The 13th Ever Wonder Valley Music Festival, Saturday, Jan. 26

Posted January 24, 2008 in Events

The 13th Ever Wonder Valley Music Festival, Saturday, Jan. 26

Those long, cold desert nights can be particularly punishing, but thanks to prolific musician-composer Ben Vaughn, this one is going to pump the mercury up to the thermometer’s top degree. As ringmaster of the annual mini-festival, Vaughn’s loopy, luminous fixation on unusual sounds has transformed this shindig into a showcase for idiosyncratic stylists who all share refreshingly unconventional approaches. The psychedelic country-rock seekers known to man as I See Hawks in LA have cooked up a particularly intriguing musical combination. Building from straight-up, vintage country melody and structure, the bands lyrics veer from skewed quasi-surreal imagery to offbeat, on-target satirical observations that they expand upon in a variety of unexpected ways—a primal reliance on the natural world as all-encompassing metaphor, hypnotic employ of repetition—always put over with first-rate musicianship and lead singer Rob Waller’s coolly authoritative pipes. Additional sweet strangeness is also guaranteed from lo-fi roots-garage explorers The Violet Rays, a combo that boasts the participation of veteran grinder Kevin Barrett, best known for his tenure with old school Los Angeles punk extremists the Urinals; teamed with The Hacks’ Gayle Fornataro and Rob Roberge, this insurgent side-dish delivers a melodious chewy brand of original punk Americana. The Inland Empire is ably represented by Morongo Valley’s xylophone hammering siren Shari Elf, an engaging force dedicated to creating ”art from trash and funny little folk songs.” The atmospheric adventure of Wonder Valley bro-and-sis sensations the Sibleys, specialists in slightly aberrant, underground minimalism, are a band whom perhaps best typify the kind of irregular music that Vaughn himself finds irresistible (indeed, his chance discovery of the band, ten years ago in this very spot, cemented Vaughn’s decision to purchase a home in the area). Ultimately, though, Vaughn is the top dog on the bill—a man for whom the unexpected is routine, a musician able to wander through a variety of sonic settings and not only best them but also expand upon whatever limits and expectations an audience may bring. Whether a furry throwback a-go-go big beat rave up or a lush dose of instrumental Mantovani-inspired easy listening expression, Vaughn imbues his music with a mixture of technical facility and passionate involvement. (Jonny Whiteside)

The 13th Ever Wonder Valley Music Festival at The Palms, 83131 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley; (760) 361-2810, Saturday, January 26, 7PM, FREE


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