By Noe Gutierrez
A guy walks into a little bar…
He sees the one-time Big Three of Goldenvoice, Paul Tollett, Bill Fold and Skip Paige talking with each other as a kind of round table of music magnates. Conspicuously conferring with each other about something epic perhaps. The 2020 Coachella line-up? Maybe a return to Desert Trip? Another celebrated festival? Oh, to be a fly on the wall of that conversation.
We later learned that Tollett and Fold were simply visiting Paige’s newest adventure, little bar, and offering good wishes while reminiscing about the good times thanks to the hand-picked, custom ticket stub wallpaper strategically designed by Paige and associates. Paige further explains, “All these tickets are shows I personally attended or that I was personally involved in producing.” It’s this personalization that makes little bar an enormous symbolization of Paige’s personality and passions.
Formerly the site of Randy’s Café in Palm Desert, California, little bar fits 31 patrons inside and 16 on the patio. The speakeasy-style watering hole with its oversized solid oak door and proper peep hole is managed by Tiffany Rivera and will be open to the public on September 5th to provide cocktails, wine, beer and spirits as well as a lunch and late-night menu Sunday through Monday and until 2 a.m. on the weekends. For those who miss Randy’s celebrated breakfast menu, you’re in luck, ‘Breakfast with Randy’ will be served on weekends. The address is 73560 Highway 111 and is adjacent to Tanpopo Japanese Restaurant and The Lock Shop, Inc.
Since Paige “transitioned” from Goldenvoice on Nov. 22, 2017 he has attended to his adult children’s needs and traveled the world. “I love to travel, and I’ll never stop. It’s awesome. It makes you tolerant. It makes you understand people,” he shared. It’s that understanding of people that helped him create the ‘Best Music Festival in the World’.
Promoting bands like Oingo Boingo and Social Distortion since the early 80’s, Paige was instrumental in the launch of Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival as well as its Country kin-fest Stagecoach Festival and 2016’s Desert Trip, featuring Paul McCartney, The Who, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Roger Waters, which grossed more than $160 million over two weekends.
Coachella Valley Weekly was invited by Paige for a walk-around, sit-down and sneak peek of little bar. Paige was candid about little bar, his departure from Goldenvoice, his children and there was no concealing the twinkle in his eye when talking about the focal point of his career thus far, music.
On the Impetus of little bar
“Dirk Alton, president and owner of Best Beverage Co. (BBC), who provides food and beverage at Coachella came to me and said, ‘I’ve got a liquor license in Riverside County and you always talked about opening a bar, so why don’t you look for a spot?’ I had never been to Randy’s but I looked in the window and I thought that’s kind of a cool spot and then a broker friend of mine came to me and said, ‘Hey, Randy’s is for sale, you should go in there, you guys would get along great,’ so I went in, sat down and had breakfast with him and he knew everything about me. He was cool. He said he couldn’t imagine selling it to anybody but me. He had been here 32 years. For a while I kept coming in and then made him an offer, we cut the deal and closed it.
I gutted it completely and rebuilt the place entirely. The bar is a fun project. It’s something cool and I want to do it for the people. I have a lot of friends in the desert, so I want to do it for them.”
“I don’t want overhead; I don’t want to stress out. I don’t want a restaurant. You see these places on El Paseo, the owners are working day and night. That’s not what this is, it’s a cool little spot. It’s actually smaller than my living room. It’s a spot where people can come over, they can hang out, we got good music, we got cool shit on the walls and good food. I’m not going big. I’m not doing this to make money. I’m doing it for a cool place for my stuff. A place where my friends can hang out.
There’s a club in Berlin called Berghain where they are notorious for not letting people in, I was with my buddy once and we were with two local German girls who attend Coachella every year. We wait in this line, all these cool hipster kids get in, we get up to the front and the doorman said, ‘no’ and shushed us away. I want it to be comfortable, I don’t want it to be pretentious. It’s small, so not everybody is going to get in.”
On the little bar Menu
“The menu I picked is stuff I like. I’m going to have beers I like. I’ll have the local breweries. There’s the new Desert Beer Co. in Palm Desert so I’m looking forward to having a couple of their beers. I like La Quinta Brewing Co. too. We’ll have a house wine and a lot of cool different wines. Maybe every once in a while, I’ll have a private event where I can seat 18-20 and have a sit-down dinner. The kitchen is full-service. The menu will be consistent. There will be staples and daily specials like baby back ribs, tri-tip or menudo.”
On the Art, Music & Books of little bar
“We have artwork from Jamie Perry from Riverside. He’s featured at CODA Gallery on El Paseo. He’s an old friend and I have a big collection of his paintings. The painting in the bar is from looking West down from Avenue 51 right into El Dorado Polo Club. When you look down the road and see the Coachella mountain. He made me stand out in the field with a guitar and he took a picture of me and then he painted that. I have the same one at home, it’s a man with a briefcase.
For the music, we could get Alf Alpha to pull up in a bus out front and DJ which would be cool. I got a really good sound system. There’s no dancing. I’m not a fan of dancing. I don’t dance. If there’s a football game on or a Dodger game on, we’ll be able to watch. Everywhere you sit in here you can see the TV. It’s going to be like 30 of my friends coming over to my house.
I have a lot of books in the bar too. I’m really into mid-century architecture and Goldenvoice was heavily involved in Modernism Week so I have books on modern architecture. There’s a book about Phish that Trey gave to me. I like cool album covers. I have a book of Capitol Records album covers. I have a book about cruise ships that I have from when we did the S.S. Coachella cruise. I have books on Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and Burning Man. I have a book about books.”
