CVIndependent

Sun05272018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Brian Blueskye

As the youngest candidate running this year for the Palm Springs City Council, Christy Holstege says she has a lot to offer.

When I met with her at her campaign headquarters, she said the city needed to move forward, and added that as a millennial, she can relate to the younger people trying to start businesses in Palm Springs.

Holstege has extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with the local homeless community as an attorney. She’s served on the boards of Well in the Desert and the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition, and is a member of the City of Palm Springs Homelessness Task Force.

“Homelessness is a crisis that’s affecting cities nationwide,” Holstege said. “Affordable housing is a crisis, especially in California, with (the state) only having a third of the housing stock that we need to house people. We haven’t had any affordable housing built in Palm Springs in 10 years. The waiting lists for the two affordable-housing units in Palm Springs are three years long.

“I think we’re talking about homelessness the wrong way. It’s a complicated issue, and there are different groups of people who are homeless, and there are different problems and solutions for each one. We’re never going to solve homelessness, and I’ve heard some of the other candidates say, ‘I’m going to solve homelessness!’ Homelessness has always existed, and we can never completely solve it; no city has ever done that in the history of the world. We need permanent supportive housing; the data shows the ‘housing first’ model works. There’s a lot of research and are successful models out there, so we just need to adopt them in Palm Springs. We need to create incentives and recruit nonprofits that do this work and build permanent supportive housing in Palm Springs.”

Regarding vacation rentals, she said the current restrictions and regulations are effective—but only as long as they are being enforced.

“It’s a city-created problem in a number of ways, because we failed to enforce (regulations) on vacation rentals and waited until it was almost too late, and there was backlash from residents and neighbors,” she said. “I don’t think our city did enough strategic planning for the future. I supported the new (vacation-rentals) ordinance, because I think the prior problem was a lack of enforcement. The ordinance has teeth and puts an emphasis on enforcement and reasonable regulations against the bad actors.”

Holstege said both affordable housing and a mixed economy are important.

“We need to grow and diversify our economy and grow and diversify our housing market; that way, one can make a living and afford to live in Palm Springs,” she said. “I see that directly affecting our economy, our work force, our city’s diversity and the ability to have families. I’m one of the only candidates who actually works to make a living in Palm Springs, and as a younger person, it’s difficult to afford a house. My husband is born and raised third-generation in Palm Springs, and most people our age … are moving out of Palm Springs because they can’t afford to live here. I’m concerned about what it’s going to look like here in five years if we’re losing out on people who work and have families.”

When I asked her about ethics and transparency, she—like other candidates—noted that information can be hard to find on the city website. She said the city also needs to implement the suggestions of the ethics, transparency and government-reform task force.

“I think we have a lot of work to do on ethics and transparency to regain the public trust after the FBI raid and ongoing criminal investigation, and (the criminal investigation) is for the courts to decide,” she said. “As a candidate, I’m not going to talk about guilt or innocence, even though other candidates are doing that, and I find it concerning. But I support the ethics and transparency government reforms that the task force spent a year working on. I believe we need to implement them right away. It’s a big issue with our city, because we don’t do a great job of updating the public and sharing information.”

Holstege said that as an attorney, she took an oath to be ethical. She also said it’s important to look forward, not backward.

“I’ve made ethics and transparency part of my platform; it should be part of any elected official’s (platform), and we need good ethical leaders for our city,” Holstege said. “We have work to do as a city to improve our oversight and transparency. We’re going to have a new council, a new vision for Palm Springs, and we’ll be moving forward into the future. I really want to talk about the future of our city and what we can do to build together in the next four years—that’s really exciting. I don’t want to spend the next four years of a potential term rehashing things that will be decided by the legal system. People are ready for it to be in the past. We had the transparency election in 2015; we’ve had this conversation, and a lot of us are ready to say mistakes were made. It’s a big issue; it was a big issue for that elected official (Pougnet) which will be decided by a court of law, and we need to improve our transparency processes.”

Holstege called the relationship between the city and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians complex—and said that it needs to improve.

“It’s a partnership, and I think we’ve waxed and waned our relationship with the tribe over the past few decades,” she said. “The relationship has been more strained than it has been in the past. In the past, it seemed we worked together better. We need more collaboration. That starts with reaching out to the tribe, and it starts with respect of the tribe (being a) sovereign entity that doesn’t follow the rules we set for our city. They could build anything they want, essentially, so we need to work together. My concern is that we have two separate entities doing their own thing independently.”

Love it or hate it, the downtown development is here to stay, Holstege said, adding that it’s time to help the property be successful.

“Mistakes were made in the downtown development,” she said. “The developer and the city admitted they messed up and set it way too close to the street—10 to 15 feet too close. That’s a problem when people complain about the height, and part of the problem is it’s just too close to the street. Generally, I think it’s exciting and a good thing for our city and the local economy. I’m glad that it’s going to be finished and up and running soon. I think that will be a huge boon to our city. Too often in Palm Springs, we have a vocal minority that tries to take over the conversation, and they’re extremely negative. It’s easy to be negative about something; it’s easy to criticize, and criticism is cheap. What’s harder is pointing out positive aspects and creating real solutions. I’m really excited there’s going to be retail, because I want to spend my money on things a working professional in this city needs, like shoes, clothes and makeup. We really do need more retail in Palm Springs.”

In recent years, the City Council has been accused of being opposed to fun, as it has enacted roadblocks to food trucks, murals and other cultural things appreciated in other cities. Holstege agreed that the Palm Springs City Council needs to lighten up and allow more innovative new forms of fun into the city.

