CVIndependent

Sun11292020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

We here at the Independent debated postponing our annual Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll this year.

Why? Well, COVID-19 has rocked the Coachella Valley—and a fair number of the businesses and organizations that are often winners and finalists in the Best of Coachella Valley are either closed or severely limited due to the pandemic. To put it mildly: It’s been a tough year.

There’s also a financial aspect. To be frank, this issue is normally a money-maker—something that helps fund our operations during the leaner times of the year. This year, we predicted—correctly—that we’d see a marked decrease in revenue for this Best of Coachella Valley issue, and wondered whether it was worth doing, given the amount of time, energy and money we put into it.

However, the more we thought about things, the more it became apparent: Postponing the Best of Coachella Valley poll would be a terrible idea—as there’s never been a more important time to shine a light on the valley’s best businesses, individuals and organizations, precisely because so many of us are struggling right now.

We also feel an obligation to present the Best of Coachella Valley as an antidote, of sorts, to the other publications’ “Best Of” polls—which sometimes have, well, odd results. For our Best of Coachella Valley poll, we ask each reader to vote only once per round, because our goal is to come up with a slate of truly excellent finalists and winners. The other polls have no such prohibition, because the goal of those polls is not to get a great slate of finalists and winners—the goal is for the publications to get as much web traffic as possible from readers visiting their websites over and over again to vote.

To the many, many readers out there who voted this year: Thank you. And to the winners and finalists whose names appear in the following pages: Congratulations, and thank you helping make the Coachella Valley such an amazing place to live.

Welcome, everyone, to the Best of Coachella Valley 2020-2021.

—Jimmy Boegle, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Arts

 

Best Art Gallery

TIE

CODA Gallery

Shag

 

Runners up:

3. AutoErotica/Michael Weems Collection

4. Heather James Fine Art

5. Melissa Morgan Gallery

 

Best Indoor Venue

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre

3. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

4. Purple Room

5. The Hood Bar and Pizza

6. The Show at Agua Caliente

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Empire Polo Club

4. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

5. Rancho Mirage Amphitheatre

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre

3. Palm Springs Public Arts Commission

4. CREATE Center for the Arts

5. Old Town Artisan Studios

 

Best Local Band

The Gand Band

 

Runners up:

2. Giselle Woo and the Night Owls

3. Desert Winds Freedom Band

4. The Flusters

5. Avenida Music

 

Best Local DJ

DJ Galaxy

 

Runners up:

2. DJ Baz/Barry Martin

3. Femme A

4. DJ Zephyr

5. Guy Worden

 

Best Local Musician (Individual)

Keisha D

 

Runners up:

2. Jesika von Rabbit

3. Giselle Woo

4. Chris Lomeli

5. Kal David

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Shag

 

Runners up:

2. Phillip K. Smith III

3. Tysen Knight

4. Adam Enrique Rodriguez

5. Zach Fleming-Boyles

 

Best Local Movie Theater

Mary Pickford Is D’Place

 

Runners up:

2. Camelot Theatres at the Palm Springs Cultural Center

3. Century La Quinta and XD

4. Century at The River and XD

5. Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 and IMAX

6. Tristone Palm Desert 10 Cinemas

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Air Museum

3. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

4. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

5. Coachella Valley History Museum

 

Best Producing Theater Company

Palm Canyon Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. CVRep

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Coyote Stageworks

5. Desert Ensemble Theatre Company

6. Dezart Performs


Life in the Valley

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

4. FIND Food Bank

5. Well in the Desert

6. AAP-Food Samaritans

 

Best Gym

World Gym

 

Runners up:

2. EOS Fitness

3. In-Shape

4. Planet Fitness

5. 24 Hour Fitness

 

Best Yoga

Urban Yoga

 

Runners up:

2. Bikram Yoga Plus

3. Power Yoga Palm Springs

4. Desert Yoga Therapy

5. Hot Yoga Plus Palm Springs

 

Best Bowling Alley

Palm Springs Lanes

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Lanes Bowling

3. Canyon Lanes at Morongo

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty

 

Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Gear Leather and Fetish

4. Bear Wear

5. Q Trading Company

 

Best Auto Repair

Exotic Car Service

 

Runners up:

2. Sergio’s Automotive

3. Kennard’s Automotive

4. Starrs Auto Repair

5. Cam Stone’s Automotive

 

Best Car Wash

TIE

Elephant Car Wash

Quick Quack Car Wash

 

Runners up:

3. Airport Quick Car Wash

4. Desert 100 Percent Hand Car Wash

5. La Quinta Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

Moller’s Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Moorten Botanical Garden

3. Desert Hot Springs Florist and Nursery

4. California Desert Nursery

5. Bob Williams Nursery

 

Best Pet Supplies

Bones-N-Scones

 

Runners up:

2. PetSmart

3. Petco

4. EarthWise Pet

5. PoshPetCare

 

Best Annual Charity Event

Faux Fur Ball (Palm Springs Animal Shelter)

 

Runners up:

2. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards (Desert AIDS Project)

3. Desert AIDS Walk

4. Evening Under the Stars (AAP-Food Samaritans)

5. Concert for Autism

6. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

 

Best Place to Gamble

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Rancho Mirage

 

Runners up:

2. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Palm Springs

3. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

4. Augustine Casino

5. Morongo Casino Resort

 

Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runner up:

2. NBC Palm Springs (KMIR Channel 6)

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Patrick Evans, KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. Bryan Gallo, formerly of NBC Palm Springs (KMIR Channel 6)

3. Karen Devine, KESQ News Channel 3

4. Gino LaMont, NBC Palm Springs (KMIR Channel 6)

5. Thalia Hayden, NBC Palm Springs (KMIR Channel 6)

 

Best Radio Station

KGAY 106.5

 

Runners up:

2. 107.3 Mod FM

3. 106.9 The Eagle

4. Mix 100.5

5. 93.7 KCLB

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Patrick Evans, CV 104.3

 

Runners up:

2. John Taylor, I Love Gay Palm Springs Podcast

3. Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5

4. Jimi “Fitz” Fitzgerald, CV 104.3

5. TK, 93.7 KCLB

 

Best Retail Music Store

Palm Springs Vinyl Records and Collectibles

 

Runners up:

2. Record Alley

3. Guitar Center

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Interstellar Comic Books

3. Comic Asylum

 

Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Runners up:

2. Kimpton Rowan

3. The Saguaro Palm Springs

4. Renaissance Esmerelda Resort and Spa

5. Renaissance Palm Springs

 

Best Indoor Fun/Activity

Escape Room Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Lanes Bowling

3. Get Air Trampoline Park

4. Escape Games at The River

 

