Votes: You
Intro: Steven Preston
Publishing: the CVAS blog

Where to begin. A flood of thoughts on a rainy Monday morning, but, like all things, this has to start somewhere, (read on for hidden meaning here.) So Yes 2008 has abruptly come to an end this month, another sad year closer to 2012 as my contemporaries might say, but yes it is over and we now have a moment to sit back in the sand, and take a critical look at the year that was the year of the rat (also read on for hidden meaning).

When I think back to 2008, honestly a lot of it is a blur, no hidden meaning here, it’s just hard to remember. But I do remember the Coachella Valley Scene growing a lot, now before the hail of myspace slurs and anonymous comments come in, let me elaborate. In the past year I have seen the overall quality of live music increase. I have seen the quality of shows increase, people taking time to craft an evening of music. The talent pool has widened, I have seen musicians collaborating and experimenting more, taking risks, and having fun. This poll was the idea of Sarah Scheideman and myself; this was our attempt to give credit and praise to artists of the Coachella Valley.

A strong, mature, art and music scene is like a tapestry, it’s a self-contained image, made up of interconnected threads, standing back, that looks beautiful. Just like with a scene, you have to start a tapestry with 1 string. You have the idea of what it is to look like, you have the frame or loom built, but you start with one string, then you add a second, and then a third. We have to start somewhere, in no way is the tapestry of the Coachella Valley finished, and in history there have been many different tapestries already made here, but in the past few years, we have been starting a new one, and, at the beginning, it doesn’t look like much. But this is a call to all those who stand behind us while we are weaving and say “That’s not scene, that’s no tapestry, what are you doing?” Of course it’s not, it’s not finished yet, we’re still building, we’ve only got a few strings laid out, of course we’re not there yet. It’s a process, just like creating art, right now we got something though, and these artists are working towards what we have, so let us celebrate them.

So in conclusion, congratulations to all artists of the Coachella Valley, creation is the process we all revolve around, so feel good that we can look back on the year and know that we have created a lot. We have produced shows, new music, films, paintings, poetry & prose, clothing, & a lot of great parties, and we have done it all on our own. Independence is a great virtue, and the Coachella Valley has that, so lets hope in 2009 we grow even more, but creatively. Until then, like I always say, do something! Here are your “Best Of” artists of The Coachella Valley:


BEST ARTIST
The Date Farmers

The Date Farmers were voted by the Coachella Valley Art Scene’s viewers as the Coachella Valley’s Best Artists of 2008.


Proud to say, the local desert natives, the Date Farmers, recently made it into the latest issue of TIME Magainze.  Their piece titled, “Cambio!” curated by Obama’s campaign team, a piece they did for the Presidential Election race of 2008, is featured twice in the world famous magazine.  This issue, can be found on the stands as of today.  The issue of TIME Magazine is “Person of the Year”.  The dates run from December 29, 2008/January 5, 2009.  Make sure to head to a local magazine near you to check these local cats out.  Congratulations, you guys.

