By Lisa Morgan
As a witness to the inaugural event, I can attest that the resounding echo of the all creative forces brought together by the first annual AMFM Festival, was inspirational to say the least. It is no small feat to inspire those, who are themselves, muses by profession. Somehow, Rich Henrich, along with an incredible collection of co-superheroes, many of whom were volunteers, succeeded and did so beautifully.
The festival included an awards ceremony that brought tears to nearly every eye, and catapulted all in attendance to their feet, including honoree, Viggo Mortensen, and the beloved Ed Asner. No one was left untouched, unchanged or unchallenged. The event commenced with an outreach by the festival’s headlining band, Miracle Dolls, at the Boys and Girls Club of Cathedral City. After all, don’t all the big events that come into town kick off their big show by sitting down in a circle, holding hands with the community’s children, encouraging them to speak of their dreams and aspirations? And don’t they all provide them with a private concert, a pizza party and then leave them with guitars and tools to make their dreams come true? Well, AMFM did.
Rich Henrich, AMFM Festival Co-founder, and Founder or Films for Change spoke eloquently to those in attendance: “Your creativity, when it connects, is electrifying; it’s magnetic. It’s what the arts are all about. We’re very fortunate to be here in Cathedral City, to have a mayor and a city council that recognizes the importance of the arts, the way they have for the AMFM Festival. Through the arts we can make change. We can inspire people; we can create all sorts of possibilities that never even existed, solve problems, and lift people’s spirits. We can engage each other and support each other. That only happens with a community of artists.”
Now, in its second year, the festival promises to be just as electric and magnetic, with a stellar team of musical collaborations set to light up the outdoor stage in the beautiful amphitheater across from the Mary Pickford Theater. The bands were selected by Co-music Directors David Macias and Brad Mercer.
Co- Music Director, David Macias, is one of the most highly respected and well liked musicians here in the Coachella Valley. His band, “Machin'”, was hand chosen by Goldenvoice to play at last year’s Coachella Music and Arts Festival. The co-director shared, “I am ecstatic for the union of our communities and mixture of arts and music that will take place this weekend. AMFM is not to be missed!” An energetic, incredible artist in his own right, he has nothing but the best of the best lined up to entertain us down to our very souls on Friday night.
Friday, November 14:
Gene Evaro Jr. & the Family: With a full fall touring schedule, it is a fortunate treat that this musically rich family is available to bring their amazing music to the AMFM Festival this year. From Joshua Tree, California, “Gene Evaro Jr. & The Family are a tight knit group of players who deliver pocket tight grooves and soulful songs. Fronted by a brother and sister duo, you can’t help but be moved by their blood harmonies and touching lyrics. With roots reaching from Boston, Nashville, to Joshua Tree, Gene Evaro Jr. & The Family have an infectious, healing sound!” Gene Evaro Jr.- Vocals, Guitar, Keys is joined by his family, Gabriella Evaro- Vocals, Tyler Sacara- Drums, Piper Robison- Bass, Chris Unk- Guitar & Pedal Steel and Mitchell Arganda- Percussion. Together, through their music, they hope to infuse these messages: “Let us be careful, full of care. Let the walls of our homes and towns be lined with the story of US. Of how we began. Let us tell the story about how we fell in love over and over and over and over and over and over and over again and again and again and again. It is a-gain we can’t afford to ignore. Let us c.o.m.m.u.n.i.c.a.t.e the steps of love, so that we may know how to return home. Love Yourself.”
Giselle Woo & Night Owls: If you have seen enough live music, you begin to recognize those who are born to perform. The music they make appears effortless, natural and unstrained, as if they were born producing their craft. To them, the endless hours of their lives honing their craft is not work or sacrifice. It is a passion and a labor of love. And when the music comes out of them, everything about your day melts away and you disappear with them into the vortex that is their song. Giselle Woo is THAT artist. She and her brilliantly wild Night Owls will cast a spell on you as they easily transition from soulful original ballads to their own raw energy rock, all of which are a fusion of musical cultures and contemporary influences. She brings a kind of Latin zydeco if you will, with a touch of jazz to smooth it all out, sung with a voice that will, as local drummer and music staple, James St. James states, “will make you want to cry and have sex all at the same time.”
Machin’: Yes it is David Macias’ own band playing for the event that he is directing, but AMFM founder, Rich Henrich, would not have it any other way. This is their second time playing the festival and it will be the second time they overwhelm audiences with the desire to dance, jive and jump in pure joy of the music. The bilingual, Latin influenced band, formed in the high desert, has a unique style, they call, “Spanglish Jive”. It’s an eclectic combination of sounds ranging from ska, reggae, cumbia, gypsy, and dance music that any audience can happily embrace. Macias fronts the band with strong vocals and a guitar that doubles as a percussion instrument, a friend with whom he was obviously born and has been playing hard with since the womb. He is accompanied on vocals by Briana Cherry who plays violin as passionately, gracefully and fiercely as any muse. On stand up, double bass and accordion is multi-instrumentalist and natural entertainer, Andy Gorrill. They are all supported perfectly and tirelessly by Mitchell Arganda on drums and percussion. You will not want your time with them to end.
