This escape landed me in the desert at Joshua Tree, California and other assorted adjacent towns to explore the nightlife.
Some family and friends that are artists and musicians, as well as my media consultant, have relocated out there and I wanted to see for myself what the draw was.
Uppermost on my list of places to check out was a honky-tonk tavern, restaurant and music venue called Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneer Town which has a reputation for attracting top talent such as Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame, Paul McCartney of Beatle fame, Leon Russel, the very eclectic talent of Sean Ono Lennon, Eric Burdon of The Animals fame, Eagles of Death Metal, Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend and Dead Meadow.
On the Thursday night that I went, a band titled “DAVIS” was playing and had packed the house, although I am told that this place is always packed at night. The band played a two-hour set and then that was it for the night. “DAVIS” has a light and sultry sound that has a definite ear candy appeal.
As I walked around to check out the place, I was amazed by the photos and gold records that were displayed on a wall near the stage. So many notables that it would take a whole column to list them all and the amazing history that this place has. Having said that, I will stick to the present. Robyn Celia and Linda Krantz purchased this Indie Rock favorite in 2003 and so began the current rockin’ trend. Celia and Krantz are East Coast natives that bought the venue Pappy and Harriet’s based upon a visit they had made to the area while on vacation and had fallen love with the area. While I heard from locals that the current owners were actresses who have parlayed their connections into an impressive list of talent, Celia contends that, “We have people from all over come to Pappy’s. That is why we (partner Linda Krantz) fell in love with the place. We manage to get the big names because people love Pappy’s. That’s it.”
Contrary to commonly held lore, these two ladies are not actresses and have no connections.
Pappy and Harriet’s abuts Pioneer Town that was built and used to film old Westerns including “High Noon” with Gary Cooper and is still standing today as a popular tourist spot. More than 50 Westerns and TV shows were filmed there from 1946 through the 1950s.
Pappy and Harriet’s was rebuilt from a cantina set from Pioneer Town which was founded by Gene Autry and Roy Rogers in 1946. During the day, Pappy and Harriet’s is a great place to have a hearty lunch of BBQ ribs and at night there is an even better menu to delight your Western flavored taste buds. The food is grilled on an outdoor spit. In 2012 Pappy and Harriet’s was named by "Billboard Magazine” as one of the Top 10 Hidden Gems.
While visiting family and friends I was exposed to many new acts, but the stand out among them was a band called “Dead Meadow.”
Dead Meadow was the hands-down favorite of my younger friends and I must say that their eclectic sound of clean psychedelic riffs and spiced up with hints of metal and punk really took me back to when rock music was still young and being discovered as to how much a musician could make a guitar squeal. Dead Meadow has played at Pappy and Harriet’s as well as a venue in 29 Palms called Palms. Dead Meadow has not played the Joshua Tree Lake Music Festival, but Simon indicated they would like to if the opportunity was made available.
Singer and lyricist for Dead Meadow Jason Simon cites influences such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin as well as Jimi Hendrix. Dead Meadow hail from the Washington, DC area and came up during a time when punk and indie nusic were at its peak which heavily influenced their sound.
Simon tells me that the band derived their name from a time of the year when meadows die out. Simon explains that they had thought about naming themselves The Blasted Heath which is a take-off of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Color Out Of Space,” but decided it was too British and opted for Dead Meadow.
Dead Meadow have been together since 1998 when Simon and Steve Kille were in their early 20s. “We didn’t want to sound like all of the metal bands that were playing around. We wanted something different,” Simon adds. Different their sound is.Dead Meadow have been in Los Angeles since 2007 and have their recording/rehearsal studio in Tujunga, CA.
Simon explains their popularity as being more like a cult band rather than a mainstream act and describes their style as off of the beaten track. Explaining that their eclectic potpourri of music was greatly influenced by a punk act titled Fugazi, Simon stated that at the time they were coming up it was their goal to be signed by Dischord Records which was owned by Fugazi.
Dead Meadow is the headlining act on the line-up at the Orpheum Theatre for January 27 at Night On Broadway where the show is free. Night On Broadway will begin at 3 pm and will rage until 12 am. Headlining acts usually go on around 10:30 pm. In March, Dead Meadow plans on hitting the road to promote their new LP “The Nothing They Need” which will also be released on vinyl on Xemu Records. This LP is a celebration of Dead Meadow members’ Kille and Simon’s 20- year celebration as“Dead Meadow. The LP will feature the talents of everyone that has been in the band for the past twenty years: Kille, guitar; Simon, singer; Mark Laughlin, drummer; Stephen McCartney, drummer on Matador. Their current drummer is Juan Londono.
Simon and I had a lengthy discussion about streaming and micro-pennies. It is tough these days to make money off of streaming now, but it is a valuable tool to getting your music out there. Although Dead Meadow can be found on all streaming services, they have retained control over their merchandise, touring and their music. They are a self-managed act.
“You do what you have to do to survive in order to keep being able to play music,” Simon concluded. "A lot of times an act’s music will be featured on a commercial or a movie and television and people will accuse of them of selling out. Not so.”
Pappy and Harriet’s address is 53688 Pioneer Town Road, Pioneer Town. It is four miles from Yucca Valley. www.pappyandharriets.com
Orpheum Theatre is located at 842 S. Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles.
Dead Meadow can be found on Facebook, Instagram and their website is www.deadmeadow.com