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In 1974, a young guitarist named Craig Chaquico joined the newly formed Jefferson Starship, and remained with band through the transition to Starship. He left the band in 1991 and has been performing as a contemporary jazz guitarist ever since.

Craig Chaquico will be playing at the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa on Saturday, March 2.

During a recent interview, Chaquico explained how he became a founding member of Jefferson Starship.

“Jefferson Airplane broke up and stopped performing together in 1972. … Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady did Hot Tuna, and Grace Slick and Paul Kantner did solo records,” Chaquico said. “I actually played on their solo records, and my own band had a recording contract on their label. The idea was to maybe start a new band, and we went out on tour as Jefferson Starship before we recorded anything. My band opened, and I played in both bands. After that, I expected to go back to college, but we were like, ‘Man, we all had such a great time playing together! Let’s form Jefferson Starship and do an album.’ I said, ‘Shit yeah! Let’s do that!’ After that first tour, we went into the studio and recorded Dragon Fly. Everything that I played on went gold and platinum.”

Chaquico was a teenager when Jefferson Starship began, and he wound up putting off school.

“That was sort of my higher education; I was learning from the best,” he said. “When we did the first Jefferson Starship album, there were eight members, and each of the members had distinct personalities. I don’t think any record executive thought anything was going to happen for us. … The solo albums were interesting, but they weren’t commercial success stories. I don’t think they expected gold and platinum albums from us. They looked at our band like, ‘Whatever!’ But think about it: What record executive in 1974 would say, ‘Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s get a black violin player in his 50s, a pot-smoking guitar player in his teens, and put them together with some Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service people, add a member of the Turtles, and then put Pete Sears in this band!’? That was the beauty of it. We weren’t a A&R person-conceived band.”

The band became Starship and released the huge hit yet oft-maligned “We Built This City” in 1985.

“Starship was very pop, and it started to rely a lot on keyboards and not so much on guitar,” Chaquico said. “I’m a team player, and I’ll play on every song whether it has a lot of lead guitar or not. We started doing songs like ‘We Built This City,’ which has gotten a lot of bad press over the years, but if you listen to the beginning of that song … all of that computerized stuff and rocket science was pretty new. … Peter Wolf was our producer, and he co-wrote a lot of our songs. The original idea for the song was how there were no places for rock ’n’ roll bands to play anymore, (as pop) was turning into a lot of DJs and disco. The idea was a protest against computerized music, but it was the biggest computerized song on the radio, which I found ironic.”

While Starship enjoyed popular success, headlining shows with Foreigner and Fleetwood Mac, the band started to receive critical backlash.

“To me, it was like trying to send Apollo 13 around the moon and bring it back safely—it was high-tech computers everywhere,” Chaquico said. “It was interesting to me, but that period of time had its good things and its bad things. We had three No. 1 singles in three consecutive years, in the course of about 15 months. That was the good part. We got to go to Japan and Europe to play concerts—but it had a double-edged sword, and it bit us in the ass. We got criticized for ‘We Built This City,’ and it made No. 1 on the list of 50 Worst Songs in the World or something like that. Peter Wolf was also on the list at No. 3 for (producing) Wang Chung’s ‘Everybody (Have Fun) Tonight.’ I called Peter and said, ‘Dude, you’re on two of the worst songs of the world, and I’m only on one!’ On one level, we have to be proud, but it also bit us in the ass.”

Members eventually started leaving the band, and Chaquico had to decide whether to stay in a band that was decreasing the presence of guitar.

“I was told by the management not to write any songs, because we weren’t going to do any more rock,” he said. “At that point, I said, ‘All right, guys, I have to bail. Because what do you need me for?’ I didn’t ask for a lot of money—just to make sure I received my royalties for the earlier stuff. They broke up, didn’t have another hit and were dropped from the label.”

Becoming a successful jazz musician didn’t happen without difficulty, and he had problems getting his first solo album, Acoustic Highway, a label to release it in 1993.

“My now-ex-wife became pregnant. During the pregnancy, acoustic guitar started becoming more welcoming around the house. I thought maybe I should mellow things out,” Chaquico said about the transition to jazz. “I started playing more and more acoustic guitar, and it was suggested to me that I just record that. Ozzie Ahlers, who used to play in the Jerry Garcia Band, started working with me, and when my rock band didn’t pan out, he heard me playing acoustic guitar and had some ideas. He gave me a demo of his keyboard ideas. We started recording our acoustic music, and everyone passed on it, because they didn’t know what it was.

