Brian Blueskye

Audiophile, Bibliophile, Cinephile, Writer and Contributor to the Coachella Valley Independent.

That Time I Appeared in a Joan Rivers Documentary

In 2009, Joan Rivers visited the Borders store I worked at in Rancho Mirage, CA for a book signing. I’ve never been able to forget that visit she made to our store, because I get e-mails from time to time about it from people who I know.

In 2010, a documentary film titled Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work was released. It turned out to be a huge deal and it seemed that people from all walks of life were seeing it. That was also around the time where I started getting e-mails from friends of mine asking, “Did you know that you’re in the new Joan Rivers documentary?”

I rented the DVD from Netflix as soon as I heard about it, and sure enough, my brief encounter with Joan Rivers appears in the documentary in our Borders store. It’s not me standing in the background like our general manager at the time was doing, it’s not me briefly walking by anywhere – no, it’s me getting a copy of a book signed.

There’s an amusing story about this amusing moment in my life.

I’m honestly not the biggest Joan Rivers fan. I remembered her from Spaceballs doing the voice of the robot, she had tons of plastic surgery, and she was a little on the bizarre side.  A friend of mine in Texas was a fan of Joan Rivers and Carol Channing both. I had mentioned that Joan Rivers was coming to our store for a book signing on Facebook and he had made some comments on it. I figured that I would buy him a copy of the book and try to get it signed given I was scheduled to work that day. The store was a madhouse when she showed up. Her limo brought her to the loading dock of our store and she entered in through our stockroom. When she was brought to the front of the store, there was a large crowd waiting to see her.

She addressed the people in the store through a portable PA system that was used in our café for music performances. In the documentary, they show her dropping an F-bomb and our general manager, with the ugly striped shirt, is shown looking like he’s about to have a panic attack. When she began to sign books, I was sent to the register to help ring them up. There were a lot of interesting people who could gather a lot of attention coming up with their personally signed copies of Joan Rivers’ book, including some Joan Rivers impersonators that were dead ringers. I had mentioned to our district manager and general manager I would like to get a copy of the book signed and as the line began to shorten and our store emptied out, I heard over the radio, “Brian, come on over and get your book signed.”

I got in line with the 2 last people waiting to get their books signed, and I was wearing my Borders press badge and my radio earpiece, which obviously made me look like an employee of the store. The district manager asked me if I wanted to have a photo taken and I gave her my cell phone to take a photo. There was also a video crew and I had no idea what it was they were filming for at the time. When it was my turn, I was the last person in our Borders store to get a book signed.

She asked me if I watched the Oscars a week before and I said I didn’t, she then asked me how I wanted the book to be signed. I explained it was for a friend of mine and she said, “Tell me about this friend.” I mentioned that he was a big fan of Carol Channing and that he also liked her. She chuckled and immediately began to write, slowly saying each word she wrote. The personalization read: “To Roy, Sorry Bitch I’m not Carol Channing but this will have to do. Much love, Joan Rivers 2009.” I thought it was pretty hilarious and started to laugh, and I thanked her. We then posed for a photo that was snapped on my cell phone.

Joan went to our back office area and proceeded to sign every copy of the book that was left for us to display and sell to those who were not able to make the signing. When her manager was telling her, “We have to go!” because she had another engagement later in the day at the Riviera in Palm Springs, she snapped that she wanted to sign books and stayed until all them were signed. At the same time, our general manager was telling us that every customer got a personal experience with her and she personalized every book, posed for every photo, and treated all the customers with respect. That was also the case with me, and I was pretty impressed with Joan Rivers and how she handled a crowd. We had a few other big name writers come through our store, and none of them were as generous as Joan Rivers when it came to personal experiences, and I can name one Hollywood star who came to our store who was an absolute nightmare, refusing to sign photos of herself or pose in photos; she even wanted people to stand a certain distance away as she signed their books.

When the documentary came out and I began getting the e-mails, I was pretty amused with the circumstances. For one, I wasn’t a huge Joan Rivers fan. She had fans who showed up that day who were total maniacs for her and had much more to offer to a documentary film crew in terms of personality than I did. The impersonators that she had looked exactly like her, and there was one who was even deaf that looked like he could be her twin, and he apparently had a much more interesting and emotional experience with her than I did. I appear in the scene with her that obviously showed I was an employee with my radio earpiece and my press badge with my name on it, and yet I was deemed worthy to be included in that documentary. I’m thankful for the moment given it was quite a surprise, but I also wonder as to what made my encounter with her worth showing.

Hearing the news that Joan Rivers died today was a little sad. I had been following her Facebook page since that day in 2009. I also have had that photo of Joan Rivers and I on my Facebook page for a while now and have shared it a couple of times for “Throwback Thursday.” I of course shared the photo after hearing the news that she had passed.

I was given another surprise when I returned home.

My e-mail box had 2 e-mails in it from people saying that they saw a picture of Joan Rivers and I from that day in 2009 at Borders on MSNBC. My roommate also opened up the doors to my office and told me that he had seen the photo on MSNBC as well. I just tried to see if I could find the photo on MSNBC’s website and unfortunately don’t see it anywhere, but I’ll take people’s word for it given I thought people were lying to me when they said they saw me in the documentary.

Rest in peace, Joan Rivers. You were a comedic genius and you will be missed by many of your adoring fans, and thanks for the memory that I’m sure I will probably keep hearing about for the next few years.




Goat

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Finding new music these days that is exciting and tests the limits of what can be done in music can be a challenge. The industry has really changed and for the labels to invest in artists that have something new and exciting, or a reimagining of a vintage sound is rare. The indie music scene is limited, even for great artists. However, Sub-Pop Records is still around – and that’s a good thing.

The group known as Goat has recently been added to the roster at Sub-Pop, and they’ve been making the rounds in the U.S. and the international scene via music festivals.

I discovered Goat in late 2012 when I found their LP World Music in a list of new albums to check out. Sometime in 2013, I finally found it via Spotify and gave it a listen remembering the write-up I had read on it. As someone who likes instrumental rock music and Afrobeat, I found a connection to both when I heard Goat, as well as the group’s psychedelic side.

Goat consists of a group of musicians whose names we don’t know, along with who they are given they wear masks, cloaks, or hoods. There’s also a backstory to the group about how they’re supposedly from a village in Korpilombolo, Sweden that practices voodoo worship, and the village was supposedly attacked by Christians. The villagers fled the town and put a curse on it, and a group of them formed the band known as Goat. While the story sounds hokey and rather comical, it does sort of put an interesting spin on the group.

Regardless of the story, the band has a very unique and tight sound. The bass lines in the songs are catchy, have a nice groove, and at times hypnotic. The 2 guitarists have a deep psychedelic sound and work well in unison together. As for the percussion and drumming, you couldn’t ask for better. The 2 female vocalists are quite a spectacle to watch during live performances.

Before Goat performed at Coachella during the first weekend, they performed as part of a Coachella pre-show at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown, CA.  The Afghan Whigs and Brody Dalle performed an outdoor show behind the restaurant earlier in the evening, and GOAT were the late night delight for the indoor show. The crowd that turned out wanted a look in person at this new band that has captured the imagination of people that follow psychedelic rock, indie rock, and any other form of music. The band did a soundcheck before their show at Pappy & Harriet’s for about 10 minutes as the audience held up their cell phones, snapping shots of each member of the group. When the show began and the 2 female vocalists came out of nowhere dancing to the group’s electronic fusion sound, it was a crazy good time.

During the second week of Coachella, I showed up to watch Goat play to the audience that gathered at the Outdoor stage to see them perform. A lot of people didn’t know what to expect and I overheard a lot of people asking what Goat sounded like and people using the term “psychedelic rock.” There were some Goat fans in the audience, but there were others who would be treated to a first time performance by a group that had never heard of.  As the group soundchecked in similar fashion as they did in Pioneertown, people were baffled by the costumes and the masks, even the security guards down in the photo pit of the stage. When the group began, their sound won people over immediately.

If you haven’t checked out Goat, you sure as hell better give them a listen. If they come to your town, you better damn well go check them out. A true music lover will get so much out of this band, and as to what they will provide to us for the future? Who knows, but it’s probably going to be fucking fantastic. 

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Powered Wig Machine - ‘Supa-Collider’

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Powered Wig Machine is a band on a rise. In 2009, they released their EP, Bearded Goddess, and tomorrow they will independently release their first full-length album, Supa-Collider.

I recently had a chance to interview Wayne Rudell (vocals/guitar) for a show that the band will be playing on March 15 in Palm Desert for the CV Independent. The interview has not been released online yet and is in print only, but I also agreed to review the new album for my blog.

The band label themselves as a “stoner rock” band, which also includes the “Desert Rock” label that bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Fu Manchu, and many others fall under. When it comes to Powered Wig Machine, you can certainly expect the fuzz guitar sound, the bluesy guitar solos, and the heavy riffs. Hailing from Tombstone, AZ, you can tell this band has desert rock running through their veins.

One thing Rudell explained to me about the new album is that it’s a concept album rooted in the band’s love of comic books and is actually based on a comic concept they had that has been shelved and work-in-progress over the years.

The first track, “At the Helm of Hades,” starts off the album alternating between blues riffs to heavy riffs. When you get into the third track, “Here Come the Freaks,” it starts to really take off at that point. The band really rocks out on “Wizard of Orgy.”

All of the album’s 7 tracks are some deep cuts that go beyond the “stoner rock” and “desert rock” monikers. There’s some outside influences on this record that you’ll be able to pick up on throughout the entire thing. “Wizard of Orgy” has a little bit of a gospel in it, and it really works well. “Supa-Collider,” the title track, explodes with energy from the get go.

I have a feeling we’re going to hear a lot of things about this band in the very near future. Rudell said that he felt the band wasn’t ready to raise the bar and take it to the next level as far as a recording career goes, but they’re certainly ready at this point.

If you want a copy of “Supa-Collider,” visit the band’s Bandcamp page HERE

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The Evangenitals - Pappy & Harriet’s, 3/1/14

When Guillermo Prieto, a friend of mine and photo contributor to the CV Independent, invited me to go to Pappy & Harriet’s up in Pioneertown to see an alt-country/Americana band called The Evangenitals, I was intrigued by the name alone and agreed to go up and see them. While I’ve been a fan of many forms of rock over the years, I actually enjoy alt-country and Americana style music quite a bit.

Earlier in the evening, he told me to prepare for their multiple sets and that it doesn’t get wild until the end of the night.

Having attended many shows at Pappy’s in the past, I know how full it can get when acts such as The Melvins, Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes, Peter Murphy of Bauhaus, and The Weirdos play at Pappy’s, I was rather surprised how full Pappy’s was when we walked in. Many people brought their children to the show, and as the band was setting up, small children were playing around on the keyboard.

When The Evangenitals took the stage, they started their first set off with some deep Americana cuts that had some clean humor in them. Guitarist/vocalist Juli Crockett and backing vocalist Lisa Dee are quite a pair that sing well together. Their second set was the performance of their entire upcoming album, Moby Dick. Juli Crockett said that the album is set to the entire Herman Melville literary classic. The songs were beautiful, and Lisa Dee even played a chain during one of the songs.

Their third set was a little raunchy, and as Pappy’s was starting to wind down for the evening, the only thing left was the group of drunk Marines and some music die-hards dancing around in front of the stage in a small confined area. When they scanned the audience, they made sure all the kids had been put to bed for the night, as it was going to get crazy and loud as they had warned earlier on in the evening, telling parents to put the kids to bed by the third set. A couple of songs into their third set, Guillermo asked them if they could play their song about vaginas, to which Juli Crockett said, “Sure, Guillermo. We can do that for you,” and they did. There were 3 wardrobe changes for Lisa Dee, and when we moved over to take a seat at the table, I didn’t even realize that their fiddler, Danny Graziani, was getting down on his fiddle while standing on a chair at the table behind us.

