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Fri12132019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The month of March is packed with events in the Coachella Valley. Take in the revelry of St. Patrick’s Day; enjoy the tennis at the BNP Paribas Open; and relish these music events.

The Empire Polo Fields will once again be hosting the Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience on Saturday, March 5. With performances by 311 (see our interview here), Matisyahu and the local ’80s themed band Long Duk Dong, the event also features excellent craft beer (get info from The Beer Goddess here) and some of the finest wines. Music, wine and beer make a wonderful good-time combo, don’t they? Tickets are $70 to $150; www.rwbexp.com.

The season’s end is getting closer—which means the McCallum Theatre’s season will also soon come to an end, so be sure to enjoy the busy schedule in March. At 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 9, prepare to be dazzled and mystified by Tao: Seventeen Samurai. This show combines athleticism and taiko drumming; tickets are $22 to $52. At 8 p.m., Thursday, March 17, Canadian blues rocker Colin James will be stopping by. James has a career full of hit singles and 15 Juno Awards. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, Steve Tyrell will be returning to the McCallum. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tyrell last year; he explained how he’s adapted to the ever-changing music industry—and even recorded his latest album in his house. Tickets are $47 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

If you could be at only one local music venue in March, the venue to choose would be the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 12, Grammy-Award-winning rapper Nelly will perform. Considering his 2000 debut album Country Grammar has sold 8 million copies, he should be a household name. He’s enjoyed more success ever since, and has branched out into film as well as television, with his own reality show, Nellyville. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, Motown legend Smokey Robinson will take the stage. While Bob Dylan has dubbed him “America’s greatest poet,” I concede I am having a problem getting past the freakishly young-looking photos of the 76-year-old Robinson in promotional materials and on album covers. Some of them are downright hilarious; some are spooky; and some look like political-propaganda fodder. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 26, get “Physical” with a performance by Olivia Newton-John. While Newton-John is often remembered for that 1981 hit, she may be best remembered for her role opposite John Travolta in Grease. Tell me about it, stud. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has an event in March that should be a great show on behalf of a great cause. At 7 p.m., Thursday, March 3, a benefit for American Cancer Society Desert Spirit will feature an intimate performance by Rick Springfield. Tickets are $49 to $129. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is hosting a couple of events you won’t want to miss. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 5, get ready to get funky with The Gap Band. Honestly, I really enjoy the Gap Band. There’s just something about “You Dropped a Bomb on Me”; it’s catchy as hell. The band has some great bass lines, excellent guitar and good keyboards—all of which make for fun funk songs. Tickets are $35 to $55. If you’re in more of a country mood, that’s fine, because at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, country-music sensation the Eli Young Band will be performing. Remember a few years ago when “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” was all over country radio? Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

The Morongo Casino Resort Spa is offering a couple of worthy events—on the same night! At 9 p.m., Friday, March 11, .38 Special will be performing. The band used to include Donnie Van Zant, who is the middle brother of the late Ronnie Van Zant, and Johnny Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Sadly, inner-ear issues forced him into retirement. Tickets are $30 to $40. If you love the ’80s, you’ll want to be in Cabazon at 11 p.m., Friday, March 11, because the Spazmatics (upper right) will be performing. The ’80s tribute band is a lot of fun to watch. Tickets are $10. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

As always, Pappy and Harriet’s is hosting some must-see events. At 9 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, Shannon and the Clams will be returning to Pappy’s. The band performed a fantastic show at The Hood Bar and Pizza last month; if you missed that, here’s another chance to see ’em. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, get ready for some laughs and great music, because The Evangenitals will be back! Admission is free. Here’s another welcome return performance: At 9 p.m., Tuesday, March 22, The Melvins (below) will take the stage. It seems the Melvins are making a regular thing out of playing at Pappy’s; the band first played there in the summer of 2013, and Buzz Osbourne came through Pappy’s for a solo performance in 2014. Tickets are $18. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed has one event on the March calendar: At 9 p.m., Friday, March 25, Seedless will be performing. Seedless is a rock/reggae band out of Orange County that has shared the stage with Sublime With Rome, The Dirty Heads and others. Tickets are $13 to $17. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

Before I dive in to all of the great February goings-on around the Coachella Valley, I want to pay tribute to two big names in music we just lost.

