CVIndependent

Tue02182020

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

February is the month of love! It’s also leap month, so you have an extra day to enjoy all the amazing entertainment coming to the valley. Who doesn’t love that?

My favorite event in Indio returns for its 74th year this month: The Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival makes its way to the Riverside County Fairgrounds February 14-23. The musical headliners this year are funk legend George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic (Feb. 15); Mexican banda icons Banda Machos (Feb. 16); an entire ’90s themed night featuring Vanilla Ice, Coolio, Tone Loc and Young MC (Feb. 21); breakout country star Chris Janson (Feb. 22); and fifth-generation Mexican mariachi band Mariachi Sol de Mexico. (Feb. 23). For just $10 (with discounts), you get these great musical acts, plus rides, food and countless other activities! For tickets or more information, visit datefest.org.

Many notable acts are set to grace the McCallum Theatre stage; the theater has shows on 25 of the 29 February days! From Wednesday, Feb. 19, through Sunday, Feb. 23, you have six chances to come witness The TEN Tenors in action, performing new show Love Is in the Air, which will showcase their versions of the greatest love songs of all time. The Australian group has sold out the McCallum more than 30 times! Tickets are $50 to $100. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28, five-time Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein is returning to Palm Desert. Experience music from the Great American Songbook with a show that has landed Feinstein many TV specials, and even a White House gig! Tickets are $70 to $130. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs is hosting some premier music entertainers in February. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, Mexican treasure and mariachi titan Pedro Fernández is coming to town. With singing, acting, composing and conducting under his hat, the ranchera great is sure to put on a great show! Tickets are $49 to $99. Another Latin group is arriving the following weekend: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8, Spanish-rock revivalists Caifanes will take the Fantasy stage. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22, living legend Sheryl Crow is bringing three decades’ worth of hits to Indio. With more than 35 million albums sold, and nine Grammys won, Crow features singing and songwriting talent that will captivate any audience anywhere. Tickets are $69 to $129. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 28, soul duo The Righteous Brothers is bringing the ’60s back to Indio. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” is the most-played song in radio history! Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente is set to host some great musical entertainers throughout February. On 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, the Make It Last Forever Valentine’s Day Show comes to Rancho Mirage. Come get in the loving mood with performances by Keith Sweat, 112, and Next. Tickets are $85 to $115. On Saturday, Feb. 15, at 8 p.m., ’80s soft rockers Air Supply are landing at The Show. Featuring eight Top 10 hits in the early ’80s, Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock can help you re-live the past. Tickets are $40 to $60. On Saturday, Feb. 29, at 8 p.m., famed singer-songwriter Michael Bolton will perform. Come listen to a selection of his hits arranged for a symphony orchestra. Tickets are $55 to $75. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is creating all sorts of excuses to party! The Tribute Concert Series continues in February, as you can watch tips o’ the hat to The Eagles, Aretha Franklin, Elvis and Neil Diamond, Fridays at 8 p.m. All the shows are $10, and promise to teleport you back in time to the original artist’s prime! At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15, beefcake comes to town in the form of Magic Mike XXL. With dance numbers inspired by Magic Mike movies, this male revue show promises to wow audiences with “choreographed routines, stage presence and steamy showmanship.” Tickets are $20 to $30. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s, per usual, has a fantastic slate of music. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20, rock-group The Blank Tapes will bring dreamy psychedelic tunes to Pioneertown. It’s a free show, so money is not an excuse for not being there! At 8:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21, SASAMI (below; photo by Alice Baxley) will perform. Previously of Cherry Glazerr, SASAMI put out her debut solo record less than a year ago—and it is everything an indie kid’s ears can dream of … if ears could dream, that is. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Toucan's is featuring some great cabaret! At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, American Idol alum Melinda Doolittle will perform The Great American Soul Book. Expect hits from James Brown, Aretha Franklin and more! Tickets are $25 to $35. Continuing the theme of TV-singing-show alums: At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, come listen to Love Songs with Miss Frenchie Davis. Is there a better way to put someone in the Valentine’s Day mood? Tickets are $30 to $40. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21, laugh and get your heart (or liver?) warmed by A Tupperware Party With Dixie Longate. This hilarious show promises to demonstrate uses for Tupperware you never imagined. Tickets are $25 to $35. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; www.reactionshows.com.

The Purple Room’s February lineup is intriguing! At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8, enjoy Linda Lavin’s Love Notes show. Come for hits from the Great American Songbook, and stay for Lavin’s stories about her acting career. Tickets are $50 to $60. On Saturday, Feb. 15, Chadwick Johnson comes to town. Expect original music from this Las Vegas headliner! Tickets are $30 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Ace Hotel is determined to make you laugh. The Belly Flop comedy series continues every Wednesday, with Barry Rothbart performing at 9 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 5. Go laugh out loud to Comedy Central and Showtime’s very own talent—and the show is free! Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Date Shed is featuring local ska group Spankshaft at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22. Go support local music, and have a SKA-riffic night! Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

 

Published in Previews

January is bringing a brand-new festival to the land of festivals!

4xFAR, presented by Land Rover, is a brand-new music, food and adventure festival coming to Empire Grand Oasis in Thermal on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19. It will feature music with headliners Anderson .Paak and Mark Ronson, as well as a plethora of adventure activities, such as mountain biking, climbing, fly fishing and off-roading! General-admission tickets are $95 for one day, or $185 for both; head to 4xfar.com to get ’em.

The illustrious McCallum Theatre is featuring wonderful events throughout January. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, double-trouble actor and singer Jack Jones will grace the McCallum stage. He has more than 50 years of jazz and pop performances under his belt, so it’s no wonder The New York Times said that “he is arguably the most technically accomplished male pop singer.” Tickets are $40 to $90. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14, put on your green duds, and head to the McCallum to enjoy the Derina Harvey Band. This Celtic-rock group is described in press materials as being like “a rockier version of Canada’s Great Big Sea, if fronted by Adele.” Whoa! Tickets are $25 to $55. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs is hosting a plethora of big acts to start off the New Year. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, George Thorogood and the Destroyers will bring 45 years of hard rock to Indio. While the weather may be freezing you to the bone, come and get “Bad to the Bone” with bona fide rock legends. Tickets are $39 to $59. If you’ve been missing the classic sounds of the Motown era, you’re in for a real treat on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., as both The Temptations and The Four Tops are returning to town. Both groups’ hits have been tugging on your heart strings for more than five decades. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, the legendary Tony Bennett will bring his “I Left My Heart” Tour to the Fantasy Springs stage. He’s been performing for nearly 70 years, with more than 50 million records sold; come witness one of music’s living icons while you still can. Tickets are $49 to $109. If you don’t want to bother paying for heat in your own home, come out at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, when 98° promises to set the stage on fire. If the ’90s is what you’re longing for, both music-wise and temperature-wise, this show is for you. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 is showcasing a few festive events in January. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, Mexican singer-songwriter Pancho Barraza will return to Coachella. Do you really need more of an excuse to go dance? Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, Spotlight 29 is featuring a very unique event titled ¿Y Si Me Caso? This “musical wedding” promises to be as musical as it is dramatic, as one man decides which woman he should marry. Tickets are $25 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Agua Caliente intends to turn the heat up on those cold winter nights.At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, the one-and-only D-O-double G is coming to town. That’s right, Snoop Dogg, with openers O.T. Genasis and Warren G, is bringing that West Coast gangsta rap to Rancho Mirage, and you’d be a fool to miss out. Tickets are $85 to $115. If R&B is more your speed, then on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., make sure you catch Boyz II Men. Since the ’90s, the boyz have been putting audiences in their feelings with emotional ballads and sweet harmonies, so be there! Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, the Long Island Medium herself, Theresa Caputo, will return to The Show. This night will include Caputo’s stories about her experiences as a medium, and will feature interactions with some of the audience members. Tickets are $75 to $120. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