“I went to a new age label, and they said it had some rock and blues, and I should play it for a rock label. I went to a rock label, and they said they heard more new age. I went to a blues label, and they said it sounded more like jazz and rock. But a new age label called Higher Octave liked it and said, ‘We like it the way it is. We hear all that stuff, but we like it.’ They put me together with a great producer to remix it. It ended up being Billboard’s No. 1 New Age Album of the Year.”

Craig Chaquico will perform at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 2, at Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa, 71333 Dinah Shore Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $50 to $90. For tickets or more information, call 951-696-0184, or visit tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=1114738.

Published in Previews

Michael Keeth is one of the busiest musicians in the Coachella Valley. He has multiple solo-performance residencies at places such as The Riviera, the Westin Mission Hills, bluEmber at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa, and Cork Tree. When he’s not performing solo, he plays with Arthur Seay and Mike Cancino of House of Broken Promises, and Derek Timmons of Sleazy Cortez, in a band called Death in Pretty Wrapping. For more information, visit www.michaelkeethmusic.com. Michael took some time out of his busy schedule to take the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

U2 with Rage Against the Machine in Las Vegas for my 15th birthday.

What was the first album you owned?

Probably Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits.

What bands are you listening to right now?

My wife recently introduced me to Glass Animals, who are heavy on percussion and synth production. I also really like Amber Run; they have great melodies and a moody atmosphere. I love all kinds of music, though.

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

I like some (music) in all genres, including hip hop. My personal taste doesn’t include mumble rap, but I guess they can’t all be Thr3 Strykes. Those guys kill it!

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

Pink Floyd, with David Gilmour and Roger Waters together.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Atmospheric ’80s pop rock. Love that headspace.

What’s your favorite music venue?

They’re all great in that they give us a place to express ourselves. The Date Shed and The Hood Bar and Pizza are my favorites for the vibe, but all are important to our scene.

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

More of a melody/lyric: Glass Animals “Agnes.” The chords repeat, with: “You’re gone but you’re on my mind; I’m lost but I don’t know why.” That gets stuck for days!

What band or artist changed your life? How?

U2 set the bar high when I was 12ish. The bigger-than-life tours, great lyrics and anthemic songs made me want to play in bands.

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

Martin Barrera of 5th Town: “¿Alguna vez duermes?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.

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

U2’s Achtung Baby, hands down.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass. Sing it loud, people! (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

Comedy

Gabriel Iglesias

The famously fluffy comedian performs. 8 p.m., Saturday, May 2; and 6 p.m., Sunday, May 3. $45 to $75. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Film

Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival

This unique festival features an eclectic mixture of landmark and obscure vintage movies from the classic film noir era. Various times and prices, Thursday, May 14, through Sunday, May 17. Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs. Arthurlyonsfilmnoir.ning.com.

Music

Dueling Pianos

America’s top dueling-pianos show returns for one night only of energetic song, fun and audience participation by two extremely talented piano performers. What makes this show unique? The audience chooses all the songs. The audience also chooses what not to play and when to stop. 7 p.m., Saturday, May 2. $10. Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 800-838-3006; purpleroompalmsprings.com

Fantasy Springs Rock Yard Concert Series

At 7:30 p.m., full-throttle rock music fires up, and the live music continues until midnight. Friday, May 1: Tribute to Duran Duran. Saturday, May 2: Tribute to Red Hot Chili Peppers. Saturday, May 9: Tribute to Queen. Friday, May 15: Tribute to ZZ Top. Saturday, May 16: Tribute to Van Halen. Saturday, May 23: Tribute to Prince. Saturday, May 30: Tribute to Guns N’ Roses. Call for other shows. Free. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

For the Love of Broadway With Carole Cook

Meet a true Broadway star, Carole Cook, of 42nd Street and TV shows The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy. 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, May 22 and 23; and 1 p.m., Sunday, May 24. $30. Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 800-838-3006; purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Grooves at the Westin: Hiroshima

Grammy-nominated Hiroshima creates a musical world all its own. The intoxicating mix of traditional Japanese folk music and instruments interwoven with jazz, R&B, salsa and more has been a pioneering voice in contemporary music since the 1970s. 7 p.m., Saturday, May 16. $45 and up. Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa, 71333 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage. 760-770-2150; www.westinmissionhills.com.

