Coming to Pappy and Harriet’s Thursday, August 11, 8pm

By Lisa Morgan

There’s a special kind of magic that happens when four tenured musicians, each with productive recording careers under their individual belts, organically find themselves together and start making music for the simple pure love of it. That magic runs deep in this collaboration called The High Lonesome Band, born, bred and aptly named in the high desert. This vastly talented group of individuals has been crafting songs in an egoless environment, rooted in respect and admiration for the gifts and sound each brings to the table. The result is resplendent.

The High Lonesome Band is Stewart Heyduk on bass and vocals, Jonathan Isaiah Eller on guitar and vocalist, Chris Unck on a few different instruments including guitar, harmonica and banjo along with vocals, and Caleb Winn holding it all down on drums and soulful feels.  The vocal blend of these three when they harmonize will make you stop eating your cheese fries.  If we’re lucky, the fabulous Gabriella Evaro will join them like a sultry angel on a song or two as she did at their last show.

Chris Unck, owner/engineer at High Lonesome Studio, has many personal credits under his belt not limited to co-writing with Lisa Loeb, touring with Butch Walker (where they toured Europe and opened for Pink). Hearing him tell the story of the foundational beginnings of their musical bro-mance, makes you feel like you’re are listening to a cult favorite screen play: “We met on a routine instillation. Actually, the whole connection to why I’m even out here (in Joshua Tree) pivots on one fateful day (insert Richard Dreyfuss narrative). I was working at a mom and pop diner, looked out the window, and decided that I would drive to Key West. Jonathan was working at the same place and we jumped in my jeep and took off after work. We drove all the way only to find it smelled like rotten eggs and that you couldn’t access any beaches unless you paid. Overall it was a lack luster experience, but nonetheless, we were on our own. I knew some friends in Savanna, Georgia, so we decided to hightail it to River Street so we could busk and try to make some money. We barely made it, coasted in on fumes, and hit the street with our guitars. I remember us making $100 in an hour and feeling like the richest people on earth, and for that matter, we were. I think I was digging through the guitar case and heard Jonathan say that he saw the most beautiful girls, so we grabbed the guitars and took off to serenade them. We played Beatles songs until we couldn’t play any longer, and hung out till the sun came up. Come to find out, they were Canadian, and we promised to stay in touch.”

“A year or so later, on a routine instillation, I drove to Canada. Back then I wanted to attend a music school called LIPA that Paul McCartney started, so I applied and I made the cut. They wanted an interview, and it just so happened to be in Toronto! I phoned up our Canadian friends and planned another trip. I met Stew (Stewart Heyduk) at a dance party, when I randomly screamed, ‘This is a takeover!’ The mic was plugged into a PA and had delay on it, and just like a Jamaican revolution, it was out with the late 90’s bobba hooba hooba hippy jams, and in with “Songs for Beginners” by Graham Nash. We hung out for days recording in the penthouse high-rise I was staying at and had turned into a recording studio – it was the best of times.”

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“Later we would connect while touring, and for years we would randomly hang in bars and hotel rooms recording when we could. Eventually, when we (Stew and I) were both in LA many years later, we would drive out to Joshua Tree and hang with Brenden McGuire, who Stew knew from touring. Brenden was the FOH guy on the road and at Pappy and Harriet’s, and lived in this amazing place in Rimrock. One day while on another routine instillation, we caught wind that Brenden was moving and asked Ron Chalantly if we could rent the space when he moved out. Within a few weeks, we were signing the lease. Jonathan drove across the country, and I spent the better part of a year driving my 1970 VW Beetle back and forth from LA two times a week. We used to call it the “Escape from LA tour.” One day, I just never drove back. I was looking out the window at the clouds over Pipes Canyon when my job called, ‘Where are you?‘ I said, ‘Mars, and I’m never coming back.’ I never did. It seems sometimes that my dreams are framed in beautiful memory museums; I’ve looked out many windows and sometimes the beauty is so captivating and beautiful you just go and never look back, lost on some desert road.”

The high desert is fortunate to be part of Unck’s memory museum in the making, as High Lonesome Studios has produced award nominated albums by award nominated artists such as The Adobe Collective, The Desert Rhythm Project and Rick Shelley, to name a few. High Lonesome’s Chris Unck and Stew Heyduk landed music in SHOWTIMES “Shameless” TV series starring WIlliam H. Macy, Emmy Rossum and Jeremy Allen White. The TELSTAR song “Getting Around Town” is featured in season 4 Episode 5.

Stewart Heyduk has earned the respect of many music lovers and colleagues over the many melodic miles that have ultimately brought him to The High Lonesome Band: “I’m always trying something. It’s nice to be in this band where you’re not delegating parts and telling people what to do to make the song come together. You just trust them and let them take it however they want. With past bands, we didn’t have much time to rehearse so it was a matter of learning your part on your own and coming in ready to play. I wasn’t a big fan of that process. I came from Toronto, an awesome music community. I learned a lot. I moved here eight years ago. I toured with the band Golden Dogs and recorded with By Devine Right. In The High Lonesome Band, we are simply lifelong musicians working stuff out. Each of us is a strong writer, singer and player. Listening to our rehearsal demos, even though there are three different writers and voices, it still maintains a cohesive sound from song to song. It somehow just works together, and I think it sets us apart from other bands. I think if people come to this show, they’ll get to watch us grow. This show will be good, and the next will even better.”

Jonathan Eller’s return after living out of state was the recent catalyst for the bands resurgence after a yearlong hiatus. Eller started writing when he was 17. “It was therapy for me,” he shared. “My mother passed away; music is something that really helped me. I have spent a lot of my time focusing on the songwriting aspect of music, and have written over 300 songs in the past 17 years. Each song has been a learning experience for me. There’s a healthy competition in this group, so when one guy writes a song the other is motivated to write one too. It’s a constant reciprocal source of inspiration – it’s like an inspiration machine. We’re like brothers/foster children on permanent tour.”

“I hadn’t planned on playing any music when I moved back. But I got roped into playing again, and it rekindled something inside of me. This new batch of songs I’m only writing to a certain point with the idea that the guys are going to help me write and arrange the rest. I want it to be a collaborative effort. It creates a sense of ownership for each person. It’s cool hearing everyone else’s perspective. When you’re playing with guys that you trust and respect, it really takes away all the nit picking, and it makes it so much more fun.”

The High Lonesome Band will start at 8 pm at the world renowned Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneer Town, CA. The show is free, but seating is reserved for diners only and reservations are generally a must. Pappy and Harriet’s has two seatings. The first is an early seating at 5-5:30pm, and the second is from 7PM for the rest of the night. That means if you have an EARLY seating, you will give up your table for the later reservation. That does not mean you have to leave, it just means you will need to find a place at the bar, or just hang out and enjoy the music. Call 760-365-5956 for reservations, and visit www.pappyandharriets.com for more information.

Visit Chris Unck’s High Lonesome Productions at www.highlonesomeproductions.com
Check out Jonathan Eller’s music at elleraok.com