Rest in peace, Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club will be holding a Modernism Week-themed event at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13: There will be a screening of Visual Acoustics in the Commune. The film is a celebration of modernist architecture and a joyful portrait of renowned architecture photographer Julius Shulman. Admission is free. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The McCallum Theatre is fully booked with great stuff in February. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5 and Saturday, Feb. 6, Frank Sinatra Jr. will be performing. The son of the Chairman of the Board is a great singer and will be singing in celebration of his father’s 100th birthday. Tickets are $61 to $111. Continuing with the Sinatra centennial celebration: At 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 14, crooner Steve Lawrence will take the stage. Lawrence was a close friend of Sinatra—in fact, when Sinatra retired, Sinatra gave Lawrence a book of his arrangements. Tickets are $67. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 24, get ready for a night of awesome country music: Wynonna Judd will be performing. After starting out as part of a smash-hit duo with her mother, Wynonna has been quite successful on her own. Tickets are $47 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa obviously made a wise choice when it booked with Johnny Mathis, considering his Feb. 13 show is sold out—but cheer up, because at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 12, you can rock out to Air Supply, or whatever it is crazy fans of Air Supply do. The Australian duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock has been soft-rocking since the ’70s and recently had a hit with “Desert Sea Sky,” which was remixed and played in dance clubs. Tickets are $40 to $60. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a fine slate of February events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, the original Jersey Boy himself, Frankie Valli, will be performing. He was a member of the Four Seasons, and he had a spectacular solo career, so you won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 27, there will be a double bill with The Commodores and The Jacksons. Both groups have continued on without their famed frontmen, and to an extent, it’s worked for them both. The Jacksons’ reunion since Michael Jackson died in 2009 has come with mixed live reviews, though. Lionel Richie is currently not joining The Commodores, and it doesn’t look like he will anytime soon. Nonetheless, if you’re a real fan, you will enjoy both. Tickets are $39 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of great events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 6, easy-listening superstar Engelbert Humperdinck will be coming back. The ballad singer has spawned numerous legends, including one that claims he’s bagged an impressive number of women—a number that puts Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead and Gene Simmons of KISS to shame. Whether or not that’s true, there’s one thing he gave to us millennials … Fly with me, lesbian seagull! Tickets are $45 to $65. Are you a fan of the ’70s? Did you live through the ’70s but don’t remember it? Either way, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 20, the ’70s Time Machine Tour will take you back. Featuring performances by Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night, and Denny Laine of Wings, the show will happily invoke the decade of leisure suits, pet rocks, shag carpet, van living and waterbeds. Yay! Tickets are $35. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

As for Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace: I’m sure we’ll be hearing some very big announcements soon regarding outdoor shows for the spring and summer, especially with Coachella right around the corner. But in the meantime, the February schedule is wonderful. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5, Joshua Tree locals Gene Evaro and the Family (right) will be appearing. Gene is one of the most talented musicians in the Coachella Valley; Alf Alpha has told me stories about Gene’s production skills in the studio as well. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 14, it will be time for local rock fans to rejoice and celebrate Eddie Spaghetti’s victory over throat cancer, because The Supersuckers are back! Funny story: I saw The Supersuckers in 1995 in Cleveland; the band was opening for White Zombie and the Ramones. Let’s just say The Supersuckers didn’t get a welcome reception that night—and I was one of the hecklers. But over time, The Supersuckers grew on me; they’re an excellent rock ’n’ roll band. Also worth mentioning: My friend Charlie Overbey will be opening. His new record The California Kid is awesome. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has one event we know about worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend—at a prom out of a John Waters film, that is—with Shannon and the Clams (below). Desert Hot Springs’ finest, Slipping Into Darkness, is also on the bill. Shurpadelic, dude! Admission is $10 at the door. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

Oakland’s Shannon and the Clams appeared at Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Sept. 24, in support of the group’s fourth album, Gone by the Dawn, which dropped Sept. 11.

The front of the stage was crammed, with one fan dressed in an undersea-themed outfit. You could feel the love for the band as fans talked about the building excitement.

The band’s sound can be described as retro doo-wop, with some influence from early ’80s California surf punk.

“It is an extreme pleasure to play here,” said Shannon Shaw, the lead vocalist and bassist, as she positioned herself onstage. “This is the best place we have played.”

