De-stressing in the Coachella Valley.....desert rock style!
12/28/2013 05:11PM ● Published by Robin Linn
De-stressing after Christmas.....desert rock style!
Dali's Llama, Rawbone, Whiskey and Knives
by Robin Linn
On December 27th at Schmidy's Tavern in Palm Desert, we all came together for three magnificent sets of organic desert rock....by three stunning desert rock bands. The holiday spirit was in the air and the true spirit of desert rock permeated the room.
As I sat waiting for Dali's Llama to begin, I buzzed around the room giving hugs and heartfelt greetings to musicians that I love. Alfredo Hernandez standing by the entrance to the venue.....hanging with long time partner in music, Josh Homme. Perhaps the first time these two have hung out and shared pleasant conversation in a long, long time. DJ Ray Phillips dialing in sound with all the passion of a true desert rocker. He and Mike Riley do as much for the desert rock scene as anyone I have ever known.....let there be lights....let there be sound! Jesse Hughes hanging out taking in the sets....and we discovered that both he and Bobby Nichols are in side projects involving Wally Ingram....how weird and wonderful is that? Jesse will be appearing at The Mint in LA along with Eric McFadden and Wally on January 8th....a show I intend to travel to. People I haven't seen together in the same room since the mid-nineties all hugging and hanging...it was beautiful!
Dali's Llama featuring Zach Huskey on guitar and vocals, Erica Huskey on bass, and Craig Brown on drums gave my favorite DL set to date. Zack was inspired all night long. He is a deep and thoughtful player, with many facets. I hear something new from him every time I experience him. It was the first time my guy, Bobby Nichols has seen Dali's Llama.....and he now totally gets what I love about them. It's organic desert rock...born from the stillness of the twisted desert. Zach's vocal element was perfect and poised....his guitar work flawless. They create a deep and heavy sonic landscape and have well developed set list. Watching this band grow and change (as we all do) over 2 decades from the perimeter has been my constant pleasure.
Rawbone features founding member, songwriter and vocalist, Robin Clewell. She is an absolute jewel. Lyrics about romance, unrequited love, meaningless sex....all lyrics I related to. Her well constructed punk inspired vocals are all delivered with drama and intensity that moved me to my core. I haven't had a girl crush (in the musical sense) in a long, long time. The lack of a bass was not missed. It just made so much room for the purest Zach Huskey I have ever heard. His dreamy psychedelic approach to the songs were simply gorgeous. Drummer Alfredo Hernandez is like a kiss of desert gold to every thing he touches. If he is in it....it's good. And, the beauty of Alfredo for me is that he sounds different in all of his three current projects. It is good to see him gaining steam and success with at least one new record deal in the bag with V-2 records (a subsidiary of Virgin) and three completely unique world class projects underway. Alfredo's mantra seems to play as much as you can, and he constantly expands and grows to new heights. I hate to play favorites....but this man has earned the respect of the international hard rock music community for a reason. I feel lucky to count him among my friends.
Whiskey and Knives is the creation of guitarist Jon Arnold and vocalist Jason Basley with Mike Smith on bass and Alfredo on drums. I have been watching Jon...and closely....for years and years and years. Once my roommate....a summer I will never forget when I was literally saved by John Summers, Jon Arnold, and my son-in-law, Kevin Smith. A summer that brought me closer to Alfredo and members of Family Butcher. A summer where I tried to domesticate a house full of punkers. Jon and I both have struggled with our demons and come out the other side....far better people. Jon has survived cancer, pulled himself together, and he is a bad mother fucka. He brings the nostalgia of vintage Black Sabbath, the skill and speed of Slayer, the spirit of open ended jams, and drives grooves like a ride at an amusement park. I took the ride and got off spinning with excitement.
Jason Basley brings an element of rap.....a rhythmic vocal approach akin to Rage Against the Machine, blended with the heavy desert stoner rock stylings that give Whiskey and Knives an absolute unique sound....like no other desert rock band I have heard to date.
Alfredo pushes the songs perfectly......and he and Mike Smith are super glue.....one unit....a true and unforgiving rhythm section. Mike Smith has a unique style. I haven't seen bass playing hand movements like his...ever.
I LOVE this band !! There is no way in hell they won't be at the top of the heap and outta this desert to bigger things. I am rarely wrong about such things. I know because I started writing about these people....nearly all of them....when they were in some of their earliest projects. They inspired me to start an entire music publication....Desert Rhythms. And now....15 years later.....I have fallen in love with them all over again
This is an amazing time to be alive and making music in the desert. I can't tell you how lucky I feel to be at the center of it all. My role is the best of them all.....I am a fan. I benefit from every show, every twist and turn of their careers. When Kyuss broke up.....it broke hearts. Hearts have healed and at least 6 great bands came from their ashes. Queens of the Stone Age, (a band we almost all view as hometown heroes), Vista Chino (John Garcia's project with Brant Bjork), Unida (with Arthur Seay and Mike Cancino), Whiskey and Knives, Rawbone, Brave Black Sea (Alfredo's three current projects)....and if I research it....probably more. I won't be missing any of these live shows...ever if I can help it.
Robin Linn/Desert Rhythms