Vanessa Sheldon, Harpist, With PSHS Orchestra

Vanessa Sheldon will perform a variety of solo harp music and the Handel Concerto with the Palm Springs High School Orchestra. Soloists from the high school will also be featured on flute, saxophone and viola. 4 p.m., Sunday, May 10. $15. Palm Desert Community Presbyterian Church, 47321 Highway 74, Palm Desert. 760-861-0350; www.gold2ivory.com.

Special Events

AIDS Assistance Program’s Evening Under The Stars Gala

The 22nd annual Evening Under the Stars gala will feature a performance by music legend Darlene Love, followed by dancing to a high-energy band. Love has had several Billboard hits and was featured in the Academy Award-winning movie Twenty Feet From Stardom. The event includes cocktails, dinner, dancing, and silent and live auctions of extraordinary trips, one-of-a-kind collectibles, marvelous merchandise and more. 5:30 p.m., Saturday, May 9. $395 and up. O’Donnell Golf Club, 301 N. Belardo Road, Palm Springs. 760-325-8481; aidsassistance.org/evening-under-the-stars.php.

Brew at the Zoo

"Save Wildlife One Beer at a Time." Enjoy a sampling of handcrafted beers, food and live entertainment from more than 50 local breweries and restaurants. Proceeds help The Living Desert care for more than 500 animals and 1,600 protected acres, and provide scholarship programs for thousands of visiting school children. 6:30 p.m., Saturday, May 2. $50; $40 members; $125 VIP. The Living Desert, 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. 760-346-5694; www.livingdesert.org/event/brew-at-the-zoo.

Discover Indio Block Party

Join the city of Indio and the Indio Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the 85th anniversary of Indio with a free community block party. Included in the festivities will be a motorcycle show, classic car show, carnival rides, food trucks, barbecue, kids activities, mini-train rides, art installations, live bands and more. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, May 16. Free. Indio Chamber of Commerce, 82921 Indio Blvd., Indio. 760- 347.0676; indiochamber.org.

The Geology of Gold and Silver

This lecture by D.D Trent, a professor emeritus at Citrus College, is part of the Old School House Lecture Series, which started in 1999 and is run in partnership with the Twentynine Palms Historical Society. 7 p.m., Friday, May 8. $5 at the door. Old Schoolhouse Museum, 6760 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms. 760-367-5535.

Memorial Day Flower Drop and Air Fair

This special day at the Palm Springs Air Museum includes a brief memorial service dedicated to all of our fallen comrades, who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. In their honor is a fly-by and flower drop of more than 3,000 red and white carnations from a B-25 Mitchell bomber. 1 p.m., Monday, May 25. $16 with discounts. Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs. 760-778-6262; palmspringsairmuseum.org.

Visual Arts

Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu

This exhibition of art by prominent Chinese artist Hung Liu features more than 65 works, including 34 large-scale paintings, ephemera (sketch books, photos, informal paintings) and studies from private and public collections from around the world. On display 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday; and noon to 8 p.m., Thursday, through Sunday, May 24. $12.50, with various discounts and free periods. Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4800; www.psmuseum.org.

Submit your free arts listings at calendar.artsoasis.org. The listings presented above were all posted on the ArtsOasis calendar, and formatted/edited by Coachella Valley Independent staff. The Independent recommends calling to confirm all events information presented here.

Published in Local Fun

Zin American Bistro Finds Itself in the Midst of a Foie Gras Uproar

In early January, U.S. District Judge Court Stephen V. Wilson overturned California’s ban on foie gras—a 2004 voter-approved law that went into effect in 2012.

Almost immediately, Mindy Reed, the owner of downtown Palm Springs’ Zin American Bistro and Alicante restaurants, announced she was returning fatty goose liver to Zin’s menu—and she attracted serious local media attention in the process.

Ever since, Reed and her staff members have been the targets of opposition, protests—and even threats.

“I’ve gotten hate mail,” Reed said. “I’ve been called a murderer. I’ve been sent pictures of me personally being bound and force-fed though a tube. My staff has been harassed.”

Reed said she understands why some individuals may be vegetarian or vegan; in fact, she said she herself was a vegan for decades. However, she said it’s unfair and hypocritical for people to focus on the delicacy that is foie gras.

