Listening to Michael Anthony Gagliardi’s explanation of “transfusion,” a style of music unique to his band, “Penny Unniversity,” it’s easy to understand their popularity.
“It’s all about the musicianship,” he said, “not about the noise that’s going on out there. We are a fusion of music styles. We’ve got a little rock for those who rock, some funk. We’ve got the jazz and we’re playing all original music.”
The band is a product of Gagliardi’s belief in the burgeoning local music scene.
“The Coachella Valley is becoming the hub of the music industry,” he said. “It is the next Nashville. The rock festival is bringing people in from other states. So we see musicians moving out here, from L.A. and Nashville.”
Gagliardi has a long resume as a guitarist and in the 80’s headlined, with his former band, at clubs along the infamous Sunset Strip.
Penny Unniversity bandmate Ted Walker (Bass) also brings an impressive curriculum vitae to the stage, having performed with a long list of rock legends: Journey, the Allman Brothers and White Snake. He toured with Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and worked locally with Keely Smith.
“I even toured with Guns 'N Roses. It was a total disaster,” Walker laughs, refusing any further explanation.
But with this new style of music, he finds he is still growing as a musician.
“It’s taken me to the next step as a bass player,” Walker said. “I’ve been around a while and want to concentrate on something that takes some learning and some chops to play.”
The youngest, and newest band member, Craig Brown (drums), came to the area originally to work with the Braille Institute, as a student and then, a faculty member.
He answered a Craigslist ad when Gagliardi had to replace a drummer who moved on.
Gagliardi’s dedication to the local scene is evident in his rock anthem, “Cruisin’ El Paseo.”
“We are a Palm Desert band,” he said. “We live, we work, we write, we rehearse and we play right here in Palm Desert.”
Penny Unniversity takes its name from an 18th century British slang term for a pub, but Gagliardi admits to some calculation in the spelling of the band’s name - the extra “n” has a purpose.
He smiles charmingly and confesses, “If you Google us with the two 'n's, we come up as the first listing.”
The band is currently in the studio recording their first album. A CD release party is scheduled for this fall.
And KPSP is doing a segment on the band for their EYE ON THE DESERT coverage of the Coachella Valley music scene.