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Brian Blueskye

Nick Waterhouse is a rising star, and at the age of 27, he has found success playing rhythm and blues, jazz … and old-school soul?

Yes, that’s right, old-school soul. See for yourself when he stops by Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, March 15, for his third appearance at the Pioneertown venue.

The Southern California native first picked up the guitar at the age of 12. When he started to develop his interests in music, they were somewhat atypical for a teenager.

“It was one out of 100 songs on the radio,” Waterhouse said. “I remember hearing songs like ‘Gloria’ by Van Morrison or ‘Shop Around’ by The Miracles, and those all were more visceral than the stuff I had been exposed to. I just kept trying to chase that feeling.”

What were his peers listening to?

“Blink-182, Limp Bizkit and stuff like that,” Waterhouse said. “That all felt like fake anger. There was no relation or affirmation of life in that music.”

He honed his guitar skills by playing in a band while he was in high school. He moved to San Francisco to attend San Francisco State University; while there, he fronted another band. Unfortunately, San Francisco’s music scene didn’t seem to appreciate his musical ambitions. Nonetheless, he found inspiration while working at Rooky Ricardo’s Records in the Lower Haight.

“It’s great, because it also serves as a hub for other people to turn you on to things,” Waterhouse said about his time at the record store. “You get to meet other people and find out about other walks of life. Some of the most important people in my life, I’ve met in record stores, and not just over music. It’s a way to interact.”

Waterhouse also mentioned the pitfalls of becoming a music aficionado.

“Anybody who gets obsessed with collecting music … is never going to be fulfilled. You always want more,” Waterhouse said. “You just keep thinking, ‘If I just figure this out, I’ll be fine.’

“It’s a much better pursuit than gambling or drugs, I guess.”

In 2012, Waterhouse released his debut album, Time’s All Gone. After a successful North American tour, he moved his show to Europe. He also began recording his follow-up album, Holly, which is due out on March 4.

As Waterhouse’s career began taking off, he made time to collaborate with a childhood friend, Ty Segall, of Fuzz, the Ty Segall Band and other projects. While Segall is primarily known for playing rock—in fact, he’s said in interviews that Hawkwind is his favorite band—he and Waterhouse have found common ground. Waterhouse, for example, covered Segall’s “It #1.”

“We met when we were young,” Waterhouse said. “We were both playing in teenage rock ’n’ roll bands. To me, it’s really a testament to the fact that our music comes from the same place, but comes out differently. Ty expresses himself in a different way, but I felt like me covering his song put the differences aside.”

Holly features more of a jazz feel, an electric organ that Booker T. Jones would envy, and sleek guitar solos. It certainly shows Waterhouse’s progression in songwriting.

“I was really pleased,” Waterhouse said about the new album. “I’m just constantly working toward an ideal. If things are going right, it’s like I’m progressing any time I’m doing something. I see it as adding to a body of work or continuing to gain knowledge and experience. I was very fortunate to have a very talented crew of musicians on this record. I auditioned a lot of different people, and tried to record the record once before with different players, and this one I was really pleased with.”

While Holly is a great album, it did not take long to record.

“Most of the primary tracking, which was live, was done in about five days,” Waterhouse said. “The rest was sort of mixing and doing an overdub here and there. What’s funny is it’s kind of like launching a space explorer or something: You do a year of work, setting up and making sure everything is right, so you don’t blow yourself up.”

Waterhouse said his love of classic R&B and soul with a jazz influence comes naturally: There is no commercial influence, even though folk music, Americana and other older genres are again becoming popular with contemporary bands.

“I don’t get to control that stuff,” Waterhouse said. “My job is just to make the records. … It’s a filter people see music through. It’s kind of hard to make a case, and it’s like being guilty until proven innocent.”

He said people should look at music and its different eras and genres differently, perhaps.

“I think that people maybe need to use a different metric for interpreting art other than looking at other things and seeing it as a strictly corollary process,” he said. “I think that’s something fairly recent in Western culture, because in the past, it wasn’t that unusual for a 15th-century Italian painter to paint something that occurred in biblical times, or Shakespeare to write about something in Denmark that was already told. It’s not about the thing itself, but what’s being expressed through it.”

When it comes to Pappy and Harriet’s, Waterhouse said he feels a closeness to the Pioneertown venue.

“The place feels like my home,” Waterhouse said. “I grew up in Southern California. I used to race motorcycles in the desert until I was about 15, and my dad was a big desert guy. A desert roadhouse feels like where I was when I was a little kid—and that’s where I probably learned a lot about American music as well.”

Nick Waterhouse will perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $12. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 15:30

The Lucky 13: DJ Femme A

DJ Femme A (aka Annie Flores) has made a name for herself during her first year in the local music scene. She’s DJ’d special events at Saks Fifth Avenue (on El Paseo in Palm Desert) and for the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. She also performs regularly at Clinic Bar and Lounge in Palm Springs. She can mix up a variety of different genres, from hip hop and Top 40 all the way to EDM. Hear more and get more info at soundcloud.com/femme-a—and enjoy her answers to the Lucky 13!

What was the first concert you attended?

The first concerts I attended were concerts through the Los Angeles-based radio station KROQ, and they all had tons of different bands playing, but I remember enjoying Linkin Park, Incubus and Hot Hot Heat.

What was the first album you owned?  

Wow, I feel really old, because I don’t remember what my exact first album was, but I know that I owned a bunch of “singles” cassette tapes, and they were mostly R&B and hip hop: Soul for Real, The Notorious B.I.G., New Edition, Michael Jackson and Mary J. Blige, to name a few.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Bands? Lately, I’ve been listening to Santigold, Salt-n-Pepa and some psytrance, when I work out and drive.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

(English dance-music group) Above and Beyond. Is that even considered EDM?

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I’d like to see a sweet DJ (maybe Day Din) in Germany at a festival; I’ve seen videos on YouTube and they look awesome. Santigold would be nice to see as well.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

When I really, really love a song, I can listen to it on repeat for days.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I’ve been to a handful of outdoors events and festivals, and they are, by far, my favorite. (I love the) feeling of being free, having friends with you, dancing during the day and at night, frolicking in the grass, and the fact that I don’t need to be dressed up or wearing heels as one would for a “nightclub.”

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Ey, ey, ey, ey, you don’t lie,” from “Unstoppable” by Santigold.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The Cure! I first heard them when I was 18. I went to this small club/dive bar every Sunday night that played new-wave and electro, and I remember whenever “Just Like Heaven” played on those club speakers, we’d drop our dirty cigarettes and run to the dance floor. Having that music during that moment in my life created memories for some of the best times of my late teens and early 20s—being young, free, underage and having fun. During that same period, I discovered so many new types of sounds that still influence me today, like Benny Benassi, and Felix Da Housecat and Miss Kittin (which led to me have an appreciation for EDM—electro house, progressive house and psytrance, to be exact).

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

The question is for Gwen Stefani: “Will you marry me?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Wolfsheim, “Once in a Lifetime.”

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Chali 2na’s “Gadget Go Go.” (Scroll down to hear it!)

Friday, 14 February 2014 08:00

The Lucky 13: MIX 100.5's Valerie Kattz

If you’ve listened to MIX 100.5 (KPSI FM) during the midday hours, you’ve heard local radio DJ Valerie Kattz. Valerie has been on the radio locally since 1993, when she moved to Palm Springs and started with RR Broadcasting. She donates a lot of her time to local animal-related charities, such as Loving All Animals. She recently took some time away from her busy schedule to answer The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

George Strait and Highway 101 in Lake Charles, La. I was 15 at the time.

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I remember begging my parents to purchase for me was Michael Jackson's Thriller.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I'm at work, and "Why Can't We Be Friends?" by War is playing on the overhead at this time. Oh, the joys of working at a radio station!

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I do not get rap/hip hop music. Apparently, I am just not THAT down with my homies, yo.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

My dream performance would be to see Journey reunite with Steve Perry. Journey is my all-time favorite band, and I would love to see them in concert one day.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

1980s music is my favorite, and I don't feel guilty at all!

What’s your favorite music venue?

I think we have a lot of nice venues in the desert. The casinos offer good acts, and the rooms are intimate enough to make you feel like you’re pretty close, even if you have the worst seats in the house. The Show at Agua Caliente is a really nice venue, as is the McCallum Theatre. For bars, I love the Palm Canyon Roadhouse. It's a fun place; the owners are great, and they always have great local musicians playing. But my absolute favorite is whichever one my boyfriend's band, Lost in Los Angeles, is playing at—so call me if you want to book them.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Don't stop believin’, hold on to that feeling,” from Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” (It runs on a loop non-stop in my head.)

What band or artist changed your life? How?

I would have to say there were different bands for different stages of my youth. It started out with Duran Duran, then in junior high, it was Mötley Crüe and all the "big hair" bands. In high school, I became a huge of alternative music, with Depeche Mode being my favorite. My all-time favorite is Journey.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Steve Perry: "Will you PLEASE get back with Journey and go on tour?"

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Don't even like thinking about this one.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Journey, Greatest Hits.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

You can probably guess where this is going by now: "Don't Stop Believin.” I will never stop believin'!

Many people have a hard time understanding and grasping transgenderism—and a local woman, Kaitlin Sine Riordan, is trying to change that by telling her story with her book, Bondage of Self.

Born a boy, Riordan was raised in Richmond, Va., by a father who was extremely self-disciplined and into bodybuilding, and a mother who was a housewife. During her childhood, she found herself confused about her gender identity.

