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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

It’s time to celebrate the beginning of the end of summer with some great events!

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some big names scheduled for September. Funny man George Lopez will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6. The Mexican-American comedian’s impressive career has included his own talk show, several sitcoms and various other acting credits. Tickets are $39 to $99. If that’s not a big enough name for you, sit down, because Diana Ross will be returning to the Coachella Valley for a performance at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20. The former Supremes singer is a Motown legend and R&B powerhouse. At 70 years old, she’s still going strong. Tickets are $49 to $109. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of excellent events worth mentioning. The first one: Janelle Monae is performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12. The psychedelic soul singer has performed at Coachella, won six Grammy awards, and supported many artists on various tours. Hers is not typical R&B music by any means. Tickets are $45 to $75. Peter Frampton (right) will take the stage at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19. If you were a child of the ’70s, you definitely were enveloped in the music of Peter Frampton. It’s been said that everyone once owned his record Frampton Comes Alive, because it came with free samples of Tide in the mail. Tickets are $50 to $70. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has an event in September that you definitely shouldn’t miss: The legendary Engelbert Humperdinck (below) will be appearing at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19. The British crooner’s career goes back to 1956, and he enjoys a large following of female fans of all different ages. Legend says that he has more notches on his bedpost than Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead and Gene Simmons of KISS. Tickets are $59 to $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club has some great things going on during September. On Friday, Sept. 12, and Saturday, Sept. 13, the Ace Hotel will host Beer Culture: Craft Beer Weekend. There will be more than 20 craft breweries on hand, including the local big three: Coachella Valley Brewing Company, La Quinta Brewing Co., and Babe’s. There will be live music from Tijuana Panthers, Beach Party, RT n the 44s, and Pearl Charles and the Pipes Canyon Band. Prices vary. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Copa in Palm Springs is offering an impressive lineup in September. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6, the Copa will host American Idol contestant Melinda Doolittle. Doolittle finished third during the show’s sixth season and almost always received praise from the judges. Tickets are $27.50 to $37.50. Drag legend Charles Busch will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19, and Saturday, Sept. 20. Busch is also known as a playwright and a singer. Tickets are $35 to $65. Nita Whitaker, a vocalist who has shared the stage with Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand, will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27. Tickets are $25 to $40. The Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomps.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has had an excellent summer and has an awesome schedule coming up for the fall. In September, Pappy’s is hosting one event you don’t want to miss: The reunited Cibo Matto will be appearing at 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 28. The indie-rock band fronted by two Japanese women, Yuka Honda and Miho Matori, reunited in 2011 after almost a decade-long breakup. Yuka Honda worked with Damon Albarn as part of the animated band Gorillaz. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a big fall and winter ahead, according to The Hood’s booking man, Jack Kohler. John Garcia of Kyuss will be having his album-release party at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5. This is the celebration of his self-titled solo album, which has been getting good reviews. Admission is $15. Now for some shameless self promotion (although it’s for a good cause): My second NestEggg Food Bank Benefit Show will happen at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13. Scheduled performers include The Yip Yops, Burning Bettie, Sunday Funeral and The Hellions. Admission is free, but a $5 donation is suggested. The Voodoo Glow Skulls will be returning to The Hood at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19. Also on the bill will be local band Machin’. Admission is $5. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27, Arizona punk outfit Authority Zero will be dropping in. Admission is $10. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

DJ Aaron C is one of the valley’s busiest DJs. With more than 20 years of experience, including a stint as a radio DJ on KUCR FM 88.3, Aaron C has been known to mix genres in his DJ sets. He performs at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, Copa, Bar and the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club. For more information, including a list of upcoming gigs, visit djaaronc.com. Here are his answers to The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

Morrissey at the Hollywood Palladium.

What was the first album you owned?

On cassette, I made a double purchase of Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill and Run-D.M.C.’s Raising Hell.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Moon Boots, Duck Sauce, Major Lazer, DJ Vice, and Sultan and Ned Shepard.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? 

Trap music! To each his own!

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Flight of the Conchords.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Super-sexy neo-soul.

What’s your favorite music venue?

To play at: anywhere where I don’t have to lug in equipment. As a guest: Sound Nightclub in Los Angeles.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

2Pac’s “I Get Around.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Michael Jackson. Talk about mass appeal on a planetary level! Uh-mazing! He showed me that music can unite people for real! Whenever I play an MJ track or remix, it’s interesting to see everyone from ALL walks of life groovin’!

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Bob Marley: “Did you know that your music would be so widely accepted, cherished and regarded as so important to the peace movement? And when is the next album dropping, and can I get a copy?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Nothing corny. Probably just silence at that point, because I will be done playing … literally!

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Michael Jackson, Thriller.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

All of Disclosure’s remixes. (Scroll down to hear some.)

Published in The Lucky 13

Comedy

Coachella Comedy/Improv Festival

A weekend celebration of improv and comedy! See improv teams and comics perform and compete! Visit the website for a complete schedule. 4 to 9:30 p.m., Friday, July 11, through Sunday, July 13. $20 to $85. Indio Performing Arts Center, 45175 Fargo Street, Indio. Coachellaimprovfest.weebly.com.

Film

Dive-in Movies at Wet ’N’ Wild

Dive-in Movies are included with park admission. Play during the day on Fridays, and stay late to enjoy a film poolside. The movies are intended to be family-friendly, but please use discretion. Movies will start after dusk, and the park will be open until 10 p.m., weather permitting. July 11: Frozen. July 18: The Amazing Spider-Man. July 25: The Lego Movie. Aug. 1: Grown-Ups 2. Admission prices vary. Wet ’n’ Wild Palm Springs, 1500 S. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs. 760-327-0499; www.wetnwildpalmsprings.com.

Kids’ Summer Movie Series at Ultrastar

A selection of family-friendly films are shown at 9:30 a.m. every Monday through Friday, through Friday, Aug. 22. June 30 through July 4: Turbo. July 7-11: Walking With Dinosaurs. July 14-18: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. July 21-25: Ice Age: Continental Drift. July 28-Aug. 1: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. $5 for a 10-movie package; $1 at the door. UltraStar Mary Pickford Cinemas, 36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City. 760-328-0484; www.ultrastarmovies.com.

Lit Flicks: All the President’s Men

See how great books can turn into film classics! Prior to the film, enjoy popcorn and kick back for a short conversation by film and literary experts. This will be facilitated by Tod Goldberg, director of the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert’s low-residency MFA program. After the film, there will be a brief discussion. 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 23. Free. University of California, Riverside—Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert. 760-834-0800; palmdesert.ucr.edu/programs/Lit_Flicks.html

Moonlight Movies—Captain America: The First Avenger

Bring your blankets, low-back sand chairs, snacks and the whole family for fun and movies under the stars. Sunset, Friday, July 11. Free; call for other Moonlight Movies events. Fritz Burns Park Pool, 78107 Avenue 52, La Quinta. 760-777-7090; www.la-quinta.org.

Music

Copa Events

Ross Mathews presents Jackie Beat, the world-famous drag superstar and comedy writer, at 8 p.m., Friday, July 4. $20 to $40. Amy and Freddy, headliners for 13 consecutive years with RSVP Vacations, perform at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, July 18 and 19. $25 to $40. Copa. 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs. 760-322-3554; coparoomtickets.com.

Fantasy Springs Rock Yard Concert Series

At 7:30 p.m., full-throttle rock music fires up with a cover band to get audience members out of their seats. At 9 p.m., the tribute band takes over and plays audience favorites. At 10:30 p.m., the cover band comes back out and continues the live music until midnight. Saturday, July 5: Tribute to Queen. Saturday, July 12: Tribute to Bon Jovi. Call for information on other concerts. Free. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Friday Night Tribute Concert: Lynyrd Skynyrd

Spotlight 29 Casino invites everyone to come out and enjoy the Friday-night tribute concerts. Guests must be 21 years and older. July 4: Lynyrd Skynyrd. Call for information on other dates. Free. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

The Melvyn’s Artists’ Showcase

Join Mikael Healey, musical director, each Wednesday at 8 p.m. for open-mic night, featuring singers, poets, instrumentalists and artists of all types. Free. Melvyn’s Restaurant at the Ingleside Inn, 200 W. Ramon Road, Palm Springs. 760-325-2323; inglesideinn.com.

