By Simon Weedn
As summer’s steamy grip begins to loosen across our lovely Southern California home, the opportunity to catch live music in the refreshingly cool night air becomes more and more scarce. So what better way to take advantage of the last summer nights of our wonderfully temperate part of the country than by heading over to Pappy and Harriet’s for their First Annual Desert Stars Music Festival?
Featuring two days of an eclectic array of some of the best and brightest of the West Coast’s current garage/psychedelic rock renaissance, as well as several DJ’s spread across two stages, Desert Stars promises to be one of the best festivals of the season! On the psychedelic end of things, you can count on acts like The Spirals, Asteroid #4, The Hallucinations, Sky Parade and Strangers Family Band to help you take a trip inside your mind, with or without the drugs. While for those looking for fare on the more garage side of things, you can count on folks like The Shine Brothers and The Bixby Knolls to give you something with enough tempo to drag your partner across the floor to. Regardless of particular taste, Desert Stars offers a line up that will make the perfect soundtrack to a beautiful night beneath the gorgeous, less light polluted night sky that only California’s deserts can offer.
Probably the most recognizable name, as well as the most stylistically diverse act appearing at Desert Stars will be none other than the great David J, who lent his songwriting and stellar bass playing to legendary goth/post-punk acts, Bauhaus, Love And Rockets and several other notable acts. While David is most known for his work with those two aforementioned bands, he has also built himself quite a reputation as an incredibly prolific solo artist. He has released eight studio albums, five EPs and four film and theatrical scores over the last 30 years, as well as being an internationally renowned graphic artist and DJ.
With such a prolific catalogue of material, one might assume that David would have a difficult task in front of him when putting together a set for his live shows. However, his approach is relatively straightforward. “It’s usually based around the songs I’m feeling at that time, you know?” David explains. “Because that’s important. If you’re going to put across a song with some integrity you’ve got to feel it, so it’s really based on that. Although, I also try to cover the whole expanse of all the things I’ve done; so I always play some Love And Rockets, at least one Bauhaus song and then a selection of all of the solo material, and then I like to throw in a cover.”
For David, cover tunes (the artist’s interpretation of someone else’s song) are not to be dismissed or approached in a haphazard fashion. In fact, for him, it presents a unique challenge on a night-to-night basis, as well as an opportunity to really make every show different, even for long time fans.
“I keep changing up the covers to keep it . . . For instance, it’s not surprising that I like to choose to play covers that aren’t obvious and put a real twist on them!” One thing is for certain, with the vastness of David’s catalogue and experience to draw on, as well as a stellar backing band and hints that Sky Parade will be joining him for a song or two, David J’s set at Desert Stars looks to be one of the most memorable performances of the summer. Ensuring a good performance is David’s perspective on the event, “I’m really looking forward to coming down and playing live, I still really love it. There’s nothing like it, especially in the environment out at Pappy and Harriet’s and Desert Stars Festival. I’m looking forward to it a lot. “And with thoughts like that coming from the headliner, you know the event is going to be a real treat for all who attend.
1st Annual Desert Stars Music Festival, Pappy & Harriet’s, 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown, (760) 365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com. Sept. 6-7. Fri, 6pm-2am. Sat, 3pm-2am.