At Morongo, you can catch a few fun performances this month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, enjoy Baby Bash performing for Jimmy Reyes’ Birthday Bash. Come get your 2000s rap fix and celebrate a birthday at the same time! Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, Hollywood Medium Tyler Henry brings “An Evening of Hope, Healing and Closure” to Cabazon. This is a brand-new live show, that, of course, includes an audience Q&A and readings. Tickets are $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s is the home of more than a few rockin’ shows this month. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, Pappy’s will host the Americana-folk of Justin Townes Earle (below). The son of Steve Earle, who was named after the legendary Townes Van Zandt, has more than lived up to his impressive musical pedigree. Jonny Two Bags opens, and tickets are $25. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 16, indie surf-rock group Surf Curse will jam the night away. This is one of my favorite bands right now, offering an extremely dance-y and catchy vibe across songs that are sure to make any one with ears wanna jump around. Tickets are $16 to $18. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Toucan’s has some appealing LGBT-slanted events on the January docket. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 4, country-music man Ty Herndon returns to Palm Springs for a night of country hits from his late ’90s heyday, with newer songs as well. Tickets are $30 to $40. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, Jai Rodriguez kicks off his 2020 cabaret tour with “Tales of an Aging Twink.” He’s appeared on Broadway in Rent, and was part of the original Queer Eye cast, so it’s safe to say this night will be one to remember. Tickets are $25. And on Friday, Jan. 31, at 7:30 p.m., drag queens Jackie Beat and Sherry Vine will bring their comedy show “Best Frenemies” to Toucan’s. Tickets are $25. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; www.reactionshows.com.

The Purple Room promises to entertain with a packed January schedule. At 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, catch two-time 2018 Grammy nominee Clint Holmes sing both hits and originals with his jazz vocal stylings. Tickets are $60 to $65. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, Amanda McBroom will return to the Purple Room—this time performing songs from noir films! Tickets are $35 to $40. And on Friday, Jan. 31, at 8 p.m., witness the Black Market Trust combine jazzy hits with Django Reinhardt-style guitar-playing into one magnificent show. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

If you’ve been itching to support local talent, get thee to The Date Shed at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, to catch local rappers Provoked Poetry, Willdabeast, Thoughts Contained and DJ ODC for Provoked Poetry’s album release. Tickets are $10. And on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m., you can see three of the valley’s best young rock groups: Pescaterritory, Israel’s Arcade and Instigator, at Pescafest. Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

Published in Previews

Imagine this: You’re at a concert. It’s finally time for the curtains to roll back, and you see … four middle-age dudes, with a piano and a cello?

Yep. Before you can turn away, you’re hit with the piano melody of one of your favorite songs. One man is playing the piano while the other guys are making drum beats on the sides, or even pulling the strings of the piano, to create all the parts of that song.

The Piano Guys are doing what they do best—and you just can’t help but be amazed. See them for yourself on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 17 and 18, when they perform three shows at the McCallum Theatre.

Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson and Al van der Beek are four Utah dads who—with a little charm, luck and what they call blessings from God—have been winning the hearts of audiences as The Piano Guys since 2010. Their unique approach to creating music—performing covers of modern hits in a classical style—as well as their astonishing filming locations, including the Great Wall of China and the Christ the Redeemer statue, have made them viral-video sensations, resulting in more than 6.6 million YouTube subscribers and close to 2 billion views.

“It’s kind of serendipity, one of those happy accidents,” Schmidt said during a recent phone interview. “God brought us together. I really don’t know how else to explain it. Paul was doing his piano store, and had an interest in videography. I was doing a solo piano act and had eight albums of my own piano compositions, with a small following. Steve was doing music, and Al had his own recording studio that he was producing stuff in.

“Steve played a song with me at a gig one day, which turned into more songs, and collaborations in the studio. Then we gave him a microphone—which was one of the greatest decisions that I ever made: He’s got a world-class sense of humor, seriously a comic genius, and that added this sort of Smothers Brothers element to our show that was really cool and unforeseen. I would act like a goofball at my shows before, but when he joined, we were just put on a whole new level, and audiences love it. My favorite thing is when someone in the audience yells something random, and he’ll turn it into something so hilarious in a flash.”

Schmidt and I discussed the mysterious ways in which musical inspiration occurs.

“I think the music chooses us,” Schmidt said. “We’ve tried to work on stuff that makes (logical) sense, but you just don’t feel it. You know within an hour that something will never work. I’ve heard it compared to sculpting, where sculptors just have to look at the marble and can tell if it will be worth it to go in that direction or not. Concepts are rarely introduced; they just kind of hit you, and you know it’s worth it just by how it feels.”

The Piano Guys’ distinct creative process helps make them unique. You probably never knew you needed to hear “Let It Go” from Frozen in the style of classical music—yet you adore it once you hear it.

“When I was a teenager, I had a brother—12 years older than me—who was always trying to find music to show me,” said Schmidt. “It didn’t matter the genre—classical, Janis Joplin or choral music. But one day, he showed me this new album from a group called Mannheim Steamroller. It wasn’t their Christmas covers; it was their early originals. They mixed classical and rock ’n’ roll, and that captivated me, because growing up, my German immigrant parents would always be playing classical music. I was immersed in classical music at home, and when I was with my friends, I’d listen to the radio—so this Mannheim Steamroller group brought both those worlds together in such a cool way. When I started writing my own original music, it was in that style. I tried to rock-ify and modernize my classical piano training. Steve, our cellist, had the same sensibility, so we sprinkle classical all over our originals and even our covers. … People are intrigued when you mash up two appealing elements into one work.”

If The Piano Guys’ music wasn’t intriguing enough, each of their videos also features a beautiful backdrop. The guys have gone everywhere from various wonders of the world to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

“Paul really has a great mind for this project,” Schmidt said. “… He has a piano store, friends with helicopters and a great can-do attitude. My favorite place to film was the Iguazu Falls in Brazil. … Pretty much everywhere you look, you’ll see waterfalls and green. It was such an amazing place to make music. Another great place was the Lincoln Memorial. It’s one of those moments when I’m glad my parents made me practice.”

The Piano Guys first found success on YouTube—but weren’t sure their songs would translate in a live, theater setting. But they’ve been taking chances their whole career, and going out on tour was just another leap of faith.

“The thing that blows me away is that booking managers will tell us that we’ve been the greatest show they’ve ever seen,” Schmidt said. “It always fills me with wonder. Steve and I will walk out onstage and think, ‘Do these people realize this is a piano and cello concert?’ I really don’t understand it; it’s not a likely scenario. We’re not shredders by any means, but we just pray that we can put on a show where people can feel the love of God—and somehow, it just works.”

The Piano Guys will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 17; and 2 and 8 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 18, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $65 to $125. For tickets or more information, call 760-340-2787 or visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Published in Previews

A crowd of more than 80 people battled cold weather and a baffling lack of parking on Wednesday, Dec. 18, to head to Copa Nightclub to celebrate the winners of the sixth annual Best of Coachella Valley, as voted on by the readers of the Coachella Valley Independent.

It was the third time in four years that Copa has hosted the event—an honor bestowed upon Copa due to its win in the Best Nightclub category. The event honors the winners of the Independent's yearly readers' poll, which features almost 130 categories, ranging from Best Chiropractor, to Best Vegan/Vegetarian Cuisine, to Best Marijuana Dispensary.

The biggest contingents at the party—hosted by Independent editor/publisher Jimmy Boegle—came to celebrate Augustine Casino, which took the top spot in a whopping eight categories; Paul Zapala's win as Best Real Estate Agent; and KGAY 106.5's victory as Best Radio Station.

Below is a gallery of photos from the event, taken by Kevin Fitzgerald.

