The 2020 Coachella Valley Music Awards may have been postponed because of the pandemic and COVID-19 but the spirit of the yearly event, now in its 8th year, can never be denied. One aspect of the awards is the “special” awards given out each year to those who have exhibited excellence and endurance while making significant contributions to the world of music.

The awards will be presented online this year for the first time on Sunday, January 10, 2021 from 5- 7:30 p.m. You can go to coachellavalleyweekly.com to obtain more information. The awards are brought to you by presenting sponsors Custom Care Solutions and Fantasy Springs Resort Casino with additional sponsors Big Rock Golf and Pub at Indian Springs, Renova Energy and Vivid Staging Solutions.

As we prepare to announce the winners, we contemplate the honoring of our special award recipients for 2020. CV Weekly spoke to the extraordinary individuals we will be honoring.

2020 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients Kal David and Lauri Bono

CVW: What are your overall sentiments about receiving the 2020 CVMA Lifetime Achievement Award?

Kal & Lauri: “Of course, we are honored to receive this award, music has been the driving force in our lives for 50+ years! We have been residents of Palm Springs for 30 years and this award is a very special one because it comes from the people of our hometown! We are very grateful for the love and support we have received from this special community.”

CVW: Reflecting on your careers thus far, what do you appreciate most and what challenge(s) are you most grateful for?

Kal & Lauri: “One of the things we appreciate most about our careers is that we have traveled many places and made friendships all over the world, people everywhere brought together with the magic of music. Owning, running and performing at our nightclub, Blue Guitar from 1998-2004, was the most challenging and difficult thing we ever did in our careers but we are grateful for the experience, the amazing times, and lasting friendships made there.”

CVW: Give us an update on all of your projects.

Kal & Lauri: “With this pandemic, not much is planned, but we have taken this time to write new songs and will record a new album in Germany as soon as travel is safe for everyone. Also, a Lauri Bono cookbook is in the writing stages, hopefully with a late summer release. It has been a trying time and we miss performing for our friends and fans but it is also a time for reflection and lessons of gratitude…and we are grateful.”

2020 ICON Award Recipient Keisha D

CVW: Congratulations on receiving the 2020 ICON Award, I know it comes at a tough time but you are so deserving.

Keisha D: “Thank you so much! I’m blown away, this valley has been so good to me. I never thought of all these things, these wonderful accolades. I appreciate it. It’s nice. I don’t know if I’ll go back to entertaining. It looks like probably not, so what a way to go for my career to come to some kind of closure, it’s really nice.”

CVW: What was your initial reaction when Tracy (Publisher of CV Weekly) first notified you that you would be honored with the ICON Award?

Keisha D: “When Tracy said the words I was just quiet and she responded, ‘Hello?’ I was crying, I couldn’t get my breath. I was so shocked. It’s just amazing, I was blown away! I hope I represented our community of musicians in a good light. I’m glad that they feel that I’m worthy of something like that. I hope that people will take something from what I’ve been doing in music, that they love it just as much as I do. I hope it gives people a shot in the arm to keep going for their dreams.”

CVW: You have relied on your faith to endure these difficult times and you are vocal about it. Can you explain more what it means to you to ‘walk in faith’?

Keisha D: “That is my umber one that’s carried me through, my faith. The reason that I feel I have the confidence that I have and the way I operate the way I do is because I know in the ultimate scheme of things, God is in control and not me, that’s the difference. I’ve had a couple of entertainers say to me, ‘I saw you let someone share the stage with you. Man, I would never do that, what if they tried to out-sing you?’ I thought to myself, ‘what?’ Then they said, ‘my ego would never allow me’, I thought to myself, ‘my stage is for everybody, it’s a platform to be able to share and create, and if I don’t let God have control, why am I even up there?’ That’s why I think the way I think.”

2020 Trailblazer Award Recipient Armando Flores

CVW: After letting it sink in a bit, what are your feelings about receiving the 2020 CVMA Trailblazer Award?

Flores: “You know, I spent a few months wracking my brain trying to understand what made me a trailblazer in CV Weekly’s eyes. Lucky for me, my good pal, Jeff Fortson, summed it up quite well in the award presentation. You know, I gave up doing this (music) for the recognition and accolades a long time ago, so when your peers put you on their shoulders to be honored it’s a heartwarming and humbling feeling. And I have to say I’m really honored to have even been chosen. In looking at past recipients, I realize that I’m in very good company.”

CVW: You are one of the premier bassists to ever come out of the Coachella Valley, hands down. Why did you choose the bass?

Flores: “I don’t know that I would say I am a premier bassist, I just try to give my all to whomever I am working with, whether it’s a live performance, a recording session or just a collaboration in general. Credit for getting started on the bass should probably go to my little brother, Nick Flores. I remember when he was about 13 he begged my parents for some Sears catalog bass, probably because he had friends who were getting involved with music at the time. The girl I was dating at the time had an imitation Fender Jazz bass laying around and I used it so my brother and I could learn together. From that point on, it was true love…not with the girl, but with the bass.”

CVW: We obviously know about your work in Blasting Echo and 5th Town. This year you joined Whiskey & Knives too! Please give us an update on all of your projects.

Flores: “2020 put a hard stop to a lot of the things I was working on. A lot of my bandmates in different projects have young kids at home, so when the virus hit it worried a lot of them and I completely understand. But some folks aren’t in that position and are willing to rehearse with protocols in place. I did a bit of recording last summer with my friend, Tim Scott, being a rhythm section for his tunes. I tracked some bass for Vinny Berry with Mitchem Michael Patrick behind the board and on the drums and the guys in Whiskey & Knives brought me in with open arms and we streamed a few shows last year. I’m really looking forward to recording with those guys. And I’ve been working with Rob Peterson, Josh Heinz, and Dub Wallace, on some mixes for the last Blasting Echo record we had tracked last year, with the hopes of releasing new material sometime soon. Overall, just doing what I can to stay busy and not get rusty in the middle of all this craziness.”

2020 Pioneer Award Recipient Tony Tornay

CVW: Congratulations on receiving the 2020 Pioneer Award. What are you feeling?

Törnay: “It feels great! Especially considering that when we were all kids there was no infrastructure for music and it almost seemed kind of frowned upon. None of us really knew what we were doing, we just had to figure it out. That is what I am the most proud of, that a bunch of kids with a lot of energy and heads full of ambition actually made something happen. I guess what I am getting at is that it is always nice when your hard work is acknowledged, especially when all of that effort was out of love”.

CVW: You have such a long and successful career behind the kit. Why did you choose the drums?

Törnay: “My pops was a drummer. Both of my parents were always supportive when I was a kid, they encouraged my brother and I to pursue our dreams. For me that was music. When I was about 5 years old my parents noticed that I had an affinity for music. My dad still had his old Slingerland drum set and pulled that out for me to start tinkering with. A few years later they bought my brother and I a newer drum set and a few guitars, but the drums always spoke to me so that’s where I stayed. I play guitar and bass, and I love those instruments, but playing the drums feels like home”.

CVW: Please give us an update on all your projects/bands.

Törnay: “All Souls is in the middle of writing our next record. Fatso Jetson has a few things planned, but we’re waiting to see what goes on with the pandemic.”