Pedestrians: A desert party staple since the early 90’s, Pedestrians have been dedicated to making people dance wildly, behave wickedly and without regret. This band has always (seriously, ALWAYS) pulled a “feverish fan base, eager to hear their funk inflected, punk rock with a reggae twist”. Performances from this headlining band are purposely few and far between, so don’t expect to get close to the stage unless you get there early. The spectacle of this 7 piece tourbillion of sound, rhythm and energy will renew your faith in today’s rock music and give you an excuse to dance, shout, scream and unleash your inner hedonist. Why? Because that’s what these Pedestrians do. Playing with absolute precision, front man Mike Lewis, guitarist Marc Gentry, percussionist Rob Peterson, trumpeter Cesar Hernandez, drummer Tim McMullen, bassist Armando Flores, and guitarist Brandon Ray Henderson, leave it all on the stage, creating a tsunami effect of total, reckless abandon. You will never see or hear another band like them.
Saturday, November 15:
Brad Mercer has been touted by Al Bowman, founder of LA Music awards, as “part of rock music history. His longevity as both host and entertainer is a testament to his greatness. He is one of the last great mavericks of rock radio, the likes of which we may never see again.” Mercer is not only the winner of the Life Time Achievement F.A.M.E. Award, Best DJ, the Alan Freed Lifetime Achievement Award, but also received Producer of the Year for his film “Sushi Anyone” showing at the AMFM Festival. The syndicated radio show host of Brad Mercer’s Bands and Fans has brought his own musical arsenal for Saturday night.
Bo & the Bluesdrivers: According to this band, they simply play it like they’ve lived it, paying those hard-living dues. They formed at a chance meeting after joining forces for an open jam, hosted a decade ago by Chewy (bass) and J.J. (drums). Ten years after, they’re still together and tighter than ever. “We’re a band of brothers with mutual respect for each other and our abilities, always striving to be the best at what we do,” says front man Bo. Brad Mercer affirms that: “These guys definitely have the blues thing down! You will dig these L.A. boys!”
Alyce Bowie: A group of local desert musicians located in the Coachella Valley, paying tribute to the best of 70’s and 80’s high energy Classic Rock, Southern Rock, Blues and their own Rock Originals. “What can I say about this local hard working band that hasn’t already been said? Kymm Galvan ROCKS! She is energy plus and the band is tight! Classic rock at its best.” – Brad Mercer
Chris Daniels Project:-Affectionately referred to as “CDP”, their extensive song list ranges from Rock’s best (Tom Petty, Steely Dan, ZZ Top, Eagles, Mark Knopfler, Lynyrd Skynyrd) to Country’s main stays (Vince Gill, Hal Ketchum, Dwight Yoakam, Brooks n’ Dunn) to their own brand of original Country n’ Soul. They have opened for the Marshall Tucker Band, Lukas Nelson, Leon Russell, Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks. According to Brad, “This band is one of Orange County’s best country rock bands; a great band to warm up the crowd for headliner, Ry Bradley!”
Ry Bradley: “Just back from Hawaii after a show with Miranda Lambert, Ry will rock you with his own style of country. I’m glad he was able to headline Saturday night at the AMFM Fest. You’re gonna dig this guy,” boasts Brad. Ry Bradley’s singing and performing ability has endeared him to a lot of fans but his guitar playing has led him around the world. Having studied guitar at University of California, Ry’s interest in music has also driven him to study flamenco guitar in Spain, playing blues in Argentina, to learning folk songs from native fishermen in Cuba. “I’m a huge Vince Gill, Carl Perkins, and Brad Paisley fan,” shared Ry, “but I also love B.B. King, Keb Mo’, and the Rolling Stones.” Even though he was the lead guitarist for touring bands, Ry now fronts his own very popular group based out of Southern California.
For more information about the Festival events visit us at www.amfmfest.com or their AMFM Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Amfmfest.
AMFM FESTIVAL WRAP PARTY
The public is invited to join many of the artists, musicians, producers, sponsors and staff of the festival, to celebrate the end of what is sure to be a spectacular weekend of art, music, film and more. The party will be hosted by Schmidy’s Tavern in Palm Desert, the regular home of so many local musicians and acts traveling through our desert. Festivities will start at 9 pm Sunday, with bands, Tramps in Stereo and Miracle Dolls returning from their incredible performances at last year’s festival. They will be joined by well-known local bands CIVX and Burning Bettie. This show is $5.00 at the door unless you have a VIP pass, and all ages until 10pm. We recommend that you get there early as seating is first come, first serve.
“We are thrilled to have Schmidy’s Tavern on board for AMFM Fest this year. They share a common vision for community, like we do, and we couldn’t be happier to partner with them,” says Festival Director Stephanie Bell. Schmidy’s will also be providing the beer garden on site at the festival grounds.
Schmidy’s Tavern is located on the corner of Fred Waring Drive and Highway 111, in Palm Desert.