Best Marijuana Dispensary

Joy of Life Wellness Center

 

Runners up:

2. PSA Organica

3. West Coast Cannabis Club

4. The Lighthouse

5. The Leaf El Paseo

 


Valley Professionals

 

Best Doctor

Dr. Laura Rush

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Michael Jardula

3. Dr. Amanda Curnock

4. Dr. Tulika Singh

5. Dr. David Morris

 

Best Eye Doctor

Milauskas Eye Institute

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Gregory McMahill (Costco)

3. Dr. David Esquibel (Desert Vision Optometry)

4. Dr. Keith Tokuhara (Desert Vision Center)

5. Dr. Gregory McFarland (Desert Eyecare Center)

 

Best Dentist/Orthodontist

Dr. Scott Shepherd (Palm Springs Family and Cosmetic Dentistry)

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Bruce Baumann (Palm Desert Smiles)

3. Dr. Carolyn Izu (Desert Dental Excellence)

4. Lake Dental Palm Springs

5. Hospitality Dental and Orthodontics

 

Best Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Mark Sofonio

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Dr. Scott Aaronson

Dr. Suzanne Quardt

4. Dr. Bruce Chisholm

5. Dr. Maria Lombardo

 

Best Attorney

Walker Clark

 

Runners up:

2. Christopher Heritage

3. Eric Rudolph

4. Renell Burch

5. Thurman Arnold

 

Best Air Conditioning Service

Comfort Air

 

Runners up:

2. General Air Conditioning

3. Timo’s Air Conditioning and Heating

4. Blair Heating and Air

5. Hyde’s Air Conditioning

 

Best Personal Trainer

Ted Guice

 

Runners up:

2. Jaime Jimenez

3. Derek Falk

4. Jay Nixon

5. Michael Butler

 

Best Chiropractor

TIE

Dr. Gina Davis

Dr. Stephanie Nazemi

 

Runners up:

3. Dr. Jim Cox

4. Dr. Naota Hashimoto

5. Dr. Terre York

 

Best Real Estate Agent

Shann Carr

 

Runners up:

2. Barbara Carpenter

3. Scott Histed

4. Paul Zapala

5. Gary Pisula

 

Best Public Servant

Rep. Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Mayor Geoff Kors

3. Palm Springs Councilmember Lisa Middleton

4. Sheriff Chad Bianco

5. La Quinta Councilmember Steve Sanchez


Fashion and Style

 

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Trina Turk

 

Runners up:

2. Wil Stiles

3. R&R Men’s Wear

4. Kimbals

5. Riga Designs

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

Revivals

 

Runners up:

2. Angel View

3. The Frippery

4. Plato’s Closet

5. Iconic Atomic

 

Best Furniture Store

Revivals

 

Runners up:

2. H3K Home

3. West Elm

4. Mathis Brothers

5. Erik’s Furniture

 

Best Antiques/Collectables Store

Antique Galleries of Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. The Estate Sale Co.

4. Sunny Dunes Antique Mall

5. Consign Design

 

Best Jewelry Store

Leeds and Son Fine Jewelers

 

Runners up:

2. Tiffany and Co.

3. El Paseo Jewelers

4. Hephaestus Jewelry

5. The Fine Jewelry Bar

 

Best Hair Salon

TIE

Brien O’Brien Salon

J. Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

3. Dishwater Blonde Salon

4. Palm Springs Fine Men’s Salon

5. Jake Turner Salon

 

Best Spa in a Resort/Hotel

Palm Springs Yacht Club at the Parker Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Sunstone Spa at Agua Caliente

3. Spa at the Ritz-Carlton

4. Agua Serena Spa at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells

5. Omni Rancho Las Palmas

 

Best Day Spa (Non-Resort/Hotel)

Palm Springs Fine Men’s Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Massage Envy

3. Studio M Salon and Spa

4. La Quinta Medspa

5. Bliss Chakra Spa

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Florist

3. Jensen’s Foods

4. Rancho Mirage Florist

5. Vaso Bello Celebrations

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

Cactus Tattoo Parlor

 

Runners up:

2. Anarchy and Ink Tattoo

3. Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

4. Heatstroke Tattoo

5. Strata Tattoo Lab

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Desert Vision Center

 

Runners up:

2. Ooh La La De Paris Eyewear

3. America’s Best

4. Panache Optical Gallery

5. CV Optometry


Outside!

 

Best Public Garden

Sunnylands

 

Runners up:

2. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

3. Moorten Botanical Garden

4. Wellness Park at Ruth Hardy Park

5. Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert

 

Best Place for Bicycling

CV Link

 

Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Creek Loop

3. La Quinta Cove

4. Joshua Tree

 

Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree National Park

 

Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons

3. Whitewater Preserve

4. Mount San Jacinto State Park

5. Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area

 

Best Hike

Indian Canyons

 

Runners up:

2. Bump and Grind Trail

3. Cross Trail Loop

4. Museum Trail

5. Art Smith Trail

 

Best Park

Ruth Hardy Park

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

3. Whitewater Park (Rancho Mirage Community Park)

4. La Quinta Civic Center Park

5. Panorama Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Big 5 Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Running Wild

3. Dick’s Sporting Goods

4. Yellow Mart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs/Palm Desert Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Bike Palm Springs

3. Joel’s Bicycle Shop

4. Tri-A-Bike

5. BikeMan

 

Best Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5 Sporting Goods

3. Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis

4, Yellow Mart

 

Best Public Golf Course

Desert Willow Golf Resort

 

Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort

3. Indian Wells Golf Resort

4. Classic Club Golf

5. Desert Dunes Golf


For the Kids

 

Best Playground

Ruth Hardy Park

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

3. Demuth Park

4. La Quinta Civic Center Park

5. Ironwood Park

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Target

 

Runners up:

2. The Lumpy Bunny

3. TIE

JadaBug’s Kids Boutique

Walmart

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

TIE

JadaBug’s Kids Boutique

Target

 

Runners up:

3. The Lumpy Bunny

4. The Children’s Place

5. Carter’s

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Old Spaghetti Factory

4. Jackalope Ranch

 

Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

3. Boomers

4. Escape Room Palm Springs

5. Get Air Trampoline Park

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 

Runners up:

2. Chuck E. Cheese’s

3. Boomers

4. Get Air Trampoline Park

5. Shakey’s Pizza


Food and Restaurants

 

Best Casual Eats

Bongo Johnny’s

 

Runners up:

2. Trio Restaurant

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Eureka!

5. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Best Caterer

Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Lynn Hammond Catering

4. Carousel Catering

5. Fusion Flair

 

Best Diner

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. Rick’s Restaurant

3. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

4. John’s Restaurant

5. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Best Organic Food Store

Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods Market

 

Runners up:

2. Nature’s Health Food and Café

3. Whole Foods

4. Luscious Lorraine’s

5. Sprouts Farmers Market

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. The Real Italian Deli

4. On the Mark

5. TKB Deli and Bakery

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

2. TIE

Nothing Bundt Cakes

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

4. Pastry Swan Bakery

5. Exquisite Desserts

 

Best Desserts

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. Over the Rainbow

3. Pastry Swan Bakery

4. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

5. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Kreem

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Ben and Jerry’s

4. Lappert’s Ice Cream

5. Ice Cream and Shop(pe) at Arrive

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Hadley’s

3. Great Shakes

4. Windmill Market

5. Palm Greens Café

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

Jus Chillin’

 

Runners up:

2. Tutti Frutti

3. Beach House

4. TIE

Yogurt Island

Yogurtland

 

Best Bakery

Peninsula Pastries

 

Runners up:

2. Aspen Mills

3. Townie Bagels, Bakery and Café

4. French Corner Café

5. Carousel Bakery

 

Best Barbecue

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

 

Runners up:

2. Smoke Tree BBQ

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

4. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

5. Jackalope Ranch

6. CV BBQ

 

Best Burger

Tyler’s Burgers

 

Runners up:

2. Tony’s Burgers

3. Eureka!

4. Grill-A-Burger

5. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Best Veggie Burger

Chef Tanya’s Kitchen

 

Runners up:

2. Native Foods Café

3. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

4. MidMod Café

5. Palm Greens Café

 

Best Sandwich

The Real Italian Deli

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

3. The Sandwich Spot

4. TKB Deli and Bakery

5. On the Mark

 

Best Pizza

Bill’s Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

3. The Hood Bar and Pizza

4. Piero’s PizzaVino

5. Norma’s Italian Kitchen

6. Papa Dan’s Pizza and Pasta

 

Best Wings

Smoke Tree BBQ

 

Runners up:

2. Wingstop

3. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

4. TIE

Billy Q’s

The Village Palm Springs

 

Best Bagels

Townie Bagels, Bakery and Café

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Panera Bread

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Jamba

3. Palm Greens Café

4. Nature’s Health Food and Café

5. Fruit Wonders

 

Best Buffet

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Three Palms Buffet at Agua Caliente

3. Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

4. Emperor Buffet

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Local Coffee Roaster

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Joshua Tree Coffee Company

3. Coachella Valley Coffee Company

 

Best Coffee Shop

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Ernest Coffee

3. IW Coffee

4. 4 Paws Coffee Co.

5. Just Java

 

Best California Cuisine

Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Spencer’s Restaurant

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Trio Restaurant

5. Acqua California Bistro

 

Best Breakfast

Wilma and Frieda’s

 

Runners up:

2. Cheeky’s

3. Sunshine Café

4. Louise’s Pantry

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Brunch

Jake’s Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Wilma and Frieda’s

3. The Tropicale

4. Trio Restaurant

5. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Best Chinese

Roly China Fusion

 

Runners up:

2. City Wok

3. PF Chang’s

4. JOY at Fantasy Springs

5. New Fortune Asian Cuisine

 

Best Greek

Evzin Mediterranean Cuisine

 

Runners up:

2. Nina’s Greek Cuisine

3. Santorini Gyro

4. Athena Gyro

5. Koutouki Greek Estiatorio

 

Best French

Le Vallauris Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Pomme Frite

3. L’Atelier Café

4. Cuistot Restaurant

5. Chez Pierre’s Bistro

 

Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine

 

Runners up:

2. India Oven

3. Its Taste of India

 

Best Italian

Il Corso

 

Runners up:

2. Ristorante Mamma Gina

3. Castelli’s Palm Desert

4. Mario’s Italian Cafe

5. Il Giardino

 

Best Japanese

Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey

 

Runners up:

2. Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

3. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

4. Shabu Shabu Zen

5. Joyce’s Sushi

 

Best Korean

Sam’s Korean BBQ and Teriyaki Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Umami Seoul

3. JOY at Fantasy Springs

4. Maru Korean BBQ and Grill

5. K-Tofu House

 

Best Sushi

Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey

 

Runners up:

2. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

3. Dragon Sushi

4. Kiyosaku Restaurant

5. Joyce’s Sushi

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

3. Ruben and Ozzy’s Oyster Bar and Grill

4. Eddie V’s Prime Seafood Restaurant

5. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

LG’s Prime Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Ruth’s Chris Steak House

3. The Steakhouse at Agua Caliente

4. Kaiser Grille

5. Morton’s The Steakhouse

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

3. Le Basil

4. My Thai

5. Blue Orchid

 

Best Vietnamese

533 Viet Fusion

 

Runners up:

2. Rooster and the Pig

3. Pho Vu

4. JOY at Fantasy Springs

5. Fuzion Five

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Chef Tanya’s Kitchen

 

Runners up:

2. Native Foods Café

3. Palm Greens Café

4. Nature’s Health Food and Café

5. Luscious Lorraine’s

 

Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Copley’s on Palm Canyon

3. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

4. Le Vallauris Restaurant

5. Jillian’s

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

3. Jackalope Ranch

4. The Tropicale

5. State Fare Bar and Kitchen at the Ritz-Carlton

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

Paul Bar/Food

 

Runners up:

2. Blackbook

3. The Tropicale

4. Revel Public House

5. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Best Mexican

TIE

El Mirasol

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

3. La Tablita

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Rincon Norteño

 

Best Salsa

El Mirasol

 

Runners up:

2. Las Casuelas Terraza

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Rincon Norteño

5. Armando’s Dakota Bar and Grill

 

Best Burrito

El Mirasol

 

Runners up:

2. El Ranchito Taco Shop

3. Las Casuelas Terraza

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Los Pepes Mexican Grill and Bar


Spirits and Nightlife

 

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. Revel Public House

3. Eureka!

4. The Beer Hunter

5. Burgers and Beer

 

Best Local Brewery

La Quinta Brewing Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

4. Las Palmas Brewing

5. Desert Beer Company

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Beer Hunter

4. AMP Sports Lounge

5. Neil’s Lounge

 

Best Cocktail Menu

Seymour’s

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

4. Trio Restaurant

5. Mr. Lyons Steak House

 

Best Craft Cocktails

Paul Bar/Food

 

Runners up:

2. Bootlegger Tiki

3. Seymour’s

4. Truss and Twine

5. Del Rey at the Villa Royale

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Hunters Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Blackbook

3. Chill Bar Palm Springs

4. Streetbar

5. The Roost

 

Best Happy Hour

Blackbook

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. Trio Restaurant

4. La Quinta Cliffhouse

5. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

 

Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Tool Shed

3. Fireside Lounge

4. Neil’s Lounge

5. Club 5

 

Best Margarita

Blue Coyote Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. El Mirasol

4. Las Casuelas Terraza

5. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

6. La Tablita

 

Best Martini

Paul Bar/Food

 

Runners up:

2. Melvyn’s Restaurant

3. The Tropicale

4. Spencer’s Restaurant

5. Lulu California Bistro

6. Zin American Bistro

 

Best Nightclub

Purple Room

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Chill Bar Palm Springs

Hunters Palm Springs

4. The Nest

5. Copa Palm Springs

 

Best Sports Bar

Big Rock Pub

 

Runners up:

2. The Beer Hunter

3. The Village Palm Springs

4. AMP Sports Lounge

5. Revel Public House

 

Best Wine Bar

V Wine Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Zin American Bistro

3. Dead or Alive

4. La Fe Wine Bar

5. Counter Reformation

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. On the Mark

4. Bouschet

5. Desert Wine Shop on 111

 

Best Bar Ambiance

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Paul Bar/Food

3. Stacy’s Palm Springs

4. Counter Reformation

5. Del Rey at Villa Royale

Published in Readers' Picks

The Gand Band has been a frequent performer in the Coachella Valley for years—during which the band has often kept the party going all night long.

The group, known for its unique and talented takes on 1960s cover songs, has been selected by Independent readers as this year’s Best Local Band. I recently spoke with Gary and Joan Gand via Zoom about the honor.

“I think it is so exciting,” Joan said. “I mean, it has been many years since we have been playing, and we see these contests come and go by, and we always kind of felt like maybe someday, we’ll be in one of these things. It is really welcome to get something like this to happen this year, especially since it is such a tough year for live music and for our band.”

Added Gary: “Yeah, it is really a thrill, because we have been at it for a really long time—you can tell,” he said, motioning to his long, white beard. “You know, we are not in it to win contests, but to make audiences happy. It is great when they respond to that.”

Joan said the band is a quartet—more or less.

“Gary plays the guitar, and I play keyboards, but a few years ago, I started playing bass on my keyboard as a way to keep the band smaller and to be in control,” Joan said. “We jam quite a bit, and when you are jamming, the bass player is very important, as they kind of lead where the song is going to go. We have two drummers that we work with. We actually have probably about six great drummers that have played with the Gand Band that we still stay in touch with … but it depends on who is available, who is on tour. Larry Mitchell is our main drummer; he plays with Lee Rocker from the Stray Cats, and when he is not on the road, he plays with us. We have various singers that appear with us, but our main singer is Dion Khan, and he is just a fantastic guy, a fantastic frontman. … Whatever the music calls for, whatever the show calls for, we’ll bring in people.”

The band is originally from Chicago, and the Gands made their mark in the Coachella Valley by bringing in some of that Chicago sound.

“When we first started playing in Palm Springs, the music scene was essentially made up of crooners—basically, singers accompanied by piano players doing a lot of Sinatra, Rat Pack stuff,” Gary said. “We thought that there was not enough R&B and Chicago blues around here. We are kids of the ’60s, so the music that we love is the music of the ’60s.”

Added Joan: “We were a blues band in Chicago for many, many years. We started coming out to Palm Springs for winters, and we thought it might be fun to see what the blues scene was like, so we showed up at a jam at one of the now-defunct clubs. It was a great place called The Blue Guitar. We sat in, and we had a great reception, and the music community was very welcoming. … We started playing a little bit at parties, and then we put a band together and started playing at venues. As we played, we discovered people loved blues, but they also loved having a little different music mixed in—some soul and Motown music, and some ’60s pop tunes, like Dusty Springfield. We just started expanding our horizons, and the audiences in Palm Springs loved that, so we just kept going.”

Gary sums up the band’s range thusly: “It was sort of like setting your iPod on 1961 to 1969. It was that whole gamut. So we could go anywhere from early Stax Records artists like Booker T. and the M.G.’s, to later ’60s with The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Cream. We really run the gamut from the Newport Jazz Festival to Woodstock.”

Incorporating their funky style into the scene wasn’t always easy.

“We were always told to turn it down,” said Joan. “We ran into that several times. We changed venues because of that. If they didn’t like it, we moved on.”

Added Gary: “Our basic formula was, if you can’t hear it, you can’t dance to it—and if you can’t dance to it, then you shouldn’t be coming to see us, because we want to see you on the dance floor. We don’t want to see you sitting in your seats talking to each other or trying to hook up. We are not background music.”

The band played every Thursday for several years at Oscar’s in downtown Palm Springs.

“On that patio, we could do anything,” Joan said. “During street fair night, we would get fantastic audiences every week of both locals and visitors. We ended up seeing people come back year after year, because they would book their vacation in Palm Springs every year and see the Gand Band as part of their vacation.”

The Gands said Oscar’s plays an important role in an upcoming project.

“We recently put on a concert which we filmed with Trini Lopez, who had some big folk-rock hits in the early 1960s,” Gary said. “He turned out to be our next-door neighbor.”

Added Joan: “He lived two houses down from us, and he was in his late 70s when we first met him. He was quite the star in the ’60s, and he still could sing great, so we had him do little guest spots with us.”

Said Gary: “Whenever we would get together with Trini, he would tell us these great stories about how Frank Sinatra signed him to his record label. Sinatra had his own record label called Reprise, and Trini was the first rock act on Reprise, because it used to be all Sinatra’s Rat Pack friends. … Whenever we would get together, he would tell us all the stories about all the famous people that used to come see him—Steve McQueen, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, all of the big stars from the early ’60s.

The Gands wanted to give Lopez the respect they felt he deserved.

“After telling us all these stories for so many years, and singing a few songs with us here and there, we teamed up with some local documentary filmmakers in Palm Springs,” Joan said; the film will be titled My Name Is Lopez. “They recently did a movie called House of Cardin that played in Palm Springs and was very popular. We asked them to create a documentary about Trini Lopez’s life and his experiences, and film a live concert at Oscars. We did this in 2019, and the film is now in post-production. It has taken a while, but it is going to be fantastic. We have both vintage footage and a concert that we all did together.

“He unfortunately passed away from COVID in August. That was really sad, so the film is even more important to us. We’re so glad we were able to capture his excitement on film, even when he was 83.”

Before the shutdown, the Gand Band regularly performed at theme nights at PS Underground.

“They do a really unique thing where they do a multi-course gourmet dinner, coordinated with music to a theme,” Joan said. “We were able to write our own shows to do there. We would come in and say, ‘We want to do a 1960s variety show kind of thing called The Beat, and these are the kinds of songs we would like to do, and these are the kinds of performers we would like to have.’ They would coordinate the food and have some 1960s recipes, and they also have great light projection, so we were able to project a lot of cool graphics on the wall behind us.”

While other bands have experimented with live-streamed shows, the Gands said they plan on holding off until performances can be held in person.

“We just really like playing for people, and when you are sitting in your room playing to a television camera and there is no interaction, that really doesn’t turn us on,” Gary said. “We are really there for the audience and the live performance and the interaction with the people—applauding at the end, and the whole thing.”

For more information, visit www.thegandband.com.

Published in Features

October is here, and in theory, we should begin to get some relief from the oppressive heat.

In theory.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has two excellent events coming up that you probably shouldn’t miss. First, the Experience Hendrix Tour will be coming through at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11. The lineup is packed with big names, including Buddy Guy, Billy Cox, Zakk Wylde, Jonny Lang and many others. As you can probably guess from the name, the tour pays homage to Jimi Hendrix, and has been going for more than a decade. Tickets are $29 to $69. And now for something completely different: Cheech and Chong and WAR will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24. Cheech and Chong are the comedy world’s biggest stoners, of course, thanks in part to films such as Up in Smoke, Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie, and Nice Dreams. And if anybody asks, Dave’s not here, man. Tickets are $29 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has two fine events scheduled. The Beach Boys will be performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3. Former Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson came through the Coachella Valley in late August, so a performance by the Beach Boys should be a nice follow-up; however, keep in mind that technically, Mike Love is the only original member of this group of Beach Boys, although Bruce Johnston, a touring member since 1965, is also part of the lineup. There’s no word on whether or not John Stamos will be performing on the drums. Tickets are $45 to $75. Creedence Clearwater Revisited will be performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 17, featuring Creedence Clearwater Revival members Stu Cook (bass) and Doug Clifford (drums). The group formed in 1995 to play a couple of shows that a friend of theirs wanted to put on—and then they decided to tour. This did not sit well with Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty; Fogerty filed suit against Cook and Clifford, forcing them to perform under a different name until the courts ruled in favor of Cook and Clifford. Tickets are $40 to $60. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events worth mentioning. They’re back: Thunder From Down Under returns to Morongo at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3. Tickets are $25. If mostly naked men aren’t your thing, you’ll be happy to know that Paquita la del Barrio will be performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24. The renowned singer has been fighting sexism in Mexico since 1970—and she’ll put you on the spot if you give her any flak. This is a show definitely worth checking out. Tickets are $59 to $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

The Purple Room reopened as The Purple Room Restaurant and Stage just before Labor Day. Machin’, The Judy Show and The Michael Holmes Trio still have their usual weekly residencies, and the fine folks there have added the David Ring Duo on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. They play jazz and old favorites from the American Songbook. There is no cover. The Gand Band will be ending their snowbird season in Chicago and returning to the Purple Room at 8:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3. Tickets are $10. The Gand Band is also leading some themed events in October, such as Tiki Chic on Friday, Oct. 10, and an ’80s Halloween on Friday, Oct. 31. The Purple Room Restaurant and Stage, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa in Palm Springs has a full calendar in October. At 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 2, and 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3, Suzanne Westenhoefer will be appearing. Known as a panelist on GSN’s I’ve Got a Secret, and for her LOGO Television comedy special A Bottom on Top, this lesbian comedian will have you laughing for sure. Tickets are $20 to $40. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11, Gloria Loring will be stopping by. The actress and singer has released several albums and helped compose the theme songs for Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. Fun fact: She was married to Alan Thicke—and is Robin Thicke’s mom. Tickets are $40 to $60. Jazz singer/songwriter Tony DeSare will be appearing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 18. DeSare’s songs have appeared in films such as The Tooth Fairy and My Date With Drew. Tickets are $20 to $40. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has booked several great shows. Dawes will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11. The Los Angeles folk-rock band has played the late-night talk shows, performed with Jackson Browne at an Occupy Wall Street event, and received acclaim from critics and fans alike for their albums. Tickets are $25. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 15, The New Pornographers (above) will be performing an outdoor show. The band’s blend of pop and indie-rock has made them popular since they formed in 1999. If that’s not enough to convince you, consider the lineup: Neko Case, Dan Bejar of Destroyer, Kathryn Calder of Immaculate Machine, John Collins of The Evaporators, Todd Fancey of Limblifter, and independent filmmaker Blaine Thurier. Wow. Tickets are $30. Tycho with Com Truise will be at Pappy’s at 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 26. Tycho is a well-known ambient-music artist and producer, and Com Truise is a solid name in dance music. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hard Rock Hotel’s schedule is heating up. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24, it will be “Dive-In Movies” night, with the Palm Springs Film Society screening the Talking Heads concert film, Stop Making Sense, in the pool area. It’s a perfect pairing of venue and film, isn’t it? Admission is free. BB Ingle will be having his Annual Halloween Bash at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31. I can vouch for the fact that it’s a lot of fun. Tickets are $20 in advance, or $30 at the door; 21 and older only. Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9676; www.hrhpalmsprings.com.

Bar is hosting a special event at 9:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 9. The Rebel Noise will be playing the first show of the band’s California tour for the hometown crowd. Also on the bill are CIVX and former War Drum guitarist John Marek. Admission is free. Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs; 760-537-7337; www.barwastaken.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has two events that should not be missed. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3,punk veterans Guttermouth will be returning to The Hood. The controversial and humorous punk band puts on an excellent show. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31, the Koffin Kats (below) will be stopping by for a Halloween show. The Detroit psychobilly group’s performance would be a perfect way to celebrate Halloween. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Date Shed is back with an encouraging calendar of events going into 2015. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11, rapper and producer Warren G will be performing. In 1994, his song “Regulate” was a major hit. Tickets are $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe Street, Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Here’s some advance notice about an early-November event: Celebrate the Day of the Dead on Saturday, Nov. 1, and Sunday, Nov. 2, at the Dia De Los Muertos festival in Coachella, at Rancho Las Flores Park. Scheduled to perform are Chicano Batman, Noel Torres, Banda Nachos, La Santa Cecilia, La Bikina and others. There will be food vendors, art exhibitions, and many other things Day of the Dead. This is a great event for all ages. Tickets start at $20. Rancho Las Flores Park is located at 48350 Van Buren St. in Coachella. For more information, visit www.diadelosmuertosusa.com.

Published in Previews

From Thursday, Feb. 13, through Sunday, Feb. 23, Modernism Week will take over the Coachella Valley with an overwhelming number of events celebrating midcentury architecture and design.

