Wonder Valley 10th Ever Music Festival 2007

We went to the Wonder Valley 10th Ever Music Festival at The Palms, way out in Wonder Valley.  Wonder Valley is located near 29 Palms (near Joshua Tree National Park), staying at the historic Harmony Hotel in 29 Palms, where we stayed in the famous U2 Room, where U2 slept as they worked on their Joshua Tree CD.  Also, films such as Crazy Beautiful and Route 666 were shot here.

The historic Harmony Motel sign.

Desert sculpture near the Harmony Motel.

The world's largest Marine base (932 sq miles) is located in 29 Palms.  It is the premier training facility in the world for Marine operations and draws military personnel from all over the world for Combined Arms Exercises. Each year roughly one-third of the Fleet Marine Force and Marine Reserve units -- some 50,000 Marines in all -- participate in the base's training exercise program.

29 Palms residents in this photo are welcoming Marines returning from their tour of duty in Iraq.

The Palms in Wonder Valley, site of the Wonder Valley 10th Ever Music Festival, curated by Ben Vaughn.

The Palms is located in "downtown" Wonder Valley, in the heart of the Mojave Desert, just 10 miles east of 29 Palms and Joshua Tree National Park, and about 5 miles east of the Wonder Valley Fire Station on Amboy Road.  The Palms serves Wonder Valley's finest food (are there any other restaurants in Wonder Valley?), including Saturday Night Specials and Breakfast on Sunday--and also, offers a full selection of beer, wine and spirits.  They also sell old used cassettes, used clothes, have a pool table, and serve two dollar beers.  What more could you want?

The first band in the Wonder Valley 10th Ever Music Festival was The Fresas from Los Angeles.


The Fresas at The Palms.

Laura Sibley of The Sibleys, co-owner of The Palms along with her brother James.

I bought my house in Wonder Valley in 1998. When I was making my decision on whether or not to buy, I decided to visit the nearest bar to see if I felt at home. So I took the dirt road From Rt. 62 to Amboy Road and made a right. A half a mile down I spotted The Palms. I went inside and every head turned around, just like in the movies. The clientele was a collection of bikers, old men, desert ladies and a dog or two. They eventually gave me a collective look of approval and I ordered a beer. In the back room a band struck up a song. I went in to check it out. On stage were a very young blonde brother and sister (I'm guessing she was 16 and he was but a few years older) with a very gaunt older mustachioed speed freak on drums. They were performing a very interesting version of "Elvira" by the Oak Ridge Boys. That was it. I bought the house and frequented the Palms regularly. It turned out the band was called The Sibleys (Laura and James) and they owned the place with Mary, their mom. One night they debuted a new lineup (James had replaced the speed-freak drummer and their friend Thom was added on bass) and featured a few original compositions written with Mary. I was astonished by the simplicity of the music and poetic brilliance of the lyrics. I had never heard anything like it. That night I approached the band about working together. We initially recorded their whole catalog at my house only a few miles from the restaurant but the band didn't sound the same as they did on stage at the bar. I realized what was missing was the bar itself, so with the help of a remote unit, I cut them live with no overdubs at the Palms on a hot Tuesday desert afternoon. The band and I are thrilled with the results.

- Ben Vaughn

The beautiful night sky of Wonder Valley, just outside The Palms.  I took this photo by resting the camera against an old water tank and keeping the lens open for three and a half seconds.

Ben Vaughn Desert Classic at The Palms.

Ben Vaughn Desert Classic performing at the 10th Ever Wonder Valley Music Festival.  I had heard of Ben Vaughn several years ago when I heard that he had recorded his entire album Rambler 65 inside a, yes, 1965 Rambler.  He is also the composer for the award-winning TV sitcom "3rd Rock From The Sun." and "That 70s Show".  His band band is a sort of kitschy Telecaster-driven Mancini-esque - well, I don't know...it's fun music, that's all you have to know...

The Palms during the 10th Ever Wonder Valley Music Festival.


One of the best bands in L.A., I See Hawks in L.A.

"Their songs are rife with mournful social commentary, environmental tragedy, wily humor, outsider guile, and political undercurrent. Seldom has there been an album with such joyous music-making, such corrosive, acid-etched lyrics." - WM Smith, No Depression

"With its new album 'Grapevine,' the evocatively named band I See Hawks In L.A. has secured its place at the head of the city's country-rock and psychedelic cowboy faction."
Richard Cromelin, Los Angeles Times

They performed at The Palms with the bassist from Ben Vaughn's band on loan.

Paul Lacques of I See Hawks in L.A. on the lap steel, casting off indescribable notes of beauty.  Consistently voted Best Country Band by the prestigious L.A. Weekly, the band is a true treasure of the Los Angeles music scene.

Their music, driven by the fine steel guitarist Paul Lacques, is sinewy yet poetic--more nihilistic than decadent, with an urban-desert poetry all its own."
--Richard Gehr,  Village Voice

"I See Hawks In L.A. play the finest cosmic cowboy music since the Burrito Brothers."
--Michael Simmons,  L.A. Weekly

Wonder Valley 2007

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