CVIndependent

Fri10192018

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Michael Anthony, aka Mikey Sick Boy, has been playing at open-mics and local shows for quite a while around the Coachella Valley. Sadly, that’s about to come to an end—because he is moving to Orange County for a new job. He will be having a last hurrah of sorts when he plays at the Tack Room Tavern during the Concert for Autism on Friday, Oct. 19, and Saturday, Oct. 20.

What was the first concert you attended?

My first concert I ever went to was in 2010, when I went to see Jerry Lee Lewis and the Reverend Horton Heat at the Fox Theater in Pomona.

What was the first album you owned?

More like the first two I owned: The Sublime self-titled album, and Social Distortion’s self-titled album.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve been getting turned on to Led Zeppelin, Rebelution and Sublime. I’ve heard of these bands before, but I just like to switch my tunes back and forth until I’m ready to hear something new.

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

It’s hard to tell nowadays, especially with music seemingly changing every month, even though it doesn’t seem like it might have changed all that much. I learned from a friend not to be so closed-minded when it comes to new stuff, because you might surprise yourself.

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

That one’s a bit of a dead giveaway, and speaking of dead, it would be Elvis Presley—one more time, live from the Graceland gravesite, featuring zombified Johnny Cash and Ritchie Valens. Ha ha! In reality, though, I would love to see all of the best acts the Coachella Valley has to offer merge together … to expand the horizon for the Coachella Valley music scene.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Smoking and playing the blues. I’d be playing by myself, or Muddy Waters is on the tunes hammering it on. Within those times and moments, I always discover or teach myself something new and different, then try to apply that to my music.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Hood Bar and Pizza. It may not be the biggest and baddest of them all, but it’s a venue I call home.

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

“Well high school seemed like such a blur. I didn’t have much interest in sports or school elections, and in class I dreamed all day about a rock ’n’ roll weekend,” Social Distortion, “Story of My Life.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Again, it always has been and always will be Elvis Presley. Here’s how it started: When I was in my mother’s womb back in the day, portable CD players were the thing. She would play “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and put the headphones over her stomach, so I would listen, and that little tremor turned me into more than just an Elvis fan. It molded me to become an artist.

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

I don’t think I can single out any musicians or artists, but what I can say is: “What are you going to do for music, and where are you going to take it?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

There are three I always had in mind: Elvis’ “Pieces of My Life,” Social Distortion’s “Don’t Take Me for Granted,” and The Sensational Nightingales’ “Remind Me Dear Lord.”

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

My favorite album of all time, other than Michael Anthony’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2—just kidding—is the Social Distortion self-titled album.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Elvis’ “Burning Love,” because I want everyone to be jamming to this song and have an awesome feeling when it comes on. Most importantly, be stuck with the image of me streaking down the street butt-naked, because that’s my birthday song! (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

An enthusiastic and community-minded crowd packed The Hood Bar and Pizza—the choice of Independent readers as the valley’s Best Dive Bar—on Friday, Dec. 15, for the Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018 Awards Show and Party.

Hosted by Jimmy Boegle and Brian Blueskye of the Independent, the awards portion featured a couple dozen winners coming onstage and thanking readers for voting them as the valley’s best—but only after Boegle emphasized the importance of supporting honest, ethical local media.

Following the awards, The Flusters—voted Best Local Band two out of the last three years—capped a busy week by performing to an enthusiastic crowd.

After The Flusters’ set, DJ Tommy Locust spun before the after-party launched with the spooky organ tunes of Herbert; he was followed to the stage by Sunday Funeral and Black Water Gospel.

Below are some photos from the event, by Independent contributor Kevin Fitzgerald. Congratulations to all of the winners!

Published in Snapshot

Best Local Album

Thr3 Strykes, CMNCTN-BRKDWN

When I interviewed them last year, the members of Thr3 Strykes told me that putting together the album that would become CMNCTN-BRKDWN was a proving to be difficult task—and taking a long time.

All that hard work and time was worth it: The final result is awesome, and I can’t think of another album put out this year by a local band that matches its energy and insanity. The track with J. Patron and Christina Reyes of Caxton, called “The Colony,” is a must-hear.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Re-established Band

Sunday Funeral

Sunday Funeral was a worthy Best Local Band finalist this year—and what a year it’s been.