Published in Snapshot

The holiday season is here! It’s December in the Coachella Valley—which means venues are hosting a whole lot of events that’ll put you in the holiday spirit. Here’s but a sampling of the offerings local venues have in December.

The glorious McCallum Theatre has a packed schedule of shows that’ll get you in the Christmas mood. On Sunday, Dec. 1, at 3 and 7 p.m., come experience one of the greatest musical groups ever: The Beach Boys. While the group is famous for surfing hits and the visionary masterpiece Pet Sounds, the band is coming to Palm Desert on the “Holiday, Harmonies and Hits” tour; expect songs spanning the Boys’ entire career, as well as some holiday greats. Tickets are $68 to $118. This is the giving season, so it makes sense that the McCallum is hosting its 2019 McCallum Theatre Annual Gala, featuring legendary singer Seal. Proceeds from the gala help fund theater operations and arts-education programs across the valley. It takes place at 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 5. Tickets are $100 to $125. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs’ lineup this month has shows for lovers of all sorts of different genres. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, Old Dominion—with opener Ryan Hurd—will bring its “Make It Sweet” tour into town. Grab your cowboy hat and boots, and go square-dance the night away to the critically acclaimed country stylings! Tickets are $49 to $129. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, witness the Peanuts gang come to life at A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage. Enjoy holiday cheer with Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and more! Tickets are $39 to $69. Fresh off of Queen’s summer tour, where he again did an excellent job of filling the late Freddie Mercury’s shoes, Adam Lambert comes to Indio at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 20. Come enjoy an evening of Lambert’s pop hits—and perhaps some Queen covers. Tickets are $59 to $99. Legendary soul and gospel singer Dionne Warwick will bring her “A Holiday Celebration” tour to town at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21. The night will be filled with holiday and pop classics, and will feature Warwick’s signature voice backed by a 14-piece string section. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 is featuring a few fun events in December. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, The Dan Band will bring comedic interpretations of pop songs and hilarious stage banter to the Spotlight Showroom stage. This is the band featured at the end of The Hangover. Tickets are $20 to $30. Also coming to Spotlight: Femmes of Rock, rock violinists who cover your favorite classic-rock tunes, from AC/DC to ZZ Top. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, come find out what your favorite classic-rock song would sound like played by four violin-istas! Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Agua Caliente will host legendary recording artist Chris Isaak at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13. Best known for his song “Wicked Game”—one of the most covered songs in music—Isaak is bringing his rockabilly sound to Rancho Mirage for an entertaining night of songs. Tickets are $50 to $275. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino is showcasing a festive lineup of music and comedy acts throughout December. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, The Charlie Daniels Band is coming to Cabazon looking for a soul to steal. Country, Southern rock, and badass solos and beards—what more could you ask for? Tickets are $49. If you’re looking to laugh until you cry, come to Morongo on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 7 or 10 p.m., to witness one of the funniest comics of our time, Gabriel Iglesias. With numerous of specials, and his own series on Netflix, Iglesias is at the top of his game. Tickets are $69, and were close to selling out at press time. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet's features a plethora of bands to warm you up during cold Pioneertown nights this month. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, psych-punk outfit KOLARS will grace the Pappy’s stage. Considering the band’s ability to combine vastly different genres into one live set, the show will have something for everyone. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 28, The Evangenitals will return to Pappy’s for a night of alt-country and fun! The show is free, so why not go and enjoy it? Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Toucan's Tiki Bar and Cabaret Lounge is hosting a couple of December events. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, Joel Kim Booster (pictured below) will come to Palm Springs for a night of comedy. He has written for shows such as Big Mouth, and has had specials on Comedy Central. Tickets are $25. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13, Frenchie Davis brings her Soulful for the Holidays show to the desert. Davis has done both Broadway and the televised singing-competition shows during her career, so it’s safe to say: She can sing. Tickets are $35 to $45. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; www.reactionshows.com.

The Purple Room promises to keep you entertained this month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, Levi Kreis brings his annual Home for the Holidays show to the Purple Room. Go watch as Kreis infuses gospel, country, rockabilly, jazz and Christmas hits into one show. Tickets are $40 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, Scot Bruce returns to the Purple Room to become Elvis for the Elvis: Blue Suede Christmas show. If you weren’t around during Elvis’ day, or even if you were, go see the next best thing! Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27, Palm Springs JUMP! will pay tribute to some of the best artists who lived and performed in Palm Springs. This event will feature tunes from Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and others. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Ace is home to a lot of fantastic December happenings. From Friday, Dec. 20, through Sunday, Dec. 22, experience a weekend of comedy, music, movies and more at the Old St. Shtick festival. A plethora of comedians will be featured, such as Guy Branum, Billy Wayne Davis, Chris Estrada and others. Admission is free on Friday; tickets are $15 the other nights. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 26, gather for a night of tales at Campfire Stories With Desert Oracle’s Ken Layne. He was the subject of our September cover story. This is a perfect time to warm up by the fire and hear conspiracy theories regarding the monsters that surround our desert. The event is free! Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

Published in Previews

Every year, when late August rolls around, and we start the first round of Best of Coachella Valley voting, the results announcement seems so far away.

Yet … the next three months fly by—and while the time is flying, a lot of work is being done.

Primary, that work is being done by you, the amazing readers of the Independent. To start, you tackle that first-round ballot—including almost 130 categories and NO pre-selected finalists, just a blank field to fill in next to each category.

After that goes on for several weeks, we here at the Independent get to work, and we tabulate all those first-round ballots to determine who you picked as our finalists. Then, in late September comes the announcement of each category’s three to six finalists (five in most cases)—and the start of the final round of voting. After four weeks of that, we here at the Independent check the results and begin putting together our special Best of Coachella Valley print edition, as well as this online version.

We say it every year, but it’s worth repeating: Man, you readers are good. Yeah, other publications and websites here in the Coachella Valley do readers’ polls—but the slate of winners and finalists you Independent readers come up with is so much better than the rest, partially because of how we do our polling (i.e., asking readers to vote just once in each round, to lessen the ballot-box-stuffing), but mostly because you, our readers, are smart and community-minded. This is a fantastically diverse, valley-wide selection of finalists and winners.

So, please join us to celebrate at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 18, at Copa Nightclub—again your selection this year as Best Nightclub—at 244 E. Amado Road, in Palm Springs, for the Best of Coachella Valley Awards Party. All of the winners present will receive certificates and have an opportunity to say thanks. Plus, we may have several surprises in store for everyone. I hope to see you there.

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists … and welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2019-2020!

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


Arts

 

Best Art Gallery

TIE

CODA Gallery

Shag

 

Runners up:

3. Heather James Fine Art

4. Melissa Morgan Fine Art

5. Michael Weems Collection

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Show at Agua Caliente

4. Fantasy Springs Special Events Center

5. The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

4. Empire Polo Club

5. Rancho Mirage Amphitheater

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. CREATE Center for the Arts

5. Coachella Valley Symphony

 

Best Local Band

Giselle Woo and The Night Owls

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

The Flusters

Ocho Ojos

4. Avenida Music

5. Captain Ghost

 

Best Local DJ

DJ Galaxy

 

Runners up:

2. Alf Alpha

3. Alex Harrington

4. DJ Baz/Barry Martin

5. DJ Mr. D/Joe De Hoyos

 

Best Local Musician (Individual)

Jesika von Rabbit

 

Runners up:

2. Giselle Woo

3. Doug Van Sant

4. Courtney Chambers

5. Krystofer Do

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Adam Enrique Rodriguez

 

Runners up:

2. Shag

3. Sofia Enriquez

4. Chris Sanchez

5. Cristopher Cichocki

 

Best Movie Theater

Century La Quinta and XD

 

Runners up:

