Up close with Paul McCartney at Pappy & Harriet's – a first-hand account

(Introduction: Barb Chamberlin was one of 300 lucky people Oct. 13 who got in to see Paul McCartney and his band playing at Pappy & Harriet's, a club that at one time was a cantina and the site for the making of old Western TV shows and movies. But for one night it was transformed. This is her account of the show). 

“I believe it was sometime shortly after 10 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 13 that I casually opened Facebook and was surprised to see Paul McCartney's post announcing a show that evening at Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown, Yucca Valley, CA. Details at PaulMcCartney.com,” Paul McCartney fan Barb Chamberlin told AXS.com. “Google Maps told me that it was a two hour and 14 minute drive from my home. Cash only, $50 per ticket, one ticket per person, lineup to start at 3 p.m., doors to open at 6:30, and the show would begin at 8:30 p.m. What to do? It was a pretty free day, thank heavens, so worth a try!”

She said she figured even if she didn't get it, it wouldn't be a bad thing. “The worst that could happen would be to drive four and a half hours roundtrip getting hyped listening to Paul McCartney and Beatles music and waiting in line a long time, and maybe listening from the outside if I couldn't get in,” she said. “So I called one Beatle buddy, and she couldn't go. Another is away on vacation, and another was actually leaving for the desert that day to be ready to attend the Desert Trip in Coachella. She said they would head for Pappy & Harriet's on their way to give it a try!”

Chamberlin says she then got ready to go. “I quickly grabbed a leftover sandwich and cut up an apple to take for lunch, gassed up my Prius, hit the ATM, and headed out on the freeway. She didn't have much of a problem with traffic. “I easily survived what could have been nasty Southern California traffic. If you've ever been to Palm Springs, you know about that big wind power farm along the I-10 just west of the city. That's where the Highway 62 exit takes you north and uphill about 20 miles through rocky desert terrain to Yucca Valley. There you turn left and go four miles through more rocky hills and Joshua trees to the little rural western buildings called Pioneertown, and Pappy & Harriet's.”

She got to the site two hours before fans were to be allowed in. “I arrived at Pappy & Harriet's at 1 p.m. sharp. Immediately I could see the band 's buses and several black SUVs parked in a row on the property. Reality hit! This is really happening! There was a steady flow of cars arriving, and a line formed alongside the road near the venue. Everyone seemed to get the OK to park along the shoulder of that street, as the venue had not opened their dirt parking lot. I easily parked along that road and and positioned myself in line. Everyone was friendly, and most of the people around me were locals.”

Word had spread that the concert would happen. “One young guy held 'Meet the Beatles' and 'Wings Over America' albums, saying that his disabled grandmother really wished she could go, and he brought the albums in hope that Paul would sign them for her. One couple told me they heard about the show on the radio. At age 65, I was the oldest one in line around me, and most could have been my kids or even my grand kids. I seemed to be number 99. The line grew behind me, curving down into the Pioneertown property. Soon I could not see the end of the line! What we didn't know was that they started a line across the street from the opposite end of the venue." 

As the show got closer, the venue started the process to get people in, she said. “At about 2 p.m., they told us they were moving our line up to the entrance of Pappy & Harriet's, and they asked us to not rush ahead. They guaranteed us that we didn't have to worry about the line across the street because we would be first. 

“I said my hellos to Paul's security man Brian Riddle, his photographer M.J. Kim and videographer Charlie Lightning, as they all played a part in my going on stage with Paul at Dodger Stadium soundcheck in 2014. Charlie did a little video interview with me, asking how I found out about this show and what I felt about attending a small gig like this. Of course, the small gig was so cool, up-close and personal! Another of Paul's security announced that they were going to hand out 300 raffle tickets in numeric order and only those people would be able to attend. The rest of the people would need to leave the line. They said that at 5 p.m. they would take the raffle tickets and each person would pay their $50 cash and receive a wristband. One guy stood outside the line holding a sign saying he came all the way from Texas and would like to buy someone's raffle ticket. Those around me had a hard time believing he could make it all the way from Texas that quickly!”

The excitement continued to build as fans were finally admitted. “I believe it was about 5 p.m. when we paid our $50 and got our wristbands and went inside. There was a bar leading to the stage area and another bar area where people filled the room talking and drinking. Outside in the patio there was a small area for people to drink and mingle and a larger area that was being setup for 6:30 p.m. for a vegetarian meal that one person told me later cost $13. I didn't stay to eat as I wanted to get positioned inside by the stage. 

“The show was to start at 8:30 p.m. and everyone in the room was ready way before that! I was about five or six feet from the stage near the center, and we all were packed in like sardines. I'm short, so that made it hard to see over the taller people in front of me. People in the audience sang along to some of the Beatles and Paul songs that played before the show. It seemed that Paul came on stage about 8:20 p.m., but I'm not sure. Paul and band were welcomed with excitement from the audience, and he greeted us by saying "Welcome to Pappy & Harriet's! It's the biggest gig we ever played!" Then they started the show with 'Save Us.'

“Before playing 'My Valentine,',” she said, “Paul said the next song was one he wrote for his wife Nancy, and he asked the front part of the audience to please sit down just for this one song so that the people in the back who may not normally be able to see much could see this one. Paul sat at this cool little bright green keyboard with Native American/Southwest style symbols on it. At the end of 'Band on the Run,' Paul said something like, "And we REALLY ARE in the desert!"  

“Before the show ended, he said that after the show he was going to leave by just walking out into the desert! He explained, you know, how some people just walk out into the desert to find themselves! The show ended at 10 p.m., and the audience continued to call out for him to return to the stage. My adrenaline and more Macca magical music in the car got me home by 12:30 a.m. And what a magical Macca night it was!

Here is the set list. The audience sang along to anything they knew and it was so much fun!" (Note: This set list was confirmed by Paul McCartney's representatives.)

  • Save Us
  • A Hard Day's Night
  • Junior's Farm
  • Can't Buy Me Love
  • Let Me Roll It
  • I've Got a Feeling
  • My Valentine
  • Nineteen Hundred Eighty-Five
  • We Can Work It Out
  • I've Just Seen a Face
  • Love Me Do
  • Queenie Eye
  • Lady Madonna
  • Day Tripper
  • Ob-La=Di Ob-La-Da
  • Band on the Run
  • Back in the USSR
  • Hey Jude
  • Encore: Hi Hi Hi
  • Birthday
  • I Saw Her Standing There