“I think we’re an incredibly fun city, and we’re the funnest city in the Coachella Valley,” she said. I think millennials and young people are drawn to Palm Springs in particular. I personally live here because it’s fun and I like the downtown, I like the energy, and I like the vibe. But I think sometimes our council doesn’t always have the voices of people who want to have other types of fun. It’s a problem with diversity on our council. We don’t have any young people. I think our youngest council person is 56, so I think it’s a problem: We’re not having fun in ways that are new and innovative, especially as technology evolves.”

Last year, when I went to Sanctuary Palm Springs—a transitional housing program for LGBT young adults coming out of foster care—co-founder David Rothmiller told me a fantastic story about a young man named Henry Lucena.

Henry was 18, straight and transitioning out of foster care. He’d contacted Sanctuary looking for help—but Sanctuary was not yet open. Rothmiller wasn’t sure what to do.

Let’s skip ahead to today: Henry is now an entrepreneur and college student, living in a happy Palm Springs home with his adoptive father, Harry Courtright, a gay man who is a retired library administrator.

Now let’s go back to the start of the story, when Henry was 8 years old.

“I was taken away from my birth parents,” Henry said. “I lived with my foster parents, and it wasn’t the best living situation. I didn’t feel like I was being treated right. I didn’t feel any love from them, and throughout the whole time I stayed there until I was 18, I never grew comfortable enough. I never knew what they did for jobs—only that they were also pastors in a church, but I never really knew what they did for money. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to them. I had six siblings who were their real children. … When I was in high school, I had 3.8 GPA as a freshman, and then it dropped.”

Henry said he never felt comfortable in his foster home.

“It didn’t feel right to ask a question about anything. Whenever I would go into my foster parents’ room to talk to them, they would make comments that I looked around too much,” he said. “They would say that and ask, ‘Why are you looking around so much?’ When they would do that, I wouldn’t really feel comfortable looking anywhere.

“When I first came (to live with Harry), I had nothing. I just had pants, shoes, underwear and a little bit of clothes, and I had to get my Social Security card and my birth certificate. My birth certificate is where I learned my father’s real name, and my foster parents never told me that. They were abusive, and I didn’t want to be around them. They put locks on the refrigerator because the grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and they only gave the key to certain family members. I wouldn’t have it.”

Days before his 18th birthday, Henry decided he would rather be homeless than stay with his foster parents.

“I wasn’t a bad kid, but there were a lot of little problems I couldn’t deal with,” he said. “As soon as I turned 18, I didn’t want to live with them anymore, so they took me out here to SafeHouse of the Desert. … When I turned 18, they said I couldn’t stay there anymore because it was only for kids. My foster dad picked me up asked me what I wanted to do. I still had a year in high school left, and I’d never had a job. … I didn’t want to be in the situation with them. I knew I would finish school; I knew I would get a job—and I didn’t want to do it around them, because I couldn’t be around them.”

Henry ended up at Roy’s Resource Center, and later the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission in Indio.

“When I was at Roy’s, I registered for Palm Springs High School. I was in the shelter and going to school,” he said. “Then I started living at the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission in Indio, and I took three buses in the morning to get to school. … Luckily, I also had a job. I would go back at 11 at night. They knew I had a job and was in school, so they let me come back late. I used the job to get back as late as I could.”

Henry met a friend who let him stay at his place. That friend also gave Henry a news article about Sanctuary Palm Springs. Henry immediately reached out to founders David Rothmiller and LD Thompson.

“My friend cut the article out and knew it applied to runaway (former) foster kids, so I saw it and called them,” Henry said. “I was under all the requirements that their house had, but I wasn’t LGBT, but they said it was fine and that it wasn’t just for LGBT kids. They had me come over to the house and talked about some options for me. I volunteered at one of their events passing around food, and David and LD had me speak at the event talking about my situation—and Harry heard my story.”

A week later, Courtright said, he reached out and offered Henry a place to live.

“One of the questions I asked him at lunch was, ‘How do you feel about living with a gay man?’ because he’s straight,” Courtright said. “He threw his arms up and said, ‘I don’t care. Doesn’t mean anything to me.’

“He moved in, in March 2016. As of Aug. 8, he’s officially my son. We talked about that adoption a couple of times, and he kept saying, ‘No!’ I told him if he changed his mind to let me know.”

Henry said he was hesitant about the adoption at first.

“I said, ‘I don’t think I could do it,’” Henry said. “After my old situation, I didn’t care much about the idea of family. People love family in general, and I had to really think about it. The only reason my situation was so bad was because it was foster parents. I went back to him and said, ‘With the adoption, I’m open to it.’ When I first moved in, I offered to pay rent, and he said I didn’t have to. So many people were pushing me to pay rent, and I tried to push it and he said I didn’t have to.”

Courtright explained why he offered to adopt Henry.

“When I was in my 30s and 40s, I thought about being a foster father,” he said. “… I lived in Harrisburg, Pa., and was the head of the library there. I ran for mayor, and everyone knew me. When I went down to the county and talked to them, they said, ‘Harry, we can fill out the paperwork, but it’ll never get approved, ’” because Harry is gay.

“I want to make sure (Henry) has a family after I’m gone—so he has more family now than he knows what to do with. There are generations of cousins he now has, and they all know who he is.”