Special Events

Independence Day Celebration Benefiting AAP

Join supporters of the AIDS Assistance Program at the legendary O’Donnell House for a dazzling celebration. The evening includes cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. Valet parking provided. 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 4. $100; advancaae purchase required. The O'Donnell House, 412 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs. 760-325-8481; aidsassistance.org.

Lyfted Productions Presents Independence Fe5tival + UFC

The party features DJ LF and DJ Sean; and a carnival theme on the patio with a dunk tank, bungee pull, vodka snow cones and more. Come early to hang with the beautiful Kilt girls and watch the UFC fight on more than 40 big screens. 10 p.m., Saturday, July 5. $5 to $8. Tilted Kilt, 72191 Highway 111, Palm Desert. 760-773-5458; www.showclix.com/event/3855645.

Palm Springs Tattoo Convention

More than 75 top artists are tattooing all weekend. Live music and DJs plus drink specials are included, as are tattoo contests. Friday, July 11, through Sunday, July 13. $20 weekend pass. Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9676; palmtreesandtattoos.com.

Seventh Annual Mid-Summer Dance Party

To celebrate the Desert AIDS Project’s 30th birthday, they’re throwing a party. The event features DJ sets by All Night Shoes and Femme A, and a special performance by Cameron Neilson from The X Factor. 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday, July 25. $20 to $75. The Commune at Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-992-0440; www.desertaidsproject.org.

Summer School: Poolside Art Workshops and Music

The Ace hosts its annual weekend of artist workshops, plus DJs and bands curated by School Night Los Angeles (KCRW’s Chris Douridas and MFG’s Matt Goldman). Friday, July 18, through Sunday, July 20. Prices vary. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/calendar/palmsprings.

Visual Arts

Backstreet Art District Art Walk

Galleries and studios featuring modern and contemporary fine art are open the first Wednesday of every month from 6 to 9 p.m. Experience the thrill of interacting with working artists. Find paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, photography and more, in one location. Free. Backstreet Art District, Cherokee Way and Matthew Drive, Palm Springs. 760-202-1208; www.backstreetartdistrict.com.

California Dreamin’: Thirty Years of Collecting

The exhibit includes art works purchased by the Palm Springs Art Museum with funds provided by the Contemporary Art Council and other contributors since 1984. The acquisitions were created by contemporary artists who worked in California or were influenced by spending some time in California during their artistic careers. This is the first time these artworks have been on exhibition together. The exhibit is a celebration of the commitment of the Contemporary Art Council to growing the museum’s collection of significant contemporary artists, and is a survey of art in California since the 1980s. On display through Thursday, July 31. Included with museum admission (free to $12.50). Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4800; www.psmuseum.org.

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

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time for a breather.

During the month of January, the Coachella Valley is experiencing a slowdown in the number of music events—so it’s all about quality over quantity. Thankfully, there’s plenty of quality.

