By Noe Gutierrez

In celebrating the year that was 2018, Coachella Valley Weekly decided to ask some of our preeminent musicians about the past year and their most memorable highlights and challenges. In next week’s edition, we talk about their outlook on 2019.

WHEN TIDES TURN“2018 has been a great year for us, from getting to play with tons of amazing bands like Murkocet, He Films the Clouds, Ormus, Sentiment, Annabelle Asylum, Kill the Radio, the CMFs and so many more, to recording our first EP with Jerry Whiting at Room 9 Studios, to being nominated for ‘Best New Band’ to putting out our first music video and all the love and support we have gotten from the valley, CV Weekly and CV Independent. There is just so much and it would be a book’s worth of words to describe all the awesome experiences we’ve had this year.”

MEGA SUN“Being that 2018 was Mega Sun’s first year as a performing band, there were many highlights and challenges. To name a few highlights, we entered the CV Music Showcase and performed in front of industry professionals as our first show taking any advice and critiques from judges. We did not win our round but were called and told we were a ‘wild card’ for the finals. We regrettably could not make the date due to members being out of the country but were ecstatic nonetheless. We were also asked to perform during the 2018 CV Music Awards and were awarded ‘Best New Band’ and ‘Best Drummer’. Amidst all of this, we were in the studio recording our first three-track EP with Mikey Doling (Snot). We also participated in a local competition to have our music played in a 30-day rotation on 93.7 KCLB. Yet again, we were surprised by taking home a win. We also played a show where Nick Oliveri (former QOTSA, Kyuss) joined us on stage to perform the song Green Machine. We played many memorable shows, including our first festival. Later on in the year we were asked to play the Whisky a Go-Go and The Viper Room in Hollywood. The year just kept getting better and better. The challenges we experienced were; not having a permanent place to practice that resulted in a SWAT team showing up at our very first practice, not having the funds to really finish and release the EP and not having merch for our fans. Oh, and agreeing on a band name, Ha-ha.”

THE CMFs“We’ve been hard at work on preparing our up-and-coming album for most of the year. However, having our song, ‘Who I Once Was’ played on 93.7 for the first time and performing for their ‘Support Local Music’ show is definitely a memorable highlight for the year. It felt good to be broadcast and heard throughout the entire valley and see all the support from our hometown family and friends! We also traveled to Grand Terrace, CA earlier this year for our first show outside of the Coachella Valley and Hi-Desert areas. We put on a great show for a fresh packed crowd and had tons of local support as well. Working on preparing our album and everything else we have in store for release would also have to be our biggest challenge of the year. We’ve learned and grown a lot in the process of making this album and can’t wait to put all our hard work out there for the world to hear.”

James Johnson of RIVAL ALASKA“From moments like ordering a burger from a burger place and having them forget the patty – to essentially having to sleep inside our truck while on tour, 2018 has got to be the most defining year for ourselves as musicians. We’ve rebranded our music and act, gone on tour – twice. Opened up for acts we’ve been listening to for years, graced several opulent stages including the McCallum Theatre. This could go on and on, but I know 2019 is going to be even more of a mouthful of memories and we can’t wait for that.”

INSTIGATOR“Releasing the demo, playing with DRI as well as Doyle were all great Instigator highlights for 2018. As for challenges, it took us a while to complete our band website but that’s now another cool achievement of ours (”

YIP YOPS“We used the year to continue pushing ourselves forward with new music, recording and releasing our single and music video, touring up and down the West Coast, our The Echo residency over the summer, etc. Perhaps the biggest obstacle we ran into was getting a bit comfortable in certain ways. Due to the constant stream of shows, we didn’t allow ourselves time to critique and evolve as much as we wanted to. Although, we feel we’ve left 2018 in a place to do that in ways we’ve never been able to before.”

Chad Cancino of BOHEMIO“Memorable highlights were receiving the 2018 Pioneer Award at the Coachella Valley Music Awards ceremony and I began to work on my recording project.”

Aaron Merc – “Most memorable highlights…probably just getting to play next to some pretty incredible cats, both local and from out of town. I’ve learned so much from just reaching out and sharing a few drinks with these knowledgeable experienced musicians. As for challenges… playing next to these incredible musicians! Ha Ha Ha. The bar is set pretty high sometimes, just gotta keep shedding!”

Derek Wade Timmons of SLEAZY CORTEZ and DEATH IN PRETTY WRAPPING“2018 was the busiest Sleazy Cortez year ever…gig-wise. Death in Pretty Wrapping at the Hard Rock Las Vegas! Meeting more and more bad-ass musicians!”

Mike Pygmie of JOHN GARCIA & THE BAND OF GOLD, MONDO GENERATOR, YOU KNOW WHO and FAULTS OF ANDREAS“Musically speaking the biggest highlight of 2018 for me was playing the Hard Rock Las Vegas with John Garcia and the Band of Gold. Not only was it a real fun show but we got to play with some other great bands that are our friends like Death In Pretty Wrapping, Luna Sol and Nick Oliveri. Plus having Nick, Arthur Seay, Dave Angstrom and Chris Hale all joining us on stage for different songs made it a special night for sure.”

Brian “Puke” Parnell of THROW THE GOAT“The most memorable highlights of 2018 that first come to mind are easily things like playing Vans Warped Tour for the first time and supporting Agent Orange in Costa Rica. Winning ‘Best Punk Band’ at the CVMAs was awesome. And then there’s the Combat Records deal and the release of ‘The Joke’s On Us’ which kicked off the year. 2018 was definitely eventful, to say the least!

AVENIDA“We took a big step forward and incorporated as an LLC this year. We are all in on turning this band into a business that can benefit the community and allow us to make money to support ourselves as well as do what we love. We also won the CV Independent “Best Band” award and were able to play some great events such as Desert Arc’s 60th Anniversary Open House.”

Danny White of THE FLUSTERS“For me, it was launching my business, Idyllwild Organics LLC, and preparing for the release of ‘Dreamsurf’ with The Flusters.”

Bobby Taffolla of PERISHMENT – “The biggest highlight of the year definitely has to be the release of Perishment’s new LP, ‘Saturnine’. That being said, it was also the biggest challenge. Not musically so much, but time overall and a production learning curve on my end. At the end of the day (year), we couldn’t be happier with the end result.  Also being able to perform at the Idyllwild Strong – Cranston Fire Benefit Festival with Chelsea Sugarbritches was an awesome experience.”

Aaron Ramson of PERISHMENT & CAKES AND THE ASSHOLES“Collaborating with Monica Morones/Cakes, Josh Fimbres from THR3 STRYKES, and Razor J on the first incarnation of Cakes and the Assholes was a lot of fun. It’s fun to be a part of a project where you collaborate with your peers on different music than you normally would be writing. Finally releasing the new Perishment album was definitely a highlight! We’ve been working on it for three years!”

Nico Flores of SE7EN4“Memorable highlights would include getting together and practicing. Challenges? Getting together and practicing.”

Matt King of FRANKEATSTHEFLOOR“This year has been nothing short of amazing! Winning ‘Best Youth Band’, releasing our second EP, and growing as people and as a band has made this year great! We have faced many challenges but have worked together as a group to overcome them.”

Joseph Beltran of FRANKEATSTHEFLOOR“Looking back at 2018, the most memorable highlight has to be all of it! It’s been a roller coaster ride that lasted as long as this entire year. I think just being with the band is always a great time no matter what.”

Justin Ledesma of SUNDAY FUNERAL“This has been our most successful year in terms of sales and attendance. We played a number of festivals, which is something I had always wanted to do. I really enjoyed playing in Idyllwild and San Diego.”

Linda Lemke Heinz of 5TH TOWN and BLASTING ECHO“We started recording 5th Town’s first album. Very exciting. Blasting Echo is getting ready to record our third album. I’m looking forward to it as our style keeps morphing and it will really show how we’ve grown as a band.”

 Christian Colin of GISELLE WOO & THE NIGHT OWLS and DESET RHYTHM PROJECT“Probably the most memorable highlight of 2018 was playing two back to back sets at Joshua Tree Music Festival. It was definitely surreal playing with Giselle Woo and the Night Owls then running over to the next stage to play with Desert Rhythm Project. It was also a challenging year for making ends meet but that’s never permanent, so I suppose all you can do is keep your head up and move forward.”

THE HELLIONS“Memorable highlight for us is still being to work together creatively with one another and having loads of new material we are getting ready for a 2019 release.”

Chelsea Sugarbritches of 5TH TOWN and LONG DUK DONG“My highlights were playing rad events like ‘A Mixed Up Desert Music Party’ that Jeff Bowman put on that benefited the Desert Cancer Foundation, the ‘Concert for Autism’ and the ‘Idyllwild Strong – Cranston Fire Benefit’. My biggest highlight and challenge this year has been recording 5th Town’s first album.”

SLIPPING INTO DARKNESS“Highlights of 2018 would definitely be recording and finishing our second album with Pete Dee (The Adicts) and Eduardo Arenas (Chicano Batman). It was a one of a kind experience from start to finish. They made us much better musicians. The biggest challenges were trying to improve our sound the most we could and to not be afraid of change. That’s probably the hardest part for any musician or artist in general, to take risks that will allow you to leave a repetitive cycle and at the same time being true with your expressions.”

Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal – “Everyday I’m still breathing is a highlight….but performing for our veterans with Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter of Steely Dan was a big highlight!….and my biggest daily challenge is keeping the overwhelming sadness of having lost 90 of my friends from consuming my heart!”

ARTHUR SEAY of House of Broken Promises, Unida, ApeShit – “Some highlights were releasing the HOBP EP ‘Twisted’ through Heavy Psych Sounds Records, filming and directing our ‘Toranado’ video, touring Europe, the Balkans and Japan in support of our release and bringing our brand of heavy rock all over the world. We are thankful, we work hard, and hard work pays off.”

“Getting out of bed every day is a challenge. I work my ass off at the McCallum Theatre then go home and work my ass off in my studio. 16-hour days is a challenge! Fresh pot of coffee!”

JIMMY PALMER of Faults of Andreas, 111 Guitars and The Guitar ER – “One of the most memorable and challenging times of 2018 was finally saving enough money for a top-of-the-line C&C machine, a computer-controlled cutting machine, for 111 Guitars. Once we get this machine operating at full speed, my production of fine musical instruments will increase enormously.”

BRAD GARROW of Brain Vat and Dead End Studios – “Probably have to say our recent EYEHATEGOD show was sure fun. Challenges would be getting shows here in the valley. It’s kind of a bummer that we do much better in the Ventura area.”

SHERIDAN CARNAHAN of Brain Vat – “2018 was a cool year. We played a lot of rad shows, with a lot of killer bands. The Big Business and EYEHATEGOD shows were definitely memorable. We were just working on getting our name out there and making our presence known. We are also recording our next album, which is gonna be bad ass. Our new members, Danny Fitz and Angel Chavez, brought a lot to the table. They’re super-talented and we’re stoked to have them on board. We also shot a video that we hope to have out soon. There were some challenges, however. Life can get busy ya know. Also, Danny and Angel live about four hours away, so it can be hard to get together sometimes. But we make it work, because it’s damn well worth it!”

PROVOKED – “Highlights include being a part of the Xibalba song and video with Ocho OjosSavier1, and Verzo Loko, performing at Joshua Tree Music Festival with Desert Rhythm Project, releasing my album One Life and wrapping up an EP with WillDaBeast that’s coming soon! Challenges include trying to juggle all aspects of life and music and not get discouraged in the process.”  

Jimi “FITZ” Fitzgerald – “2018 was such an action packed year. As a musician/performer, I had the pleasure of playing live with many long time music brothers and sisters at the BNP Paribas Open and 2018 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships. Both, of course, at our beautiful Indian Wells Tennis Garden. I also enjoyed playing a couple of different benefits for Well in The Desertwith many of our valley’s fun entertainers. Spent a lot of great times with my FAULTS OF ANDREAS bandmate Jimmy Palmer and our talented friend Sergio Villegas working on new material for our acoustic 3GT Band.” 

“As a producer/promoter I was thrilled with the growth of our two-day multi genre music festival at the Tennis Garden this past April kicking off music month in the desert and how well it was received by those in attendance. The intimate Performance Pavilion at The Indian Wells Tennis Garden is unlike any other music venue.”

“We kicked off our 20th Anniversary Season of “FITZ’S JAZZ CAFE” at The McCallum Theatre. So many amazing memories and freeze frames!”

“Challenges? Always trying to freshen everything up and keep quality and integrity in everything we do. I see the word ‘challenge’ as a positive not negative. ‘Challenge’ keeps us honest, humble and on our toes!”

Benny Cancino, Jr. of Kelly Derrickson, The Whizards and Aphrodisiac Jacket  – “Some great demos. Highlights were recording some great work with Brad Garrow, Angelo MilesMikey Doling, and the mighty Angel Chavez at Brad’s Dead End StudiosKymm Galvan, akaAlyce Bowie, has been my staple working band in the valley. The killer Skookum Festival with Kelly Derrickson and Ronnie King in Vancouver, Canada with our killer band!”

Kelly Derrickson – “2018 was an incredible year for me, playing with Buffy Sainte-MarieFlorence + The Machine and The Killers at SKOOKUM Festival was definitely our highlight this year! Challenges are always present amongst the Native people, no clean water, electricity, sacred lands being depleted. My message is clear, I work for my people and as long as these issues are not being dealt with there will always be challenges and I will continue to fight for them in 2019 and always!”

“Always my message is that to all people. The message is not just about my Native people but concerns all citizens of the earth.”

STEVIERAPS – “Looking back on 2018 I would have to say one of the most memorable highlights has to be joining the music group I am currently in called G.O.O.N.S. because everyone in this group has a unique talent that a lot of people will see in 2019, believe me. A big challenge in 2018 was learning about myself and trying to visualize where I see myself going involving music.”

Diane “Deedles” Schuur – “One of the most memorable events this year for me was working with a hand-picked Big Band from the Julliard School of Music in NYC by Wynton Marsalis and performing at the Lincoln Center Jazz series! They were amazing musicians! I had a blast! Also, the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa this year featuring other Jazz artists from America became a cultural experience in music for me. The sounds, the songs and rhythm of the South African musicians were incredible to hear. They tell a deep story coming from the soul and heart.” 

“The Challenges for me this year were the many people we lost in the music world and personally which have passed on. It reminds me to live each day to the fullest.” 

Giselle Woo of KCOD & Giselle Woo & The Night Owls – “Most memorable was winning Tachevah. It made me realize that anything is possible if you put your heart into it. Becoming Student Station Manager at KCOD has been such an awesome adventure.”


“Definitely what jumps to mind first is finishing our debut self-titled EP album with E.N Young and Roots Musician Records, releasing it worldwide just a couple of weeks ago, which marks both an accomplishment and a challenge and having our release party at the great Date Shed opening for Through The Roots back on December, it was an awesome night!”

“We received some really great reviews of our album and just received word from our label that nominated our EP for ‘Album of the Year 2018’. Of course, its stacked up against over 200+ other amazing reggae albums worldwide, including some real heavy-hitters, it’s truly just an honor to have been nominated and included in that group. We’re extremely humbled by it.”


“Most memorable for me I would say was the big Desert Music Rap and Hip-Hop Showcase at The Hood Bar & Pizza in Palm Desert. It was such a successful night!”