By Tracy Dietlin
This Saturday night, August 25, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, a very unique musical experience will take place, called, A Mixed Up Music Party! This is the brainchild of, and spearheaded by, musician Jeff Bowman.
Jeff Bowman is one of the most respected musicians in the Coachella Valley, and with good reason. Over the last 30 years he has played in at least a dozen bands. He has had the fortune of touring all over the U.S. and Europe. Bowman won the Trailblazer Award at the 2014 CV Music Awards as part of the band Unsound and Best Rock Band in 2017 as part of Mighty Jack, and has been nominated for Best Drummer several times.
“The first musical project I played with was called, The Fast, which was with Chris Baker, Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri,” said Bowman. “We never really played out and about, but it launched me into that great group of musicians. I then played with Evolution’s End, Unsound, The Agents, Mighty Jack, The Woody’s, The Jack and Jills, Waxy, Faults of Andreas, Uncontrollable and Mondo Generator. I’ve also played fill-in gigs with Wiseman, Slipping Into Darkness and many others. I’m still technically playing with many of those bands, because we’ve never officially quit, and we all still get along and I know we’ll play again someday… but I guess I’d say my current bands are Mighty Jack, Waxy and Mondo Generator.”
A couple months ago Bowman came up with a brilliant idea to get some musicians together to jam. During a recent interview at his home in Palm Desert, Bowman explained how it all came about.
“So this is kind of the precipitation of this whole thing… Robbie (Waldman, of Waxy) being the sweetheart that he is, gifted me a beautiful vintage sparkly pink drum set, and so I put up a thank you post to him on FB, and it got quite a few likes, and comments like ‘Can’t wait to hear you play them!’ and then I realized, I don’t even have a show booked or anything going on. I’m in all these bands, and I don’t have any gigs coming up, and I really want to play these dang drums! So I thought it would be cool to get together with a couple musicians to learn some cover tunes over the summer, and book us a show. Then I thought, maybe there’d be even more musicians that would be into this as well,” Bowman said, “The more I thought about it, the more I believed in it…how cool would it be to bring together a bunch of desert musicians to play together, with other musicians who they have never played with, and make a night of it.”
“So Iet’s say I dreamt of this on Monday, and I called Nigel (Dettelbach, booker at The Hood) on Tuesday and I asked ‘Do you have anything open the end of the summer?’ And he said ‘yes’, so I booked the date. From there I put my neck on the line and just moved forward, a little out of my comfort zone, and sent out a FB post inviting the musicians to participate, because, knowing me, if I didn’t do it right away, I would’ve talked myself out of it,” said Bowman.
“I only had a few rules: That the volunteers didn’t mind being randomly put into a band with other musicians they may not know, that they would play songs chosen by our FB Friends, that might be out of their normal genre, that they be available for the show on August 25, that they needed to do at least one rehearsal before the show. Turns out everyone really took it seriously and have been rehearsing for this every week,” shared Bowman. “And lastly, to be cool, have fun, and go with the flow.”
“I put the post out on Wednesday afternoon, and so many people responded and signed up that the line-ups were filled in just a few hours. There were people that I’ve known forever who have heard about it since and wanted to be part of it, but it was too late this time around. However, with responses like that from musicians, and from people who want to go watch and support and see how this all plays out, I totally feel that this will become a reoccurring event, and will include many more Valley musicians.”
Bowman chose the band lineups by drawing the names first for the 5 drummers, then stacked on the 5 bass players, 10 guitar players and lastly the 13 vocalists.
It’s a close community but not everyone knew each other much less had played together. Bowman wanted to make sure everyone knows this is not a competition. Comradery, communication and collaboration seem to be the theme of this project.
“Everyone has been 100% awesome with this idea,” shared Bowman.
Bowman also put out a poll on FB to see what songs that our community might want to hear these bands play, so that our audience was involved in this process as well. The response was overwhelming.