The band that Justin Ledesma has fronted for more than a decade has made a remarkable transformation. At the end of 2016, the members set the foundation by cutting back from a four-piece to a trio; meanwhile, Andrea Taboada took over bass duties.

The members found themselves in the finals of CV Weeklys Battle of the Bands in 2017, and have been playing more shows while putting together some great new original material. They’re a definite contender for Best Local Band honors next year; keep your eye on ’em.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Local Live Music Event

The 4/20 Coachella Inbetweener featuring The Flusters and The Yip Yops

The days between the two Coachella weekends are simply packed with great music events throughout the valley—but the one held this year on April 20 at The Hood Bar and Pizza may have topped them all.

The Flusters and the Yip Yops packed The Hood for the 4/20 Coachella Inbetweener, with the bar having to turn away patrons when the venue reached its capacity. Both bands put on spectacular co-headlining sets—after collaborating on marketing materials that were genius and went above and beyond.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Benefit Show

The Concert for Autism

Josh and Linda Heinz, the husband-and-wife duo in Blasting Echo and 5th Town, have now been producing the Concert for Autism for 10 years—and every year, it continues to grow.

Because Josh and Linda are the parents of autistic children, this is a cause that is very near and dear to their hearts—and their efforts to help others facing the same challenges that their family faces are simply remarkable.

Of course … the show is always fantastic, too.

—Brian Blueskye; photo of Josh Heinz by Cory Courtney.


Best Customer Service for Those Quitting Smoking

Desert Vapors

I recently transitioned from cigarettes to vaping—I tried to quit cold-turkey, but needed help with the transition away from cigarettes. I had a lot of questions, and I went to a few shops to get some information and ask questions.

Desert Vapors, with locations in Palm Desert and Indio, had by far the best customer service of the vape shops I went to—and I wound up purchasing my first vaping kit from them. I went back a few days later after having some problems and got service that went above and beyond.

Also, the flavors that they offer are fantastic.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Pet Grooming

Desert Pet Grooming

Let’s face it: When a pet groomer is named something like Royal Canine Resort and Day Spa, and the cutesiness level of the place is off the charts, that fluff is for human companions. All Fido cares about is that the potentially stressful grooming experience goes quickly and without a hitch. As for us human companions … if the grooming shop is welcoming, clean and safe, who needs to feel as though our pet is in the line of succession for the British throne?

Desert Pet Grooming, in Cathedral City at Vista Chino and Landau Boulevard, offers everything you need in a quality pet groomer—without the silliness and added cost of massaging the human companion’s ego. The functional shop is spic and span, and all the grooming is done out in the open. The groomers we’ve tried there have all been great, but Brenda in particular will treat your furry friends like her own.

—Jeff Clarkson


Best Great (but Unpretentious) New Restaurant

Justin Eat and Drink

We like this restaurant on Highway 111 in Cathedral City for the very reason that it’s unpretentious. The Coachella Valley can always use more restaurants like this—serving tasty, interesting food, at reasonable prices, in a simple but hip atmosphere.

This place doesn’t go over the top like some of the restaurants geared toward tourists here in the valley. It’s just a casual, contemporary setting where one can enjoy a relaxed dinner. The portions aren’t huge, but they’re price-appropriate, and while the menu is not extensive, everything we’ve ordered has been delicious.

Although the service is sometimes slow, it’s always friendly—and the food is definitely worth the wait. Now that the restaurant is becoming more popular, reservations are recommended. Justin, the owner/chef, may even pop out and greet you at your table.

—Jeff Clarkson; photo courtesy of Justin Facebook page


Best Local Restaurants (on a National Scale)

TKB Bakery and Deli

Shabu Shabu Zen and Sake Bar

It’s simple math: If there’s a list of, say, 100 top places to eat in the United States, that means the average state will be home to two places on the list. Right? Right.

That means if, say, a not-huge community like the Coachella Valley by itself were home to two places on the list, that would be freaking amazing. Right? Right!

Well, that’s exactly what happened in the case of Yelp’s 2017 list of the Top 100 Places to Eat for 2017. Rancho Mirage’s Shabu Shabu Zen and Sake Bar, long an Independent staff favorite, was No. 78 on the crowd-source review website—an amazing accomplishment. However, what Indio’s TKB Bakery and Deli has accomplished is even more fantastic: It came in at No. 5 on the list—making the Top 5 for the third straight year, something no other restaurant in the whole country has done.