We’ve scoured the calendars, and here are five happenings that caught our eye. For a complete list of events, visit www.modernismweek.com—and do so soon, as many of the events will sell out, if they have not already. (As of our press deadline, tickets were still available for these events.)

Modern Mambo! At Caliente Tropics

Caliente Tropics will celebrate the opening of Modernism Week with—what else?—a mambo party! From 8 to 11 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 13, enjoy a Havana-themed party featuring DJ Alf Alpha; cocktails by Ultimat Vodka; chocolate treats by Godiva; and great food from the fine folks Crave. Tickets are $150; visit www.modernismweek.com. Caliente Tropics is located at 411 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs; 760-327-1391.

Modernism Week After Dark at the Purple Room

Gary and Joan Gand—you probably know them as the Gand Band—have put together an impressive schedule of music at the Purple Room during Modernism Week. On Friday, Feb. 14, the Gand Band will perform a “Motown to Memphis” show featuring Tony Grandberry. The following night, they will be joined by special guests to re-live the music from the iconic 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, the Blue Hawaiians will perform on Surf Rock night. Costs vary. For a full itinerary, visit www.purpleroompalmsprings.com, or call 760-322-4422. The Purple Room is located at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs.

Never Built Palm Springs

From 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15, the Saguaro Palm Springs will host a panel discussion led by Erin Feher, editor of California Home+Design. Panelists include Sidney Williams of the Palm Springs Art Museum; Lance O’Donnell of o2 Architecture; Jennifer Siegal of the Office and Mobile Design firm; and others. The topic of the discussion: the Palm Springs that “could have been.” Panelists will address a series of proposed projects that were—as the title of the event says—never built. Tickets are $15—or for $30, enjoy the talk after brunch at Tinto. Head to www.modernismweek.com for tickets. The Saguaro Palm Springs is at 1800 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-323-1711.

Showing of ‘Mid Century Moderns: The Homes That Define Palm Springs’

At 1 p.m., Monday, Feb. 17, the Horizon Ballroom at the Hilton will host a screening of the film Mid Century Moderns: The Homes That Define Palm Springs. The movie examines the homes of the Alexander Construction Company, which designed homes in Twin Palms, Vista Las Palmas and the Racquet Club Estates. It also takes a look at the Alexander Homes, which have never been shown on public tours. Tickets are $12; get them at www.modernismweek.com. The Hilton is at 400 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in Palm Springs; 760-320-6868.

Hugh M. Kaptur: Gentle Giant of Desert Design

The Palm Springs Public Library will feature a free lecture by Matt Burkholz on Hugh M. Kaptur, the architect who will be in the spotlight this year during Modernism Week. Kaptur was one of the youngest of the now-renowned midcentury modernist architects, and was a major force in the Coachella Valley’s architecture world, designing 200 residences, commercial and recreation centers, hotels and other structures. Seating is first-come, first served for the lecture, which begins at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 22; library doors open at 10 a.m. The Palm Springs Public Library is located at 300 S. Sunrise Way; 760-322-7323.

Published in Features

The Purple Room at the Club Trinidad became a legendary place to have dinner and watch a performance in the 1960s, thanks in part to appearances by the Rat Pack.

After numerous changes over the years, the Purple Room is under brand-new management, and has gone through a complete makeover in an effort to return the classic venue to its glory days.

Who is in charge of the entertainment aspect of this ambitious effort? None other than Gary and Joan Gand, who handle booking for the venue, and themselves play Friday and Saturday nights at the Purple Room.

The Gand Band’s story starts long before the Gands' arrival here in Palm Springs—back in the city of Chicago.

“We met when we were 17 years old,” said Joan Gand. “Gary was a guitarist in my friend’s band, and I was the keyboardist in another blues band.”

Said Gary: “She was going out with the drummer. I was determined to steal her away from the drummer.”

Responded Joan: “We’ve been together and playing music ever since, and we won’t tell how many years that is.”

The Gands were part of the Chicago blues scene, playing in legendary clubs around Chicago and getting to know some of the well-known Windy City blues musicians.

“In Chicago, the blues for us as musicians was every day,” said Gary Gand. “You go to the liquor store, and you’d see Muddy Waters—he was a local guy. It wasn’t until the Rolling Stones came out later talking about how great Chicago blues was, the Chess (Records) sound and all that stuff, that we really thought it was special, and that wasn’t going on in the rest of the world.”

Blues music definitely runs deep in the Gand’s repertoire.

“It’s the emotion of (the blues),” Gary explained. “Blues is about the hardships that are in your life every day. (In) the great music, whether it’s blues, classical or country, there’s always a story of sorrow. You lost a woman; you lost your castle; you lost a war—there’s a whole religion built around that stuff.

Joan Gand credited a high school friend for introducing her to blues.

“I was taking jazz theory and messing around with improvisation,” she said. “A friend of mine who was two years older than me and had a blues band heard me playing in the music department at school. He said, ‘You should come play in my blues band!’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t know anything about blues,’ and he said, ‘You don’t have to; if you know jazz, jazz is based on blues.’ I went and played in his band, and ever since then, I’ve always been a fan of blues and that whole world. From a keyboardist’s perspective, it’s just great music to play, and I really enjoy it.”

The Gands later headed to Palm Springs, and played regularly at the late, lamented Blue Guitar.

“We ended up coming to Palm Springs because of the modernism thing going on,” said Joan Gand. “With the architecture preservation, all the amazing buildings in town, and the whole town of Palm Springs, we just fell in love with it from the architecture point of view. That’s a hobby of ours, and we collect modernism furniture—and, of course, that fits in with guitars from the era. All that design adds together with the music, so we got deeply involved in that.”

Their favorite local show thus far was put together by the Palm Springs Art Museum at the Bob Hope house.

“We played a fundraiser there, and when we were looking for an area to set up the band, we discovered this huge outdoor fireplace made out of concrete,” said Joan Gand. “They weren’t using it, and it was a warm night, and it actually looked like a giant stage. Imagine a fireplace that big—that a whole band could fit in there.”

Gary added: “When I went into the backyard, it was right off the patio. I said, ‘Oh, look, they got a stage right here.’ I was talking to the house manager, and I asked, ‘What’s that big pile of wood for?’ and he said, ‘That’s for the fireplace.’ I asked him, ‘Where’s that?’ and he said, ‘You’re standing in it.’ I asked, ‘Are you planning to use it tonight?’ He said, ‘No,’ and I said, ‘Great! Then we’ll set up in here in the fireplace.’ That was really fun.”

After playing fundraisers and home shows—one of which included Max Weinberg, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band’s drummer—friends convinced them to seek a new local regular gig. However, it was not easy to do; they said there was not much variety in the local scene, and many venues wrapped up entertainment around 9 p.m.

After some residencies in various local places, they found the Purple Room last season.

“When we played here last year during the season, it was barely making it,” said Joan Gand. “It hadn’t been renovated in a long time; it had been reopened by new management who didn’t know what they needed to do to make it work. We have a lot of fans in Palm Springs, and they would come because there was nowhere to hear this music. It would be just packed in here, and when they tried to do other nights of music, no one would come, because (the other acts) didn’t have a following.”

Gary Gand shared a pet peeve that he and Joan share.

“It was a lot of track acts—people singing around with their computer,” said Gary Gand. “Our policy here is no tracks: It’s live musicians playing live music in front of a live audience. Everything that comes off the stage is someone playing a musical instrument. DJs are great for the late-night dance crowd, but that’s not a substitute for a live band playing music. We’re cool with (DJs), but what we’re not cool with is a guy crooning along to his laptop.”

When Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen, the owners of TRIO, took over management of the Purple Room over the summer—remodeling it and returning food service to the venue—they brought in the Gands to put together a great music program. They have put together residencies that include local band Machin’, jazz musician Michael Holmes, and Barry Minniefield, a singing chef who performs soul music. The Gands have a special musical lineup planned for Modernism Week in February, too.

As a result of the music, the food and the renovated venue, business has been pretty good since the October reopening.

“It’s been very well-received by the public,” said Marchese. “All the old groups are coming out again. For the past six weeks or so, it’s been awesome. We’re 40 percent above what we thought we were going to do.”

Joan Gand said they want to make sure the Purple Room stays true to its roots.

“The main point of everything is to preserve the traditions of live music and roots music,” she said. “If people don’t hear it performed live, it will be forgotten.”

The Purple Room, at the Club Trinidad at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, is open from 3 p.m. to midnight, Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday; and 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday. Live music is featured every night. For more information, including a complete schedule, call 760-322-4422, or visit purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The month of December is full of holiday magic—and many of the local venues are bringing in great holiday-themed shows, along with other worthy acts.

The Palm Springs Festival of Lights starts at 5:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. It’s a huge parade on Palm Canyon Drive featuring floats, marching bands and other special participants. Past guests have included the Budweiser Clydesdales, Snoopy and the Gang, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Attendance is free. 760-323-8276; www.psfestivaloflights.com.

The newly formed Modern Men, the Coachella Valley Men’s Chorus, is holding an inaugural concert at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs. There will be a second performance at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Tickets are $20. The chorus is also asking those who attend to bring a nonperishable food item to donate to the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s NestEggg Food Bank. Temple Isaiah, 332 W. Alejo Road, Palm Springs; 760-992-5109; www.modernmen.org.

The Classic Club in Palm Desert will host a special fundraiser thrown by Opera Arts and the Steinway Society for their children’s music programs in the Coachella Valley. For the Children starts at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8, with a wine-and-cheese reception; it’s followed by a sit-down dinner at 7:15 p.m., and a musical presentation at 8:15 p.m. with Shana Blake Hill and Gregorio Gonzalez. Tickets are $125. 75200 Classic Club Drive, Palm Desert; 760-323-8353; www.operaartspalmsprings.org.

The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus will be performing their holiday concert “With Bells On” at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, and 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Palm Springs High School Auditorium. They say they’re going to be performing a mix of sentimental, spiritual, humorous and classical songs. Tickets are $25 to $50. 2401 E. Baristo Road; www.psgmc.com.

The city of Palm Springs is hosting yet more special events at Forever Marilyn. The free Forever Marilyn Holiday Concert Series will take place at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21, and 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 22. The performers include Celine Dion tribute performer Brigitte Valdez, Just Like That and local band New Sensations. 101 N. Palm Canyon Drive; www.visitpalmsprings.com.

The McCallum Theatre certainly is the place to be during the month of December. The McCallum will host The Ten Tenors for five shows, Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8. The Australian musical ensemble is well known for choral covers of Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” as well as other pop and rock classics. Here, they will be performing an all-new show of holiday classics. Tickets are $25 to $95. Willie Nelson will be making a stop at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 17. The Red Headed Stranger is still going strong at 80 years of age; he’s still doing what he can to help out farmers through his Farm Aid concerts; and, yes, he’s still advocating for the legalization of marijuana. Tickets are $60 to $100. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Of course, the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some fine holiday shows on tap in December. Jazz saxophonist Dave Koz will be performing a Christmas show at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14. He’ll be bringing special guests Oleta Adams, Jonathan Butler and Keiko Matsui. Tickets are $40 to $60. If you’re suffering from a Christmas hangover, Chris Isaak can help at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27. While Isaak is a well-known actor with roles in Little Buddha, The Silence of the Lambs and The Informers, he’s also a brilliant recording artist with a music career that goes back almost 30 years. Tickets are $40 to $75. At 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Agua Caliente will be hosting Danny Bonaduce’s ex-wife, Gretchen Bonaduce, and her band, The Fatal ’80s. I don’t know what to make of a woman who divorces Danny Bonaduce and continues to keep that last name, but more power to her! Tickets are $25. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will be hosting Mannheim Steamroller (right) at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Not to be confused with the near-heavy-metal, prog-rock Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mannheim Streamroller is also known for holiday shows full of MIDI-sounding keyboards and an electronic-symphony sound. Tickets are $39 to $69. America’s Got Talent star Jackie Evancho will be appearing at Fantasy Springs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14. Evancho, now 13, won the hearts of America during the fifth season of the show and finished as the runner-up—sparking outrage among her fans who felt she should have won the competition over Michael Grimm. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino is hosting the Winter Gathering Pow Wow from Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8. The pow wow will include Native American tribes from across the country sharing clothing, dances, songs, arts, crafts and food. There will also be a drum and dance contest. Hours are 7 to 11 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6; 1 to 11 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7; and 1 to 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8. Admission is free. The Spinners, a legendary Motown R&B group, will be making a stop at Spotlight 29 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 28. Most of the original members of the Spinners are not active, but original member Henry Fambrough remains. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Stayin’ Alive, a tribute to the Bee Gees, will ring in 2014. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a solid schedule for December. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13, Charo will be performing. The Spanish-American actress known for both her campy comedy and her flamenco-guitar music is still going strong—and she’s a huge hit in the LGBT community. Tickets are $20 to $29. Hiroshima plays at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 20. The Japanese-American act was a hit in the ’70s in the electric-jazz scene, and even performed as the opening act for Miles Davis. While the band has gone through several lineup changes, Dan Kuramoto, June Kuramoto and Danny Yamamoto are still around. Tickets are $15 to $20. Morongo’s Vibe Nightclub will host a New Year’s Eve Party at 10:30 p.m. The Dazz Band will be performing their high-energy R&B to bring in 2014. Tickets are $25, or $40 on the day of the show. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s will be hosting Dengue Fever (the band, not the virus) at 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7; the show is one of the highlights of an absolutely packed month for the Pioneertown venue. The Los Angeles band is known for combining Cambodian pop music with psychedelic rock—a unique and eccentric combination. If that wasn’t enough, Jesika von Rabbit from Gram Rabbit will be the opening act, performing under the moniker JVR. Tickets are $10. Pappy’s will be throwing a New Year’s Eve concert featuring the blues-rock sound of the Paul Chesne Band. Doors open at 6, and tickets are $5. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert has established itself as a hot place to be, especially after November’s show with Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. Rick Thorne and his band Thorne will play at 10 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6. Thorne is one of the most-recognizable BMX riders around today—but he also puts on an excellent show as a punk-band frontman. Attendance is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21, The Hood will host Strung Out. The Simi Valley band has been performing its brand of punk since 1992 and has been on Fat Wreck Chords since its debut, Another Day in Paradise, in 1994. There’s talk of a new record coming out in 2014. Given the intimate size of The Hood, Strung Out should be another wild show. The cost is $10 at the door for those 21 and older; or $15 for those 18 to 20. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com.

