CVIndependent

Thu02222018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

I stumbled across Kill the Radio during a show at the late, lamented Schmidy’s Tavern—and I was blown away by the band’s sound. It reminds me of the punk/hardcore that came out of New York City in the ’90s. This East Valley band is always a treat to see live—and you can do just that on Saturday, Feb. 17, at The Hood Bar and Pizza. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/killtheradio760. The band’s frontman and guitarist, Samuel Meza, was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Knotfest. I got to see Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Motorhead and so many other sick artists.

What was the first album you owned?

Linkin Park’s Meteora. It’s still one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Coheed and Cambria, Circa Survive, Kings of Leon, and Deftones.

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

I absolutely don’t understand this trap beat music. It’s noise and mumbles with a hype man screaming, “Hey!” the whole time.

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

If I could see anyone live, it would have to be Tool all over again! Tool is hands down the best live show I have ever seen.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

My favorite guilty pleasure has to be singing along to Frank Ocean’s music, from the Channel Orange album to his newest single, “Chanel.” Amazing!

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Observatory in Santa Ana. I got to see Deftones along with Glassjaw there, and they were phenomenal!

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

My favorite song lyrics are actually from Frank Ocean’s “Pink Matter.” The opening verse hits home when he asks, “What is a woman made for? Is she just the container for the child?” That, to me, opens the mind and pushes you to understand outside the Machista concept.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Linkin Park and Blessthefall. I was a depressed and super-emotional kid back in high school. I had the hardest time growing up. I was poor and living under the bridges in Indio while being homeless the first half of my life, and hearing others had a similar struggle really helped me get ahead in life.

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

I would have to ask Hayley Williams from Paramore if she would marry me, ha ha ha ha. (Seriously, though.)

What song would you like played at your funeral?

My funeral song would be a song I wrote recently. It’s called “If Time Heals Wounds, Do Scars Tell Stories?”

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

I would say Emarosa’s Relativity. I can listen to it from beginning to end all the time.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Jay-Z’s “The Story of O.J.” It’s super-deep. If you leave the racial context on which the song is based and apply it to everyday life, you’d see a divided world where we only segregate ourselves due to the ideals and views of others. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

When I recently sat down with the members of The After Lashes, the members of the all-female garage-punk band were excited about what’s happened to them over the last year—and what the coming year may bring.

In 2017, The After Lashes played 17 shows, with their sound steadily improving since their start in 2016. And to begin 2018, the band recorded seven tracks over 12 hours on the day I showed up at the home of Ali Saenz (aka Death Valley Ali) in La Quinta.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, The After Lashes will be perform at The Hood Bar and Pizza with GayC/DC and The Hellions at the monthly Coachella Valley Independent Presents show.

But before we talked about the past and the future, I had to ask: What’s the meaning behind the band’s name?

“The ‘Lashes’ part was always there in my head,” Saenz said. “The After Lashes is an off-shoot of a previous band I was in. A couple of the members and I had been kicking around one word—’Lashes.’ I am going to be honest: I went through a band-name generator, and just started asking, ‘What words rhyme with this?’ or, ‘What could we make of this?’ When ‘After’ and ‘Lashes’ popped up, I was all like, ‘Fuck yeah! There it is!’ It doesn’t really have a specific meaning, but I kind of like that, and I like that it leads people to ask what it means and where we came up with it.

“I like to leave a little mystery there. There are some feminine qualities in there, as well as a little of that S&M that we love,” Saenz added with a laugh.

The After Lashes have melded feminism and politics into their sound—in an entertaining yet serious way.

“We always knew we were going to be feminists and kind of raw and out there, but I don’t think we went into this thinking we were going to be a political band,” said lead vocalist Esther Sanchez. “The times we’re in sort of just call for it. We’ve been finding it difficult to write fun songs lately because of the vibe and our mindset of what’s going on around us—and who’s president. Everything going on has made it difficult to write fun songs, and we’re just writing about what we feel right now. We’re just trying to be truthful to ourselves and who we are.”

When I brought up the song “Dictator,” Saenz noted that the song is not political—and was actually written about a quarrel she had with her husband, well-known drummer Greg Saenz.

“It was the first song I ever wrote, and it’s the song I actually presented to Esther when I was begging to join the band,” Saenz said. “… I was very pissed off at my significant other one night. It was great, because he actually helped me structure everything together in GarageBand—and then he realized it was about him, and I found my lyric book floating in the pool one day.”