TKB and Shabu Shabu Zen prove that despite some deficiencies, the Coachella Valley dining scene has much to be proud of.

—Jimmy Boegle


Best Quail

Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

I grew up eating quail—not all the time, or even regularly, but often enough that I knew what to expect whenever one of these gorgeous but silly small birds wound up on my dinner plate.

Well … at least I thought I knew what to expect.

That all changed the first time I enjoyed the codorniz estilo Ernesto at Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill in downtown Palm Springs. The grilled quail with sautéed tomatoes, potatoes, Anaheim peppers, garlic, green onions and cilantro is very, very good by itself. However, when it’s paired with Chef Ernesto’s diablo cream salsa, which is served on the side … well, let’s just say that none of the quail dishes I had while growing up were anywhere near this good.

A plate of codorniz estilo Ernesto, paired with a Rio Azul house margarita, is about as close as one can get to culinary nirvana here in the Coachella Valley, as far as I am concerned. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

—Jimmy Boegle


Best Prime Rib

TRIO Restaurant

TRIO is one of my favorite restaurants—but the place used to frustrate the heck out of me.

Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore.

Several years ago, TRIO would occasionally offer prime rib as a special—and after ordering it a time or two, I was hooked: It was the some of the best prime rib I’ve ever had. (Considering I grew up on a cattle ranch, this is high praise, indeed.)

Problem is … because it was a special, the prime rib wasn’t always on the menu. Therefore, there was a time or three that I got a hankering for prime rib, went to TRIO with my fingers crossed … and got frustrated when the server told me prime rib was not on offer that particular night. However, that’s no longer an issue: Every Tuesday at TRIO is now Prime Rib Tuesday—and the meal costs a downright-reasonable $26.

This system is not perfect—a prime-rib hankering can occur on non-Tuesdays, after all—but at least now I know precisely when I can go to Trio to get that hankering satisfied. And that is a very good thing.

—Jimmy Boegle

Published in Staff Picks

Eight years ago, Josh Heinz and his wife, Linda Lemke Heinz, started the Concert for Autism. In the years since, the concert has grown to become one of the most anticipated charity music events of the year.

The Ninth Annual Concert for Autism will take place on Friday, Nov. 18, and Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Tack Room Tavern in Indio. The Hellions, The Flusters, Machin’, House of Broken Promises and many, many others are scheduled to perform during the two-night event.

The couple is well-known in the local music scene thanks to their work in Blasting Echo and 5th Town. They’re also the parents of autistic children; in fact, that common thread in their lives led to them meeting each other. During a recent interview, Heinz discussed the many challenges that he and his wife face on a daily basis.

“The tough thing is that Linda’s son, Christopher, who is 14, he can have severe meltdowns,” Heinz said. “If you try to redirect him if he’s doing something he shouldn’t be doing … he can literally melt down, and sometimes break things, sometimes get violent—and the struggle for us is to prevent that from happening. Currently, he’s on a medical regimen, and he’s actually doing better over the past couple of months, but it’s never a guarantee. Every day, you wake up and hope he’s in a good mood. Last year, he didn’t finish the last three weeks (of school), and we were afraid he wouldn’t even go to high school this year, given it was his first year of high school. So far, he’s been good, but there was a day he had a big meltdown, and we had to go get him out of school.

“When he’s had meltdowns, he has thrown chairs, and you worry he’ll throw the TV from off the wall. It’s fear, and it’s sadness—particularly for Linda, because that’s her son. My son, who doesn’t live with us, is two years older. He used to be violent, but nowhere near what Christopher is.”

Josh works full-time. However, Linda needs to be on call with the school on a daily basis.

“In Linda’s case, she can’t hold a real job,” Josh said. “She teaches piano and voice lessons from home and has done that for a long time. She’s had to cancel lessons. She used to have 20 students she’d teach through the week; now it’s way down from that, probably around 12. There’s that loss of income.”

Having children with autism also leads to financial challenges beyond that loss of work income.

“Christopher is still under his dad’s insurance, but we still have to pay for the medications,” Josh said. “He is also a teenage boy; he eats a lot. The other day, he literally ate six bananas in 30 minutes. He doesn’t like to eat most fruits and vegetables; he wants sugar and carbs. We’ve started to hide food and only put out a little bit at a time, because he’ll go through it.