Clinic Bar and Lounge in Palm Springs is picking up steam with a regular schedule of music nights. On Thursdays at 9 p.m., Symara Stone hosts Spotlight, a local talent showcase. A variety of performers bring their own instruments, and it’s guaranteed to be a good time. On Wednesday nights at 10 p.m., Derek Gregg and Sean Poe, now known as the Hive Minds, are putting on a show. Considering the quality of Derek’s originals, it’s not a surprise he’s continuing to make a name for himself in the local music scene. Clinic Bar has a lot more to offer with regular DJ sets by talented people including Independent resident DJ Alex Harrington (aka All Night Shoes) and various other music nights. Admission is free. Clinic Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-864-4119; www.clinicbarps.com.

The Purple Room in Palm Springs is back, and the Rat Pack-inspired lounge is now hosting a regular schedule of shows. The Judy Show, a comedy and song show, will take place on Sunday nights at 9:30. Tickets are $20. The Gand Band will perform on Friday and Saturday nights at 9 p.m. The cost is $10. The Michael Holmes Trio will perform on “No Cover Wednesday” nights from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and Machin’ will be bringing the Spanglish Jive every Thursday at 7 p.m.; there is no cover. Watch the website for yet more shows. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Below: Strung Out: The Hood, Dec. 21.

Published in Previews

Crave Dessert Restaurant Re-Opening in New Digs

Crave, which its owners tout as Palm Springs’ first dessert restaurant, is reopening in a bigger space at 6 p.m., Friday, Oct. 18.

The restaurant—which opened in 2011 at 390 N. Palm Canyon Drive—has a new home at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 200. The new spot is on the second story and features two patios. Customers will now be able to enjoy tasty dessert treats, coffee, beer and wine while overlooking the goings-on at the Amado Road intersection.

Crave does not only have new digs; it also has some new owners: Original owner Davy Aker has been joined by Raymond McCallister and Larry Abel, co-owners of businesses including Abel McCallister Designs and the Party Lab.

Crave will be open Wednesday through Sunday. Watch www.craveps.com for more info.

Fantasy Springs Launches Cupcake Challenge

Cupcakes for a good cause—has there ever been a sweeter clause?

Forgive the bad poetry (or whatever the heck that was); we’re excited about the second annual Fantasy Cupcake Challenge, taking place from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 17, at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio.

Here’s how it works: Pros and non-pros alike can enter (by Sunday, Oct. 20) for prizes up to $750. Entrants then bake up a whole bunch of cupcakes (including four full-size entries and at least 300 tastes) and bring them in. The general public is invited to enjoy those tastes—tickets are $30, or $10 for kids age 3 to 11—and vote for their favorites while perusing a silent auction and enjoying live music.

Best of all: Proceeds go to Well in the Desert. In that spirit, anyone bringing three canned/nonperishable goods to the box office on the day of the event gets $5 off admission.

Yum. And yay!

Get more details at www.fantasyspringsresort.com/cupcakes.

Purple Room Update: Opening Planned for Oct. 24

More details have emerged about the revival of the Purple Room at Club Trinidad.

As we’ve previously reported, TRIO owners Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen have taken over management of the space at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, which has had a controversial year. Well, we now have an opening date: Thursday, Oct. 24, at 3 p.m.

The supper club and lounge will offer live music booked by Gary and Joan Gand, of the Gand Band, and will feature food service until midnight Tuesday through Thursday, as well as Sunday—with service going until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

“Our Continental menu will have a mix of everything,” Van Laanen said in a news release. “From deviled eggs and Sloppy Joe sliders to fresh seafood and steaks, we’ll have delicious options for every palate.”

Get more details at purpleroompalmsprings.com.

In Brief

The Miramonte Resort and Spa, 45000 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells, is launching a series of wine events for the season. “Le Serate di Vino” events will feature wines complemented with the food of executive chef Robert Nyerick; the first event, on Friday, Oct. 25, will be the Oyster Bay progressive wine dinner, with five New Zealand wines paired with hors d’oeuvres, three savory courses and dessert, all for $75. Call 760-341-7200 for reservations or more info. … Dragon Sushi, in the 68300 block of East Palm Canyon in Cathedral City, is now open. As reported in this space before, it’s the sister restaurant of the much-loved Dragon Sushi in Indio. … Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta, 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, held a Make My Pizza Challenge contest last month. Almost 200 folks entered, and the finalists were vetted on Sept. 19. The winning pizza: Christopher Giusto’s eggplant Parmesan pizza, featuring red sauce, breaded eggplant medallions, roast garlic, basil and ricotta cheese (pictured above). That’s not the only news from the Funkey family, which owns Giuseppe’s (as well as Bar in downtown Palm Springs): Next to Giuseppe’s is their soon-to-open Smoke Tree Supper Club. Watch for further details. … Bernie’s Lounge and Supper Club, featuring food by chef Jason Moffitt, will be opening soon at 292 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. … Earlier this year, a Kickstarter campaign went live with this pitch: “My name is Kelly McFall. With the help of my brother Kreg and my mother Jan, we are opening a restaurant in the El Paseo shopping district of Palm Desert." It went on: "Wilma and Frieda’s Cafe will be a full service breakfast and lunch farmhouse cafe with an urban twist.” The needed $50,000 was raised, and now the café, at 73575 El Paseo Drive, is open; details at www.wilmafrieda.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News