Last Night at J Dee’s

Written By: Steven Preston

I begin with an apology, for if I had any inclination that as my last article was being published, with the ending line of “…rock is here, but maybe only for the moment” that the untimely unraveling of JDee’s would occur, well, maybe I would of changed that line. But maybe I felt something, I didn’t of course, but as a student of desert folk-lore I have come to understand and accept the cycle of things out here, good things come and go, quicker than the rains and more devastating than the floods. So now, like footprints in the sand, the desert wind will wash away another good venue, destined to live in our memories along with The Old Prospector, Nona’s, Rhythm & Brews, and about a million other places I don’t even know about.

So with that being said I offer up an apology for any bad karma I may have brought down, and bring forth a final eulogy, a tribute if you will, to the wellness (& weirdness) of JDee’s. A proper telling of my final night there, involving drugs, alcohol, psychedelic rock, lost friends and the police. DISCLAIMER: This story revolves a night at JDee’s but also has personal elements in no way connected to anything JDee’s except that they happened on the same night, so relax.

The Entrance Band has returned to the Coachella Valley, and in fine fashion, at the end of a long tour for a band that myself along with a close-knit family of friends have been following for some time. It was a typical pre-show night, as a few of us were at our house applying our face paint and having a brew, myself, roommates Jack Kohler and Cory O’Neill, longtime friendly Brian Pescador and the man himself J Huss. We were joined shortly by our ride, a young lady we’ll call Alice, who immediately recognized Pescador as an old friend she had not seen in a while. We finish the artwork, grab the bottle, and hop in the car with Alice at the wheel, towards JDee’s, ready for whatever may come and usually does at this place.

We arrive greeted by Katy at the door, who refuses to let anybody in for free, so half-grumpily (but playfully) we muster up the measly 7 dollar entry fee to see one of the greatest living rock bands. I had brought fliers for an upcoming show next month, met with Katy and her father Chuck who ran the joint, they were excited to see the posters for a new show, during what was looking to be their best season ever. We move into the venue to find the smiling, and also painted, faces of our friends from Dreamcatcher. Ryan and KC well ready for opening the night, and they did in excellent fashion, bringing out a newer set list, refined material, and overall fitting, mellow intro to the heavy show.

Now this is where the night begins to take a bit of a turn, primarily because the bar tender believes me to be apart of the band (probably the face paint tipped him) so I began to exercise my ability to receive free beer. In the meantime the bar is filling up, everybody is there, the whole scene is showing up, including an old love of mine (which has no real bearing on the story only that it puts me in that long lost love kind of mood during a night where many different things are happening) Anyway, during this time Pescador and Alice have gone missing, sushi or something I hear them say, can’t tell, but now Lights is taking the stage, and in this desert, when a couple of young blonde’s take the stage everybody turns to see what its about. Lights from New York, opening for Entrance on this tour, played to a full crowd in anticipation of what’s to come, but they held their own, belting out whatever-rock with a feminine touch. Time, when you’re drinking, gets very hard to interpret, (especially with the aid of psychedelics, which I was not on, but surely others were) but needless to say, Lights played for a long time. So people began shuffling back and forth, smoking cigarettes, getting another drink, feeling a bit restless for Entrance.

I run into Jack at some point and he informs me that he’s thinking of dropping acid, I give him a pat on the back and say good luck, informing him he ought to go now or the night might be longer than he wants it to be. He smiles and carries on, finding out later he did take it, along with a few other friendly feelings. I continue wandering inside and find Sarah and DJ Alf Alpha of the CVAS blog, extend greetings as they are only there for a moment; Alf is Dj-ing at Space 120 down the street that night.

Brief moments of conversation with many different faces, romantic emotions, drunken embraces, and before we all know it the reverb has been turned up and we are passing through our fear, only to become stronger on the other side, ENTRANCE. The band takes the stage, this patented three piece begins to summon whatever it is they subscribe to, and hop into one of the more loose sets I have seen them play. M.LK. hits and the crowd erupts, Silence On A Crowded Train bursts with energy and Lookout brings a dark wave, especially over those on a trip. As I am enjoying the set, I remember that Pescador and Alice are still missing, I look briefly, but do not see them. The band powers through a classic set, full of all the songs we know to expect, closing out with Grim Reaper Blues and a Hendrix style reverb session complete with Guy Blakeslee jumping off amplifiers and toiling on the ground. A laborious effort sometimes to experience an Entrance Band show, as each song pulls so much out of you and forces you to become apart of whatever has possessed these three. A long tour, almost complete with only one more stop in Los Angeles for the band.

Outside everyone is under water, ears bleeding from too much noise in too small of a room, but that is what we had come to love about a place like JDee’s, getting to experience bands in such an intimate setting, rough and raw, powerful and personal. People are trying to explain how they feel, you can see it in everyone’s eyes, they are glowing. We just witnessed another piece of history, you look around and you know everyone will share this, we are together, a small group whose common thread in this moment is music, is Entrance Band. The way a fraternity or a military unit will always feel tied, even when they are long lost, so will the people at JDee’s that night, for when that energy came over all of us, we were all inspired.