On His Time at little bar
“I’ll probably be there a lot in the beginning. My job was to build it out and give it a point of view and get the people here. My partner Dirk, who runs the Tack Room Tavern and The Cantina and does a lot of work at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, will run the bar and all the staff. His job is to make sure people are happy with the food and the booze. My job is to make it cool. I’ll be here a lot. I like to hang out, plus I don’t really cook, and I live by myself, so I’ll be able to come here and have them cook for me.”
On the Ticket Stub Wallpaper
“My staff came up with a bunch of different schemes and this is what we picked. If you’ve ever been to my house, I don’t really display a bunch of memorabilia. I have one framed thing that has a bunch of tickets. You don’t walk into my house and see a museum of stuff. I’m not into it. I thought people would like to look at these as a conversation piece. It gives the place a little bit of point of view. I go into other places; I didn’t want a Hard Rock feel. I didn’t want anything I wasn’t involved with. I didn’t want Prince’s jacket. It doesn’t mean anything to me. If it was Prince’s jacket that he gave to me after we partied all night, then yes. Making the custom wallpaper was a great idea because people can’t steal it. If they write on it, we’ll just get new wallpaper.”
On His Favorite Concerts & Artists
“Looking at the wall, it’s hard to pick my favorite show but most of my favorite shows were long before I got into the heavy business of concert promoting. I would say my favorite show on our wall is The Pretenders at The Roxy in ‘94. Chrissie Hynde was just amazing, and it was such a small place. It was the first show I had been to with a ‘big’ band in a small place. Their energy was amazing, and she kicked ass! I remember leaving there and saying, ‘fuck, that was really good!’ The quintessential awesome show.
Some of my favorite bands maybe that weren’t necessarily my favorite shows but shows that I remember as being awesome would be Ramones at The Palladium. I think that might have been one of the last times they played Los Angeles. Just a really special show with all the original members. Anything having to do with Metallica and Guns N’ Roses. I always loved those shows. Obviously, Coachella and Stagecoach are some of my favorite shows.
I believe music is a very personal thing. I remember in high school judging people on the bands that they listen to. I tell the story about Bill. He listened to Iron Maiden and all these punk bands and he was hardcore. He would always give me shit about Van Halen. Van Halen is rad! I’m never embarrassed by my selection of music or books. How many hits does KISS have? A lot! More than most bands.”
On Phish Festival 8 in 2009
“I had never been to a Phish show. That concert came together in a really weird way. I was at Red Rocks in Colorado to see The Police. One of our AEG promoters invited me to go with his buddy Brad, who manages Police drummer Stewart Copeland. We were hanging out backstage and Brad walks up to me and says he’s getting married and moving to L.A. He comes to my office and tells me he’s Trey Anastasio’s best friend and Phish reunited at his wedding. They always wanted to do a festival in California and they play a legendary album on Halloween, which is also Brad’s birthday. I told him I don’t know Phish. I knew they were big. So, I went to Alpine Valley, Wisconsin to see them and I’ve loved them ever since. I saw all the balloons flying around and I thought that was cool. Then Brad told me they were filled with nitrous.”
On the Music He’s Currently Listening To
“I like anything heavy. Over the years my taste has changed to music like retro-pop Chill Wave. I listen to Zero 7, Tom Misch and Thievery Corporation, I got more mellow. I used to be in the pit, all those punk bands like The Circle Jerks. There’s a three-piece band that played Coachella recently, Khruangbin, mainly instrumental music with elements of Surf Rock and ‘60s Southeast Asian Rock. The album is cool. I don’t get the lyrics, but I don’t think that’s what it’s about. I’m really into Phish and the jam thing. I’m also listening to Nathaniel Rateliff, that vintage Americana and Country thing. I’ve always liked Country music. I still go to shows but not as many. I just went to Elton John.”
On His Imminent Departure from Goldenvoice & Future
“Working sucks to be honest with you. I was stressed out. I was going to stroke out. It wasn’t good. Not that anything was bad. Paul and I were friends in college in 1985 where we first met. He’s a genius. He inspires me still to this day. It was so much pressure. It was different. Twenty years have gone by and I always knew I was not going to do this forever. He’s going to do this forever. It’s a young person’s business.
I remember the first Coachella. I loved every band. I remember 2002, I helped him book it; The Strokes, Oasis, Bjork, Foo Fighters, I knew every band and loved every band. And later on, I felt cool that I was being exposed to the new bands, but I didn’t like them. I would go hours without even seeing a band.
In the later years I wasn’t even in the music business, I was in the real estate business because we bought El Dorado Polo Club and bought all the other property around the grounds. Once the city of La Quinta came to us about the environmental impact issues and going to two weekends, I had to go full-time managing that. I took a step back. I got a divorce, it sucked. My kids were 15 and 17.
My son is 21 now and seems happy. He’s coping with a major health issue. He’s going to work here as a server and bartender. I’m not interested in working right now, maybe later. I want my kids in a good spot and keep them slow and steady. My daughter is 18 and attends the University of Oregon.
I’m only 53 so I’m sure I’ll have a long career in another industry, but I lost my interest. I brought it up to Paul today about the story when every night I would stand in front of The Roxy Theatre. It didn’t matter what band was playing, but I stood out there and industry agents and managers would walk up and I would talk to them. That was my meeting place. I would drive by sometimes and I would see Paul and he had his hand on the same parking meter and he would lean against it every night because we didn’t really own venues before AEG owned our company so we were at The Roxy and The Palladium. I hung out in more parking lots than I did inside the shows. That’s where all the industry was. If I was to think about it now, I’m not interested in doing that. I’m not interested in that business. I’m interested in real estate.
I’m now retired and living the life. I like the desert a lot. I love living out here. I have a big house with date trees and a lot of gardening. I just wanted a cool spot I could hang out in.”