CVIndependent

Sat08242019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

After five successful years, the Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival took a hiatus in 2018.

“We got off to a very good start and picked up a nice audience,” said Gail Christian, one of the producers. “Then after a couple of years, our audience wasn’t growing.

“The problem is that jazz is really only 2 percent of the music audience—and then (we were slicing) that even smaller, into women’s jazz. We felt that we needed to put more in the mix to bring a larger audience in. As much as people liked our events, not everyone was a jazz fan.”

Thus, Palm Springs Women’s Week was born. The inaugural week will take place Sunday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 6, at venues across the Coachella Valley. The week is being billed as “a celebration of lesbian culture and thought”—although all people, men included, are welcome—and includes art, parties, lectures, dance, singing and all sorts of other events. The week includes the return of the Women’s Jazz Festival, on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4 and 5, and the L-Fund Golf Tournament, taking place Saturday, Oct. 5.

The week is produced by Christian and her partner, Lucy DeBardelaben.

“We call ourselves producers and promoters, but that’s not what really what we consider ourselves to be,” Christian said. “We consider ourselves to be activists. Lucy and I have a long history of being involved in feminist events, lesbian events. But we really see ourselves as political activists, and everything that we do on some level is politically centered. Like the Jazz Festival, for instance: While it’s about music, it’s about women musicians and how they are underpaid and underserved in their profession. The whole idea is not only to have an audience come, but for these players to get paid.

“Having said that, there are all sorts of other events we decided we would like to do that never seemed to make it to the drawing board. Out of all that came an idea: Why don’t we take the Jazz Festival and a lot of these other things that we’re interested in doing that highlight women’s achievements, and put it all into something called Palm Springs Women’s Week?”

The week came to fruition with help from The L-Fund, a group founded in 2012 that assists local lesbians facing a short-term financial crisis, and offers grants to lesbians for higher education or skilled training.

“I’m very close with Barbara Carpenter,” The L-Fund’s executive director, “and I was talking to her about the golf tournament, and said, ‘Well, you’ve got women coming in for the golf tournament,’” Christian said. “And she said, ‘Yes, and often those women ask, “What else is there to do?”’ And so she thought that would be a good idea if we could place Women’s Week around the Golf Tournament, and anchor the week with the Jazz Festival and the golf tournament.”

The week features a diverse slate of events—from jazz singer Rose Mallett paying tribute to Sarah Vaughan, to a “Power Gathering” during which a panel of local lesbian leaders will discuss current events before a screening of the documentary film American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the Palm Springs Woman’s Club will be the site of a “Food and Wine Party” featuring a variety of women chefs, including La Tasha McCutchen, a winner of Hell’s Kitchen, and Nena Balestier, a winner of Chopped.

“Food has defined women’s roles in the family,” Christian said. “While they’ve always been able to cook at home, they’ve had a very difficult time becoming, quote, ‘a chef.’ It’s only in the past 20 years that we’ve seen women really start to come out of the woodwork as chefs. So we’re going to talk about not only chefs and their food, but we’re also going to talk about the relationship between food and women.”

Christian said she’s also excited about the festival’s emphasis on women in art, with an exhibit at Barba Contemporary Art Gallery (191 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs), and the spotlight on an unheralded collection of historic lesbian memorabilia called the June L. Mazer archive. It’ll be on display throughout Women’s Week at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club.

“It’s a very important archive that most people don’t know anything about. It is a 2,500-piece lesbian archive; my understanding is it started out in someone’s home,” Christian said. “… They really have done I think a wonderful job, with very little money, of pulling together a quite impressive archive. They are bringing about 50 pieces to Palm Springs that we’ll have on display all week.”

Christian said that Palm Springs Women’s Week is coming at a crucial time for lesbians—and all women.

“It’s important for the same reason that the civil rights movement is still important: Certainly, there have been gains made, but in this particular political climate, it’s very easy to see how easy it is to lose those gains, or to see them being eroded, unless you stay on top of it,” Christian said.

Palm Springs Women’s Week takes place Sunday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 6, at various venues across the valley. For a complete schedule, tickets and more information, visit www.palmspringswomensweek.com.

What: The grilled shrimp tacos

Where: El Patron Crafted Tacos and Drinks, 101 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $13

Contact: 888-340-8226; www.elpatronps.com

Why: They’re simply delicious.

It was a bit strange to walk into the space I’d known for years as the downtown Palm Springs Starbucks … and instead find a vibrant, colorful Mexican restaurant.

Strange … but good. Starbucks fans (A note to y’all: Considering buying local instead, damn it!) have a gorgeous new Reserve shop across the street, and fans of tasty Mexican fare and yummy drinks now have El Patron.

I stopped in for a recent weekday lunch, walked to the counter where one orders, and requested an order of shrimp tacos and a michelada ($10) with Negro Modelo. Take note of these prices: They ain’t cheap. Fortunately, everything that showed up at my table a short time later was delicious.

The tacos, in particular, were fantastic: The Mexican white shrimp (you can get ’em either fried or grilled) were prepared juuust right, topped with cabbage and pico de gallo, and tucked in a thick, house-made tortilla. They came with a handful of house-made chips and a red salsa. The person who dropped off the food asked if I wanted any other salsas; after he listed a spicy green salsa as one of the options, I responded with an enthusiastic: “Yes, please!” It was splendid.

My one concern about El Patron involves price: A block and a half away, I can get two shrimp tacos of similar quality—and get table service to boot—at a beloved restaurant for $2 less (or $4 less if it’s after 9 p.m.). Tourists won’t care, of course, but cost-conscious locals may.

Aside from that one potential problem, however, I must tip my figurative hat to El Patron. The service is great; the food is delicious; and the vibe inside that former Starbucks is fun and festive.

What: The boom boom shrimp

Where: Kitchen 86 + Bar, 73130 El Paseo, Suite I, Palm Desert

How much: $13 at lunch

Contact: 760-890-1586; www.kitchen-86.com

Why: These are some tasty bites.

The first word that comes to mind when I think of Kitchen 86 + Bar is welcoming.

I was greeted enthusiastically as I walked in the door for lunch one recent weekday at this locally owned “modern eclectic small plate restaurant,” in the space that once housed Wolfgang Puck’s El Paseo outpost. The vibe is upscale and energetic, but not pretentious, and the lunch menu is a lot of fun: You’ll find “sharables,” some named after people (Kerry’s crispy calamari, Winston’s hummus, Abel’s salmon tacos), along with sandwiches, salads, pizza and some kids’ selections.

My lunch companion, Kevin, and I split the boom-boom shrimp to start, while I selected the agu ramen ($15) as my main course. This was one of those occasions when the starter far outshined the main: The ramen was just OK, while the boom-boom shrimp were revelatory. The bite-sized shrimp were perfectly cooked, and covered (but not drenched) in the spicy-but-not-too-hot Thai chili glaze. The accompanying organic greens, lightly dressed, were fresh and tasty.

My one complaint: We wanted more. Kevin is a mensch, so he let me have the lion’s share of the shrimp, and they were delicious enough that I felt bad about that. Some may complain about the portion size, given the $13 price tag—but I don’t mind paying a buck or two extra for something that’s well-prepared with quality ingredients.

Because this was lunch on a work day, I abstained from cocktails—which was a bummer, because Kitchen 86 + Bar’s cocktail menu looks fantastic, as does the happy hour. I also love the fact that Kitchen 86 + Bar is open until 2 a.m. every night!

I can’t wait to be welcomed back in the future to enjoy libations—and some more of that fantastic boom-boom shrimp.

On Saturday, July 13, I was sitting in a conference room at the Hotel Boulderado in Boulder, Colo., during the 2019 AAN Awards Ceremony, the finale of the annual Association of Alternative Newsmedia conference.

The ceremony honored the amazing and inspiring journalism done last year at alternative newspapers across the United States and Canada—including the Coachella Valley Independent. For the fourth time in five years, we earned an AAN Award, this time an honorable mention in the Column category, for Anita Rufus’ fantastic “Know Your Neighbors.”

As I applauded my friends and colleagues who were going up to accept the various awards, I was watching my cell phone—because I was expecting a call from staff writer Kevin Fitzgerald, with an update on the story we’ve featured on this issue’s cover.

People might assume that I took delight in the Independent publishing and reporting this story, because it deals with possible wrongdoing involving a competitor, of sorts, to the Independent. But that couldn’t be further from the truth: While I am proud of the story, which you can read on Page 12, the content depresses me.

I love the Coachella Valley. This is the first place I’ve lived in that I chose; fate, in some form or another, led me to all of my prior homes. I also love journalism; I wouldn’t have put up with the mediocre-at-best wages and long hours for almost 2 1/2 decades so far otherwise. When I combine these two loves … the state of journalism in the Coachella Valley makes me very, very sad.

I am not talking about The Desert Sun; while its diminished state compared to what it once was is alarming, there are still good journalists there doing some fine work. I am also not talking about Palm Springs Life, which is fantastic as far as city magazines go … although its “prestige” content is clearly not meant for people who don’t make six-figure-or-more incomes, aka the vast majority of us.

I am talking about other publications in the valley, where original reporting and competent writing are nigh impossible to find. The best of the bunch is CV Weekly, the aforementioned competitor, of sorts; within CV Weekly’s pages, one can indeed find some good writing and well-intentioned work, especially regarding support of the local music community. Unfortunately, CV Weekly also regularly sells editorial content—particularly cover stories—and does not disclose that these pieces are actually paid for by the subjects. Not only is this a disservice to CV Weekly’s readers; it’s an unethical practice that every serious journalism organization would condemn. And when that content is posted online without disclosures, it’s a violation of Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

On a personal level … the practice is also quite unfair to those of us who try pretty darn hard to do things ethically and honestly. A great community like the Coachella Valley deserves strong journalism … which is why the Independent is here, even if our efforts are modest and imperfect.

As always, thanks for reading the Independent. Don’t hesitate to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.—and be sure to check out the August 2019 print edition, hitting streets now.

Most of the Coachella Valley’s theater companies have gone dark during these dog days of summer—and those that are still going have left things up to the kids.

Desert Theatreworks is currently in the midst of showing off the results of its KidsWorks Summer Camp—and the Green Room Theatre Company this week will mount four performances of a massive production of Sister Act.

David Catanzarite, Green Room Theatre Company’s founding artistic director, recently spoke to the Independent about Sister Act and Green Room’s plans for the upcoming season.

Tell me about the Green Room Theatre Company and where it fits into the Coachella Valley theater ecosystem, for lack of a better word.

During the regular season, from September to May, we have a lot of professional actors, and we do mainly adult plays for adult audiences. This year, we are doing three Pulitzer Prize-winning plays for our regular season (Sweat, by Lynn Nottage; Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive; and August Wilson's Fences), and we launched a Shakespeare festival as of three years ago.

We founded the (Summer Theatre) Conservatory 10 years ago. We started off … just trying to put together a really good training program for middle-schoolers, because the middle schools were all closing down their theater programs. … Once we announced it, we had people coming through and saying, “Well, my daughter is just a year away from middle school, and she really wants to be in the conservatory,” and, “Well, I'm in high school, but I really, really want to do this,” so we extended it even in the first year to a bigger age spread. We went 8 to 18. … Our goal all along has been nobody will get turned away for inability to pay.

We are the most rigorous and comprehensive summer theater training program in the Coachella Valley. We are professionally oriented; we teach the kids professional work habits … and we work fast. We will have had 23 days of rehearsal before we open on Wednesday, and it's really exciting for (the kids), because they love it.

Are all of the kids from the Summer Theatre Conservatory going to be in Sister Act?

Yes, every kid who’s in the conservatory will be performing in the show—except for we have a tech track now, too. Those kids won't be performing, because they're doing tech. We're going to have about 60 performers on stage, including our musicians.

You must have a big stage at Indio High School.

We do. This is a fantastic theater, and I'm pretty sure we are the first non-school production that's been allowed to use this amazing space. I've worked in all the theaters in the Coachella Valley … and this is the best middle-size house in the Coachella Valley. I mean, it's got 49 pipes overhead for lighting and scenery. The Desert Sands Unified School District put a lot of money into this beautiful space.

Why did you choose Sister Act for the summer show?

We're really making a push to start finding and creating roles for more African-American and Latino actors in general. So it was a bit of a leap of faith with Sister Act to do a play that has an African-American leading lady, but we’ve got a great actor in that role.

This play really appeals to me, because it has two things that I think our company, in its 10th season, is all about. One is (people) finding themselves through finding a community. That's one of the big scenes in Sister Act. When the kids come to us, they have a chance to really grow into themselves. … So that's one thing—the strong sense of community that is embodied in Sister Act. The other piece of it is self-realization. That’s what this play is all about.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

We’re looking to grow another step, and we're always looking for people to join the company, whether it's as board members, or more adult actors to join and work with us during the regular year.

How do you intend on getting those adults to join? Are you doing auditions?

We already had one round of auditions back in June. We're going to do another round a little later, like around September. We’ll announce the auditions on the website.

Where are your shows this season going to take place?

We put shows in places that people don’t necessarily think of in terms of theater. We’re going to do something at one of the libraries, maybe more than one. We're also probably going to partner with the CREATE Center for the Arts. … Part of what we do is try to take theater to people where they are instead of people always having to come to a theater. That’s part of our mission in the company—to take theater to under-served parts of the Coachella Valley.

The classes that I teach (on theater at the Cal State University, San Bernardino’s Palm Desert Campus) … I always do a survey at the beginning of the year with my students. These are college students; they're 18 through 28. About a third of them have never seen live theater at all. I say, “Did you do anything in kindergarten? Did you ever go to a church play?” No, they have never seen any live theater. That pumps up my mission even more, because obviously I love theater. I want everybody to have that—the joy, the experience of live theater.

Sister Act, a performance by the Green Room Theatre Company’s Summer Conservatory, will be performed at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, July 24-26, with a two-for-one-ticket matinee at 1 p.m., Thursday, July 25, at Indio High School, 81750 Avenue 46, in Indio. Tickets are $20; or $13 for students or seniors. For tickets or more information, call 760-696-2564, or visit www.greenroomtheatrecompany.org.

Coming Soon: AsiaSF Palm Springs, to the Former Hacienda Location

A San Francisco restaurant known for its “Cal-Asian” cuisine and dinner shows featuring transgender performers is opening a Palm Springs location in the space that was once the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, at 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive.

While no formal announcement has yet been made, the owners of AsiaSF let the figurative cat out of the bag by promoting auditions for the Palm Springs location in four cities (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Rancho Mirage—at the Desert Rose Playhouse—and San Francisco) on four consecutive nights in mid-July.

AsiaSF opened in 1988 in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood, founded by Larry Hashbarger and Skip Young.

“The world-famous restaurant, cabaret and nightclub is an iconic entertainment landmark that has inspired over 1 million people from all over the world with great food and entertainment,” says the AsiaSF website. “AsiaSF has been a visionary pioneer in supporting the transgender community through empowerment by creating a safe space and unique employment opportunities that showcase our beautiful transgender stars, the Ladies of AsiaSF, who not only entertain but also educate and enlighten people about the transgender experience and human diversity.”

We hear that more details about the Palm Springs location will come out shortly. Whatever those details are … it’s fantastic news that the Hacienda space will soon be alive once again. The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club opened during the summer of 2014, but closed under a cloud of scandal in the fall of 2015, as the owner was indicted and charged in a bribery scheme involving then-Mayor Steve Pougnet. In 2016, Chris Pardo—the driving force behind the ARRIVE Palm Springs hotel—was linked to plans to build a hotel on the Hacienda property, but those plans fell through.

We’ll have more details as they develop. In the meantime, we recommend watching www.facebook.com/officialasiasf for updates.


New and Popping Up: Ni-Chome Ramen

If you’re a fan of ramen, you need to be keeping your eyes on the Wabi Sabi Japan Living Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WabiSabiJapanLiving. The owners have been taking over local restaurant spaces (like Peabody’s and Evzin Palm Springs) during times when they’re closed to offer a pop-up ramen restaurant that even has its own name: Ni-Chome Ramen.

Recent seatings have included a three-course meal plus sake and Japanese beer for the downright-reasonable price of $33. Who knows … maybe Ni-Chome Ramen will have its own home one day?

The next Ni-Chome pop-ups will take place at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Sunday, July 28, at Evzin Palm Springs, 411 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Visit that aforementioned Facebook page or www.wabisabijapanliving.com for tickets and more details.


In Brief

Coming soon to the space next to Heirloom Craft Kitchen, at 49990 Jefferson St., in Indio: Tu Madres Cantina and Grill. It’s the latest venture by Andie Hubka, the chef/owner of Heirloom and her original restaurant, La Quinta’s Cork and Fork. A post on the Cork and Fork says: “Our new concept is fresh, modern chef-driven Mexican fare and an amazing bar with a crazy tequila list and craft beer selection. Vegans and gluten-free guests will find plenty of options, too. We love Baja Mexico and are excited to bring home a taste of the culture and cuisine there.” Watch tumadrescantina.com for updates, and expect a fall opening. … Coming soon to Palm Desert: Little Bar, a speakeasy-style bar and restaurant at 73560 Highway 111. Watch www.little-bar.com for further developments. … Coming soon to 117 La Plaza, in downtown Palm Springs: Pineapple Express. We know this because we saw the “Public Notice of Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages” sign in the window of the former Delicatesse space—but that’s all we know for now. Watch this space. … New in the former Greek Islands location at 139 E. Andreas Road, in Palm Springs: The Greek at 13, offering cocktails plus Greek and Italian fare. Learn more at www.facebook.com/thegreekps. … Returning to the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs: the eighth annual Craft Beer Weekend. Two-dozen-plus craft breweries will be on hand from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 3 and 4, along with entertainment and all sorts of revelry. A one-day pass is $50; both days will cost you $85. Get tickets and a complete list of participating breweries at acehotel.com/craftbeer.

What: The enchiladas de mole

Where: Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant, 68718 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City

How much: $10.95

Contact: 760-992-5133; www.facebook.com/LosArcosMex/

Why: It’s a sublime mix of sweet and savory.

Los Arcos Mexican Food opened back in 2015, on the side of the former IMAX theater at Palm Canyon and Cathedral Canyon drives. I’d heard good things, and I placed it on my mental “Restaurants I Need to Try” list.

Well, I thought I’d lost my chance: Last fall, Los Arcos closed its doors. The old movie theater was being turned into the brand-new CVRep Playhouse (and the theater company needed Los Arcos’ space), and while I am elated about everything CVRep has done with the new building, I was bummed I never got a chance to try Los Arcos.

Fortunately, Los Arcos was not closed—just on hiatus: A few months ago, it reappeared on the other side of what’s euphemistically called “downtown Cathedral City.” Not wanting to miss out again, I headed to Los Arcos on a recent Sunday for dinner.

I intended to order the chicken tortilla soup ($7.95) and the combo featuring a relleno, a taco and an enchilada (a downright reasonable $10.95). Alas, the restaurant was out of tortilla soup, so I had to settle for the combo—and it was quite good, albeit a step or two short of endorsement-worthy.

However … I knew my Monday was going to be crazy, so I ordered the enchiladas de mole (with chicken) to go, for lunch the next day. I was quite full when I got home, but I figured I must try one bite before the food cooled down. After that one bite, I realized I had two things: 1) an endorsement-worthy dish, and 2) a test of self-control, as it was so tasty I was inclined to keep going after that one bite. The mole was rich, sweet, savory and complex—everything a traditional chocolate mole should be.

I am glad Los Arcos is back from its hiatus. If you like delicious mole, then you should be, too.

What: The shrimp ceviche

Where: Tac/Quila, 415 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $16

Contact: 760-417-4471; www.tacquila.com

Why: It’s refreshing and tasty.

I had decidedly mixed feelings when I learned that Tac/Quila was going to be opening in the space most recently occupied by Watercress Vietnamese Bistro.

On the minus side, the Coachella Valley is not suffering from a dearth of good Mexican restaurants—taqueria, upscale Mexican, regional fare … it can all be found here. In other words, Tac/Quila would not be filling a defined culinary need in the valley.

