How James Dean’s Spirit in Griffith Park and Arizona’s Off-the-Grid Town Bisbee Inspired Solomon King & The Chosen to Get Touring
Solomon King loves serendipity.
In fact, it was a happy confluence of factors that will see the former Grammy Entrant nominee preview his epic new record, Against the Current, at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown near Joshua Tree this weekend (March 26) and on the following weekend (March 31 and April 01) at The Stock Exchange in Bisbee, Arizona — “unbound” and out in the desert.
And sometimes, especially in the music business where it’s estimated that 91–97 percent of musicians are considered undiscovered, a little bit of serendipity is always welcome.
First, my pal Solomon King, who once had a major label recording contract, was hiking up in Griffith Park a few weeks ago, the same inspirational setting that was used so effectively in the Oscar-winning movie, La La Land. Having just completed mixing his own self-produced record, Against the Current, King was wondering what next to do — whether to tour, what markets to focus on, about putting a new band together, all the things an indie act thinks about.
He was looking for inspiration up the Park where movie icon James Dean had filmed that classic fight scene from Rebel Without A Cause. King was wearing a cap that read, “The Stock Exchange, Bisbee, Arizona.”
Bisbee likes to be known as being off the beaten path, it’s way past Tuscon and Tombstone, and within a stone’s throw of the Mexican border up in the Mule Mountains. The town promotes itself — Be retro, stretch out, be unencumbered, be yourself. Indeed, Bisbee sounds like a town from a Twilight Zone episode — a place like Willoughby or Peaksville, a town off the grid.
Anyway, up near the Griffith Obsevatory, King encountered a fellow who not only recognized his Bisbee cap but also suggested he’d done redesign work on the classic Stock Exchange building that now houses a great restaurant/bar that King had once played. King recalls this moment of serendipitous happenstance:
“I loved performing at The Stock Exchange, but it’s a mysterious place. They don’t return phone calls or e-mails, it’s like they really do buy into being off the grid. They say Johnny Depp, whose comedian pal Doug Stanhope lives in Bisbee, likes to hang there. Also people don’t seem to have last names there. Anyway, this dude up in the Park knew an iconic rock photographer, Rod Dyer, who had contacts to the place. And when I contacted Rod, who’s worked on covers for Alice Cooper, Jefferson Starship, James Taylor, and Frampton, he listened to ’57 Octaves’ off my new record and loved it. So he directly phoned the bar’s owner, Patricia Steward who’s known as the ‘Queen of Hemp,’ and sure enough he tells me, ‘You’re in!’ Just like that.”
Now that he had two upcoming gigs, that spurred King to put together an exciting new lineup for his band, The Chosen, which now includes: fearless bassist Gail Sutton; jazz trained drummer Hudson Rivers; keyboardist Gary Curto who contributed some great orchestrations to King’s new album; and, chameleonic guitarist Louis Metoyer who’s played with 4 Non-Blondes, Macy Gray, and Terence Trent D’Arby.
Okay, so he now had some fresh new bandmates to work with.
But the synchronicity continued on when singer Calista Carradine, David Carradine’s daughter, asked to record one of King’s catalog songs, “Fell for You.” Carradine wanted King to come out to record at Pink Satellite, the studio owned by Spike Edney (former Queen keyboardist) out in Joshua Tree. That’s when King’s new bassist, Gail, suggested he check out Pappy and Harriet’s bar in nearby Pioneertown.
If you remember, rock legend Paul McCartney, who was appearing at the Desert Trip festival, played a surprise gig for 300 locals last October at the very same Pappy.
And wonderful serendipity kicked in again for King.
When King was recording with Carradine at Pink Satellite, the studio’s engineer/musician Stew Heyduk liked him so much, he invited him to come back and front the house band at, guess where, Pappy and Harriet’s on March 26! On Sundays, the house band invites all sorts of celebrated guests — the list has included Robert Plant, Lucinda Williams, Rickie Lee Jones and Eric Burdon, among many others.
As for King, he plans to play a track or two from his new record, including, “Cocaine Blues” with Pappy’s house band backing him up. Then Solomon King & The Chosen are off to Bisbee, saying, “When Miss Serendipity strolls into your life, you go along for the ride as far as she’ll take you…”