By Lisa Morgan

Along with their perfect, climate controlled, cool misty view of the COD fireworks display on their patio, Tilted Kilt, Palm Desert, will be unleashing it’s arsenal of memory making fun as they celebrate American Independence Day this weekend. Both Friday and Saturday are poised to bring out your attitude of gratitude for American freedom, as you shake your country lovin’ groove thing to a live band or DJ, while partaking in the full bar, gut busting menu, eye candy and assorted entertainment.

Friday, July 4: Get to the Kilt early for a seat on the patio viewing of fireworks. Just afterwards, starting at 9 pm, the 2014 Coachella Valley Music Awards, Best Country Band, R Buckle Road, will be taking the stage inside with their all Americana Country Rock and Roll shenanigans. In between the live music, DJ LF will be playing favorites for your listening and bust-a-moving pleasure.

R Buckle Road is a local, eight piece band that has been winning people over for a few years now in the Coachella Valley and throughout California. You’ll even find fans as far as Nevada. RBR (R Buckle Road) is earning the respect and loyalty of those in love with the country music genre and even those who are not, with their homespun tunes that capture relate-able themes, both fun and serious, within a seasoned rock backdrop. They have been one of the few country bands featured at the Whiskey A’ Go Go in Hollywood, and can be heard on Brad Mercer’s Bands and Fans on Kix Hot Country 92.1 and 96.3 Radio.

As a member of the band myself, I am honored to be among so many seasoned professionals, but the best part is, they’re just plain fun. While it is true that not everyone loves country music, the numbers of people following this band are increasing with every performance. I don’t think we’ve played a single gig where I don’t have at least one person come up to me and say, “I don’t usually like country music, but I like you guys.” I think a lot of it is because underneath the honest, down to earth, themes, hooky lyrics and good-natured fun, is a whole lot of musicality – aka good old fashioned Americana rock and roll.

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R Buckle Road is fronted by Greg Vincent, a prolific and experienced songwriter, who had postponed his pursuit of his music dreams to take care of business for his family. Having spent his season in Nashville, writing in the music city’s circles, shopping songs and even having some picked up by other artists, Vincent has a knack of penning songs that are extremely palatable to the ear; memorable without being overly commercial making them very easy to like the first time you hear them. Combine that with his charismatic personality and charm, Vincent could easily be a solo artist. But he has hand chosen one hell of a band to back him up. The fact that each of these members also writes, gives this group a huge stock pile of songs to entertain with. “Since the very beginning, R Buckle Road has been evolving as musicians, songwriters and performers,” says Vincent. “Almost four years later, it is no different; we continue to evolve, but are in a place where we deserve to be heard! A very good time is sure to be had by all!”

The Pedersens, Mike, lead guitar and backing vocals, his brother Larry, acoustic guitar, harmonica and vocals, and his wife Cat, percussion and vocals, have been making music together since they were teenagers. “I started playing music in a Dixieland band with my brother Mike when I was 10,” reminisced Larry Pedersen. “We played 3 nights a week at a pizza parlor, and a few shows at Knott’s Berry Farm. At 15, I was asked to join the Young Americans (a group credited as being the first “show choir”). That’s where I met my wife, Cat; we were on a 3 month USA tour. There were two Australian tours and one far East and Japan tour. We also did shows around LA including the Hollywood Bowl.” Later, Mike Pedersen worked as road manager for a touring show group that Cat and Mike were a part of. “In 1975 Mike, Cat and I put together a trio and played in Japan for 6 months,” Larry shared. “From then until 1984, we worked together and apart in various bands until 1997. Cat and I moved to Palm Desert and started playing as a duo, and eventually as a trio with Mike as Meltdown.”

Mike Pedersen, would eventually become part of RBR and bring his family along for the ride, while the trio still perform regularly at Palm Desert Country Club. “I prefer to think of RBR as more of a ‘project’ than a band in the traditional sense,” shared Mike Pedersen. “However, as a band, I can say that for me it’s about telling stories; stories of our lives and experiences and telling them in a way that the listener stays engaged and perhaps gains some benefit for their own life. Let’s face it, we are a bunch of old guys playing at a young guys game. We’re supposed to have acquired some wisdom by now; we need to bring more to the table than just beer, trucks and done me wrong whining.” (Amen brother Mike)

Holding up the seriously strong rhythmic foundation of the band is Carl Agnello. “I picked up my first pair of drum sticks at age 9 and I haven’t stopped. I have played in more bands than I can remember – everything from rock, blues to tribute bands. Now I have the pleasure of being part of R Buckle Road. This is more than a band; it’s family and I couldn’t be happier.” When asked his thoughts on the new CD, Carl states simply, ” RBR’s live CD validates that yes, this much fun with this many talented and passionate people, might just oughta be against the law.” Carl’s wife, Carolyn, has been a lovely addition as the band’s personal photographer to whom we credit our great selection of photographs.

The newest members of the band are Bob (bass) and Lindy Bingham (vocals and sax), husband and wife and friends for about 3 decades. Bob’s first interaction with R Buckle Road was when he was brought in to record and mix the celebrated Live at the Date Shed, R Buckle Road album. And since he and his lovely wife are such strong musicians and entertainers in their own rite, it seemed only logical to bring them into the family. And it is a perfect fit. Now R Buckle Road has even more depth to their vocal bench and just may be the only country band within 300 miles with a saxophone. Prior to RBR, Lindy and Bob have played in dozens of bands together since they met, including classic rock and blues cover bands, rock tribute bands and an original blues band (The Lindy Bingham Band). Bob, who has been a bass player for as long as he can remember, writes, records, and produces music of all kinds whenever possible. Lindy, songwriter, sax player and vocalist, has an original blues CD of her own and shares recording credits with several well-known artists like Manfred Mann (Blinded by the Light and Mighty Quinn) and Andy Qunta of Icehouse. As Lindy puts it, “We’re both surprised to find ourselves in a country band, and are happy as hogs in horse %!*# that it’s R Buckle Road!”

Then there’s me, Lisa Lynn Morgan. I feel very much the same way Lindy and Bob do, thought this isn’t my first country band or “rodeo” for that matter. A desert dirt girl by birth, the first person to pay any notable attention to my singing was Frank Sinatra himself, at midnight mass. I was 11 and nervously (ever so nervously) sang The Little Drummer Boy with Mama and Frank Sinatra in attendance. As he ushered his mom out of St. Louis’ Catholic Church, he stopped, patted my cheek, and told me, “Keep singing from the heart kid. Nice job.” I’ve been trying to do just that ever since. I continued singing around the desert for audiences at local country clubs and downtown venues in Palm Springs as a teenager and had a Christian rock band in high school, writing, playing piano and singing, eventually going to school on a music scholarship from Azusa Pacific University. I’ve played with different bands in central California opening for bands like Tower of Power, Gary Allan, Rhett Akins and The Bellamy Brothers to name a few. When I was invited to sing with the New Christy Minstrels in Oakhurst, my love for country, blue grass, American folk music and good old fashioned harmonies was firmly planted. I ultimately landed on Laughlin and Las Vegas stages, such as the Stardust, Harrah’s, The Flamingo, the Riviera, and the Monte Carlo to name a few, but found that I couldn’t keep my promise to Frankie singing pop covers in the Strip environment. I retired in ’99 never to sing again, but here I am. Blessed beyond words, the passion has been re-lit with much thanks due to the very special people I get to share the stage with in R Buckle Road.

On July 4th, the Tilted Kilt has been gracious enough to let us turn this day into a celebration of Independence as well as the release of RBR’s first Live Album. The CD of all original songs was recorded at the Date Shed last September, and is chalked full of songs written by Greg Vincent, Mike Pedersen and Larry Pedersen. Mike Pederson puts it best: “When a musician hears a recording of their performance, it can be a life altering event. Sometimes confirming suspicions that one should ‘not quit the day job’, or conversely, that one is on the right track and simply needs to work hard and long at the craft of music. I believe the latter is what RBR has already gained from this first recorded offering. Six months after the live recording we are a different band; some change in personnel, more individual practicing perhaps, and mostly, a renewed commitment to our music and the road we’ve chosen.”

We’ll have CD’s and other RBR contraband on hand Friday night. Very importantly, we will be giving a FREE CD to any member of the military, past or present as well as to the families of those bearing the burden of sacrifice along with them. We want to respectfully and gratefully honor the ones who answer the tough call that preserves the ideal of American independence, and allows us to live, as the RBR song goes, the “American Dream”.

Saturday, July 5th: Enjoy an Independence Day Festival for a mere $5 cover. Tilted Kilt will be providing games and entertainment indoors as well as outdoors in the cool, misted patio with a carnival themed party. Inside, they’ll be pulling out all the stops on sound and lighting with Hip-Hop, EDM, Latin, and top 40 DJ mixes all night. Outdoors, you can play your favorite carnival games with a dunk tank, bungee pull, high striker, ring toss, kissing booth, cotton candy and vodka snow cones. Come in early and join them for the UFC 175 on 40 screens. Pre-sale tickets for the festival can be purchased at www.fe5t.com. For more information call (760) 582-2003 or check out their website at www.tiltedkilt.com/locations/palmdesert

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