Today, Courtright is a proud yet concerned father. “I worry too much. All I’ve told him is to let me know where he is, and that he’s all right. … At night, I’m usually awake until I hear the lock on the door, but that just comes with being a parent.”

Henry is a fan of a Los Angeles clothing store. He buys limited-edition items there—and then sells them online for profit. He once sold a $160 jacket for more $500 on eBay. Courtright proudly bragged about his son’s success.

“He’s going to be rich someday. He’s an entrepreneur!” Courtright said. “… He does this all the time. I told him he’s going to be a millionaire.”

Henry currently is working two jobs and taking classes at College of the Desert. One class helped Henry discover a love for writing, but he’s keeping his options open.

“Right now, I’m taking business, but I know there are so many options out there,” Henry said. “I like to learn, and I know I could do whatever I wanted if I focused on it. I really like to sell stuff and have always naturally been good at selling stuff. In school, I always got a free lunch, and I would sell it for $2, which was the regular lunch price. … I’d bring my own lunch and eat that instead.”

Courtright said he’s watched Henry make some significant and positive changes in his life.

“I’ve told him, ‘I don’t know how you ended up being such a good kid’ after that 10 years he had with the foster parents, but he’s really blossomed,” Courtright said. “He talks a lot more. He asks questions constantly. He’s interested in everything, particularly the news. He registered to vote and voted for the first time. We love each other as father and son—and we say it to each other often.”

Joe Bonamassa was opening shows for B.B. King when he was 12 years old. It’s therefore no surprise that Bonamassa is today a budding blues legend in his own right.

In fact, Joe Bonamassa is now one of the biggest names in blues. He’s put out 12 studio albums, along with 15 live records—and he’ll be performing at The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa this Thursday, Oct. 26.

Bonamassa is well-known for his love of the 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitar.

“All the iconic music that was played—that’s the sound,” Bonamassa said. “All those blues records that I loved and the music I grew up listening to: the Les Paul is the Stradivarius of electric guitars. They’re the perfect combination of craftsmanship, materials and design. They weren’t popular in 1959, and it was a failing brand. Les Paul didn’t even like them in 1959, and in 1964, the English rockers started playing them—like Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Jimmy Page.”

When Bonamassa was 12, he had the opportunity to open for blues legend B.B. King. Thus, it’s no surprise to hear what blues song speaks to Bonamassa the most.

“My desert island song is ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ by B.B. King,” Bonamassa said. “It was a perfectly written blues song, which was also a big hit, and that’s rare. I think it was the last blues song to be a hit besides Tracy Chapman’s ‘Give Me One Reason.’”

Bonamassa is one of the musicians who is making a concerted effort to keep blues music alive, including a nonprofit foundation for music education called, appropriately enough, Keeping the Blues Alive, which provides scholarships and music resources to schools in need.

“Children have been brought up in such an instant-gratification society that the thought of putting 35 years into an instrument is something they’re not going to do,” he said. “Everyone wants to be quick—they want to be a legend, and instead of reaching for a guitar or drums, or anything that requires a 10-year learning period, they’re going to reach for an iPad or a DJ app and go, ‘Look at me!’ I was online the other day, and … there’s a kid from Germany who sells out arenas basically standing there dancing and pushing play, and I’m sitting there going, ‘What the fuck is this?’

“My band doesn’t use in-ear monitors, so it’s a live event—and a live event is supposed to be musicians playing in a room. Truth be told, it’s troubling to see the trend line where it’s cyborgs and computers versus people actually playing. My foundation is set up to encourage kids to pick up a guitar and play music.”

Some say the blues might be completely dead soon, but Bonamassa doesn’t believe that.

“Let’s talk about who is left,” he said. “Buddy Guy is still touring. Otis Rush is also still alive. … Eric Clapton can still sell out Madison Square Garden—and I defy you to show me a 20-something shoegazing indie rock band to do that. Blues is one of those kinds of music where it’s never really been popular to be a blues musician, and it’s a cult music. The people who love it, they love it forever. If you don’t like it, and you don’t get it, you never will. It’s not like one of those things that’s a fad, and it just is. It’s like saying: ‘What’s the basis of your lobster-infused truffle-oil mashed potatoes?’ It’s the fucking potato of that: You can dress it up however you want, but the bottom line is it’s the building block and the DNA of everything we listen to, including most of the crap that’s on the radio today.”

As far as what you can expect from Bonamassa’s show on Thursday, he said he and the band try to change up the show each night.

“You have to make your own work and make your own event,” he said. “How did P.T. Barnum figure out if you bring a bunch of elephants, a juggler and a guy who could swallow swords that it would make people want to come? He bet against himself and said, ‘I’m going to make this thing an event that people will talk about.’ If you just show up to the blues club, and it’s empty, there’s some responsibility of the artist and the people putting on the show. You have to make it an event where people are going to come out of their houses on a Thursday night.”

Joe Bonamassa will perform at 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 26, at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $89 to $149. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.hotwatercasino.com.

The Desert Daze music festival has continued to grow in both popularity and acclaim. However, I am not sure the festival was ready for Iggy Pop.

Frankly, I am not sure any festival could be ready for Iggy Pop. But he’s exactly what Desert Daze got as its headliner on Saturday, Oct. 14.

His performance was 75 minutes of chaos—starting with the very monent Iggy Pop and his band took the stage, going right into “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” The simple chords to that song played with distortion are enough to drive any crowd wild—and the response included a gnarly mosh pit, crowd-surfing, people jumping up and down and a spirit of lawlessness.

At the front of the stage, security staffers had their hands full dealing with all of the photographers who had signed an agreement specifically to photograph Iggy. Iggy being Iggy, he changed his mind and declined to allow any of the photographers—many whom had arrived just for him—to take pictures from the pit. Meanwhile, fans attempted to take advantage of the large opening at the corner of the stage and go through the security barricade. Photographers who decided to stay in front of the stage to take photos were thwarted by security; many wound up shooting from the mosh pit or even further back. (As you can see, Independent contributor Guillermo Prieto proved to be a photo ninja, getting the best photos of Iggy that night.)

All other barriers around the stage, including that for the “Super Duper VIP Section,” had people climbing over them and cramming into the space without proper authorization.

Despite the chilly temperatures in Joshua Tree, Iggy, now 70, appeared onstage shirtless. He still has a lean, muscular appearance—with some scarred and chewed-up-looking flesh thrown in.

It was beautiful mayhem as Iggy Pop tore through many of his Stooges classics, such as “Gimme Danger,” “Search and Destroy,” “Raw Power,” and “T.V. Eye.” At the stage’s sound booth, former Black Flag frontman and punk-rock icon Henry Rollins stood and watched, singing along with full intensity while making a variety of scary-looking, intense faces.

I’ve always wanted to catch a Stooges reunion show (and there were a couple of opportunities that I missed), or at least see Iggy Pop if he came back to perform at, say, Coachella. But his Desert Daze appearance seemed even more special. The festival is still in its developing years in terms of logistics and security, and that made Iggy Pop’s show feel … well, more authentic. It felt like he decided he was just going to take the stage, fuck everything up and give the crowd a performance they’ll never forget.

And that definitely happened. Iggy Pop definitely delivered a truly memorable performance that will put the festival on the map for years to come.

Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider is a fiery, creative force—and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: The same can be said about his son, Jesse Blaze Snider.

Jesse Blaze Snider has found success in many different areas of the entertainment industry, and is slated to bring his show to the Desert Moon Metal Festival in Morongo Valley on Sunday, Oct. 22.

But first, a note of caution: Sunday’s headliner, Jack Russell’s Great White, pulled out of the festival earlier this week, saying he had not been paid. The promoter, Paul Allen, apologized on Facebook—at one point saying only one or two tickets had been sold—and insisted the show would go on. Pictures posted of the decidedly unconventional festival site have also raised eyebrows. Therefore, you may want to proceed with caution—by watching the festival’s Facebook page for updates, for starters.

Anyway, back to Jesse Blaze Snider: He said that going into music was not a choice, but rather a calling.

“There was no decision, Snider said. “I just love music. I was raised on music, and I was raised with MTV on all of the time in the background, because my dad wasn’t really around at that time of my life. I was born just as the explosion of Twisted Sister happened, so I sort of missed out on the presence of him in my life in the early years. I adored him and loved watching him on MTV. … MTV was just on in the house all the time so I could catch a glimpse of him, and I was exposed to every type of music under the sun. My dad got me (interested in) the Blues Brothers; my mom got me into the Muppets, and I was writing songs since I began to speak. I used to write love songs for all my little girlfriends, and on it went.”

He said he’s made attempts to transition out of music.

“I’m a very successful voiceover actor, and that’s actually what pays my bills,” Snider said. “I’m usually just overexposing myself doing music stuff, because I haven’t wanted to go the corporate route and compromise my artistic integrity. Being independent is expensive, though, and I’ve thought, ‘OK, maybe it’s time for me to be done with this’ a few times. Either the universe seems to pull me back in, or the people around me demand me to change my mind, because they believe I’m good.”

As an independent artist, Snider has put out most of his work himself.

“I’ve recorded probably about five albums at this point, but they’ve all been released mostly online,” he said. “I did a very minor release last year to get it into the ears of my fans who have been waiting for a long time. I don’t even have a big fan base, but I do have a very loyal group of people who have been following me for a long time.

“I’m 35 years old, and I’ve been in the business doing comic books, music, voiceovers and hosting as a VJ on MTV2 when I was 19. Starting from that time, there are people who have become aware of me. I’m not very good at promoting myself, but those who do get to know me, they know I’ll talk to them and get back to them, and that I’m very gracious. … They’ve been asking me for stuff forever. I’ve been sitting on all this music, and I need people to be excited about what I’m doing before getting other people to support me. I’ve put out this album called 16, and it was a nice success, but I didn’t promote it, and it was meant to go to my fan base. That’s been working, and I’m going to be releasing something with Spectra Music called Rock and Roll Ain’t Dead Yet.”

His latest release, Black Light District, came with an entirely different concept.

Black Light District is my favorite, because it’s the only album (of mine) that’s perfect,” he said. “It’s perfect artistic impression. It was exactly everything I was trying to say and how I wanted to say it. Image Comics put out a comic book last year in support of it, and it was perfect. Basically, we did these comic book music videos for each song—we did six mini-comics. I very rarely step off the stage or finish what I’m doing and think, ‘It’s perfect!’”

Melding comics and music has been done in the past—by KISS, for example.

“It’s not easy, but I do see the avenues where they connect. I’ve been trying to connect them for many years, because I write comic books,” Snider said. “I’ve written for Marvel; I’ve written for DC; and I’ve written for Disney/Pixar. I have been in that industry for a long time. I go to these conventions to promote comic books and hang out with friends, and I always want to do a concert while I’m there and do something fun. A lot of these conventions are run by normal, everyday people, and they don’t know how to set up a concert. They’ll run out of money, and there’s no room in the budget for it, and you think, ‘Do I want to go there and do something crappy?’ I’ve thought about going and doing some acoustic things, but that’s generally not my A-game. Black Light District might be that thing, though, and I’m looking to do something with a two-man operation where I can go with a keyboard player and do the songs with a good sound system and a projector showing the animated versions of the song.”