On the plus side, Mark and Liz Ostoich know what they’re doing. The owners of Tac/Quila have proven themselves to be shrewd restaurateurs and fantastic members of the community with Farm, the mostly outdoor French restaurant in La Plaza the Ostoiches purchased in 2016. Given what they’ve done with Farm, I was curious to see what they’d do with a Mexican concept.

As for what they’ve done … they’ve knocked it out of the park with Tac/Quila. They’ve taken what was a somewhat clunky space and infused it with class, beauty and charm—and the menu is absolutely mouth-watering. Consider yourself warned: You’ll pay more at Tac/Quila than you will at the vast majority of other Mexican restaurants around the valley—but what comes out of the kitchen and is delivered to your table will most likely be worth it.

I met a friend at Tac/Quila for a recent lunch. (There’s not a separate lunch menu, so be prepared to pay dinner prices.) I decided to try the chicken tortilla soup ($11) and the shrimp ceviche ($16). The soup was quite good, if misnamed—it’s actually a chicken vegetable soup, with tortillas having nothing to do with it other than being tossed on top. The ceviche, meanwhile, was perfect—fresh, delicious and refreshing on a hot summer day.

Tac/Quila may wind up filling a local culinary need after all: While many good restaurants call the Coachella Valley home, there are few great restaurants—and Tac/Quila has the potential to become one.

Celebrity Bartender Rob Floyd’s ‘Cocktail Theatre’ Coming to TRIO Restaurant

Rob Floyd is one of the world’s most renowned cocktail creators. He’s a regular on the Bar Rescue TV show; he’s designed cocktail programs for some of the biggest cruise lines; he’s performed at some of Las Vegas’ most impressive hotel-casinos; and he travels the world as a consultant for bars and restaurants.

So why is he taking time out of his crazy-busy schedule to bring his Cocktail Theatre live show to TRIO Restaurant, in the middle of scorching-hot July? It’s because, he says, he loves Palm Springs.

“I can’t wait to get here,” he said during a recent lunch at TRIO. “Any excuse.”

Cocktail Theatre will arrive at TRIO, 707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, for two shows on Saturday, July 6—one at 6 p.m., and another at 9 p.m.

Floyd said his interactive show takes a historical and theatrical approach to cocktails. He’ll tell the stories behind various drinks, from the 1600s up through the molecular-gastronomy era. Audience-goers will get to try five different drinks during the show, which runs just a little longer than an hour.

I asked Floyd what makes a cocktail great. His response: He treats creating a cocktail like a good artist creates a painting—except instead of colors, he uses ingredients.

“I use just a couple of primary colors, that are just gorgeous, and one or two accent colors that are just beautiful,” he said.

Of course, a lot of people can’t or don’t drink alcohol, for all sorts of excellent reasons—and many bartenders completely disregard this demographic. Fortunately, Floyd does not—and that’s why his show includes “zero-proof cocktails” for those who don’t imbibe. In fact, he estimates that up to 20 percent of his show attendees don’t drink.

Tickets to Cocktail Theatre are $62.50; a VIP meet-and-greet package along with the 6 p.m. show is $80, and includes a special cocktail created by Floyd. For tickets or more information, visit triopalmsprings.com.