The Evangenitals are a great band that include jazz, folk, Americana, and alt-country – along with some very funny clean humor and raunchy humor as the night progresses. If they ever stop in your town, go check them out.

Here are some photos and a video clip of them performing the song about vaginas. 

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Leviathan

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Through a good part of 2013, I heard about a documentary called Leviathan. A lot of publications raved about it – especially LA Weekly. Some called this the best documentary of 2013, while some even called it the best documentary ever made. Given I missed the opportunity to see it here in the local artsy theater (I’m not even sure it made the rounds here), I decided to rent it on iTunes to see if the hype was correct.

If you’re not familiar with Leviathan, it’s a commentary-free documentary made by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel that follows a North American fishing boat off the coast of Massachusetts. It’s supposed to show the brutal toll the fishing trade takes on the crew and the ocean.

While the approach is to be a documentary for people who hate documentaries (at least that’s been said by the critics), the filmmakers felt with shows like World’s Deadliest Catch that adding commentary would be a bad idea, or that it would convey some type of message – which the documentarians have said they were against because it acts as some sort of truthful gospel to those who watch documentary films. Instead, they decided to let the camera do the talking and let the visuals be the message.

Ok…

First off, most of the scenes are long, painfully boring, and all you hear most of the time is the droning of the boat or other various background noise you’d hear on a fishing boat in the ocean. You also hear and see swarms of seagulls around the ship. The scene where the camera faces the hull of the ship as it bounces up and down through the waves is enough to make you seasick without being on a boat somewhere.

The scenes where they show the crew gutting the fish at a rapid pace and slicing their heads off is gross, but it’s quite obvious is this is what they do considering it’s fishing. Of course the seagulls flying above want some of the bounty too, and there’s a scene about 3 or 4 minutes long of some seagull looking thing trying to hop into the catch and struggling to get in. Of course all the fish guts are sent back into the ocean and they have a scene where you see the water going off the dock of the boat alternating from clear water to disgusting red as it flows back into the ocean.   

The WTF factor for me is when they show one of the crew members taking a shower. You also get to see a couple of the crew members smoke cigarettes as they work. They show one of the crew members light up 2 cigarettes and put one in the mouth of one of his crewmates.

While I will agree that sometimes you have to let the visuals and the documentary subjects be as natural as possible, this is one documentary that in my opinion probably didn’t need to be made. If they were worried about being like World’s Deadliest Catch, perhaps they shouldn’t have made a documentary on the very same subject. It could have been a little bit more entertaining if there was a dark, neoclassical soundtrack by Philip Glass to play during the film – oh wait, they already did that in another documentary without dialogue several years ago. 

My Coachella 2014 Predictions

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It’s getting closer and closer to Coachella 2014 and usually what follows the New Year is a lineup for Coachella. 2014 is bringing in some interesting predictions and conversations about who might play. While last year was my first Coachella experience (and my first experience as a journalist going to Coachella), it was a lot of fun, but people were sort of disappointed with last year’s lineup – a lot of people didn’t know what to make of Phoenix as a headliner, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers was sort of Coachella history repeating itself.

I think 2014 will be an interesting year given a lot more artists have released albums since Coachella 2013, and the ones who had new albums at the time that skipped the festival might end up coming this year.  There is also some potential for some of the reunited bands to show up, or even possible reunions we didn’t think of. Vanessa Franko over at the Press-Enterprise has already predicted 2 bands I agree might be Coachella bound: Neutral Milk Hotel and Arcade Fire. When I noticed Arcade Fire having a break in their tour schedule, I was one of the many people who gave her the heads up on Arcade Fire most likely playing Coachella in 2014.

Goldenvoice throws a lot of curveballs and you never know what to expect when it comes to the festival, but here is a list of predictions I have.

Against Me!