Snider said attendees can expect a great performance from him at the festival—along with a few other things.

“Aggression! Profanity! Energy!” he said.

The Desert Moon Metal Festival will take place Saturday, Oct. 21 and Sunday, Oct. 22 at 51010 Livingston Drive, in Morongo Valley. Tickets start at $25. For tickets or more information, visit dmmf.yapsody.com, or visit the event’s Facebook page.

Monday, 09 October 2017 13:30

Live: Gorillaz at The Forum, Oct. 5

When Gorillaz—a “virtual” band featuring four animated members—released its first, self-titled album in 2001, I didn’t know what to think about it.

Now two decades into Gorillaz’s existence, many people still don’t know what to think about Gorillaz, which was founded by Damon Albarn of the Britpop band Blur, and visual artist Jamie Hewlett, creator of the graphic novel Tank Girl. While the future of Gorillaz seemed bleak after Albarn and Hewlett had serious disagreements in 2012-2013, they patched things up and got back to work on Gorillaz, which is currently on tour to support new album Humanz, the band’s first album since 2010’s Plastic Beach and a surprise release later that year, The Fall.

On Thursday night at the Forum in Los Angeles, Gorillaz played to a sold-out crowd—adults who were probably teenagers when the first album came out; teenagers who have discovered the group; and even children who were probably  turned onto Gorillaz by their parents.

The opening act, Compton native Vince Staples, performed with a plain bright-orange background. The stage was covered in theatrical smoke, which made him nearly impossible to see as he moved around onstage.

The crowd members screamed their heads off when the lights dimmed and the vocal sample of Damon Albarn screaming, “Hellllllllo! Is there anyone out there!” played. The musicians then walked onto the stage, including Albarn; multi-instrumentalist Mike Smith, who has also recorded and toured with Jamiroquai; and lead-guitarist Jeff Wootton, who has collaborated with Noel Gallagher of Oasis, Massive Attack and many others. They started off the set with “M1 A1.”

You may be asking yourself: Wait … how does this work if Gorillaz is supposedly a band with four animated characters? The answer: The live musicians perform onstage as animations play on a screen above them. After an animation flashed on the screen for the character Murdoc, the band played “Tomorrow Comes Today” from Gorillaz’s self-titled debut—which still sounds hypnotic all these years later.

The animation for the character Noodle brought on some of the heavier tracks and several live guests. This portion of the show started with “Melancholy Hill,” which was followed by ”Let Me Out” with Pusha T, “Dirty Harry” with Bootie Brown, “Ascension” with Vince Staples, and ’80s soul-club-style track “Strobelite” with Peven Everett.

Later in the show, De La Soul joined Gorillaz for “Superfast Jellyfish,” as well as “Feel Good” during the encore. At the start of the encore, Albarn mentioned that it seemed like every couple of weeks, the world was becoming a crazier place, and said he remembered when he spent time with Bruce Willis doing some fly fishing; the band then played a song called “Idaho,” which does not appear to be released on any of the group’s albums. This was followed by a performance of “Stylo,” which featured a couple of the animated Gorillaz on the video screen having a Mad Max-style car battle with Bruce Willis.

Del the Funkee Homosapien came out during the encore to thunderous applause for Gorillaz’s well-known track “Clint Eastwood” before the band toned things down to close out with the psychedelic-pop tracks “Don’t Get Lost in Heaven” and “Demon Days.”

The highlights of the set were “Sleeping Powder,” which showed animated character 2-D playing a keyboard in a room with a photo of Liberace on the wall, before showing 2-D in a comical appearance similar to Italian disco videos of the ’70s where individuals had tracers; “Strobelite,” which sounded like an ’80s club anthem with Peven Everett on lead vocals; and the uplifting, positive vibe of “We Got the Power,” with Jehnny Beth sharing vocal duties with Albarn before Beth went crowd-surfing deep into the crowd.

While I admit that I’ve never understood the animation portion of Gorillaz, that does not matter when the band performs live. At times, I felt like I was at a rock concert, a hip-hop concert, an EDM concert, a modern dance club and an ’80s dance club. Blending all of those sounds together cannot be easy, and Gorillaz deserves the acclaim and popularity it has.

In other words, should Gorillaz ever appear in the area again, it’s not, “You should go.” It’s, “You HAVE TO go!” Gorillaz live is an incredible music experience—and coming from someone like me who has seen and heard it all from live music acts, this is saying a lot.


Setlist

M1 A1

Last Living Souls

Saturns Barz

Tomorrow Comes Today

Rhinestone Eyes

Every Planet We Reach Is Dead

Sleeping Powder

19/2000

Melancholy Hill

Busted and Blue

El Manana

Let Me Out featuring Pusha T

Dirty Harry featuring Bootie Brown

Ascension featuring Vince Staples

Strobelite featuring Peven Everett

Andromeda featuring DRAM

Sex Murder Party featuring Jamie Principle and Zebra Katz

Out of Body featuring Kilo Kish, Zebra Katz, and Michelle

Garage Palace featuring Little Simz

Kids With Guns

Superfast Jellyfish featuring De La Soul

We Got the Power featuring Jehnny Beth

ENCORE

Idaho

Stylo featuring Peven Everett and Arthur

Feel Good featuring De La Soul

Clint Eastwood featuring Del the Funky Homosapien

Don’t Get Lost in Heaven

Demon Days

Photos by Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net

As a professional boxer, Mike Tyson had a most interesting career. However, his life after boxing has been downright fascinating.