“People need to remember there are two ways to do everything in life,” she said: the right way, and the wrong way. Reed insisted that she goes out of her way to use as many ingredients as possible that are produced in the right way—local, free-range, humanely raised, etc. That goes for foie gras, too.

“I serve foie gras that’s humanely raised,” she said. “The geese are not caged. There’s no tube. There are no machines. The goose is hand-fed. There are a few farms doing this. Geese will gorge themselves naturally. People who like foie gras appreciate the fact that I buy humanely raised foie gras.”

Reed gets visibly irritated when she discusses her detractors.

“Why aren’t they picketing McDonald’s or other restaurants in town (that don’t seek out meat from humanely raised animals)?” she asked. “I don’t think it’s fair.”

Meanwhile, foie gras remains on the menu at Zin; for example, a Belgian waffle dessert features brûléed pineapple, foie gras and sauternes. At least that’s the case for now: California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced in February she was appealing the ruling against the foie gras ban.

Zin American Bistro is located at 198 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. For more information, call 760-322-6300, or visit pszin.com.

Plate | Glass’ Goal: To Be a Place to ‘Chill Out’

“Leisure” is the key word at Plate | Glass, which last fall took over the second-story spot at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs, that had been home to Crave.

Owners Raymond McCallister and Larry Abel—best known as the men behind the Raymond | Lawrence retail shops—had previously been part-owners of Crave. When they took control of the dessert-and-coffee spot last year, they decided it was time to make some changes.

“We think Plate | Glass fulfills a need by creating a place for people to chill out,” Abel told me recently. “We have a great view. People will linger and hang out.”

Plate | Glass still offers desserts, of course—but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Also on offer: Fantastic craft cocktails, breakfast/brunch items, salads, large-sized “melt” sandwiches and appetizer style-plates. I was fortunate enough to attend a recent media lunch there, and the fare was delicious. My favorite: The Sweet Hog melt, with pan-fried ham and blueberry goat cheese. It was amazing.

When Abel said he wants people to “chill out” at Plate | Glass, he meant it: The space even includes a cell-phone charging station and a variety of board games.

Plate | Glass is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Call 760-322-2322, or visit plate-glass.com for more information.

In Brief

The space formerly occupied by Café Scandia, which closed recently at 356 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, will soon be the home of Rooster and the Pig. We’ll pass along details when we get ’em. … Keep your eye on Bart Lounge, the bar/music venue/art gallery at 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City, in the second-story space that recently housed Level 2 bar. It’s slated to open sometime in March. Follow www.bartlounge.com and Bart’s Facebook page for updates. … The Food+Wine Festival Palm Desert, a Palm Springs Life joint, will take place Friday, March 27, through Sunday, March 29. Watch www.palmdesertfoodandwine.com. … BB’s at the River is taking over the former Acqua Pazza space at The River, located at 71800 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. Jack Srebnik, who owns the two local Maracas restaurants, is the brains behind the place. Get info—including hiring details—at www.facebook.com/BBsRiverRanchoMirage. ... The Westin Mission Hills, at 71333 Dinah Shore Drive in Rancho Mirage, has launched a series of wine dinners at the Pinzimini Restaurant. The four-course meals with wine pairings are taking place the last Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. through April; the first dinner, in February, cost $85 plus tax and tip. Get more info at www.pinziminipalmsprings.com/WineDinnerSeries.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Film

Dive-in Movie at Wet ’N’ Wild: Grown-Ups 2

The Dive-in Movie is included with park admission. Play during the day, and stay late to enjoy the film poolside. Grown-Ups 2 will start after dusk on Friday, Aug. 1, and the park will be open until 10 p.m., weather permitting. Admission prices vary. Wet ’n’ Wild Palm Springs, 1500 S. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs. 760-327-0499; www.wetnwildpalmsprings.com.

Kids’ Summer Movie Series at Ultrastar

Family-friendly films are shown at 9:30 a.m. every Monday through Friday, through Friday, Aug. 22. July 28-Aug. 1: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Aug. 4-8: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Aug. 11-15: Despicable Me 2. Aug. 18-22: The Lego Movie. $5 for a 10-movie package; $1 at the door. UltraStar Mary Pickford Cinemas, 36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City. 760-328-0484; www.ultrastarmovies.com.