I found it a little surprising that Against Me! didn’t play in 2010 or 2011 after the release of White Crosses. Since the band last played – which I believe was 2007 – the band’s lineup shifted around, and Tom Gabel is now known as Laura Jane Grace after coming out as transgender. They have a new album coming out titled Transgender Dysphoria Blues sometime in January 2014. While a tour schedule for 2014 hasn’t been released by the band yet,  I wouldn’t rule out a Coachella appearance for 2014, or even possibly 2015.

Outkast

It’s predicted they might be a headliner in 2014 given they’re reuniting. I don’t see them as headliners, but they’ll be on the main stage should they decide to play and this whole Coachella speculation is true. Honestly, there have been many reunions that were supposedly going to hit Coachella in the past, and this one might be a dud, but I think it could very well happen.

Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap last played Coachella in 2010. With a new album coming out in March 2014, I think a Coachella appearance is in the cards. She hasn’t released any 2014 info, but we’ll see.

Death Grips

The last time Death Grips played was in 2012, but they recently released a new album called Government Plates. Death Grips was booked for Lollapalooza last year and they were a no show. They also were a no show for a gig at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge right before Lollapalooza. Death Grips’ show at the Bottom Lounge had a suicide note displayed on a back drop and an audio track playing of the band’s music, which pissed people off. It’s hard to say whether or not Death Grips will play Coachella, but I wouldn’t rule it out – even with their weird behavior back in August 2013.

Warpaint

I see it happening. They have a new album out in January and are a Coachella favorite.

Broken Bells

Broken Bells, consisting of Danger Mouse and the Shins’ James Mercer, are releasing a new album in 2014. Given this side project has been widely popular, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be Coachella bound.

FLAG

The more popular of the 2 Black Flag reunion lineups is a strong possibility for Coachella. FLAG’s lineup of Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena, Bill Stevenson, and Stephen Egerton played the FYF Festival in Los Angeles this past summer, and Goldenvoice put together the first reunion show of FLAG. I think it’s definitely a strong possibility for 2014.

The Replacements

This is one I’m hoping will come true. I don’t see them being a headliner, but I see them playing on the main stage or possibly closing out one of the nights in the outdoor amphitheater. Given they have recently reunited and have said they’re open to playing more shows, I think the Replacements might be rocking Coachella.

Queens of the Stone Age

It’s been a long while since Josh Homme of Palm Desert played Coachella with Queens of the Stone Age. Given their tour schedule seems to have an opening during Coachella, I think they might finally be ready to rock their home turf for Coachella 2014. I also wouldn’t rule out their allies, Eagles of Death Metal.

My Longshot List

These are bands/artists I don’t rule out, but it seems like a longshot.

Sia Furler

She last played in 2011 and supposedly has an album coming out in March 2014. Even though she said she would have to permanently retire from touring and performing, it seems her health is getting better and she might be open to the idea. If Eminem plays Coachella, it would make even more sense that she’d show up given she appeared on a limited edition press of The Marshall Mathers LP 2.

The Melvins

When I interviewed Buzz Osborne for their show this past summer in Pioneertown at Pappy & Harriet’s, he told me that there’s a certain festival here that has debated booking them in the past, but are worried they might be “too metal” or “too heavy” for the festival. Given they played amongst the FYF Festival this past summer and currently have a new album out, an appearance by the Melvins might happen. Buzz Osborne also told me he hates festivals, but he doesn’t seem opposed to playing them given the Melvins have appeared at several festivals in the U.S. and Europe, including Bonnaroo a few years ago.

Tool

I don’t rule out Tool because they have a new album coming out in 2014. If they manage to set the release date close to Coachella, they just might play. They last played in 2006 right before the release of 10,000 Days. Maynard James Keenan also played in 2013 with Puscifer and seems to enjoy playing Coachella, so we just might see Tool on the lineup as a potential headliner.

Nine Inch Nails

They have a gap in-between an international tour during Coachella, so I would think Nine Inch Nails could be a possibility, but we’ll see.

