‘Desert Legend’ Emcees Viva El Valle ‘Holtville Tribune
Sean Wheeler is a lifelong punk rock, with some 40 years on stage singing in bands. He had close contact with mainstream success in the early 2000s, but for the most part he’s one of the most beloved front men you’ve never heard of.
Around this time, as the singer and frontman of Coachella Valley’s Throw Rag, who competed in the Vans Warped Tour and even had a song appear on a 2002 Warped Tour compilation, and in various solo and other projects over the years. The 55-year-old Wheeler has earned a reputation as one hell of a performing artist.
It’s fitting that this old-fashioned punk-rock whirling dervish and maniacal carnival barker antics be awarded the post of master of ceremonies at Strangers’ 16th annual Viva El Valle music and art exhibition. and Co. on Thursday, December 7. 23 at the Vice Event Center in El Centro.
Born and raised in Palm Springs, where he still lives in the same house where he grew up, the man called “Legend of the Desert” has a connection to Viva El Valle and the Imperial Valley through one of these. people who made the music and art exhibition perform, Marco Vera from Mexicali, and one of the current event organizers, Felipe Stranger (not his real last name, but think: The Ramones).
âI met Felipe and Marco from Mexicali Rose, I think, the first or the second Desert Daze (Joshua Tree music festival) here when it was still like little bars and stuff, and they were like: âDude, we do (shows) stuff at Mexicali and Calexico, ‘and (I said)’ I wanna come. ‘ So that was it, man. We were there and have been friends ever since; all of us, âWheeler said in a recent phone interview from his Palm Springs home. Felipe said to himself: “will you be the master of ceremonies … And I said to myself” yeah, of course. “
Wheeler was recently the emcee of the Muddy Roots Music Festival in Cookeville, Tennessee, a multi-day independent music festival with acts spanning genres ranging from punk and ska to Americana, psychobilly and other styles, not much different from Viva El Valle, which has an independent streak through it, of the type of musical acts presented to artists showing their works.
âI just like to be involved, to participate in everything to be honest with you when it comes to art and music, so I’m just thrilled. In fact, I can’t wait to drive. Can’t wait to get down (highway) 86, trip over the Salton Sea, drive through El Centro; I really like this driving, âhe said. “So, it’s going to be beautiful.”
Wheeler is also excited to see a few friends in town perform on stage and show off their art.
He was a perfect fit for the emcee position, said Felipe, one of the five members of the organizing committee behind Viva El Valle, who, like Wheeler, was born to speak. Felipe was the lead singer of a large local punk band from the early 2000s in the vein of The Spits called Slab City.
“This is a good hype, you know what I mean?” The guy is funny, he is charismatic; he’s a good talker, âsaid Felipe.
Vera, who now lives in Los Angeles, also considers Wheeler’s mastery of the stage to lend itself well to Viva El Valle. In a brief interview, Vera spoke about seeing the singer perform with all kinds of bands, including Sean Wheeler and the Reluctant Messengers and dynamic and extravagant performances with Brant Bjork, a former member of the influential Kyuss (with Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age) and Fu Manchu.
âHe’s just a front man. It’s pretty amazing, âVera said.
Part of the high and low desert musical scenes that really started to explode in the late 1990s through the mid to late 2000s, Wheeler has forged deep connections with well-known musicians over the years, but he also found an affinity for places. like Mexicali and the Imperial Valley.
Musically, Wheeler takes care of several groups, a solo career and appearances on other people’s records. In an interview with that newspaper, he declined a call from Matt Hensley, former professional skater and longtime Celtic punk accordionist Flogging Molly, to ask Wheeler to be on his record.
Over the years, Wheeler and Throw Rag have been credited with projects with more seasoned musicians or shared scenes with bands like The Damned, Motorhead or Queens of the Stone Age, but for over a decade, Wheeler’s music turned more to Americana and root music.
One of his Imperial Valley ties came when he was performing in an acoustic duet with Zander Schloss, a former Circle Jerks member who had recorded with Joe Strummer of The Clash.
Together they recorded and filmed a video for the song “Calexico & Mexicali”, in which Felipe appears both at a Chinese restaurant and at a Mexicali Rose party. The video itself was produced by Vera, filmed in the previously mentioned locations and at the former Santo Tomas Swap Meet.
Wheeler and Schloss, with whom Wheeler no longer has a working relationship, had come to the area and had a passion for the Mexicali and Calexico vibe. Wheeler spoke about the roots of the song and the making of the video.
âIn Pueblo Nuevo we would go to Mexicali Rose and play. We fell in love with the community and the people; Felipe was at Calexico. â¦ Zander wrote it and I said we had to do a video, so we had Marco and another dude (Ruben Garcia Marrufo)â¦ We just bombed the fucking Calexico exchange meetup, âsaid Wheeler laughing.
As Wheeler mentioned, Schloss wrote most of the song, but Wheeler said he made some lyrical and vocal contributions that he said softened some of the more negative lyrical content Schloss was pushing.
âZander wrote most of it, but I had a few lines in there. I’ve always heard that cachanilla was like the slang word for someone from Mexicali, âsaid Wheeler, entering his part of the song. “‘Running with the cachanillas in Pueblo Nuevo.'”
Zander “had lyrics that were a little too stereotypical. … you know, like hookers and gambling, or whatever. I mean, he understands the beauty of the song, don’t get me wrong. not.â¦ But it has to be all the beautiful shit. It shouldn’t be fucking stereotypes. It’s stupid, âhe said.â That’s what the song is about. , it’s a beautiful celebration of life. “
The style of this song is far from what Wheeler went to in his varied discography. However, if we look back on her career, she is not entirely foreign.
Throw Rag, although punk to the bone, featured a washboard player, banjo, vibraphone, and double bass. Fast forward to working on his own solo albums which feature spirituals and his work with Joe Buck, who was guitarist for Hank Williams III.
Wheeler is unconventional and eclectic, but still focused on the roots of American music. His 2017 solo album “Sand in My Blood” is a good example.
âEven back then growing up, I still tripped over music. I love music dude. So, especially like Golden Voice (music promoter) at the time, when they were doing those first shows, they were putting together different kinds of bands. In 1984, I was in 11th or 12th, a group like the Stray Cats, groups like the Smiths, then like in 1985 with groups like the Bad Brains, which quickly opened us to reggae, dancehall, everything â , did he declare. “I’ve always been a bit like, trying to spread my wings a bit”
Shortly after Viva El Valle, Wheeler will travel to Mexico, where he has a band. Oddly enough, Wheeler has what appear to be musicians on duty in different towns. For example, he said he played the same music with a band in LA and had another in Austin, TX.
In Mexico City he has a totally different group that he will be returning to soon, Sean Wheeler y Los Caminos. He also hosted a music festival called Wheeler Fest, which started in 2019. Mexico is just a place he loves to be, mostly driven by its charm since playing Mexico City and Hermosillo with Brant Bjork’s band. .
âMexico City is bada **. So, I was trying to find ways to go back all the time. I brought one of my bands there, The Reluctant Messengers, and then I go, you know what? Damn, I’m just gonna do a band here, âhe said. “I love Mexico and that’s why I’m going, you know?” I mean, that’s why I’m here. I wanna be there, which is fun, man. It often seems healthier to me than the United States. It’s a journey.