“I randomly chose 20 songs from the over 200 FB suggestions, and distributed 4 songs to each band. The bands then got to choose, democratically, 3 additional songs that they want to perform. All five bands will get a 30 minute set where they can perform 7 songs,” said Bowman. “They also got to choose the name of their bands. I felt this would help the bands establish their identities, help them bond, and so that we could make cool flyers and posts.”
Bowman will be printing Lyric sheets for the audience to purchase for $2.00, with the money going to the charity, so we can all sing along to our favorite hit songs.
“I decided to do this because it turns out a lot of these songs, like, for example ’Rock the Casbah’ I’ve been singing the wrong lyrics to for years,” said Bowman laughing. “I thought it would be fun memorabilia for people to be able to keep and maybe have the band members sign.”
Bowman chose the Desert Cancer Foundation as the charity to receive the evening’s proceeds.
“My Mom is a cancer survivor, my Aunt unfortunately was not, and my Uncle has been recently diagnosed with stage 4, so that’s why I wanted to donate to a cancer charity. I decided on Desert Cancer Foundation because it’s a local charity that gives back directly to those here in the valley that have cancer and are in need,” shared Bowman. “We are a Desert community that can raise money for people right here in our valley for treatment and care.”
He also wants to make sure that all of these bands have their time to shine on the night of the show.
“I wanted this to be an early-ish event and done by midnight. Each band will do 7 songs and then after that people can get up and jam if they want, since all the instruments will be there.”
I asked Bowman if he was happy with the results.
“It has exceeded my expectations in the fact that so many people were willing to give up so much of their valuable time to do this. Now there is band bonding, and who knows how many collaborations or new bands might come out of this? And how cool is that? It’s going to be an awesome night!”
Mixed Up Music Party
Saturday, August 25 starting @ 7:00pm
The Hood Bar & pizza 74-360 Highway 111, Palm Desert, CA 760-636-5220
I reached out to the musicians taking part in this event and asked them a few questions and here are their responses.
CVW: What made you decide to sign on for this?
Noe Gutierrez: When Jeff asks you listen. Jeff is a great friend and is always the first to volunteer to help others. He’s a great leader and I would follow him to any uncharted territory.
Nick Hales: I always love to jam with other people and I’m stoked that Jeff Bowman presented this opportunity for us.
Matt King: I am still fairly a newcomer in this music scene, so when this super fun opportunity presented itself I saw it as a way to get more involved in the scene, meet some amazingly talented musicians, play with members of some of my favorite bands, and to grow as a performer.
Esther Sanchez: When I first saw Jeff’s post on FB describing his vision and rallying the troops I thought to myself, ‘That sounds like a blast!’ I have countless buddies in the scene and so many of us are always talking about jamming for fun but with schedules and obligations to personal projects, it rarely happens. This has been an excuse to do just that while simultaneously helping out a worthy cause.
Armondo Flores: It’s a great cause and Jeff Bowman is about as solid a guy as they come.
Linda Lemke Heinz: It’s for a very important cause and the idea of playing with musicians I’ve never played with before sounded like fun.
Matt Whyte: I signed up within minutes of Jeff posting on Facebook. So many great musicians along with a great cause. I knew it would be a chance to meet more valley players.
Derek Wade Timmons: An opportunity to do something different. And Jeff Bowman is the man!
Randy Caserta: When I first heard of it thought it was a cool idea and you never know what can come from it. But after learning it was a cancer benefit I took it even more serious having lost my mom from it coming upon two years ago. I’m still dealing with it and all that came after which should’ve never been and I wouldn’t wish what I went through and am still dealing with and going through on anyone.
Rob Martinez: I just want to applaud Jeff Bowman for coming up with such a great idea AND actually making it happen. It’s been great playing music with people I’ve only seen play, but have never had the opportunity to play music with before. The biggest challenge of all has been scheduling time to get together due to everyone’s busy lives, jobs, kids etc., but I truly appreciate everyone’s sacrifices they made to make this happen.
Robert Garcia: I felt this would be a great opportunity to get together and play with friends I look up to in our music community. I’m always supporting them, let me give it a try and join them. (Plus my wife said to suck it up and get out there!)
CVW: What has this experience been like for you?