Lit Flicks: Philomena

See how great books can turn into film classics. Prior to the film, enjoy popcorn and kick back for a short conversation by film and literary experts. This will be facilitated by Tod Goldberg, director of the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert’s low-residency MFA program. After the film, there will be a brief discussion. 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 27. Free. University of California, Riverside—Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert. 760-834-0800; palmdesert.ucr.edu/programs/Lit_Flicks.html.

Moonlight Movies at Fritz Burns Park

Bring your blankets, low-back sand chairs, snacks and the whole family for fun and movies under the stars. Sunset, Friday, Aug. 8: Man of Steel. Sunset, Friday, Aug. 22: The Amazing Spider-Man. Free. Fritz Burns Park Pool, 78107 Avenue 52, La Quinta. 760-777-7090; www.la-quinta.org.

Music

American Idol Live!

Fans of the hit series can see this season's talented Top 10 finalists live. 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 16. $49 to $109. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Fantasy Springs Rock Yard Concert Series

At 7:30 p.m., full-throttle rock music fires up with a cover band to get audience members out of their seats. At 9 p.m., the tribute band takes over and plays audience favorites. At 10:30 p.m., the cover band comes back out and continues the live music until midnight. Friday, Aug. 1: Tribute to No Doubt. Saturday, Aug. 2: Tribute to Aerosmith. Friday, Aug. 8: Tribute to Tom Petty. Saturday, Aug. 9: Tribute to Billy Idol. Saturday, Aug. 16. Tribute to Guns n’ Roses. Aug. 23: Tribute to Van Halen. Aug. 30: Tribute to Prince. Free. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Friday Night Tribute Concert

Spotlight 29 Casino invites everyone to come out and enjoy Friday-night tribute concerts. Guests must be 21 years and older. 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 22: Tribute to Pink Floyd. Free. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Friends of Friends Weekend

The Ace’s friends at Los Angeles-based record label Friends of Friends are coming back for another weekend of live music and DJs by the pool and in the Amigo Room. 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Aug. 1 and 2, in the Amigo Room; noon to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 2 and 3, poolside. Amigo Room events are free (21+); poolside events are open only to hotel guests. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/calendar/palmsprings.

Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines

The swingin’ sounds of straight-ahead jazz, blues, Latin and rock will greet you and your friends as you stroll past the three venues featuring more than two dozen musical groups during the weekend. Wander leisurely along the pine- and cedar-lined paths of the Festival Marketplace, where more than 50 selected artisans will present their work. Sample the varieties of delicious foods offered at the Dine in the Pines food court. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 16 and 17. $60 one day; $110 both days. Idyllwild Arts Campus, 52500 Temecula Road, Idyllwild-Pine Cove. Idyllwildjazz.com.

The Melvyn’s Artists’ Showcase

Join Mikael Healey, musical director, each Wednesday at 8 p.m. for open-mic night, featuring singers, poets, instrumentalists and artists of all types. Free. Melvyn’s Restaurant at the Ingleside Inn, 200 W. Ramon Road, Palm Springs. 760-325-2323; inglesideinn.com.

Prince Royce

American singer-songwriter Prince Royce has an unforgettable name and sound. At an early age, Royce took an interest in music, and in his teenage years, he began experimenting with music and writing poetry. By age 19, he had arrived on the Latin music scene. 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 8. $29 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Second Annual Splash House Pool Party, Vol. II

Splash House is back for its second edition this summer. The pool and music weekend features some of the biggest names within the dance-music scene at three separate pools: the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, the Hard Rock Palm Springs, and The Saguaro. Friday, Aug. 8, through Sunday, Aug. 10. Prices vary. Splashhouse.com.

Subsuelo

Subsuelo, one of Los Angeles’ illest underground parties, has garnered the reputation as the melting pot of cumbia, electro, tropical funk, moombahton, trap, hip hop and all points in between. Some of Subsuelo’s hottest DJs bring their music to Ace Hotel by the pool and in the Amigo Room. Noon, Saturday, Aug. 16. Amigo Room events are free (21+); poolside events are open only to hotel guests. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/calendar/palmsprings.

Special Events

Labor Day Hawaiian Weekend

Experience a full, fun weekend with an authentic Hawaiian luau and show that includes Polynesian dance, music, blazing fireknives and more. Visit the website for the full schedule of events. Friday, Aug. 29, through Monday, Sept. 1. Prices vary. The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa, 71333 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage. 760-328-5955; www.westinmissionhills.com/labordayweekendevents.

