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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

After 30 years of working as a civilian employee with the Department of the Army, John Reece, 73, of Palm Springs, finally feels like he’s home.

“I spent 25 of those 30 years overseas, from Japan to South Korea to Saudi Arabia to Greenland,” says Reece. “I’m finally in a place where I feel I can be totally myself.”

Reece was born and raised in Missouri, to a minister father with strict religious standards.

“It took me a long time to get over that,” says Reece.

Reece was around church music throughout his childhood, with his father playing the organ and directing the choir. “My mom insisted we all take piano lessons when we were young,” he recalls, “and my older brother played trumpet and tuba and my younger sister was in the band.”

It’s not so strange, then, that Reece worked as an entertainment director with the Army throughout the world.

“I handled community theater and did logistics for USO shows and cultural tours,” he recalls. “I learned enough Japanese to get my job done while in Tokyo for six years, and knew basic conversational Korean to handle my four years in South Korea.”

After his years in Korea, Reece moved to Washington, D.C., and eventually moved on to Hawaii and then returned yet again to South Korea.

“I also spent three years in Saudi Arabia,” says Reece, “which was a wonderful experience. Working in a Muslim nation and learning to respect the country and their culture was terrific.”

Eventually, Reece landed in Greenland.

“I was six miles from the North Pole,” he recalls,” where it was sometimes 50 degrees below zero with a wind chill of 100-below. Of course, when it gets to below zero, it really doesn’t matter anymore. And it was dark from October to January.”

How did Reece handle being gay during such a long affiliation with the military?

“I knew all my life that I was gay,” he says. “Of course, back in those days, it was known as being ‘homosexual.’ With the church, it was a real guilt process. I would pray to be made ‘normal.’ My first experience was with gay bars, which at that time were all very underground. It just wasn’t an easy thing back in the 1960s and 1970s.

“While working with the Army, I was always very aware of looking over my shoulder. I didn’t want to do anything concrete that could have hurt my career. That’s a stressful way to live.”

Reece says he never came out to his family. “It was just never discussed, although I do remember my mom saying, ‘Son, you’re special. You may never be married, but there’s one thing worse: being married to the wrong one.’ We just didn’t talk about it.

“My sister knows through my Facebook page, and one day, she said, ‘I hope you can find a partner as wonderful as mine is.’ The only one I’ve really talked to openly about it is my niece.”

After finally finding a home base in Washington, D.C., and living in northern Virginia, Reece retired in 2002.

“I came to Palm Springs for a while from 2009 to 2013, and returned to live here full time in 2015. To be honest, I left in 2013 because I felt like Palm Springs was just too gay for me,” he laughs. “I had a hard time meeting straight people. I went back to D.C., but I got tired of the weather and decided to come back.”

Going back to that church choir during his childhood, Reece said music has always been a big part of his life. In fact, he studied music at Oklahoma Baptist University and the St. Louis Institute of Music. It’s not surprising that he finally found his place in the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus.

“I’m so glad to have such support now. Back in my day, there was nothing like counseling or support groups. I’m so glad for young people today who don’t have to live in the shadows,” he says.

Reece’s affiliation with the Gay Men’s Chorus has changed his life.

“Some of the best people I’ve met in my life are in the chorus. We can talk about anything and everything without worrying about offending anyone,” he says. “It’s not just a beautiful professional group, but it’s like being in a brotherhood. They care about you as a person. We even made history—imagine a gay group singing at a memorial service in a church!

“I don’t have anything to hide anymore,” he says. “I’m just me now. Here I am, finally at 73, and I can be openly proud with my head held high and happy.”

After traveling and living all around the world, John Reece has finally found a place to just be himself.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays at noon on KNews Radio 94.3 FM. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

When the members of the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus take the stage this weekend for their two Hollywood Holiday—Christmas at the Movies concerts, they’ll be without one of their most prominent and beloved colleagues.

David Murdock, a singer who had also done everything from sound to public relations for the chorus over the last half-decade, died suddenly on Oct. 17. Murdock was also an active member of the Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert, and was a key organizer of Palm Springs Leather Pride. He’d spent much of his life working in the entertainment and technology industries. Countless people—myself included—considered David a friend.

The chorus performed at Murdock’s memorial service at the Palm Springs Pavilion on Dec. 4, and this weekend, the PSGMC is dedicating its performance of “The Prayer”—a song from the film Quest for Camelot popularized by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli—to Murdock.

“I can’t even describe all that Dave did for the chorus,” said Douglas Wilson, the PSGMC artistic director. “We joined the chorus at the same time, but I didn’t know that until later, because he had jumped in and was doing everything.”

Hollywood Holiday is the first of the chorus’ three featured concerts this season—and the chorus’ first in its new home, the newly upgraded Richards Center for the Arts, formerly known as the Palm Springs High School Auditorium.

“It’s a beautiful place to be,” said Wilson, who is in his fourth year as the chorus’ artistic director.

As one can guess from the title, Hollywood Holiday features Christmas songs from various movies. Giving the holiday concert such a focus, Wilson said, helped the chorus overcome some of the normal difficulties in creating a Christmas program—new versus traditional, religious versus nonreligious, and so on.

“It is a difficult program to balance out,” Wilson said. “This year, with the idea of movies, it really made it easier to do.”

However, the focus created another difficulty—finding arrangements of not-as-well-known songs for men’s choruses. Wilson said he overcame this obstacle by tapping into the network of other gay men’s choruses—and, in some cases, arranging the songs himself.

As one example of a lesser-known but nonetheless excellent song in the show, Wilson mentioned “Cold Enough to Snow,” from Life With Mikey, a 1993 comedy starring Michael J. Fox—with a dismal 20 percent positive rating on RottenTomatoes.com.

“It’s not a very good movie, but it has a beautiful song,” Wilson said.

Wilson mentioned another song about which he’s excited: “Sparklejollytwinklejingley,” from the Broadway production of Elf: The Musical. While “Sparklejollytwinklejingley” is not from a movie, it is from a musical based on a movie.

“We’re kind of stretching it here,” Wilson laughed. Close enough.

Wilson promised that attendees will love the mix of songs, some of which are from beloved films including The Polar Express, A Charlie Brown Christmas and Meet Me in St. Louis.

The concert may also be a little more emotional than usual, given Dave Murdock’s absence. Wilson mentioned the large reaction he received from the chorus’ members after they were sent a message letting them know about Murdock’s passing.

“What really surprised me was how many people who were new to the chorus—only members for a few weeks, really—who responded, ‘Dave was one of the first people to say hello to me,’ or, ‘Dave helped me.’ He was the epitome of what we want to be as a chorus,” Wilson said.

Hollywood Holiday: Christmas at the Movies will be performed at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 17; and 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 18, at the Richards Center for the Arts (formerly known as the Palm Springs High School Auditorium), 2401 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $25-$50. For tickets or more information, call 760-219-2077, or visit www.psgmc.com.

Published in Previews

The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus and the California Desert Chorale are both preparing for their new seasons—and they’re both looking for new members to join in the fun.

At 7 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 25, at the Church of St. Paul in the Desert in Palm Springs, the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus (www.psgmc.com) will be holding auditions. During a recent phone interview, artistic director Doug Wilson explained the audition process.

“What I’m looking for are people who can match pitch,” Wilson said. “They can come in and sing a song that they prepared, something that they have worked on before, or they can sing a simple song like ‘My Country ’Tis of Thee’ or ‘Happy Birthday.’ I’ll take them through a couple of scales just to see if they can match pitch, and that’s all I need to know. If they can match pitch, we bring them into the chorus.”

Upcoming productions include a 30-minute performance at Palm Springs Pride in November, and holiday concerts in December. What’s expected of members once they are accepted into the chorus?

“You need to come to as many of the rehearsals as you possibly can,” Wilson said. “We understand there are issues sometimes related to family and jobs, and we do the best we can to work that out. Rehearsals are on Tuesday nights from 7 to 10 p.m., and every now and then, we’ll have a Saturday rehearsal to touch people up if they’ve missed rehearsals. They also have to memorize music; it does take some practice outside of the rehearsal time to memorize music, but we provide rehearsal tracks and do as much as we can to get people through that process. We also have $120 a year in member dues, and that helps for the costs of the music and things that also come up in the course of time. If you can’t pay that $120, we’ll work with you.”

Wilson said that the chorus, in some ways, is like a family.

“The chorus is a great bunch of guys to work with,” he said. “We call our audition night ‘Join Our Family,’ because we really consider each other our friends and family. We have social activities like potluck dinners. We have dinners where our board serves all the members of the chorus, and we have a snack break at all of our rehearsals to meet other guys and become part of the family. Some of them go out and do things together, and they become really good friends.”

Meanwhile, the California Desert Chorale will be holding auditions at 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 31, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Palm Desert. While the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus is for, as the name says, gay men, the California Desert Chorale is open to both men and women. During a recent interview, artistic director Tim Bruneau explained how the 22-year-old chorus operates. 

“About a third of the (members of the) California Desert Chorale are working professional singers,” Bruneau said. “The others are just talented amateurs, but it’s an in-depth experience, and people want to work hard to make it happen. … We’re going into a full concert season with a holiday concert series in December, a big gala concert in February, and concert performance in April. Everything we do, we do with a chamber orchestra of about 18 players, and do a great variety of music.”

In the spring, the California Desert Chorale will be doing a concert called Mozart, Motown, and My Way, a combination of classical music, R&B music from Motown performers, and some Sinatra songs.

Bruneau said anyone who is interested should visit the California Desert Chorale’s website at www.californiadesertchorale.org, where there is a detailed list of what’s required at the auditions. “It involves performing a memorized solo piece, reading over the pieces they submit to sing at the audition, pitch memory exercises, and some repetition of foreign languages, because we sing a number of languages. It’s good to see if people have the ability to mimic a language even if they’re not able to speak it.”

There are a lot of requirements for members, including a commitment to rehearsals.

“We have Monday evening rehearsals 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in September through April. We also have two Saturday morning rehearsals during the September through December months, and then two more in January through April. I maintain a policy: If someone misses more than two rehearsals, they are not allowed to sing in the concerts. I don’t stray from that too often; our program is too complex.

“We’re very familial. Part of our mission statement is diverse membership and diverse audiences. We’re not a gay organization or a straight organization, but a diverse organization. We have members ranging from 18 to 90. It’s the valley’s community choral organization, and it really represents a broad section of the community in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. It’s a wonderful mix of human beings and very welcoming. We have a buddy system where every new member is taken under the wing of someone else and welcomed into the fold that way, and we have social gatherings where the members get to know each other better. It’s rigorous and demanding, but very friendly and welcoming.”

Everybody knew the U.S. Supreme Court would be ruling on the gay-marriage question sometime in late June.

However, nobody was sure what the decision would be—and nobody was sure when it would be announced.

Of course, now we all know: On Friday, June 26, in a narrow 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for states to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying. The ruling means that, effectively, same-sex marriage is now legal in 50 states.

How fitting it was that the ruling was announced on June 26—the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2013, struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and legalized (for the second time) same-sex marriage in California by effectively throwing out Proposition 8. It's also the same day that in 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that sodomy laws were unconstitutional. 

On Friday night, hundreds of people showed up at Francis Stevens Park in downtown Palm Springs for a rally that had been planned for weeks—albeit with the date TBA—by the LGBT Center of the Desert. Below is a gallery of photos from the momentous celebration.

Photos by Tommy Hamilton/Tommy Locust photography.

Published in Snapshot

ABBA is one of the most successful music groups in the history of the world. Active from 1970 to 1983, the band sold millions of albums and toured the world—and thanks in part to the hit musical Mamma Mia!, ABBA remains wildly popular.

Now ABBA is being honored by the Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus, which will be performing ExtrABBAganza at the Jewish Community Center of Palm Springs on Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26.

David Sanchez, the president of the Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus, explained the inspiration for doing ABBA.