“When Schmidy’s (Tavern) closed, (owner) Dennis Ford had a deep freeze and said, ‘I bought this a couple of years ago; I’ll sell it to you for next to nothing.’ We have it in the garage, and we’re able to lock it up. We’ll buy a box of taquitos, and Christopher will literally eat most of the box—and he’ll eat them frozen. He’ll eat a whole box of frozen waffles in one sitting. But if you try to correct him, he’ll melt down. With his condition, he eats more than a normal 14-year-old boy.”

Josh and Linda need to plan their performance schedules accordingly, too.

“You can’t just hire a regular baby sitter to baby-sit with an autistic kid,” Josh explained. “Christopher typically goes to bed around 8 or 9. He gets his nighttime medications, calms down and goes to sleep. Our son Jack can’t be alone with Christopher, because Christopher used to pick on his sisters when they were smaller. The autism heightens that, and he’ll try to pick on Jack. Our older daughters can watch Jack when we play, but Christopher is 14 and a big kid, and Jack is little, and picking on Jack could be dangerous. If we play a show when Christopher is going to be awake, at something like 7:30 p.m., we have to have an adult there who knows him, or knows about autism. Say 5th Town has a show, and our set is at 9. We need to be there at 8:30, and that’s (Christopher’s bedtime) window, and the meds don’t always make him go to sleep. So we have a respite worker. We have respite hours from the state, and (the worker) will come in around 7:30.”

The musical careers of Blasting Echo and 5th Town have had a positive effect on the family, especially when one of the bands practices at their home.

“We love making music, and our outlet is our way to deal with how we feel,” Josh said. “Jack loves it and will sing along in his room. Sometimes, Christopher will come out and wander around. Sometimes he’ll bounce around in excitement, and it’s a good thing. Overall, the music is a calming thing.”

Earlier this year, Lumpy’s local golf stores closed their doors for good—but the Lumpy’s Foundation for Autism is still going strong.

“Before I worked with Lumpy’s, I donated money to the Coachella Valley Autism Society. When my son was diagnosed, my now-ex-wife and I didn’t know what to do,” Josh said. “I found out about the society a couple of years later, and that’s where I met Linda. That’s where a lot of parents need to go when their children are diagnosed with autism. If you go there, you meet a lot of other parents, and you hear what might work or might not work, the services you might be able to get, and things like that.

Josh explained why the funds from the annual Concert for Autism goes to Lumpy’s Foundation.

“Linda had a grant from Lumpy’s, and while Lumpy’s is closed, the foundation is still going to stay open. The owner has a son with autism, and (the son) plays piano; Linda taught him. … The National Autism Society (with which the Coachella Valley Autism Society is affiliated) came back to us and said, ‘All fundraising events have to be sanctioned by the National Autism Society.’ They gave me the money back, and I said, ‘I’ll just give it to Lumpy’s.’ Everything is given to them, and people can write off donations to the Lumpy’s Foundation.”

The Ninth Annual Concert for Autism will take place at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18, and Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Tack Room Tavern, 81900 Avenue 51, in Indio. A $5 donation at the door is suggested. For more information, visit concertforautism.com.

Published in Previews

On April 1, Dennis and Kathleen Ford will celebrate the third anniversary of their purchase of Schmidy’s Tavern in Palm Desert.

Under the Fords, Schmidy’s has become one of the Coachella Valley’s most welcoming local-music venues, and has developed a great reputation among beer-lovers thanks to its impressive selection of craft beers and good food.

That’s why it’s heartbreaking to many that on that third anniversary—barring a miracle or sudden change of plans—Schmidy’s Tavern will close.

“As of April 1, 2016, Schmidy’s Tavern will be closing our doors for good,” Dennis Ford said in a Feb. 8 statement on Facebook. “We do not have a lease and have not had one for a year now. Our landlord wants to raise the rent 112 percent, and we simply cannot afford that. We have been paying 50 percent more for the past year, and it has taken its toll.

“We cannot continue like this.”


Several days after the announcement, Dennis and Kathleen Ford sat on the patio of Schmidy’s and discussed the anguish they were feeling—anguish they largely blamed on the landlord, Realty Trust Group of Wildomar, Calif.

