Featuring: Rick Shelley, Lisa Lynn Morgan, Morgan James and Mike “Sickboy” Payan. Saturday, November 15th @ 9:00pm
Bby Lisa Morgan
CV Weekly has hand-picked local artists to play An Acoustic Night of music at the venue that has carved its name into the short list of places that build their marketing plan around local music – Schmidy’s Tavern. On November 15th, not only will they have some of the best burgers and wings in town, but they will be giving their stage to some artists who are typically heard with a full band behind them. Unplugged, these artists step away from the dressings of drums and bass, where their songs and voices can be heard in most intimate of settings.
Rick Shelley: This artist brings with him decades of playing music and writing songs. His experience found him chasing the dream all the way to LA, seeing parts of the dream realized and watching the rest of it fade away. Coming up in music here in the desert among players like Nick Oliveri, Josh Homme, Brant Bjork, John Garcia, Chris Cockrell and others, the sense that anything could happen must have been so strong they could taste it. “Since I was a kid, I’ve played with the same group of guys – Eric Turner and James Danielson. My first real version of a band was Rag Tag. Nick Oliveri was our bass player. We played in LA for almost two years just as the LA scene was starting to wane in ’88 and ’89. Just as Rag Tag was starting to write really well together, Nick returned to the desert and the guys that he’d come up with – Josh Homme and John Garcia…I think where he was most comfortable. Nick really brought that punk edge to us. He was always super solid – a real anchor. Seeing him the other night with Uncontrollable at The Hood, I can tell you, he still is. So, after Nick left, we just disbanded.” (Nick went on to play with Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss)
“I tried it out on my own in LA for two years, but it’s a tough town to get anything going in, so I came back to the desert. I started playing with James and Erik again. Dean, Nick’s brother, started playing bass with us. It’s pretty amazing, really, that two strong bass players can come from the same family…different, but both really talented. We played together for 11-12 years as Woodshed.”
Woodshed was an original rock/blues band. The live album, Goodnight Irene, is beautifully produced by Andrew Waterman for Chrome Horse Records and reflects musicians playing and jamming fluidly, without flaw, capturing the essence of classic rock and roll, rolled in jazz influenced blues that reeks of timelessness. The only thing missing was the world tour and the corporate dollars to send them there.
“Erik and Dean still live here in the desert. James is in Washington now,” shared Shelley. “I really haven’t done a lot (with music) since then, other than have kids. But for whatever reason, this spring coming into summer – I don’t really know what the catalyst was, but I just started writing. It spurred me on to wanting to get back out and play. Maybe because my kids are older now and don’t need me to be as present as they did once, but I’m ready to get out there and see what the response to the music is.”
This will be Rick Shelley’s debut journey back into the public world of music, this time, standing on his own. “I’ve played guitar for a long time. But with Woodshed, I was able to lean on them musically and in the writing process. When you play on your own without that, there’s a void in the music that wasn’t there before. That’s probably why it took me so long to get back to it. What I hear in my head, when I’m writing – I still hear those guys; I hear where they’d come in and what they’d play. Now I have to figure out how to write and play without them. I’ve been playing my guitar this whole time, but it wasn’t until recently I said, ‘Ok, I’m pretty comfortable with who I am today as a song writer and player; time to go out and play and see what the reaction is to it.”
I asked him how writing and music have evolved over time: “I wrote at least half if not just a little more of the lyrics for Woodshed. The way I write has gotten better. That’s the thing with songwriting is the more you do it, the better you get. I’m more comfortable today with my lyric writing. It’s grown, but it’s still definitely going to have a Woodshed feel to it, because that’s who I am. It won’t be a huge departure. I’ll play some Woodshed songs, and the new ones will still have that feel.”
Older, more self-aware, a proven history of great song crafting and a survivor of the heartbreaks of life in music; Rick Shelley has all the key ingredients to bring some unforgettable music to the Tavern Saturday night, and, for that matter, anywhere he chooses.
Morgan James: Passion, an incredible work ethic, and a personality that exudes warmth and kindness are the skills that support Morgan James’ pretty voice and her music. It doesn’t hurt that she is as lovely as an animated Disney princess, but it is her willingness and positive spirit that have catapulted this artist to the center of a stacked music scene. A professional promoter hired on by Plan B Live Music and Cocktails in Thousand Palms and Palm Canyon Road House in Palm Springs, James’ first love is her band and band mates in Pocket Yellow. That is to say, her first love in line behind her husband and two children.
“Though completely worth every moment, being a mom of 2 involves a lot of self-sacrificing,” shared James. “I hope to be an example to my kids that they should do what they love. When I decided to pursue music last year, it was finally something I did that was for me. Music fills me. My hope and dream in music is simply to sing, write and play as often as possible for as long as is possible, and to continue being inspired by other musicians, my children and the world surrounding me.”
Mike “Sickboy” Payan: Two time finalist at the Tilted Kilt’s Open Mic Competition, Mike has proven his ability to woo a crowd. With a consistent following, a humble charm, a sense of humor and his Young Elvis meets Young James Dean good looks, this artist shows much promise. As a young kid, Mike idolized “The King” and his music, and even would dress like him. Then he was introduced to Social D, Rock a Billy and all the genres in between. His other musical influences are Mike Ness, Morrissey, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Sr. and his two favorite bands of all time are Social D and The Smiths. If you watch and listen closely, you will see one or two of these influences show up in the same song at the same time, giving him a unique sound to match his look. Two months from his 21st birthday, Mike will be bringing a mix of covers and originals to the Tavern stage for the first time.
Lisa Lynn Morgan: Well, this is where being a music writer and a musician get awkward. I guess I’ll just say this: There is no age limit to living your desires. It’s just the older you get, the more guts it takes.
I was told once, when singing with a cover band in Vegas, that 30 was too old, and that female singers pretty much retire by then. They certainly weren’t going to find any decent gigs. There I was, standing on the coveted stage of the Monte Carlo looking out at the audience, on the precipice of signing a contract with Gilley’s who were adding a female to their all male house band. In less than a year, I was on the verge of “making it” by Vegas lounge act standards, and somehow, it just seemed empty. “Ok,” I thought to myself. You’ve done it. Now what?” They didn’t know it, but I was 33 years old at the time. As we performed that night, the words of singer/songwriter, James McMurtry kept ringing in my ears, “I used to think I was an artist and found out I’m a beer salesman.” After one more round of Britney Spears’, “Hit Me Baby One More Time”, I gave my notice. I came back to California and began a career in advertising and marketing with the Los Angeles Daily News.
Until Palm Desert Country Club hired me to put together a band for New Year’s Eve two years ago, I hadn’t sung in a band outside of church. I am singing as much now, if not more, 15 years later! I was even selected to perform at Mix 100.5’s Acoustic Palooza at the Hard Rock Hotel by submitting the first original song I’d written in 20 years. I am grateful beyond words to be as involved in music as I am, as a writer and as a performer. But I don’t think I’d be doing any of it without the incredible people around me who believe in and support me: a good handful of friends and the talented people I call my bandamily (band family). So, if you’ll oblige me, I’ll be dusting off some 20 year old songs that have found new life with the help of my guitar handling band-brother Mike Pedersen, along with some new ones. By the grace of God, I’m way more than just a beer salesman today, and I’m just getting started.