JOSHUA TREE — What’s so amazing about the state of California is the diversity of the terrain and its people.
Just a couple of hours from the hustle and grind of Los Angeles you can find yourself beer in hand surrounded by solitude, mountains and weird bent plants on a cold, starry night.
“Yucca Brevifolia,” or the Joshua Tree — so named by Mormon Settlers who thought the plant looked like the Bible’s Joshua with arms outstretched to the sky — is in danger of going extinct because of climate change.
So is the traditional means for artists to make money — as musicians scramble to sell merch and book gigs to get a piece of the door and the bar sales.
But clever bands Drug and Jail Weddings continue onward and ride out the rough spots with compelling performances and innovative music.
The Joshua Tree Saloon was the place to be for the Thursday night openers of Desert Daze with bands Drug and Jail Weddings. The two bands are different from one another with Jail Weddings throwing down some cool lyrics and putting on an energetic show and Drug conveying another worldly presence with a beautiful beatnik style.
What made Drug so interesting was the presentation by frontwoman Christie Carter, who looks like a cross between Stevie Nicks and the Grim Reaper, her clearly enunciated lyrics taking center stage. She sounds like Nico meet The Monster Mash and there is definitely a Velvet Underground influence in Drug’s sound.
The band is tech-oriented at the analog level with Jamie Hafler playing a double-neck bass and guitar combo instrument he built himself. And there was the analog looper machine with the tape that wound through the machine and up around the mic stand. Very DIY. Theo Smith’s drumming has an avant garde feel as well as he keeps the beat for this eclectic ensemble.
The band Jail Weddings was very high energy and now with a cohesive group that is been together for more than five years they’re coming out with their third album.
Gabriel Hart has made the transition to the Coachella Valley after living in Silverlake and says he’s not sorry one bit to be a bit far from Los Angeles. Regardless of where he lives, he is a passionate frontman whose sweeping gestures and positive upbeat presence bring the house alive.
Our favorite song: “Do Anything You Want to Me,” performed as a cohesive unit with bandmembers Hart, Anthony Cozzi on guitar, Seth Miller on bass, fabulous Dave Clifford on drums, Kristina Benson on keyboards and vocals, Mary Animaux on vocals and Julie Carpenter on the violin/strings.
If more bands go for interesting and compelling performances like Drug and Jail Weddings perhaps there’s a ray of hope for the music business.