"Every year, we try to do something different that will be appealing to our supporters who come to our concerts,” he said. “We've been doing shows that were about our gay history, our gay culture, and some of the struggles we've been through in the past within the gay community. This year, we decided we were going to focus on something not more thought-provoking, but some fun things to do for the chorus—so that's how ABBA came about."

ABBA, of course, inspired the Broadway musical Mamma Mia and its 2008 movie adaptation. There was also a show designed for choruses.

"There was a production made just for gay choruses based on the music of ABBA called ExtrABBAganza,” Sanchez said. “It's 17 ABBA songs put together for a concert series."

What can you expect from the chorus besides performing hits such as "Dancing Queen," "Waterloo," and "Mamma Mia?"

"It's going to be a lot of fun,” Sanchez said. “We're asking our supporters coming to the concert to dress up in an ABBA outfit if they'd like to participate in a drawing for season tickets. The chorus is going to be dressing in ABBA outfits for the second part of the show—and we have real-life dancing queens, who will be performing for ‘Dancing Queen.’

There are a lot of lights and sounds taking place that we wouldn't normally do for our April-spring concert, but it will be a lot of fun for everybody who attends."

Sanchez said ExtrABBAganza presented the chorus with some difficulties.

"The rehearsals were very challenging for the chorus. You would think the music of ABBA would be easy to sing, but for a choral production, some of the music for the first tenors is very challenging because of the range. Plus, we have members of the chorus who did not grow up with the music of ABBA, but you mention the song 'Mamma Mia,' and suddenly, they are all like, 'Oh yeah, I'm familiar with it.'"

Ticket sales have gone very well, and there's the possibility of both shows selling out, Sanchez said.

He also offered a preview of plans for the new season.

"Our artistic director is Doug Wilson, and he has a vision about what he'd like to do for next year,” Sanchez said. “We're going to be preparing for our holiday concert during the summer, and we're doing a production of Rutter's Gloria. It's a very nice production of holiday music, and it's challenging music for a chorus to sing. It has a lot of traditional favorites for the holiday.

“For spring 2016, Doug wants to do something with rhythm and movement, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he has planned for us."

The Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 25; and 3 p.m., Sunday, April 26 at the Jewish Community Center, 332 W. Alejo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $25 to $50. For tickets or more information, visit www.psgmc.com

Published in Previews

Film

Screening of ‘Tim’s Vermeer’

Tim Jenison, a Texas based inventor, attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all of art: How did 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer manage to paint so photo-realistically, 150 years before the invention of photography? The epic research project Jenison embarks on to test his theory is as extraordinary as what he discovers. This is a Penn and Teller Film, produced by Penn Jillette. Q&A to follow with Lisa Soccio, assistant professor/gallery director at College of the Desert. 6 p.m., Thursday, April 16. Free. University of California at Riverside—Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert. 760-202-4007; palmdesert.ucr.edu/programs/ArtDoc13.html.

Music and More

Aiden James

Don’t miss Aiden James performing his latest single, “Last Reminder,” from his album Trouble With This, which launched at No. 28 on the iTunes Top 100. Dinner at 5:30 p.m., with show at 7 p.m., Friday, April 10. $20 show only. Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 800-838-3006; purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Best of Sam Harris

Sam Harris’ career has run the gamut from singer and songwriter to actor on Broadway, film and television, to writer, director, producer and now, author. After winning Star Search in its premiere season, Sam and his powerhouse pop, gospel and theater influenced vocals have never looked back. 8 p.m., Saturday, April 11. $60 to $75. Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-4490; www.psmuseum.org.

Cabaret 88: Donna Theadore

An American actress and singer who first came to attention as a headliner at many famous nightclubs during the 1960s, Theodore won a Theater World Award and Drama Desk Award, and received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the 1975 musical Shenandoah. She is best remembered for her appearances with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, making more than 50 guest appearances. 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 8. $88. Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-4490; www.psmuseum.org.

