A Writer's 21st Century Memoir.

Bitter Drunk & Cold by The Far West

It took me a second to let my ears pop after being plugged from the altitude of the mountains in Southern California’s high desert. My friend and planned on grabbing drinks and listening to a band called, The Far West, at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, also known as Pappy and Harriet’s, a hipster feeling honkytonk, barbecue restaurant and a music venue near Joshua Tree National Park in Pioneertown, California.

The faux-Western town sat 25 miles north of Palm Springs, California in 1946 by a group of entertainers for the cowboy actors, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. It was an interesting place decorated with the typical old-timey buildings—a Western saloon, chapel, bank, and a cantina. More than 50 films and television programs throughout the 1940s and ’50s, including The Cisco Kid and Judge Roy Bean, were filmed on the small town’s Main Street.

My friend and I were greeted by Western trinkets, old license plates on the walls, and the Americana sounds of The Far West band on Pappy and Harriet’s stage. We ordered our first out of two rounds of drinks and sat back in one of the wooden chairs scattered around the tiny dance floor and low level stage.

The Far West, made up of Aaron Baker, on guitar and vocals, Lee Briante vocals and guitar, Robert Black, on bass and vocals, Travis Popichak on drums, and James Williams on piano and organ, played many of their own songs, as well as covers from similar sounding artists such as Wilco, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. It was a great show that reminded me of the Streets of Bakersfield, where a lot of my family is from.

We had fun dancing the Texas two-step, sipping on our second round of drinks by the older-looking fire furnaces, and we were able to hang out with the band a little before they packed up for the night.

I found out later that The Far West have been doing gigs all over Southern California and the southwest in places such as The Echo, El Rey, The Satellite, Hotel Cafe, Cowboy Palace Saloon, Taix, Silverlake Lounge, and of course, Pappy & Harriet’s. In the summer of 2012 The Far West opened a sold out JD McPherson show at The Echo, and a week later a sold out Nick 13 at the 1,000 seat El Rey Theater. The band is currently working on their 2nd album.

Check out “Bitter Drunk & Cold” by The Far West below.


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