Visual Arts

Backstreet Art District Art Walk

Galleries and studios featuring modern and contemporary fine art are open the first Wednesday of every month from 6 to 9 p.m. Experience the thrill of interacting with working artists. Find paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, photography and more, in one location. Free. Backstreet Art District, Cherokee Way and Matthew Drive, Palm Springs. 760-202-1208; www.backstreetartdistrict.com.

Submit your free arts listings at calendar.artsoasis.org. The listings presented above were all posted on the ArtsOasis calendar, and formatted/edited by Coachella Valley Independent staff. The Independent recommends calling to confirm all events information presented here.

Published in Local Fun

Appetito Cal-Italian Deli Is Open—and Exciting

It’s safe to say that Appetito Cal-Italian Deli, at 1700 S. Camino Real, in Palm Springs (located in the same building as Koffi), is unlike every other restaurant in the Coachella Valley.

On one hand, the service is fast-casual, meaning that you order at the counter and then get your food delivered to you. (Take note: One of the managers lectured me when I called the service style “fast casual,” even though the term is accurate.) On the other hand, the food you’ll receive is better than you’d get at almost every other so-called fast-casual restaurant. (This explains the lecture.)

On one hand, the menu looks fairly simple: It includes starters, salads, pastas, sandwiches and foccacia (think pizzas, but on foccacia rather than pizza dough). On the other hand, it’s not simple at all: For example, one of the salads is a surprisingly tasty Tuscan kale Caesar (I say “surprising,” because I despise kale), and the ricotta gnocchi is made entirely of cheese—no potato or pasta is present.

On one hand, the décor is open and has a bustling, industrial sort of feel. On the other hand, the space is quite comfortable and features great lamps and other fantastic touches, due to the Christopher Kennedy design. There’s also a great bar, and the patio features an amazing mountain view over the adjacent Ace Hotel and Swim Club.

I was invited to a recent media dinner at Appetito, and I was stunned by all that managing partner Patrick Service and executive chef Chad Shaner—both veterans of the New York restaurant scene—have managed to accomplish so far. We tried a lot of food, and my favorites included the blistered shishito peppers ($5); the tagliatelle with English peas, pancetta, pecorino and a hint of mint ($11 regular portion; $16 full portion); and the foccacia with oven-dried tomatoes, stracciatella, oregano and garlic ($9).

However, the undisputed highlight was the porchetta panino, with pork, broccoli rabe, provolone and a chili aioli ($14). It’s delicious on its own; it’s simply stunning when paired with Coachella Valley Brewing Co.’s Appetito Ale—brewed specially for Appetito, and brewed specifically to go with the porchetta panino.

Appetito opens at 11 a.m. daily. Call 760-327-1929, or visit www.appetitodeli.com for details.

Fantasy Springs Offers Sip of the Desert

The Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio, is promoting its new Sip of the Desert Wine and Spirit Tasting series thusly: “Think monthly wine club, but with the top wineries and spirit distilleries all in one place, knowledgeable representatives, no pricey membership, gourmet cheese pairings and a breathtaking view spanning across the valley floor.”

OK. We’re intrigued.

On Wednesday, March 26, the first Sip of the Desert will feature wines from Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. On Wednesday, April 23, expect tastings of Scotch!

The monthly event is held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the 12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar, and it will cost you $20. Reservations are recommended at 760-238-5727.

The Ritz-Carlton Takes a California-Centered Dining Approach

After a number of long and costly delays, it appears that The Ritz Carlton, Rancho Mirage, 68900 Frank Sinatra Drive, is actually going to open soon: The resort is hiring and accepting reservations for arrivals starting on May 15.

But what does the Ritz have in store for foodies? The resort’s website offers some clues.

The State Fare Bar + Kitchen “pays tribute to California’s prized harvest and ingredients, inspired by offerings from the finest purveyors in the Coachella Valley, inland Southern California and the Pacific coast,” says the website. “Presenting the best of California for daily breakfast, lunch and supper, the restaurant provides a fresh and creative California menu, a lively chefs’ display kitchen, seasonal and artisanal culinary specialties, and signature cocktail trolley service offering table-side classics with a twist.”

Wait. Did that say signature cocktail trolley service? Very cool.

In the fall, The Edge steakhouse is slated to open at the resort as well. Watch for details at www.ritzcarlton.com.