Gutierrez: It’s been great to communicate with our band. I knew everyone except Alex Burdon. She’s a hoot and full of energy, just not as much energy as Natasha.
Hales: Nothing short of awesome! Everybody in The Oneders are awesome people and musicians!
Chelsea Sugarbritches: Super fun…. Banned Four is pretty rad.
Benny Cancino: It’s been super cool working with people I’ve never musically worked with!
King: This experience has been nothing short of pure awesomeness. I’ve known Nick and Derek for my whole life, and it’s so cool to finally be able to play with them. I am also very grateful for Tom, Troy, Stevie, and Cara for welcoming me with open arms and creating such an epic experience.
Sanchez: I’ve had a total blast with these guys! There’s something to be said about busting out songs that are just for fun. It kind of reminds me of why I got into music in the first place. Most of us make music because it’s what feeds our souls.
Flores: uhhh… like playing with a bunch of people I’ve already played with 😉
Whyte: I haven’t worked as hard as we have for quite a bit. I have to assume it’s gonna be good natured competitive fun. Everyone wants to tear it up!
Josh Heinz: It has been a great time. Learning the songs has made me be a little more disciplined. And it has been nice to see how the other musicians operate.
Timmons: Me singing different kinds of songs and lyrics I didn’t write and not having to play bass the whole time is pretty sweet! It’s been an awesome experience and I never imagined it being so fun.
Curtis Hendricks: Enjoyable. I have found that I prefer the freedom of getting together with various musicians, collaborating, and perform, not having to be tied to one group, just enjoying the music and experiencing different takes and approaches to the music.
Robert Bowman: Jeff Bowman…. Hello! Seriously though, I knew it would be rad and always happy to be a part of something special! I love my desert brethren. Such a great community. Plus, having not been a part of a band in such a long time gave me the opportunity to play with seasoned musicians from all types of backgrounds which normally wouldn’t have been assembled with normal circumstances. We were able to “cut to the chase” and form right away. I loved the random band member selection process.
Caserta: The experience has been fun, most of the stuff is not my style but again fun to get to play with people I played with in Barflys, and other stuff I’d done also in The Cult tribute band a few years back. It’s been positive, everyone has welcomed one another involved and with an open mind. Some of the arrangements of the songs are not your typical radio arrangements. And remembering some of them has been a bit trying at times. LOL!
CVW: How has it been different from playing in your own bands?
Gutierrez: Not much different. There’s an expectation of professionalism that is unspoken. I appreciate that in all of the other members. Their talent is world-class.
Hales: Never been in a cover band before. Arranging these songs has been pretty easy, seeing as they were already written by other people. I’ve been really digging the chemistry between this group.
Sugarbritches: Well actually I had the advantage of having a bandmate in this band too. Josh and I are both in 5th Town, but it’s different people I’ve never worked with before so you have to get used to how everyone works in their own way… but I feel like all of us really meshed well right from the get go.
King: When it comes to FrankEatsTheFloor, we were all great buddies before we started the band. With The Oneders, it’s super cool to bond with a few strangers over your collective love for music.
Flores: Aside from them being cover songs, not much. The only people I haven’t played with before are Alex Burdon & Natasha Carian. Everyone else I’ve played in a band with at one time or another.
Linda Heinz: It takes time to get a band in sync, musically and otherwise. In Blasting Echo and 5th Town, we’ve all known each other for years and things run pretty smooth. This project requires a much faster gel. The members of BounceHaus are professional, fun, and just damn good people. It’s going to be one exciting show. Can’t wait!
Whyte: Most of my recent experience has been more with covers. It’s been a pleasure to work with people who are experienced players. Positive, hilarious energy has been our vibe. I hope it shows when we play. I got lucky all the bass lines were a blast to play!
Josh Heinz: Comparatively, in Blasting Echo I sing and play. And we don’t do any covers. We focus on original music. In 5th Town I am just they rhythm guitar and we do some covers. So this is more like playing in 5th Town. The big difference has been learning these songs for the first time and having to make time to practice them at home.