2. Mary Pickford Is D’Place

3. Camelot Theatres at the Palm Springs Cultural Center

4. Century Theatres at The River and XD

5. Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 and IMAX

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Palm Springs Air Museum

Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

4. Coachella Valley History Museum

 

Best Producing Theater Company

Palm Canyon Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Desert Theatreworks

5. Desert Ensemble Theatre Company

6. Dezart Performs


Life in the Valley

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

TIE

Desert AIDS Project

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

3. Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley

4. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

5. Shelter From the Storm

 

Best Gym

EOS Fitness

 

Runners up:

2. 24 Hour Fitness

3. World Gym

4. In-Shape

 

Best Yoga

Urban Yoga

 

Runners up:

2. Bikram Yoga Plus

3. Yoga Center Palm Desert

4. Power Yoga Palm Springs

5. Yoga Central

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Lanes Bowling

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes at Morongo

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty

 

Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Gear Leather and Fetish

4. Mischief Cards and Gifts

 

Best Auto Repair

Exotic Car Service

 

Runners up:

2. A.G. Auto Care

3. Kennard’s Automotive

4. TIE

Cam Stone’s Automotive

Singh’s Automotive Repair

 

Best Car Wash

Quick Quack Car Wash

 

Runners up:

2. Elephant Car Wash

3. Executive Car Wash

4. Airport Quick Car Wash

5. Desert 100 Percent Hand Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

Moller’s Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Moorten Botanical Garden

3. Vintage Nursery

4. Lotus Garden Center

5. Bob Williams Nursery

6. Sky Nursery

 

Best Pet Supplies

Bones-N-Scones

 

Runners up:

2. Petco

3. PetSmart

4. Pet Oasis

5. PoshPetCare

 

Best Annual Charity Event

Palm Springs Pride

 

Runners up:

2. Concert for Autism

3. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

4. Red Dress/Dress Red (LGBT Community Center of the Desert)

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

6. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards (Desert AIDS Project)

 

Best Place to Gamble

Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Rancho Mirage

3. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Palm Springs (Spa Resort Casino)

4. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

5. Spotlight 29

 

Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. KMIR Channel 6/NBC Palm Springs

3. CBS Local 2

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Bryan Gallo, KMIR Channel 6/NBC Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Karen Devine, KESQ News Channel 3

3. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

4. Brooke Beare, KESQ News Channel 3

5. Jeff Stahl, KESQ News Channel 3

 

Best Radio Station

KGAY 106.5

 

Runners up:

2. 93.7 KCLB

3. Jammin’ 99.5

4. Mix 100.5

5. 107.3 Mod FM

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5

 

Runners up:

2. John Taylor, KGAY 106.5

3. Bill Feingold, KNews 94.3 FM/104.7

4. Don Wardell, 107.3 Mod FM

 

Best Retail Music/Video

Palm Springs Vinyl Records and Collectibles

 

Runners up:

2. Record Alley

3. Guitar Center

4. Music Heals

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Game Stop

3. Comic Asylum

 

Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Runners up:

2. The Saguaro Palm Springs

3. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

4. Renaissance Palm Springs

5. Kimpton Rowan

 

Best Indoor Fun/Activity

Escape Room Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Get Air Trampoline Park

3. Glitch Palm Springs

4. Desert Rocks Indoor Climbing Gym

 

Best Marijuana Dispensary

Joy of Life Wellness Center

 

Runners up:

2. The Leaf El Paseo

3. Atomic Budz

4. Palm Springs Safe Access

5. Mother Earth’s Farmacy

 


Valley Professionals

 

Best Doctor

Dr. Maria Gopez

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Bruce Ferguson

3. Gennady “Henry” Nosovitsky, PA

4. Dr. David Morris

5. Dr. Michael Jardula

 

Best Eye Care

Milauskas Eye Institute

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. David Esquibel (Desert Vision)

3. Dr. Greg Evans (Evans Eyecare)

4. Dr. Wallace Goldban (Desert Ophthalmology)

5. Dr. John K. Schofield

 

Best Dentist/Orthodontist

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

 

Runners up:

2. Hospitality Dental and Orthodontics

3. Dr. Frank Hernandez (Hernandez Dental)

4. Dr. Gerald Chang

5. Vineyard Family Dental Office

 

Best Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Mark Sofonio

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Timothy Jochen

3. Dr. Scott Aaronson

4. Dr. Bruce Chisholm

 

Best Attorney

Walter Clark

 

Runners up:

2. Barbara Barrett

3. Christopher Heritage

4. Brad Faber

5. Michael Knighten

 

Best Air Conditioning Service

Comfort Air

 

Runners up:

2. Timo’s Air Conditioning and Heating

3. Esser Air Conditioning and Heating

4. General Air Conditioning

5. Simmons Air

 

Best Personal Trainer

Jaime Jimenez

 

Runners up:

2. Ryann McMillon

3. Brian Guzman

4. Brandon Wertz

 

Best Chiropractor

Dr. Gina Davis

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Jim Cox

3. Dr. Susan Brennan

4. Dr. Navid Nazemi

5. Dr. Stephen Krupey

 

Best Real Estate Agent

TIE

Barbara Carpenter

Paul Zapala

 

Runners up:

3. Shann Carr

4. Paula LaBellarti

5. Jason Allen

 

Best Public Servant

Rep. Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs City Councilman Geoff Kors

3. Sheriff Chad Bianco

4. Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia

5. Palm Desert City Councilman Sabby Jonathan


Fashion and Style

 

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Trina Turk

 

Runners up:

2. R&R Menswear

3. Wil Stiles

4. Kimbals

5. Division

 

Best Local Resale/Vintage Clothing

Revivals

 

Runners up:

2. Angel View

3. Goodwill

4. Plato’s Closet

 

Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. H3K Design

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Bob’s Discount Furniture

 

Best Antiques/Collectables Store

Misty’s Consignments

 

Runners up:

2. Sunny Dunes Antiques Mall

3. The Estate Sale Co.

4. Victoria’s Attic

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

Tiffany and Co.

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo Jewelers

3. Leeds and Son

4. The Fine Jewelry Bar

 

Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Heads Up Hair Designs

3. 18|8 Fine Men’s Salon

4. Turquoise Salon

5. Dishwater Blonde Salon

 

Best Spa in a Resort/Hotel

Sunstone Spa at Agua Caliente

 

Runners up:

2. Spa at the Ritz Carlton

3. Spa La Quinta at the La Quinta Resort

4. The Spa at Desert Springs (JW Marriott)

5. Agua Serena Spa at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells

 

Best Day Spa (Non-Resort/Hotel)

Massage Envy

 

Runners up:

2. Studio M Salon and Spa

3. Bliss Chakra Spa

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Indio Florist

3. Jensen’s Foods

4. Cathedral City Floral Designs

5. Vaso Bello Celebrations

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

Anarchy and Ink Tattoo

 

Runners up:

2. Bloodline Tattoo and Body Piercing

3. Blue Rose Tattoo

4. Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

5. Strata Tattoo Lab

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. Ooh La La De Paris Eyewear

4. LensCrafters

5. One Price Optical


Outside!

