From The Desk Of David Lowery: Joshua Tree And Pioneertown, Calif.

lowery110dDavid Lowery has maintained a healthy career as a split musical personality. When he isn’t playing laconic country-tinged pop with his band of 25 years, Camper Van Beethoven, he’s thrashing away at his guitar as the frontman for Cracker, the rock outfit that’s releasing its 10th studio album, Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey, this week. Lowery adds another line to his resume as he guest edits all week. Read our Q&A with him.


Lowery: It’s been 40 years in the making: the Hollywoodization of the high desert surrounding Joshua Tree. Sure, the Rolling Stones spent some time out here in their heyday. And, of course, members of Gram Parsons’ crew purportedly took his body out here and attempted a funeral pyre. Joshua Tree and the nearby Pioneertown have finally made a niche for themselves as Southern California’s Woodstock. Two and a half hours from Los Angeles and still dirt cheap. You can still find an old jackrabbit homestead shack without plumbing for $25,000. That’s if you don’t mind being in one of the rougher fringe areas like Wonder Valley or Landers. Certain Angelenos have always known about the area’s natural beauty and curious locals. For years, painters, photographers and sculptors have quietly kept simple studios out here. But the area seems to have recently crossed some threshold. Perhaps it began when Robin Celia and Linda Krantz took over Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. They quickly made the biker bar/honky tonk a home away from home for many of Southern California’s finer musical misfits. Much of my family still lives in this area. I went to high school just down the road. My uncle used to be the marshal of this part of the desert, and I still have a house out here. So why am I rooting for this hipster gentrification? Well, if you ever lived out here, you would understand. Anything that helps thin out the speed freaks, bikers, homeschooling Christian survivalists and grumpy retirees is fine by me. Who cares if occasionally I have to listen to a Silver Lake hipster go on about his screenplay? When you are sitting on the patio at the Pioneertown Palace and it’s a moonless night, it really does feel like you are in a bowl of stars.

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