LIVE at the CV Weekly Anniversary & Awards Show, Saturday, April 6th 2:30 – 10pm

By Lisa Morgan

Leave it to Publisher Tracy Dietlin to put together the biggest, baddest company party in the desert, and to invite the entire desert community!  This party that will not only have everyone raving about the ever flowing gourmet food and drinks, but will have them rocking to the legendary bands that helped create the genre known worldwide as “Desert Rock”.  Desert legend in his own right, and founder of Radio Free Joshua Tree, Ted Quinn says, “What a great event CVW has put together, from the “Raw is Real,” Huskey-voiced Dali’s Llama to the impassioned rocker, Josh Heinz; throw in El ángel del Desierto, Giselle Woo – and the Godfather of All That Is Desert Rock, Mario Lalli, and you’ve got a night that could drag me away from the High Desert to seek out what’s happening down below!”

All of the music being performed at the event has been proudly introduced to you at one time or another through our paper.  As the Feature Writer for this gloriously encompassing publication, it is almost impossible to keep up with all the amazing music in all genres blossoming and blooming in our desert.  Even our day and night long event cannot contain all the performers and bands that so deservedly need to be seen and heard.  Still, there are a few bands that require special mention and will deservedly command our center stage as they represent decades of original music that has etched itself eternally into the history of music itself.  They are the thing of which documentaries are being made as we speak.  We are very honored to have them bare their gifts during this very special, one year anniversary celebration.

Half Astro:  This band, originating in the mid 80’s as an early punk rock band here in the desert, has been the launching pad for many musicians and their successful projects over the years.  Original member and founder Herb Lienau, a powerful rock vocalist and front man who studied music at The Music Institute in Los Angeles, founded Half Astro with original members Marcus Bush, Billy Cordell and Brandon Ray Henderson.   These days, drummer Marcus Bush plays with The Butchery Boys, Billy Cordell plays with Unsound and Brandon Ray Henderson is now playing lead guitar for The Pedestrians.  While musicians here in the desert are interchangeable, the creation of Half Astro was the launching pad for the development of their own great sound and the influence of music projects to come.  Half Astro’s album Hybrid was released Dec 01, 2009 on the CD Baby label.  The high energy rock and roll infused with roots Punk is described by CD Universe as “Two veterans of rock and two whippersnappers of rock making a delicious combo of noise.” The album was produced by Derek O’Brien, producer for bands such as Social Distortion, Agent Orange, DI, Adolescents and Punk Rock Karaoke. In their early years, Half Astro opened for legendary punk acts such as Adolescents, The Dickies, Agent Orange, and TSOL. Their song “Cellular” is featured on Tony Hawk’s “RIDE” video game.  Saturday, Herb Lienau will be joined by his son, Quannah Lienau on lead guitar and bassist Derek Timmons.

Yawning Man: The music of Yawning Man is loaded with colorful melodic and rhythmic contrasts, provoking the emotions and leading the mood of the listener in all directions.  Their music has been described as “visual and cinematic, heavy and melancholy, driving and daydreaming.  It was influenced by everything from the psychedelic to the folkloric- jazz, hard rock, roots punk and world music. The Yawning Man song “Catamaran” was recorded by the world renowned, hard, desert rock band Kyuss putting the band on the world music map. The first full length LP from Yawning Man, Rock Formations, released in 2006, came almost 20 years after the bands organic beginnings with Gary Arce on guitar (recently endorsed by Ayers Guitars) , Alfredo Hernandez on drums and Mario Lalli on Bass . The band’s soulful sound, even stronger after so many years, has developed a huge underground following in Europe. The band is planning on releasing a split vinyl with sibling bands Fatso Jetson and Yawning Sons this month before they go on tour with the “Desert Fest” in London and Germany.  The band will also be playing April 18th in conjunction with other bands at an event produced by Alfredo Hernandez as a pre- Coachella Fest party at Level 2 in Cathedral City.  A live performance of Yawning Man will also be featured in the highly anticipated release of Erick Davies documentary on the Desert Rock history.

Dali’s Llama:  Dali’s Llama is not just a band followed all over the world by fans of the Desert Rock/StonerRock genre, but they are an independent label who’s fight for the integrity of music includes streamlining music revenue straight from the fan to the artist.  “We formed Dali’s Llama Records in 1993 in the tradition of DIY (Do it yourself), independent record companies. We remain dedicated to producing quality music, covering a range of music styles including hard rock, alternative, power pop, Americana / folk, blues, improvisational and experimental. The Dali’s Llama Records catalog includes independent music artists Ogressa, Primordial Blues, Zach Huskey and of course, Dali’s Llama.”  In 1998, the label expanded to include independent books as well.

With decades of music, memorialized on 10 CDs, Dali’s Llama has become a cult hit in Europe.  According to CD Baby, their 2008 album, Full On Dunes “hits you like a sonic sandstorm, heavy, energetic and powerful. Think Black Sabbath, Killing Joke, Kyuss, Clutch and Fu Manchu.”  Guest appearances by members of Kyuss, Goatsnake, The Obsessed, Fatso Jetson, Desert Sessions, Yawning Man and Throw Rag offer a tasty collaboration of the forefathers of the Desert Rock genre.  Dali’s Llama’s most recent release Autumn Woods represents “20 years of DIY in the Southern California desert rock underground”.  This 10th album, described as “heavy metallic punk rock on the doom and roll”, was produced by the legendary Scott Reeder (Kyuss, The Obsessed).  Indie internet radio Obelisk says of the new album, “Autumn Woods proves two pivotal facts about Dali’s Llama: First, that the band remains passionate about exploring new musical avenues even 20 years into their run, and second, that they’re among the most underappreciated acts ever to roam the Californian desert. I find it affirming to see they’re showing no signs of letting that slow them down. True rock from lifer rockers.”  They too will be featured on the upcoming Erick Davies documentary on the Desert Rock history.

There are few places in the world that can proudly boast of having given birth to a music genre who’s sonic ripples are heard across the seas.  It seems a bit ironic that these bands are so highly recognized everywhere else but in their home towns.  However, there are exceptions within our community.  One of those exceptions is CV Weekly Publisher, Tracy Dietlin, who has had her ear to ground supporting this underground and under the radar music scene for years, and who will continue to do so.

“Back in 2000 when I was a music writer for Desert Post Weekly some of the first bands I interviewed were Woodshed, Fatso Jetson, Dali’s Llama and Ming Tran to name a few,” shares Dietlin. “I didn’t grow up here. I moved to the desert in 1991, so writing about the bands gave me the ability to get in touch with the rich desert rock music scene and I’ve had a special place for those bands ever since.”

Dietlin goes on to say, “I consider Mario Lalli the “Godfather” of the Desert Rock Scene….maybe because he was so instrumental in the whole beginning of the generator parties. And guys like Alfredo Hernandez, Gary Arce, Herb Lienau, Zach Huskey were from that era too and are all amazing musicians, but maybe haven’t gotten the recognition that Josh Homme, Nick Oliveri, Scott Reeder, Tony Tornay, Sean Wheeler and Jesse Hughes have. And there are many more that were a big part of that scene as well. It’s a long list.”

So hop on the wagon and don’t learn about your unique local music scene from your European friends.  Come join us for the sonic buffet that Coachella Valley Weekly will treat you to as we eat, drink and celebrate all that is great about our beautiful desert.