Pearl Jam

I’m not sure why Pearl Jam has snubbed Coachella so many times given they were the first national act to book their own show at the Empire Polo Grounds. Pearl Jam is sort of responsible for the idea of Coachella, which makes me wonder why they have never played. Given they’re on tour right now and have just released a new album, maybe 2014? We can only hope. Their tour schedule doesn’t provide any hope right now with dates booked through January, and they also played Los Angeles this past weekend, which might point to a potential “no.”

U2

Vanessa Franko mentioned this with someone in her web chat, but it seems to be based on the idea that Bono went to Coachella last year. It’s hard to say, but given U2 played Glastonbury and they have a new album coming out, it might be a wise decision. Goldenvoice has also chased after them and mentioned they have extra event dates each year for the Empire Polo Grounds citing the example scenario of “in case U2 wants to do a concert with 90,000 people.”

Not Going to Happen

Daft Punk

Sorry, I don’t see it happening. I know their appearance last year at Coachella sparks rumors for this year, but it seemed like they showed up to promote their album (without even revealing themselves to the festival) and give Coachella a preview of it. They made some promotional appearances last year, one of which included a Formula One race. When Daft Punk says something to their fans, it turns out that they stick to it. I genuinely believe they have no interest in performing a live show at this time and have stated so. Plus Daft Punk don’t really seem to be into the element of surprise, so I don’t think they will be booked for a surprise appearance if they aren’t on the bill. They have stated that performing their new album Random Access Memories would be impossible. I know everyone wants to see Daft Punk at Coachella again, but I don’t think it will be 2014, 2015, or even 2016.

David Bowie

I don’t see a chance in hell of this happening at all. David Bowie released an album, yes. However, David Bowie has also said he doesn’t feel like trying to perform the album live, told his band members while recording not to worry about learning the material for a live show because there wouldn’t be one, and he’s even been reluctant to do any press. So yeah, no Bowie for Coachella. 

Cass McCombs - Pappy & Harriets, 11/12/13 

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My review of Cass McCombs’ latest album Big Wheel and Others had me peg him as eccentric. The fact he didn’t want to do an interview and I was asked to review his record was a little bit of a strange request given he wasn’t a locally exclusive artist, but since he’s supposedly up in Northern California, I decided to go ahead and do it anyway. When I was asked if I wanted to attend the show, I figured why not?

When I listened to the album, I found myself thinking it was background music and started doing other things other than listening to the album. It felt like a compilation album with multiple artists given it seemed to break genres and had no consistency. It took me about 4 listens to actually review it. While I loved the album, I was a bit confused… in a good way, of course. The album struck me as genius; however, it did have some very eccentric elements to it. I wondered how this was going to equate to a solid live show and I figured it had to be seen to be believed.

The opening act, Meg Baird, was Meg on acoustic guitar and a tall gentleman playing the electric. It was very mellow and felt extremely folk sounding, like something you would hear in a coffee shop – only better. Her voice was perfect as the gentle notes come out of both instruments.

When Cass McCombs took the stage, the gray background covering up the usual eagle and American flag accented banner that’s typically seen at all Pappy’s shows suddenly became illuminated. The first song the band played was “Big Wheel,” the first track off the new album. It definitely was a good way to get things started. As the band played more songs such as “Aeon of Aquarius Blues,” “Angel Blood,” and “Home on the Range,” it definitely felt as if every song played was far different than the last one.

The vibe in the place was quite mellow as it wasn’t filled to capacity like it is for most shows. In fact, you would most likely find an empty table to sit at if you wanted to. The small audience was into the music and enjoyed every minute of it. The applauses for some songs were extended as people howled or gently pounded on tables. Towards the end of the show, a guy screamed at Cass to “tell a joke” in between a song. Cass replied, “You want to come up and tell jokes? Come on up!”

This truly a unique and different show; whatever approach Cass McCombs takes and the fact there is no consistency on his albums when it comes to every song following another makes him truly distinctive and a pretty enthralling live show with folk and rock & roll like you’ve never heard ibefore.

Minus the very strange girl sitting with the party at the table behind us who kept screaming about how many times she did shrooms in the Joshua Tree National Monument and other random things she screamed out, it was a good time as far as I’m concerned.