Presented with the opportunity to shoot Cracker, a band I’m well familiar with, going back to their seminal roots of Camper Van Beethoven: Camper Van Beethoven first release was on Bruce Licher’s Independent Project Records that delivered the alty hit “Take The Skinheads Bowling’, made this musical excursion a no brainer! Cracker was slated to play House of Blues on Saturday. As much as the House of Blues has its appeal as a go to venue in Los Angeles I discovered that Cracker would be playing Pappy and Harriet’s in Joshua Tree on Sunday. Pappy & Harriet’s is a stunning location to view and photograph a band. There’s the great desert outdoors, the music legacy of the area, besides the UFO’s, and a quaint, yet very hip, bar that loves the artist like few other places in Southern California. It was the perfect venue to see Cracker play their new release Berkeley To Bakersfield.
I arrived early to take in Pioneer Town and afterwards I haunted the bar for beverages and a burger. I became involved in an insightful conversation with two ladies from San Francisco. We talked music, we talked The Black Crowes, Chris Robinson Brotherhood and then we trekked on to the Grateful Dead, but we didn’t go any further, while chattering about musical roots. This is why I love sitting at the bar! It’s the people and the conversations that deliver that Pappy & Harriet’s experience. It’s like a house party with benefits.
Photos Gallery After the Break
I was in the back enjoying the fresh air as members of Cracker informally gathered before they hit the stage. They visited with one another as the crowd moved nearer to the stage. David Lowery and Johnny Hickman were locked in a conversation just before they were to go up. It seemed as if they were catching up on the day’s events after the HOB gig the night before.
The other members of the band, all from Georgia, tightened around Johnny and David just before they were cued to hit the stage. They all passed through the back door and everybody hit their marks. David adjusted his mic with a couple of twists and the band launched into their set with “Almond Grove”. They followed with it with “California Country Boy” and “King of Bakersfield,” hitting the fans with the Bakersfield material off the new double album.
The fans pulled in tight and were very responsive to the new songs. As skilled entertainers, they then drove the energy up further by playing radio favorites like “Low” and “Teen Angst.” The band dug into the rootsy vibes of “Sweet Potato” and “St. Cajetan” during the 25 song plus set. The joint was jumpin’ with everyone holding their places and shaking their tails. Cracker drifted into some of their more rockin’ Berkeley songs with “Beautiful” and “Reaction” off of Berkeley To Bakersfield. Cracker clocked out with the perfect closer to their set with the song “Seven Days”. The lyrics open with “So we was standing like the last rock band on the planet,” which seems strangely appropriate for Cracker, who were only miles away from the Integratron in a cantina of sublime reputation in the heart of Joshua Tree. There is something about this place in the middle of the Mojave Desert that brings about the feeling of being part of that kind of singularity. Cracker brought the house down with feelings of lusty devotion to sudsy lager, wild women and brown liquor, centered in the cool evening desert air at Pappy & Harriet’s. It was roundly an excellent time with a bunch of gifted musicians that knows how to deliver great music in a showcase environment!
Tickets aren’t available yet, but keep your eyes peeled for Campout 11 with both Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker August 27th through the 29th at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneer Town.
Previously on The LA Beat: Interview with Johnny Hickman of Cracker