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. TIE

Moorten Botanical Garden

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

5. Wellness Park at Ruth Hardy Park

 

Best Place for Bicycling

CV Link

 

Runners up:

2. Joshua Tree

3. Bear Creek Path (La Quinta)

4. Tahquitz Creek Loop

 

Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Whitewater Preserve

3. Mount San Jacinto State Park (Top of the Tram)

4. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

5. Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area

 

Best Hike

Bump and Grind Trail

 

Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Canyon Trail

3. Mount San Jacinto State Park (Top of the Tram)

4. Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve

5. The Cross Trail Loop

 

Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. Ruth Hardy Park

3. La Quinta Civic Center Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Sunrise Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Big 5 Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

4. Nomad Ventures

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs/Palm Desert Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Tri-A-Bike

3. Joel’s Bicycle Shop

4. BikeMan

 

Best Sporting Goods

Big 5 Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

4. Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis

 

Best Public Golf Course

Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort

 

Runners up

2. Desert Willow Golf Resort

3. Eagle Falls Golf Course

4. Classic Club Golf

5. Mission Lakes Country Club

 


For the Kids

 

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Demuth Park

4. Ruth Hardy Park

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Mr. G’s Toys and Expressions

 

Runners up:

2. Target

3. Walmart

4. JadaBug’s Kids Boutique

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Target

 

Runners up:

2. Old Navy

3. JadaBug’s Kids Boutique

4. Carter’s

5. The Children’s Place

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Old Spaghetti Factory

4. Shakey’s Pizza

5. Billy Q’s

 

Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 

Runners up:

2. Boomers

3. Escape Room Palm Springs

4. Get Air Trampoline Park

5. Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

Fantasy Lanes Bowling Alley

 

Runners up:

2. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

3. Get Air Trampoline Park

4. Chuck E. Cheese’s

5. Shakey’s Pizza


Food and Restaurants

 

Best Casual Eats

TIE

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

3. Bongo Johnny’s

4. Kitchen 86 + Bar

5. Billy Q’s

 

Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

3. Dash and a Handful

4. Lynn Hammond

5. Fusion Flair

 

Best Diner

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Bongo Johnny’s

3. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

4. Rick’s Restaurant

5. John’s Restaurant

 

Best Organic Food Store

Sprouts Farmers Market

 

Runners up:

2. Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods

3. Whole Foods

4. Nature’s Health Food and Cafe

5. Harvest Health Foods

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. TKB Bakery and Deli

3. Real Italian Deli

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Bristol Farms

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Nothing Bundt Cakes

3. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

4. Pastry Swan Bakery

5. Jensen’s Foods

 

Best Desserts

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Nothing Bundt Cakes

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Billy Reed’s

6. Jensen’s Foods

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Great Shakes

 

Runners up:

2. Brandini Toffee

3. Lappert’s Ice Cream

4. Coco Freeze

5. Kreem

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Hadley’s

3. Great Shakes

4. Oasis Date Gardens

5. Windmill Market

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

Yogurtland

 

Runners up:

2. Jus Chillin’

3. Tutti Frutti

4. Beach House

 

Best Bakery

Townie Bagels, Bakery and Café

 

Runners up:

2. TKB Bakery and Deli

3. Aspen Mills

4. Frankie’s Italian Bakery, Café and Supper Club

5. Carousel Bakery

 

Best Barbecue

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

 

Runners up:

2. Smoke Tree BBQ

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

4. Jackalope Ranch

5. Zobo and Meester’s

 

Best Burger

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Tyler’s Burgers

3. Smokin’ Burgers

4. Bongo Johnny’s

5. Tony’s Burgers

 

Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Bongo Johnny’s

4. Palm Greens Café

5. Grand Central Palm Springs

 

Best Sandwich

TKB Bakery and Deli

 

Runners up:

2. The Sandwich Spot

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Bongo Johnny’s

5. The Lunchbox

6. Billy Q’s

 

Best Pizza

Bill’s Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

3. Blaze Pizza

4. Upper Crust Pizza

5. Billy Q’s

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Wingstop

3. Bongo Johnny’s

4. Jackalope Ranch

5. Billy Q’s

 

Best Bagels

Townie Bagels, Bakery and Café

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

3. Panera Bread

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Bristol Farms

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Jamba Juice

3. Koffi

4. Coco Freeze

5. Big Juice Bar

 

Best Buffet

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Grand Palms Buffet at Agua Caliente

3. Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantast Springs

4. Emperor Buffet

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Local Coffee Roaster

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Joshua Tree Coffee Company

3. Coachella Valley Coffee Company

 

Best Coffee Shop

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Gre Coffeehouse and Art Gallery

3. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

4. IW Coffee

5. Townie Bagels, Bakery and Café

 

Best Tea

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

 

Runners up:

2. Koffi

3. Grand Central Palm Springs

4. Starbucks

 

Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Spencer’s Restaurant

3. POM California Cuisine at Fantasy Springs

4. Acqua California Bistro

5. Bellatrix at the Classic Club

 

Best Breakfast

TIE

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

Wilma and Frieda’s

 

Runners up:

3. Elmer’s

4. Broken Yolk Café

5. Bongo Johnny’s

6. Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Best Brunch

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Spencer’s Restaurant

3. The Tropicale

4. Lulu California Bistro

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Chinese

P.F. Chang’s

 

Runners up:

2. JOY at Fantasy Springs

3. Palm Tree Palace

4. New Fortune Asian Cuisine

5. Soul of China

 

Best Greek

Evzin Mediterranean Cuisine

 

Runners up:

2. Athena Gyro

3. Nina’s Greek Cuisine

4. Koutouki Greek Estiatorio

5. Yianni’s Taverna

 

Best French

Le Vallauris Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. French Corner Cafe

3. L’Atelier Café

4. Cuistot Restaurant

5. Si Bon

 

Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine

 

Runners up:

2. India Oven

3. Sam’s Indian Food and Pizza

 

Best Italian

Mario’s Italian Café

 

Runners up:

2. Ristorante Mamma Gina

3. Johnny Costa’s Ristorante

4. Il Giardino

5. Il Corso

 

Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Shabu Shabu Zen

3. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

4. Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey

5. Taka Shin

 

Best Korean

JOY at Fantasy Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Maru Korean B.B.Q. and Grill

3. Umami Seoul

4. You Grill Korean BBQ

 

Best Sushi

Dragon Sushi

 

Runners up:

2. Misaki Sushi and Griill

3. Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey

4. Joyce’s Sushi

5. Taka Shin

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Mariscoco's Culiacan

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

 

Runners up:

2. The Steakhouse at Agua Caliente

3. LG’s Prime Steakhouse

4. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

5. Outback Steakhouse

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. My Thai

3. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

4. Thai House

5. Le Basil

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. 533 Viet Fusion

3. Rooster and the Pig

4. JOY at Fantasy Springs

5. Pho of the Desert

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Chef Tanya’s Kitchen

 

Runners up:

2. Native Foods Café

3. Palm Greens Café

4. Luscious Lorraine’s

5. The Sandbox Kitchen

 

Best Upscale Dining

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

3. The Tropicale

4. Johannes

5. Jillian’s

 

Best Outdoor Seating

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Spencer’s Restaurant

3. Jackalope Ranch

4. Bongo Johnny’s

5. Bellatrix at the Classic Club

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. Bongo Johnny’s

4. King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

5. Paul Bar/Food

 

Best Mexican

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Pueblo Viejo Grill

3. Tac/Quila

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. La Tablita

 

Best Salsa

Rincon Norteño

 

Runners up:

2. Las Casuelas Terraza

3. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Tac/Quila

 

Best Burrito

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. El Mirasol

3. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Loco Charlie’s

 


Spirits and Nightlife

 

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. Burgers and Beer

3. Draughtsman

4. The Beer Hunter

5. Eureka!

 

Best Local Brewery

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

4. Desert Beer Company

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Neil’s Lounge

3. The Beer Hunter

4. Henry’s Sports Bar and Grill

5. Bart Lounge

 

Best Cocktail Menu

TRIO Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. Tonga Hut

4. Workshop Kitchen + Bar

5. Seymour’s

 

Best Craft Cocktails

Paul Bar/Food

 

Runners up:

2. Seymour’s

3. Truss and Twine

4. Libation Room

5. Del Rey at the Villa Royale

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Hunters

 

Runners up:

2. Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

3. Blackbook

4. Chill Bar Palm Springs

5. The Roost

6. Streetbar

 

Best Happy Hour

La Quinta Cliffhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. The Tropicale

4. TIE

Il Corso

Kitchen 86 + Bar

 

Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Tool Shed

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Desert Fox

5. Club 5

 

Best Margarita

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. El Mirasol

5. Tac/Quila

 

Best Martini

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Bongo Johnny’s

4. TIE

Del Rey at the Villa Royale

Zin American Bistro

 

Best Nightclub

Copa Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Hunters

3. Chill Bar Palm Springs

4. Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

5. Bart Lounge

 

Best Sports Bar

The Beer Hunter

 

Runners up:

2. Big Rock Pub

3. AMP Sports Lounge

4. Revel Public House

5. Billy Q’s

6. Henry’s Sports Bar and Grill

 

Best Wine Bar

Zin American Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. V Wine Lounge

3. TIE

Dead or Alive

Twelve Cocktails Above at Fantasy Springs

5. La Fe Wine Bar

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. Desert Wine Shop on 111

4. Bouschet

5. Larry’s Wine and Spirits

 

Best Bar Ambiance

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Paul Bar/Food

3. TRIO Restaurant

4. Stacy’s Palm Springs

5. Del Rey at the Villa Royale

Published in Readers' Picks

It is now officially fall in the Coachella Valley, which means the weather’s getting colder—and the entertainment is getting hotter. Here are some November events worth noting.

The illustrious McCallum Theatre features some premium entertainment this month. Rock icon Melissa Etheridge, known for hits “Ain’t It Heavy” and “Bring Me Some Water,” takes the stage at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14. The Oscar and Grammy winner is touring in support of her most recent album, The Medicine Show. Tickets are $85 to $105, and are very nearly sold out. As we inch closer to the holidays, the arrival of A Christmas Story: The Musical will be most welcome. The songwriters behind Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land have transformed the cult-classic film into a stage show that “will shoot yer eye out, kid!” Catch it at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 26; and 2 and 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 27. Tickets are $65 to $125. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30, piano wizard John Tesh (right) will grace the McCallum stage. After selling 8 million records over his career, Tesh is coming to Palm Desert on his “Acoustic Christmas” tour, which will get you in the right mood for the upcoming holiday season. Tickets are $35 to $75. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs is featuring one of the biggest norteño groups in the world at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8, as Los Tigres del Norte brings hits from a 30-plus-year career to Indio for a night of música y baile! Fresh off the Los Tigres del Norte at Folsom Prison live album and concurrent Netflix special, you can enjoy what Billboard calls “the most influential regional Mexican group.” Tickets are $49 to $99. Coming to the Fantasy Springs stage at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, is legendary crooner Paul Anka. While Anka will play the hits from his career, such as his 1959 classic “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” this Anka Sings Sinatra: His Songs, My Songs, My Way tour also features Anka’s tribute to the Chairman of the Board. Even at 78, Anka still can woo with that trademark voice. Tickets are $59 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29’s most-intriguing November event is the All Star Jam, presented by Auen Foundation. Have you ever wondered what would happen if members from hit groups such as The Romantics, Journey, Chicago and Kansas all got together under one roof for the ultimate jam session? With all proceeds going to Martha’s Village, it’d be a shame for you to not to go and find out. The show is at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, and tickets are $75 to $95. You must be 21 or older to attend. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Agua Caliente turns up the heat this month, as funk pioneers Tower of Power (alongside openers Average White Band) arrive at The Show at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, to celebrate their 50th anniversary by performing songs that are guaranteed to “funkifize, energize and provide the soundtrack for new American movements of love, peace, soul power, mind power and people power to rise!” In 1973, the group asked “What Is Hip?”, so go find the answer. Tickets are $46 to $170. A few weeks later, the irreplaceable and recognizable voice of legendary soul singer Smokey Robinson will come to Rancho Mirage. Witness the Motown leader live, at 79 years young, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23. Tickets are $95 to $125. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo will host the multi-talented Wayne Brady, from Whose Line Is It Anyway? and, more recently, Let’s Make a Deal. Go see his comedy and singing skills in full effect at 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8. Tickets are $45 to $55. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s November lineup features top-notch acts of seemingly every kind. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 1, enjoy the desert’s own Jesika von Rabbit, with support acts Landroid and Popstar Nima, on a night that promises to invigorate. Tickets are $20. The following weekend, catch two legends who rocked the ’70s. Cherie Currie (The Runaways) and Brie Darling (Fanny) have teamed up and plan to take Pappy’s back four decades with hits from their catalogs, along with some of their favorite songs. The show is at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, and tickets are $20. Pappy’s will close out the month with the genre-melding Meat Puppets, with supporting act Particle Kid (ason of Willie Nelson), at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30. Thanks to Meat Puppets tracks dabbling in country, punk and alternative rock, fans won’t want to miss out on these ’80s icons who inspired the likes of Kurt Cobain. (Two tracks on Nirvana’s Unplugged album are Meat Puppets covers!) Tickets are $25 and may already be sold out. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Toucans is hosting some festive events this month. From 3 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, check out the second annual Pride in the Parking Lot event. Admission is free, but space is limited, so head to the website below to reserve space, as legendary DJ Chi Chi LaRue and other music acts will perform all day long. The following weekend, famous lesbian standup comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer (below), with special guest Ebony Toliver, will bring the laughs at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8. Tickets are $25. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; www.reactionshows.com.

At the Date Shed, reggae all-stars Fortunate Youth will return to Indio at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14. The group is fresh off single “Young and Innocent” with Half Pint, so come down, get up, stand up and boogie to some reggae rock. Tickets are $20. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

The Purple Room in Palm Springs features some top acts this month. Vocal and cello duo Branden and James will be bringing their brand of classical/soul music to the stage at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, and Saturday, Nov. 23. They are on their “All You Need Is Love” tour, and will fill the night with a wide array of hits from Nat King Cole to music from Rent. Tickets are $35 to $40. Also gracing the Purple Room’s stage is musical treasure Marilyn Maye. At age 91, there’s nothing she can’t do. She’s most famous for her record number of appearances on The Tonight Show—76! Ella Fitzgerald once called her “the greatest white female singer in the world.” See her perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 30. Tickets are $70 to $90. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club promises a night of laughter for the ages at 9 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 6, when the weekly Belly Flop comedy night features Neil Hamburger, Maggie Maye and Robert Dayton. Iconic comedian Neil Hamburger has opened for Tenacious D, Tim and Eric, and Faith No More, and tells some of the worst jokes you will ever hear (in a good way). Tickets are free; you just need to RSVP. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

Published in Previews

Bruce Fessier has seen the Coachella Valley’s arts and entertainment culture completely change—repeatedly—during the 40 years he’s worked as the entertainment writer at The Desert Sun.

On June 3, Fessier’s column will be appearing for the last time before he heads into retirement.

“The industry has changed quite a bit, and it’s not as satisfying as it used to be,” Fessier said during a recent interview at The Desert Sun’s offices. “I still have some brain cells, so I would still like to do some other things before I no longer have those brain cells. I never wanted to spend my entire life as a journalist. It just kind of worked out that way. Having the opportunity to take an early-retirement benefit gives me enough of a cushion that I can try some other things.”

When Fessier arrived at The Desert Sun in 1979, there wasn’t much to cover.

“I often say that the difference between now and then is that when I first started, there wasn’t enough entertainment to have a calendar,” Fessier said. “Now there is so much entertainment that they don’t want me spending my time assembling a calendar. So I don’t do a calendar anymore, and I’m back to where I started. I covered the nightclubs, and I covered the lounge scene. They had concerts at Palm Springs High School, and most were either big band or classical.”

Fessier said skater culture was helping launch a local music scene when he started at The Desert Sun.

