Paul McCartney isn’t paying much mind to the headlines bantering about with “Oldchella” teasing. The legendary songwriter is staying true to the musician’s creed—he’s just here to play. Nothing proves that lasting motivation more than the “surprise” show at Pappy and Harriet's PioneerTown Palace, a little favorite “hole in the wall” roadhouse just outside of Joshua Tree, where the Beatles’ bassist played an impromptu show for fans that was really in the works for a few weeks on Oct. 13. Nothing eases the pain of not being able to come up with the $399 ticket expense for the big time festival, like paying $50 to share the night with McCartney up close and personal.
Local radio didn’t strategically leak out the news of the appearance until Thursday morning. A blessed bunch of 300 were able to snag tickets, with 1,000 being turned away. The thrill of the moment made the rush all worthwhile, however brief. The hour and 15 minutes set included the non-always played “Junior’s Farm,” a throwback “Hard Day’s Night,” and of course, an encore of “Hey Jude” that carried on so that McCartney proclaimed his usual “I can't stop this thing,” to close the “Na naa’s” of the chorus. The favorites that filled the song roster seemed to energize the star even more than the roar from the tiny venue, with its stage hardly ample enough for the kit of drummer, Abe Laboriel, Jr. and keyboard fortress for Paul “Wix” Wickens, much less McCartney himself. Intimate was absolutely apropos for this evening.
Only an hour north of Indio, where the big names will be assembled once more this weekend, Pappy and Harriet’s has become a favorite hideout and hangout for more than a few artists en route. Jim James of My Morning Jacket has recently felt at home enough at the quaint nightspot to offer a song or two, and leave his jacket behind. Charles Bradley, now contending with the news of his cancer diagnosis, brought his brand of soulful blues to the Pioneertown spot in early spring, and the Lemonheads made it a point to play there a year ago.
It hasn't been a bad week to be an old timer in the music business this week. Bob Dylan became the first musical artists in history to win the Nobel Prize for literature, and lots of last-minute guests of Paul McCartney will gladly attest that the that this knight of the British Empire certainly knows how to create a night of lifetime memories, even in the middle of the desert.