Magic at The Palms, Wonder Valley

By Lisa Morgan

Somewhere out there, underneath the giant starry skies, sits a restaurant… wait, nope…it’s a music venue…well, not just that – it’s a …. well, it’s a… hmmm….

It is a sanctuary. Tucked away in the aptly named Wonder Valley, only 15 miles from the easternmost portion of Joshua Tree proper, is a community of creatives who gather regularly for shared experiences and camaraderie. As families do, they find many ways to entertain themselves and others. Avoiding the tsunami of folks coming into Joshua Tree as of late, they would probably wish, in many ways, to keep this sacred retreat a secret. But the folks here love an audience and making new friends. They have supported each other through new business ventures, a global pandemic, gains and losses, along with all the other regular heartbreaks life brings, always ready to celebrate each other’s victories and successes. It’s a magic little destination, equal parts gorgeous landscape, and good hearts – a place of which, I am sure, there is no other.

Tales have been told of what brother and sister, Laura and James Sibley, inherited. It was a veritable dive bar roadhouse. Laura went to work in the kitchen, providing consistently delicious fare at reasonable prices. Brother James helps with pretty much everything he can. Several years ago, the Sibleys hired Kevin Bone to manage the place, and to help them ‘turn it around’. Kevin, a NYC native (who also moonlights as playwright and standup comic), has turned the place into a “funky, freaky, bohemian oasis in the middle of what would otherwise be a very desolate place,” according to an obvious fan who shall remain nameless (Paul Moeller). Gone are the football games on the televisions (sorry kids), and on are the old black and white classic movies.

Outdoors, a strikingly fabulous stage has been built, complete with arced lighting trusses; not something you expect to find in a place that lies on the outskirts of the outskirts. This gives them two stages to showcase theatrical productions, dance, improv, comedy, arial arts/cirque, with “many amazing (and bizarre) performances,” continues Moeller. “Kevin loves any kind of experimental art. He’s an amazing, extremely humble visionary who loves to bring people together. I love the guy. You should do a feature story on him and the scene out there.” (Note: Be careful what you type into FB messenger when you are chatting with someone in the media.)

Clearly, Paul and Kevin have kindled a genuine bromance, but nothing compared to the authentic romance that developed between Kevin and Laura. The two were married just last month. Did I mention they also have a band? Kevin plays drums, Laura fronts the band on guitar, and John plays bass in The Sibleys. “It’s music that, to me, has a big Ramones influence, “ shares Moeller. “Under the loving care of the Sibleys, a dynamic, musically-talented brother-and-sister duo who run everything from the kitchen to the entertainment, and with the help of Kevin Bone, this trio have created the absolute coolest, funkiest, most unpretentious scene anywhere in the hi-desert.”

If you’re looking for an excuse to wander out to Wonder Valley, you can follow their entertainment program on Facebook: The Palms in Wonder Valley Live Events

Every Friday beginning December 3: Grey Hill’s Open Mic. No cover, start time 7 pm, sign-ups starting at 6 pm

Every Saturday there’s a live show: music, cirque, theater, comedy, and/or improv. Some are on the indoor stage, some on the beautiful blue outdoor stage. Cover charge varies (many free or by donation).

Current hours of operation: 3 pm-10 pm (later if event calls for it) Fridays and Saturdays. Plans to bring back their famous brunch are underway for 2022!

Also, worth mentioning, Laura Sibley (owner and chef) is teaming up with another fantastic chef and friend, Zandria Petteway, to put on a fancy price-fix dinner at the Palms on Sunday, Dec. 5. The first of probably a series. They’re billing themselves as “Taste Buds”.

📸 Photo credits: Sandra Goodin
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