Wonder Valley California

Telling lies and spilling whiskey on the floor

Sunday, November 17, 2019

On A Dark Desert Highway



Five years ago, when we first visited Wonder Valley, I was looking to find a place to retire that was less hustle and bustle than the Live Music Capital of the world in Austin, Texas. In Austin music was a stone's throw from wherever I was at the moment, and I can't deny I miss it sometimes. The Hi Desert however has a thriving music scene that is actually probably more deverse than Austin, unbelievably, and that becomes both a blessing and a curse in many ways. I am still feeling my way around it using baby steps to discover new sounds and new artists.



Here in Wonder Valley, we have a single business that takes the form of such badassery that it is a legend here where the summers reach 120° and your eyes dry in the sockets. The business I am describing is the Palms Restaurant. The vibe is sometimes similar to something out of a Quinton Terrentino film if the screenwriter was Sam Peckinpah. 




When one enters the big wooden door there is a feel of brilliant disarray, not unlike the bar scene in Star Wars, where it is not at all unlikely to encounter a wide swath of unique souls from older desert rats like myself to much younger beings adorned with mohawks. On my most current visit a young lady replaced more standard desert attire with frilly granny panties as her sole means of attire below the waist. Every visit can provide new visuals, but the vibe, what makes the Palms soo cool is constant and chill beyond anything I've ever experienced in a regular hang.



The dominant vibe is cozy, not unlike the famous Boston bar of TV fame, but at a moment's notice it can turn into a more raucous one that is similar to the hardcore clubs I frequented in my younger days like the 9:30 Club and Black Cat in Washington, DC where I grew up.



All genres are well represented for the most part except honky tonk, which is unusual considering the history of the Hi Desert love affair with Gram Parsons. Now that the weather is cooler, I wear my Cosmic American Music colors in hopes that the next Grevious Angel comes wandering in to take the stage.



If one feels closed in, because it can get very busy at times, out beyond the back performance space is the majestic palm covered back patio and an outdoor stage with its own tour bus and guillotine sometimes used to solve customer disputes.





Kevin Bone, James Sibley and a cast of excellent barkeeps will keep a drink in front of you at all times and Laura Sibley makes the best burgers and fries on the planet. You can afford to over indulge because this ain't no over priced hipster hang. No the Palms will never drain your bank account. 




I hope if you wander down that dark desert highway on your way to Sin City or La La Land, you stop at what us desert rats consider the best damn watering hole around. You may even see rock and roll royalty like Miss Pamela Des Barres dancing to the Americana sounds of Mike Stinson.  Just walk through the door and say, Cosmic sent me..


Ronnie Ruff
Wonder Valley, California