In Brief

Sessions, the restaurant at the Hard Rock Palm Springs (150 S. Indian Canyon Drive), is offering half-off breakfasts and lunches to locals every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through the end of March. Another tip for locals: The Hard Rock pool is open to the public at no charge (as long as you’re 21 or older), and as the weather warms up, there will be more poolside barbecue options available. … Shawn Aoki, the chef at Pinzimini at the Westin Mission Hills (71333 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage), is now offering a new five-course tasting menu. Enjoy kale chips as an amuse before moving on to cauliflower soup, herbed risotto and lobster toast. For the main course, choose between porcini fennel-rubbed flat-iron steak or basil pesto pasta, before finishing with a profiterole for dessert. All of this is yours for $75; visit www.pinziminipalmsprings.com for details.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

The Stroke Recovery Center in Palm Springs is truly an exceptional place when you consider that it has around 300 clients—and the services it provides are often free.

The Stroke Recovery Center, at 2800 E. Alejo Road, runs on grants, the kindness of donors and money raised through fundraisers. The organization is holding its biggest fundraiser, the 34th Winter Wonderland Ball, on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Westin Mission Hills Resort.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that 700,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year.

“It’s the leading cause of a handicap for adults,” said Beverly Greer, the CEO of the Stroke Recovery Center. “The most recent statistics say that one in four families has someone who has suffered a stroke.”

The key to a recovery after a serious stroke is rehabilitation. Even with rehab, there’s no cure or full recovery, but it helps people gain back language skills and independence-related tasks such as dressing and bathing.

“What we have found over the years is that if you continue working with rehab, you really find you can improve, particularly the ability to take control of your life and your activities of daily living,” Greer said. “We can actually get people out of their wheelchairs. They don’t see the doctor or go to the E.R. as often, and they don’t fall as often.”

Many insurance providers, including Medicare, only provide 30 days of rehabilitation, at the most. That’s often not enough for a stroke victim.

“It really comes down to the original Medicare regulations that were put in place during the 1960s,” Greer said. “Stroke isn’t the only thing that has this problem. What Medicare looked at was if you can document improvement in mobility, muscle strength and the elements that are quantifiable. We were not able to do that for strokes past the 90-day level. Therefore, the reimbursement via Medicare was stopped. This is very typical of nursing homes and different types of rehabilitation.”

What does this mean to stroke victims? “Unless you have a lot of means and deep pockets, you really don’t have a lot of options open to you to continue rehabilitation.”

The Stroke Recovery Center provides a variety of rehabilitation programs such as physical therapy, speech therapy, recreational therapy, and healthy meals to clients and caregivers, often at a cost of only $4. During a tour of the facility, Greer pointed out a space on the courtyard patio that will eventually be the site of a new physical-therapy and exercise room. It will be double the size of the current one, which is limited in space and generally packed with clients receiving physical therapy and using exercise machines.

“We say that we see miracles every day, and we really do. It’s absolutely amazing,” she said. “We’ve had numerous people come in, in wheelchairs, and start walking. We see people who have lost their ability to speak for 5 to 10 years start speaking again. We see people coming in with post-stroke depression, which is very common, being able to laugh again and feel good about themselves. It’s a very upbeat environment and a strong community of people here.”

The center does all of this with a budget of around just $1 million annually.

“We have to raise every cent of it,” Greer said. “We have very generous donors and a number of foundations and granting organizations that have funded us for years. We’re always looking for new avenues of support. Because we’re an older organization, a lot of our donors who were with us for the full 35 years are no longer with us, because they started when they were older folks and retired. We’re looking to build a new generation of donors and hope that people understand when they see what we do here, what a good thing it is, and they’ll continue with their support.”

The Winter Wonderland Ball is the center’s main event. This year, the center will honor board member Harvey Gerber and his wife, Angie; local philanthropist Donna MacMillan; and Javed Siddiqi, of the Primary Stroke Center at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. Wayne Foster Entertainment will be providing the live music.

“It’s our big do of the year,” Greer said. “It’s always a big kickoff for the season here in Palm Springs. This year is going to be absolutely spectacular, because we have wonderful honorees.”

The Stroke Recovery Center’s Winter Wonderland Ball starts at 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Westin Mission Hills Resort, 71333 Dinah Shore Drive, in Rancho Mirage. For more information or reservations, call James Martinez at 760-323-7676, ext. 112, or visit www.strokerecoverycenter.org.

Published in Features