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Navigating Calicountry

Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, Pioneertown, California

Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, Pioneertown, California

In Music+Travel Worldwide, Jessica Hundley is your guide to all things Calicountry. It’s the sound of the American West, of adventure and cowboys and the wide open spaces, a sound filled with the heartache of the great wide open. California’s brand of country music got its start with Roy Rogers, and by the 1960s L.A. acts like Gram Parsons had taken the sound to a new, grittier territory, growing their hair long and singing about hard drugs and easy woman. The sound reached its commercial apex in the 1970s with The Eagles, whose ‘Hotel California’ is among the best-selling albums of all time.
Since the 1990s the sound has been having a renaissance, and whatever flavor you take your Calicountry — from the indie-rock inflected tones of Wilco, to the New Weird America sound of Devendra Banhart, to straight-up country — you can find it today in L.A. and its surrounding desert cities. Here’s a look at three of our favorites.

Molly Malones: 575 South Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles; 323-935-1577
This old-school pub on Fairfax Ave. has been the place to find live local music for over 40 years. Featuring six nights of live music a week, the venue is the place to find unexpected special guests like Lucinda Williams or Jonny Lang — many of whom are immortalized in the portraits on the walls. Don’t be surprised if you see Celtic punk stars Flogging Molly — in the late ’90s and early ’00s the band boasted a weekly Monday-night residency at Molly Malones.
Palms Bar: 83131 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley, California; 760-361-2810
This old-school Wild West dive bar (in the best sense of the term) in the middle of the desert, Palms Bar is home to live music and $3 burgers. The desert watering hole is located more than 10 miles from the nearest town — Twentynine Palms.
Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace: 53688 Pioneertown Pd., Pioneertown, California; 760-365-5956
The self-proclaimed home of the “Best Honky-Tonk West of the Mississippi”, Pappy and Harriet’s is the high desert bar and restaurant located on a former Wild West movie set. Stop by on Sunday nights to hear the Pappy’s Allstars house band.
image by Mr. Matt/Flickr

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