Thursday – Sunday, May 14-17, 2015

by Esther Sanchez

Are you planning on attending the Joshua Tree Music Festival this weekend but have yet to take the time to do any research on performers that you might not be familiar with? No worries, Party People! I have done my homework & have graciously hand selected a few artists that I personally think nobody should miss.

EvarosGene Evaro Jr. and the Family

Out of only a handful local artists performing at JT Fest, the most popular could arguably be Gene Evaro Jr. and the Family. John Lennon Songwriting Contest ‘Song of the Year’ winners, they were featured performers at the NAMM Show 2015, last January. As the winners of the national contest, 25 year-old Gene Jr. (vox, guitar, keys and songwriter), Tyler Sacara (drums), and Piper Robison (bass) Mitchell Arganda (Percussion) and Amanda Davis (Vox) performed a 40-minute set on the GoPro Stage in the Grand Plaza at the Anaheim Convention Center in addition to their extensive prize package that included a professional video produced by the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, and a music gear package valued at over $9,000.

With a sound described as, “Deeply-grooved funky blues, with generous doses of folk and soul,” and a rapidly growing fanbase, Joshua Tree residents, Gene Jr. and the Family have definitely been making waves in the So-Cal music scene and beyond. Recently, they have been recording their second album  at local rocker/producer Robbie Waldman’s, Unit A Recording and Arts Studio (, which is set to be released this Summer entitled, We’re Stoked! Catch their set on Sunday at 9:30 PM.

Keep up with Gene Evaro Jr. and the Family:


Growing up as the son of well-known French blues singer and guitarist, Jean Sangally, Damien Sangally has music running through his veins. One of my favorite picks for the festival, this French performer is making a stop at the JT Festival while on a tour of the American West Coast to promote his newest release, Shaman, and we are lucky to have him.

During his adolescent years, Sangally trained intensively as a jazz saxophonist until the fateful day his father returned from a performance with a gift for his son; his first guitar. From that day forward his guitar became such an integral part of his life that it may as well be an extension of his limbs.

Everything I have ever heard from Sangally is intriguing, melodic and totally unique. Yet, as original and contemporary as his sound is, both vocally and instrumentally it is dripping with classic, old-school blues throughout. According to Sangally, it was during an extended stay in London to do production work for other musicians that he cultivated his taste for a mix of vintage and modern styles.

Catch Sangally’s JT Fest debut on Saturday at 10:30 am.

Dirty RevivalDirty Revival


If I were to cast a vote for who I think could be the best, all around performers to grace the desert stage this weekend I might very well go with Portland, Oregon up-and-comers, Dirty Revival. This five-piece “soul-meets-hip-hop” ensemble consists of Evan ‘evv’n’flo’ Simko (guitar, emcee), Terry Drysdale (drums), Karl Ludwigsen (keys), John Shaw (bass) and the band-member I am currently obsessed with, vocalist, Sarah Clarke.

Ms. Clarke’s sexy, smoke and honey tone complements powerful belts, impressive range and stylistic diversity. Frankly, I think she is a star and the sound created her band-mates oozes with soulful funk that has become an ideal platform for her abilities. Apparently, from basement beginnings in the not-so-distant past, DR has become one of the most sought after bands in the Pacific Northwest and has shared stages with hip hop legends such as Slick Rick, Nappy Roots and Gift of Gab, and have several Pacific Northwest tours under their belt. Now in the midst of a 12 day west-coast tour, DR is currently on the road performing at venues throughout California as they make their way towards their final destination, Joshua Tree. No doubt that by Saturday they will be fully primed to rock that body. Don’t miss out.

Experience Dirty Revival on Saturday at 1:30 pm

Rachel LarkRachel Lark

Truth be told, this chick is my top pick this time around. As your trusty JT Fest guide I would not be doing my job if I didn’t tell you about my favorite artist scheduled to debut her genius this weekend at the Festival. Bay Area resident, Rachel Lark is a talented and accomplished singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who happens to be the only female artist that I have ever seen utilize a technique called “live looping” during performances. Live looping is the recording and playback of a note or piece of music in real-time using either dedicated hardware devices, called loopers or phrase samplers, or software running on a computer with an audio interface. (Don’t worry if that seems confusing. See the YouTube link below.) This technology essentially allows Lark to electronically orchestrate original instrumentals live on the spot as she sings. (Still confused? Don’t worry, just trust me on this one.)

Lark: “I was always in bands so when I started my solo career I missed the full sound of a band.” She explained to me that some songs she wrote were best suited for her ukulele but she wanted to expand. When she performs her live-looping show there is a sense of drama, edge and fullness to the music that is completely different from her acoustical performances in almost every way.

The truth is that I only discovered Rachel Lark a few weeks ago while doing research for this article. Within minutes of watching her performance videos I become an enthusiastic fan and over the past several weeks I have found myself boldly singing the praises of Ms. Lark to anyone who will listen. A rising star in the Bay Area music scene, Lark has become a sensation for her acoustical performances of some of the smartest and most hilarious songs on taboo topics I have ever heard. Don’t get me wrong, she is no shock-artist. She isn’t merely throwing out senseless raunch for attention. If you listen closely, it becomes clear that the angel-faced performer is highly skilled at communicating radical, sometimes eye-popping messages through her songs.

Admittedly, I was briefly confused as to what exactly it is that Lark does. I couldn’t figure out whether she was a folk singer, a DJ, some sort of spoken-word performer/activist or something else entirely. At one point, while looking through her YouTube videos I actually wondered whether or not I was watching videos of different performers who shared the same name.  I soon realized that trying to define Lark and her art was a fruitless waste of time and a bit of a buzzkill. Basically, I was missing the point. This petite, songstress is in a category all her own and if I was you, I wouldn’t miss out.

You can experience Rachel Lark on Saturday at 11:30 pm.

Watch Rachel Lark perform with live looping on YouTube Presents: Rachel Lark – “So Cold”

Rachel Lark has launched a Kickstarter campaign to finance a music video for her single, “Warm, Bloody  Tender.”