The McCallum Theatre will host Shirley MacLaine at 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 19. MacLaine will be speaking about her experiences in Hollywood, her private life and her spiritual journey. Tickets are $35 to $75. Jazz vocal artist Patti Austin will be performing at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28. Austin, best known for her 1981 duet “Baby, Come to Me” with James Ingram, is a live delight. Tickets are $35 to $75. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 1, Pink Martini will take the stage. The modern-day alternative lounge-music act has always had a feel good vibe and will definitely put on a fun show. Tickets are $35 to $95. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a solid schedule throughout the month. The Golden Boys will be performing at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 3. The supergroup includes three heartthrobs from the early days of pop: Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell and Fabian. They’ll be onstage together crooning each of their hits. For those who remember the heyday of these singers back in the ’50s, it will be a special night. Tickets are $29 to $59. And now for something completely different: At 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, Snoop Lion, aka Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop Doggy Dogg, will be performing in the Coachella Valley for the first time since his headlining slot with Dr. Dre at Coachella in 2012. It’s hard to predict what to expect from Snoop, since his recent conversion to Snoop Lion has also included a shift in sound. His most recent release, Reincarnated, is a reggae album; Snoop’s conversion to the Rastafarian religion was shown in the documentary with the same name. He was a no-show at a scheduled performance in Portland, Ore., a few months back, and he seems to be more open to being called Snoop Dogg again, so who knows what to expect? (He turned down an interview request from the Independent, for what it’s worth.) Tickets are $39 to $89. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31, country-music star Martina McBride will close out the month in style. Her career goes all the way back to 1988, and she’s had quite a run ever since; she also has a new album slated for release in 2014. This should definitely be a treat for country-music fans. Tickets are $39 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa has a slower January compared to other recent months—but the resort’s schedule does feature an undeniable legend. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, country legend Dolly Parton will bring her classics to the Agua Caliente. The “9-to-5” singer is still going strong and is inspiring younger generations after being covered by artists like the White Stripes. Tickets were $90 to $160, but the show is sold out. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a couple of great events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, comedienne Kathleen Madigan will be performing. Thanks in part to her high-profile comedy specials, including Gone Madigan on Showtime, she’s become a huge success. Tickets are $20 to $40. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, Morris Day and the Time will be performing with Sheila E. Morris Day is a well-known cult hero thanks to his song “Jungle Love.” Day was also in Prince’s Purple Rain as Prince’s nemesis. Speaking of Prince: His former drummer, Sheila E, will also be performing. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com

Morongo Casino Resort Spa doesn’t have much going on in January, but the Cabazon resort will kick off the next month with Foreigner, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1. While Mick Jones is the only remaining member, the band’s hits make them worth experiencing live. Also, for those of us who watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force, we know the powers of the “Foreigner Belt.” Tickets are $59 to $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s, meanwhile, has another great month of shows booked. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 9, Pappy’s will host the Bobby Nichols Band. The high-desert band is a hit with the local crowd, thanks to their smooth electronic instrumental grooves; it will be a perfect night to be in Pioneertown for dinner and a show. Admission is free. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, The Palominos (right) will be performing. The San Diego based honky-tonk band is helping keep the California country music sound alive. This show is free, too. After hosting the Weirdos in December, Pappy’s will be hosting another punk band at 9 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 19: Parquet Courts. Since forming in 2010 in Brooklyn, N.Y., the band has been a hit in the underground—and has even gained some attention from the mainstream music press. Tickets are $12. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza is unfortunately losing booking mastermind Brandon Henderson. The good news is he will be replaced by War Drum frontman Jack Kohler. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 9, The Hood will host its new Industry Night. DJ Bent will be spinning during the all-vinyl night. Attendance is free (21 and older). At 10 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18, Flower Boy and Giselle Woo and the Night Owls will be playing. Attendance is again free (21 and older) The Independent wishes Brandon Henderson well in his new journey. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com.

We’re finally getting a better look at the Hard Rock Hotel’s entertainment plans. The hotel will now feature DJs every Friday and Saturday in the lobby from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., and poolside from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hard Rock Palm Springs, 150 S. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-325-9676; www.hrhpalmsprings.com.

Vicky’s of Santa Fe has some great music events to go hand in hand with the restaurant’s fine dining. Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 6:30 to 10 p.m., jazz musician Pat Rizzo performs with the All That Jazz Band. Every Tuesday, from 7 to 10 p.m., the restaurant features Michael Dees and Trio. Fans of swing music can enjoy Carolyn Martinez and Trio every Thursday from 6:30 to 10 p.m. John Stanley King performs every Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. Vicky’s of Santa Fe, 45100 Club Drive, Indian Wells; 760-345-9770; www.vickysofsantafe.com.

