Coachella Rumblings

Photo by Jack GouldIt's looking like there will indeed be a springtime sequel to the October 1999 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (CVMAF), which featured sets from Beck, A Perfect Circle, Chemical Brothers, Rage Against the Machine, Moby and a slew of other rock and electronic acts. Though attendance levels for the first CVMAF, held near Indio, were a tad underwhelming, the event wound up winning the Best Music Festival of 1999 award from Pollstar magazine, beating out bigger-named competitors from that year like Woodstock and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival—an accolade that practically guaranteed another go-round. The second two-day extravaganza had originally been scheduled for fall 2000 but was postponed by promoters Goldenvoice, due to a glut of smaller but similar music fests going on at the time (which suck away available talent, not to mention ticket-buying customers) as well as a wish to avoid the oppressive Mojave Desert heat that was one of the main annoyances of the first CVMAF. While neither dates nor lineups for this year's fiesta have been officially announced, a search of the Pollstar website lists an April 28 appearance by eccentric hip-hopper Kool Keith at the "Coachella Valley Music Fest," which is as good a sign as any. Looks like LowBallAssChatter will be making April 28 and 29 a Palm Springs weekend. (Rich Kane)

>>>BIRTHS . . . While the new Anaheim House of Blues has (rightly) been garnering much attention, other, more local-band-oriented rooms have also been popping up lately. Take the Captain's Quarters, formerly a swanky little seafood restaurant on the edge of Long Beach's richly manicured Park Estates and now the newest project of Mark diPiazza. He's the super club manager who successfully turned a room at the Java Lanes bowling alley bar and restaurant into a hip little joint called the Lava Lounge. Now he's taken on the challenge of Captain's Quarters, fishy kitsch and all. When the club started hosting live music eight months ago, diPiazza just let the bands set up next to the room's big pirate statue (complete with painted glass eye underneath its patch), among its other nautical gewgaws. That was funny—for a while. But then the novelty grew tiresome. We wanted snazzy digs, damn it! We didn't bust out our great-ass skirt for nothing. diPiazza heard our pleas. He swept through the place, replacing ship wheels and fishnets with more lighting around the stage and—in a nod to his Lava Lounge origins—painting fresh flames everywhere. The d├ęcor makes it look like the Lava Lounge had a baby! And he changed the name to something more eponymous: diPiazza's Restaurant and Lounge. But not everyone shares our joy.

"What are you going to do here? Punk rock?" a crusty Park Estates resident asked diPiazza. (These people can smell a whippersnapper a mile away.)

And the proper Long Beach authorities have been sniffing around, too. "They have me on a temporary license for a year," diPiazza says wearily from behind his signature black-rimmed glasses. "During the first three months, if one call [to the police] goes in, they pull [the license] away. Then after three months, I have a probation period for nine months. If I don't have too many police calls, I get [the permanent license] after a year. If I don't take care of any problems on my own, I'm in trouble." Look for tame lineups at first: blues on Wednesdays, karaoke on Thursdays (to get the locals to simmah down), and rock & roll on weekend nights (Mention and Jay Buchanan double up this Friday night, while the Negro Problem and Bert Ziggen share a bill Saturday). And no punk rock. "Punk doesn't seem to work for me anymore, anyway," diPiazza says. "I think the punkers are getting old." (Arrissia Owen)

>>> . . . DEATHS . . . There seems to be a curse on honky-tonk-styled venues in the region, as yet another local showcase for roots music has closed its doors. Sing a verse of "Amazing Grace" for the Abilene Rose nightclub and eatery in Fountain Valley, which ceased operations as of Jan. 14. This follows on the heels of recent funerals for the Culver City Saloon and the beloved, tradition-steeped Foothill in Signal Hill. The Abilene Rose had become among the most reliable OC venues for fans of country, rockabilly and blues during its two-year run. Chris Gaffney, Big Jay McNeely, James Harman, Joe Houston and James Intveld had been among the local regulars featured at the Rose, along with a host of like-minded out-of-town and national acts that included Dale Watson, Wayne "The Train" Hancock and the Paladins. Apparently, the Rose had been doing good business on the nightclub side of the venture, but consistent losses on the restaurant side are what led to the closing. The venue has already been purchased, and the new owners plan to reopen as a Vietnamese restaurant in February. (Buddy Seigal)

>>> . . . AND RESURRECTIONS Huntington Beach jazz club Kikuya is back up and running, with a lineup of straight-ahead on Wednesdays and Thursdays and more contemporary strains featured on Fridays and Saturdays. The club had shut down in April for some remodeling work—expansion of the Japanese restaurant's sushi bar, for instance—but the temporary closure also initiated some much-needed technical changes to the room, such as the replacement of the club's sound system as well as the purchase of a new acoustic piano ("The old piano was terrible," says Kikuya general manager Lisa Zhang). So Asian food fans and local jazzers are rejoicing; you can find out for yourself this weekend how well this combo goes down, with a Friday-night set from Jeff Gonzales and a pairing of Rob Mullins and Greg Vail on Saturday night. (RK)

 
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