Comedy at the Symphony

Piano humorist Wayland Pickard leads an evening of music and comedy in the PBS tradition of Victor Borge, Roger Williams, Peter Nero and Liberace—all rolled into one. His impressions include selections from famous “piano men” such as Billy Joel, Elton John, Scott Joplin, Jerry Lee Lewis and even Schroeder from “Peanuts.” 7 p.m., Saturday, April 11. $25 to $45, with discounts. Helene Galen Performing Arts Center, Rancho Mirage High School, 31001 Rattler Road, Rancho Mirage. 760-360-2222; www.cvsymphony.com.

Opera in the Park

This free annual concert is a celebration of opera music. Bring a picnic lunch and join thousands of Coachella Valley residents and visitors to enjoy an afternoon of incredible music in an informal, tranquil outdoor setting with a professional orchestra and eight young up-and-coming opera singers. Noon to 4 p.m., Sunday, April 12. Free. Sunrise Park, 401 S. Pavilion Way, Palm Springs. 760-325-6107; palmspringsoperaguild.org.

Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus Presents: Extrabbaganza

The Swedish pop group ABBA topped the music charts from 1975-1982. Their music found new life in movie musicals. The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus will perform a long list of ABBA’s hits. 8 p.m., Saturday, April 25; and 3 p.m., Sunday, April 26. $25 to $50. Temple Isaiah, 332 W. Alejo Road, Palm Springs. 760-219-2077; www.psgmc.com.

Tachevah, A Palm Springs Block Party

A concert for music fans midway between the two 2015 Coachella weekends. The celebration of music and our city takes place outside the Spa Resort Casino in downtown Palm Springs, and a DJ will keep the party rolling in between band sets. 5 to 10 p.m., Wednesday, April 15. Free. Spa Resort Casino, at Tahquitz Canyon Way and Calle Encilia, Palm Springs. Facebook.com/Tachevah.

The USO Variety Show

The USO has been entertaining troops worldwide in times of peace and war for more 70 years. Now, the Bob Hope USO needs you to laugh, enjoy and have some fun remembering the good ol’ times. Join us for a live nostalgic tribute to Bob Hope and his band of Hollywood celebs; enjoy free tours of the museum pre- or post-show time. 2 p.m., Thursday, April 9. $55 to $75. Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs. 760-778-6262; palmspringsvacationtravel.com.

Zero Gravity: Music Festival After Hours Party

Zero Gravity will feature a mixture of top talent, emerging artists and special guest appearances. This year, the fairgrounds will be transformed into a mega-club party with amazing sound, lighting, lasers, larger-than-life artwork, exceptional VIP services and more. 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday, April 10-18. Must request an invitation at the website; lineup and ticket prices TBA. Riverside County Fairgrounds, 82503 Highway 111, Indio. Rocketboyevents.com.

Special Events

Cathedral City LGBT Days

Not your typical Pride event, this weekend promises to be interactive, festive and OUTrageous! Enjoy area restaurants, music, hot air balloon rides, the costume “charity bed race” LGBT films and more. Various times, prices and locations in Cathedral City. Friday, April 3, through Sunday, April 5. 760-770-0340; www.discovercathedralcity.com/index.php/event/cathedral-city-lgbt-days.

The Dinah Shore Weekend

Club Skirts presents The Dinah, the largest girl party music festival in the world, rocking Palm Springs since 1991. Various times and locations, Wednesday, April 1, through Sunday, April 5. Prices vary; weekend passes $269. Thedinah.com.

White Party Palm Springs

The largest gay dance party in the world. DJs, live performances, pool parties and more. Various times, prices and locations, Friday, April 24, through Monday, April 27. Jeffreysanker.com.

Visual Arts

99 Bucks Sale

The Palm Springs Artists Council presents this annual major fundraiser for the Education Department. Celebrities as well as Artists Council members and other artists create artwork on 5-by-7 canvases for this popular and intriguing one night event. The purchaser selects works to buy, and only after purchase do they learn the name of the artist. 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Saturday, April 11. Free. Riviera Resort and Spa Grand Ballroom, 1600 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4850; www.psmuseum.org/artists-council.

Indian Wells Arts Festival

More than 200 award-winning artists featuring hundreds of pieces of one-of-a-kind artwork available for purchase. The Second Annual Objet Trouvé Found Art Festival joins once again, featuring award-winning found artists creating a “festival of festivals.” 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, April 3, through Sunday, April 5. $13; children 12 and under free. Indian Wells Tennis Garden, 78200 Miles Ave., Indian Wells. 760-346-0042; www.indianwellsartsfestival.com.

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

Published in Local Fun

When announcements started to pop up for two different gay men’s choruses last year, many people wondered why a not-so-large area like the Coachella Valley had two such choruses.

Turns out the groups have different philosophies—and the two choruses are offering two very different holiday shows this year.

The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus—the older, more established organization—will be doing a modernism-themed show.

“The theme of our show this year is A Mid-Century Modern Holiday, said Doug Wilson, the artistic director of the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus. “If you look at midcentury architecture, it’s usually thought of being from 1945 to 1965, and we looked at the music written during that time period. We’re doing ‘Winter Wonderland,’ ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas’ and ‘You Better Watch Out.’ We’re doing a lot of the songs that are really familiar to everyone. We’re also doing three Elvis Christmas hits.”

The program being offered by the newer group, Modern Men, is more relaxed in terms of a production, and is focused on the sentimental aspect of Christmas. After a show on Wednesday, Dec. 3, the chorus is offering a second performance on Saturday, Dec. 6.

“The concert title is Stars I Shall Find,” said Bruce Mangum, the artistic director of Modern Men. “We’re doing a mixture of traditional Christmas carols and holiday songs combined with some newer songs from the past 10 years or so. We’re including one powerful number called ‘Not in Our Town,’ which is based on an incident in Billings, Mont., where the town gathered around a Jewish family in support of them after being victims of a hate crime. We also do the traditional holiday songs.”

Back to the reason why there are now two gay men’s choruses in Palm Springs: There was a split due to the aforementioned differing philosophies. Someone who has been part of both choruses and who wished to remain anonymous said the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus had reached a huge 117 members at one point, and there was a disagreement between the artistic director at the time and the board of directors over the music, as well as other issues. The rift led to the formation of Modern Men. Some members have gone back and forth between the groups, and both groups have gone through recent leadership changes.

The directors offered their own perspectives.

“My answer is that it gives the guys a choice to select which group they want to be part of,” said Modern Men’s Mangum. “Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus is more known for their production-type concerns, and Modern Men is more known for just stand-and-sing. I just consider it the same as: Why do we have more than one restaurant or more than one real estate agency? It just gives people a choice. We invite people to find their niche.”

Mangum added that everyone is welcome in Modern Men.

“We have three straight men who sing with us, and that’s part of our credo, which is we invite all men, gay and straight, to consider Modern Men for their choral group,” he said. “We don’t even have the word ‘gay’ in our title. We reach out to the straight community as well for any men who like to sing and enjoy men’s choral music.”

Wilson said there are two choruses because there are two different visions of what a men’s chorus should be.

“There are enough men and enough diversity in thought of what a chorus should be that two choruses came out of that,” said Wilson. “People have different ideas of what a musical chorus should be doing, and we wanted to something that was a little more fun, and we also wanted to do a wider range of music. Sometimes other choruses want to do something that’s more a narrower range of music.”

Both choruses seem to have a lot to offer the community, and both have a committed group of volunteers.

“The volunteers really make a big difference,” Wilson said. “They want to contribute something to the chorus, and this is how they can contribute. They are probably not singers, and a lot of them have the skills we need to do a lot of the work.”

Mangum said Modern Men’s volunteers are also very dedicated.

“Most of our volunteers are spouses or partners of our members,” Mangum said. “We rely on them for last-minute details, and I’m very proud to say that this year, we are ahead in our ticket sales. ... We were ahead in the schedule, and that was thanks to our members getting the word out. They are invaluable, for sure.”

Both choruses are also looking ahead to their spring programs.

“We start right away in January in rehearsals for our spring concert, which is in April,” Mangum said. “The title of that is Get Your Kicks, and it will feature songs of basically the ’40s through the ’60s. It’s going to be a fun concert and kind of nostalgic for people.”

