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Hanni El Khatib surveyed the stage prior to his Friday-night show at Pappy and Harriet’s. He checked his guitar pedals as two fans from Ventura County asked me if a glass jar on the stage was a spittoon. I said no, that it was a tip jar.

El Khatib overheard the exchange, looked at us and pointed toward the jar. “Fill that up!” he said in jest.

El Khatib did his part by selling out the show, in support of his anticipated new record, Savage Times, slated for release in February, and produced by Crystal Antlers’ leader Jonny Bell. This was the second time he had played at Pappy and Harriet’s—but I suspect, based on the audience’s reaction to the show, it will not be his last.

El Khatib opened with “Baby’s OK,” walking straight into the audience and singing most of the song in the middle of the crowd. He followed up with “Gonna Die Alone”; both songs were released earlier this year through Innovative Leisure Records.

There were lots of faces familiar from last year’s show by El Khatib—and people were ready to dance. You can’t blame the crowd for unleashing pent-up energy with songs like “You Rascal You,” a crowd favorite. A young music fan drank Hanni in as she listened intently, never moving from her spot, upfront stage right. Big Dave, the bouncer, kept things calm, ejecting two moshers at the same time, one in each of his arms. But other than a few aggressive dancers, this was a very fun show.

The star introduced loads of new material, including the defiant “No Way,” from the forthcoming album. It’s a song about gentrification—families being pushed out of neighborhoods. “We going nowhere even if we are chased, and it’s true. … We got no money, but we sure got our pride, and they can’t take that away from us cuz we’re still alive.”

El Khatib dedicated “Till Your Rose Comes Home,” released earlier this month, to his gay uncle; it’s a very sad, fuzzy, rocky gem with a minimalist approach straight from the heart.

Hanni left the stage and came back for a two-song encore, closing with the fast and furious “Family,” from the Dan Auerbach-produced album Head in the Dirt, which got a biker-looking dude dancing next to a gorgeous Annie Lennox-inspired L.A. transplant.

Published in Reviews

During the month of December, there are more than enough events to keep you entertained—whether you’re in the Christmas spirit or not.

The McCallum Theatre has a great list of Christmas-themed events. At 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 5, enjoy a special Christmas presentation from the Vienna Boys Choir. One of the best known boys’ choirs in the world, the group’s various incarnations perform about 300 concerts a year. Fun fact: The boys in the choir are around the ages of 10 to 14. Tickets are $37 to $77. Locals will take the stage at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, in a show being assembled by Best of Coachella Valley radio personality Jim “Fitz” Fitzgerald of CV 104.3 called “A CV Christmas.” The show will feature Kal David and Lauri Bono, Ronnie King, Brightener, John Stanley King and others. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, and Saturday, Dec. 17, Johnny Mathis will be bringing his 60th anniversary Christmas tour to the McCallum. You can’t go wrong with Johnny, especially when he’s singing Christmas tunes. Tickets are $67 to $137. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some good stuff onstage in December. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2, Celtic Woman will be performing a Christmas-themed show as part of the “Home for Christmas: The Symphony Tour.” Celtic Woman has made a name for itself by performing Celtic music that’s mixed with folk and new-age sounds. The group’s Christmas repertoire is very popular and has added to Celtic Woman’s success. Tickets are $49 to $89. If you aren’t in the Christmas music mood … at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, there will be a performance by ARW (Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman). These three members of YES hadn’t performed together in 25 years, so this is one tour you’ll want to catch if you’re a rock music fan. Rick Wakeman made the Moog what it is today in rock music, and Trevor Rabin’s guitar-playing is legendary in prog rock. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, the Goo Goo Dolls will be returning to the Coachella Valley. I’ve mentioned how annoying it was hearing the song “Iris” over and over during my junior and senior years of high school … and my high school even made the song part of my prom. Ugh! Tickets are $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events worth mentioning. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, Penn and Teller will be stopping by. Originally known for magic shows that included comedy, the duo stepped it up for a television show on Showtime called Bullshit!, which featured the duo taking on a variety of subjects, from Sept. 11 conspiracy theories to bottled water and beyond. Tickets are $45 to $65. Looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve? At 10:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 31, bring in 2017 with Huey Lewis and the News. Huey is a big part of one of my more tortured childhood Christmas memories: I once asked for a Metallica album … and received his Sports album instead. Boo, Huey! Boo! Tickets are $105 to $125. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of intriguing December offerings. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, former Supertramp vocalist and songwriter Roger Hodgson will be performing. He wrote most of Supertramp’s most well-known hits, which have sold more than 60 million records, so this should be a pretty good show. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 91 and 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10; and 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11, Spotlight 29 will be hosting its Winter Gathering Pow Wow. This Native American custom includes dancing, singing, visiting and the renewing of old friendships. This event is free and family friendly.Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566www.spotlight29.com.

