A Ghost is Born…
written by Alex Callego, The Ghost Channel

My name is Alex Callego. I was born and raised here in the Coachella Valley. I’ve seen a lot of change, both good and bad. I’ve witnessed 80’s era Spring Break, the emergence of the Stoner Rock and Hip Hop scenes in the desert, the ska and punk shows at Aloha Billiards and Palm Springs Lanes, The Iron Gate generator parties, the arrival of the annual Coachella Fest, and much more.
Growing up here, even with all the great things that have happened, I’ve always felt that there wasn’t enough to satisfy the thirst for more; something was missing. I’m pretty sure that way of thinking was prevelant with most youth in the desert. It’s that feeling that drove a good amount of youth to leave home after high school and go to school elsewhere. When I was younger, I wanted to move to Los Angeles. It just seemed like the place I needed to be. I spent a lot of weekends at shows in Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, anywhere but home. Yet I felt like the possibility of the kind of music that I was into, coming to the desert, could happen. And then the internet, Coachella Fest, Napster, and Myspace made it seem extremely possible.

About a year and a half ago I went through a breakup that would change my life. I was working at FYE the time, formerly known as The Wherehouse, in Palm Springs, and one of my co-workers was a certain Johnny Galvan (AKA Johnny 5000, 5000 Photo). He too was going through a difficult breakup. We bonded through our similar emotional dilemmas and through music. Through our bonding we realized that we both saw a lack in diversity in the desert music scene. Every weekend we’d go hang out with our friends and go to the local shows that local promoter, Ming Bob, was throwing at J Dee’s. Now, all the years I’ve lived here, I never noticed J Dee’s Landing until maybe a little over two years ago. Apparently it’s been around for quite some time. I knew there was a bar next to the old Cork n Bottle Liquor Store but never knew the name. The shows were fun but we noticed that it was the same rotation of bands playing every weekend with every once in a while an out of town act thrown in. It may seem that I’m belittling those shows, but I’m not. It’s wasn’t Ming Bob’s fault nor was it the valley’s that the diversity is so limited. In fact, if it weren’t for Ming Bob, shows at J Dee’s wouldn’t have existed. The Coachella Valley is pretty much an island. It takes a while for anything to catch on here in the desert. By the time something caught on here, we were sorely late to the party. It still happens to this day.

One night, as Johnny and I were driving home from going to a show in L.A., we decided that we should throw a show for his birthday. The show wasn’t going to be the typical one that the desert was used to. It would consist of only out of town acts. Bands that we wanted to see. We didn’t care. We knew it would be fun but never thought that it would be anything more than just that night. The show consisted of No Paws No Lions, a band that I had previously brought out here for other events and had become good friends with, Meho Plaza, a band that my friends in No Paws are friends with, and a band that would become a very intregal part of The Ghost Channel known as Halloween Swim Team.

When we first started doing shows at J Dee’s, the spots where bands would play were small and they would play either in the very front of the bar or where the pool table was. Our first show there, we decided to have it at the front of the bar. With the exception of No Paws, all the bands were a bit skeptical of the show. I don’t blame them. The common preconceived notion of the desert is that it’s full of eldery retirees and rich tourists from colder climates. For the most part they’re right but who takes care of the elderly and the rich tourists? Teens and young adults do and they also have lives. By the end of that show the bands had won over the crowd and vice versa. That night had made such an impression on Halloween Swim Team that out of all the bands that have made repeat visits, they have played our shows the most. This was the beginning for us but things didn’t really begin to pick up for J Dee’s until our show with Dusty Rhodes and the River Band.

When trying to book the Dusty Rhodes show we ran into a road block; J Dee’s got shut down. It was uncertain if and/or when it would re-open. I had to call constantly in order to find out when they would re-open. We finally booked the show but when the night of the event finally came around we noticed a few things were different. One major difference was Chuck and his daughter, Katy, were standing behind the bar. They came in to help run the bar as part owners. They had big plans and understood what we wanted to do. It was great to finally have a place to do what we wanted to do with our shows and feel supported by the venue. We took that support and ran with it, bringing acts with much more of an experimental side like Deracine, Church of the Snake, Moment Trigger, and Kyle Mabson as well as locals Cristopher Cichocki, Mira La Luz, and The Racket Club Band. Another great thing about Katy and Chuck’s arrival was also the fact that they too were also trying to make good shows happen bringing out Local Natives, The Union Line, Gavin Castleton, and Gardening Not Architecture. This in turn created a snowball effect where more and more bands, local and touring, wanted to play J Dee’s.

Within the past year J Dee’s has had some amazing and memorable shows. There have been shows like The Entrance Band and The Chinese Stars who packed the house and had the crowd going nuts at their respective shows. But for me, I will always remember two shows; our first show is a pretty obvious choice but the show we did with Sol District, Not The Government, Mikki and the Mauses, Moment Trigger, and Deracine will forever be my favorite show we’ve ever done. The energy of both the crowd and the bands was frenetic. You could feel it in the air that something special was going to happen that night. Almost all of the bands got the crowd going crazy and we weren’t even at full capacity. The crowd was jumping on stage, falling all over the place, instruments were flying, drinks were being spilled and thrown (in a good way), but if their was ever a picture that completely captured the madness of that night, it would be the one where Bryan Burford (AKA Bryan Goonie) carried Tyler, the guitarist for Not the Government, on his shoulders. That picture is priceless.

Most good things aren’t planned. Like falling in love, you just can’t plan it. It’s usually a confluence of many different elements; the right time, the right people, the right ideas, the right mindset, the willingness to take a risk, and most importantly is the passion to take what little you have and turn it into something great. Yet, just like love, whether through death or through the slow disintegration of time, it goes away. All you have left are the memories. Although, J Dee’s may not be having shows anymore, ideas never die. I will always see J Dee’s as the birth place of The Ghost Channel, and we will move forward with passion, always keeping in our hearts the things that they can’t take away from us.
– Alex Callego 2/23/2010

*all photos taken by
5000 Photography

you can contact Alex directly at: his Facebook or his Myspace