Despite an impressive boxing record of 50-6 and a stint as the undisputed heavyweight champion, Tyson’s career was marred by controversy—most notably the fact that he bit a chunk off of Evander Holyfield’s ear during their second match, in 1997.

Outside of the ring, his life has been filled with problems, including the death of his 4-year-old daughter, Exodus, in 2009; financial challenges; mental illness; and a three-year prison stint after a rape conviction in 1992.

He’s currently touring with his one-man show, Undisputed Truth, which is coming Morongo Casino Resort Spa on Friday, Oct. 27.

During a recent phone interview, Tyson explained what goes on in his show.

“It will cover a bunch of parts of my life that people don’t really know about,” Tyson said. “This is all during my retirement, after I finished fighting—things in my life that happened. It’s almost like the first (version of his one-man) show, but it’s a lot different.”

In May, Tyson released a book, Iron Ambition, which touched on his relationship with his legendary trainer and surrogate father, Cus D’Amato, who passed away in 1985. I asked him if D’Amato ever gave him advice that he wishes he’d followed better. Surprisingly, he said no.

“I followed most of his advice, but he died early on in my career,” Tyson said. “Any of the advice he gave me, it stuck with me. Everything turned out OK. Even the good, the bad and the ugly—it still turned out OK.”

Tyson said he doesn’t think much about his boxing career, even though he was the youngest fighter to ever win the world heavyweight championship, and was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame.

“I never actually look back on my career and think about it from that perspective,” he said. “I’m doing so many other things, but I don’t think my boxing career was too bad.”

As far as those other things go: Mike Tyson has been doing a fair amount of film and TV work. He’s appeared in various movies, most notably the first two The Hangover films. He also has an animated television show on Adult Swim, Mike Tyson Mysteries. In the vein of Scooby-Doo, it features Tyson, an angry pigeon, the Marquess of Queensberry and Tyson’s (not real) 18-year-old adopted daughter, Yung Hee Tyson, solving mysteries. As bonkers as that sounds, the show was recently renewed for a fourth season.

“Warner Bros. came up with the idea for Mike Tyson Mysteries,” Tyson explained. “They came to my house and pitched the idea, and that’s how it happened. But it’s really awesome. I’m doing the one man show; I have Mike Tyson Mysteries; and the sky is the limit. Whatever I can do, I’m ready to do it. In some ways, I feel like I’m going through a resurgence. Kids know me who shouldn’t know me. It’s funny, because kids remember me from The Hangover.”

If you were a kid during the ’80s, you probably remember Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! on the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

“Now I think that Nintendo was one of the biggest inventions that ever happened,” Tyson mused. “But I didn’t play video games back then, so it didn’t mean too much to me.”

Tyson will probably always be most famous for the ear bite. Not that it in any way excuses the bite, but Holyfield spent much of both matches head-butting Tyson. I asked Tyson if he felt referee Mills Lane should have done more to prevent that.

“It’s funny that you say that, because I haven’t really thought about it, and maybe I should look back on that,” he said. “Maybe he could have stopped some of the head-butts, but that’s back in the past. But those things happen, and you can’t cry over spilled milk.”

I had to ask: Why does a boxer who made $300 million during his boxing career have a tattoo of Chairman Mao on his arm?

“One day when I was in prison, I was reading his book,” Tyson said. “He had an interesting life. I saw his picture in there, and I took notice of it, so I put him on my arm.”

Mike Tyson’s Undisputed Truth takes place at at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 27, at Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. Tickets are $55. For tickets or more information, call 800-252-4499, or visit www.morongocasinoresort.com.

The band is called Twin Peaks. Is the name related to that awesome David Lynch show?

Nope. Twin Peaks is named after … a Texas based sports bar and restaurant chain?

Yep. After turning in awesome performances at Coachella in April, the Chicago natives will be performing at Desert Daze in Joshua Tree on Saturday, Oct. 14.

The band’s sound is hard to describe. When I initially heard Twin Peaks, I thought the group sounded like the Rolling Stones meets Bruce Springsteen … but the band is also incorporating garage rock and psychedelic rock.

During a recent phone interview, lead vocalist and guitarist Clay Frankel explained how the band formed.

“We all grew up together and knew each other in high school, and we started a band, playing for a year or two, but none of us really took it seriously until we dropped out of college,” he says.

Twin Peaks puts on a fantastic live show and has released three great albums. However, Frankel said that he doesn’t even fully understand the band’s popularity.

“I don’t really know. I guess we are just energetic. I don’t even know what the appeal is, man,” he conceded.

Twin Peaks’ most recent album, Down in Heaven, was recorded at a friend’s house, and then mixed by John Agnello, who has worked with Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth and Kurt Vile.

“(Agnello) is a crazy fucking guy, but it was great,” Frankel said. “We went to New York for two weeks, and we’d wake up every day, spending about 10 hours hearing the same song over and over again and tweaking it until it sounded the way we wanted—but it was a great experience. Mixing is easier than recording. It’s a lot less fun, but it’s definitely easier. Mixing is just turning up and down instruments and putting things in different places.”

The band’s first record, Sunken, released in 2013, is Frankel’s favorite.

