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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Bruce Fessier has seen the Coachella Valley’s arts and entertainment culture completely change—repeatedly—during the 40 years he’s worked as the entertainment writer at The Desert Sun.

On June 3, Fessier’s column will be appearing for the last time before he heads into retirement.

“The industry has changed quite a bit, and it’s not as satisfying as it used to be,” Fessier said during a recent interview at The Desert Sun’s offices. “I still have some brain cells, so I would still like to do some other things before I no longer have those brain cells. I never wanted to spend my entire life as a journalist. It just kind of worked out that way. Having the opportunity to take an early-retirement benefit gives me enough of a cushion that I can try some other things.”

When Fessier arrived at The Desert Sun in 1979, there wasn’t much to cover.

“I often say that the difference between now and then is that when I first started, there wasn’t enough entertainment to have a calendar,” Fessier said. “Now there is so much entertainment that they don’t want me spending my time assembling a calendar. So I don’t do a calendar anymore, and I’m back to where I started. I covered the nightclubs, and I covered the lounge scene. They had concerts at Palm Springs High School, and most were either big band or classical.”

Fessier said skater culture was helping launch a local music scene when he started at The Desert Sun.

“There was a guy named Myke Bates who started a company called Bates Skates. That became the centerpiece for this skating culture,” Fessier said. “There was a rebellion that was happening right after I got here. A lot of the people were skateboarding and roller-skating on sidewalks in Palm Springs. The city of Palm Springs created ordinances to prohibit them from skating. This guy Bates was the head of the skating culture and was a punk-rocker. He was in the band Target 13. That generated this punk-rock culture, and I started covering a lot of that. Most of that was in Desert Hot Springs and not in Palm Springs itself, but there was a real scene that was developing. I covered that in the early days, and it was always the alternative to the classical stuff you’d see at Palm Springs High School and the lounge scene.”

Fessier was around when the desert generator scene developed. Bands such as Kyuss and Fatso Jetson played shows in the middle of the desert as they cut their teeth—and Fessier doesn’t agree with the modern romanticization of those desert parties.

“I went out to one generator party, and it was just terrible conditions,” he said. “Never mind how dangerous it was; it was the type of thing where there was so much sand blowing. It would get in your face and all the instruments, and it was just not enjoyable. … I would see some of those guys at Adrian’s Dance Club or something like that, but I can’t say I was a participant in the generator scene.

“Back in 1989, you could hear this music coming out from the middle of nowhere, and you didn’t know where it was coming from, because they never told anybody. Jesse Hughes (of Eagles of Death Metal) recently posted on Facebook about how I covered him in the early days. I saw him and one of his bands at this drive-through Italian restaurant in Cathedral City where you could get spaghetti for $2, and he was playing there. That’s the thing: You’d see these people playing in little nooks and crannies. Even though I didn’t go out and hang out in the hills, I was still aware of what was going on.”

There was one name in town that you couldn’t avoid back then.

“Everybody idolized Sinatra in those days,” Fessier said. “I wrote a column one time back then about how you could go to every bar in town and hear ‘New York, New York.’ I got so sick of that song. That came out in 1979, and everybody was singing it. That’s what it was like in 1979 in Palm Springs. They were all close personal friends of Frank and all had stories about him, and I’d run into him at all these different places. That was kind of fun, actually.

“I wasn’t really a big Frank Sinatra fan at the time, but just seeing the impact he had on all the people and discovering his generosity in person—it made me a big fan of his. Once I stopped getting over the generational thing that I had and started appreciating his music, I became a big Frank Sinatra fan.”

Fessier remembered seeing both the good side and the bad side of the Chairman of the Board.

“He was mercurial. If you caught him on a good day, you were intoxicated by him. If you caught him on a bad day, you were scared to death of him. I saw him on both sides,” Fessier said. “The first time I was in a room with him was the first week I was entertainment editor. This PR guy decided he was going to take me around town and show me all the lounges and restaurants. He told me he was going to take me to Don the Beachcomber, because that was where Sinatra hung out. I had a friend with me at the time who was a real drunken kind of friend. I wasn’t expecting this to be any big deal, and the last thing I expected was to see Sinatra at this place.

“We get there, and there was Sinatra. Don the Beachcomber was a tiny place. He was at the bar with about 20 friends, and he’s entertaining them all. This red light came on, and he said, ‘When that red light comes on, I sing.’ This PR guy said, ‘You do not talk to Frank Sinatra.’ My friend was drunk and said, ‘I don’t care what you say; I know people who are big shots, and I’m going to go up to him and say hello.’ (My friend) brushed us aside and said, ‘Hey Frank,’ and Frank said, ‘Hey pal, how you doing?’ and shook his hand.

“Frank had this charisma, and it would hypnotize you a bit.”