Artwork by The Date Farmers echoes Mexican-American heritage rooted in California pop culture. Their paintings, collages and three-dimensional sculptures contain elements influenced by graffiti, Mexican street murals, traditional revolutionary posters, sign painting, prison art and tattoos. Living in the peaceful seclusion of the desert, the artists often travel across the border, into Mexicali and Oaxaca to scavenge for materials. With traces of ancient indigenous art, mushrooms, and mescal, the Date Farmers combine familiar pop iconography and corporate logos with figures from comics, folklore and Catholicism. Desert creatures such as coyotes, snakes, and scorpions appear frequently in their works as well as found materials like stamps, bottle caps, hand painted or collaged lettering.
The Date Farmers have a history that is just as compelling as their artwork. Originally from Indio, California, they met at an art gallery in Coachella Valley ten years ago. Marsea Goldberg of New Image Art gave them their first show, naming them The Date Farmers because Armando’s father owned a Date Farm in Coachella where Carlos worked, picking dates. Carlos’ mother was a migrant who once worked with civil rights leader Cesar Chavez—American activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers—during the grape boycott of the 1970s. Through their unique perspective as American-born Chicanos, The Date Farmers explore topical subjects with a profound simplicity.
Carlos Ramirez and Armando Lerma joined artistic forces in 1998. In 2001 they entered the Los Angeles gallery scene as the Date Farmers with a show at New Image Art Gallery. Since then, the pair has exhibitions in New York, Miami, LA, Chicago, and San Francisco. They have had International gallery exhibitions in Tokyo, London and Stockholm. They are currently working on pieces for exhibitions at the Oakland Museum of Art. They appeared at 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado for the Manifest Hope Gallery.
Recently, their huge painting of Barack Obama, entitled “¡Cambio!”, appeared in Denver at an art show curated by Obama’s committee to coincide with the Democratic Convention they also did a poster for the Obama campaign. Their work is currently showing in “L.A. Paint” at the Oakland Museum of California. Previously this year, their work appeared in “In the Land of Retinal Delights: The Juxtapoz Factor” at the Laguna Art Museum, and they had a solo show at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York City. Over the summer, they were artists in residence at the Palm Springs Art Museum. In early 2009, the Date Farmers will be producing prints with POW-London.

To check out some of the Date Farmer’s art work, please visit: 


BEST LIVE PERFORMANCE
Sol District

The rock band, Sol District, has been voted as the Coachella Valley’s Best Live Performance by the viewers of the Coachella Valley Art Scene. 

Sol District, formally known as The UN, is one of the desert’s most precious charms.  The band was formed by a group of friends in high school and have been rocking shows and making people dance ever since.  Their earlier shows were at the legendary Grandma’s House, now playing at almost every bar show in the desert, and not to mention a recent gig they rocked at Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles.  Sol District packs parties and makes the ladies sweat.  They are definitely a band to watch for in 2009.  
The magic is created by (their lead singer ) Victor Aguirre, (drummer) Peter Leighton, (guitarist) Edgar Romero, (guitarist) Salvador Gutierrez, and (bassist) Robert Baldock.  

To check out Sol District’s music and upcoming shows, please visit them at:


BEST SHOW / VENUE:
The Date Farmers Art Studio Party
The Coachella Valley Art Scene’s viewers voted the Date Farmers Art Studio Party was the Coachella Valley’s Best Show / Venue for 2008.

The Date Farmer Party was one of the biggest collaborative parties of 2008.  The venue location was at the Date Farmer’s art studio in Indio on November 29th.  The walls were graced by the latest works of the Date Farmers and featured prints from the LA Based artist, Albert Reyes.  All ages were welcomed, entrance was free for all.  The line up included Slipping Into Darkness, Alf Alpha, Speak and Pheo, Macroscopic, Sailor on Shore and Macroscopic.  There was an indie, all-organic catering service, Frances the Farmer (no relation to the Date Farmers).  Cinematographer, Steven Preston, filmed the entire event and edited the footage to create a Party Recap project.  In collaboration, 5000 Photography photographed the party and the CVAS blog wrote the words for the Party Recap project.


Date Farmers Party – Part I from Steven Preston on Vimeo.

To check out all the footage from the party, please visit:
Best Single
“Her Blues”  – Slipping Into Darkness
The Coachella Valley Art Scene’s viewers voted “Her Blues” by Slipping Into Darkness as the Coachella Valley’s Best Single of 2008.  
The epitome of what the desert reeks of; a slow/steady pace, highs and lows, sex, drugs, and swagger.  The desert’s vibe is captured in a single song that has been successfully mastered by the indie rock band based out of Desert Hot Springs, Slipping Into Darkness.
The men that make it happen are (lead vocalist and guitarist) Michael Durazo, (bass guiatrist) Nigel Dettelbach, and (drums) Larry Bird.
To listen to the single and to purchase the album, please visit:



Best New Band
Technicolor Wolves
The Coachella Valley Art Scene’s viewers voted the Technicolor Wolves as the Coachella Valley’s Best New Band of 2008.
The Technicolor Wolves are a new species of musicians that have been found roaming around the Coachella Valley, Palm Desert region.  These young cats are still in High School and have a young fan pack of wolves that follow them to all of their shows and support their shared passion for the art of music.  Their sound, as described best by the Blue Rider, is smooth easy-listening indie-pop.
Technicolor Wolves pulls no punches when it comes to producing pop songs. The songs are filled with light hearted guitar jangles and melodies, classic pop bass lines, synth melodies, all topped off with debonair vocals. Though they seem to wear their influences on their sleeves, so to speak, the music is flawlessly executed and the songs are deliberate and well rehearsed. The tandem vocals in “Dark Room Cold Air” are a nice way to mix things up a bit, and the lyrics are charming. Add to this mix a more unique sound and these guys could rise above the ranks.” – the Blue Rider
The Technicolor Wolves will be an interesting group to follow in the year of 2009.  

To check out the Technicolor Wolves and to get more information on their upcoming EP release, please visit:



BEST DJ
Alf Alpha
The Coachella Valley Art Scene’s viewers voted Alf Alpha as the Coachella Valley’s Best DJ of 2008.
Scenerio #1:  Big party in the works, you need a DJ to rock the party and keep it going all night.  Who do you call?  Alf Alpha.  
Scenerio #2:  Art gallery opening/closing reception in the making, you need DJ to keep the good vibe going and to keep people schmoozing and boozing.  Who do you call?  Alf Alpha.
These are just two scenerios out of many that Alf Alpha has built his reputation on in the past couple of years.  The young man starting DJing in 2005.  His first gig was at the Ale House in Palm Springs along side the electro band, Organic Junk Fude.  These days, you can catch Alf Alpha DJing at various events, ranging from NYLON Magazine Issue Release parties in Hollywood, to opening up for Grandmaster Flash at Hip Hop shows, to DJing at the CBS Studio for the “Life is Beautiful” art installation for Mr. Brainwash, to the Coachella Music and Arts Festival Afterparty for the hip hop duo the Cool Kids, to a simple and intimate family wedding.  It is clear to all that Alf Alpha has no limit as to what his future holds, he is definitely the DJ to follow for 2009.
Alf Alpha, a music producer as well, has most recently been interviewed by Wax Poetics magazine (Japan issue) for his Japanese release of his first LP, Jump Widly About.  At this moment, Alf Alpha is preparing to travel across the world with fellow artistic desert natives, the Date Farmers.

To check out more information on Alf Alpha, please visit:


BEST HIP HOP ACT
The Sufferkaterz
The Coachella Valley Art Scene’s viewers voted The Sufferkaterz as the Coachella Valley’s Best Hip Hop Act of 2008.
Michael Rios and Micc Legg have successfully paired together to produce the EP, “Kill Yard”, that has earned them the votes for the Best Hip Hop Act of 2008.  The album was, and still is, free for download.  This free downloadable created much buzz for the Sufferkaterz and created a solid base. 
Their not shy of representing where they are from, “the Valle”, as they like to say.  And their sound is one of a matured and experience hip hop listener.  Featuring aspects of throwback styles, the Sufferkaterz have their steelo on lock.


F/22 • PRESENTS • ALL ELEMENTS • (OFFICIAL) • LO-FI GRIME • B-BOYISM • 735th REGIMENT from composure through exposure on Vimeo.

To listen to, and download, the Sufferkaterz latest album, please visit:


Best Electro Act
Fresh Mess
The Coachella Valley Art Scene’s viewers voted Fresh Mess as the Coachella Valley’s Best Electro Act of 2008.
DJ Aimlo and DJ Famemiss sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.  First comes love, then comes mixes, then comes a popular DJ duo by the name of Fresh Mess.  And that is exactly how the story goes.  This couple could quite possibly one of the most popular couples amongst the younger desert music scene.  
Individually, each DJ has built their own reputation as one of the most entertaining electronica, minimal, house DJs based out of the CV.  They have played at a variety of shows and have teamed up with different musicians from all over the 760.  
They built their reputation up in ’08 and are looking forward to what’s in store for them in ’09.

You can check out their mixes at:

Best Rock Band
Slipping Into Darkness
Slipping Into Darkness was voted as the Coachella Valley’s Best Rock Band of 2008 by the Coachella Valley Art Scene’s viewers.
The spotlight has been on Slipping Into Darkness for some time now.  A rock band, based out of the Coachella Valley, more specifically Desert Hot Springs, that has been producing music that is reflective of past desert stars, but their sound is also easily agreeably ahead of it’s time.  Success for this band is not far in reach and their personal journey’s into growth, development and fame for these guys will be interesting to look out for in 2009.
This past year, Steven Preston reviewed their album, “Lets Talk About the Blues,” and nailed it on exactly what Slipping Into Darkness is made of when he says, “Lets talk about the blues, lets talk about Rock n’ Roll, yeah, lets talk about Slipping Into Darkness. I can’t quite remember how I heard of these guys, actually, that’s not true, I believe Jos of Sailor On Shore was the one who told me about them, he had been booking some band from DHS at his one time venue, The La Quinta Playhouse. He had told me to check them out online and to come see a show, I listened to a few tracks and was impressed so I decided to give it a try one night. I can remember one thing pretty well from that night and it was the three band members, Michael Durazo, Nigel Dettelbach, and Larry Miramontes sharing a big gulp sized beverage on stage for which I’m sure was not a big gulp style beverage. I could tell these guys were down for the cause of Rock n’ Roll. The three songs the band had on the web at first were some of the best tracks I’ve heard out of a young desert band in a long time. Songs like Cosmic Goddess, 1904, and Her Blues were a breath a fresh air in a scene saturated by similar sounds and sulky teenagers. When Durazo sings in 1904 “Bloody witches in my bedroom, always looking for the magic mushrooms,” desert imagery fills my mind, I am reminded of stories I have heard about Josh Homme’s early Desert Sessions recordings, three day mushroom trips while recording in the desert of Joshua Tree. A bluesy ballad like Her Blues takes me to a mystical bar located in the middle of nowhere, when a sultry young cowgirl walks in, gives me the eye, and I am quickly sent into a sprawling drug induced trip equal to something you might see in a cheesy film about the sixties. When Cosmic Goddess hits on this three-song opener I am back in a bedroom somewhere in the Coachella Valley, hanging out with friends, laughing, drinking and telling stories of young love and crazy parties, like he sings near the end, “it’s time to get loaded, it’s time to free our minds.” In this first set of songs Durazo’s voice can be one of a bar hopping loud mouth or that of a drug mystic leading you down a dark and warren path. If Durazo’s voice is the guide then Dettelbach’s bass playing is the devil on your shoulder, whispering in your ear to get up and dance. Durazo’s guitar can be painted as some of the crazed locals reaching out for you to join them and Larry Miramontes drumming lays down the scenery for this mystical adventure to take place. The depth and style of this band is only briefly touched with these first songs, I found, when they put up the fast paced Tijuana a short while after I was blown away, and it was here when I finally realized how good these guys really were. Beginning with a righteous Mexican style bird call or whatever that is, the song quickly ramps into a forceful desert rock anthem. When I hear these guys I instantly think about the slew of old desert bands which I am currently journeying after. Most comparably though these guys are channeling the reigns of Fatso Jetson, an old desert band fronted by longtime desert rock guru, Mario Lalli. What’s even more crazy is when I asked Durazo if he listens to these guys and he says he never heard of’em. This strikes me as interesting because the sound is so similar to that old desert blues sound. This is more evidence in my long going case for the desert sound going deeper than maybe we all think. If the sound can travel decades through the sand and end up in the garages of a couple kids in DHS, I truly believe there is something more there. All right, old desert nostalgia aside, these guys kick ass and rock your socks off if you know what I mean. What’s even greater about these guys is they write a lot of music. I spent a night drinking in DHS with Durazo a short time ago and while I was there he played me a few other tracks the band has recorded on their own, including two acoustic ballads drummer Larry Miramontes has recorded. One of which, We Can Be Lovers, was a heartfelt expression of the true feelings of a young man just looking for some lovin. A close friend quickly makes the comparison to Elliott Smith when he hears the tracks, and I agree, on the surface, but I believe Larry’s style is so much more optimistic and filled with a consequence free, carefree attitude. It was refreshing to hear such great love songs come out of these guys, and the fact that they can flip the coin and give me another blues heavy, old timey song called Bullet Proof Heart is just rad, not to mention the cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” they gave me which just shows not only their breadth of musical inspiration, but their lightheartedness with playing music. A friend of mine spent some time with the band and tells a story of them laying it out one night, I can’t remember the exact quote so I’m paraphrasing, but basically he said, they said “It’s all about Rock n’ Roll, everything else sucks.” and I can believe it. When Nigel’s bass playing slides in, Larry’s steady beat keep moving, and Durazo’s dirty guitar jumps on board, these guys are an unstoppable force of Rock n’ Roll mayhem. Even their stage presence screams it, as they play it cool while Durazo comically asks “Where the pussy at? I smell pussy.” I think when it comes down to it these guys are about playing good rock music. They don’t take themselves too seriously and they’re out to just have a good time. I listen to the music and it makes me want to get up and do something, if that makes any sense. They remind me of a time now almost forgotten, of generator parties, and wild desert psychedelia. I’m not claiming to know much but I’ve heard a story or two and these guys fit right in with the succession of the Lalli’s, Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal. Now I’m not saying anything about anything, but just know that these guys can rock and they’re one of the only groups around doing it, so keep it up boys, diggin through the sand will prove worthwhile some day.”


Date Farmers Party – Part IV from Steven Preston on Vimeo.

To listen and purchase their music, please visit:


Best Photographer
5000 Photographer
The Coachella Valley Art Scene’s viewers voted 5000 Photography as the Coachella Valley’s Best Photographer of 2008.
Johnny, the hard working man on the other side of the lens, has been spotted at just about every show and event around the Coachella Valley this past year.  He is a man of few words, as is expected, considering that his photos speak for themselves.
5000 Photography has had the opportunity to shoot such musicians such as Girltalk, Subtle, Experimental Dental School, Deerhoof, Scarub, Murs, and many more.
5000 Photography is currently working on a project titled, ” One Less Car”.  A photography series in which documents his experience of giving up his car in trade of a bike.  

To check out 5000 Photography’s photos and link to his blog, please visit:


BEST ART GALLERY / MUSEUM
The Palm Springs Art Museum
The Coachella Valley Art Scene’s viewers voted for the Palm Springs Art Museum as the Coachella Valley’s Best Art Gallery / Museum.
Although the Palm Springs Art Museum has been around for years, it wasn’t until this year that the museum actually became “cool”.  Once a place that only the elderly would go, the PS Museum is now a gallery that is begining to attract a younger, hipper crowd.  Such exhibits as Keith Harring, Frida Kahlo and guest speakers with fashion designers and printmakers, have really put an eye on the gallery.  Free foreign films and free admissions have also been fun.  Not only have they began to feature cooler artists, but they also have reached out to the local, younger art community and had an Artist in Residency series that featured art by the Date Farmers and music by Alf Alpha.

To check out what’s going on, has gone on, and will go on at the museum, please visit:
  

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
The next four categories that are listed below are categories that I, the CVAS blog, have created.  These were not voted upon, yet I still felt that they need and should be acknowledged for their work:  

RUNNER UPS
Planet Lunch
Daikon Ekletick
Will Da Beast
Soul Opus
8 Bit Bandit
Sailor on Shore
Aesthetic Arrest
Steven Preston
Sand Like Snow
Out Together
DJ Vichhy
Macroscopic
Provoked
DJ Vanray
Classic Cult
The Angernades
Nicole Arne Kondra
Enrique Solis
Pinky Photography
M Modern
Dezart Gallery

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