“Our original lease expired a year ago this month. We’ve been month to month ever since,” Dennis Ford said. “I tried to negotiate a new lease with them back in December 2014, and they weren’t responsive. When they finally did respond, there was a 112 percent increase. I sent them the counteroffer that December, and didn’t hear back until March 2015, after the lease expired. They’ve been stuck on this number, and that’s something as a small business we just can’t absorb. I can’t sell enough beer to justify a 112 percent rent increase.

“For the last year, we’ve been paying 50 percent more. Anytime you’re month to month, you pay a higher rate. It’s to the point where it’s not worth it anymore. We have to do something before we die a slow and painful death and become completely broke.”

Dennis Ford said the problems with the lease have roots in the Great Recession.

“The original owner opened this place in 2009 and had an original lease in place,” he said. “In 2010 or 2011, during the heart of the recession, everyone was struggling, and they renegotiated their lease down to a certain dollar amount for the balance of the lease. When we came in and bought the place, we assumed that was the lease (with) the dollar amount that was renegotiated.

“When the lease expired, they went back to what they were getting at the end of the lease, before it was renegotiated. They’re trying to make up the money they lost when they renegotiated, and from what I see around here, that (lower) renegotiated rent amount should be the rent.”

Dennis Ford explained how they came to own the bar.

“We lived in Carlsbad for 25 years, and I worked in a manufacturing company. (The company) relocated to Dallas, and we moved to Dallas and lived there for about four years,” he said. “I ended up actually leaving the company after 20-something years, and we wanted to move back to California. We talked about buying a bar for years and always wanted to do that. We decided to move here, and instead of looking for jobs, we looked for a place to buy, and found this on a business-for-sale website. We’ve always liked it out here, and when we lived in Carlsbad, we would come out here whenever we could.

“We saw this place. The price was right. It wasn’t doing a lot of business at the time, but we saw the potential in it, and we thought, ‘What the hell? Let’s give it a shot!’ On April 1, 2013, we took over. Three years to the day we took over, we’ll be closing.”

The Fords didn’t originally intend for Schmidy’s to become a music venue; they just wanted it to be a regular neighborhood bar, and had no plans to have live music at all. However, in time, Schmidy’s became one of the most-welcoming music venues for local bands.

“About a month and a half after we took over, we had Caxton and Burning Bettie play here,” Dennis Ford remembered. “One of my old bartenders who was here after we just bought it was friends with Caxton. He had arranged it and left. Christina (Reyes) from Caxton got hold of me and asked, ‘Are we still doing the show?’ And I said, ‘Why not?’

“They came in and did it on a Saturday night—and the place was packed. I thought, ‘Wow, this might be something.’ Being as naïve as I was at the time, I thought if you brought any band in here, this place would be packed. I’d bring in cover bands, and there would be 10 people, and I realized that wasn’t working. I don’t know how, but somehow, it just evolved, using original bands. That’s when I realized that was the key to this place: You get three local bands a night, and that’s three fan bases. Cover bands don’t have a fan base. We had no idea that it’d turn into what it did.”

The Fords also had no idea Schmidy’s would become one of the valley’s most-liked craft-beer purveyors.

“I knew nothing about craft beer when I took over this place, and I’m still not a craft-beer drinker. I don’t care for it myself, and I drink Coors Light,” Dennis Ford said with a laugh. “We have it because of a bartender we had, and he knew craft beer. When he left five weeks into us owning it, it was basically up to me to decide what beers to bring in. … That was tough, because I knew nothing about it. I’ve learned a lot about it over the past three years.

“I don’t like (craft beer), but I know a lot about it.”


Many local bands have a love for Schmidy’s; the bar was the site of the first public shows for more than a handful of them. Jack Kohler, of War Drum, also runs his own promotion company, named Fortune Finder Music Group. He recently started booking shows at Schmidy’s after leaving The Hood Bar and Pizza.

“I think Dennis and Kathy are really genuine toward local bands,” Kohler said. “We do local acts most of the time—and it’s tough to do all local all the time. Dennis and Kathleen have always been about equal-opportunity toward bands and letting them play: rock, rap and hip hop, whatever—everyone has a chance

“Now with this venue closing, it’s a very critical wound to the scene, because this is another original local music venue being thrown under the bus. I know that there are other venues such as The Hood Bar and Pizza and Bart Lounge, and (local promoter) BB Ingle is going to open up something where he does live and local entertainment, but Schmidy’s was crucial for bands to play at, and there’s a lot of history there. A lot of bands have cut their teeth at Schmidy’s, for sure, and it’s going to be very damaging when it closes.”

Dennis Ford said his reputation in the local-music community is a great source of pride.

“That’s the one thing I’m most proud of with this place: I’ll give anyone a chance,” he said. “You don’t have to be an established name to play here. It doesn’t matter to me, and we do all genres. We’re the only place that did that. We had a Motown show here where the average age was 65, and it was so full in here at $20 a head that we had to turn people away. We had metal, country music and whatever else.”


Schmidy’s has also been willing to open its doors to good causes. During a recent open-mic night at Schmidy’s that Blasting Echo frontman Josh Heinz hosts on a weekly basis, he talked about the support Schmidy’s offered him for his annual Concert for Autism.

“Schmidy’s, to me, is Dennis and Kathy, and their role and their warmth toward the music community,” Heinz said. “They provide a place to play for a lot of bands that some of the other places wouldn’t let in—not because the bands are bad bands, but because they’re young. They did underage shows and would let them play in the afternoons and early evenings. No other place would do that.

“Dennis and Kathy were 100 percent supportive of the autism benefit and me doing it. They let us come in here and would donate some of their receipts at the end of the night to the cause. It’s very nice to have owners of a bar like that, because not a lot of venues are that nice. That comes from experience of more than 20 years of my playing in Memphis and playing here.”

It wasn’t just Heinz’s autism cause that Schmidy’s helped out; many other local charities and people who had fallen on hard times found a helping hand at Schmidy’s. Just one example: When Musicians Outlet in Palm Desert burned down last year, the Fords hosted a benefit show.

“When we saw what happened to Musicians Outlet, we were like, ‘Oh my god! I can’t believe that happened!’” Kathleen Ford said. “We’re a small business, and that would crush us if that happened to us. That’s why we did that.

“We also did one benefit where we helped a young kid with leukemia.”

While the Fords didn’t originally intend for Schmidy’s to become a local music venue, Dennis Ford said it was never a question whether Schmidy’s would give back to the community.

“To me, that’s something that needs to happen. People come here and spend their money, and if someone needs something, we give back,” he said. “Pretty much all of the benefits we’ve done, we’ve donated anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the bar sales that night to that particular cause. For one, it makes you feel good, and two, you get publicity out of it—and you can’t buy that kind of publicity.

“A local musician named Rob Lawrence is putting together a benefit we’re doing in March for abused and abandoned animals. Kathy and I love animals, and it’s something I wanted to do. When I made the decision to shut down, I didn’t want to look like we were raising money and keeping it for ourselves before closing down and leaving. I don’t want to touch the money, because I don’t want anyone saying anything. But I enjoy doing benefits for genuine causes.”

When the subject of retirement came up, Dennis and Kathleen Ford laughed. “In your dreams,” Kathleen said to Dennis, laughing.

That laughter temporarily masked the fact they’d just endured one of the toughest weeks of their life, and that Schmidy’s closing has taken a financial toll on the family. The Fords said they had already decided what to do after they close Schmidy’s doors on April 1 (barring a miracle).

“Three months ago, we knew we had to pick a date. April is our worst month, because everyone is going to Coachella and Stagecoach,” Dennis Ford said. “There might be a small glimmer of hope that we’ll be able to stay open or find somewhere else, but I’ve been telling everyone, ‘I hope for the best, but expect the worst.’

“We own a house in Dallas, Texas, and we’re moving back. We have grandkids down there in Houston, and Kathy wants to be closer to them, and we’re a little closer to my family in Illinois—and my parents aren’t getting any younger. It just seems like the right thing to do to go back there. Unfortunately, we’ll probably have to find jobs, and there are no jobs out here. My experience is in manufacturing, and there’s not any of that here—and tons of it down there. I would love to open up another bar, because it’s so much cheaper to do business down there. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. because of the amount of money we’re losing here by closing up.

“People ask, ‘Why don’t you sell it?’ No one is going to buy this place without a lease.”