In Brief

Workshop Kitchen + Bar, located at 800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, will soon have a sister restaurant in Los Angeles. According to Eater Los Angeles, chef/owner Michael Beckman has bought the space currently housing Odys + Penelope, at 127 S. La Brea Ave., with plans of turning it into Workshop; expect it to open sometime next year. … One of the west valley’s best sandwich joints is moving to a larger space—although customers will still get to park in the same place: The Sandwich Spot is moving from its tiny home at 240 N. Palm Canyon Ave., in Palm Springs, into the old Tipper’s Gourmet Marketplace space, in the Henry Frank Arcade, at 276 N. Palm Canyon Drive. The move should be effective on July 1; call 760-778-7900 with questions. … Coming soon to the old Elephant Bar space at 73833 Highway 111, in Palm Desert: The BaBaLoo Lounge. It’ll be the second location of the Peruvian- and Cuban-fare joint; the original spot is in Lake Havasu, Ariz. Watch www.facebook.com/BabalooLounge for updates. … The new managing partner at the retooled Persimmon Bistro at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 N. Museum Drive, in Palm Springs, has a familiar name: It’s Arthur Vasquez, who used to run Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse in Rancho Mirage. Congrats, art! Visit www.facebook.com/persimmonbistro to learn more. … Congratulations to the bar at Melvyn’s, located at the Ingleside Inn, at 200 W. Ramon Road, in downtown Palm Springs! Esquire magazine just named it one of the 27 Best Bars in America for 2019. … Coming soon to the space that used to house Maxcy’s Grill in the Ralph’s shopping center at 425 S. Sunrise Way, in Palm Springs: Asadero Los Corrales. It appears this will be the third location for this Sinaloa-style Mexican eatery, joining restaurants in La Quinta and Coachella. We learned this news because we happened to drive by and see the new sign; we will keep you posted as we learn more. … Congrats to the folks at La Quinta Brewing Co., who have announced the construction of a new, larger brewing location near Interstate 10 and Cook Street. The brewery—which opened its doors in 2013 at 77917 Wildcat Drive, in Palm Desert—also operates successful taprooms in Palm Springs and La Quinta. The new location is slated to include food and an outside beer garden; keep your fingers crossed for an opening late next year. Watch www.facebook.com/LaQuintaBrewingCo for updates.

In the spring of 2013, my friend Shann Carr invited me to brunch.

Shann at the time was the volunteer coordinator at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, and I was just putting the finishing touches, if memory serves, on the first print edition of the Independent. The brunch—on the patio of the late, lamented Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge—was primarily for Shann’s volunteers, a group of fantastic people Shann thought I should get to know.

At that brunch, Shann introduced me to a music blogger by the name of Brian Blueskye. We chatted a bit, and he expressed interest in doing some freelancing for the Independent.

In the six years since, Brian became the Independent’s first employee (besides myself). He grew as a writer and reporter, winning a national journalism award on his way to becoming the best music journalist in the Coachella Valley. This is the 72nd print edition of the Independent; he’s had multiple bylines 71 of them—all but that very first issue I was finishing up when I met him. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that he’s become one of my best friends.

Because of all this, Brian’s departure from the Independent is decidedly bittersweet: The Desert Sun has, quite wisely, hired him to be the paper’s new arts and entertainment reporter, on the heels of 40-year veteran Bruce Fessier’s retirement. On one hand, the Independent will deeply miss Brian’s work; he’s been such a vital part of the Independent’s DNA that he can’t be replaced. I also have deep concerns about The Desert Sun’s parent company, Gannett, in terms of both ethics and stability. But on the other hand, I am elated for Brian, because The Desert Sun is compensating him at a level that the Independent right now can not afford—at a level that Brian definitely deserves.

While Brian will be missed within these pages, I am excited about the changes we’re making following his departure. Kevin Fitzgerald, whose byline has been appearing in the Independent for almost as long as Brian’s has, is taking our open staff position. Like Brian, Kevin has a national journalism award to his credit for his work in the Independent. While Brian primarily covered music, Kevin’s focus will be on news and features—meaning the Independent’s news coverage will get a decided boost in both quantity and quality. I am elated to welcome Kevin on board as the Independent’s second-ever employee.

As for music and arts coverage, we’re bringing on some new regular freelancers to fill the void—and trust me, they’re going to do a fantastic job. While we’re still fleshing out these additions (drop me a line if you think you should be one of them), here’s info on two of them: Matt King, at the ripe old age of 17, will be covering music; in fact, his first piece, on The Regrettes, appears in the July print edition on newsstands now, and will be posted here at CVIndependent.com on Monday. Don’t underestimate him because of his age; Matt is an excellent writer and musician who knows the local music scene well. As for our other addition: Watch CVIndependent.com for the Independent debut of Andy Lara, a longtime music and culture writer who’s previously written for the Coachella Valley Arts Scene and LAist.

We’ll have more news on all these exciting changes soon. In the meantime, thanks for reading the Coachella Valley Independent, and be sure to pick up that aforementioned 2019 print edition. Feel free to email me with feedback at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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