The Ace Hotel has added a monthly event to its lineup in the Amigo Room. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, The Full House Band featuring Nena Anderson will perform “gypsy jazz,” Americana and Western swing. The event will be every second Friday of the month going forward. Attendance is free to those 21 and older.The Ace Hotel, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The newly opened Copa Room is hopping; the new spot has a lot to offer thanks to its old-school lounge appeal. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Jan. 3 and 4, the Copa will host Well-Strung (below), an all-male string quartet playing the works of artists from to Mozart to Vivaldi to … Lady Gaga? Yes, that’s right. Tickets are $25 to $35. Check the Copa’s website, as the folks there were adding a variety of shows to the lineup as we went to press.The Copa Room, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Zena Bender, in collaboration with the folks at Radio Free Joshua Tree, will be holding a second fundraiser at the Sky Village Swap Meet in Yucca Valley, at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 8. The nonprofit radio station was founded by Teddy Quinn to serve as an outlet for Coachella Valley and high-desert musicians, poets and artists. The effort is worth your support. A suggested donation is $10. Sky Village Swap Meet, 7028 Theatre Road, Yucca Valley; www.radiofreejoshuatree.com.

Published in Previews

At 4 foot 11 inches tall, Leslie Jordan is one of the shortest actors in Hollywood—but thanks in part to his Southern charm, he has a big presence in any production in which he finds himself.

Jordan will be performing his one man play Unwrapped: Southern Holiday Stories as the first ticketed show at the brand-new Copa Room in Palm Springs, from Thursday, Dec. 19, through Saturday, Dec. 21.

Born in 1955 in Memphis, Tenn., Jordan’s mother was 19 years old when he was born. His father, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was killed in a plane crash when Jordan was only 11. He grew up in a deeply religious, conservative atmosphere, and he told his story of growing up as a tiny boy while being “the gayest man I know” in his autobiography, My Trip Down the Pink Carpet, which also became a one-man show.

While Jordan has had a successful career in Hollywood by any measure, he said during a recent interview that acting wasn’t his original career of choice.

“I had been around horses, and I wanted to be a jockey,” said Jordan. “I never became a jockey, and I was an exercise-rider. I went back to school; I got a degree (in theater), and thought while I was at the University of Tennessee, ‘You know, I gotta go somewhere,’ so I decided either L.A. or New York. I thought, ‘ I’ll start with a tan, so I’ll go out to L.A.’”

He came West to start an acting career in 1982.

“When I look back on it, I didn’t have doubts. I was so naïve about the whole thing,” he said. “I got off a bus near Hollywood and Vine. I had $1,200 sewn into my underpants by my mother because we didn’t even have ATMs back then, and I just sort of thought, ‘Here I am!’”

Jordan found work doing commercials and made his TV-show debut on an episode of The Fall Guy in 1986. In 1990, he starred in the campy comedy Ski Patrol with then-up-and-coming comedian George Lopez, as well as Martin Mull and Ray Walston. He has earned numerous roles in TV and film productions within a wide variety of genres—including a couple of horror films. He’s probably best known for his roles as Beverley Leslie on Will and Grace, and as Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram in Sordid Lives. More recently, he was on American Horror Story.

When asked how he chooses his roles, he said choice doesn’t come into play much.

“Honey, if they offer it to me, I do it,” he said. “I have to. There’s no plan, and there’s no, ‘Oh, am I attracted to this project?’ At my level, if it’s offered to me, I have to do it. I ain’t no Tom Cruise—but I’m a whole lot of fun. Sometimes I think I’m the biggest whore in Hollywood: 100 bucks a day and a square meal, and you’ve got me! Pay me the money, and I’ll be like an aging show pony.”

Jordan has also found success as a playwright. His first play, Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued my Life Thus Far, found success both off-Broadway and in Los Angeles.

“They call me a playwright, and I kinda think … I don’t write anything for anyone other than myself,” he said. “I (once) had a casting director who told my people, ‘Leslie is a very funny guy who comes in with the singers, and that’s going to be his career. He’s going to have a long and very storied career, but we don’t think at this point that he could carry a show.’ I thought, ‘You know what? He doesn’t think I can keep people enthralled for an hour or whatever; I’ll write my own play.’”

In a sense, Jordan said he wasn’t prepared for the success of Hysterical Blindness.

“I don’t think I was quite ready for that. The critics were pretty mean and hurt my feelings,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m not a playwright! I just write things for me.’ They approached it as if it was a theater piece. I didn’t write anything again for 10 years. But that’s what attracted me. … I wanted to showcase myself for better TV and film roles.”

As for how Unwrapped came to be the Copa Room’s debut show: Dave Morgan, a local public-relations/events producer, suggested the show to Jordan after hearing his hilarious Christmas stories from his childhood.

“I told (Dave Morgan), ‘I don’t have a Christmas show!’ He said, ‘Yes, you do. I know a lot of your stories. I’ve heard them all over the years about how your daddy bought you a bride doll one Christmas, and that funny story about when you got a pony another Christmas.’ So we put together an amazing little Christmas show that’s just me telling stories about Christmas in the South, growing up with Christmas, and what Christmas was like. We’re going to keep it short, sweet—and I’m not going to ramble.”

Jordan doesn’t have any kids, and his identical twin sisters never married or had any kids. Therefore, Christmas these days is pretty quiet for him and his family members, he said.

“We’re a little family unit, with my mom, my sisters and me,” he said. “I take them everywhere I go. I took them to Barcelona one year, to Casablanca, and other various gay cruises—but there are no kids. Christmas is very quiet. Sometimes, we don’t even take off our pajamas, and we just lay around.”

Leslie Jordan performs Unwrapped: Southern Holiday Stories at 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 19-21, at the Copa Room Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road. According to the Copa website, tickets are sold out. For more information, call 760-866-0021, or visit www.coparoomps.com.

Published in Comedy

IW Club Becomes Vue Grille and Bar

There’s good news for lovers of fine food and drink in the Coachella Valley: The restaurant formerly known as the IW Club has changed its name—and stepped up its game.

The restaurant, located at the Indian Wells Golf Resort at 44500 Indian Wells Lane, officially changed its name and concept on Thursday, Dec. 5. Hundreds of people came out that evening to celebrate the change at the city-owned venue, at a party that included food, cocktails, beer from La Quinta Brewing Company, and live music in the resort’s brand-new events pavilion.

Why the change?

“A lot of people had heard of (the IW Club),” said Scott Winant, the director of food and beverage at the restaurant and resort, “but the word ‘club’ gave off a private connotation. The main premise is to let everybody know it isn’t a private country club, so to speak.”

Indeed: The restaurant is open to all for both lunch and dinner seven days a week (as well as brunch on Sundays, of course).

Executive chef Cale Falk has reconfigured the menus to emphasize a farm-to-table approach, with the use of many local ingredients. Prices, while certainly not cheap, aren’t astronomical, either: Most lunch dishes are in the $15 range, while dinner entrées range from $21 to $38 (for a prime filet mignon).

I was fortunate enough to sample several of Falk’s new dishes at a private media lunch a couple of days before the grand opening, and everything we tried—including the aforementioned filet—was splendid. Other highlights included the Jamie Farms beet salad (pictured above), with “beet soil,” goat-cheese dressing and honey pearls ($15); a seabass dish with Manila clams, pork belly, potatoes, carrots and a sauce that made the plate into a deconstructed seafood chowder, of sorts ($29); and the Medjool dates with gorgonzola, apple and honey ($12).

Yum.

Winant said that Vue is hosting three different concepts under its one roof (and assorted patios, one of which will soon be covered for year-round comfort): an upscale, fine-dining area; a gastropub/bar area, featuring the craft-cocktail creations of local bar veteran Javier Santana; and a sushi bar/lounge featuring the work of sushi chef Akio Naito.

At that media lunch, I got to try some of the fish Naito was offering, and it was amazing. But that isn’t even what I am most excited about regarding the new Vue: It’s those cocktails being offered at the gorgeous bar. The Coachella Valley has been slow to catch on to the craft-cocktail craze that’s sweeping the nation, and Vue has one of the most intriguing drink selections I’ve found in the valley. Santana’s bar menu includes five different types of Manhattans, for starters; if rye or whiskey isn’t up your alley, perhaps something refreshing like the white linen is: It includes Bombay Sapphire gin, St. Germain, lemon and cucumber. The specialty cocktails all cost $10 or $11—or a downright reasonable $7 or $8 during happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m.

One carryover from the IW Club days: Vue offers live music six days per week.

For more information or reservations, call 760-834-3800, or visit www.vuegrilleandbar.com.

Thai Smile Palm Springs Now in New Digs

Thai Smile Palm Springs, the popular restaurant that called 651 N. Palm Canyon Drive home for years, has finally moved to its new location at 100 S. Indian Canyon Drive.

The move into the spot at Indian Canyon and Tahquitz Canyon Way has been in the works since at least May; a representative back then told us that owners hoped to have the new and bigger location open by August. Obviously, that projected opening date was overly optimistic—but Thai Smile management wisely made a deal to stay in their old spot as long as they needed. In fact, only several days passed between the old location closing, and the new one opening its doors.

So far, so good at the new location: On a recent evening, the wait for takeout orders was running at least 45 minutes.

Call 760-320-5503, or visit www.thaismilepalmsprings.com for more information.

Paradiso Closes Its Doors

Paradiso, the newish Cathedral City restaurant known for its pastas and its all-you-can-eat pizza on Monday nights, closed its doors rather suddenly in late November.

Mike Ramos and Chip Yarborough opened the restaurant, at 35903 Date Palm Drive, last spring. After a summer closure during the month of August, the restaurant reopened on the Monday of Labor Day weekend, and seemed to be gearing up for the height of season. However, around Thanksgiving, everything regarding the restaurant went silent, without any explanation: Its Open Table reservation system went offline; there were no more Facebook updates; and the restaurant’s voicemail system became full and stopped accepting new messages.

If we receive further word on what happened, we’ll pass it along. In any case, we’re sad to see this locally owned spot go so soon.

In Brief

The Copa Room Palm Springs, at 244 E. Amado Road, the sister nightclub of The Tropicale restaurant, officially opened its doors with a “soft opening” and a packed house on Wednesday, Dec. 11; watch www.copapalmsprings.com for more info. … The Miramonte Resort and Spa, 45000 Indian Wells Lane, in Indian Wells, has named Adam Votaw—a veteran of restaurants both large and small around the world—as its new executive chef. … Here at Independent World Headquarters, we’ve been getting inundated with news releases about various Christmas Day dining options around the Coachella Valley. We don’t have space to list specifics, but chances are, one or more of your favorite dining spots will be open; that’s one of the advantages of living in an area beloved by tourists. No need to eat duck at the Chop Suey Palace here! Call or visit the website of your favorite restaurant to learn more.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

The Legendary Purple Room Slated to Reopen This Week

The bad: The Legendary Purple Room, located inside of the Club Trinidad time share at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, closed in early June.

The good: If everything goes according to plan, it will reopen at 4 p.m. this Friday, June 28.

The ugly: Since the closure, there’s been drama.

Here’s what happened, according to Art Brigman, the longtime CEO of Club Trinidad: Tom and Susie Pacholik, who took over management of the club in 2011, informed Brigman they’d be ending their Purple Room involvement, and decided to close while Brigman was on a multi-week vacation.

When Brigman returned, he says, the Purple Room was essentially cleared out—including some items owned by Club Trinidad and not the Pacholiks, Brigman says.

“I have an inventory of what was mine, and what was theirs,” Brigman says.

Brigman also says the Pacholiks failed to pay the state the club’s taxes for the last quarter; he says he’s paying the state, and that if the former managers don’t pay him back, he’ll take them to small-claims court. (This could not immediately be confirmed with the state Board of Equalization.)

However, Tom Pacholik tells a different story entirely. First, Pacholik says the taxes have indeed been paid; second, he says everything he took from the Purple Room was, in fact, his. He says he may have even left some of his own stuff behind.

"I absolutely did not take anything that belonged to the Club Trinidad," Pacholik says.

Pacholik claims that it was Brigman who made the decision for them to part ways: He says Brigman gave them a 90-day termination notice, and that they responded by later giving Brigman 30 days of notice, as called for in their contract.

"I really didn't want to leave. This is what (Brigman) does all the time," Pacholik says, adding that the Purple Room name was revived by his wife and him when they took over the club in 2011. (The lounge was known as the Purple Room in its old-school heyday.)

Brigman’s plan was to have the bar in business again on Friday, June 28. He intends to have it open—with an ample amount of live music, starting with Bill Baker this Friday and Saturday—at 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

Whatever happened surrounding the closure, we’re elated that it was only temporary. The Purple Room is a unique, quirky and decidedly old-school club—a club that more people need to know about.

Dish Creative Cuisine Having an Amuse Night

When dining at Dish Creative Cuisine (68525 Ramon Road, No. A-101, Cathedral City), the greatest delights often don’t come from the appetizers, entrées and desserts on the menu (although these menu items are, in fact, delightful). Instead, it’s the complimentary amuse-bouches that lawyer-turned-chef Joane Garcia-Colson offers all of her customers, delivered between the various courses, that often turn a very good meal into something truly special.

And on Thursday, July 18, Garcia-Colson is going to give her delicious little bites the starring role they so richly deserve.

That’s the date for “Amuse Night,” when for $75 (not including beverages, tax and gratuity), she’ll offer her diners 18 to 20 amuse-bouches as their meal. (She’ll be offering optional wine-pairings, too!) My fingers are crossed that one of those amuses will be what I call “beet nipples”—a bite-sized pleasure (pictured) with a hardened meringue outside, and a delicious creamy beet filling inside. (These are amazing, folks … and this is coming from someone who generally loathes beets.)

We asked Garcia-Colson for a sneak preview, and she shared this tidbit: One of the planned courses is a lobster lollipop with sweet miso caramel sauce and crispy leeks. Mmmm. And liquid nitrogen MAY be involved in creating some of the amuse-bouches, if everything works out.

Reservations for this most unique meal at one of the valley’s most innovative restaurants are sure to go fast; call (760) 832-6526 to get your spot before they’re all gone. (And be sure to leave for the meal a wee bit early, as the stretch of Ramon on which Dish sits is currently under construction!)

Tropicale Owners Prepping to Open the Copa Room

Diners at Tropicale, 330 E. Amado Road, may have noticed that the building next door to the restaurant is currently under some serious construction.

When that construction is done later this year, the building will become the Copa Room bar/nightclub.

The Copa Room will be owned and operated by the same folks behind Tropicale. According to a recent Palm Springs Life article, the club is slated to open this fall, and people eager for updates should bookmark www.coparoomps.com, which should be up and running soon.

Update on Twin Palms (or a Lack Thereof)

The future of the newish Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge, 1201 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, is in limbo after an April 9 fire.

While Twin Palms management kept an active presence on the restaurant’s Facebook page immediately after the fire (including some now-heartbreaking posts expressing plans to reopen within mere days), the posts have steadily decreased—and the restaurant remains shuttered. A May 28 Facebook post says, in part: “This should have been an easy fix to a small problem. … We continue to be at the mercy of the landlord and the insurance companies to get things resolved.”

Folks, keep your fingers crossed that a resolution comes soon.

(Editor's note: The first item here was updated Monday afternoon, June 24.)

Published in Restaurant & Food News

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