your son could have me say to you that could make this any better. I just hope it gives you the peace in knowing that his soul is safe with God, and he’s at peace.’ That’s not something very common that I say to someone—that I don’t think there’s anything I could say or do for you to make it any better. That was really hard.”

When I asked if she ever wished she had a day off from being a medium, she laughed before answering.

“I always say to people, ‘Oh, you don’t feel like going to work? What do you think it’s like for me?’” she said. “For me, it takes more energy to block the souls. It’s just easier for me to channel them, and (that way), I’m not fighting the energy. It becomes exhausting to me when I have to fight it. It’s the same thing in life: It takes more energy to be negative than it does to be positive. It takes more energy to ignore someone, and if you walk into a room, and there’s someone in the room you’re not fond of, it takes more energy to block that person than to just walk up and say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ … It’s the same thing with spirits.”

When Caputo goes on tour, she is more interested in doing the show rather than selling things like books, she said.

“I don’t want to waste any time. I want to channel as many souls as I possibly can, so when I get on that stage, I give a very quick speech on what people can expect over the next couple of hours, and I just start with spirit communication,” she said. “At the end of the day, everyone is there to connect with and have this amazing experience. That’s what they are there for, and that’s what I want to give my fans and people who want to experience that spirits are still with us, in a different way.”

Caputo offered some advice to those who are trying to spiritually connect with their loved ones.

“Sometimes, we don’t know what to look for,” she said. “A lot of times, people will say, ‘I’m not able to communicate with my grandfather, and he’s not with me. We had such a strong connection and a bond. I should be seeing signs and symbols every day!’ What I stress to everyone is that there is no right way or wrong way to connect with your loved ones. That is something that only you will know, because your bond and relationship with them is different. Acknowledge the things that are odd, weird, different or simply a coincidence—things like, ‘Oh, that song on the radio reminds me of my grandmother!’ or, ‘That license plate is the year that my grandfather died.’ Anything odd or weird to remind you of them—I refer to them as little hellos from heaven. It’s their energy in getting you to notice and acknowledge what’s going on around you.”

Theresa Caputo will perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $75 to $120. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.hotwatercasino.com.

In 2013, a new band with a funny name played its first show.

In 2017, Upper Class Poverty is still playing live shows—including a late October gig at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, opening for Michale Graves, the former lead singer of the Misfits. Some recorded material may be coming soon, too.

I spoke to the band at The Hood Bar and Pizza, where the band will perform on Saturday, Nov. 18, during a benefit show for Hollace’s Alex Perez, who is battling brain cancer

“The first show we ever played was here at The Hood Bar and Pizza,” drummer Corwin Hendricks said. “It was back when they first opened this location, because I was working here at the time and booking the bands, so I figured we’d just throw ourselves in there. We had a different bass-player at the time; we had our buddy Chaz Shapiro playing bass with us.”

Videos from that first show can be found on the Internet.

“Some of our only live footage that we have on YouTube is from that show,” said guitarist and lead vocalist Rob Lawrence. “When we watch it, we think, ‘We weren’t too bad for our first show.’

“We’ve always loved The Hood. We were in a band before this one called Sol Jah Rock, and (in that band) was the first time I had ever sang and played guitar at a venue, when The Hood was at the original location down the street from here.”

Corwin Hendricks’ brother, Michael, replaced Chaz Shapiro in Upper Class Poverty.

“It took a while to persuade me to be in the band,” Michael Hendricks said. “They moved in with me and played their last show with Chaz—and then Chaz moved. I was just like, ‘I don’t want to do the band thing anymore.’ And then slowly, they were like, ‘We have a show coming up. Do you want to play the bass?’ I said OK, given I really liked the music. That’s the cool thing about it—plus I get to play with my brother and my best friend.”

The band members are recording some of the songs they have been playing over the past four years at their home studio.

“It’s in the midst right now. Mikey is actually doing a lot of the production and engineering,” Lawrence said. “I don’t know if we have an ETA for when it’s all done, but I’m hoping sometime soon. Don’t get too excited. I’ve put down a bunch of guitar tracks, and they aren’t sounding exactly like I want them to sound, so we don’t want to rush it. We said three months ago about three months ago, and it’s not where we want it to be yet. After this album is done, we’ll probably have another new album’s worth of material to play live.”

