weather icon Clear

Musician set to appear at Amargosa Opera House

A quest for a quirky desert wedding location, chance meetings that turned into true friendships, and a sometimes longing for more wide-open land than he could find in the Pacific Northwest—these were the roots of the new album, “Horst and Graben,” by indie folk singer/songwriter D. Pel.

This Friday and Saturday night at the Amargosa Opera House, he brings that music home to the stage where so much of it began.

The first time D. Pel, whose full name is Dan Pelley, and his wife Lindsay Pelley, stood up together on stage at the Amargosa Opera House, they were getting married. The couple came from Portland, Oregon, seeking a venue in the desert around Death Valley and they fell in love with Death Valley Junction. The night before the wedding, Pelley said he read the autobiography of Marta Becket, the legendary dancer and creator of the Amargosa Opera House, who came to their wedding as a guest. He was deeply affected by her story.

“We started coming out a couple of times a year,” Pelley said, to celebrate their anniversary or as part of adventures all around the desert Southwest. Eventually, Pelley happened to meet an artist and photographer named Bobbi Fabian, who was also staying at the hotel. The acquaintance turned into a friendship and one day Pelley was surprised to receive a letter from Fabian saying that she was leaving Los Angeles to open a café at the Junction. Fabian still runs the café and is now also the general manager of the AOH, Inc.

That story became part of the song, ‘Tell Me, How’s the Café,” that now appears on “Horst and Graben.” The album, released this past April, includes songs about Death Valley Junction and Becket’s experiences. ‘The Flood’, said Pelley, was inspired by the many times Becket found herself mucking mud out of the Opera House after heavy rains. “It’s my interpretation of what it might have been like to go through something like that over and over again. I’m narrating her stories as I understand them.”

The album also includes songs that are broader in range, about the American Southwest and a life lived for art. The name, “Horst and Graben,” is a geological term used to describe the thrusts and dips between fault lines, a prominent feature of Death Valley. For Pelley, it is symbolic of the ups and downs, the monumental forces that both thrust upward and push downward in the life of an artist. “Marta had great passion,” he said, “and that passion comes with a price.”

Pelley said he has played the album in and around Portland, accompanied by members of his band D. Pel and the Strange Attractors. It strikes a chord, he said, even with people who’ve never been to Death Valley or the other places he sings about, because the ebb and flow of life is a universal theme.

Not all of the songs on “Horst and Graben” are about the Opera House, but most were inspired by the American Southwest, its landscapes, its ethos, its people. And, he added, this performance “is more than me performing songs inspired by the Opera House, it’s also that some of my friends there have all had a part in inspiring it. Bobbi Fabian helped with the artwork, Jason Newman appears in one of the YouTube videos. They are all so much a part of it.”

“Horst and Graben,” recorded with the assistance of several of his other band members, will be available on vinyl and CD at the Opera House performance. The vinyl album, Pelley said, was specially made to look like desert glass. It can be also found on Bandcamp at dpel.bandcamp.com or on his own website, dpelmusic.com, as well as Spotify, Itunes, and other digital venues. Several of the songs are available as music videos on the YouTube channel dpelmusic.

D. Pel will be accompanied by his wife Lindsay Pelley on Friday, Dec. 27 and Saturday, Dece. 28, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children. The show starts at 7 .m. To purchase tickets in advance, call the Amargosa Opera House at 760-852-4441.

Robin Flinchum is a freelance writer and editor living in Tecopa, California.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Vegas prepares for return of massive NYE fireworks show on the Strip

Seven additional hotel-casinos will participate in this year’s 8-minute New Year’s celebration, the first after a haitus in 2020 because of pandemic-related restrictions. The theme is Deuces Wild.

Lawsuit aims to pre-empt CCSD COVID-19 vaccine mandate, end testing

The federal lawsuit filed this week argues that both the vaccination mandate and a requirement that unvaccinated workers be tested for COVID-19 are unconstitutional.

California Lottery

No one matched all five numbers and the mega number in the Wednesday, August 4 drawing of the California Super Lotto. The next jackpot will be at least $14 million.

DIVAS ON A DIME: Spoil dad with gourmet hamburgers at home

With Father’s Day just around the corner, may I suggest giving dear old dad what he really wants, an amazing hamburger. Seriously, who doesn’t love a big, tender, juicy burger? Except for a few vegetarians, every dad I know would agree.

California lottery

No one matched all five numbers and the mega number in the Saturday, June 12 drawing of the California Super Lotto. The next jackpot will be at least $55 million.

DIVAS ON A DIME: Start grilling season with a twist on burnt ends

Memorial Day weekend fills my heart with gratitude as we honor those who made possible, the freedom we so often take for granted. It’s a weekend of recognition, remembrance, and thanks. For many families, this weekend also signals the official beginning of grilling season. Care to join me in a patriotic foodie-licious happy dance?

DIVAS ON A DIME: Celebrate strawberries and cream with a vintage cake recipe

Each year on May 21st we celebrate a dessert that just squeals Spring! National Strawberries and Cream Day brings together two favorites, fresh ripe strawberries, and homemade whipped cream. While that alone makes a divine dessert, let’s add a mildly sweet, vanilla fragranced, easy to make from scratch cake and we’ve just won at life.

DIVAS ON A DIME: Meet the underrated and versatile baked potato

Remember baked potatoes? I was chatting with friends about food (because what else do I talk about?) and none of us could remember the last time we had stuffed baked potatoes for dinner. We’ve been so busy with our quinoa we forgot about the King of Carbs. Good carbs, naturally.

Make Mother a sandwich that she will never forget

Meet smörgåstårta, your new favorite party recipe. Smörgåstårta (pronounced SMORE-gas-TOR-ta) is simply a beautifully decorated savory sandwich cake. It’s popular when celebrating special occasions in Sweden. To celebrate Mother’s Day and honor the influential women in your life, may I suggest serving a smörgåstårta?