Performing at Joshua Tree Music Festival

By Noe Gutierrez

The 16th Annual Spring version of the Joshua Tree Music Festival (JTMF) will be held May 17-30 at the Joshua Tree Lake Campground at 2601 Sunfair Road in Joshua Tree, California. If there is any artist who personifies the JTMF and High Desert region, it’s Gene Evaro, Jr. and band. Gene (guitar and vocals), Piper Robison (bass), Victor Singer (drums) and Clint Stoker (saxophone) will be performing on Thursday 5/17/18. On-line sales are over but you can still purchase tickets at the box office. BOX OFFICE HOURS​​​ – WED: Noon – 10pm (early entry)

THU / FRI / SAT: 8am – Midnight SUN: 8am – 8pm.

Coachella Valley Weekly recently checked-in with Gene to talk about the festival, family and the funk.


CVW: How are you feeling about your upcoming Joshua Tree Music Festival performance?

GENE: “We can’t wait. It will better than our last. That’s the least we could do as a band; just make better music every time. The world is filled with millions of other amazing bands. We refine what is worth refining and toss out what doesn’t work.” 

CVW: You’ve performed at the JTMF many a time. What has it come to mean to you? 

GENE: “JT fest has become our laboratory as a band to test new material; a place for us to expand on previous boundaries and a place to have FUN above everything else. Once we get on stage here at home, we like to have as much fun as possible, because, like most things in life, it doesn’t always feel as good anywhere else as it does here at home.”

CVW: You have made music that crosses genres and traditional boundaries. What are you feeling at this moment with regard to your direction?

GENE: “I don’t musically know what the word “direction” means anymore. What I mean is, once I think I’ve figured out who I am musically, I change! I guess I should focus one of these days, but when I am musically ‘free’ I’m most happy. And not only that, but I grow the most. It’s like the difference between organic and fake, people know fake but more than that, they KNOW and FEEL organic (real art). I’m constantly being reminded; I’m an eternal spirit, packed into a tiny human body. So making any art always feels like just the tip of the iceberg creatively. See, that’s where my dreams come from, my “illusions of grandeur”, my personal definitions of success say that my spirit belongs with the stars. When the time is right, I will be that star, ‘cause I always have been. Real talk!”

CVW: Tell me about the current members of your band and what they mean to your sound. 

GENE: “Well, right now I am in L.A., and since yesterday we’ve added two incredible singers Aankha and Tamina, which I couldn’t be more excited about. On bass Piper Robison, drums Victor Singer and saxophone is Clint Stoker. This band (minus new singers) has been all over the country (a few times) we’re tight, precise, and bad-ass yet still learning. Our band is a toddler in the scheme of things (and a groovy one at that if I might say so myself). To be honest, and this isn’t just some humble facade, I feel we aren’t that good. We are awesome, and maybe it sounds weird to say this about your own band publicly, but screw that, I feel like we are JUST now onto something. Will that feeling ever go away? I hope so! Ha ha ha! It’s not about just being a ‘perfectionist’ ‘cause that’s not my JOB. My JOB is to bring people closer to spirit, God, unity, ecstasy, infinite love whatever you like to call it. That’s my real job. And that takes REAL work. Being a perfectionist? That’s a hobby I picked up along the way.”

CVW: Is there anything we can share about things in the works or confirmed shows?

GENE: “BIG show for us on Saturday night May 19th in L.A. at the Teragram Ballroom opening up for one of the greatest musicians to ever play music on this big/small planet, Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles. If you don’t know, YouTube Cory Henry when he was 5 years old playing in church. You’ll know why he is a prodigy. (Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles are also scheduled to perform on Friday, 5/18/18 at 10 p.m. at the JTMF).

CVW: After listening to samples of your new album it’s apparent you have not lost the funk. Where does your affinity for funk come from?

GENE: “Funk is water from the spirit. Just like making love or kicking it with your family and friends. Funk is the best reminder from God that everything is gonna be all FUNKIN’ RIGHT! Just think about your money and how you ain’t EVER had enough of it, and then sit down and play something like “Keep Your Head to the Sky” by Earth Wind & Fire. OR, how about whenever you feel like no one in your close circle gives a shit about you, just listen to the song “Cream” by Prince, or whenever you wake up and you’re sick of waking up to the same ceiling but there ain’t NOTHING you can do about it, listen to “World Is A Ghetto” by War. 

These are just songs I grew up listening to, I can’t take credit for any of this, but they’ve saved my life so I gotta spread the word! I think we should make ‘Funk’ the name of this planet, so when someone tries to mess up what we got going on that’s good, we can say collectively “Get the Funk outta my face!” I don’t know what I’m saying anymore. Funk is sex. I like it.”

CVW: I know the love that flows through your family is extraordinary. Can you give us some insight into your family bonds and connections?

GENE: “I don’t think I can. Just when I think I couldn’t love someone anymore, I get emotional thinking about my family. I don’t know how to show my family the love I have for them, and a lot of times that creates conflict, like a stream that’s been stopped by a dam. It overflows and damages shit. I’m not that great at being a normal brother or son yet all too good at being an overly protective and loving one. And I think everyone in my family could say the same about themselves? We love. And sometimes to a fault (and that’s why it’s hard being human). I’m beyond proud of my 7 sisters for making it this far. I’m beyond grateful for my mother’s strength. I’m proud yet constantly worried about my 3 younger brothers and I miss having my dad. He’s alive, just not around. 

To sum up my family, we’ve been through a lot, and so has every other family. I just can’t help but feel like I hope every family gets the chance at a point in their lives to feel as much love as I do for mine. I’m not sure why we love so much. It could be because we’re sort of Hispanic or it could be because we’re kings and queens who feel trapped outside the kingdom. Is this a normal description of a family? Not sure. We’ve never been ‘normal’. My family is bad-ass!”

Gene Evaro, Jr. and band will also be performing at Enchanted Forest June 8-10, 2018 at Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, California along with Ozomatli, Beats Antique and a collection of others.