She describes a moment, when she was 6 years old, on a shopping trip with her mother: She was playing with dresses in a clothing store. When her mother said she would tell Riordan’s father, she disciplined herself by bashing a toy rifle against her legs, leaving big, purple welts. It turns out that her father was cold and indifferent to the whole matter.

Riordan also shares details about her life as a teenager—revealing a person in serious pain. She played basketball and displayed the typical masculinity of a teenage boy, but would find ways to be home alone so she could wear women’s clothing. She later got married and was a devoted husband and father—but Riordan drank, straining the relationship with her wife and children. She was in management at a Philip Morris production plant, but secrets in the workplace eventually forced her into early retirement.

A key moment in Riordan’s life occurred when she started a relationship with a female co-worker who had no problem with Riordan’s love of dressing in women’s clothing; that woman would go on to become Riordan’s second wife. Meanwhile, Riordan started to reach out to others who were dealing with gender-identity struggles, including a support group who sought to embrace and encourage members to come as their “true gender.”

Riordan eventually found the support and the courage to go through the process of transitioning from male to female. She also confronted her alcoholism at Michael’s House in Palm Springs in 2008, after which she returned home and went through with her gender-reassignment surgery.

It’s obviously been a long road for Riordan, and she shows great courage in telling her story. She details the ridicule that many transgendered people suffer through, as well as the struggles one goes through while in the process of transitioning—including problems with friends and family, and the interpersonal issues one deals with while going through the many preparations. In the end, Riordan has emerged as a stronger, happier person.

While the book is quite descriptive, it exhibits flaws that are all too common with books that are self-published: There are grammar and punctuation errors, and several of the chapters should be split. When I asked Riordan about these flaws, and she said she is working with an editor on a second edition which she hopes to have out soon.

Those errors aside, Bondage of Self is a book that not only someone who is going through transgenderism will appreciate; it’s also a great read for people who want to better understand the trials endured by men and women struggling with gender-identity issues.

Bondage of Self

By Kaitlin Sine Riordan

Purple Books Publishing

370 pages, $19.95

Renowned local architect Hugh Kaptur will be, in many ways, the star of this year’s Modernism Week, which kicks off this Thursday, Feb. 13.

At 2 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, he’ll be honored with a place on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, at the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Baristo Road. This is just one of several Modernism Week events focused on Kaptur.

Hugh Kaptur was born in Detroit in 1931. His father worked as a designer for General Motors and Packard—so you could say that he had some design inspiration from his father. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he moved to Palm Springs in 1956. He interned with Wexler and Harrison before being laid off; he then decided to strike out on his own and went on to design homes for the Ranch Construction Company. He designed the Palm Springs Fire Stations No. 3 and 4, as well as numerous homes, apartment complexes, office buildings and hotels, including the Casa Blanca, now known as the Musicland Hotel.

Matt Burkholz, a local Modernism historian and tour guide, will be giving a free lecture on Kaptur at the Palm Springs Library at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 22.

“Kaptur is the man for not only residential architecture in Palm Springs, but also commercial architecture in Palm Springs,” Burkholz said. “His most famous residential structures are the Steve McQueen house and the William Holden house. In terms of his commercial work, that would be pretty much everything on Tahquitz Canyon, which includes the 600-700 building right across the street from the Regal Cinemas, and the Fragen Building, which is a really early geo-berm building where the lawns go right up to the roof line. In fact, he even wanted grass on the roof.”

Burkholz says that the tour he will be doing at 1 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21 (tickets are $50 and available at www.modernismweek.com) will include the Ranch Club Estates, now known as the Desert Park Estates, and Racquet Club South, north of Vista Chino.

“In the ‘50s and ‘60s, (the homes) were really considered out of town—literally in the middle of Saharan-style sand dunes,” Burkholz said. “When the houses were finished, each homeowner was given a shovel to shovel blown sand away from their front doors, because it was that far out of town. Because the houses were out of town, and Kaptur is the kind of architect who is very aware of the area he’s designing for, the homes are extremely substantive and well-insulated—actually, much more so than the resort-style homes that are closer within town.”

While Kaptur’s work is considered part of the Modernism movement, elements of his work put Modernism to the test, and incorporate other architectural designs and a great deal of geometric inspiration.

“He’s not a purist Modernist architect,” Burkholz said. “He is interested in several different aspects of life here. A lot of the other local Modernist architects, like Albert Frey and William Cody, were influenced by Los Angeles architecture. Kaptur realized Palm Springs was an entirely different ecosystem and environment than Los Angeles. A lot of the things that were modern and stylish for L.A., aspects of them could work here. But we are more of a desert climate than a coastal climate, so he looked east of here to Arizona and New Mexico—things like … Santa Fe centennial architecture, and adobe architecture. They’re more substantive, and they can take the great heat, the wind, and can take the super-extreme conditions of our ecosystem here.”

There are some recognizable patterns and elements to Kaptur’s work. For example, he didn’t use that much steel.