Meanwhile, the Gay Men’s Chorus will head to the 1970s for their spring show.

“In the spring, we’re doing what’s called ExtrABBAganza,” Wilson said. “It’s going to be all music from ABBA. I think it’s going to be great fun.”

In a related story, also see: Christmas With the Band: The Desert Winds Freedom Band’s Holiday Show Focuses on Classics.

Modern Men will be performing at 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6, at Temple Isaiah, 332 W. Alejo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $25. For tickets or more information, visit www.modernmen.org. (Pictured below.)

The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 13; and 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 14, also at Temple Isaiah, 332 W. Alejo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets $25 to $50. For tickets or more information, visit www.psgmc.com.

Published in Previews

The month of December is full of holiday magic—and many of the local venues are bringing in great holiday-themed shows, along with other worthy acts.

The Palm Springs Festival of Lights starts at 5:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. It’s a huge parade on Palm Canyon Drive featuring floats, marching bands and other special participants. Past guests have included the Budweiser Clydesdales, Snoopy and the Gang, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Attendance is free. 760-323-8276; www.psfestivaloflights.com.

The newly formed Modern Men, the Coachella Valley Men’s Chorus, is holding an inaugural concert at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs. There will be a second performance at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Tickets are $20. The chorus is also asking those who attend to bring a nonperishable food item to donate to the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s NestEggg Food Bank. Temple Isaiah, 332 W. Alejo Road, Palm Springs; 760-992-5109; www.modernmen.org.

The Classic Club in Palm Desert will host a special fundraiser thrown by Opera Arts and the Steinway Society for their children’s music programs in the Coachella Valley. For the Children starts at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8, with a wine-and-cheese reception; it’s followed by a sit-down dinner at 7:15 p.m., and a musical presentation at 8:15 p.m. with Shana Blake Hill and Gregorio Gonzalez. Tickets are $125. 75200 Classic Club Drive, Palm Desert; 760-323-8353; www.operaartspalmsprings.org.

The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus will be performing their holiday concert “With Bells On” at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, and 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Palm Springs High School Auditorium. They say they’re going to be performing a mix of sentimental, spiritual, humorous and classical songs. Tickets are $25 to $50. 2401 E. Baristo Road; www.psgmc.com.

The city of Palm Springs is hosting yet more special events at Forever Marilyn. The free Forever Marilyn Holiday Concert Series will take place at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21, and 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 22. The performers include Celine Dion tribute performer Brigitte Valdez, Just Like That and local band New Sensations. 101 N. Palm Canyon Drive; www.visitpalmsprings.com.