“There was a guy named Myke Bates who started a company called Bates Skates. That became the centerpiece for this skating culture,” Fessier said. “There was a rebellion that was happening right after I got here. A lot of the people were skateboarding and roller-skating on sidewalks in Palm Springs. The city of Palm Springs created ordinances to prohibit them from skating. This guy Bates was the head of the skating culture and was a punk-rocker. He was in the band Target 13. That generated this punk-rock culture, and I started covering a lot of that. Most of that was in Desert Hot Springs and not in Palm Springs itself, but there was a real scene that was developing. I covered that in the early days, and it was always the alternative to the classical stuff you’d see at Palm Springs High School and the lounge scene.”

Fessier was around when the desert generator scene developed. Bands such as Kyuss and Fatso Jetson played shows in the middle of the desert as they cut their teeth—and Fessier doesn’t agree with the modern romanticization of those desert parties.

“I went out to one generator party, and it was just terrible conditions,” he said. “Never mind how dangerous it was; it was the type of thing where there was so much sand blowing. It would get in your face and all the instruments, and it was just not enjoyable. … I would see some of those guys at Adrian’s Dance Club or something like that, but I can’t say I was a participant in the generator scene.

“Back in 1989, you could hear this music coming out from the middle of nowhere, and you didn’t know where it was coming from, because they never told anybody. Jesse Hughes (of Eagles of Death Metal) recently posted on Facebook about how I covered him in the early days. I saw him and one of his bands at this drive-through Italian restaurant in Cathedral City where you could get spaghetti for $2, and he was playing there. That’s the thing: You’d see these people playing in little nooks and crannies. Even though I didn’t go out and hang out in the hills, I was still aware of what was going on.”

There was one name in town that you couldn’t avoid back then.

“Everybody idolized Sinatra in those days,” Fessier said. “I wrote a column one time back then about how you could go to every bar in town and hear ‘New York, New York.’ I got so sick of that song. That came out in 1979, and everybody was singing it. That’s what it was like in 1979 in Palm Springs. They were all close personal friends of Frank and all had stories about him, and I’d run into him at all these different places. That was kind of fun, actually.

“I wasn’t really a big Frank Sinatra fan at the time, but just seeing the impact he had on all the people and discovering his generosity in person—it made me a big fan of his. Once I stopped getting over the generational thing that I had and started appreciating his music, I became a big Frank Sinatra fan.”

Fessier remembered seeing both the good side and the bad side of the Chairman of the Board.

“He was mercurial. If you caught him on a good day, you were intoxicated by him. If you caught him on a bad day, you were scared to death of him. I saw him on both sides,” Fessier said. “The first time I was in a room with him was the first week I was entertainment editor. This PR guy decided he was going to take me around town and show me all the lounges and restaurants. He told me he was going to take me to Don the Beachcomber, because that was where Sinatra hung out. I had a friend with me at the time who was a real drunken kind of friend. I wasn’t expecting this to be any big deal, and the last thing I expected was to see Sinatra at this place.

“We get there, and there was Sinatra. Don the Beachcomber was a tiny place. He was at the bar with about 20 friends, and he’s entertaining them all. This red light came on, and he said, ‘When that red light comes on, I sing.’ This PR guy said, ‘You do not talk to Frank Sinatra.’ My friend was drunk and said, ‘I don’t care what you say; I know people who are big shots, and I’m going to go up to him and say hello.’ (My friend) brushed us aside and said, ‘Hey Frank,’ and Frank said, ‘Hey pal, how you doing?’ and shook his hand.

“Frank had this charisma, and it would hypnotize you a bit.”

Fessier also covered the local theater scene extensively.

“I saw the big change coming, and that was the McCallum Theatre (which opened in 1988),” he said. “When I got here, there was an organization called the Valley Players Guild, and they were always looking for their own home. Then there (was) the Palm Desert Community Theatre, and that was pretty much it. College of the Desert did their own shows. Then the McCallum (began) doing fundraising and the performing-arts series that they did at Palm Springs High School and the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum. It became apparent that would not only dwarf community theater, but take up all of The Desert Sun’s resources: I was going to be covering what was going on at the McCallum instead of community theater.

“That’s the reason I co-founded the Desert Theatre League in 1987, because there were more groups that were starting, and there were other splinter groups. I thought they needed some sort of a promotion that I wasn’t going to be able to provide, and an award show would be that kind of promotion. I wanted it to also be a networking opportunity for people to share their resources. My co-founder was an actor in town who also worked in the advertising department for The Desert Sun, so some of these splinter groups that didn’t have nonprofit status could get the lower nonprofit advertising rate by being a member.”

Fessier and I were two of the five journalists invited to cover Paul McCartney’s 2016 show at Pappy and Harriet’s. I remember seeing him disappear and reappear many times throughout the show.

“I had an early deadline,” Fessier explained. “We are always trying to be first, and so Robyn (Celia, the venue’s co-owner) let me use their office. Their office got so crazy with people coming in to where I went to the back of the office in this closet where I had my laptop, and I’d be writing and walking out to see what the commotion was. We didn’t get a photo pass, either, and I was trying to take pictures. That was crazy! … It was certainly historic, and I didn’t really appreciate it as much as I should have at the time.”

Fessier said covering the valley’s big festivals, Coachella especially, can be tiring and strenuous—but wind up being worth the trouble.

“Even today, the press accommodations are bad,” Fessier said. “I did an interview with (Coachella founder) Paul Tollett a week ago, and I was telling him how the press accommodations always suck. I told him, ‘You know what the sports guys get?’ The second year we were there, a colleague said that the press tent was four sticks and a canvas. The first year, they didn’t even have electricity in there. But at the time, it was so magical, because you could just walk up to people. I walked right up to Moby and did an interview. There was nobody setting up any press interviews. It was magical from the very beginning.”

Fessier made a prediction about Coachella’s future.

“It’s going to be international,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if J Balvin is the first international headliner not to use English as his primary language. That’s the direction it’s going in. It had more international stars this year than there were acts from the United States. Paul Tollett likes to nurture those guys and bring them up.”

Considering all the changes taking place in the media world, I had to ask: Do you feel that what we do will still matter in the future?

“I just did a talk to a class of broadcasters at College of the Desert, and I told them, ‘You’re living in an exciting time when you won’t need radio stations, and you won’t need newspapers, (but) you will need entrepreneurial skills to monetize your work. You have an opportunity to find out what you want to do and make a living at it without corporate ties,’” he said. “Working for a corporation is very frustrating. I’m happy to not have to be worried about rewriting some story from TMZ about herpes breaking out at Coachella.”

Fessier explained why he stayed at The Desert Sun for four decades.

“I got an offer at the San Francisco Chronicle, and I’m from San Francisco. I went to college there, and I always dreamed of going back to the Bay Area. But the salary they were offering me was not significantly more than what I was getting here,” he said. “I’ve always had other income opportunities and have never had to rely just on The Desert Sun. It’s between not being offered enough money and my wife saying, ‘I’m not going to live in Cincinnati!’

“This is a nice place to not only live but raise kids. I’m very proud that both of my kids are doing very well now. One is an animator for Bob’s Burgers, and the other one is managing a cannabis dispensary.”

Published in Features

The summer slowdown is beginning after a rainy, windy, busy season. The snowbirds are gone—but May is still packed with a lot of compelling events.