“The first one, that’s the best one we’ve done yet, in my opinion. It’s just the carelessness of it,” he said. “We made that when we were in high school, and it was just something we wanted to record, share with our friends, and sell a little bit before we went to college, just to make some money. It was the most unintentional record. After that, you know, you’re making a record for certain reasons.”

Twin Peaks has played at many of the bigger American festivals. Frankel said that while these fests are fun, there is a downside.

“The good side to playing a festival is the hour or so that you’re onstage—and the bad side is definitely everything else,” he said. “The port-o-potty, the intense heat, being drunk in the middle of the day; maybe it’s raining, and maybe there’s shit all over the ground.”

During the band’s Coachella appearances, Twin Peaks played in the new Sonora Tent, which provided a lot of relief to attendees: It was air conditioned and had couches on which to sit.

“That tent was air conditioned?” Frankel asked when I brought it up. “I don’t know, because it must not have been working very well when we played. But it was fun.

“Another thing about festivals is they give you 15 minutes or something like that to set up all your shit, so it’s kind of hard to dial in a good sound before you start playing.”

Frankel said he is personally looking forward one part of Desert Daze.

“I would like to see Iggy Pop. That’s one of my heroes. Raw Power? Now that’s a great record. A year ago, I was listening to Fun House every day like it was my breakfast.”

Desert Daze will take place Thursday, Oct. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 15 at the Institute of Mentalphysics, 59700 Twentynine Palms Highway, in Joshua Tree. Weekend passes are $229 to $450. For tickets or more information, visit desertdaze.org.

This year’s Desert Daze lineup includes a lot of psychedelic-rock and garage-rock bands—but it also features an impressive array of R&B and soul singers.

One of the R&B/soul highlights is Lee Fields and the Expressions, which will be performing at Desert Daze on Friday, Oct. 13.

Fields has enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years—but his recording and performing career goes back to 1969. Over the years, he’s toured with Kool and the Gang, Hip Huggers, Little Royal and many other groups.

When I called Fields and asked how he was doing, he responded: “Good. I love it when people ask me that, and I can say that I’m doing good, because I know there are a lot of people in the world who aren’t doing good.”

Fields explained how his career started as he was growing up in North Carolina.

“I got into singing when I was about 14 years old—on a dare,” Fields said. “I was dared to perform in a talent show. A friend of mine dared me, and I went up. I actually wanted to be a businessman. … I went up on this dare, and the reaction of the ladies was just phenomenal.

“I got hired by a band to sing the night I went up. It didn’t take a lot of science to figure it out, and I liked it. I started from that point, and ever since then, I’ve been in the music business.”

If you look for any of Fields’ material recorded before 2009, you’re not going to find much of it.

“It’s very difficult to find my records,” he said. “I do know they are on the collectors’ list, and they’re very expensive. I’m appreciative that people think so highly of my old music; that’s the only reason I can think of why you can’t find anything. There’s not a lot of it out there. I made songs that I felt, and I didn’t record just for the sake of getting a hit record. I was trying to make something I truly liked and I felt good about. I always believed an artist should be true to themselves—and I wanted to be from the very beginning.

“There are so many people pointing out the comparison of myself to James Brown with my voice, but I wanted to be me, so I recorded songs at that time … showing what I could do instead of imitating James Brown.”

After Fields and his current band, the Expressions, teamed up in 2009, Fields soon found himself in the midst of a career resurgence.

“I knew that there was a certain kind of band that would come. I believed in searching for that band, and I was starting to lose confidence that they were going to come,” he said. “But they popped up, and the name of that band is the Expressions. They’re like my musical sons. I’m sort of surprised that it took 40 years for that to happen, but at the point when I was about to just surrender, they came. That’s the band I was looking for all my life—the Expressions. The audiences that I’m playing to, I’m not surprised that they’re feeling what I’m doing, because if you do something that’s real, people can tell what’s real and what is not real. People can feel what I do and know it’s coming from a real source. … I’m not surprised. The only thing that took me by surprise is that it took 40 years, but I didn’t give up hope.”

Speaking of James Brown: Fields provided vocals for the James Brown 2014 biopic Get on Up. Fields said that in the world of R&B, Brown was king.

“Everybody from Michael Jackson to Prince borrowed from James Brown,” he said. “It’s very difficult to step out of James Brown’s shadow. It’s a good thing, because it made me try harder. I’m pleased with the outcome, because I’m still touring, and people are giving me a lot of love around the world.”

Many of Fields’ musical contemporaries—including James Brown himself—were derailed by drug abuse. Fields explained why that never happened to him.

“You hear about so many artists who were great, who headlined Madison Square Garden, and now they’re sleeping in vans,” he said. “I can’t say how much I believe in the phenomenon of God, but I do believe God is real—and I believe that without a doubt. That’s how I managed not to fall into the things that other artists fell into. It’s my faith, and while I believe God is real, I’m not one of those holier-than-thou guys. … I’ve realized I accept the fact that I’m just a mere sinner as everyone else is.”

Fields’ 2016 album, Special Night, received rave reviews thanks to a variety of great R&B songs. I asked Fields what he would like to do in the future.

“I want to write better songs,” he replied. “… I think that people watch what they eat for healthy bodies, because everybody wants to be physically well-rounded, and they’re exercising and eating the right foods. But there are two entities that every human being is comprised of, which is the physical entity, and the mental state of the body. People don’t pay too much attention to getting good food for their brains; the songs we hear, the shows we watch and the things we see and hear every day are food for our minds. If we see and hear damaging things on a consistent basis, almost to the point where we don’t know what is right and wrong, we lose the concept. That’s when mass hysteria steps in. … I want to make stable music, sticking by good principles, choosing choice words over vulgarity and negativity. We can sing about the negative things, but do it in a way that keeps us thinking positive. … Everything doesn’t have to be about lust, vulgarity and anger, and it can be sensible and said in a sensible fashion. Artists today have to be more responsible for the words they use to keep us civil-minded without limiting thoughts.”

Desert Daze will take place Thursday, Oct. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 15 at the Institute of Mentalphysics, 59700 Twentynine Palms Highway, in Joshua Tree. Weekend passes are $229 to $450. For tickets or more information, visit desertdaze.org.

People who love rock ‘n’ roll should thank their lucky stars that JD McPherson exists and makes records.

The Broken Arrow, Okla., native on Oct. 6 will be releasing his third record, Undivided Heart and Soul—and this album will put to shame those articles on the Internet about rock ‘n’ roll being dead.

He’ll also be performing at Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Oct. 12.

During a recent phone interview, McPherson said he and his band aimed big with Undivided Heart and Soul.

“You’re asking about a Tolstoy-length tragedy right there,” McPherson said with a laugh. “It was a tough one to do, and a tough one to try and cross the finish line with. There was the usual band infighting and drama; there was self-doubt—and two false starts, one of which that burned through half of our budget.”

The recording sessions took place at a legendary Nashville recording space.

“We were out of options, and somebody had the idea of recording at RCA Studio B, which is one of the last really classic Nashville studios,” McPherson said. “It’s where thousands of country hits were produced in the late ’50s and early ’60s. There were some really great rock ’n’ roll moments there, too. It’s what you hear when you listen to Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying,’ and all the post-Army Elvis Presley was recorded there, too—but now it’s a museum and not a commercial studio. We didn’t think we could do it, but I sent an e-mail, and they replied back with: ‘Yes.’

“Every night, even once things started to look up, it was still difficult. We had to load in everything after these tours of the studio were over, set up all of our gear, set up all of the microphones, set up all of the recording equipment, record until 3 or 4 in the morning, and then completely tear down for the tours the next morning. We did that every day. Usually, when you’re making a record, you want to see spaghetti cables everywhere, and some empty cups sitting around so it looks like you’ve been living there for a while. Every single day looked like a brand new setup. It would have been super-daunting, except that it was there, and we were getting such great sounds, and so many cool ideas were happening because we were there.”

The history of the studio served as an inspiration.

“If there were ever a band in the whole world that would appreciate being in RCA Studio B, it would be us,” McPherson said. “We were just flipping out every night. They have a sound system set up in the tracking room for tour people so they can hear songs that were recorded in the studio. Every night when we were tearing down, we would play ‘Crying’ or ‘In Dreams’ by Roy Orbison. It’s the same piano; it’s the same vibrant moments in the room, and we were using those instruments. Times like that, we were really like, ‘Wow!’ In some way, we were part of this room’s story. I don’t like to record unless there’s some old stuff around, and that room—being so loaded with history and loaded with music—if you have any belief in a building as a recording instrument, that place has loads and loads of music in it.”

McPherson said this album will stand out compared to the others.

“It’s a garage-rock record, for sure. It’s a romantic garage rock record,” he said. “There are really loud fuzzy guitars, and there is a lot of up-tempo stuff. I spoke with a guy from German radio recently who insisted it was a punk album—but it’s a rock ’n’ roll album. It’s weird: The first day we started recording, we tried to get in two songs, because we were trying to get done quickly. We tried the title track, ‘Undivided Heart and Soul,’ and we wanted to make it sound like an RCA Studio B recording. It was just not genuine, and didn’t feel genuine. I have to say this: The longer we were there, and the more we worked, the louder and fuzzier things got. It’s like that place wanted it, or maybe we did, but it was like that place was projecting that.”

Many bands and festivals have called up McPherson to ask for his services, yet he said he always feels like an outsider, no matter where he plays.

“I would put money down that we have opened for one of the most eclectic group of bands you could ever imagine,” he said. “We’ve done opening gigs for Bob Seger, Dave Matthews Band, Eric Church, and Queens of the Stone Age. There’s a really weird group of bands! We always sort of feel like they ask themselves, ‘Are you really sure we were supposed to invite these guys?’ We go to the Americana stuff, and I feel like we’re louder than all those bands. We go to Bonnaroo and I feel like we stick out like a sore thumb among some of those bands backstage. We’re just doing our thing, and it’s apparently appealing to a wide range of folks, and I’m very grateful for that.”

To McPherson, rock ’n’ roll is most certainly not dead.

“The people who are saying that rock ’n’ roll is dead. They don’t love music enough to try to find it, or they’re just trying to sound cool—and to me, declaring rock ’n’ roll is dead is the uncoolest thing you could ever do,” he said. “It’s the stupidest thing. It’s lame! There’s a lot of great rock ’n’ roll music out there. As long as no one is trying to make it grow up, it will always sort of be there.

“They say that guitars aren’t selling as much as they used to, but I can’t believe that now. Every band in Nashville is a guitar band. Every band I see has loads of guitars. There’s really cool stuff out there. Anyone who hasn’t ever been to a Ty Segall show needs to go, and they’ll figure it out.”

JD McPherson will perform with Nikki Lane at 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 12, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $30. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.