By Waleed Rashidi
MEMBERS & INSTRUMENTS:
Laura Sibley (guitars, vocals); James Sibley (drums, vocals); Thom Merrick (bass).
CITY OF ORIGIN:
The Sibleys (Amboy Road, 2011).
How’s this for a non-list of bands? Film noir, organic gardening, Japanime and American painting. There are real, stripped-down, straightforward, open ‘n’ honest performances here.
There’s an artistic community out . . . here?
Driving down State Route 62 and Amboy Road in the Mojave region brings one through various towns as palm trees, dust, mailboxes, rocks, fences and some buildings whir past one’s periphery. But there are a few surprises along these sun-beaten paths. Take The Palms, a vintage roadhouse featuring a variety of local musicians including its proprietors, Laura and James Sibley, who are two-thirds of the wonderfully creative Americana trio, The Sibleys.
“My brother James and I set out to learn how to play and perform music for The Palms’ small stage,” says Laura. “I was 16. I played guitar, James played bass, and we performed with every friend that could play and sing and/or road musician passing through, six nights a week, four hours a night. That’s how we learned how to play our instruments and how to sing and do harmonies.”
A couple years later—with the help of their mother Mary—the Sibleys began writing songs, meeting with producer Ben Vaughn and Thom Merrick, a New York artist, who became the band’s bassist. The Sibleys cut an album with Vaughn dubbed Tuesday (recorded live at The Palms . . . on a Tuesday).
“We tried to make it sound like how we perform and capture the place where we write the songs, with the same room and the same equipment,” says Laura. “This was Ben’s idea. That’s how we record now, live takes with no overdubs.”
The Sibleys’ latest is self-titled and also recorded live at The Palms. “We focus on the song, we take out everything that’s extra,” says Laura. “The sound is basic and direct, guitar and bass plugged straight into the amp, no effects. It‘s about the words and our voices on top of that.”
The Sibleys have received mainstream attention (there’s a mention in a NY Times piece and Laura notes a song was placed on Showtime’s Weeds) and spins on radio stations in Memphis and the U.K. Despite such placement, the act firmly clutches its independent spirit.
“We try to not plan out everything about the show, so it will be real,” says Laura. “We take risks and make our show different every time. We rehearse so we know the songs, but not [be] over-rehearsed so each song has a new handmade quality.”
The Sibleys and Killer Sheep at The Palms, 83131 Amboy Rd., 29 Palms, (760) 90-7601; www.palmswv.com. Sat, 8PM.