After an epic summer, Morongo Casino Resort Spa’s entertainment schedule has slowed down just a bit—but there are a couple of great December shows worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, Morongo will be opening the Drum Room, a new bar and lounge on the 26th floor of the hotel. The grand opening will feature some great cocktails and appetizers in the venue, which has great leather seating and huge windows offering stunning views of the desert. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, there will be a performance by the Charlie Daniels Band. If you’ve never seen the Charlie Daniels Band, trust me: Mr. Daniels puts on one hell of a show, even though he’s 80 years old and has survived prostate cancer—with a pacemaker installed in his chest to boot. He was a highlight of Stagecoach in 2013. Given this is Christmas, you can expect some Christmas tunes mixed into his Southern-rock set. Tickets are $25 to $35. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some events in December you shan’t miss. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, Hanni El Khatib (upper right) will be returning to Pappy’s after a stunning sold-out show earlier this year. Hanni El Khatib denied being a blues man when I interviewed him last year, but blues and hard rock are definitely part of his sound. This show is a must-see. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 22, it’s locals’ night when The BrosQuitos and Yip Yops play Pappy and Harriet’s. This is a much-deserved gig for both local bands—groups with bright futures ahead of them. Admission is free. After the presents have been opened, and the holiday hangover has set in, get yourself to Pappy’s at 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 26, for the Evangenitals. The Evangenitals is one of the best bands to see when you’re sad—because you’ll enjoy a lot of laughs at the no-holds-barred humor. Oh, and be sure to stay until the end when the band does its own personal rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Admission is blessedly free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has a fine December schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9,and Saturday, Dec. 10, the Kinsey Sicks will be bringing a holiday show, “Oy Vey in a Manger!” to the Purple Room. The Kinsey Sicks is known as “America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet” and is named after the Kinsey scale—with six meaning “exclusively homosexual.” Formed in 1993 in San Francisco, the group has earned a reputation as one of the LGBT community’s most entertaining and hilarious groups. Tickets are $30 to $45. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, the Martini Kings will be performing. Back in October, when I was at Pappy and Harriet’s for Paul McCartney’s show, I had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Marsico of the Martini Kings. He was once a sideman for Bob Dylan, and he told me some fascinating stories from those days. The Martini Kings have a sound that modernism fans will love—and the group should turn in a great Christmas show. Tickets are $25. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has announced a December show you’ll want to mark down on your calendar. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, Dali’s Llama will be performing, along with other great bands such as Supersonic Dragon Wagon; an old group including Zach Huskey of Dali’s Llama, Hot Beat Pussy Fiend; and Sleazy Cortez. Admission is free! The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Date Shed has one event in December worth mentioning. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2, there will be a performance by Too Short (below). During the ’90s, when the whole East Coast-West Coast rap thing was going full-force, one man worked with both 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G.—and that was Too Short. While his lyrics are about pimping not being easy (Has it ever been easy?), and “bitch” is nothing but a word to him, he’s a legend of the genre. Tickets are $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe Street, Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

Hanni El Khatib opened his Pappy and Harriet’s show on Friday, Jan. 16, with “Melt Me,” from his new release Moonlight.

It was a great way to start the show: The song got the Pappy and Harriet’s audience dancing to the beat while doppelgangers of Jesus Christ and Macaulay Culkin tried to ram through to the front of the stage, breaking the strict no-mosh rule. As a result, they made friends with no one: Everyone else just wanted to party to the reverberating Gibson held confidently in the hands of El Khatib.

El Khatib followed up with “Build. Destroy. Rebuild.” a strong tune with great emotive complexity from his debut 2011 release, Will the Guns Come Out. A hot admirer, wearing her best vampire look, looked on as her companion—wearing comic-book spaghetti-Western wear—absorbed every moment of the show.

The packed floor got wild as “You Rascal You” required everyone to dance along with El Khatib’s resonating, pure rock ’n’ roll vocals. The frenzy required bouncer Big Dave, who is the size of a sequoia, to position himself in the center of the audience to try to mellow things out.

Hanni featured “Dance Hall,” from Moonlight, which is his third album; the song was well received. Hanni commented: “For those of you asking for new shit, that was new shit.” He was interrupted by some drunk fan; El Khatib responded, “You should be banned from the bar.” Khatib later asked: “Everyone drinking as a team?” 

