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Best of Coachella Valley

Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019: Readers' Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019: Readers' Picks

Nov 26, 2018 08:00  |  Staff

This whole process started back in August, when voting began in the first round of the fifth annual Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll.

Now, after three months, two rounds of voting and ballots fro...

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Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019: Staff Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019: Staff Picks

Nov 26, 2018 07:59  |  Staff

Best Auto Service for Honesty’s Sake

Cam Stone’s Automotive

Cam Stone’s Automotive in Palm Desert is the kind of auto-service shop every woman dreams of—at least women (and men) like me who know little ...

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Building Kids Now: The Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley Make The Lives of 6,000 Children in La Quinta, Indio, Coachella and Mecca Better Every Year

Building Kids Now: The Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley Make The Lives of 6,000 Children in La Quinta, Indio, Coachella and Mecca Better Every Year

Nov 26, 2018 07:59  |  Kevin Fitzgerald

On a recent sunny but cool weekday afternoon, more than 200 children and teens, ages 7 to 18, were busy inside the President Gerald R. Ford Clubhouse at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley in...

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A Family Matter: Avenida Music's Success Has Been Part of the Plan Since Before Most of the Members Were Even Born

A Family Matter: Avenida Music's Success Has Been Part of the Plan Since Before Most of the Members Were Even Born

Nov 26, 2018 07:59  |  Brian Blueskye

For Avenida Music—voted as the Best Local Band by readers of the Independent in the annual Best of Coachella Valley poll—music revolves around family.

The band includes three brothers—and may be the only...

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The Kids Are Alright: Frank Eats the Floor's Matt King, 17, Is Pleasantly Surprised to Be the Readers' Choice as the Best Local Musician

The Kids Are Alright: Frank Eats the Floor's Matt King, 17, Is Pleasantly Surprised to Be the Readers' Choice as the Best Local Musician

Nov 26, 2018 07:59  |  Brian Blueskye

Matt King of Frank Eats the Floor was shocked when he learned he was voted Best Local Musician by the readers of the Coachella Valley Independent —beating out local greats including Giselle Woo and last...

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Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018: Readers' Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018: Readers' Picks

Nov 27, 2017 08:00  |  Staff

At long last … here are the results of the fourth annual Best of Coachella Valley readers' poll!

From all of us here at the Coachella Valley Independent , we’d like to thank the many, many readers who vo...

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Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018: Staff Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018: Staff Picks

Nov 27, 2017 08:00  |  Staff

Best Local Album

Thr3 Strykes, CMNCTN-BRKDWN

When I interviewed them last year, the members of Thr3 Strykes told me that putting together the album that would become CMNCTN-BRKDWN was a proving to be diffi...

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Best Local Band 2017-2018: After a National Tour and a Successful Crowd-Funding Campaign, The Flusters Are Again the 'Independent' Readers' Pick

Best Local Band 2017-2018: After a National Tour and a Successful Crowd-Funding Campaign, The Flusters Are Again the 'Independent' Readers' Pick

Nov 27, 2017 08:00  |  Brian Blueskye

It would be nigh impossible to find a band more deserving of being voted Best Local Band by the readers of this fine publication than The Flusters.

The “California dreamsurf quartet” ended 2016 by rele...

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Best Pastries

Peninsula Pastries

The cute little shop at the end of Palm Springs’ Sun Center strip mall isn’t a place to go for a co-worker’s last-minute birthday sheet cake, nor is it a place that serves trendy cupcakes.

No, this place is something much more unique.

Owners Helene and Christophe Meyer import flour from France to make classic French baked goods like croissants, turnovers, tarts and baguettes. Yes, there are cakes, but they’re on the fancy side—think chocolate ganache, lemon-raspberry and Grand Marnier.

On most days, bread is available fresh from the oven at 1 p.m., but on Saturdays and during the peak of season, you may want to order ahead to avoid the disappointment of arriving at the bakery—and finding your favorite variety sold out.

—Jeff Clarkson


Best Local Musical Collaborator

DJ Day

DJ Day (Damien Beebe) has been holding down Thursdays in the Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club with his ¡Reunión! nights for several years now. While the DJ and producer is probably best known for ¡Reunión!, he’s gained a worldwide fan base due to his travels.

He’s also well-known for one other thing: He truly believes in the spirit of collaboration. For starters, he often shares his for ¡Reunión! night with other local DJs, such as Aimlo, Pawn and Pedro Le Bass.

Earlier this year, I interviewed Aloe Blacc, who has worked with DJ Day in the past. “He’s a great human being, and working with him is very easy,” Blacc said about DJ Day. “We both love the same music, and we speak the same language. He sends me examples of music and songs he’s really interested in, and I try to make music that he’ll like. One of the markers I use in the studio is, ‘Do the musicians I’m working with really like this, and will my real friends like this?’ It’s not all the time that I hit that mark; sometimes I take a lot of risks, but for the most part, I think I’m making my buddies and DJ Day proud.”

Far too many DJs these days have a “me first” attitude. DJ Day does not—and that’s a beautiful thing.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Band Transformation

CIVX

It’s been a turbulent couple of years for local band CIVX.

The group played its first show in early 2014, and basically achieved overnight success: CIVX won a slot at the downtown Palm Springs Tachevah Block Party in 2014, and found itself playing Coachella just a few days later.

But all good things eventually come to an end. Earlier this year, CIVX parted ways with frontman and bassist Nick Hernandez. Guitarist Dillion Dominguez took over lead vocals—a move that forced CIVX to reshape its sound and write new material. The remaining members recruited Dominguez’s jam buddy, Clay Samalin—originally a guitarist—to replace Hernandez on bass.

The results of all these changes: CIVX came out on top, playing a session for Jam in the Van, releasing a cassette that included new single “In Trance,” and turning in some fantastic live performances. Dominguez has come a long way since stepping into the role of frontman, while Joel Guerrero’s drumming has become tighter and more intense.

Our prediction: CIVX will continue to make great strides in 2016. We can’t wait.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Community Ambassador

Clifton Tatum, Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2015

The leather community is full of sort-of-but-not-really contradictions: On one hand, the community has a very sexual and kinky focus. On the other, it’s service-oriented; you’d be hard-pressed to find many groups that do more fundraising for fantastic local causes.

On one hand, the community is dominated by gay men; on the other, the Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert recently held a brunch for women during Leather Pride.

Here’s what I mean by sort-of-but-not-really contradictions: Why can’t a group that focuses on kink and sex also focus on helping others? Why can’t women be at home in the leather community?

Until this year’s Leather Pride, which took place in early November, the local leather community’s official ambassador was Clifton Tatum—a strikingly handsome, muscled, 57-year-old retired Department of Corrections counselor. Tatum perfectly represented the not-really dichotomy of the local leather community: He is sexy as all hell, and looks mighty fine in a jock strap—and he cares, deeply, about the Coachella Valley. He cares so deeply, in fact, that he spent his title year tirelessly raising funds for four local LGBT-youth charities.

In the end, he raised more than $20,000—and bemoaned the fact that he didn’t raise more—all while representing the leather community with class and style in both mainstream and not-so-mainstream circles. (Full disclosure: I helped him at several fundraising events.)

Christopher Durbin, the newly crowned Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2016, has big shoes to fill—figuratively and literally.

—Jimmy Boegle


Best Attention to Detail

Shabu Shabu Zen

A confession: I was disappointed that Rancho Mirage’s Shabu Shabu Zen, the 2014-2015 Best Japanese winner, did not repeat its first-place finish in this year’s Best of Coachella Valley. I mean no disrespect to Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, this year’s winner—a restaurant at which I have had numerous wonderful experiences over the years—when I say that Shabu Shabu Zen is my go-to Japanese restaurant in the valley.

Here’s why: The attention to detail at Shabu Shabu Zen, presided over by the always-gracious Miho Suma, is unparalleled. The quality ingredients that go into the various Japanese hot-pot preparations look and taste amazing. The service offered by Suma and her staff is flawless. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a speck of dust anywhere in her restaurant.

I remember being blown away one day when she talked to me about making her own ponzu sauce. Ponzu sauce is generally just soy sauce and citrus; if Shabu Shabu Zen bought pre-made ponzu sauce, Suma would probably save both time and money—and 99.999 percent of her customers probably would neither notice nor care. Yet she makes her own—because details matter.

As a result of this fantastic attention to detail, not only is Shabu Shabu Zen one of the best Japanese restaurants in the valley; it’s one of the best restaurants, period.

—Jimmy Boegle


Best Way to Spend a Monday Night

Trivia With Bella da Ball at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

If you’re looking for the staff of the Coachella Valley Independent after 9 p.m. on any given Monday night, chances are you’ll find us in the Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, sipping cocktails and scribbling answers to random trivia questions on a dry-erase board.

The weekly trivia nights are presided over by Palm Springs’ hostess with the mostess, the fabulous Bella da Ball (aka Brian Wanzek). The crowd varies from week to week, depending on whatever’s happening at the Ace (and whatever’s happening in town in general); the mix is roughly 50 percent locals, and 50 percent out-of-towners. Some nights are calm and breezy; other times, the crowd can get a little rowdier than you’d expect a crowd to get at a trivia contest.

Then there was that time a bunch of liquored-up employees of a So Cal brewery wandered into the Amigo Room for trivia after a company meeting. It’s probably a good thing Bella wasn’t armed.

Anyway, admission is free, and the top teams always win prizes—usually a $50 gift certificate to the Ace. Try it … and see if you can knock off the Independent and Friends Team. Good luck with that.

—Jimmy Boegle


Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016: Readers’ Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016: Best Local Band: The Flusters

Best of Coachella Valley 2014-2015

Published in Staff Picks

This weekend, downtown Palm Springs is being taken over by Pride.

It’s been an amazing couple of years for Greater Palm Springs Pride, and the LGBT community in general. The festival’s move from Palm Springs Stadium to downtown last year was a huge success. In fact, organizers say Palm Springs Pride is now the second-largest pride celebration in California, bested only by San Francisco Pride. After the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality earlier this year, there is a lot to celebrate.

One of the most recognized symbols of the LGBT community is the rainbow flag. The flag was designed in 1978, with a lot of revisions since. Its colors represent the diversity of the LGBT Community, and it has been used for pride marches and equality-related protests.

For Palm Springs Pride this year, I thought I’d reach out to a handful of local LGBT community entertainers and leaders, and ask them one simple question: What comes to mind when you see a rainbow flag?

“The rainbow flag is a sense of pride, a sense of community, a sense of unity of where we are, where we have been and where we are going. Color Our World With Pride! Celebrate! Don’t be afraid to show some color.” —Bella da Ball

“When I see the rainbow flag, I am reminded of our community’s great diversity—diversity in our race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, religion and so on. We’re white, black, Latino, Asian and Native American. We’re men, women and transgender. We’re Christian, Jewish and Muslim. I’m reminded in bold, beautiful color that we are more than LGBT, but we represent everything between those letters.” —Darrell Tucci, Chief Development Officer, Desert AIDS Project

“Anal sex! No, I’m just kidding! My answer is simple: I always think of gay pride and community.” —Jersey Shore

“I remember marching with the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus down Broadway. It was my first time since coming out late. It started to rain, and we had a giant rainbow flag. You can imagine what it looked like when over 100 guys tried to take cover under the flag and still walk down Broadway looking fierce!” —Jeffrey Norman, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, McCallum Theatre (and an Independent contributor)

“To me, the Rainbow Flag is a celebration of the uniqueness and beauty of both the LGBT individual and the collective community. Each color is spectacular on its own, yet when woven together in community, it’s even more majestic.” —Mike Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, the LGBT Community Center of the Desert

“When I see a rainbow flag, I think of unity, love, strength, a sense of belonging, and, of course, pride.” —Tommy Locust, Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2014 and Chill’s house DJ (and an Independent contributor)

“People scramble to deem the flag irrelevant and (say) that this sort of demonstration of pride isn’t necessary, and many pretend that no one is struggling anymore. The history of the flag makes me feel grateful to be alive in a time where so much has changed for us and that an argument like that could even exist.” —Shann Carr

“Comfort, equality, progress. Lives were lost in order to have this flag erected. They are just colors to some, but for me, it’s so much more. I know if I see the pride flag displayed in businesses, I feel a comfort in knowing I can feel safe and will not be judged on my sexual preferences.” —Marina Mac

“To me, it means that the queer are here! On a serious note, the rainbow flag represents LGBT friendliness, and LGBT community is present and proud. Many places around the world, (LGBT people) can’t hang flags, and when one is present, it means that being gay is normal, OK. We are here, just like any other person.” —DJ Femme A

“I see pride, dignity, respect, hard work, love, compassion, diversity and equality. Over the years, the rainbow flag has been a symbol of pride in our community. It signifies the strength we have had to stay grounded! The colors are the diversity we enjoy, sharing equal respect for those who do not have the foresight into moving positively into the future.” —James Bork, Mr. Chill Leather 2016 and second runner-up, Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2016

Published in Features

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

Bella da Ball is one of the valley’s most ubiquitous (in a good way) entertainers.

The hostess with the mostess can be found every Monday hosting Trivia Night at the Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club. (Full disclosure: The Independent usually has a strong contingent present at the Ace Trivia Night.) Every Tuesday, Bella hosts a Cabaret Variety Revue at Georgie’s Alibi Azul Patio. And since January, Bella has hosting a brand-new show each week—Lipstick Thursdays, at the Copa.

“It’s a high-energy, fun mix,” said Bella da Ball—whose alter ego is Brian Wanzek (or is it the other way around?)—about the 90-minute show. “It’s primarily drag, and there are vocalists who come in and do some numbers.”

Bella said the performers primarily work the main floor, rather than the Copa’s long stage, so they can get up-close and personal with the audience.

“It’s a fun, audience-participation type of thing,” she said. “People love the costumes, the headdresses, the sequins, and the props, like hula hoops and guitars.”

Whereas the long-running Tuesday show at Georgie’s Alibi features a variety of musical genres and multiple vocalists, Lipstick Thursdays at the Copa focus more on drag and contemporary pop music.

“It’s more high-energy, more in-your-face, and more of a party,” Bella said.

Even though drag is the focus at Lipstick Thursdays—regular performers include Marina Mac, Jersey Shore, Pinkie Meringue Shimmer (all of whom will perform on April 30), Sassy Ross, Rickie Lee and Cherilyn—vocalists are also a key part of the show, including a rotation among talents including Carol Kamenis, Keisha D. and Thursday, April 30, performer Charles Herrera.

Don’t let the drag focus fool you: Bella said Lipstick Thursdays draw a mixed crowd—even including corporate parties.

“They brought boas and light sticks, and were singing, and clapping, and dancing, and partying,” Bella said about a recent corporate group. “The vast majority of people who go out to shows can appreciate this. It’s music, drag, comedy and fun.”

Bella noted that in addition to happy-hour drink specials until 9 p.m., attendees can order pizzas from Tropicale, the Copa’s sister restaurant next door. She said she hosts a great show for people to enjoy before or after Palm Springs VillageFest, too.

“People can come and relax,” Bella said. “Everybody wants to get involved.”

Lipstick Thursdays take place at the Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, in Palm Springs. Doors open at 6 p.m., with an 8 p.m. show time; a DJ follows at 9:30. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-866-0021, or visit www.copapalmsprings.com.

Published in Local Fun

As we head into July, we can expect the summer to become even more unbearable. Therefore, we recommend these fun events to get you out of the house—and keep you cool.

The first thing worth mentioning: The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club in Palm Springs is now open! At 9 p.m., Thursday, July 3, the venue will be holding a Pre-July 4th Party with DJs inside the Hacienda. There is no cover charge. On Friday, July 4, the Hacienda will continue the free party, this time at the pool, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Sunday, July 6, also from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., DJs Yolanda Be Cool (right) and Overjoy will be performing, and again, there is no cover. These events are for those 21 and older. Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-778-8954; www.haciendacantina.com.

The Desert AIDS Project is marking its 30th birthday with its annual Mid-Summer Dance Party at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club’s Commune from 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday, July 25. Playing at the event will be Independent resident DJ All Night Shoes, as well as Femme A; there will also be a special performance by Cameron Neilson of The X Factor. Tickets are $40 to $75; the late-night party pass, for entry after 10 p.m., is $20. For tickets or more information, call the Desert AIDS Project at 760-992-0440, or visit www.desertAIDSproject.org.

Speaking of the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, the venue is offering some great events in the Amigo Room on top of the regular weekly and monthly schedule. At 10 p.m., Friday, July 4, Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss will be performing an Independence Day show. If you have never seen Coachella Valley local and Throw Rag frontman Sean Wheeler perform with Circle Jerks and Weirdos bassist Zander Schloss, you should go: They are a fantastic acoustic duo who always put on a great show. Admission is free. At 10 p.m., Saturday, July 5, Stronghold Reggae will feature DJ Journee and Dash Eye. Again, admission is free. Check out the website for even more great events. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Purple Room in Palm Springs has added a revue show, hosted by friend of the Independent Brian Wanzek and his famous alter ego, Bella da Ball. Act II will follow The Judy Show on Sunday nights at 8:30 p.m. There’s no cover. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has one July music event worth mentioning. The Go-Go’s will be stopping by as part of the “Replay America” tour at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 26. Also performing will be Patty Smyth and Scandal, Martha Davis and the Motels, and Cutting Crew with Naked Eyes. Tickets are $65 to $170. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a slate of excellent events in July. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 5, Art Garfunkel (right), half of the legendary Simon and Garfunkel, will be performing. After staying away from the stage for a few years, Garfunkel is back, and this should be a great show. Garfunkel released his last solo album, Some Enchanted Evening, back in 2007, but he has dates booked through the summer, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be hearing more from Garfunkel going forward. Tickets are $29 to $59. Korean rapper Kim Jong-Kook and Haha have teamed up for a summer tour and will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 12. Tickets are $45 to $110. If you’re a fan of The Voice, you’ll be happy to know that The Voice Tour will be here at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 26. Tessanne Chin, Will Champlin, Dia Frampton and others will take the stage. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has some nice tribute acts booked in July. Gregory Wolfe will be performing a tribute to Rod Stewart at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 5. Tickets are $20. Dean Colley will be paying tribute to Neil Diamond at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 26. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is shrugging off summer and putting on amazing shows throughout the season. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 2, Ronnie Spector will be performing. Spector, the famous ex-wife of music producer Phil Spector and former lead singer of the Ronettes, is the original bad girl of rock ’n’ roll. Tickets are $25. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 19, the Los Angeles punk band X will be stopping by for … an acoustic performance? Strange! X’s lineup includes Exene Cervenka (who recently went crazy and claimed a recent Southern California mass shooting may have been a hoax), John Doe, Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebrake. Tickets are $27.50. At 8 p.m., Sunday, July 20, the indie-rock dance group !!! (Chk, Chk, Chk, below) will be stopping by. !!! is one of the most energetic and entertaining bands touring today. At an intimate venue like Pappy’s, their show is going to be insane. Tickets are $17. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

The heat is here. The snowbirds have gone home.

But great events are taking place in June for the ample number of us who remain.

The first big event worth mentioning is the second annual Splash House. The three-day event featuring pool parties and world-class DJs at three different venues returns this year with an amazing lineup, from Friday, June 13, through Sunday, June 15. The venues this year are the brand-new Hacienda Beach Club, the Hard Rock Hotel, and the Saguaro. The lineup includes Moby (right), Purity Ring, Neon Indian and many others. Tickets start at $103. For more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.

The Hard Rock Hotel has a great new weekly event. Flirt is a Thursday show hosted by friend of the Independent Bella da Ball. Each week revolves around music, entertainers, dancing, partying and rocking, and includes local personalities Marina Mac, Sassy Ross, Jersey Shore and others. The shows start at 7:30 and 9 p.m. There is no cover charge, but there is a two-item food/drink minimum. Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, 150 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9676; www.hrhpalmsprings.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some good stuff going on heading into the first month of summer. The very funny and controversial Kathy Griffin will be appearing at 9 p.m., Friday, June 6, and 8 p.m., Saturday June 7. Tickets are $45 to $75. Fans of Art Laboe’s radio show, take note: The Art Laboe Summer Love Jam III will take place at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 14. The show will feature El Chicano, Rose Royce, MC Magic, Amanda Perez and Club Nouveau. I wonder if you can call in a live dedication for that loved one of yours who couldn’t make the show with you, or that special someone who is far, far away. Tickets are $35 to $65. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

We realize this is primarily a music column, but Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in June has a sporting event and a comedy event that we can’t help but mention. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 6, is the Golden Boy Boxing tripleheader. The main event is a bout between Hugo “The Boss” Centeno and Domonique Dolton; both fighters are undefeated. Tickets are $25 to $45. In what should be a great night of comedy, The Wayans Brothers will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 21. Damon, Keenen, Marlon and Shawn will all be there. I grew up with In Living Color, and I have seen many of their films, so I feel comfortable saying this is one you won’t want to miss. Both Damon and Keenen are excellent stand-up comics, while Marlon and Shawn aren’t too far behind. Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 will be bringing the folk-duo America back to the desert at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 7. After 44 years, the duo is still going strong and has influenced numerous contemporary musicians, including former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha. Tickets are $35 to $55. Latin-music fans will be happy to hear that Roberto Tapia will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 14. Tapia has been at the top of the Billboard Latin music charts and brings electronica and hip-hop to his traditional Norteno sound. Tickets are $30 to $50. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has booked Motown legend Gladys Knight to perform at 9 p.m., Friday, June 13. Gladys Knight and the Pips is one of the best-known Motown acts, usually mentioned in the same conversation as Marvin Gaye or the Temptations when discussing Motown’s legacy. In recent years, Knight has talked extensively about her conversion to Mormonism, and how that helped her keep her life together. Obviously, this woman still has a lot of soul. Tickets are $59 to $79. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

The Date Shed—remember that venue?—actually has an event booked in June. San Diego reggae band Big Mountain (below) will be stopping by at 9 p.m., Saturday, June 28. Since 1991, the San Diego group has put its city on the reggae map, along with Tribal Seeds. Big Mountain’s cover of Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way” was a smash hit, and the group has had a solid career ever since. Tickets are $15 to $40. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

The 2013 Palm Springs Pride Festival, held at Sunrise Park on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2 and 3, drew tens of thousands of people over two days.

Temps in the low '80s greeted attendees, who perused booths offering everything from underwear to animal adoptions to newspapers (including more than 1,600 copies of the Coachella Valley Independent), and enjoyed performers ranging from Richard Simmons to Berlin.

When we had more than one person manning our booth, Independent editor Jimmy Boegle wandered through the festival to take some pictures of the goings-on. Check out the photo gallery below.

Published in Snapshot
Published in Snapshot

Season is finally here! As you make plans for Thanksgiving and prepare for the other big holidays just around the corner, you should also plan on attending some of these great shows.

The McCallum Theatre has an amazing variety of events booked solid through the month. One show that definitely won’t disappoint music-lovers is an appearance by Crosby, Stills and Nash’s Graham Nash at 8 p.m., Monday, Nov. 18. While he may be best known for his work with Stephen Stills and David Crosby, he’s had a long and successful solo career; his 1971 solo debut album, Songs for Beginners, was critically acclaimed and reached No. 15 on the Billboard albums chart. Tickets are $35 to $75. Herb Alpert will also be stopping by the McCallum, at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, along with his wife, singer Lani Hall. The jazz trumpeter, known primarily for his years with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, was a pioneer in jazz because he mixed Latin, funk, pop and R&B styles into his sound. While jazz has been on the decline with audiences over the years, Alpert is still going strong. Tickets are $35 to $75. The Kingston Trio will be appearing at 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 24. Before folk music became political in the 1960s, putting the genre on the path to a major revival, The Kingston Trio was paving the way for that revival. One downside: The original three members are long gone from the group, so the trio continues in a “third phase” with collaborators who worked with the original lineup or were otherwise affiliated with the trio. That shouldn’t stop you from going to see them and taking in some of the songs that inspired the folk revival of the 1960s. Tickets are $25 to $45. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Aaron LewisAgua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is hosting some big events, too. Theresa Caputo, aka the “Long Island Medium,” will be there at 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15. What can be expected from Caputo? Well, it’s a safe bet that she’ll be communicating with the spirits and talking directly with their living relatives in attendance. Tickets for the event were $60 to $100, but we received word just before our deadline that the show is sold out. (I do NOT suggest shouting out a request for “Freebird” to her.) The following night, Neil Sedaka will take the stage; the “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” crooner will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16. Sedaka was a pop icon before the British Invasion and rock ’n’ roll took America by storm. He’s still a success today; he’s been involved with American Idol and had his first big-hit album in two decades in 2007 with The Definitive Collection. Tickets are $50 to $75. For those who remember the band Staind from the infamous nu-metal era: Aaron Lewis, the frontman of the band, will be there at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30. Lewis became a hit after he did a live duet at Korn’s Family Values Tour in 1999 with Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit of a song Lewis penned called “Outside.” He turned in solo acoustic performances in the later part of the last decade and has now transitioned to country music while Staind is on hiatus. Fun fact: In July 2012, Lewis had a bitter feud with Carrie Underwood after she released her song “Last Name,” which he said “made her sound like a complete whore.” Whoa! Tickets for the event are $25 to $55. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

The Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has two big music events booked this month. Modern R&B superstar Ne-Yo will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16. The three-time Grammy Award-winning artist is currently touring behind his latest album, R.E.D., an acronym for Realizing Every Dream. He has crossed over into pop and dance-pop; his recent single with Sia Furler, “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself),” was well-received and even included a successful music video—in an era when the music video isn’t appreciated much any more. Tickets are $49 to $109. Burt Bacharach will follow in Ne-Yo’s footsteps a week later, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23. Like Sedaka, Bacharach was part of the pop scene that came before the British Invasion and rock ’n’ roll, but he always stood out because of his unique songwriting. With 73 Top 40 hits in the U.S., Bacharach has also won Grammys, Academy Awards and pretty much every other award a singer-songwriter can win. Tickets are $29 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a light music schedule for the month of November; however, the resort’s Free Friday Concert Series kicks off with a Johnny Cash tribute by Rusty Evans at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15. Admission is free. Also, the venue will be hosting The Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience: Moonwalker at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9. With a live band and a cast of singers, the show is a must-see for Michael Jackson fans. Tickets are $15. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has just one big scheduled November event: The Cabazon resort will host comedian and TV host Craig Ferguson for a standup performance at 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8. Ferguson has established himself as the host of The Late Late Show and is a possible replacement for David Letterman if The Late Show host ever decides to step down. We’re dying to know: Will Ferguson bring along his robotic skeleton sidekick? Tickets are $55 to $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s has booked Cass McCombs for a gig at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 12. McCombs blends folk, rock, blues, country and several other different styles into one big, awesome mess. He’s toured with the likes of Band of Horses and Cat Power—and he’s definitely someone you should see live at least once. Tickets are $15. (Read my review of his latest album at CVIndependent.com.) The following evening, at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 13, Bill Callahan will take the stage. The underground rock artist, who has also performed under the moniker of Smog, continues to push the boundaries of simplicity in songwriting; it’s said that he can repeat the same chord progression throughout the entire song. He’s another musician who has tried his hand in writing, releasing a novel, Letters to Emma Bowlcut, in 2010. Tickets are $15. After an appearance earlier this year at The Date Shed, Reverend Horton Heat will be playing Pappy and Harriet’s at 8 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 24. The Texas trio and warriors of the road never disappoint and always put on a great show. I saw them on the same night as the 2009 Academy Awards when they played the House of Blues, right down the street from the awards ceremony and Vanity Fair after-party; the show was packed despite the traffic and all the Oscars craziness. They’re truly one of the hardest-working independent bands in the business today. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.

The ExpendablesThe Date Shed hosts The Expendables at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16. No, this group does not include Sylvester Stallone, the Governator or any of those guys; it’s the Santa Cruz surf-rock band that mixes reggae and punk. The resulting sound is similar to that of Sublime. Tickets are $15. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza continues to get some great bands thanks in part to their booking genius, Brandon Henderson. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, the Palm Desert venue hosts a retro-themed show going back to the big-band and rockabilly eras featuring Vicky Tafoya and the Big Beat, the Jennifer Keith Quintet and the Deadbeat Daddies; the show will include a pinup contest. Admission at the door is $10. Guttermouth plays at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16. Guttermouth’s shockingly humorous and offensive lyrics reportedly got them booted from the 2004 Warped Tour; you never know what to expect from the Huntington Beach group. Antics aside, they’re a great punk band that shouldn’t be underestimated. Admission to the 21-and-over show is $10 at the door. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com.

Azul Tapas Inspired Lounge and Patio features a November party that is not to miss—Bella Da Ball’s Star Dedication. It will take place at 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, in front of Azul, followed by an all-star concert at 7:30 p.m. with food and drink specials. Performers such as Allison Annalora, Doug Graham, Keisha D, Marina Mac and others are all scheduled to perform. Admission is free, and the full menu is available, but reservations are suggested. Azul Tapas Inspired Lounge and Patio, 369 N. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs; 760-325-5533; www.azultapaslounge.com.

The Hard Rock Hotel is open for business and moving forward with events. The hotel will kick off an entertainment series titled The Edge at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, with repeats on Friday and Saturday the following two weekends. The Edge is variety show that brings together actors from the screen and the stage in a production of rock classics, similar to Rock of Ages and other Broadway productions that include classic rock and stage performance. November’s show is titled “Top Rock.” Tickets for the event are $45. Hard Rock Hotel, 150 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; www.theedgepalmsprings.com.

Neil Sedaka

Published in Previews

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