“He didn’t think that steel heating up to 125 degrees baking in the sun was quite the right material,” Burkholz said. “He preferred stone, thick wood, and he did incorporate glass as well. He really looked around the area for his inspiration when it came to the mountains, to the east, to the Native American cliff dwellings, and caves. His style is not as sleekly futuristic. He lived so long and worked so long that as fashion and style changed, he moved from Jetsons futurism to more of an organic quality.”

Kaptur’s work is still relevant today, Burkholz said.

“He and his wife, Helen, are kind of an advertisement for life in the desert,” Burkholz said. “They’re older folks, but they’re great-looking; they live a fabulous life; they have a great home off Bogert Trail in the Southern part of town. Pretty much everyone involved in Palm Springs planning and Palm Springs politics knows him, because he’s been here since 1958. He’s part and parcel to the residential and commercial texture of the whole city.”

The Blue Hawaiians—a surf-rock band that came together in the ‘90s—will be playing at Purple Room on Tuesday, Feb. 18, as part of Modernism Week’s “Modernism After Dark.”

The surf-rock genre of the 1960s—with bands such as The Ventures, The Challengers, Link Wray and, of course, the legendary Dick Dale—was the inspiration for the Los Angeles-based band.

“It all starts with my friend Michelle, who owned the Lava Lounge in Los Angeles,” said bassist/front man Mark Fontana. “I was playing in a band in Laguna Beach at the time with the guitar-player and drummer of what would become the Blue Hawaiians. We had a band called the El Caminos, and Michelle was a huge fan of the El Caminos. She wanted us to play the Lava Lounge on New Year’s Eve. Joey—the singer we had (in the El Caminos)—would always say stuff to piss people off, and Michelle called me and asked, ‘Could you put a band together to play the club without Joey?’”

Fontana seized the opportunity and put together a surf-rock sound for the show.

“My favorite guitar-playing is a lot of the old, obscure surf tracks from the early ‘60s. It has such a great tone with that reverb and stuff, so I thought it was the perfect blend to do at the Lava Lounge,” he explained.

The Blue Hawaiians went on to make their mark and play many of the legendary venues in L.A., such as the Viper Room and the Hollywood Palladium; their music was also part of a successful ad campaign for GUESS? Jeans. Because of their affiliation with the late, lamented Lava Lounge, they made a fan out of Quentin Tarantino, who was working on From Dusk Till Dawn at the time.

“He used to hang out at the Lava Lounge,” Fontana said. “This is before Pulp Fiction. He dug what we were doing, and I think it somehow influenced the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, but I don’t know. It had the surf thing. He hired us to play for a set party on From Dusk Till Dawn with all the zombies or whatever the heck they were. Then he got so big that the last time I saw him at the Lava Lounge, I said, ‘That bastard! I’m going to get him for not putting us on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack!’

“But he left before I could beat him up.”

Being in a surf-rock band, Fontana is appropriately a surfer himself.

“The steel guitar-player and I surf on a more-regular basis than any of the other members,” he said. “I started surfing when I was 11, and I still surf today. I surf as much as I can. I love to get away from the cement, the people, the cars and technology. Sitting on the ocean and riding waves is a great form of meditation.”

As far as the dangers of surfing go, Fontana tries not to think too much about them. 

“If you throw sharks or big waves into the mix, it’s dangerous,” he said. “Anytime you deal with nature, there’s going to be some element of danger involved. Certainly with surfing, your surfboard can hit you in the head and knock you out, and you can drown. So, yeah, there’s definitely an element of danger. … Occasionally, I hear the theme song to Jaws playing in my head, and I start looking around for fins in the water, but you don’t see them too often.”

The Blue Hawaiians are one of the many bands that have contributed music to SpongeBob SquarePants. Fontana said he found the experience enjoyable—and it helped him become a hit with his own children.

“I think it was back in 1999. We were brought on in the early first season of the show,” he said. “It was really cool, and the thing that was cool about it: At the time, my son was about 4 years old. They sent me a VHS copy with some episodes for inspiration, and my son was literally falling off the sofa laughing so hard—and I was doing the same. I thought, ‘Man, they’ve really got something here when you have a 4-year-old falling off the sofa and an adult doing the same thing.’ It was really cool to be a part of that in the early day, and we still make money every quarter from BMI because of SpongeBob all these years later.”

Not long ago, the Blue Hawaiians took a two-year hiatus after their drummer Maxwell (Maxwellvision) moved to Colorado. While the Blue Hawaiians used to play three times a week, they now usually play a couple of times per month, on average.

The Blue Hawaiians’ show should fit in nicely at the Purple Room, due to the throwback nature of the band’s music.

“We have this unique ability to play for an audience and have a 15-year-old kid tell us, ‘Dude, you guys rock!’ and have someone in their late 50s say, ‘Wow, that was really cool!’” Fontana said. “We have this really unique thing that we do that can satisfy all these different age groups, which is actually hard to do.”

