The Only Game in Pioneer Town
A honky-tonk in the High Desert, perched at the edge of a dusty town that was originally constructed to be an Old West movie set. One thing you come to learn about Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is that people speak about it in reverent, almost spiritual terms. “Magic” is a word used often, as are “sacred” and “enchanted.”
Pappy & Harriet’s, however, is hyper-real. It’s authentic. There are no tricks here — just a bar, some knotty beams, and glass bottles. The kitchen serves up the best bowl of smoky, spicy chili you’ll ever order, and the mesquite grill out back is covered with fat steaks and slabs of ribs. The wooden floor is uneven, but it works just fine for dancing.
But, Pappy & Harriet’s began as a gas station and was converted into a bar in 1972, named The Cantina and instantly bacame a hit with bikers. In 1980 Harriet and Claude, known as Pappy, bought The Cantina and transformed it into what it is today.
Early ads for the Palace boasted line dancing on Wednesday nights, spaghetti dinners for $3.95, and sleepin’ in “down-home comfort” The roadhouse developed a reputation as a music venue, and an ever-increasing number of country bands played the bar. As the buzz grew, so did accommodations for RV overnight parking and horse camping. Famous faces began to pop in, and tourists arrived. Pappy’s was officially on the map.
All kinds of country/western bands have played at the club … but none could draw the applause and appreciation that Pappy and Harriet did when they took to the stage with just their guitars and voices.”
“Any first-timer can tell you, it’s not just the bar, it’s everything that goes along with getting to the bar. Everything. It’s the road you take to get there — that winding, desert road — and then seeing Pioneertown at the end of it,” Celia says. “So many people think they’re lost when they are going up there, and then it turns out they’re not lost at all.”
New owners Linda Krantz, Robin (sic) Celia, and Marco Rivera offer dining, a full bar, and music venue focusing on good food, good service, and a diverse musical experience.”
Harriet Allen gave her blessing to the new owners as well. She told The Press-Enterprise in 2005, “They walked in the front door, and I saw something spiritual about them. And I said, ‘You’re it.’ I felt very much they would be the new generation in Pioneertown.”
Since taking the reins, Celia and Krantz have managed to maintain the authenticity of the roadhouse, even while Pappy’s has become something of an “it” spot for indie and alt-country bands from all over the globe.
Things hit a crescendo in October 2016, when Sir Paul McCartney played a surprise show for 300 fans, likely one of the tiniest gigs he’s done since The Beatles’ days playing smoky dives in Hamburg, Germany. “A Beatle, in a desert-city bar like this. How?” asked the Los Angeles Times following the show.
Today, Pappy and Harriet’s is still rockin and rollin – the perfect get away for some good music, food, and loads of fun.