The McCallum Theatre is winding down with a couple of events before going dark over the summer. At 7 p.m., Thursday, May 2; 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4; and 2 p.m., Sunday, May 5, College of the Desert Performing Arts will be performing Phantom of the Opera. Tickets are $23 to $43. Take a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 9; 2 p.m., Friday, May 10; and 2 and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 11, with Shen Yun. This is a musical and dance performance of various tales and legends from China. Tickets are $120 to $150. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is rocking into May. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 18, the supergroup (and the word “supergroup” is an understatement in this case) Hollywood Vampires will be performing. It’s Joe Perry of Aerosmith along with ... Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper! With a lineup like that, you need a word bigger than “supergroup.” Tickets are $59 to $99. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 24, R&B superstar Maxwell will be returning to the Coachella Valley. In 2016, Maxwell released his album blackSUMMERS’night to high critical acclaim. Tickets are $59 to $99. At 8 p.m., Sunday, May 26, Runaways guitarist and all-around bad ass Joan Jett will be performing. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage has a star-packed May with several sold-out events. Here are a couple with tickets left as of our press deadline. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11, enjoy CIRCOVIA, a Cirque-style extravaganza, created by Misha Matorin, a former member of Cirque du Soleil. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 31, comedian, actor and writer Rodney Carrington will be appearing. You probably remember Carrington’s raunchy comedy from the late ’90s when everyone was sending .WAV files of his raunchy songs to your AOL e-mail address. Tickets are $35 to $55. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a big Latin-music event in May. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 4, Norteño group Los Huracanes del Norte will be performing, along with Banda Machos. Los Huracanes del Norte is internationally acclaimed Latin group, as is Banda Machos—so what we are trying to say is that this is a huge deal. Tickets are $35 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa is the place to be if you’re passionate about … TACOS! At 11 a.m., Saturday, May 18, it’ll be time for the Morongo Taco Festival 2019. What could be better than a taco festival? Maybe it’d be more appropriate on a Tuesday—but a Saturday will do just fine, because any time is good for tacos. Tickets are $10, and tacos from 30 various vendors are $2. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace rides into the spring/early summer season with an impressive May calendar. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 24, Matisyahu (upper right) will be performing. Matisyahu’s career started with him winning over audiences as a devout Hasidic reggae star, but over the years, he’s become more spiritually evolved and has branched out musically. Tickets are $40. At 4 p.m., Saturday, May 25, the outdoor festival Stoned and Dusted will be taking place, with Melvins, Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork and others. Tickets are $60. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed is ending the season with a few events in May. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 10, Los Angeles jam band The Higgs will be performing. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Thursday, May 23, MURS will take the stage. MURS is a socially minded rapper on the independent side of the rap game. He’s a brilliant lyricist—and this is one show you won’t want to miss. Tickets are $20-$25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has a star-studded May schedule. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 4, soul singer Chadwick Johnson will be performing. Johnson has worked with famed producer David Foster, has performed for former President Bill Clinton, and has received international success for his combination of soul music with pop and jazz. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 17, Nutty will be doing a vinyl-record release in collaboration with local artist Shag. Nutty is self-described as “jetsetter jazz.” Translation: The group takes rock ’n’ roll hits and puts on a jazz spin on them. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 18, actress, songwriter and singer Amanda McBroom (below) will be performing. McBroom is probably best-known for writing the title track for the film The Rose, and she had recurring roles on shows such as Starsky and Hutch, Star Trek: The Next Generation and many others. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

If you’re a data geek like I am, you can have a lot of fun with Pollstar magazine’s annual list of the Top 200 theater venues in the world.

For example: The Coachella Valley’s McCallum Theatre—considered a small- to medium-sized venue—in 2018 came in at No. 70 in the entire world, with well more than 100,000 tickets sold. No theater in Southern California sold more tickets than the McCallum did, even though the venue is only open for half the year.

That’s right: The McCallum had more butts in its seats in 2018 than any theater in Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the country.

Mitch Gershenfeld, the McCallum’s president, CEO and show-booker, said 2019 has been even stronger—and that he has high hopes for the 2019-2020 season. Tickets for all shows in the upcoming season go on sale online today (April 11) at 6 p.m., with box-office and phone sales beginning tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.

The 2019-2020 season includes the big names—Melissa Etheridge (Nov. 14), anyone?—that people have come to expect to be on the McCallum schedule, along with valley favorites like the Ten Tenors (Feb. 19-23, 2020) and Pink Martini (March 4-8). However, Gershenfeld said he’s particularly thrilled about the Broadway shows he’s booked; five of them have never been to the McCallum before, kicking off with the musical adaptation of A Christmas Story (Nov. 26 and 27).

“It has all of the key things that are in the movie,” Gershenfeld said. “There’s a whole number with dancing leg lamps.”

That will be followed by Waitress (Dec. 6-8) and The Play That Goes Wrong (Jan. 21 and 22), a critical darling that just closed on Broadway earlier this year—and is still going strong on London’s West End.

“It’s the quintessential British farce,” Gershenfeld said.

Escape to Margaritaville (Jan. 30-Feb. 1)—a musical featuring the songs of Jimmy Buffett, but you probably figured that out already—will be followed by Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Feb. 7-9), which has become a Broadway fixture, recently celebrating its fifth anniversary there.

“It’s really nice to get another musical that’s still on Broadway,” Gershenfeld said.

Those new-to-the-McCallum shows will be joined by returnees Chicago (March 13-15) and The Illusionists (April 7 and 8).

Mitch’s Picks—a series of a shows by unheralded performers that Gershenfeld personally recommends—are back, starting off on Nov. 22 with a double-bill of performers who perform traditional Latin music with a twist: the all-women Mariachi Flor de Toloache and The Villalobos Brothers. They’ll be followed by a Christmas show on Dec. 16 by YouTube a cappella sensation Voctave.

“They’re an amazing group who primarily performs at Disneyworld,” Gershenfeld said. “The core members have beautiful voices, and the arrangements are extraordinary.”

Other Mitch’s Picks include the Derina Harvey Band, a Celtic-rock group (Jan. 14); Wicked alum-turned-soul singer Shoshana Bean (Feb. 4); and Mnozil Brass (March 24), a brass septet that melds original tunes, classics and a lot of humor.

The National Geographic Live series will be back at the McCallum for a second year with three shows. Gershenfeld admits he was concerned about how a science series would do—and he was pleasantly surprised by the reaction of McCallum audiences this year.

“They love it, and they point out that it’s so different,” Gershenfeld said. “It’s also a program that attracts children, which is great. During the Q&A sessions, the kids are always asking questions.”

This year’s shows are On the Trail of Big Cats (Jan. 6), Photography Without Borders (March 2) and View From Above (April 5) with astronaut Terry Virts.

Gershenfeld said the new season’s highlights include some tribute shows that are quite special. First and foremost is A Toast to Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé (April 4). The two were most successful act to regularly appear at the McCallum before the Ten Tenors came along, Gershenfeld said.

“Frank Sinatra would show up to hang out backstage,” he added.

Gormé passed away in 2013, and Lawrence has retired from performing; this show will feature their son, David Lawrence, and Tony Award-winner Debbie Gravitte, along with a 32-piece orchestra and vintage video clips.

“We have all of their original music charts,” Gershenfeld said. “… This is the first place this show is going to play. There’s no place (Steve Lawrence) would want to do the first show other than (here).”

Speaking of Frank Sinatra … he’ll be returning to the McCallum, sort of, thanks to the talents of Bob Anderson, on Feb. 14 and 15. Gershenfeld explained that the Sinatra impressionist sounds exactly like Ol’ Blue Eyes, and to add to the impression, he has a prosthetic mask of Sinatra’s face. When you add in a 32-piece orchestra playing Sinatra’s original arrangements … the likeness is eerie and amazing.

The other big names coming to the McCallum zigzag across genres—Mandy Patinkin (Nov. 16), The Beach Boys (Dec. 1), Itzhak Perlman (Jan. 20), Ricky Skaggs (March 12), the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (March 15), and so on.

“Last season (2017-2018) was the most successful in our history,” Gershenfeld said. “This year (the just-concluding 2018-2019) surpassed it.” And 2019-2020 has a great chance of continuing that trend.

Tickets for the McCallum Theatre’s 2019-2020 season go on sale online at mccallumtheatre.com at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 11; and at 9 a.m., Friday, April 12, at the box office, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, and by phone, at 760-340-2787. For the complete schedule, visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Published in Local Fun

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