Some music fans wrote off the After Lashes after the band’s first few gigs—but the group has become better with each show.

“We started (playing live) too early,” said bassist Serene Tahtinen. “But it’s good to experience it. Me and Jen (Corradi) are on the shy side, so with me and her, every experience is a plus for us to push ourselves more and get ourselves out there more.”

Each of the four members takes part in the songwriting process, they said—an interesting fact, considering they all come from different musical backgrounds. Sanchez grew up singing in church and sang vocal jazz with local musician Alex Santana, while guitarist Corradi comes from a folk-music background. Saenz is inspired by melodic and British-punk influences, while Tahtinen is metal-influenced, although she played jazz bass while she was a music-theory student in college.

“My main influence is acoustic and folk music, if someone told me I’d be playing punk rock with a bunch of badass chicks onstage, I’d say, ‘You’re fucking crazy, man!’” said Corradi, who joined the group later than the others. “My first show with this band was last year at the Date Shed in front of 250 people. I had to deal with my own stage fright, and only after a couple of weeks of jamming with them, they said, ‘We have a gig at the Date Shed!’”

After putting in several hours of work, and as the producers of their upcoming release—Dennis Cooper and Dan Housel—packed up, the band members said they felt good about their recording efforts.

“For me as a mom who has two kids, I feel like this is another child to me,” Saenz said. “It’s the first record I’ve ever recorded, and we had two amazing professionals in here working their asses off, taking us under their wing and showing us the ropes—and they’re going to make us sound like rock stars. This means a lot to me and will be something I cherish for the rest of my life.”

The After Lashes will perform with GayC/DC, The Hellions and others as part of the Coachella Valley Independent Presents series at 9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, 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.

Published in Previews

GayC/DC will no doubt put on a fantastic show (organized by yours truly) at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Saturday, Feb. 24. While GayC/DC’s best-known member may be Chris Freeman (also of Pansy Division), the band’s drummer, Brian Welch, is a show of his own during GayC/DC concerts. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/gaycdcband. Brian Welch was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

My first real concert was Diana Ross in 1979 at Boston Garden. It changed my life. Seeing her descend a white staircase during the opening video … was my introduction on how to open a show, because as she got to the middle of the staircase onscreen, the screen parted, and there she was on the same staircase, delicately walking down while singing the opening lines of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” I am a huge Diana Ross junkie, and getting to actually see her onstage was more than my 14-year-old self could handle. … But wait, there’s more, because that same year, I saw Queen, also at Boston Garden, and seeing Freddie and co. explode onto the stage with the fast version of “We Will Rock You” as the back-lighting grid rose above them, with all the multi-colors blinding you, was nothing short of a religious experience. No, really—a religious experience. Queen forever changed my life that night and set the bar for concerts going forward.

What was the first album you owned?

The original motion picture soundtrack album of the movie Earthquake, conducted by John Williams. I was a John Williams fan from way back, and I loved me some movie soundtracks. The first 45 I owned was ABBA’s Mamma Mia (still have it), circa 1975, and the first full album I bought was ELO’s Out of the Blue in 1977. But I remember borrowing my brother’s copy of Queen’s A Day at the Races (1976) fairly often, so does that count?

What bands are you listening to right now?

A band I got turned onto whilst in Paris recently called Deluxe; and new albums from Bob Seger, U.D.O., and Europe; and discovering some past gems from Tygers of Pan Tang, The Scorpions, Jamiroquai, The Supremes, The Pretty Things, Michael Monroe, Earthshaker and a few others. There’s nothing like discovering, or re-discovering, music from some of your favorite bands/artists.

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

Would someone explain to me what the hell that Appalachia/folk trend was all about? Please make Mumford and Sons, the Avett Brothers, The Head and the Heart and their ilk disappear into a mine and never come back. Oh, and while I’m at it, I never need to hear another Red Hot Chili Peppers or Pearl Jam tune. Ever. And don’t get me started on Nickelback. My apologies to those who are fans of said acts; I just don’t get ’em. Oh, and almost forgot Haim. Just. Go. Away.

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

Current would be Deluxe, Jamiroquai, Earthshaker or X Japan. Defunct would be Queen (Freddie, Brian, Roger, John), and Motorhead circa 1986. We all could use some Lemmy right about now, dontcha think?

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Anything by Steely Dan or the Pet Shop Boys, and the original motion picture soundtrack for Xanadu and Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. But why be guilty? Shout it from the rooftops if you love it!

What’s your favorite music venue?

My all-time favorite would probably have to be my old stomping grounds, the Boston Garden. I saw so many great bands there. It was heartbreaking to see them tear those original walls down. Current faves are The Whisky, The Greek, and Theatre at the Ace Hotel (in downtown L.A.).

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

Well, after reading this question, it’s ELO’s “Can’t Get It Out of My Head.” But strangely enough, for some reason, I can always count on Iron Maiden’s “Sun and Steel” to pop into my head. I have no idea why. Probably the opening riff has a lot to do with it.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Queen. No other band brought me on such a musical journey of different soundscapes and styles more than they did. The other band would be KISS, and specifically, Peter Criss, and his kit and drum riser on the Love Gun tour. Opening up the gatefold album of Alive II for the first time is something I’ll always remember.

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

Besides asking Michael Anthony, circa 1980-81, if I could peel his ripped, sweat-soaked T-shirt off of him, I’d ask Roger Taylor to show me that open high-hat accent that he does which still eludes me. And if he’s not available, I’d ask Terry Bozzio if I could sit behind him as he plays “U.S. Drag.”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

One? I want a whole playlist. And people should be celebrating and laughing. That’s how I want to be remembered. Three that need to be played: Queen, “Was It All Worth It”; Queen, “Who Wants to Live Forever”; and Diana Ross, “Do You Know Where You’re Going To.”

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

Radiohead, OK Computer. Runner up: Queen, Live Killers.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Hmmm … just one? That’s nearly impossible. A few that pop up immediately: Joan Osborne’s cover of “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” to center ourselves and remind us of what really matters; Motorhead’s “Deaf Forever,” to give you a jolt of caffeine and volume; and Material Issue’s “Funny Feeling,” a love song from a misfit for all us misfits. (Scroll down to hear them.)

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

As you probably know by now, the results of our fourth annual Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll were released earlier this week.

This marks the culmination of a process that started back in August, when Round One voting began. We asked you, our readers, to tell us what your area favorites are, via an open ballot—with no pre-selected finalists or recommendations. We compiled all of those results to determine the slate of Best of Coachella Valley finalists, and then launched the Final Round of voting.

I’d like to thank Brian Blueskye, Mark Duebner and Robyn Tanzer, all of whom put a lot of work into the corresponding December print edition—and all of us at the Independent would like to thank you, the readers, for taking the time to vote in the Best of Coachella Valley.

Other local publications also do “Best Of” readers’ polls … but these Best of Coachella Valley results, while certainly far from perfect, offer a truer sense of what is really the best of the Coachella Valley. Why? We ask readers to vote only once per round—as opposed to some of these other publications’ polls, which encourage readers to vote multiple times. While allowing people to vote multiple times brings those publications’ websites more traffic, it also makes those polls more susceptible to skewed results. We here at the Independent would rather have a truer, more accurate slate of winners and finalists than a temporary bump in website traffic.

I hope you’ll joinus at The Hood Bar and Pizza (the Best Dive Bar winner!), at 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert, on Friday, Dec. 15, for annual Best of Coachella Valley Awards Show and Party. We’ll start the awards at 6:30 p.m. sharp; all of the winners who are there will be invited up to accept their awards and say a few words. After the awards, your pick for Best Local Band, The Flusters, will take the stage. The Hood and the Independent will then continue the great music, with sets from Black Water Gospel, Sunday Funeral and Herbert. It’ll truly be a great night as we gather to celebrate the best the Coachella Valley has to offer.

As always, thanks for reading; if you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to send me a note to the email address below. Oh, and be sure to pick up our December 2017 print edition, being distributed this week to more than 380 locations valley-wide.

Published in Editor's Note

At long last … here are the results of the fourth annual Best of Coachella Valley readers' poll!

From all of us here at the Coachella Valley Independent, we’d like to thank the many, many readers who voted this year. The results, as you’ll see below, represent the amazing diversity of the Coachella Valley, with winners coming from all parts of the valley.

We’d also like you to come and celebrate with us! The Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018 Awards Show and Celebration takes place Friday, Dec. 15, at The Hood Bar in Pizza in Palm Desert—this year’s winner for Best Dive Bar! The awards start at 6:30, and will be followed by a performance from Best Local Band winners The Flusters. The event will be followed by an after-party featuring Herbert, Sunday Funeral and Black Water Gospel.

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists … and welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018!

—Jimmy Boegle, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Arts

 

Best Art Gallery

CODA Gallery

 

Runners up:

2. Shag

3. Melissa Morgan Fine Art

4. Hohmann Fine Art

5. J. Willott Gallery

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. The Show at Agua Caliente

3. The Hood Bar and Pizza

4. The Date Shed

5. Fantasy Springs Special Events Center

 

Best Outdoor Venue

Empire Polo Club

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Indian Wells Tennis Garden

4. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

5. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. The Coachella Valley Art Scene

3. La Quinta Arts Foundation

4. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

5. CREATE Center for the Arts

 

Best Local Band

The Flusters

 

Runners up:

2. John Stanley King Band

3. Sunday Funeral

4. Drop Mob

5. The Hellions

 

Best Local DJ

DJ PWee

 

Runners up:

2. Jesika Von Rabbit

3. Alex Harrington

4. Alf Alpha

5. DJ Chub Jim

 

Best Local Musician

John Stanley King

 

Runners up:

2. Lisa Lynn Morgan

3. Dan Dillinger

4. Michael Keeth

5. Dave Burk

 

Best Local Visual Artist

TIE

Sofia Enriquez

Shag

 

Runners up:

3. Ryan Campbell

4. Cristopher Cichocki

5. Marconi Calindas

 

Best Movie Theater

Century La Quinta and XD

 

Runners up:

2. Mary Pickford Is D’Place

3. Century The River and XD

4. Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 and IMAX

5. Camelot Theatres

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Air Museum

3. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

4. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

5. La Quinta Museum

 

Best Producing Theater Company

Palm Canyon Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Dezart Performs

5. Coyote StageWorks


Life in the Valley

 

Best Farmers’ Market

College of the Desert Street Fair

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Village Fest

3. Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market

4. Old Town La Quinta Certified Farmers’ Market

5. Palm Desert Certified Farmers’ Market

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley

4. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

5. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

6. AAP-Food Samaritans

 

Best Gym

World Gym

 

Runners up:

2. EOS Fitness

3. Planet Fitness

4. Palm Springs Fitness Center

5. In-Shape

 

Best Yoga Studio

Bikram Yoga Plus

 

Runners up:

2. Urban Yoga

3. Yoga Bliss

4. Power Yoga Palm Springs

5. Yoga Central

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Yucca Bowl

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty

 

Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Gear Leather and Fetish

4. Q Trading Co.

5. Sensuality a Store for Her

 

Best Auto Repair

Andy’s Auto Repair

 

Runners up:

2. European Auto Service

3. Cam Stone’s Automotive

4. Singh’s Automotive Repair

5. OMAG Automotive

 

Best Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Car Wash

3. Airport Quick Car Wash

4. Indio Car Wash

5. Desert 100 Percent Hand Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

The Living Desert’s Palo Verde Garden Center

 

2. Moller’s Garden Center

3. Bob Williams Nursery

4. Vintage Nursery

5. Lotus Garden Center

 

Best Pet Supplies

Bones ’n’ Scones

 

Runners up:

2. Petco

3. PetSmart

4. Pet Oasis

5. Miriam’s Poochella Grooming

 

Best Annual Charity Event

Desert AIDS Walk (Desert AIDS Project)

 

Runners up:

2. Evening Under the Stars (AAP-Food Samaritans)

3. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

4. A Miracle on El Paseo (Bighorn Behind a Miracle)

5. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards (Desert AIDS Project)

 

Best Place to Gamble

Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

3. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

4. Morongo Casino Resort Spa

5. Spotlight 29

 

Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. KMIR Channel 6

3. CBS Local 2

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

3. Karen Devine, KESQ News Channel 3

4. Gino Lamont, KMIR Channel 6

5. Bryan Gallo, KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Radio Station

Q 102.3 Classic Rock

 

Runners up:

2. Mix 100.5

3. Jammin 99.5 FM

4. Mod FM 107.3

5. K-News 94.3 FM

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5

 

Runners up:

2. Jeff Michaels, Q 102.3/KPLM 106.1

3. Jimi “Fitz” Fitzgerald, CV 104.3 FM

4. Joey English, KGX 99.1 FM/920 AM

5. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3 FM

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. Just Fabulous

3. Rancho Mirage Library Book Nook

4. The Book Rack La Quinta

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Vinyl Records and Collectables

3. Best Buy

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Game Stop

3. HooDoo!

 

Best Hotel Pool

Riviera Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

3. Ace Hotel and Swim Club

4. Arrive

5. The Saguaro

 

Best Urgent Care

Eisenhower Medical Center Urgent Care

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Oasis Healthcare Immediate Care

3. VIP Urgent Care

4. MedPost Urgent Care (Desert Regional)

5. Premier Urgent Care


Valley Professionals

 

Best Doctor

Dr. Amanda Curnock

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Timothy Jochen

3. Dr. Michael Hughes

4. Dr. Michael Jardula

 

Best Eye Doctor

Dr. Albert Milauskas

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Camille Harrison

3. Dr. David Esquibel (Desert Vision)

4. Dr. Athena Brasfield (CV Optometry)

 

Best Dentist/Orthodontist

Dr. Larry Kunkle (Palm Desert Dental Center)

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Dr. Rene Dell’Acqua

Dr. Frank Hernandez

4. Dr. Maria Aguilar (Mirage Lane Dentistry)

5. Dr. Duane Nishikubo

 

Best Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Timothy Jochen

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Mark Sofonio

3. Dr. Scott Aaronson

4. Dr. Bruce Chisholm

5. Dr. Suzanne Quardt

 

Best Attorney

Walter Clark

 

Runners up:

2. Brian Harnik

3. David Humphrey

4. Christopher Heritage

5. J. John Anderholt III

 

Best Air Conditioner Repair

Comfort Air

 

Runners up:

2. Esser

3. General

4. All Seasons

5. Priority One

 

Best Chiropractor

Dr. Jim Cox

 

Runners up:

2. Nazemi Chiropractic

3. Dr. Kristen Bohnet

4. Dr. Paul Ross

 

Best Real Estate Agent

TIE

Barbara Carpenter

Brady Sandahl

 

Runners up:

3. Valery Neuman

4. Deirdre Coit

 

Best Electrician

Desert Pro Electrical

 

Runners up:

2. Electric Man

3. So-Cal Electric

4. Wired Up Electric

5. DCH Electric and Lighting

 

Best Public Servant

Rep. Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Mayor Jan Harnik

3. Palm Springs Mayor Rob Moon

4. Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia

5. Palm Springs City Councilman Geoff Kors


Fashion and Style

 

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Oooh La la

 

Runners up:

2. Trina Turk

3. Grayse

4. Blonde Clothing Boutique

5. Wil Stiles

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

Revivals

 

Runners up:

2. Angel View

3. Goodwill

4. Plato’s Closet

5. The Fine Art of Design

 

Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. West Elm

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Erik’s Furniture

 

Best Antiques/Collectibles

The Estate Sale Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. Victoria’s Attic

4. Sunny Dunes Antique Mall

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

Tiffany and Co.

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo Jewelers

3. Leeds and Son

4. Robann’s Jewelers

5. B. Alsohns Jewelers

 

Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Dishwater Blonde Salon

3. Alankara, an Aveda Lifestyle Salon

4. Josef Saliba

5. Jake Turner Salon

 

Best Spa in a Resort/Hotel

Two Bunch Palms

 

Runners up:

2. The Spa at Desert Springs (JW Marriott)

3. Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa

4. Agua Serena Spa at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells

5. Well Spa (Miramonte)

 

Best Day Spa (Non-Resort/Hotel)

TIE

Revive Wellness Center

Studio M Salon and Spa

 

Runners up:

3. Bighorn Golf Club

4. Massage Rx

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Jensen’s Foods

3. Rancho Mirage Florist

4. Palm Springs Florist

5. Lotus Garden Center

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

Bloodline Tattoo

 

Runners up:

2. Anarchy and Ink Tattoo

3. Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

4. Iron Palm Tattoo Parlour

5. Strata Tattoo Lab

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. LensCrafters

4. Panache Optical Gallery

5. CV Optometry


Outside!