El Khatib later joined in the wildness when he decided to crowd-surf while playing his fuzzy electric guitar, which required him to squeeze between the heads of his fans and the low ceiling.

He mellowed out his set with the punky-blues song “Family,” from his sophomore album, Head in the Dirt, produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. That set the tone for the rest of his set.

A new song, “Two Brothers,” from his latest release, was the final song of El Khatib’s amazing performance. “This one is dedicated to my two uncles that passed away,” he said, leading into the jam about his father’s two brothers passing away back to back. With heartache, he sang, “I lost two brothers this year; I hope they died without fear, ’cause they know that I love them, put no one above them. I promise I’m near, with you in your hearts, even though you’re underground, I know that you have found peace, and it’s clear, just know that we love you, your brother still loves you, your mother she loves you, your children they love you, I hope that you know.”

It was a perfect closer to an amazing night.

Read and see more from Guillermo Prieto at irockphotos.net and www.facebook.com/irockkphotos.

Published in Reviews

In 2011, Hanni El Khatib released his debut album Will the Guns Come Out—and ever since, he’s been a rising star in the indie-rock world.

He’ll be heading to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday, Jan. 16, to promote the release of his third record, Moonlight.

El Khatib seemingly appeared out of nowhere with Will the Guns Come Out in 2011. His music has since been included on the soundtracks for Hung, Suits, Californication and United States of Tara. His sound is a mixture of blues, classic rock and even punk.

During a recent phone interview, he explained how he was guided by his love of music.

“I like everything,” El Khatib said, “everything from classic rock to the Delta blues to hip-hop to electronic music. I’m very wide in my influences.”

While his sound is based in the blues, he said he doesn’t consider himself to be a blues musician.

“I’m not really a blues guy. I definitely like the blues, but I was listening to Black Sabbath more than I was listening to Robert Johnson,” he said.

El Khatib said he had no idea where his music would take him after releasing Will the Guns Come Out.

“I recorded all that stuff in a friend’s bedroom. I didn’t really have any intent of starting a music career,” he said. “I was just sort of doing it as a hobby and on the side whenever I had spare time from my day job, which was being a creative director for a skateboarding company. That took all my time. It’s not like the music came secondary, but was more just a hobby.

“I quickly realized what was going on with my music being chosen for television shows. I was also asked to go on some really big tours; I opened up on a tour with Florence and the Machine. I was playing for 30 people in a bar one night, and then 3,000 nightly shortly after. It was just sort of like, ‘Wow, there’s something here.’ You kind of look up and realize you hit all these milestones without even realizing it.”

Skateboarding remains important to El Khatib; he said it helped shaped his mentality.

“I grew up skateboarding in San Francisco, and I still skate, actually,” he said. “The owner of the company I used to work for was a pro skater for 15 years, or maybe more. I knew him for years before I started working for him.

“Skateboarding is a newer sport, but it’s unique in the sense that when it first hit the scene, it was sort of like an outcast sport. It was long before the days of it being a corporate monster like it is now. I started to build a really tight-knit family based on the fact you just skateboard. That was reason enough to be friends with someone. … You could find a friend of a friend who would let you sleep on his couch, and you could skate the city with them. That sort of mentality has carried on to everything I do now. … I feel like skateboarding is responsible for my open-mindedness.”

He said he tried a different approach while recording Moonlight.

“Every process is different so far, which is normal. I like to jump around, experiment and try new things,” he said. “The first record was a home-recording process; the second record, I recorded in Nashville with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, so that was its own special thing. … This record, I wanted to split the difference between the first and the second, with knowledge from the second mixed with that time to explore, experiment and be introverted and see where the music took me; it was best for me to do it on my own. I can play a lot of different instruments in the studio. I didn’t really need to bring in musicians every day, but I did bring in my live drummer, who’s been playing with me for the past couple of years now.”

El Khatib said he loves the desert; in fact, he said intends to purchase a home in the desert. He’s a co-founder of his record label, Innovative Leisure, and some label-mates previously played at Pappy and Harriet’s. That got him interested in playing at the venue himself.

“I love it, and I go often,” he said of the desert. “I try to get out there as much as I can. I spent a total of a month out there basically just getting inspired and writing songs for the new record last January and February. There’s something about the bare landscape, and everywhere you go, it looks like unchartered territory. There’s something that draws me to it all the time: the imagery, the landscape, the plant life, and just being able to escape to the place that seems to find you.”

Hanni El Khatib will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 16, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews