Mojave Sun makes the kind of blues-rock music you can feel in your toes. It jiggles the floorboards, awakens the senses with its desert-forged power.
The Vegas trio revels in its personal strengths, the sum of which create the spectacle dazzling the crowd at the Space on this January night, for the first Desert Honeypot showcase of the new year.
James Dunbar (bass) and Blake Sailer (guitar) muscle through the fuzz-soaked “Hell or High Water,” while Mariah Baldwin writhes like a modern-day snake charmer, her voice gruff but well-oiled, thanks to the local honey she keeps nearby at all times.
In Mojave Sun’s backstage dressing room, the 29-year-old reveals that’s how she got her nickname, Miss Desert Honey, and how she decided on the handle for her local female-fronted music showcase, launched last July.
“I know so many amazing, wonderful, talented women in this town, and, I’d see them playing in little dive bars,” Baldwin says. “I wanted to help them get seen and heard in bigger venues.”
Desert Honeypot also represents a second chance for Baldwin, whose first band, an all-female group, didn’t end on the best terms. The supportive series helps create “positive connections and to uplift each other, instead of competing with each other,” she explains.
“Having the support of other frontwomen through [my] experience would have made it much different for me. I would have felt less alone,” she says. “Honeypot is a safe place for any woman to come to be themselves and to meet other women that love other women.”
Baldwin says she has found similar acceptance in Mojave Sun, founded by Sailer in 2017. “I started playing when I was 10 years old, and the first thing I wanted to play was ‘Master of Puppets’ by Metallica,” he says. “That’s kind of where I started my thing and went in that direction with it.”
Dunbar shoots Sailer a playful glare.“This band has challenged me for sure. I had to get a finger exerciser, man!”
Dunbar originally filled in on bass as a favor to a friend. “Mariah sent me some stuff, and I was like, ‘This is groovy as f*ck,” he says. “It’s riffy, and there is sex in this music. It’s everywhere.”
The core three-piece works with rotating drummers, including A.J. Palluck from The Rhyolite Sound, who handles most of the live gigs. Mojave Sun has been recording new tracks at Palluck’s Sonic Rodeo studio, with an EP in the works.
Next up for the band: Night 1 of the two-day Planet Desert Rock fest, January 20 at Count’s Vamp’d, a bill that will also feature John Garcia, onetime vocalist for legendary SoCal desert-rock outfit Kyuss, along with Steak (London) and Formula 400 (San Diego). Night 2 will bring veteran LA stoner-rock band Nebula, along with Salem’s Bend (LA), High Desert Queen (Austin) and local band Sonolith to the Usual Place on January 21.
“We’re gonna play all bangers,” Baldwin says. “We’re gonna go heavy with that.”
Sailer nods. “We’re gonna bring the heat.”
Planet Desert Rock Night 1 ft. John Garcia, Steak, Formula 400, Mojave Sun: January 20, 7:30 p.m., $25-$60, Count’s Vamp’d. Night 2 ft. Nebula, Salem’s Bend, High Desert Queen, Sonolith: January 21, 7 p.m., $18-$27, the Usual Place. Tickets at eventbrite.com.
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