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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The month of March is packed with events in the Coachella Valley. Take in the revelry of St. Patrick’s Day; enjoy the tennis at the BNP Paribas Open; and relish these music events.

The Empire Polo Fields will once again be hosting the Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience on Saturday, March 5. With performances by 311 (see our interview here), Matisyahu and the local ’80s themed band Long Duk Dong, the event also features excellent craft beer (get info from The Beer Goddess here) and some of the finest wines. Music, wine and beer make a wonderful good-time combo, don’t they? Tickets are $70 to $150; www.rwbexp.com.

The season’s end is getting closer—which means the McCallum Theatre’s season will also soon come to an end, so be sure to enjoy the busy schedule in March. At 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 9, prepare to be dazzled and mystified by Tao: Seventeen Samurai. This show combines athleticism and taiko drumming; tickets are $22 to $52. At 8 p.m., Thursday, March 17, Canadian blues rocker Colin James will be stopping by. James has a career full of hit singles and 15 Juno Awards. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, Steve Tyrell will be returning to the McCallum. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tyrell last year; he explained how he’s adapted to the ever-changing music industry—and even recorded his latest album in his house. Tickets are $47 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

If you could be at only one local music venue in March, the venue to choose would be the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 12, Grammy-Award-winning rapper Nelly will perform. Considering his 2000 debut album Country Grammar has sold 8 million copies, he should be a household name. He’s enjoyed more success ever since, and has branched out into film as well as television, with his own reality show, Nellyville. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, Motown legend Smokey Robinson will take the stage. While Bob Dylan has dubbed him “America’s greatest poet,” I concede I am having a problem getting past the freakishly young-looking photos of the 76-year-old Robinson in promotional materials and on album covers. Some of them are downright hilarious; some are spooky; and some look like political-propaganda fodder. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 26, get “Physical” with a performance by Olivia Newton-John. While Newton-John is often remembered for that 1981 hit, she may be best remembered for her role opposite John Travolta in Grease. Tell me about it, stud. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has an event in March that should be a great show on behalf of a great cause. At 7 p.m., Thursday, March 3, a benefit for American Cancer Society Desert Spirit will feature an intimate performance by Rick Springfield. Tickets are $49 to $129. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is hosting a couple of events you won’t want to miss. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 5, get ready to get funky with The Gap Band. Honestly, I really enjoy the Gap Band. There’s just something about “You Dropped a Bomb on Me”; it’s catchy as hell. The band has some great bass lines, excellent guitar and good keyboards—all of which make for fun funk songs. Tickets are $35 to $55. If you’re in more of a country mood, that’s fine, because at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, country-music sensation the Eli Young Band will be performing. Remember a few years ago when “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” was all over country radio? Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

The Morongo Casino Resort Spa is offering a couple of worthy events—on the same night! At 9 p.m., Friday, March 11, .38 Special will be performing. The band used to include Donnie Van Zant, who is the middle brother of the late Ronnie Van Zant, and Johnny Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Sadly, inner-ear issues forced him into retirement. Tickets are $30 to $40. If you love the ’80s, you’ll want to be in Cabazon at 11 p.m., Friday, March 11, because the Spazmatics (upper right) will be performing. The ’80s tribute band is a lot of fun to watch. Tickets are $10. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

As always, Pappy and Harriet’s is hosting some must-see events. At 9 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, Shannon and the Clams will be returning to Pappy’s. The band performed a fantastic show at The Hood Bar and Pizza last month; if you missed that, here’s another chance to see ’em. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, get ready for some laughs and great music, because The Evangenitals will be back! Admission is free. Here’s another welcome return performance: At 9 p.m., Tuesday, March 22, The Melvins (below) will take the stage. It seems the Melvins are making a regular thing out of playing at Pappy’s; the band first played there in the summer of 2013, and Buzz Osbourne came through Pappy’s for a solo performance in 2014. Tickets are $18. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed has one event on the March calendar: At 9 p.m., Friday, March 25, Seedless will be performing. Seedless is a rock/reggae band out of Orange County that has shared the stage with Sublime With Rome, The Dirty Heads and others. Tickets are $13 to $17. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

Before I dive in to all of the great February goings-on around the Coachella Valley, I want to pay tribute to two big names in music we just lost.

Rest in peace, Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club will be holding a Modernism Week-themed event at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13: There will be a screening of Visual Acoustics in the Commune. The film is a celebration of modernist architecture and a joyful portrait of renowned architecture photographer Julius Shulman. Admission is free. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The McCallum Theatre is fully booked with great stuff in February. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5 and Saturday, Feb. 6, Frank Sinatra Jr. will be performing. The son of the Chairman of the Board is a great singer and will be singing in celebration of his father’s 100th birthday. Tickets are $61 to $111. Continuing with the Sinatra centennial celebration: At 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 14, crooner Steve Lawrence will take the stage. Lawrence was a close friend of Sinatra—in fact, when Sinatra retired, Sinatra gave Lawrence a book of his arrangements. Tickets are $67. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 24, get ready for a night of awesome country music: Wynonna Judd will be performing. After starting out as part of a smash-hit duo with her mother, Wynonna has been quite successful on her own. Tickets are $47 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa obviously made a wise choice when it booked with Johnny Mathis, considering his Feb. 13 show is sold out—but cheer up, because at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 12, you can rock out to Air Supply, or whatever it is crazy fans of Air Supply do. The Australian duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock has been soft-rocking since the ’70s and recently had a hit with “Desert Sea Sky,” which was remixed and played in dance clubs. Tickets are $40 to $60. 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 fine slate of February events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, the original Jersey Boy himself, Frankie Valli, will be performing. He was a member of the Four Seasons, and he had a spectacular solo career, so you won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 27, there will be a double bill with The Commodores and The Jacksons. Both groups have continued on without their famed frontmen, and to an extent, it’s worked for them both. The Jacksons’ reunion since Michael Jackson died in 2009 has come with mixed live reviews, though. Lionel Richie is currently not joining The Commodores, and it doesn’t look like he will anytime soon. Nonetheless, if you’re a real fan, you will enjoy both. Tickets are $39 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of great events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 6, easy-listening superstar Engelbert Humperdinck will be coming back. The ballad singer has spawned numerous legends, including one that claims he’s bagged an impressive number of women—a number that puts Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead and Gene Simmons of KISS to shame. Whether or not that’s true, there’s one thing he gave to us millennials … Fly with me, lesbian seagull! Tickets are $45 to $65. Are you a fan of the ’70s? Did you live through the ’70s but don’t remember it? Either way, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 20, the ’70s Time Machine Tour will take you back. Featuring performances by Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night, and Denny Laine of Wings, the show will happily invoke the decade of leisure suits, pet rocks, shag carpet, van living and waterbeds. Yay! Tickets are $35. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

As for Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace: I’m sure we’ll be hearing some very big announcements soon regarding outdoor shows for the spring and summer, especially with Coachella right around the corner. But in the meantime, the February schedule is wonderful. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5, Joshua Tree locals Gene Evaro and the Family (right) will be appearing. Gene is one of the most talented musicians in the Coachella Valley; Alf Alpha has told me stories about Gene’s production skills in the studio as well. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 14, it will be time for local rock fans to rejoice and celebrate Eddie Spaghetti’s victory over throat cancer, because The Supersuckers are back! Funny story: I saw The Supersuckers in 1995 in Cleveland; the band was opening for White Zombie and the Ramones. Let’s just say The Supersuckers didn’t get a welcome reception that night—and I was one of the hecklers. But over time, The Supersuckers grew on me; they’re an excellent rock ’n’ roll band. Also worth mentioning: My friend Charlie Overbey will be opening. His new record The California Kid is awesome. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has one event we know about worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend—at a prom out of a John Waters film, that is—with Shannon and the Clams (below). Desert Hot Springs’ finest, Slipping Into Darkness, is also on the bill. Shurpadelic, dude! Admission is $10 at the door. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

It’s January. That means the holiday season is over—and it’s a brand-new year! That also means the busiest portion of season is here—and there are some great events going on throughout the month.

The McCallum Theatre has some fine shows in January. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli (right) will be performing. Known for his modern interpretations of songs by John Lennon, Gershwin and Antonio Carlos Jobim, he’ll definitely put on a good show. Tickets are $37 to $77. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26, Burton Cummings will be stopping by. As the former lead singer of The Guess Who, he’s known for his golden voice—and for writing some huge rock hits, including “American Woman.” Tickets are $37 to $57. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has quite a lineup in January. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 8, the resort will host some much-loved teen idols … from the 1950s. The Golden Boys, consisting of Bobby Rydell, Fabian and Frankie Avalon, are all still big names in the music industry. If you’re a fan of the ’50s and ’60s heartthrob era, you’ll want to be here. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, Kathy Griffin will be bringing her “Like a Boss” comedy tour to Fantasy Springs. Griffin is a two-time Grammy winner and pulls no punches when it comes to her routines. Tickets are $39 to $69. You’ll be thrilled to know that Tony Bennett (first below) will be coming back to Fantasy Springs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 16. I saw his excellent show last year, and I can say you do not want to miss Bennett when he comes to town. Tony Bennett has truly done it all in the music industry. Tickets are $49 to $99. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 22, Mike Epps (second below) will be bringing his comedy tour to Fantasy Springs. One of my favorite performances by Epps was in Next Friday. I still can’t contain my laughter when his Day-Day tells Ice Cube’s character, Craig, the story of “Baby-D.” Tickets are $39 to $79. If you need another reason to love Fantasy Springs in January, Heart will be performing at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29. Remember during the 2008 election when Sarah Palin stole the song “Barracuda” as her theme? Heart was not pleased. The members of Heart are legends and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members. Tickets are $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente has two excellent events scheduled this January. First, there’s Styx, which you can read about elsewhere in this issue. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, the red-headed stranger himself, Willie Nelson, will be appearing. Willie has made stops in the Coachella Valley in each of the past two years, proving he’s still a fantastic draw. Tickets are $95 to $125. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has an excellent January calendar. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9, you won’t want to work; you’ll want to bang on the drum all day when Todd Rundgren stops by. I once read that Rundgren was asked by punk band Bad Religion to produce the The New America album. It was not a good experience, according to bassist Jay Bentley. Tickets are $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 23, get ready to honky-tonk harder than you’ve ever honky-tonked before, because Dwight Yoakam will be coming back. After seeing Yoakam perform three times now, I can tell you he’s consistently spectacular. I still can’t stop talking about his performance as Doyle, the alcoholic boyfriend, in Sling Blade. Remember, “Stuart Drives a Comfortable Car.” Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino has some intriguing stand-up shows this month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 8, Sinbad will be coming back—not too long after a performance a few months ago at Spotlight 29. The star who was all over television in the ’90s is apparently doing stand-up again after hitting hard financial times. Warning: The reviews of his recent shows have not been excellent. Tickets are $29 to $39. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29, Bob Newhart will be stopping by. Newhart is a legend from the golden era of comedy. Tickets are $35 to $45. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has one event worth noting that we know about at this time: At 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 23, T.S.O.L. will be appearing. If you’re not familiar with T.S.O.L., it is only one of Los Angeles’ most notorious punk bands. Frontman Jack Grisham has spoken extensively about how much mischief he got into, and how bad of an addict he once was; he tells some truly insane stories about how bonkers he can be when he’s under the influence. At the same time, Grisham’s honesty and sobriety has been an inspiration for addicts; it’s been said that he’s given some talks at the Betty Ford Center and other rehabilitation facilities. Tickets are $12. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Copa Palm Springs has a lineup that will attract American Idol fans for sure. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 16, and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 17, Frenchie Davis will perform. Davis has been seen on American Idol and The Voice. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 22, and Saturday, Jan. 23, former American Idol contestant Melinda Doolittle will be appearing. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

The Date Shed has one event on the schedule that we know of: At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29, the acts of Puro Oro will be performing. Puro Oro is the local coalition of artists including J. Patron, Thr3 Strykes, Slum the Resident and many others. Tickets are $10. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

Styx formed in 1970 and managed to survive the rise and fall of disco. The group has also endured the turbulent departure of frontman Dennis DeYoung, bassist Chuck Panozzo’s battle with HIV, and the death of drummer John Panozzo—yet Styx continues to tour, having done so since reforming in 1995.

They’ll be stopping by Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa on Friday, Jan. 15.

In 1999, Styx hired new frontman Lawrence Gowan, a Canadian rock vocalist who opened for Styx in 1997. During a recent phone interview, Gowan said stepping into the role was a lot easier than many would assume.

“I can’t say that I went into it with any trepidation,” Gowan said. “I went into it with a smile on my face, hoping it would go well, and hoping that I would validate their choice. It’s a pretty critical moment when a band decides that a former member of that band is no longer going to be with them. They need to get someone new. With my own background, and the fact that I had played all the same buildings that Styx had played in Canada, I felt that I could handle myself pretty well in front of a big audience. … I was also thinking that it was going to be very different for me, and I thought at the same time, ‘This is a great band. I just have to fit in to what they already established.’”

Gowan admitted he hadn’t seen Styx perform until he opened for them in 1997, but he said he’d admired their work for many years.

“I was very aware of them, and I remember hearing their songs, particularly when ‘Blue Collar Man’ came out,” he said. “Styx was so omnipresent in the ’70s that you couldn’t help but be extremely aware of all their material. I love the fact that they were the first non-British band to have true success playing what was partially progressive rock. That’s really where my acute awareness was with Styx, and that’s what I really admired about them.”

Styx’s 1983 concept album Kilroy Was Here led to a rift between Dennis DeYoung and the other members of the band. When Styx made a tour stop at the Cotton Bowl in Texas in 1983, on the same bill as Ted Nugent and Sammy Hagar, the performance drew loud booing as some audience members threw things. On the flip side, Kilroy Was Here went platinum and featured two hit singles, including one of Styx’s biggest-ever hits, “Mr. Roboto.”

Soon after the tour, Styx broke up for the first time.

“We were doing a medley for a number of years where we would just do the opening of ‘Mr. Roboto.’ From the recollections, stories and accounts I hear from the guys from that era, it was obvious they went through some painful experiences at that point, because they were pulling at various directions, and they felt the band disintegrating with that record.” Gowan said. “… For me, I heard it at the time and thought, ‘That’s kind of a weird song,’ but it stood the test of time, and I kind of like it.

“If they ever want to add more of that to the set, I’d be fine with it. For the guys in the band, they want to stick to relevant material at this point, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t delve into it at some point in the future if the wounds completely heal over.”

Styx remains a big deal as a touring band. Gowan said he sees plenty of younger people in the crowds.

“This past year, we went on tour with Def Leppard, and ended up one of the top five amphitheatre tours of the summer,” Gowan said. “That’s means something for a band that has been around for over four decades. I think the mandate when I joined the band was to play a minimum of 100 shows each year, and elevate the show. We’ve amassed such an audience of aficionados that they can’t seem to get enough, and we’re happy to keep satisfying that demand as much as we can. I will also say that the unforeseen result would be the Internet as a source of being able to discover classic rock for people who weren’t born in that era, and we see audience (members) now who are ... under 30 years of age every night.”

Styx often tours with REO Speedwagon.

“We get along great,” Gowan said. “We didn’t tour with them in 2015, but it’s highly likely that we’ll team up again in the near future. That’s one of those combos that sell a lot of tickets, and people just happen to like that combo together. We also get along great with those guys. I’ll tell you how much they are friends to us: A couple of years ago, our bus broke down in the middle of the night, and they came by on their bus and picked us up. They saved some of their bunks for us. We’re indebted to them in some regard for that, and they didn’t even ask us to split the gas, which was very generous of them. Plus we also ate most of the food on their bus. They’re fine chaps!”

Styx hasn’t released an album of new material since Cyclorama in 2003. However, Gowan said new material may be on the way soon.

“Judging by the release schedule that we’ve had, you might assume we’d never come up with anything new. But we have for several years now, and we have to finish it, and we have to find time in the schedule to actually promote it instead of the usual 100 shows in front of us,” Gowan said. “I can’t pin down when it will be released, but I spent a lot of time in the studio this past year. We’re figuring out where the band is going to go musically in the future, but that future keeps getting railroaded in the most beautiful of ways, which means we have to go play another 50 to 100 shows before we come back to the current recording project. That might sound like a lame excuse, but that’s the reality of it. I look forward to when we might be able to release it.”

Styx will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 15, at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $45 to $85. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.hotwatercasino.com.

Published in Previews

The holiday season is upon us, which means things hectic, and you may feel the need to escape—or find something to that doesn’t involve shopping. Fortunately, there are plenty of great events going on in December (especially in the first two-thirds of the month) for people looking to escape, as well as people looking to celebrate the holidays.

The McCallum Theatre has an awesome December schedule. If you missed Merle Haggard at Stagecoach back in April, you’ll be happy to know the Okie from Muskogee will be coming back at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 2. Haggard, one of the creators of the Bakersfield sound, has written an astonishing number of great country songs throughout his long career. Tickets are $77 to $97. At 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 15, there will be a performance of The Nutcracker performed by the Los Angeles Ballet. Tickets are $27 to $87. At 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20, country star LeAnn Rimes perform a Christmas-themed concert. Back in the ’90s, Rimes captured the admiration and support of people everywhere as a star at the age of 13. She’s since carved out a fine career, with two Grammy Awards, a Country Music Association Award, 12 Billboard music awards and an American Music Award to her credit. Tickets are $37 to $87. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some great holiday events on the schedule. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, you’ll know it’s time for Christmas when Mannheim Steamroller returns. This is the 31st year that Mannheim Steamroller has taken its rock and electric-synth style Christmas show on the road; the concert includes dazzling multimedia effects, too. The group has sold 28 million copies of Christmas albums! Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19, it will be time to boogie for the holidays when The Brian Setzer Orchestra takes the stage. Setzer’s swing/rockabilly holiday shows have become a Christmas tradition; if you haven’t had the pleasure, check it out. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a light schedule, but there are two great events you should to know about. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4, Mama, the star of Mama’s Family, and comedienne Vicki Lawrence will be performing her “Two Woman Show.” Tickets are $20 to $40. If you don’t have plans for New Year’s Eve, you’ll be happy to know that at 10:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 31, former Runaways member Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (right) will be rocking into 2016. Forget attending those expensive parties where you stand in line all night to buy expensive drinks, and create fond New Year’s Eve memories with a legend! Tickets are $60 to $80. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a great list of December shows. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 17, Brant Bjork and the Low-Desert Punk Band will take the stage. Bjork, a founder and former drummer of desert rock gods Kyuss, performed at Coachella back in April. If you call yourself a fan of desert rock, you need to get your ass to this show—because Bjork delivers live. Tickets are $15. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 26, you can celebrate the day after Christmas with The Evangenitals. If you had a good Christmas, the Evangenitals will make it even better! If you had a bad Christmas, the Evangenitals will have you laughing, therefore lifting you out of your holiday blues. It’s become a tradition at Pappy’s to have the Evangenitals perform after Christmas, so go partake! Admission is free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed has some nice things happening in December. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4, things are going to get festive thanks to EeVaan Tre and the “Holiday Show.” EeVaan and the boys have quite an impressive R&B act, so you know their holiday show is going to be something you don’t want to miss. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, the vibe will be quite different, because rapper Paul Wall will be performing. The Houston-based rapper has been going since 1998 and has had songs on the charts. Tickets are $20 to $23. If you were concerned the Date Shed’s schedule was initially missing some performers who come back year after year … relax: Ghostface Killah is indeed returning to the venue, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19. Ghostface, a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, performed a hop, skip and a jump from the Date Shed at Coachella back in April with fellow Wu-Tang member Raekwon. Tickets are $28 to $38. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has released a list of nice events for the month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4 rock/reggae band Fayuca will be stopping by; Machin’ and DJ Alf Alpha will also perform. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 10, you’ll be happy to know that Chicano Batman (below) will be coming back to perform at The Hood—and, of course, their compadres Slipping Into Darkness are also on the bill. Yay! Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Tryst Bar and Lounge continues to diversify downtown Palm Springs’ music offerings, with free shows at 10 p.m. virtually every Tuesday and Saturday. The month’s highlights include Derek Jordan Gregg on Tuesday, Dec. 1; and local metal-punk favorites Gutter Candy on Tuesday, Dec. 22. Tryst Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-832-6046; www.facebook.com/trystpalmsprings.

Published in Previews

On the surface, this “Best Of” package may seem pretty simple: It’s a list of winners and finalists in more than 115 categories, as voted on by Coachella Valley Independent readers, along with a handful of staff picks and photos—with a feature on the Best Local Band thrown in for good measure.

But if you look a little deeper, you’ll see these results paint a fairly interesting picture of the Coachella Valley as it stands today. For example: The fact that such varied and diverse local bands, musicians and DJs were chosen by our readers as winners and finalists points to an increasingly varied and diverse local music scene. If you peruse the places selected as winners and finalists in the various food and restaurant categories, you’ll discover the vast majority of them are locally owned places—pointing to an increasingly good local food scene.

On the flip side, you can find hints of deficiencies in the valley as well. For example: Because there are only three finalists in the Best Indian food category, one can guess there aren’t all that many Indian-food joints in the Coachella Valley. (In fact, you can guess there are probably three, give or take.) And a chain won in the Best Chinese category. ’Nuff said.

I could go on and on, but I won’t; I’ll simply leave you to the results instead.

Oh, one more thing (maybe two): Thank you to all of the many, many readers who voted—and congratulations to all of the winners and finalists. And mark your calendars: The Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016 Awards Party will be on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Details coming soon.

Welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016!

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


Arts

 

Best Art Gallery

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. Heather James Gallery

3. CODA Gallery

4. Archangel Gallery

5. Hohmann Fine Art

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Hood Bar and Pizza

4. The Show at Agua Caliente

5. Fantasy Springs Special Event Center

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre

3. Palm Springs Art Museum

4. La Quinta Arts Foundation

5. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

 

Best Local Band

The Flusters

 

Runners up:

2. IIIZ (formerly The Yip Yops)

3. War Drum

4. Thr3 Strykes

5. R. Buckle Road

 

Best Local DJ

Alf Alpha

 

Runners up:

2. DJ Day

3. Alex Harrington

4. House Whores

5. One4All/Tommy Locust

 

Best Local Musician (Individual)

Jesika Von Rabbit

 

Runners up:

2. EeVaan Tre

3. John Robbins

4. Steve Madaio

5. Kal David

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Sofia Enriquez

 

Runners up:

2. Michael Murphy

3. Elena Bulatova

4. Ryan “Motel” Campbell

5. Michael Weems

 

Best Movie Theater

Century Theatres at The River

 

Runners up:

2. Cinemas Palme d’Or

3. UltraStar Mary Pickford Stadium 14

4. Camelot Theatres

5. Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum

3. La Quinta Museum

4. Coachella Valley History Museum

5. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Empire Polo Club

4. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

5. La Quinta Civic Center

 

Best Theater Company

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Coyote Stageworks

5. Dezart Performs


Life in the Valley

 

Best Alternative Health Center

Palm Springs Healing Center

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Hot Springs Health and Wellness Center

3. Neuro Vitality Center (formerly the Stroke Recovery Center)

 

Best Farmers’ Market

Old Town La Quinta Certified Farmers’ Market

 

Runners up:

2. College of the Desert Street Fair

3. Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market (Saturday)

4. Palm Desert Certified Farmers’ Market (Wednesday)

5. Palm Springs VillageFest

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

4. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

5. Mizell Senior Center

 

Best Gym

World Gym Palm Desert

 

Runners up:

2. In-Shape Cathedral City

3. EOS Fitness Palm Springs

4. Palm Springs Fitness

5. World Gym Palm Springs

 

Best Public Servant

Congressman Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans

3. Palm Springs City Council Member Ginny Foat

4. Palm Springs City Council Member Paul Lewin

5. La Quinta City Council Member Robert Radi

 

Best Yoga Studio

Bikram Yoga University Village

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Art Scene

3. Urban Yoga

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes Bowling at Morongo

 

Best Auto Repair

Desert Classic Cars

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Andy’s Auto Repair

Palms to Pines Automotive

4. European Auto Service

5. OMAG Automotive Machine

 

Best Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Car Wash

3. TIE

Airport Car Wash

Desert 100% Hand Car Wash

5. Red Carpet Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

The Living Desert’s Palo Verde Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Moller’s Garden Center

3. Moorten Botanical Garden

4. Bob Williams Nursery

 

Best Pet Supplies

PetSmart

 

Runners up:

2. Cold Nose Warm Heart

3. Petco

4. Bones ‘n’ Scones

5. Pet Oasis

 

Best Annual Charity Event

La Quinta Arts Festival

 

Runners up:

2. Paint El Paso Pink (Desert Cancer Foundation)

3. Evening Under the Stars (AIDS Assistance Program)

4. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards Gala (Desert AIDS Project)

5. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

 

Best Place to Gamble

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

3. Morongo Casino Resort Spa

4. Spa Resort Casino

5. Spotlight 29

 

Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. KMIR Channel 6

3. CBS Local 2

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. Ginger Jeffries, KMIR Channel 6

3. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

4. Jenifer Daniels, CBS Local 2

5. Gino LaMont, KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Radio Station

KCRW 89.3 FM

 

Runners up:

2. Q102.3 Classic Rock

3. Mix 100.5

4. The Bull 98.5

5. K-News 94.3

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Jim "Fitz" Fitzgerald, 103.9 FM The Breeze

 

Runners up:

2. Jeff Michaels, Big 106 (KPLM)

3. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3

4. Dan McGrath, 103.1 Sunny FM

5. Joey English, K-News 94.3

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. Crystal Fantasy

3. The Book Rack

4. Just Fabulous

5. Revivals

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley

 

Runners up:

2. Best Buy

3. Barnes and Noble

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Barnes and Noble

3. JB Sports and Varsity Jackets

 

Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Runners up:

2. Riviera Palm Springs

3. Renaissance Indian Wells Resort and Spa

4. La Quinta Resort

5. The Saguaro

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty

 

Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Red Panties Boutique


Fashion and Style

 

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Bobby G’s

 

Runners up:

2. Grayse El Paseo

3. Wil Stiles

4. R&R Men’s Wear

5. Glossy

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

TIE

Angel View

Revivals

 

Runners up:

3. Gypsyland

4. Resale Therapy

5. The Fine Art of Design

 

Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Misty’s Consignments

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Scandinavian Designs (formerly Plummers)

 

Best Antiques/Collectibles Store

The Estate Sale Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. Antique Galleries of Palm Springs

4. Victoria’s Attic Antiques

5. The POP Shop

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

Leeds and Son

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo Jewelers

3. The Jewelry Bar

4. Hephaestus

5. B. Alsohns Jewelers

 

Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Dishwater Blonde

3. Brien O’Brien Salon

4. Razors

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Spa

JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Resort

3. Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa

4. Studio M

5. Miracle Springs

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Rancho Mirage Florist

3. Palm Springs Florist

4. The Flower Company

5. Vaso Bello Celebrations

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

The Tattoo Gallery

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

Strata Tattoo Lab

4. Art and Ink Tattoo Studio and Design

5. Contrast Tattoo Studios

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. Ooh La-La de Paris

4. Desert Eyecare Center

5. Old Town Optometry


Outside!

 

Best Urban Landscaping

Sunnylands

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo

3. Palm Springs (downtown)

4. Rancho Mirage (general)

5. Palm Springs International Airport

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. El Paseo

4. Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the PS Art Museum Palm Desert

5. Palm Desert Community Gardens

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Palm Springs (general)

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta (general)

3. Frank Sinatra Drive

 

Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Idyllwild

3. Indian Canyons

4. Whitewater Preserve

5. Tahquitz Canyon

 

Best Hike

Indian Canyons

 

Runners up:

2. Bump and Grind Trail

3. Painted Canyon

4. Palm Springs Art Museum Trail

5. South Lykken Trail

 

Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Francis Stevens Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5

3. Yellow Mart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Cyclery

3. Tri.A.Bike

4. Mike’s Bike Truck

 

Best Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5

3. The Sports Authority

 

Best Public Golf Course

Indian Wells Golf Resort

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Willow Golf Resort

3. Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort

4. SilverRock Resort

5. The Lights at Indio GC


For the Kids

 

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Cathedral City Town Square

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Toys “R” Us

 

Runners up:

2. Target

3. Mr G’s For Kids

4. Big Lots

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Crazy 8

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Islands

4. Ruby’s

5. Burgers and Beer

 

Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Wet ’n’ Wild

3. Children’s Discovery Museum

4. Boomers

5. Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum

3. TIE

Boomers

Chuck E. Cheese’s

5. Peaks Restaurant (Top of the Tram)


Food and Restaurants

 

Best Casual Eats

Eureka!

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Stuft Pizza

4. Bill’s Pizza

5. Pho 533

 

Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Lavender Bistro

3. Dash and a Handful

4. Desert Cities Catering

5. Lynn Hammond

 

Best Diner

Keedy’s Fountain Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. King’s Highway at the Ace

4. John’s

5. Bit of Country

 

Best Organic Food Store

Whole Foods

 

Runners up:

2. Sprouts Farmers Market

3. Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods

4. Nature’s Health Food and Café

5. Harvest Health Foods

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Cafe

4. Real Italian Deli

5. It’s a Deli

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Pastry Swan Bakery

5. Exquisite Desserts

 

Best Desserts

Manhattan in the Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. French Corner Cafe and Bakery

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Pastry Swan Bakery/Fix a Dessert House

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Great Shakes

 

Runners up:

2. Cold Stone Creamery

3. Ben and Jerry’s

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Lappert’s Ice Cream

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Palm Greens Cafe

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

Beach House

 

Runners up:

2. Tutti Frutti

3. Yogurt Island

4. Jus Chillin

5. Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt

 

Best Bakery

Aspen Mills

 

Runners up:

2. Nothing Bundt Cakes

3. French Corner Cafe and Bakery

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Frankie’s Old World Italian Bakery

 

Best Barbecue

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Jackalope Ranch

4. Smoke Tree BBQ Bar and Grill

5. CV BBQ

 

Best Burger

Eureka!

 

Runners up:

2. Grill-A-Burger

3. Woody’s Burgers

4. Burgers and Beer

5. Smokin’ Burgers

 

Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Grill-A-Burger

4. Lulu California Bistro

5. Woody’s Burgers

 

Best Sandwich

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. The Sandwich Spot

3. TKB Bakery and Deli

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Aspen Mills

 

Best Pizza

Stuft Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Bill’s Pizza

3. Piero’s PizzaVino

4. Matchbox

5. Giuseppe’s

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Upper Crust Pizza

3. TIE

Bar

The Village Pub

5. Lulu California Bistro

 

Best Bagels

Einstein Bros. Bagels

 

Runners up:

2. New York Bagel and Deli

3. Townie Bagels Bakery Cafe

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Sherman’s

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Jamba Juice

3. Juice It Up!

4. Koffi

5. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Buffet

Grand Palms Buffet at Agua Caliente

 

Runners up:

2. Emperor Buffet

3. Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

4. Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Coffee Shop for Coffee

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Old Town Coffee Company

3. Starbucks

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Tea

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

 

Runners up:

2. Teavana

3. Koffi

4. Starbucks

5. Ristretto

 

Best Breakfast

Wilma and Frieda’s Cafe

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. John’s

4. TIE

Lulu California Bistro

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Trio

Zin American Bistro

4. Tropicale

5. Copley’s on Palm Canyon

 

Best Brunch

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Escena Lounge and Grill

4. Vue Grille and Bar

5. Tropicale

 

Best Chinese

P.F. Chang’s

 

Runners up:

2. City Wok

3. Wang’s in the Desert

4. China 8

5. New Fortune

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Koutouki Greek Estiatorio

3. TIE

Miro’s Restaurant

Nina’s Greek Cuisine

5. Santorini Gyro Hamburger/Greek Food and Grill

 

Best French

Le Vallauris

 

Runners up:

2. La Brasserie

3. Pomme Frite

4. Cuistot

5. Chez Pierre

 

Best Indian

India Oven

 

Runners up:

2. Monsoon Indian Cuisine

3. Naan House

 

Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

3. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

4. Shabu Shabu Zen

5. Sushi Domo

 

Best Italian

Ristorante Mamma Gina

 

Runners up:

2. La Bella Cucina

3. Mario’s Italian Cafe

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. Trilussa

 

Best Sushi

Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

3. The Venue

4. No Da Te

5. Sushi Domo

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

3. Ruben and Ozzy’s

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5.Oceans Seafood Restaurant

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

LG’s Prime Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Sullivan’s Steakhouse

3. The Steakhouse at Spa Resort Casino

4. Outback Steakhouse

5. Chop House

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Thai Smile of Rancho Mirage (now in Palm Desert)

3. Blue Orchid

4. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

5. Le Basil

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Rooster and the Pig

3. Pho 533

4. Pho of the Desert

5. Le Basil

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Wally’s Desert Turtle

3. Lavender Bistro

4. Jillian’s

5. Tropicale

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. Lavender Bistro

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. Le Vallauris

5. Tropicale

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. King’s Highway at the Ace

3. Smokin’ Burgers

4. Alicante

5. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

 

Best Mexican

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. El Mirasol

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Pueblo Viejo Grill

5. La Tablita

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Pueblo Viejo Grill

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Loco Charlie’s Mexican Grill

5. Los Pepes Mexican Grill and Bar

 

Best Burrito

Chipotle

 

Runners up:

2. El Ranchito Taco Shop

3. El Gallito

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. La Tablita


Spirits and Nightlife

 

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Bart Lounge

4. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

5. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

 

Best Local Brewery

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

The Beer Hunter

 

Runners up:

2. Bart Lounge

3. Hunters

4. Neil’s Lounge

5. Palm Springs Lanes

 

Best Cocktail Menu

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Bar

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Tropicale

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Toucan’s

 

Runners up:

2. Hunters

3. Chill

4. Tool Shed

5. Streetbar

 

Best Happy Hour

La Quinta Cliffhouse Grill and Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Wang’s in the Desert

4. Hunters

5. Tropicale

 

Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Red Barn

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Score

5. Toucan’s

 

Best Margarita

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Armando’s Dakota Bar and Grill

3. El Mirasol

4. TIE

Los Pepes Mexican Bar and Grill

Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Best Martini

Mastro’s Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Melvyn’s

3. The Falls (no longer in business)

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Tropicale

 

Best Nightclub

Bart Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Copa

3. Chill

4. Hunters

5. Bardot Nightclub

 

Best Sports Bar

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. The Beer Hunter

3. Burgers and Beer

4. Playoffs Sports Bar and Lounge

5. Score

 

Best Wine Bar

Zin American Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. La Rue Wine Bar

3. Sullivan’s Steak House

4. La Brasserie

5. 12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar at Fantasy Springs

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. LQ Wine

4. Desert Wines and Spirits in the Go Deli Market

5. Fame Lounge

 

Best Bar Ambiance

Bart Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Melvyn’s

4. Tropicale

5. Chill


Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016: Staff Picks

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

Best of Coachella Valley 2014-2015

Published in Readers' Picks

Happy November! Both the holiday season and the end of the year are approaching, and there are some fantastic events to talk about this month.

The McCallum Theatre is back in full swing. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21, jazz, pop, and R&B vocalist Al Jarreau will be stopping by. Jarreau has won seven Grammy Awards and has released 15 studio albums. Tickets are $37 to $77. At 3 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 22, The Kingston Trio will be appearing. While none of the three current members are originals, they all have contributed over the years to the trio’s legacy as one of the best-selling and most-popular folk acts of all time. Tickets are $32 to $67. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a busy month full of great events. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 6, San Francisco alternative-rock band Train will be performing. The three-time Grammy Award-winning band started in the ’90s opening for acts such as Hootie and the Blowfish, Barenaked Ladies and Cracker; today, the group is headlining shows all around the world. In 2010, the single “Hey, Soul Sister” climbed the charts. As of 2012, it had sold 6 million copies! Tickets are $69 to $129. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, Art Garfunkel will be returning; he also performed at Fantasy Springs in 2014. While he’s known mostly for being half of Simon and Garfunkel, he’s released music on his own—as well as poetry. Tickets are $29 to $59. If you’re into puppets and comedy, you’ll be pleased to know that at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21, Terry Fator will be bringing his act to Fantasy Springs. After his 2007 victory on America’s Got Talent, he took the comedy world by storm. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has an impressive November calendar. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, alternative band Goo Goo Dolls will be performing. I was a teenager when the Goo Goo Dolls hit it big with “Long Way Down” in 1995. A few years later, “Iris” was played over and over again on mainstream radio—and became the theme song for every high school prom. It never seemed to go away. In fact, I think our rock station in the Coachella Valley is still playing it. Tickets are $75 to $105. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, get ready to re-live the ‘80s, because The B-52s (above right) will be performing. The B-52s consistently released albums that sold well, and the band had its first mega-smash hit with “Love Shack” in 1989. However, I recommend listening to the 1979 self-titled debut album. It’s one of the greatest albums of all time, in my opinion. While almost the entire original band remains intact, guitarist Ricky Wilson passed away in 1985, a victim of the AIDS epidemic. Tickets are $65 to $95. 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 fine events this month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21, The Cult will be performing. The Cult’s hard-rock sound has earned the band a great deal of success; “Fire Woman” and “She Sells Sanctuary” are rock staples. Did you know frontman Ian Astbury also performed with original members of the Doors as Manzarek-Krieger, or “The Doors of the 21st Century”? Tickets are $45 to $65. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 28, Damon Wayans will bring his standup comedy show to Spotlight 29. He was part of In Living Color with his brothers and his sister, and was best known for his character Homey D. Clown. Recently, Wayans found himself in hot water after he questioned statements by Bill Cosby’s rape victims, saying, “It’s a money hustle.” Tickets are $30 to $40. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has one very notable event worth mentioning: At 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, Melissa Etheridge will take the stage. Etheridge became a hit singer-songwriter in the ’90s and has long been open about her sexuality as a lesbian. Etheridge provided her song “I Need to Wake Up” to Al Gore’s 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Tickets are $49 to $59. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace continues to book great shows. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, Patty Griffin (below) will play. Griffin is known for performing folk and Americana music, but she also recorded a gospel album called Downtown Church, for which she won a Grammy Award. Tickets are $25. At 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin with the Guilty Ones will be performing. Both Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin have had extensive careers as roots rockers and alt-country performers. Dave Alvin was also a member of the punk band X for a brief period of time. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed is in full swing and is offering some interesting shows. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, The Kottonmouth Kings will be there. Since forming in 1994, the Kottonmouth Kings have been an oddity, performing “psychedelic hip-hop punk rock.” The subject matter of the band’s songs is all over the map, including conspiracy theories and a love for David Icke. Tickets are $20 to $30. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, it’ll be a ladies night to remember: DJ Kristina Sky will be appearing. The Los Angeles DJ is a big name in the EDM world and has performed all over the world. Also appearing on the bill are DJ Femme A, DJ Ivanna Love, and DJ Sugarfree. Tickets are $10 to $15. At 8:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20, get ready to party with Metalachi. It’s a mariachi band that performs metal music in the mariachi style. Sounds like fun, right? Also on the bill are Aphrodisiac Jacket, and former Machin’ violinist Bri Cherry. Tickets are $15 to $20. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

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During the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, groups such as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and Tommy James and the Shondells enjoyed a lot of success. So did individual musicians like Barry Manilow and Elton John.

The Hit Men, a group of musicians and creative composers who played with those big names, are today finding success on their own. The Hit Men will be bringing many of their hits to The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa on Friday, Oct. 16.

The group features Lee Shapiro (Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, Barry Manilow), Gerry Polci, (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons), Jimmy Ryan (Carly Simon, Cat Stevens, Elton John), Larry Gates (Phoebe Snow, Carole King, Desmond Child) and Russ Velazquez (Sting, The Ramones, Chicago).

Shapiro explained during a recent phone interview how the Hit Men came to be.

“The way that it worked was Gerry Polci (drums) and I back in the ’70s were two (members) of the Four Seasons. When we left in the ’80s, there were no new records, and just the hits that we had,” Shapiro said. “We left the group in the ’80s to pursue our careers on our own, but with the success of Jersey Boys, and seeing Franki in the studio—we’ve had a pretty good friendship that goes back decades—he said, ‘If you want to start to play again, go do it.’ We did; we had a rehearsal, we recruited the finest of New York I had known throughout my career.

“Gerry and I—who hadn’t played in a room together for 35 years—we looked at each other and said it was unbelievable. It was like we never stopped doing it. We started five years ago playing low-level gigs just to be heard, and our agent asked if we wanted to pursue it. Now we play 70 dates a year and have the time of our lives.”

The material selected for live shows is based on a personal connection to each of the songs, Shapiro said.

“Our show is always taken from the same treasure trove: We only play songs if we were on the record, if we were on the tour, if we were the artists, or if we performed with the artists,” he said. “We are not a tribute band on any level, and we’re not actors. We tell stories onstage about the past, and we were there; what we were telling you is exactly what happened. When people hear our show, it’s not only just hearing the music, but we tell the stories, and we also include visuals that show us back in the day of the songs we are doing.”

Every member has a vote as to what they play, Shapiro said.

“Basically, our feeling is such that no one in the group has ever done anything other than be a musician, a producer, or an artist in some form or another,” he said. “There’s a lot of respect that we have for each other when it comes to what we think. There are five of us, and it’s majority rules: 3 to 2 wins every time, and we’re comfortable not being married to our own opinion. No one is going to have a stupid opinion; it’s only going to be a differing one, so we’ll give it a shot.”

Many side men and backup musicians have gone underappreciated for the roles they played in various hits. However, Shapiro said he doesn’t feel underappreciated.

“It depends on what we’re underappreciated for, and in what way. Our band proves one thing: The audience is loyal,” he said. “Even though Frankie Valli isn’t standing there, or Carly Simon, the audience comes out. They come out because they know we were in the band, played on the record or were on the tour. From that standpoint, it’s very rewarding. … I can appreciate the fact that (the starring musicians were) always there, and it was their company; I was asked to join it and I came in. It was great, and I have no bad feelings at all about it.”

The Hit Men are currently finishing up the recording of their third album.

“We’re doing songs that we’ve never had in the show before,” he said. “What we do with our CDs is record the songs we’ll do in the show for the following year. The next CD will have other Four Seasons songs, other Carly Simon songs, other Jim Croce songs, and things that we were part of with those artists.”

The group’s system gives them a considerable amount of downtime and the ability to work together, even though the members live in different cities.

“We play 70 dates a year, so that’s only 20 percent of the year,” Shapiro said. “If someone told us you could work two or three days a week, I’m sure you’d go for it. That’s one part of it. We all have families, so we’ll go out for three dates and come back for eight or nine (days), or go out for two and come back for six.

“Recently, our drummer moved from New Jersey to Florida, and our guitarist moved from Long Island to Iowa. It hasn’t inconvenienced us at all. With Skype meetings and sending audio files across the Internet and into the studio, there’s very little difference at all in the collaboration.”

The Hit Men will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16, at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $25 to $45. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.hotwatercasino.com.

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October is finally here, and that means the valley is starting to churn back to life after its summer slumber.

With help from the Independent and Chill Bar, I will once again be throwing a concert series to benefit the Community Food Bank at the LGBT Center of the Desert. The Oktoberfest Concert Series Benefiting the Community Food Bank at the Center will take place every Thursday in October at 9:30 p.m. On Thursday, Oct. 1, Palm Desert band The Flusters will performing a modern take on vintage rock ’n’ roll and ’60s surf rock. On Thursday, Oct. 8, EeVaan Tre and the Show will be bringing its fantastic R&B and hip-hop sound back to Chill. On Thursday, Oct. 15, the high desert’s Gene Evaro and the Family will take the stage. On Thursday, Oct. 22, Tribesmen will play with special guest Venus and the Traps. On Thursday, Oct. 29, Hollace—winners of the recent Hood Bar and Pizza Battle of the Bands—will perform with special guest Johnny Elsewhere. A $5 donation is suggested; 21 and older. Chill Bar, 217 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs; 760-327-1079; www.facebook.com/ChillBarPalmSprings.

You know season is here when the McCallum Theatre is open again, and the McCallum has some great events scheduled for October. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 11, Comedy Central’s Daniel Tosh will be performing. He’s calling his performance the “Tosh Saves the World Charity Show,” and proceeds will go to various charities. Ian Edwards, Tom Papa, Greg Hahn and Lachlan Patterson are also scheduled to appear. Tickets are $75. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23, prepare yourself: Bill Maher is coming back. Just a friendly warning: If you’re in the Fox News-viewing demographic, stay away from this show. Also, if you’re easily offended, Bill Maher will probably not be a good time. Tickets are $57 to $107. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24, get out your Stetsons, and shine up your boots, because Jason Petty is returning as Hank Williams in Hank and My Honky Tonk Heroes. You’ll also be hearing tunes from Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb and George Jones. Tickets are $22 to $52. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino had a fabulous summer, and has a lot of other exciting things booked through the rest of the year. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, there will be a performance by Latin singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas. Venegas is a big name in her native Mexico, and has also found success internationally. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17, sitcom star and comedian George Lopez (above) will be appearing. While Lopez has been wildly successful, he’s also known for explosive tweets on Twitter, including a “Fuck you!” response to a fan. Tickets are $49 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is definitely the place to be in October. While the Duran Duran show on Oct. 3 might be sold out, there are other events to consider. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, Blue Collar Comedy member Ron White will be appearing. “Tater Salad” has had quite a successful career—because he’s freaking hilarious. Tickets are $70 to $245. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 6, country singer-songwriter Frankie Ballard will take the stage. His career started after he won Kenny Chesney’s “Next Big Star” competition, and he has been rising steadily ever since. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23, The Tonight Show house band The Roots (above right) will be appearing. The Roots built their legacy on hip-hop and were an indie success; they are one of the few hip-hop acts to feature live instruments. They were the first hip-hop act I ever saw live in 1996. If you go see them, you’ll be blown away. Tickets are $55 to $75. Stay tuned to CVIndependent.com in October for an interview with The Hit Men (appearing Oct. 16) and a live review of Duran Duran’s show. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, Latin sensation Don Omar will perform. Billboard named Omar one of the top-selling Latin artists. He also appeared alongside Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in the Fast and Furious film franchise. Tickets are $54 to $84. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, check out a somewhat interesting event called Brenton Wood’s Love Jam. Wood was a modestly successful R&B/soul singer in the late ’60s. Also appearing will be the Zapp Band, who Dr. Dre sampled several times; Rose Royce; GQ; Atlantic Starr; Candyman; and Peaches and Herb. Tickets are $40 to $60. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a busy month ahead. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, there will be another celebrity music show by The Kiefer Sutherland Band. That’s right—you read that correctly. After Macaulay Culkin’s rather awkward appearance last year at Pappy’s with his band The Pizza Underground, I hope Kiefer puts on an excellent show. Tickets are $15. Speaking of awkward … at 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, Daniel Romano and the Trilliums will be performing. After Romano’s excellent performance at Stagecoach in April, I had the opportunity to interview him—and, well, he was strange, distant and didn’t seem to like anything or anyone that particular day. He’s a brilliant performer, but skip trying to talk to him on the back patio at Pappy’s. Tickets are $12. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 31, it’ll be that time of the year again: Gram Rabbit takes the stage at Pappy’s for the group’s usual Halloween shows. While Gram Rabbit has basically been on hiatus, front woman Jesika Von Rabbit recently toured with Eagles of Death Metal in the Midwest. Buy your tickets now, because it will sell out, and there will be a large crowd. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is preparing for a busy fall. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, the “Gay Don Rickles,” Jason Stuart, will be performing with special guest, local (and friend) Shann Carr. Hopefully Stuart’s material isn’t as offensive as Rickles’ live album. Tickets are $25. Purple Room Palm Springs, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Tryst Lounge continues to host local bands. At 10 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 13, Derek Jordan Gregg will be performing. At 10 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24, Spankshaft will take the stage. At 10 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 27, an act calling itself the Techno Hillbillies will play. All shows are free. Tryst Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs; 760-832-6046; www.facebook.com/Trystpalmsprings.

The Date Shed has one intriguing event worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17, post-grunge band Puddle of Mudd (below) will perform. During the early part of the last decade, the group had 15 minutes of fame. Alas, today, frontman Wes Scantlin is known to perform heavily intoxicated, or to lip-sync an entire show. Many of the band’s original members have run away from Puddle of Mudd. I will say that you should go to support local opening acts Mighty Jack and the Rebel Noise, given they both put on great shows. Tickets are $20 to $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

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August is the final full month of summer, and there are a surprising number of great shows taking place during the month that you won’t want to miss.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s August is, simply put, awesome. So many events … so much awesome. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, hard-rock and heavy-metal pioneers Deep Purple (above) will be appearing. If you don’t know “Smoke on the Water” or “Perfect Strangers,” and you call yourself a music fan, something is wrong with you. Tickets are $49 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21, it’ll be an ’80s throwback night when New Edition stops by; however, it’s unknown whether Bobby Brown will be taking part, with the recent death of his daughter Bobbi Kristina. Either way, it should be an interesting show. Tickets are $49 to $79. You’ll be happy to know that Diana Krall (right) is returning to the desert at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22. The world’s favorite female jazz pianist and vocalist is guaranteed to deliver, so go check her out. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events worth your time. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, comedian Russell Peters will be stopping by. The Canadian was the first comedian to sell out the Air Canada Centre in Toronto in 2007; unfortunately, he also played Santa in Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22, modern country duo Thompson Square will performing. The husband and wife from Nashville have taken the country-music world by storm since they released their self-titled debut on Stoney Creek Records. Their single “Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not?” reached No. 1 on the country chart and went double-platinum. They also took home three awards at the American Country Awards in 2011. Tickets are $35 to $55. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has some great tribute bands performing throughout the month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, get out the rhinestones and sequins as Kenny Metcalf performs the music of Elton John. AXS TV included him on its television show The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands. Tickets are $10. If you enjoyed the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus performance of ABBA tunes back in the spring, you can get another dose of ABBA at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 29, when ABBAFAB performs. Tickets are $10. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has some big names dropping in this month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, former late-night TV superstar Jay Leno (below) will be present. If you miss him on NBC (which I don’t), this is a great time to see him doing what he’s always done best: stand-up comedy. Tickets are $85 to $110. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21, you’ll be singing the chorus to “Joy to the World”—no, not that song, the other one, by Three Dog Night. While Chuck Negron doesn’t appear to be rejoining the group anytime soon, Three Dog Night is still going strong. Tickets are $40 to $60. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has plenty going on in August. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 8, former Kyuss frontman John Garcia will be performing. In 2014, Garcia released a self-titled solo album, which was welcomed by music critics and Kyuss fans alike. You should definitely make it up the hill for this one. Tickets are $10. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 20, London-based post-punk band Savages will be performing. The group’s 2013 debut album, Silence Yourself, was all the rage, and music critics were counting down the days to its release. In other words, the group is pretty awesome. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza will once again hold its Battle of the Bands every Sunday in August at 6 p.m. The judging panel will feature local music promoter Ming Bob, CV Weekly owner/editor Tracy Dietlin, and yours truly. Come out every Sunday and catch local talent competing for the grand prize of $1,000 cash. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

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