By Lisa Morgan
This was a night I couldn’t miss. Thursday, March 30th at Palm Canyon Road House, some of the most talented local bands I’d ever had the pleasure of knowing and hearing would be competing in the Tachevah band competition. Just before this, one was held at Pappy and Harriet’s and you could hear the controversy that rang out that night in the high desert all the way down here in the low lands. Shawn Don was chosen above obvious crowd favorite, The Brosquitos. I’m told that there was a literal moment of silence when the winner was announced. But word also travelled about the incredibly gracious and inspiring behavior of both Shawn Don and The Brosquitos. This told me a few things about this upcoming competition. One: This was not a popularity contest. Two: These judges were willing to make an unpopular decision for the sake of the bigger picture. Three: I was so glad not to be a judge for that show or the one I was about to go see.
Ronnie King was emceeing the night, a man with so many accomplishments in the music industry; a multi-Platinum, Diamond Certified Oscar and Grammy Nominated producer and musician who has collaborated with multimillion-dollar selling artists such as Mariah Carey, Tyrese, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, The Offspring and Rancid. Thing is, you wouldn’t know it to meet him. He’s just one seriously cool dude with a huge heart for our local music makers. The judges, Terry Reid who toured with the Rolling Stones during the British Invasion tour, Jeane Cunningham, singer-songwriter who has worked with some of the best and most timeless in the business, and Desert Sun writer, Bruce Fessier, who has been a part of the desert music scene since the rat pack was still around to interview. The judges all sat at a table in the middle of the room where they could best hear the music coming through the upgraded sound system the Road House had installed. That sound system was run by a Grammy winning songwriter himself, Matt Barnes, who was really put to the test with short sets and equipment changes between acts. It wasn’t easy to navigate for Barnes or the judges; the place was packed.
Generic, a hip hop ensemble of 6 rappers challenged my ego from the minute I walked up to Palm Canyon Road House last Thursday. In spite of gale force winds and flying debris, this band had a large, enthusiastic following, all there to do their part to ensure a victory for their beloved band, and I had never even heard of them! They were followed by what might be considered their polar opposite, The Traveling Fools, a full sounding folk rock band with Latin flair. The harmonies were gorgeous and the lyrics pulled you into a cinematic screen play of feelings. The crowd seemed to respond to them as well. They were followed by another stark contrast, goth metal band, Annabelle Asylum. I have decided that it takes (pardon the expression) balls of freaking steel to be in a heavy metal band of any type in a town outside of LA (or Germany for that matter). In all black with black makeup around their eyes, these guys played with everything they had and showed huge potential within their chosen genre. You could hear their Korn and Linkin Park influences succinctly. The want to win was thick in the building, but at the same time, I saw each band supporting the next including those waiting to compete. Music can be a beautiful thing that way.
Elektric Lucie was next. These guys have been around a while. They even let me book them back when Schmidy’s Tavern was around providing a home to all genres and experimental original bands. They have toured a lot and just keep getting better. They orchestrate a tsunami of sound that is authentic and reflective of their heritage and their love for electronic infused rock. They sang and spoke in both Spanish and English and their applause came from everyone.
Bridger closed the night out, and with the power of hulk sized fist. Judge Cunningham was out of her seat (as were the judges throughout the night to get a close look and listen). But this time, it was as if she was just watching with full joy and a giant sense of wow. Bridger tends to do that. Their energy is so positive and engaging that I don’t care who you are and what your music preferences are, you just automatically love them. You don’t just “like” them, you L.O.V.E. heart shaped hands to your chest LOVE them! They brought it down with a house full of friends and family as always, no holds barred, with bass monster, Dan Dillinger, climbing on top of the furniture (the main speaker). Still, the way this competition has gone in the past, it was anybody’s contest.
As the judges were sweating over the unenviable task of making a final call on the two winners that would move on to the finals, Generic fans began chanting their name. They had been there from the very first show and showed zero signs of fatigue and fading interest in their band of choice. When the judges finally came up to the stage their words inspired all. “I am amazed at the amount of talent in this community,” shared Cunningham.
The winners were Electrik Lucie – “Nice to see the Mexican culture represented here in America,” shared Reid, “and Bridger – I knew Keith Moon. This one (KT Zapcart, the drummer) definitely has the spirit of Keith in her,” Reid said concurring with Jeanne Cunningham’s comments about the band and their drummer.
They will now join bands Shawn Don and Kayves for a chance to win a $3000 grand prize at the Date Shed, May 18.