Fessier also covered the local theater scene extensively.

“I saw the big change coming, and that was the McCallum Theatre (which opened in 1988),” he said. “When I got here, there was an organization called the Valley Players Guild, and they were always looking for their own home. Then there (was) the Palm Desert Community Theatre, and that was pretty much it. College of the Desert did their own shows. Then the McCallum (began) doing fundraising and the performing-arts series that they did at Palm Springs High School and the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum. It became apparent that would not only dwarf community theater, but take up all of The Desert Sun’s resources: I was going to be covering what was going on at the McCallum instead of community theater.

“That’s the reason I co-founded the Desert Theatre League in 1987, because there were more groups that were starting, and there were other splinter groups. I thought they needed some sort of a promotion that I wasn’t going to be able to provide, and an award show would be that kind of promotion. I wanted it to also be a networking opportunity for people to share their resources. My co-founder was an actor in town who also worked in the advertising department for The Desert Sun, so some of these splinter groups that didn’t have nonprofit status could get the lower nonprofit advertising rate by being a member.”

Fessier and I were two of the five journalists invited to cover Paul McCartney’s 2016 show at Pappy and Harriet’s. I remember seeing him disappear and reappear many times throughout the show.

“I had an early deadline,” Fessier explained. “We are always trying to be first, and so Robyn (Celia, the venue’s co-owner) let me use their office. Their office got so crazy with people coming in to where I went to the back of the office in this closet where I had my laptop, and I’d be writing and walking out to see what the commotion was. We didn’t get a photo pass, either, and I was trying to take pictures. That was crazy! … It was certainly historic, and I didn’t really appreciate it as much as I should have at the time.”

Fessier said covering the valley’s big festivals, Coachella especially, can be tiring and strenuous—but wind up being worth the trouble.

“Even today, the press accommodations are bad,” Fessier said. “I did an interview with (Coachella founder) Paul Tollett a week ago, and I was telling him how the press accommodations always suck. I told him, ‘You know what the sports guys get?’ The second year we were there, a colleague said that the press tent was four sticks and a canvas. The first year, they didn’t even have electricity in there. But at the time, it was so magical, because you could just walk up to people. I walked right up to Moby and did an interview. There was nobody setting up any press interviews. It was magical from the very beginning.”

Fessier made a prediction about Coachella’s future.

“It’s going to be international,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if J Balvin is the first international headliner not to use English as his primary language. That’s the direction it’s going in. It had more international stars this year than there were acts from the United States. Paul Tollett likes to nurture those guys and bring them up.”

Considering all the changes taking place in the media world, I had to ask: Do you feel that what we do will still matter in the future?

“I just did a talk to a class of broadcasters at College of the Desert, and I told them, ‘You’re living in an exciting time when you won’t need radio stations, and you won’t need newspapers, (but) you will need entrepreneurial skills to monetize your work. You have an opportunity to find out what you want to do and make a living at it without corporate ties,’” he said. “Working for a corporation is very frustrating. I’m happy to not have to be worried about rewriting some story from TMZ about herpes breaking out at Coachella.”

Fessier explained why he stayed at The Desert Sun for four decades.

“I got an offer at the San Francisco Chronicle, and I’m from San Francisco. I went to college there, and I always dreamed of going back to the Bay Area. But the salary they were offering me was not significantly more than what I was getting here,” he said. “I’ve always had other income opportunities and have never had to rely just on The Desert Sun. It’s between not being offered enough money and my wife saying, ‘I’m not going to live in Cincinnati!’

“This is a nice place to not only live but raise kids. I’m very proud that both of my kids are doing very well now. One is an animator for Bob’s Burgers, and the other one is managing a cannabis dispensary.”

Published in Features

The summer slowdown is beginning after a rainy, windy, busy season. The snowbirds are gone—but May is still packed with a lot of compelling events.

The McCallum Theatre is winding down with a couple of events before going dark over the summer. At 7 p.m., Thursday, May 2; 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4; and 2 p.m., Sunday, May 5, College of the Desert Performing Arts will be performing Phantom of the Opera. Tickets are $23 to $43. Take a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 9; 2 p.m., Friday, May 10; and 2 and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 11, with Shen Yun. This is a musical and dance performance of various tales and legends from China. Tickets are $120 to $150. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is rocking into May. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 18, the supergroup (and the word “supergroup” is an understatement in this case) Hollywood Vampires will be performing. It’s Joe Perry of Aerosmith along with ... Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper! With a lineup like that, you need a word bigger than “supergroup.” Tickets are $59 to $99. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 24, R&B superstar Maxwell will be returning to the Coachella Valley. In 2016, Maxwell released his album blackSUMMERS’night to high critical acclaim. Tickets are $59 to $99. At 8 p.m., Sunday, May 26, Runaways guitarist and all-around bad ass Joan Jett will be performing. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage has a star-packed May with several sold-out events. Here are a couple with tickets left as of our press deadline. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11, enjoy CIRCOVIA, a Cirque-style extravaganza, created by Misha Matorin, a former member of Cirque du Soleil. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 31, comedian, actor and writer Rodney Carrington will be appearing. You probably remember Carrington’s raunchy comedy from the late ’90s when everyone was sending .WAV files of his raunchy songs to your AOL e-mail address. Tickets are $35 to $55. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a big Latin-music event in May. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 4, Norteño group Los Huracanes del Norte will be performing, along with Banda Machos. Los Huracanes del Norte is internationally acclaimed Latin group, as is Banda Machos—so what we are trying to say is that this is a huge deal. Tickets are $35 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa is the place to be if you’re passionate about … TACOS! At 11 a.m., Saturday, May 18, it’ll be time for the Morongo Taco Festival 2019. What could be better than a taco festival? Maybe it’d be more appropriate on a Tuesday—but a Saturday will do just fine, because any time is good for tacos. Tickets are $10, and tacos from 30 various vendors are $2. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace rides into the spring/early summer season with an impressive May calendar. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 24, Matisyahu (upper right) will be performing. Matisyahu’s career started with him winning over audiences as a devout Hasidic reggae star, but over the years, he’s become more spiritually evolved and has branched out musically. Tickets are $40. At 4 p.m., Saturday, May 25, the outdoor festival Stoned and Dusted will be taking place, with Melvins, Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork and others. Tickets are $60. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed is ending the season with a few events in May. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 10, Los Angeles jam band The Higgs will be performing. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Thursday, May 23, MURS will take the stage. MURS is a socially minded rapper on the independent side of the rap game. He’s a brilliant lyricist—and this is one show you won’t want to miss. Tickets are $20-$25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has a star-studded May schedule. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 4, soul singer Chadwick Johnson will be performing. Johnson has worked with famed producer David Foster, has performed for former President Bill Clinton, and has received international success for his combination of soul music with pop and jazz. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 17, Nutty will be doing a vinyl-record release in collaboration with local artist Shag. Nutty is self-described as “jetsetter jazz.” Translation: The group takes rock ’n’ roll hits and puts on a jazz spin on them. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 18, actress, songwriter and singer Amanda McBroom (below) will be performing. McBroom is probably best-known for writing the title track for the film The Rose, and she had recurring roles on shows such as Starsky and Hutch, Star Trek: The Next Generation and many others. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

If you’re a data geek like I am, you can have a lot of fun with Pollstar magazine’s annual list of the Top 200 theater venues in the world.

For example: The Coachella Valley’s McCallum Theatre—considered a small- to medium-sized venue—in 2018 came in at No. 70 in the entire world, with well more than 100,000 tickets sold. No theater in Southern California sold more tickets than the McCallum did, even though the venue is only open for half the year.

That’s right: The McCallum had more butts in its seats in 2018 than any theater in Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the country.

Mitch Gershenfeld, the McCallum’s president, CEO and show-booker, said 2019 has been even stronger—and that he has high hopes for the 2019-2020 season. Tickets for all shows in the upcoming season go on sale online today (April 11) at 6 p.m., with box-office and phone sales beginning tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.

The 2019-2020 season includes the big names—Melissa Etheridge (Nov. 14), anyone?—that people have come to expect to be on the McCallum schedule, along with valley favorites like the Ten Tenors (Feb. 19-23, 2020) and Pink Martini (March 4-8). However, Gershenfeld said he’s particularly thrilled about the Broadway shows he’s booked; five of them have never been to the McCallum before, kicking off with the musical adaptation of A Christmas Story (Nov. 26 and 27).

“It has all of the key things that are in the movie,” Gershenfeld said. “There’s a whole number with dancing leg lamps.”

That will be followed by Waitress (Dec. 6-8) and The Play That Goes Wrong (Jan. 21 and 22), a critical darling that just closed on Broadway earlier this year—and is still going strong on London’s West End.

“It’s the quintessential British farce,” Gershenfeld said.

Escape to Margaritaville (Jan. 30-Feb. 1)—a musical featuring the songs of Jimmy Buffett, but you probably figured that out already—will be followed by Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Feb. 7-9), which has become a Broadway fixture, recently celebrating its fifth anniversary there.

“It’s really nice to get another musical that’s still on Broadway,” Gershenfeld said.

Those new-to-the-McCallum shows will be joined by returnees Chicago (March 13-15) and The Illusionists (April 7 and 8).