The Independent left several messages with the Realty Trust Group requesting to talk to somebody for this story, but received no response.


In Schmidy’s Tavern’s final days, the Fords plan to thank the local bands that have played there by bringing them in for a marathon series of events.

“We’ve just been so immersed in the music scene here, and I feel like we’re letting these local bands down,” Dennis Ford said. “I can’t help but feel it’s my fault, and at the same time, I have to look out for what’s best for Kathy and me. We put our retirement into this place.

“The day that I made the announcement we were closing, I went home at 2 in the afternoon. I couldn’t be here. I jumped on my bike and went for a ride, and I thought, ‘I want to have a blowout month of March.’ I want to get all the bands who have ever played here back in here during the month of March. I stopped, and I sent Jack (Kohler) a text to try to get every band that ever played here.”

For more information on Schmidy’s Tavern, located at 72286 Highway 111, Suite J3, in Palm Desert, call 760-837-3800, or visit the Schmidy’s Tavern Facebook page. Schmidy’s will host the End of the World Festival from Thursday, March 24, through Sunday, March 27, to celebrate Schmidy’s brief but powerful local-music legacy, and to support the Fords. Watch the event’s Facebook page for details.

On Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16 and 17, Schmidy’s Tavern will host the Eighth Annual Concert for Autism—a benefit that is very near and dear to my heart.

The event is spearheaded by Josh Heinz, a musician rooted in the desert-rock community, and the parent of an autistic child. Each year, the best of the best in desert rock, punk, metal and pop come together to support the cause—and put on one hell of a show!

This year’s headliners include The Pedestrians, featuring vocalist Mike Lewis, percussionist Rob Peterson, drummer Tim McMullen, bassist Armando Flores, trumpet-player Cesar Hernandez, trombonist Morgan Finch and Latin-rock guitarist David Macias. This group is where punk rock meets rap, and two generations of desert-rock icons come together in one epic local band that brings down the house.

Peterson and Flores will also debut Sun(D)rug, a new hard-rock project featuring guitar wizard Bobby Nichols; and Macias’ renowned “Spanglish jive” group Machin’. Heinz and his wife, Linda, will be doing a set with their punk-pop group Blasting Echo. Desert punk-rock faves Mighty Jack, Waxy, The Hellions, Bridger and Long Duk Dong all promise to make this a memorable two-night event.

Autism affects so many families, and recent government cutbacks have decreased vital services to many families living with this disability. Several of the performing artists have a child or children with autism, including Heinz, Flores and Nichols, making this a very personal affair.

“The most memorable moments are always seeing the faces and smiles of everyone, from the musicians, to the volunteers, to the attendees, during the event,” Heinz said. “Everyone seems to really enjoy being a part of doing something good for the community.”

Autism became real for me when I fell in love with gifted guitar-aficionado Bobby Nichols, a musician of whom I had been in awe for more than a decade. When our lives merged, his son Sean became an integral part of my life—and I had no idea about the challenges and heartaches I would come to experience.

Over five-plus years, I have watched Sean, now 23, suffer unspeakable side affects from Risperdal, adrug doctors have prescribed to him since he was 10 years old. I also watched the magic affects on Sean of CBD oil—a non-narcotic, non-addictive, non-psychoactive drug extracted from the cannabis plant. Even though it is free of THC (the chemical in marijuana that is intoxicating), it is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the U.S. government; in fact, the Food and Drug Administration’s new head officer has gone on the record as saying it will remain a Schedule 1 drug as long as he is in charge. How does an agency that is charged with protecting consumers from dangerous food and drug products justify allowing companies like Johnson and Johnson to produce toxic drugs that cause debilitating and permanent disabilities, while refusing to make available by prescription an oil that is nontoxic, has no side affects, and has some medical researchers believing we could finally see an end to breast cancer in the next decade?

Forgive the long aside; this is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. Anyway, back to the issue at hand: The Concert for Autism takes place starting at 6:45 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16 and 17, at Schmidy’s Tavern, 72886 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. A $5 donation is suggested at the door. The event also will feature raffles and silent auctions; all proceeds will go to the Lumpy’s Foundation for Autism. For more information or to donate, visit concertforautism.com.

Read more from Robin Linn, including an expanded version of this story, at www.desertrockchronicles.com.

Published in Previews