The McCallum Theatre certainly is the place to be during the month of December. The McCallum will host The Ten Tenors for five shows, Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8. The Australian musical ensemble is well known for choral covers of Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” as well as other pop and rock classics. Here, they will be performing an all-new show of holiday classics. Tickets are $25 to $95. Willie Nelson will be making a stop at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 17. The Red Headed Stranger is still going strong at 80 years of age; he’s still doing what he can to help out farmers through his Farm Aid concerts; and, yes, he’s still advocating for the legalization of marijuana. Tickets are $60 to $100. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Of course, the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some fine holiday shows on tap in December. Jazz saxophonist Dave Koz will be performing a Christmas show at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14. He’ll be bringing special guests Oleta Adams, Jonathan Butler and Keiko Matsui. Tickets are $40 to $60. If you’re suffering from a Christmas hangover, Chris Isaak can help at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27. While Isaak is a well-known actor with roles in Little Buddha, The Silence of the Lambs and The Informers, he’s also a brilliant recording artist with a music career that goes back almost 30 years. Tickets are $40 to $75. At 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Agua Caliente will be hosting Danny Bonaduce’s ex-wife, Gretchen Bonaduce, and her band, The Fatal ’80s. I don’t know what to make of a woman who divorces Danny Bonaduce and continues to keep that last name, but more power to her! Tickets are $25. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will be hosting Mannheim Steamroller (right) at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Not to be confused with the near-heavy-metal, prog-rock Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mannheim Streamroller is also known for holiday shows full of MIDI-sounding keyboards and an electronic-symphony sound. Tickets are $39 to $69. America’s Got Talent star Jackie Evancho will be appearing at Fantasy Springs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14. Evancho, now 13, won the hearts of America during the fifth season of the show and finished as the runner-up—sparking outrage among her fans who felt she should have won the competition over Michael Grimm. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino is hosting the Winter Gathering Pow Wow from Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8. The pow wow will include Native American tribes from across the country sharing clothing, dances, songs, arts, crafts and food. There will also be a drum and dance contest. Hours are 7 to 11 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6; 1 to 11 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7; and 1 to 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8. Admission is free. The Spinners, a legendary Motown R&B group, will be making a stop at Spotlight 29 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 28. Most of the original members of the Spinners are not active, but original member Henry Fambrough remains. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Stayin’ Alive, a tribute to the Bee Gees, will ring in 2014. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a solid schedule for December. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13, Charo will be performing. The Spanish-American actress known for both her campy comedy and her flamenco-guitar music is still going strong—and she’s a huge hit in the LGBT community. Tickets are $20 to $29. Hiroshima plays at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 20. The Japanese-American act was a hit in the ’70s in the electric-jazz scene, and even performed as the opening act for Miles Davis. While the band has gone through several lineup changes, Dan Kuramoto, June Kuramoto and Danny Yamamoto are still around. Tickets are $15 to $20. Morongo’s Vibe Nightclub will host a New Year’s Eve Party at 10:30 p.m. The Dazz Band will be performing their high-energy R&B to bring in 2014. Tickets are $25, or $40 on the day of the show. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s will be hosting Dengue Fever (the band, not the virus) at 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7; the show is one of the highlights of an absolutely packed month for the Pioneertown venue. The Los Angeles band is known for combining Cambodian pop music with psychedelic rock—a unique and eccentric combination. If that wasn’t enough, Jesika von Rabbit from Gram Rabbit will be the opening act, performing under the moniker JVR. Tickets are $10. Pappy’s will be throwing a New Year’s Eve concert featuring the blues-rock sound of the Paul Chesne Band. Doors open at 6, and tickets are $5. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert has established itself as a hot place to be, especially after November’s show with Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. Rick Thorne and his band Thorne will play at 10 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6. Thorne is one of the most-recognizable BMX riders around today—but he also puts on an excellent show as a punk-band frontman. Attendance is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21, The Hood will host Strung Out. The Simi Valley band has been performing its brand of punk since 1992 and has been on Fat Wreck Chords since its debut, Another Day in Paradise, in 1994. There’s talk of a new record coming out in 2014. Given the intimate size of The Hood, Strung Out should be another wild show. The cost is $10 at the door for those 21 and older; or $15 for those 18 to 20. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com.

Clinic Bar and Lounge in Palm Springs is picking up steam with a regular schedule of music nights. On Thursdays at 9 p.m., Symara Stone hosts Spotlight, a local talent showcase. A variety of performers bring their own instruments, and it’s guaranteed to be a good time. On Wednesday nights at 10 p.m., Derek Gregg and Sean Poe, now known as the Hive Minds, are putting on a show. Considering the quality of Derek’s originals, it’s not a surprise he’s continuing to make a name for himself in the local music scene. Clinic Bar has a lot more to offer with regular DJ sets by talented people including Independent resident DJ Alex Harrington (aka All Night Shoes) and various other music nights. Admission is free. Clinic Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-864-4119; www.clinicbarps.com.

The Purple Room in Palm Springs is back, and the Rat Pack-inspired lounge is now hosting a regular schedule of shows. The Judy Show, a comedy and song show, will take place on Sunday nights at 9:30. Tickets are $20. The Gand Band will perform on Friday and Saturday nights at 9 p.m. The cost is $10. The Michael Holmes Trio will perform on “No Cover Wednesday” nights from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and Machin’ will be bringing the Spanglish Jive every Thursday at 7 p.m.; there is no cover. Watch the website for yet more shows. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Below: Strung Out: The Hood, Dec. 21.

Published in Previews