Sexy Cactus

John P. Wilkinson Pioneertown
Wow we just got back from our summer tour of California and we are sorta all blissed out because of all the cool bands we played with especially out in the desert at the “Clean Air! Clear Stars” music festival. – JULY 6th, 7th and 8th
First things first… We played most of our shows this tour with our friends from Portland HIGHWAY. Highway is composed of front-man “Highway Bob” – the bands namesake, with Peter Holmstrom of THE DANDY WARHOLS playing bass, Nathan Jr. on lead guitar, and former Elliott Smith drummer Paulie Pulvirenti. We had a copy of the raw mix of their new (soon to be released) record on the road and we all liked it the more we listened to it. Most would probably call this alt-country… whatever it is… it rocked. We found it provided a great soundtrack to the desert and particularly my new favorite bar in the whole world… Pappy and Harriet’s. Fortunately for my liver it is out in the middle of nowhere in a magical place they call Pioneertown. Click the link below to keep reading this story… I gotta tell you about SPINDRIFT.

Truth be told we were all a little afraid about being in the desert in 120 degree heat. Especially if we were going to play in the daytime. We got checked into our motel Friday evening and headed to the festival to check out the scene. We had hoped to get there in time to see the STEVENSON RANCH DAVIDIANS but we got there too late (bummer). The temperature was perfect though without that big hot glowy thing in the sky. The festival goers all looked like they were on the set of Easy Rider and all wore the dust of the desert well. The locals were all friendly and some provided helpful desert information like “Don’t wear black in the daytime.” We decided our usual all black attire would kill us dead so we decided to dress in all white for our set the next day. I ran into Tony from GO FEVER – another band from Portland that was invited to be one of the 30 some odd bands playing the festival. Tony was nice enough to show me where the free beer was. We went into a little house that looked like a building from DEADWOOD except there was electricity inside as well as a keg of yummy cold beer. I heard some guy yelling about how non-band members were drinking all the beer that was for the bands, and I realized it was “Plucky,” drummer for SPINDRIFT, as well as the mastermind behind the event. I guess with that many jobs you would expect some yelling sometime.

Later that evening I saw GO FEVER the previously mentioned band. Their first three songs hit me like a hurricane… really not just saying it. Check out their myspace if you don’t believe me.

Went back to the hotel where Brett was holding down the fort. I had another beer and wend to bed.
Clean Air Clear Stars poster
NEXT DAY- DAY 2 (Saturday July 7th)
Oh yeah it was hot but we were cool in our white clothes. We sort of look like some weird cult when we wear white like that I sort of like it but Brother Brett hates it. I noticed it didn’t keep him from rocking the shit out of the set though. In fact I was happy with all of my brothers and sisters because we rocked hard and though we were completely soaked with sweat nobody passed out or anything. We had a great crowd despite the intense heat and the fact that shade and cold drinks were feet away at Pappy and Harriet’s. Thanks crowd!
By the time we had ourselves ready to be fans again it was time for SPINDRIFT which, as it turns out, was good timing. Wow – I don’t know what to say except I am in love. I don’t know if it was this or that or the other thing that did it. It could have been RED REFLECTION (one of their songs) playing, or the landscape, or maybe it was just the music … but I was blown away. The music was so crazy cool and sexy that I could have made love to a cactus (listen to “Beauty”). I was an instant fan. I remember hearing about them. I heard they had a cool cowboy vibe but I never imagined it would be as cool as it was. I bought both of their CDs and have been listening to them ever since. They just dethroned THE WHITE STRIPES‘s”Icky Thump” as the cool new thing. One of the CDs is a movie soundtrack for a western called “The Legend of God’s Gun,” and the other one is called “Songs from the Ancient Age;” they are both great. I was so smitten by SPINDRIFT that I wandered off into the desert by myself. I met a cat that had obviously been caught in the vortex. At that moment before being “cat,” he must have been visualizing both an albino white cat and a bushy tailed Maine Coon variety because he was all white except for his big bushy brown tiger-stripped tail. He led me to a row of school desks and antique typewriters and a garden of stories yet untold. Well I guess until now, at least partially. Anyway I knew if I stayed with the cat too long I might not go back, so I went back and when I looked on stage I saw a man with an upsidedown guitar behind his head and he was speaking in tongues and playing that guitar. And behind him was a guy with giant hair beating the hell out of the drums in perfect unison with the throbbing bass of this woman and together the trilogy rocked me to the freaking core. I found out the next day that what I saw was real; I had witnessed ENTRANCE. It made me want to get some more of that shit. “Wow,” I thought to myself; “Old school psychedelic is alive and kickin’.” That made me feel all warm and buzzy inside!

About 3:00am (I think) the main stage show was over and a group of people were playing music on this old storefront and I wondered over with Jsun to listen. I recognized the guy setting up as a friend of my buddy Fernando; his name is Luther Russell. I don’t really know him that well but I remember my girlfriend said; “Look for him and say hi because you know him.” He looked busy anyway. He was helping out Sarabeth Tucek with her set. She sang like a little angel if you’ve ever heard one. She just got back from opening for Bob Dylan himself if that tells ya anything. She sang softly, but it still woke our drummer THE GIFT up and he fell in love with her too. Sure was a lot of falling in love that night. Thank you desert. Thank you stars. Thank you love and music for being there for us. – m