When I asked what’s been hardest for the band since it formed, Michael Hendricks said it’s always been a struggle.

“It’s a continuous struggle, and that’s what the name represents, Upper Class Poverty,” he said. “We try to do the best we can with the funds that we have, and we’ve put ourselves in poverty to do so. The toughest period is now—because it always is now. What you expect of your life and the money you make never adds up.”

The members explained how the band’s name came to be.

“It was supposed to be a song, and it was our original bass-player, Chaz, who came to Corwin and me after we stopped playing in Sol Jah Rock,” Lawrence explained. “He was like, ‘I had a great idea for a song name, and lately, I’ve been thinking it’d be a really cool band name.’ He told us the name, and we were like, ‘Bro, we have to use that as the band name, not a song, because that’s the perfect band name.’ It represents everything that we’ve gone through and that we stand for. I’ve always been pretty broke, trying to make ends meet. But we love it because we get to go to really cool places and play our songs for awesome people, and we party. It’s a win-win situation. We’re pretty blessed, and we’re lucky people.”

There is one show in the band’s existence that the members said they’ll never forget.

“The backyard show that we did—Schmidy’s Tavern closed, and we bought their stage and put it in the backyard at our house in Thousand Palms, and we had Corwin’s birthday party there,” Michael Hendricks said. “We had a bunch of really cool bands, cool people, and it was just a good time. It was a really memorable show. As for our neighbors … it’s in Thousand Palms.”

Corwin Hendricks fondly remembered that birthday show. “We had six bands, and it was like a small music festival. We had acoustic acts between the bands. It was just a good time. We were competing with a mariachi band that was playing next door.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/upperclasspoverty.

In 2012, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” by the Eli Young Band called dominated country-music radio, reaching No. 1 on the country charts.

That song was written by singer-songwriter Will Hoge, who has released 10 studio albums of his own. He will be appearing at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday, Nov. 10.

During a recent phone interview, Hoge said that after 10 albums, he still feels that recording is a struggle.

“The recording process as far as the studio goes gets a little easier,” Hoge said. “Trying to not be redundant and do the same things over and over? That becomes a little harder. But I’m lucky that I have a wife and kids who keep me full of fresh ideas, so that really helps.

“I’m trying to become more concise as I grow as an artist, and I’m trying to really get to the point of the songs—emotionally, lyrically and musically—as concisely as possible. I think that continues to get better and better as I grow. I’ve learned how to surround myself with the right people, especially in the record-making process.”

When Hoge talked about “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” becoming a smash hit, I could sense the pride in his voice.

“It’s a real treat. That’s the only commercially successful song that I’ve been a part of as a songwriter and an artist on a big level,” he said. “It’s a really interesting song for me that was written during a really interesting time in my life, so I vividly remember all of those things. It was a roller coaster ride just from a song that was written just like any of the other songs I’ve written.

“Every little milestone that happened with that song was cool. Getting a phone call 2 1/2 years before it even came out on a record, telling me that a band was going to record it—that’s the first time it ever happened to me, and it was cool. When it was recorded … that was cool. The fact it was even in contention to be a single was cool. The fact it was a hit single was cool. It actually made it to the Top 50, then the Top 20, and then the Top 10. It got nominated for all these awards. It was something I never planned for or expected. I’m still giddy when I hear it and it comes on, on the radio. It’s grin-inducing every time.”

When I asked if he was upset that he may not get credit for the song in people’s minds since another artist made it a hit, he laughed.

“As long as I still get the checks, I don’t really care!” he said.

Hoge has toured with a wide variety of bands as a singer-songwriter from Nashville. The list includes Midnight Oil, ZZ Top, Lisa Loeb and Jason Isbell. However, he said he was particularly nervous about his tour with the band Shinedown.

“Where I thought we’d be the most out of place was with Shinedown,” he said. “A couple of the guys in the band (Shinedown), I’ve been friends with them for years. They’ve always been really supportive, and they were going out on this acoustic tour and had asked us if we’d go out and do it with them. I had a lot of people who said, ‘It’s a terrible idea. The crowd is going to eat you alive out there; they’re going to hate you, and it’s going to be awful.’ It was the exact opposite. Most of the tours have been good, but that was the one that was the scariest going into, and it ended up being a great a tour. The first night was in Tampa, and we ended the set completely acoustic with no microphones on the front of the stage to a standing ovation.”

Having grown up in Tennessee, Hoge said he’s proud of the state’s musical diversity.

“In east Tennessee, you get the mountain music and the bluegrass, and then in Nashville, you get country music and singer-songwriter type of stuff,” he said. “In Memphis, you have rock ’n’ roll and soul music. So when you’re within the state lines of Tennessee, you cover everything that’s great about American music in a four-hour drive.”

Hoge has seemingly played every type of venue that you can think of, from theaters to the Austin City Limits Festival. However, his current tour includes a lot of lounges and roadhouses—and he’s OK with that.

“It’s always nice to be playing for new people who you’re entertaining for the first time, but the more intimate venue where people are really there to hear the songs and listen—that’s where I really feel like myself,” he said. “With this band, that’s where we really shine. To do a real show and present it the way we do it, those shows are kind of fun.”

Will Hoge will perform with Dan Layus at 8:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 10, 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 pappyandharriets.com.

After Cults released Static in 2013, the duo of Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion had not only broken up as a couple; they were also creatively spent. Therefore, Cults took a break.

While Follin and Oblivion’s romantic relationship is over, Cults is now back with its third album, Offering; it has a much more upbeat feel and is some of the band’s best material to date.

Cults be stopping by Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, Nov. 4. During a recent phone interview with Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, they discussed how Offering got its name. The album starts with the title track.

“The song actually came before the title for the record,” Follin said. “We wrote the song, and when we were outside in the middle of recording one day, somehow we had all separately decided we’d name the album Offering after the song. We all just kind of decided it, which was strange.”

Follin said the time off after the release of Static inspired the album’s sound and energy.

“It was a natural thing,” she said. “We never sat down and decided that we wanted to write a more upbeat album, but we did have quite a bit of time off to recharge everything, and I feel like we were just happier at the time we were writing it. Writing the album before that, we had gotten off a 4-year-long tour, and we were feeling kind of lost and sad. Taking some time to ourselves recharged us.”

Brian Oblivion said they made a conscious decision to have less guitar on the new album.

“I think we’re usually trying to tame the rock,” Oblivion said with a laugh. “Over the process of this album, I learned that playing guitar is not something that I do for fun. In the process of recording this record, we had the whole record tracked without a single guitar on it. We recorded some parts, and I got frustrated because I forgot how to play, so I had to call our touring guitar player to come to the studio, and I said, ‘Just replay all this stuff.’ He added a bunch of cool things, but we ended up taking over half of them away, because the songs already sounded finished.

“Not a single song on this record was written on a guitar. Guitars sound great when they’re called for, but that’s not all the time.”

While there are numerous options for writing and recording music thanks to modern technology, Cults likes to keep it simple.

“When we write, it’s just the two of us and a laptop,” Oblivion said. “Anything can happen at any moment. We can play the song backward; we could change the sound; and we always try to make decisions along the way. We’ll work on it and just look at each other and say, ‘How does it sound?’ If it sounds good, we don’t touch it again. It’s the only way for us to actually finish something in this era of endless possibilities of recording an album.”

Follin and Oblivion said it’s actually easier to write, record and tour together now that they are no longer a couple.

“It’s such an experience to tour with the members of the band that we tour with,” Oblivion said. “You spend five weeks with each other—every moment of every single day. To go home and life apart from that now? It’s very enjoyable.”

Cults had the pleasure of opening for the Pixies several years ago.

“It was one of the best experiences of our life!” Follin said. “We actually talk about it all the time and say we wish we could tour only with the Pixies. They were so nice, and it’s just so cool being able to play and then get off the stage and watch a band that you grew up idolizing play every night.”

There is a special occasion tied in with Cults’ appearance at Pappy and Harriet’s.

“It’s always been a dream, because we’ve heard every show there is amazing,” Follin said. “Luckily, it happens to be on my birthday weekend, and we’re going to rent an Airbnb up there and enjoy ourselves. More of our Los Angeles friends are going to that show than they are the Los Angeles show.”

Cults will perform with Curls and The Willows at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 4, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $19 to $21. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.