The street is buzzing at this point along with the patrons; people cannot stop trying to express what they just experienced. Arguments arise over which sets have been better, are they getting tired or moving forward, who knows and who cares, but we are all talking, sharing our moments, not even noticing the band members themselves moving in between us. Hardly to the attention of anyone Slipping Into Darkness takes the stage very late, I see my roommate Jack, he is down the road of forgotten souls, and who knows when he’s coming back, so I go inside to see the boys from DHS at it again, rock n roll for the desert and they do it well. This time a three piece, but without fail, Larry, Michael and Nigel always bring a solid set, you never know what to expect with these guys, last Entrance show they happened to break both a kick pedal and a bass amp during their second song.

People finally wander in to catch the final songs of Darkness, we applaud our favorite locals, and in turn thanking them for bringing out such a good show. We are all in debt to a couple kids from Desert Hot Springs who just like good rock music. As I said, when drinking, time becomes difficult to interpret, we are shuffled outside because JDee’s is closing now, to the street and our rides, except now our ride is officially gone, Pescador and Alice are nowhere to be seen, so our group makes haste into as many cars as we can fit. I spot Heather Pitts, drummer from Dreamcatcher, and holler for ride, she abides and motions to come quick, I finish my conversation with one or two of the Evaro girls who had made a late appearance, and go to the car. I turn to look at JDee’s empty patio, wondering how it filled so quickly and emptied even quicker, a good night, hoping that it would never end.

And it didn’t, because upon my arrival back to my house in Palm Desert, I was greeted by seven of Palm Desert’s finest, signals on, guns drawn, and flashlight in eyes. Heather quickly vacates the premises and I approach my house with caution, to find out what the fuss is about, forgetting that it is the end of a long night at the bar and that I have face paint on. The police stop me immediately and ask me a barrage of questions, who are you, where have you been, where are you going, doing some X tonight?

Yes, no, Yes, wait what?!

I oblige them for the moment, & jokingly reply, not yet officer. He chuckles and sees I am harmless, and lets me pass, but not before checking my buzzing phone in my pocket.

Michael Durazo is calling me, and I can’t deal with you right now. I continue into my house to find my roommate Jack having quite an experience, it seems that someone in the neighborhood had called the police about a gun shot and body seen in the street, now at the same time the police were patrolling the neighborhood, responding to the call, Jack had pulled up, and preceded to throw up in the bushes (induced by you know what.) Police converge, sirens blaring, guns drawn, all focused on Jack. Now this is where my own interpretation could not possibly describe what he must be feeling, the police spread him on the hood of their car and search him, Jack’s own admission was that he almost threw up on the police car during the interrogation. He was saved by our housemate, Carlos, (whose father rents the house) who came out to speak to the police, (he himself on a drug trip). Carlos sorted out the matter, that they had got the wrong guy. It didn’t help that someone had told the crowd at JDee’s that there was an after party here, and that hippie kids kept piling out of cars.

After all the confusion we finally make it inside to be greeted by more people showing up, everyone wanting to know what had happened but nobody actually having any idea, my phone is ringing constantly, and Jack is having a unique life experience. Durazo and his friends make themselves at home, and we all share a beer and more, talking about the show, the police inquisition, and what a weird turn the night had taken. We try and calm down, eventually kicking everyone out to party somewhere else. I sit with Jack in his room to see how he is doing, being young and on drugs is a wild trip especially when you get the police involved, he was gonna be all right, but he just had himself a truly psychedelic experience.

We wandered off to sleep at a late hour, and woke to the carnage inside our house, J Huss sleeping on the couch as usual, and total destruction in the wake of a great night. Still no word from Pescador as to his whereabouts, and honestly with all the commotion I had almost forgot about him. I receive a call from him later that day, asking where I went last night.

“I went home, where did you go, you guys stranded us.”

He casually replied, “Well, we got a little sleepy and went to the car to take a nap around 12:30, when we woke up it was 3:30, everyone was gone and we were still in Palm Springs. “

I could not stop laughing, as only Brian could do something like that. I took the rest of the day off and tried to make sense of it all, so much intensity, friends, music, love, the police, all along the backdrop of JDee’s Landing.

It was that next day that I received a txt message from Alex Callego regarding what had happened at JDee’s, Katy and her father had been let go, and all shows were cancelled. A blow to the heart, after the high of the night, something that I could not believe, and did not want to accept. The future was looking so bright, it could not be the end. Sadness ensued, and phone calls were made in rapid fashion to find out more information, the internet was buzzing with anti-jdee’s sentiment, how could this be, how could it switch so quickly? The truth finally set in and word had spread, for whatever reason things at JDee’s would no longer continue the way they had been, and that we should all look for a new oasis.

Who knows why things happen the way they do, but I do believe it is all meant to be. This desert is a magical place, it has the power to electrify you, it’s night sky watches over you and it’s mountains protect you from the outside world, but it also has the power to wash you away, and bury you under the sand, but you can’t let it. JDee’s was a great place that fostered creativity and art, music and self-expression, and it’s loss will be mourned like the others, but if there’s one thing for sure in this desert, its that nothing ever lasts, even this will pass. So keep your head up and your paint on, lets keep these stories close to our heart, and be ready for whatever comes next. Summer will be here before we know it, and time in the desert will move forward, just watch your footprints.

Thanks JDee’s,

Katy & Chuck, Alex & Johnny, Michael, and everyone else that made that place possible.

*all words by Steven Preston

**all photos taken by the lovely, Casey Renee McIntosh