CVIndependent

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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

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

Southern California audiophiles and devout music fans know KCRW well: The NPR affiliate is considered one of the best stations in the country for music-lovers.

Therefore, it’s somewhat appropriate that the station’s music director, Jason Bentley, will be DJing at SoCal’s biggest music festival, Coachella, on Friday, April 10 and 17.

Bentley said he attended an underground party while he was in college, and it fascinated him that people from varied backgrounds and places were all able to come together. It was a positive force that he wanted to be part of.

That led to his DJ career, which in turn led him to festivals such as Coachella.

“There is such a huge surge in festivals now. I’m having festival fatigue,” Bentley said during a recent phone interview. “I understand the dynamics of the industry have changed so much to where recorded music doesn’t sell. … I love playing live festivals and clubs, because it gives me more of the artistic expression, and you’ve got your sound palette: You’re playing more stripped-down tracks and ideas; you’re playing these records, with an emphasis on the word play; and you’re performing the record in a totally unique way. You have control over the EQs, the filters and the arrangement.

“Technology has advanced things so much, and I’m old enough that I remember playing vinyl and carrying around record boxes everywhere I went to DJ—which is now ridiculous.”

What does Bentley show up with at a club or a festival these days?

“I bring all my music on a thumb drive now,” he said. “I keep a couple of thumb drives in my pocket. It’s funny, because when you’d go to get access into a nightclub, you’d walk in with your record boxes and say, ‘Hey, I’m the DJ; let me through.’ Now you’re like, ‘No, trust me, I’m the DJ; here’s my thumb drive.’ It’s comical.”

This year’s Coachella fest features a lot of electronic dance music. Bentley put that in historical perspective.

“In terms of the very first Coachella, it was heavy on electronic music, and that’s where it really started,” he said. “I think Coachella was made possible in large part by the dance culture and rave culture in Southern California—and that wisely provided a larger concept just to attract more people. Truly, the roots of Coachella are in electronic dance music. It’s been interesting to see this music become more important and change the experience. The rise of the Sahara tent to what it is now has just been amazing to see.”

Bentley said he’s had some interesting experiences in that Sahara tent.

“I’ve had a couple of opportunities to stand on the side of the stage during some big sets by young, up-and-coming artists who attract other young people,” he said. “One in particular last year I’ll never forget is Martin Garrix. He’s just another Dutch kid from out of nowhere, has a big hit record that’s all the rage, and somehow has a bazillion fans online. I was there when he started his set, and I’ve got to tell you, the energy level at that moment was just so unbelievable. There’s not much else that comes close to that. Sahara has become this wild frat party on steroids.”

Bentley also discussed the smaller, less-talked-about Yuma tent.

“The Sahara was becoming this gigantic kabuki pinball machine,” he said. “I think they wanted to present something that was more about music that you feel—not a light show or spectacle, but a feeling. Dance music is largely about that. Yuma is just a place that’s a dark room. It’s a discothèque—it’s truly a desert discothèque. There was an interesting disco ball in there last year that was shaped like a shark. They’re doing some interesting things in there, but it’s about nuance and feeling, not about skimpy outfits and big video walls.”

What can fans expect to see from Bentley at Coachella?

“It’s house music. It’s that tempo range of 120 (beats per music), roughly 124 bpm to 126 bpm, so it’s not super-fast or about big synth chords,” Bentley said. “It’s about weirder, underground things—not heavy on vocals. I don’t know; it’s just sort of things that catch my ear. It’s kind of like how I select music for KCRW—things that seem exciting and different.”

Bentley said dance music, in some ways, is his generation’s punk rock.

“Now it’s part of us,” he said. “A younger generation now—the millennials—is coming up, and that’s all they know, and it’s part of their vocabulary. It was exciting for me to be part of the first wave of dance culture (in the 1990s), but it doesn’t make classic rock, blues or folk less important to me. It’s just my view of the field is informed by the ’90s dance-music explosion.”

Published in Previews

The airwaves of Los Angeles’ KCRW reach into the Coachella Valley at 89.3 FM, so you may have heard the work of Jeremy Sole, a delightfully eccentric DJ who plays salsa, disco, jazz, soul and blues.

You may have also heard him at DJ Day’s ¡Reunión! Show, held Thursdays at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club; Sole is a regular guest.

Sole has had an extensive career as a DJ and radio host. He’s performed at Coachella and has been around the world with some big names; in fact, he was the last DJ to open a show for Ray Charles. He’s also worked in the studio with Ms. Lauryn Hill, and has remixed David Bowie, Femi Kuti, Thievery Corporation and many others.

During a recent interview at the Ace just before he took over the mixing board from DJ Day, Sole began with the story of his childhood in Chicago.

“There were no musicians in my family, per se,” Sole said, “but I think from a really early age, my parents realized how much I loved music. My mom would always make a playlist of what she was going to play when she picked me up at school. I’d get in the car, and it would be ultra-corny, like Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s Out.’ It started being really thematic, where every moment of my life had a song to go along with it.”

Inspired by the hip-hop movement in the ’80s, Sole began DJing, in addition to skateboarding and doing graffiti art. He described himself as a “punk” when it came to his home life and school—and he eventually left both for a garden apartment that he shared with several of his friends, which led to him DJing house parties, some of which helped him and his roommates pay the rent.

“We would draw up fliers and go to Kinko’s. In fact, most of the next 10 years back then was spent at Kinko’s,” Sole said. “When we did those house parties when I was 15 years old, we promoted them to other high schools. We’re talking about ’89 or ’90, when there was a big gang problem in Chicago, and we’re promoting in public schools. Schools are assigned primarily based on where you live, and one school would be one gang, and another school is another gang. We had a room full of people where if I didn’t keep them dancing, they were going to be fighting. It did a beautiful thing to me: I realized that music is a great unifier.”

Sole explained that DJing, to him, involves knowing what to play, how to present it, and being able to inspire a crowd. While I was in the same room with him, I could tell that Sole is good at reading both individuals and crowds.

“I’m a sensitive dude,” Sole said. “I have to be to tap into those energies around the room. If multiple people are not on board with my vibe for whatever reason, that’s fine. If there are people who are making fun of me, or they think it’s dumb, I’m picking up on that, too. … I delineate between being a service DJ and the art-oriented DJ.”

Sole eventually got married and moved to Pomona, Calif. He began to throw loft parties that Sole said were attended by “everyone,” including metal heads, punk-rockers and others who don’t often attend dance parties. He also spent a lot of late nights in L.A., which strained his marriage at the time, he said.

His first DJ residency in Los Angeles led to his work with KCRW, an NPR affiliate.

“I was DJing at the Temple Bar in L.A., which was a great club and is now unfortunately gone,” Sole said. “They really did usher in a lot of new and amazing music at the time that has since blown up. Temple Bar opened up a second club nearby, and this one was going to be an all-DJ-based club. They let me pick a night, and I said, ‘How about Fridays?’ They said, ‘Well, we kind of have to book the people who play the hits and pay the bills on Fridays, so how about Thursdays?’ So I did Thursdays. I was blessed by having scenarios where people were coming just for what I was doing. (It turned out) the people who played Fridays weren’t just people who played the hits, but big DJs in town—one of which who happened to be Jason Bentley.”

Bentley is now the music director at KCRW.

“I didn’t even listen to the radio, and I didn’t know he worked at KCRW. One day, I got a call from Anne Litt at KCRW, and she asked, ‘Have you ever had any urge to be on the radio and do a radio show?’ I said, ‘Honestly, no, none at all. I don’t even listen to the radio—no offense to you or your station.’ She said, ‘I think you’ll find that we’re quite the different kind of radio station. Nobody tells you what to do. In fact, you’ve already been vetted, and we’ve been watching your career.’

“It took me awhile to realize how special KCRW really is; The New York Times said it’s one of the most popular radio stations in the world. KCRW is founded on the idea of eclectic radio. If you’re the hard-rock station, there’s no doubt that people are going to tune into that, but this is for everybody, and everybody might not like everything all the time. So we don’t have to just be eclectic; we have to be constantly eclectic.”

Sole’s eclectic taste, style and talent has led to him doing things he never imagined himself doing, such as performing at Coachella and touring around the world. However, Sole remains humble and modest—a man who wears his heart and creativity on his sleeve.

“My success and my career is not just that I’m playing onstage, but that I’m playing on stage with ‘that band,’” he said. “That’s what’s big for me, and I can’t believe I can say that. DJ Day would consider me a friend, peer and equal, but he was a hero to me for so long, so maybe that’s the propulsion that made me realize that I have something to offer, too.

“You’ll always hear me brag that I have the coolest friends in the world; the people I know blow me away constantly. How they chose to surround themselves with me is beyond me.”