The Blue Hawaiians will perform at the Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Dinner begins at 7 p.m., with the show taking place at 8:30 p.m.; tickets for dinner and the show are $75. For tickets or more information, call 760-322-4422, or visit purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Despite a series of personal struggles, the multitalented Rick Springfield is still going strong—so don’t be surprised if he draws a large, female-dominated crowd to Fantasy Springs at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16.

The Australian-born Springfield is most remembered for his 1981 hit “Jessie’s Girl.” The single from his album Working Class Dog was an instant hit; it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, was played in heavy rotation when MTV launched later that year, and won him a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.

During a recent phone interview, Springfield discussed what made him want to play guitar.

“I was living in England when I was a kid, and I went to one of those horrible Christmas shows where everybody’s kid gets up and does what they think is a song,” he said. “This kid went onstage with a guitar, and I fell in love with it right away when I was about 10 years old.”

When Springfield was about 18, he joined a group called MPD Ltd.; they toured South Vietnam during the Vietnam War to entertain the troops. It was an experience that he would never forget and would write extensively about in his 2010 autobiography, Late, Late at Night.

“It was insane,” he said. “I could write a whole book on it. We were there for about six months. It was unbelievable. Looking back, it was a historic war, and we were right in there with the troops. We weren’t going out in the jungle fighting, but we were on the bases getting shot at, rocketed, mortared and almost killed by a hand grenade. When we got home, the band leader of MPD Ltd. died from a disease he caught over there, so it was a pretty brutal time. If you can survive rockets and mortars, someone throwing a beer can at you is nothing.”

After his stint in MPD Ltd., Springfield joined the Australian boy-band Zoot. When he joined the group, they were trying to shake their boy-band image. Their cover of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” became a hit in Australia, as did several songs that Springfield wrote, “Hey Pinky” and “The Freak.”

The group broke up in 1971, and Springfield struck out on his own, releasing his first album, Beginnings, in 1972; it was a modest hit in the U.S. and Australia. However, it wasn’t until Working Class Dog, with “Jessie’s Girl,” that he finally captured mainstream audiences.

One thing has been certain throughout his career: Ladies love him. He was the subject of a recent documentary, An Affair of the Heart, which showed some of his female fans talking about how much they love his live shows. Springfield said he’s experienced many instances of women hiding, sneaking into his hotel rooms, or otherwise trying to meet him.

“There was one lady in the ‘80s claiming she was an heiress to the Marriott family,” he said. “She just kind of got into the touring group and started getting us free hotel rooms at all the Marriott hotels we were staying at. After the tour, the FBI came looking for her because of all the bad checks she wrote to cover all the rooms. She was just a fan and made it all up. It was incredible; it lasted for three whole months, and she hung with the band the entire time on the road.”

Springfield laughed. “I’ve been looking for her, and I think I want her to work for me if she could fool us for that long.” 

While he’s long been a hit with the ladies thanks to his music, he picked up yet more female fans with his acting. He was added to the cast of daytime soap-opera General Hospital in 1981, around the time “Jessie’s Girl” became a hit. He stayed in role until 1983, and has returned to the show several times since 2005. He’s also appeared in various films, as well as the Showtime series Californication. When he started his career, he had no idea that he would also be successful as an actor.

“I picked up acting later on after the music thing in between record deals,” he said. “… As I’ve gotten older and more into it, it’s more fun, and I have more to offer in the acting world.”

While he has achieved a remarkable amount of success, he’s long struggled with depression-related issues. In 2000, he was arrested for spousal abuse. He was also arrested for driving under the influence on the Pacific Coast Highway in 2011, and reportedly threatened to kill the deputy and his family if his 1963 Corvette was towed. Through it all, his wife, Barbara, has stayed by his side for almost 30 years, as he’s received treatment.

“It wasn’t hard to ask for help, but it took a long time to recognize what it was,” he said. “Now we know what it is. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, I was just looked upon as a moody kid. It took a long time for me to really figure out I needed some help with it. I’ve been into a lot of therapy, which is great for a writer. I think that’s why a lot of writers are such depressed bastards.

“It’s a life sentence. It’s not like something you can go to rehab and fix. I just deal with it when it lands. I’m a lot more thankful for my life now, which is a big help. I meditate and do certain things I’ve learned that counter it. It’s all I can do.”

While music and acting are on his resume, you can also add novelist: He’s about to release his first novel, Magnificent Vibration, slated to hit shelves in May.

“My publisher pushed me to write more after I wrote my autobiography,” he said. “I wrote that without a ghost writer, and she really liked my writing voice and said I should be writing novels. I took up the challenge. I used to write when I was a kid, and I thought I’d be a writer before music took over, and it channeled itself into songwriting.”

In 2013, he collaborated with Dave Grohl on “The Man That Never Was” for the Sound City soundtrack. The release won the 2014 Grammy for Best Soundtrack.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “The Foo Fighters are all great musicians, and (Grohl) is a champion of music. He’s very open to everything. I’m still in touch with him, and I played a benefit with him a couple of months ago. The experience taught me that collaboration is a good thing. I kind of used to stay away from that in my younger days. It made me realize a lot of good things can come from it.”

While many artists who have had one song define their career get sick of singing their signature hit, Springfield said that he never gets tired of playing “Jessie’s Girl.”

“Joe Walsh had a great line when he played ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ for the 20,000th time: ‘If I knew I was going to play this song for the rest of my life, I would have written a different song.’ With ‘Jessie’s Girl,’ I think it’s a moderately complex pop song, and it’s really instrumental in my life. I have nothing but admiration and happiness for the song, and I’m glad that I wrote it.”

Rick Springfield will perform at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16, at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $29 to $49. For tickets or more information, call 800-827-2946, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The city of Palm Springs may be a hotbed of midcentury modern architecture—but the valley’s most exciting example of modernism may be found in Rancho Mirage: Sunnylands, the former desert home of Walter and Leonore Annenberg.

“Palm Springs Modernism Week in February is a real celebration of modernism architecture,” said Mary Perry, deputy director of communications and public affairs at Sunnylands. “(Sunnylands) is a very good example of midcentury modernism. It has a lot of the inside/outside feel.”

Formerly known as the Annenberg Estate, Sunnylands has hosted eight U.S. presidents—and it will host Barack Obama yet again on Feb. 14, when the president meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan at Sunnylands. (Yes, the president is crashing Modernism Week, in a sense.) It was the spot of a state dinner between President George H.W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu in 1990—the first state dinner ever held outside of the White House. Richard Nixon wrote his final State of the Union Address at Sunnylands, and returned to Sunnylands several months later to wind down following his resignation.

During the Islamic Revolution in the late 1970s, family members of the shah of Iran were offered refuge within the walls of Sunnylands. Queen Elizabeth II (pictured) had a lunch date with the Annenbergs there. The estate hosted a New Year’s Eve party in the house’s atrium that Ronald and Nancy Reagan attended every year for 18 years.

The estate was commissioned by the Annenbergs in 1963 and completed in 1966, after they chose A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons to design the house. Jones, a modernist architect, was truly an innovator and a man ahead of his time; his designs were sustainable and environmentally friendly, and many were compatible with surrounding wildlife and agriculture. In fact, the Annenbergs believed their home in Rancho Mirage was “bringing the outside in.”

Both Walter and Leonore Annenberg were devoted philanthropists. After Walter Annenberg sold TV Guide to Rupert Murdoch in 1988 for $3 billion, he would go on to give away $2 billion to causes ranging from the public-education system and the United Negro College Fund to art museums. His collection of art, estimated to be worth $1 billion, was given to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art upon his death.

The final thing he donated through the Annenberg Foundation Trust was Sunnylands itself. He left $300 million for upkeep and to maintain it as a retreat for leaders seeking to address serious issues facing the nation and the world. It was opened to the public on a limited basis in 2012.

With Modernism Week approaching, Sunnylands recently granted the Independent a tour of Sunnylands.


After driving through the gates and going down a winding road featuring cacti and gorgeous landscaping, visitors start at the visitors’ center, which sits on 15 acres of the 200-acre property.

When the center opened for limited tours in March 2012, they quickly sold out, yet people still wanted to know what was behind the pink security walls—hence the visitors’ center, which is open to everyone, for free, Thursdays through Sundays.

On the day of our tour, a women’s yoga class was slated to take place outside in the courtyard. The garden there includes various cacti and other desert plants; there’s also a meditative labyrinth through which guests can walk.

The visitors’ center includes interactive multimedia stations with information on various aspects of the estate; there’s also an impressive 3-D presentation (no glasses required) that shows the construction of the home. I highly recommend checking it out before you hop in the shuttle for your tour.

As the shuttle passed through part of the golf course to get to the estate, the guide explained the story behind the pink walls: Leonore Annenberg favored the color pink—especially pink oleanders. In the early ’90s, pink oleanders were starting to die off worldwide; meanwhile, added security was needed for a visit by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher—so when the needed wall was built, it was pink.

The wall is not the only pink element of Sunnylands: The pink pyramid-style roof was inspired by the Mayan pyramids, according to our tour guide.

When the shuttle pulls into the cul-de-sac in front of the estate, and the doors open, the view is breathtaking. Digitalized replicas of the original artwork that used to belong to Walter Annenberg are on the walls in the same locations as the originals. (The replicas were made by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.) Original furniture and sculptures are spread out through the atrium. A giant sculpture, complete with a fountain and pink flowers, sits in the middle of the atrium under the skylight.

The Room of Memories is a study-like room, with a sprawl of photos of everyone from Bob Hope to various presidents sitting on the shelves. While visitors are given time to inspect the various photos and objects, it’s nowhere enough time to take in all of the details—like the Chinese-influenced art underneath the glass top of a coffee table, for example.

The master bedroom suite has a spectacular view of a cactus garden and the grounds. When asked why the master bedroom does not offer mountain views, the tour guide explained that those views were reserved for guests—one of many hospitable acts by the Annenbergs. The guide also said that Walter loved birds so much that he had a microphone placed on a birdfeeder—with the sound sent into his dressing area, so he could hear it every morning as he started his day.

The vast majority of the furniture throughout the estate does not have modernist appeal; instead, much of it is what the tour guide called “Hollywood Victorian.” Walter Annenberg served as ambassador to the Court of St. James, which led to the Annenbergs living in London from 1969 to 1974—and when they returned to Rancho Mirage, they added a royal-themed sitting room to the estate and replaced most of their furniture with pieces inspired by Victorian furnishings. However, they did keep many of their beloved Qing Dynasty-inspired artifacts.

In the Yellow Room—a guest room in which the Reagans, Henry Kissinger and Bob Hope stayed—the yellow décor is overwhelming. The guide explained that the Annenbergs almost always had weekend visitors—and only weekend visitors. One of the embroidered pillows on the sofa in this room lightheartedly stresses that the guests will be leaving on Sunday—a personal rule that Walter Annenberg had for visitors to the estate.

As the tour ends, visitors are led around the estate’s nine-hole golf course where Walter Annenberg played golf with Ronald Reagan and Charles, Prince of Wales. Leonore Annenberg also enjoyed the course, holding a ladies’ only golf day that included Dinah Shore.


There’s no doubt the Annenbergs lived an elegant, expensive lifestyle. It’s hard to imagine what living there must have been like.

Today, Sunnylands remains a retreat for world leaders, including a meeting last year between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, it’s not just world leaders who come to Sunnylands; it is also the site of other types of retreats, high-level conferences and seminars—all related to world affairs and issues involving education. The Sunnylands estate does not charge for these retreats and seminars.

“We partner with the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and we held a two-day retreat here,” Perry said, offering an example of a recent event at the estate. “We hold this retreat for emerging filmmakers from all around the world who come to talk about how film can change the world. So, certainly, their topic fits in with our retreat. We’ve had medical; we’ve had education; and we’ve had some health-care retreats focused on HIV and the research that has just come out.”

Of course, Sunnylands is a modernist’s dream come true: On 200 acres, the 25,000-square-feet midcentury modern house, with many original art pieces still in the home, is a marvelous spectacle. It’s also a place that’s in demand: Tours require advance booking—and, alas, all of the Modernism Week tours are sold out. (During February, tickets for some March tours will go on sale.)

“The reason you have to buy them way in advance is because we always have to be ready for retreats,” Perry said. “… We need to be able to cancel tours if we have to—although we don’t like to cancel tours.” It's likely, in fact, that Obama's Feb. 14 visit will result in some tour cancellations.

If you do get a coveted tour spot, dress comfortably, and wear comfortable shoes—you’ll be standing for 45 minutes to an hour as you walk through the house. There is no photography inside the home due to what’s explained as national security reasons, but visitors are free to photograph at the visitors’ center.

The entrance to Sunnylands is located at 37977 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. The Sunnylands Center and Gardens is open for free from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Tickets for tours of the house and grounds are released in half-month blocks, and cost $35. For more information, visit sunnylands.org.

Monday, 03 February 2014 15:29

More Modernism: Some Events Worth Your Time

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.

It’s February, and you know what that means: Love is in the air for Valentine’s Day, and it’s also the month of Modernism Week.

Here are some local events during our shortest month.

The McCallum Theatre is booked solid through February with a ton of events. Cesar Millan will be stopping by the McCallum at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9. Although his famous show on the National Geographic Channel, Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan, has ended, Millan is still sharing his techniques and wisdom in the field of dog-training; this live show should be a real treat (no pun intended) for dog-owners. Tickets are $45 to $75. Frank Sinatra Jr. (right) will be stopping by post Valentine’s Day, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15. Although the younger Frank may be best known as the victim of a famous kidnapping, he is a talented performer in his own right, and has also branched out into acting over the years. Tickets are $45 to $85. Boz Scaggs will be at the McCallum at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 18. The sometimes-lead singer of the Steve Miller Band was a songwriting powerhouse in the ’70s and continues to put on a great show. Tickets are $55 to $95. Roberta Flack will be appearing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22. Flack had a No. 1 hit in with “Killing Me Softly With His Song”; The Fugees would return the song to the top of the charts in 1996. Tickets are $35 to $85. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

After a slower January, Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some fantastic events in the second half of February. If you’re a fan of soft rock, Air Supply (bottom of page) will be softly rocking for a special performance on Valentine’s Day, at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14. Tickets are $35 to $55. The great Johnny Mathis will be appearing at 6 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16. The romantic-ballads singer has been performing since 1956 and was one of a handful of crooners from his era who survived the wave of rock ’n’ roll. Tickets are $60 to $100. For fans of Jeff Dunham, you’ll be pleased to know that he will be joined by Walter, Peanut, Achmed the Dead Terrorist and the rest of the puppet gang at Agua Caliente at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22. Tickets are $85 to $135. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino doesn’t have a lot of events in February, but there are a couple worth noting. Kenny “Babyface” Edwards will be performing on Valentine’s Day, at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14. The ’80s R&B star has had a long and successful career; not bad for a guy who originally started playing with Bootsy Collins—the man who gave Edwards his famous “Babyface” moniker. Tickets are $55 to $75. There will also be a tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21. Attendance is free. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a spectacular list of events for February. Chicago will be appearing at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7. The band has been around since 1967, and still features four of the founding members. Since Terry Kath’s unintentional self-inflicted shooting death in 1978, the band has experienced a series of ups and downs, but they are survivors and have continued to make great music. Also: In Little Nicky, Adam Sandler discovered a rather hilarious subliminal message if you play their self-titled debut album backward during “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” If you haven’t seen it, YouTube it! It’ll blow your mind. Tickets are $39 to $69. CeeLo Green will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15. The singer of “F**k You” (or “Forget You,” whichever version you prefer) has managed to escape the potential one-hit wonder status used to describe his former project, Gnarls Barkley. While Danger Mouse swears that he and CeeLo will make another Gnarls Barkley album, Green’s success as a solo artist seems to throw that into question. Tickets are $39 to $69. Rick Springfield will be performing the following evening, at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16. The soap opera actor and “Jessie’s Girl” hit-maker has a fanatical, mostly female following. He’s still wildly popular and is the subject of a recent documentary, An Affair of the Heart, currently available via Netflix. Tickets are $29 to $49. Fresh out of bankruptcy court, Wayne Newton will be performing at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23. While Newton was the king of Vegas and has remained a music icon, recent photos of him seem to prove that age and plastic surgery don’t always go hand in hand. Tickets are $29 to $49. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, per usual, has some good shows booked for February. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 2, Futurebirds will be performing. The experimental indie band recently released a new album, Baba Yaga. They have been described as a “psychedelic country” band and have toured with the likes of the Drive-By Truckers, Widespread Panic and others. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, Pappy’s will host a Valentine’s Day show with Ferraby Lionheart. Lionheart is an indie-rock performer out of Los Angeles. He has some very catchy tunes that will make for a non-traditional Valentine’s Day show. Take your sweetheart to Pappy’s for some pre-show barbecue and then enjoy the show; you won’t be disappointed—plus admission is free. There will be a show not to miss from Moistboyz (right) at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 27. Moistboyz is a project that includes Dean Ween, formerly of Ween; Nick Oliveri, formerly of Queens of the Stone Age; and vocalist Guy Heller. The project has been around since 1994, when they released their debut album on the Beastie Boys’ now-defunct Grand Royal label. After the breakup of Dean and Gene Ween, it’s not a surprise Dean Ween has resurrected Moistboyz. The current touring lineup also includes Hoss Wright of Oliveri’s Mondo Generator. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

After requesting a list of events from The Date Shed, I was informed that the venue is now heading in a direction toward more private events. However, the venue still hosts shows from time to time. Along with the Tribal Seeds show, The Date Shed has Ozzmania booked at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7. Ozzmania, a local Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath tribute band, has received acclaim for excellent covers. A true metal fan wouldn’t miss it—plus it’s a free show, so there’s no excuse for not attending. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has some great local shows going on. At 10 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 6, The Hoodwill host the second monthly Industry Night, featuring DJ Angelique. Attendance is free. At 10 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, Mikey Raines Acoustic Movement will be performing, with The Hive Minds opening. Derek Gregg and Sean Poe of the Hive Minds are starting to sound tighter and tighter as they keep playing regularly. Since they parted ways with bassist Patrick “Tricky” Mitchem, they have yet to find a permanent replacement, but have brought in friends on occasion. Attendance is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8, the aforementioned Mondo Generator will take the stage. While Nick Oliveri and some of the members of Mondo Generator are playing with Moistboyz at Pappy and Harriet’s later in the month, this is another not-to-miss show featuring Oliveri. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, Long Duk Dong will be returning for a Valentine’s Day Show that will be themed like a 1980s prom. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com

The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs will be hosting Haunted Summer at 10 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21. After a successful show at Pappy and Harriet’s in January, the Los Angeles dream-pop duo is happy to be doing a performance for us here in the low desert. The Ace Hotel, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.