Orquesta Del Desierto

Desert Rock | USA
  • Pete Stahl
  • Dandy Brown
  • Mario Lalli
  • Country Mark Engel
  • Mike Riley
  • Pete Davidson
  • Adam Maples
  • Alfredo Hernandez
  • Sean Landetta Carrillo
  • Bryan Brown
  • Tim Jones
  • Bill Barrett
  • Jackie Watson
  • Emiliano Hernandez
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Orquesta del Desierto stands alone among the many unique bands to come out of the Mojave Desert over the last thirty years. While the desert is often associated with purveyors of down-tuned, maximum decibel rock, shortly after the new millennium began a fresh sound associated with the southern California desert was ushered in.

For fans of the band, the story of how Orquesta del Desierto came into existence has circulated through desert rock circles for decades. It is a story that actually began thousands of miles away from southern California and has its roots in a recording session that took place in the America’s Midwest. Shortly after completing the recording of Hermano’s Only a Suggestion, producer Dandy Brown accepted the invitation of legendary singer John Garcia to leave the bitter winters of northern Kentucky and to continue their collaborations in the warmer climate of the Coachella Valley.

“The first time coming through the Interstate 10 pass at the east end of the Coachella Valley, it is a sight that is truly beyond compare. It is at once an alien landscape unlike any other, and at the same time a scene that draws upon the majestic rise of the San Jacinto range, stirring every emotion, immediately inspiring the foundations of the artists’ soul,” Brown commented in an interview during the recording of the first Orquesta del Desierto album.

Motivated by the desert scenery upon his arrival in the spring of 2000, Brown immediately set about writing an album’s worth of material that would eventually become the foundation for the group’s first recording sessions. Unlike many of the bands spawned by the desert in the previous decade whose music emphasized the brutal force of the desert terrain, Brown focused upon acoustic instrumentation while drawing inspiration from the extraordinary landscapes.

Once the musical foundations of the first album were in place, Brown immediately recruited the core members of Orquesta del Desierto, connecting with musicians who had been instrumental in developing the music that has become so closely identified with the desert genre. Among the first to commit to the project were Alfredo Hernandez (Kyuss/Queens of the Stoneage), Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson/Yawning Man), engineer extraordinaire Mike Riley, percussionist Sean “Landetta” Carrillo, and the brass section of Jackie Watson and Emiliano Hernandez. With studio time booked, Brown completed the lineup by reaching out to singer Pete Stahl (Scream/Goatsnake/earthlings?/Desert Sessions), and lifelong friend and collaborator Country Mark Engel . . . both of whom enthusiastically accepted the invitation to join the recording session.

Recorded at the Green Room Studio in Palm Springs in 2001 and released on the seminal desert rock label Meteorcity Records in 2002, the band’s debut album immediately gathered critical acclaim for its ability to forge a new dynamic in a genre that was rapidly filling with groups cloning the heavier sounds of Kyuss. “There are, quite simply, no faults here – this is a beautiful, potent album that gives just as much attention to pop hooks as it does to atmosphere. As you can imagine, the results are astounding,” (

Unable to tour as a group due to commitments to other projects but fueled by the success of the debut release, Brown immediately turned to booking another recording session for the band. Hoping to further expand the group’s dynamic sound, Brown and Stahl solicited song contributions from Mike Riley and Country Mark Engel for the second album. While the core of Brown, Stahl, Riley, Engel and Lalli remained intact for the second session, the group’s diverse approach benefitted from the addition of drummer Adam Maples (earthlings?) and percussionist/drummer Pete Davidson. Additionally, the group was joined at famed Joshua Tree studio Rancho de la Luna by pianist Tim Jones and Bill Barrett on trumpet.

Released in 2003, Dos was immediately embraced as a “. . . compelling fusion of Latin stylings and psychedelic-tinged blues that is a real alternative these days” ( Bolstered by similar acknowledgements and reviews of their second album, Orquesta del Desierto committed to a series of performances throughout southern California and a European tour in 2004. Joined by drummer Bryan Brown, these shows have become legendary among the fans who were able to attend the band’s only active period of live performances.

By the end of 2004, with their two releases achieving overwhelming critical success but realizing that the members of the group were spread too thin with obligations to other projects, Brown decided to disband Orquesta del Desierto. Returning to their catalog years later, though, and considering the limitations of the technology used to capture the band’s two albums, Brown turned the collections over to renowned engineers Harper Hug (John Garcia/Vista Chino/ Brant Bjork) and Jason Groves (Supafuzz/Asylum on the Hill/Floraburn) for complete remixes and remasters of the Orquesta del Desierto catalog.

After an extensive search to find the best home for the group’s albums, Orquesta del Desierto is proud to have Heavy Psych Sounds reissue both remixed and remastered collections on vinyl starting in 2024.

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