By Eleni P. Austin

There’s a famous quote that says “When they go low, we go high.” But several low desert denizens will gently flip that script when they trek up highway 62 to see Rick Shelley perform at the new high desert hotspot, Spaghetti Western on Saturday, May 18th.

Rick has been a part of the desert music scene since he moved here in the late ‘80s. During his ‘20s, he was the magnetic frontman for RagTag, which included guitarist James Danielson, drummer Eric Turner, and bassist Nick Oliveri. Their sound was a sharp amalgam of Glam, Punk and Metal. They played several venerable L.A. venues like the Troubadour and The Country Club, but the band broke up before they could gain a toe-hold in the music industry.

By the early ‘90s, Rick, James and Eric regrouped as Woodshed, recruiting Nick’s brother Dean on bass. The four-piece, whose disparate influences included Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Grateful Dead, featured both Rick and James on lead vocals and Rick on rhythm guitar.


An incendiary live act, they toured throughout California and recorded three critically acclaimed albums. But by 2004, it felt as though the band has run it’s course. Rick spent a decade away from music, concentrating on kids and family. But as his kids came of age, he rediscovered his muse. By 2014, he reemerged as a solo artist and quietly began booking shows at local desert venues.

Armed with a surfeit of richly evocative songs, Rick recorded his solo debut, 1909 Miles, and followed up two years later with his sophomore effort, Hope Wrapped In Razor Wire. Both albums, recorded at Chris Unck’s High Lonesome studio in Joshua Tree, garnered rave reviews. He has played select shows at The Grand Old Echo and The Mint in Los Angeles, As well as The Alibi in Palm Springs, The Joshua Tree Saloon and Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, just to name a few.

Rick has written a clutch of new classics that wed nuanced narratives to infectious melodies. (Hopefully some of them will make the cut when he begins recording his highly anticipated third album) He plans to play a mix of new stuff and old favorites at the Spaghetti Western show.


Rick Shelley at Spaghetti Western, 7pm-9pm 50048 29 Palms Hwy, Morongo Valley, CA.