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. El Paseo

4. Moorten’s Botanical Garden

5. Desert Healthcare District Wellness Park

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

3. Bear Creek Path (La Quinta)

4. Highway 74

 

Best Recreation Area

Tahquitz Canyon

 

2. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

3. Mount San Jacinto State Park (Top of the Tram)

4. Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area

 

Best Hike

Bump and Grind Trail

 

Runners up:

2. Ladder Canyon

3. The Cross Trail

4. South Lykken Trail

5. Art Smith Trail

 

Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

2. Ruth Hardy Park

3. Rancho Mirage Community Park

4. La Quinta Civic Center Park

5. Ironwood Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5 Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Tri-A-Bike

3. Joel’s Bicycle Shop

4. BikeMan

5. Velo Bum Elite Cyclery

 

Best Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5 Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

4. Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis

 

Best Public Golf Course

Desert Willow Golf Resort

 

Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons Golf Resort

3. Indian Springs Golf Club

4. SilverRock Resort

5. Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort


For the Kids

 

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. Ruth Hardy Park

3. La Quinta Civic Center Park

4. Ironwood Park

5. Dateland Park

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Toys R Us

 

Runners up:

2. Uncle Don’s Hobbies

3. Mr. G’s for Kids

4. The Lumpy Bunny

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. The Children’s Place

3. The Lumpy Bunny

4. JadaBug’s Kids Boutique

5. Janie and Jack

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Old Spaghetti Factory

4. Shakey’s Pizza

5. Billy Reed’s

 

Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Wet ’n’ Wild

3. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

4. Boomers

5. Laser Oasis

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Chuck E. Cheese’s

3. Boomers

4. Laser Oasis

5. Shakey’s Pizza


Food and Restaurants

 

Best Casual Eats

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

5. Blaze Pizza

 

Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. TRIO/Liquid Catering

4. Dash and a Handful

5. Lynn Hammond

 

Best Diner

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

4. John’s

5. Rick’s Restaurant

 

Best Organic Food Store

Whole Foods

 

Runners up:

2. Sprouts Farmers Market

3. Jensen’s Foods

4. Clark’s Nutrition

5. Bristol Farms

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. TKB Bakery and Deli

4. Real Italian Deli

5. Bristol Farms

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

3. Jensen’s Foods

4. Pastry Swan Bakery

5. Exquisite Desserts

 

Best Desserts

Nothing Bundt Cakes

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

3. Over the Rainbow

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Jake’s Palm Springs

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Great Shakes

 

Runners up:

2. Cold Stone Creamery

3. Lappert’s Ice Cream

4. Creamistry

5. Ice Cream and Shop(pe) at Arrive

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Hadley’s

3. Great Shakes

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

TIE

Beach House

Jus Chillin’

 

Runners up:

3. Yogurtland

4. Tutti Frutti

5. Yogurt Island

 

Best Bakery

Aspen Mills

 

Runners up:

2. French Corner Café

3. Pastry Swan Bakery

4. Frankie’s Italian Bakery

5. Peninsula Pastries

 

Best Barbecue

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Smoke Tree BBQ

4. Jackalope Ranch

5. Zobo and Meester’s

 

Best Burger

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Smokin’ Burgers

4. Tyler’s Burgers

5. Grill A Burger

 

Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

5. TRIO Restaurant

 

Best Sandwich

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. TKB Bakery and Deli

3. The Sandwich Spot

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Aspen Mills

 

Best Pizza

Bill’s Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

3. Blaze Pizza

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. Upper Crust Pizza

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Smokin’ Burgers

3. Wingstop

4. Smoke Tree BBQ

5. Kaiser Grille

 

Best Bagels

Townie Bagels

 

Runners up:

2. Bagel Bistro

3. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

4. Manhattan in the Desert

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Jamba Juice

3. Luscious Lorraine’s

4. Koffi

5. Palm Greens Café

 

Best Buffet

Café 54 at the Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Grand Palms Buffet Agua Caliente

3. Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

4. Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Coffee Shop for Coffee

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. IW Coffee

4. Ristretto

5. Ernest Coffee

 

Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. IW Coffee

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Tea

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. Koffi

4. Teavana

5. Panera Bread

 

Best Breakfast

Wilma and Frieda’s

 

Runners up:

2. Spencer’s Restaurant

3. Elmer’s

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Cheeky’s

 

Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Jake’s Palm Springs

4. Kaiser Grille

5. Acqua California Bistro

 

Best Brunch

Wilma and Frieda’s

 

Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. The Tropicale

5. TRIO Restaurant

6. Jackalope Ranch

 

Best Chinese

P.F. Chang’s

 

Runners up:

2. JOY at Fantasy Springs

3. City Wok

4. New Fortune Asian Cuisine

5. China King

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Evzin Mediterranean Cuisine

3. Athena Gyro

4. Koutouki Greek Estiatorio

5. Nina’s Greek Cuisine

 

Best French

Le Vallauris Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Si Bon

3. Cuistot Restaurant

4. L’Atelier Café

5. Café des Beaux Arts

 

Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine

 

Runner up:

2. India Oven

 

Best Italian

Ristorante Mamma Gina

 

Runners up:

2. Mario’s Italian Café

3. Castelli’s

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. La Spiga Ristorante Italiano

 

Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

3. Gyoro Gyoro Isakaya Japonaise

4. Joyce’s Sushi

5. Shabu Shabu Zen

 

Best Korean

JOY at Fantasy Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Maru Korean B.B.Q. and Grill

3. Umami Seoul

4. Domo Sushi

 

Best Sushi

Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Dragon Sushi

3. The Venue Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Edoko Sushi

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

 

Runners up:

2. LG’s Prime Steakhouse

3. Mastro’s Steakhouse

4. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

5. Suillivan’s Steakhouse

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

3. Blue Orchid

4. My Thai

5. Thai House

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Rooster and the Pig

3. TIE

533 Viet Fusion

Watercress Vietnamese Bistro

5. Fuzion Five

 

Best Vegetarian

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Luscious Lorraine’s

3. Chef Tanya’s Kitchen

4. Palm Greens Café

5. Nature’s Health Food and Cafe

 

Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Le Vallauris Restaurant

3. Wally’s Desert Turtle

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Johannes

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. Copley’s on Palm Canyon

5. Mitch’s on El Paseo

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. TRIO Restaurant

4. King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

5. Alicante

 

Best Mexican

Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Las Casuelas Terraza

3. El Mirasol

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Loco Charlie’s

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Blue Coyote Grill

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Casa Mendoza

 

Best Burrito

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Taqueria Tlaquepaque

4. Casa Mendoza

5. La Perlita Mexican Food


Spirits and Nightlife

 

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. The Beer Hunter

3. Burgers and Beer

4. Draughtsman

5. Eureka!

 

Best Local Brewery

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

The Beer Hunter

 

Runners up:

2. The Hood Bar and Pizza

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Big Rock Pub

5. Red Barn

 

Best Cocktail Menu

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Eureka!

4. Dish Creative Cuisine

5. Seymour’s

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Chill Bar

3. Hunters

4. Streetbar

5. Blackbook

 

Best Happy Hour

La Quinta Cliffhouse

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. The Tropicale

5. Mitch’s on El Paseo

 

Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. The Nest

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Red Barn

5. Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails

 

Best Margarita

Blue Coyote Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Las Casuelas Terraza

3. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Armando’s Dakota Bar and Grill

5. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Best Martini

Sullivan’s Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. TRIO Restaurant

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Kaiser Grille

 

Best Nightclub

The Nest

 

Runners up:

2. Copa

3. Hunters

4. Zeldas

5. Bart Lounge

 

Best Sports Bar

The Beer Hunter

 

Runners up:

2. Burgers and Beer

3. Smokin’ Burgers

4. Big Rock Pub

5. Playoffs Sports Bar

 

Best Wine Bar

Zin American Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Mastro’s Steakhouse

3. The Wine Emporium

4. Dead or Alive

5. La Rue Wine Bar

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. Costco

3. BevMo!

4. Desert Wines and Spirits (Go Deli)

5. The Wine Emporium

 

Best Bar Ambiance

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Big Rock Pub

3. Mastro’s Steakhouse

4. TRIO Restaurant

5. Mitch’s on El Paseo

Published in Readers' Picks

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

It would be nigh impossible to find a band more deserving of being voted Best Local Band by the readers of this fine publication than The Flusters.