Shannon has a voice somewhere between a soprano and a tenor. She plays a glittery Danelectro bass, and she can be distracting as you listen to her sing as she plays the bass with amazing intricacy.

Those in attendance were ready to hop the night away, mimicking their best moves from a Gidget film. The fun was interrupted briefly by a knuckle-dragging chap who thought it would be a great idea to dive into the middle of the packed dance floor with a beer in a mason jar in one hand, and a full pitcher of beer in the other. The natural laws of moshing took over, and he was quickly dispensed of by those showered by beer.

The surf-pop song “Rip Van Winkle,” from the 2013 album Dreams in the Rat House, got a cheerful response. The first single off the new record is a melancholy love tune: “Corvette” is a metaphor about love. The Corvette never comes as she waits on the corner, waiting for the hot rod to show up.

“Point of Being Right” a wonderful, pessimistic raw love song: “You’re hiding something big from me, something I’ve chosen not to see, my instincts kept me up at night.”

You couldn’t help but be sucked into the expression of love between the band and the audience. It appeared that everyone was euphoric as they lost themselves in song.

This waterless clambake ended with “You Let Me Rust”—a faultless end from a delightful band.

Published in Reviews

The sound of Shannon and the Clams is a throwback to the ‘50s; you’ll hear elements of doo-wop and old-school rock ’n’ roll—as well as a classic R&B sound, surf rock and a girl-group vibe.

The group just released its fourth album, Gone By the Dawn. They’ll perform at Pappy and Harriet’s this Thursday, Sept. 24.

Critics have given Shannon and the Clams high ratings for their albums. Punknews.org gave a glowing review, stating, “(The) sound of a prom band in 1964 getting dosed with acid and having the sweetest lovelorn freak out. Imagine a brawling Etta James, backed up by the 13th Floor Elevators singing Shangri La’s tunes.”

During a phone interview with guitarist and vocalist Cody Blanchard, he said the band was primarily bassist/vocalist Shannon Shaw’s idea when it started in Oakland, Calif., back in 2007.

“That was all Shannon in the early days,” Blanchard said. “She used to play by herself before there was a band, and she was writing and matching all of her favorite music together. She’s really into ’80s punk and girl groups. I think she mashed it together without really thinking about it.”

When Shannon and the Clams got together and started to play live shows, the group quickly realized it was on to something, based on the embrace from the audience.

“It was always really good from the beginning,” Blanchard said. “It seemed like it was something that people never realized that they wanted to hear. Even when people heard it in the beginning, and we sounded like shit, it seemed like it was something really special.”

That doesn’t mean that Shannon and the Clams has always been well-received. 

“That’s happened to us in a few places in Europe,” Blanchard said about less-than-receptive audiences. “Europe is great, but there have been a few people (in Europe) where they just watch us and really don’t understand us. I think that’s been in the Netherlands and a few other places.”

Blanchard is well aware of the love Shannon and the Clams has gotten from critics.

“I think we get a lot of comparisons to our friends’ bands from the same area, but I don’t think we sound anything alike,” Blanchard said. “… I do think the one where they said we’re like ‘a John Waters lucid dream’ is pretty accurate. All of his movies are twisted and have oldies soundtracks, like obscure and really weird oldies stuff.”

For Gone by the Dawn, the group decided to take a different approach to recording.

“It’s very different,” Blanchard said. “We’ve always recorded our own albums and engineered (them) ourselves. This was the first time we actually didn’t do that. We went into an actual studio and had a producer. It was a lot of work for us, but it was great to have outside people make suggestions. They end up giving you more ideas and suggest different things. Our producer wasn’t very controlling at all.”

Shannon and the Clams have a reputation for being an amazing live band. Blanchard mentioned what those who attend the show can expect.

“People have said our live shows are probably better than the record. I don’t know if I agree with that,” he said. “But we have four people; we dress up pretty crazy; we have costumes, and I think it’s louder than the records. It’s definitely wild and loud.

“Our band is very vocal, and everyone is singing all the time, and I think we’re going to have some special stage stuff that will be pretty weird. But we’re still trying to make it come together.”

Shannon and the Clams with perform with Cool Ghouls and Death Valley Girls in an all-ages show at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $10 to $12. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews