Photo By Robert Chance


By Tracy Dietlin

Black Water Gospel will be releasing their first 5-song self-titled EP on Sunday, February 18. There will be an EP release party that evening from 7-10pm at Big Rock Pub. The EP will also be available on iTunes, Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify the same day.

The wait is finally over for Black Water Gospel fans that have been chomping at the bit to be able to hear these catchy, melodic driven songs on an actual disc. These are songs that once you hear them, they dig deep and you can’t get them out of your head. Until now fans have had to attend the band’s live shows to get their fix.

Over the last year, Black Water Gospel garnered an ever growing and loyal fan base in a short period of time. They are one of the valley’s most popular new bands that everyone is always talking about. Every song is radio-ready with Top 10 hit potential, anchored in bluesy, gritty rock, laced with a 90s grunge sound. Add to that Lance Riebsomer’s soulful and fiery vocals and you have a rock and roll recipe for success.


At last year’s 2017 CV Music Awards the band and its members were nominated for 7 awards and took home the trophy for Best Blues Band. The band is comprised of: Lance Riebsomer (vocals, guitar), David Morales (guitar), Alex Maestas (drums), Dan Dillinger (bass) and Matt Claborn (guitar). The band formed in November of 2016 after a 10 month stint as being Foxy Cleopatra.

The EP includes the songs: “Everybody Knows,” “Uptown,” “Seven Days a Week” “Cleaning Up the Mess” and “Alone.” It was recorded and produced in Orange County by Riebsomer’s good friend Aaron Andersen, who used to live here in the desert and was a touring musician as a guitarist and also in the band Warhols. It was mixed by Bryan Cook and mastered by Mark Chalecki.

I recently sat down with Riebsomer at my home to talk to him about the release party and what all has transpired over the last year to get Black Water Gospel to this point. The rest of the band answered questions by email and the day before this paper went to print we did a photo shoot with the band at Big Rock Pub.

CVW: Please tell us about these 5 songs and how you chose these to be on the first EP?

Riebsomer: “Alone” was the first song I wrote when I moved back to the desert. I had just gotten a divorce and I was trying to reinvent myself. I’ve always been a musician, but when I came back all I really had was my guitar and a bottle of whiskey and I was living alone for the first time (aside from when my daughter is with me). “Alone” was the one song that describes accurately and successfully what I was going through at that point in my life. For me it was like getting a personal A+ for myself when I wrote that song.

“Seven Days a Week,” was written when I was at Coachella a couple years ago. We were all drinking and it came into my head.  That was the night that The Weeknd played and I’m not really into him so I was just kind of hanging out and I had to go off and record the voice memo of it until I could get home and when I got home that night about 11:30 I just started playing it.

“Everybody Knows” is about that one girl I was just crazy about and when I moved back everything fell apart and then I just wrote and wrote, they say from heartbreak comes the best writing. It’s about where I’m hiding all my mistakes, but I know that everybody really knows back there (Orange County) that I’m here in the desert hiding.

“Cleaning Up the Mess” was about just trying to fix that whole situation and not doing a very good job of it. When you’re sitting at the end of a blocked number and there’s nothing you can do. When you block somebody from your life after you break up…when you’re sitting on the blocking end it feels safe, but when you’re on the other end it feels so terrible. It’s like in an episode of Black Mirror (a new Netflix show) where if you fuck up instead of going to jail they just have this chip where everybody looks like a blob and you can’t see them so you’re blocked from everyone. It’s like no matter what… just don’t block a person.

“I already have half of the next EP done and we will release that one at the end of this year. The next EP will have “What Ya Waiting For,” “Not the Man” and “Lost For the Weekend.”

“This EP release for me is redemption, because I’ve been sitting on this music for so long and then I got into tangents in my life and failed relationships again…where I just sunk…and at the beginning of this year I decided to redeem myself and recklessly pursue my passion….. I was in a pit on New Year’s and now I’m following my own path and letting go of a lot of stuff.”

CVW: Are you from the desert?

Riebsomer: “I was raised here from the age of 5 then moved to Orange County in 2012 then moved back here in 2014.”

CVW: You also play solo acoustic shows and as a duo with David Morales. How is that different from performing with the full band of Black Water Gospel?

Photo By Robert Chance

Riebsomer: “When I left working nights in restaurants in December and I decided to do music as my primary source of income, I was never really that person who thought about taking a cover and making it my own, but I started doing that. For me writing my own songs is much more personal. But when you love what you do you can take a song and make it your own. When I play by myself it’s a much more intimate experience. Some of the venues I play they say ‘don’t play too loud…just loud enough so they can hear you’ and sometimes it’s daunting. I think that David is really my security blanket because he’s such an amazing musician. We will throw in a lot of original acoustic stuff we’ve written this year and sometimes we’ll throw in a Black Water Gospel song, but honestly I feel those songs need to be played with a full band. The dynamic of hearing the distortion pedal and the bass hit… when all that comes together…for me that’s one of my favorite things.  

“On a different note, I’m going into the studio in March to do a solo project with Will (Sturgeon) of brightener. He’s going to be recording a solo acoustic EP of just me and David (Morales). This year I just want to do as much music as I can.”

CVW: What made you decide to have the party at Big Rock?

Riebsomer: “There are a couple reasons we chose to have it at Big Rock. First we love Lisa (Morgan) and we are rock and roll and that place is submersed in it. I know it still has the golfer crowd, but I was in there last week and I was listening to a rock band and the sound was amazing.”

CVW: What are your other favorite venues to play?

Riebsomer: ““We love playing at Hard Rock and we love Esjay…she’s just a force and I feel lucky to have her as a friend. We also love The Hood and Nigel does a great job there.”

CVW: What made you choose brightener and The Flusters to be on the bill for the party? Great choices by the way.

Riebsomer: “Since we are a rock band I wanted to have a couple other bands that are in the alt rock genre to round things out. And they’re all really great guys.”

CVW: Let’s talk Tachevah.

Photo By Robert Chance

Riebsomer: “We’re excited about Tachevah. I got it in with 13 minutes to spare. I was at work and everyone was telling me to get off my phone. I couldn’t get it to go through so I stopped by Courtney Chamber’s house and we got it uploaded. She’s been so awesome to me.”

CV Weekly: You’ve become close to many of the musicians here in the valley. Who else do you  respect on a business level locally?

Riebsomer: “One of my favorite bands locally is Brett and Christina from Caxton. I know she’s not Ska, but she has that Gwen Stefani thing going on vocally. The Flusters really impress me with what they’ve done over the last year in branding themselves and they have some really good songs. They have a great business model.

“The past year for me has been incredible amounts of momentum and complete immersion in the music and I’ve been so incredibly thankful for all the support. One of the best compliments I get is from my peers. After the Autism benefit I got a message from Rick Shelley saying ‘I think your music is rad’ and that was awesome because his music is rad too and I have so much respect for him.”

CVW: Who do you most respect in the music business? What band would you most like to open for?

Riebsomer: “Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl is my musical crush. That man is amazing. He’s got a wife and kids and has been so successful.  I saw him last summer at Bottle Rock and he blew me away. He was in Nirvana! The first couple Foo Fighter’s albums he played all the instruments! He’s had the same band members for like 15 years and they’re all still friends! And he’s a good dude! He brought his 7 year old daughter out on stage at a show and let her play drums on a song. That’s a badass family man!

“I also really appreciate Noel Gallagher and his solo stuff. He’s never given up on writing really good rock songs. We live in a time where there are not really a lot of good rock bands. Ultimately my goal is to just be in a successful rock band. That’s what gets my rocks off! Playing side gigs is great because I still get to play music, but playing in the band is the best. I’d love to play festivals.”

CVW: Who would you pick for Coachella headliners?

Riebsomer: “Foo Fighters, Led Zeppelin and Oasis. I’d like to see Oasis get back together.”

CVW: Your musical influences?

Riebsomer: “Well…the first song I heard and was singing to myself when I was playing Little League baseball was ‘Say It Ain’t So’ by Weezer. I love Rival Sons. The Verve was huge for me and a lot of the 90s music.”

CVW: Who would we be the most surprised that you listen to?

Riebsomer: “I love Motown…The Temptations and Four Tops. I think learning how to write a melody comes from listening to Motown stuff. It’s part of my childhood.”

CVW: You obviously went through the wringer last year in your personal life but all in all you had a rather successful year professionally. What were some of the high points for you?

Riebsomer: “I think getting all the nominations that we got last year at the CV Music Awards really meant a lot. The year before I only got one. Winning Best Blues Band was icing on the cake. We played a lot of really good shows last year. I’m looking forward to getting more of a following this year after we release this EP. I feel like there are still a lot of people out there that want to hear rock songs. For me it’s about going out on stage and just losing your shit out there. It’s about redemption. I’m on a reckless pursuit of musical redemption.”

CVW: I know you all are involved in other projects, but tell me what is different about Black Water Gospel?

Matt Claborn: “We’ve all known each other for over 10 years. We have great communication and cohesive abilities playing music together.”

Alex Maestas: “Black Water Gospel is just easier. We’ve all been playing music for so many years that we’re able to bring together styles from so many different genres and put on solid performances every time. Have you seen Dan and Matt rock out?”

Dan Dillinger: “We’re an eclectic mix of backgrounds doing something rockin.”

Photo By Robert Chance

David Morales: “I love ‘mixing it up’ musically, going from playing RnB with Eevaan Tre’ where I play bass and then letting loose a bit with some rock n roll Black Water Gospel style. It kept things interesting. Lance and I have known each other going on 14 years or so. We’ve grown up together and it shows in the music. We just mesh well with each other.”

CVW: What can we expect from the EP release show?

Claborn: “Anything and everything! We hope to accomplish so much with BWG this year. We’ve set the bar very high.”

Maestas: “Awesomeness! The line-up is as solid as any highly anticipated EP release show could have. Both bands joining us put on unique shows that capture your attention and make you want to buy all their music and play it on repeat. If you miss this show you’re totally gonna regret it and it’ll be your own fault.”

Dillinger: “A live show featuring some great rock n roll. The future of BWG has a lot in store.”

Morales: “Well it’s been a long time coming for us! We’re super excited to finally release the EP and what’s to come. You’ll just have to come to the show and find out.”

Upcoming Shows:

EP Release party at Big Rock Pub February 18 7-10pm/ Free show/ All ages until 10pm.

Tuesdays from 7-10pm @ Wine Emporium in LQ with Lance and David

Friday, Feb. 9 & Sat. Feb. 17 from 6-9pm @ Renaissance Esmeralda Indian Wells with Lance & David

Thursday, Feb. 15 from 8-11pm @ LQ Brewery Tap Room LQ with  Lance & David

Saturday, Feb. 24 from 9pm @ Tack Room Tavern Indio with Lance & David

Wednesday, Feb. 28 from 7-10pm @ Tack Room Tavern Indio with Lance & David

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