The “California dreamsurf quartet” ended 2016 by releasing a well-received EP. They played a wildly successful Coachella “4/20 Inbetweener” show at The Hood—a year after playing at Coachella itself. The group then mounted a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised an impressive $21,000. That money helped the band members quit their day jobs to prepare for their first national tour—which was a rousing success. And The Flusters are now working hard on a sophomore EP, slated for release early next year.

In other words, it’s been one hell of a year for The Flusters, who were voted Best Local Band for the second time in three years. They’ll perform at the Best of Coachella Valley Awards Show and Party at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Dec. 15.

I rode along with The Flusters when they recently headed to Hollywood to play at the Viper Room. The crowd loved them, with one person remarking that they will do very well in Los Angeles if they continue to play there.

In mid-November, the band performed in front of a nearly sold-out audience at The Hood to celebrate the release of the music video for “Everyday Dreaming.” After the show, we discussed their Best Local Band win.

“Frankly, we were surprised,” frontman Doug Van Sant said. “You go away on tour all summer, and we came back, and we had this post-tour blues going on. We were our own bosses for the first time. None of us had a job to go back to, and we were kind of twiddling our thumbs—and you think people have forgotten about you after you haven’t played a local show in seven months. But when you get talked about, win something like this, or have a successful show like we did tonight, it feels like nothing changed, and we weren’t forgotten.”

Guitarist Danny White said he felt gratified after returning home from the national tour.

“We were all extremely relieved to have completed the task at hand,” he said. “There was a lot of … what I wouldn’t call doubt, but people trying to put doubt in our heads by telling us what we needed to do and how we needed to do it, and people telling us, ‘When you get to here, this is how you’re going to feel.’ We talked about it nonstop, and we had to find peace within ourselves and realize we’d given up control over what’s going to happen. All we can do is do our best, get there and be on time—and it led us to the end.”

Bassist Mario Estrada discussed one of the tour stops—in Iowa City, Iowa.

“There were about two people in the bar when we started playing, and by the end of the set, there were a bunch of people walking in, who were all saying, ‘Our friends told us to come over and check you guys out. We just rushed down here. Are you guys still going to keep playing?’ We had already started packing up and had somewhere to go. They were all bummed out.”

Van Sant said he has fond memories of being on the road, including a regular occurrence when White and photographer/videographer Wolf Mearns would be driving and navigating at night.

“(Mearns) would hit a rumble strip, and it would wake me up. I’d feel a blast of cool air, smell a cigarette being lit, and hear the crack of the tab of a Red Bull,” Van Sant said with a laugh. “You should have heard some of the late-night conversations that (White) would have with Wolf. Wolf got some of them on camera, and they were some the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard in my life.”

The Flusters could teach other local bands a lesson on how to market themselves: They know what they’re doing, and are very creative while doing it.

“Marketing, to me—it’s presence and pulse,” Van Sant said. “(It’s important to) make yourself present digitally and through merchandising—and the advantageous thing through merchandising is it’s a two-fold thing. Yes, you can make some good money, but merchandising (means) your name is everywhere, and the advantageous thing about your name being everywhere is that you become a household name. All I do is create a presence for us where there is not one, and I think outside the box. I try to connect us as a band to things that other bands might not find interesting. For me, it’s just about being persistent.”

As the band sat in the green room of The Hood after performing at that November show, drummer Daniel Perry said the feedback on the show was almost entirely positive.

“A lot of people tonight told us, ‘I saw you at the 4/20 show the last time, and you guys have really improved, and you’re so cohesive. Everybody really thought you had achieved that next level.’ It’s amazing to see how our local support has continued to grow more and more.”

Perry joined The Flusters just two weeks before that 2016 Coachella performance.

“It was a flood out of the gates,” he said. “As soon as I joined The Flusters, one of the first shows I played was Coachella. It was amazing and one of the most anxious moments I’ve had in my life. … We’ve been doing nothing but leaps since then, and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come since I’ve joined.

“I can’t wait to see where we go next.”

Of course, every band is going to have its critics, and Van Sant said after that Hood show that he doesn’t worry about them; instead, he focuses on his fans.

“We’re getting the corporate events; we’re getting the outdoor events, and that’s all good, but the people who were in here tonight—those are the people we really, really want to please,” he said. “The people who buy the tickets and have watched us since Day 1 and compare our shows—we try to give them something rad and new, and throw in some surprising moments.”

Published in Features

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.

Published in Previews

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.

Published in Previews

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