Hendricks: Bands can get stressful. Some members want to push forward and get at the prize quick, others want to play the long game. Getting together with new people with a single goal, not caring or worrying about what’s going to happen after that one gig, it’s refreshing and invigorating.
Robert Bowman: Obviously I had to bite the bullet and play some radio music which for me is way out of my comfort zone, but has been so much fun! When it’s your own song, your baby…. everything has to be perfect. This experience was unique in that every member has a voice and is able to contribute their ideas to already popular songs.
Garcia: Honestly, amazing! I wasn’t sure what to expect. The only person in the band I ever got near to even “jamming” with is Robbie Waldman before this. I wasn’t sure how the rest of band mates were going to respond. Everyone in the band has been very welcoming and encouraging. Great experience so far! The only playing I’ve really done is just practice in my garage. I’ve jammed with friends before, but nothing too structured. So this is a first. Our music community is very tightly knit. And the quality of musicianship is amazing. Again, I’ve always supported it, but here’s a chance to be part of it. I’m very grateful.
CVW: Has this experience exceeded your expectations for what you thought it would be?
Gutierrez: Yes. I knew to expect only the best from Mondo, Rob, Damian, Randy, Natasha & Alex. I couldn’t have asked for a better band.
Hales: Well, Tom Edwards was the only person I hadn’t really jammed with before and he’s a blues guy just like I am, so we meshed really well. I feel like everyone in the band really respects each other too.
Sugarbritches: I think so. I’m so honored to be playing with these guys!
Cancino: Nope, I knew exactly what I was in for!
Linda Heinz: I did not know what to expect. This has been such a fun learning experience. Made some new friends and now have even more respect for some musicians I’ve been watching for years.
King: Oh absolutely. When I signed up I was a little afraid of being the only kid my age, but after being paired with the greatest band mates imaginable, I feel extremely comfortable and confident. The show may be only for one night, but I know that I have made new friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime.
Sanchez: I knew that all of the guys in my group from their own bands and knew they were all talented. That being said, working with them personally, I have been able to witness how truly skilled they all are at what they do. It has been really fantastic to be able to bond with them over music and I can’t wait for us to all share the stage.
Josh Heinz: Yes it has. It has made me work hard and do things I wouldn’t normally do, which is a good challenge that can only help my musicianship.
Flores: I don’t know… we haven’t had a full rehearsal yet! Ask me after the show!
Robert Bowman: Yes. Definitely! I figured we’d muster through the songs as assigned, but we were able to add our own flavor and for me, has made the project worth it!
CVW: What has been the most challenging part of this?
Gutierrez: Scheduling for sure. We are all busy & there is no resentment, only understanding. The challenge lies with making the most of our time in the same room.
Hales: Not a whole lot! I thought it was going to be jamming, but we’ve been hitting it pretty hard every week. It’s been a pleasure!
King: The most challenging thing about this experience has been the skill level gap. I have only been playing for 3 or 4 years, and I’m paired with people who have been rocking for probably longer than I’ve been alive. We have faced some trouble in getting our songs down, but together we conquered and are ready to rock on August 25th!
Sanchez: The biggest challenge is probably redundant for most of the groups. You have 6 adults with day jobs, kids, etc….Not to mention the fact that most of us have obligations to our own bands. All that makes finding time for everyone to get together and rehearse difficult. That being said, we are all doing what we love for a great cause with people we genuinely like; all reasons to do what we have to do to make this thing happen.
Josh Heinz: Carving out time to practice and learn the songs, while still carrying on the usual routine.
Robert Bowman: Getting all 7 of us together. The stars have to align for it to happen, but we were able to pull it off. The dedication from all participants has really been a high point for me personally, and I’d definitely like to be a part of something like this in the future.
Garcia: The most challenging part was having Jeff sitting in on a rehearsal watching. (I’m kidding but I’m not! He is one of my favorite drummers) Actually, the biggest challenge I have, is stepping up to the level of my band mates, who rock by the way, and to step up to the level of every musician taking part. I see that list of drummers and I think ‘you better get your act together!’