Mitch’s Picks—a series of a shows by unheralded performers that Gershenfeld personally recommends—are back, starting off on Nov. 22 with a double-bill of performers who perform traditional Latin music with a twist: the all-women Mariachi Flor de Toloache and The Villalobos Brothers. They’ll be followed by a Christmas show on Dec. 16 by YouTube a cappella sensation Voctave.

“They’re an amazing group who primarily performs at Disneyworld,” Gershenfeld said. “The core members have beautiful voices, and the arrangements are extraordinary.”

Other Mitch’s Picks include the Derina Harvey Band, a Celtic-rock group (Jan. 14); Wicked alum-turned-soul singer Shoshana Bean (Feb. 4); and Mnozil Brass (March 24), a brass septet that melds original tunes, classics and a lot of humor.

The National Geographic Live series will be back at the McCallum for a second year with three shows. Gershenfeld admits he was concerned about how a science series would do—and he was pleasantly surprised by the reaction of McCallum audiences this year.

“They love it, and they point out that it’s so different,” Gershenfeld said. “It’s also a program that attracts children, which is great. During the Q&A sessions, the kids are always asking questions.”

This year’s shows are On the Trail of Big Cats (Jan. 6), Photography Without Borders (March 2) and View From Above (April 5) with astronaut Terry Virts.

Gershenfeld said the new season’s highlights include some tribute shows that are quite special. First and foremost is A Toast to Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé (April 4). The two were most successful act to regularly appear at the McCallum before the Ten Tenors came along, Gershenfeld said.

“Frank Sinatra would show up to hang out backstage,” he added.

Gormé passed away in 2013, and Lawrence has retired from performing; this show will feature their son, David Lawrence, and Tony Award-winner Debbie Gravitte, along with a 32-piece orchestra and vintage video clips.

“We have all of their original music charts,” Gershenfeld said. “… This is the first place this show is going to play. There’s no place (Steve Lawrence) would want to do the first show other than (here).”

Speaking of Frank Sinatra … he’ll be returning to the McCallum, sort of, thanks to the talents of Bob Anderson, on Feb. 14 and 15. Gershenfeld explained that the Sinatra impressionist sounds exactly like Ol’ Blue Eyes, and to add to the impression, he has a prosthetic mask of Sinatra’s face. When you add in a 32-piece orchestra playing Sinatra’s original arrangements … the likeness is eerie and amazing.

The other big names coming to the McCallum zigzag across genres—Mandy Patinkin (Nov. 16), The Beach Boys (Dec. 1), Itzhak Perlman (Jan. 20), Ricky Skaggs (March 12), the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (March 15), and so on.

“Last season (2017-2018) was the most successful in our history,” Gershenfeld said. “This year (the just-concluding 2018-2019) surpassed it.” And 2019-2020 has a great chance of continuing that trend.

Tickets for the McCallum Theatre’s 2019-2020 season go on sale online at mccallumtheatre.com at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 11; and at 9 a.m., Friday, April 12, at the box office, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, and by phone, at 760-340-2787. For the complete schedule, visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Published in Local Fun

Coachella and Stagecoach dominate the music coverage in April—but there are a whole lot of great events going on before, during and after the festivals throughout the Coachella Valley.

The McCallum Theatre will soon enter its summer hibernation, but not before a fantastic April schedule. At 8 p.m., Thursday, April 4, find out who’s the boss when Tony Danza brings in his one-man variety show. He’ll be telling stories about his life and playing music with the Desert Symphony. Tickets are $75 to $250. At 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 10, popular Christian-contemporary music artist Stephen Curtis Chapman comes to the McCallum. He’s won five Grammy Awards and sold more than 10 million albums. Tickets are $39 to $88. At 7 p.m., Saturday, April 27, the Coachella Valley Symphony will be holding its 26th Anniversary Gala, joined by Under the Streetlamp, a fun music group that performs rhythm and blues, rock ’n’ roll and doo-wop from the 1950s to 1970s. Tickets are $45 to $85. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has an April event you won’t want to miss … especially if you’ve watched Netflix or Hulu recently. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 6, Ashanti and Ja Rule will be performing. Ja Rule may currently be best-known for his recent involvement with the disastrous Fyre Festival. He’s also known for a few hits in the early 2000s. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage has several fun events from which to choose in April. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 5, truTV star and magician Michael Carbonaro will be performing. Carbonaro is also known for his appearances on 30 Rock, Happily Divorced and Grey’s Anatomy, on top of his dazzling magic act. Tickets are $25 to $160. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 26, Comedy Central’s Daniel Tosh will take the stage. You remember him … he’s guy who has all the videos from YouTube showing people doing stupid and ridiculous stuff—supplemented by his colorful and hilarious commentary. Tickets are $80 to $100. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a couple of intriguing shows. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 13, Paquita La Del Barrio (upper right) will be performing. Known as “Franny from the Neighborhood,” this beloved performer is well-known in the United States and Mexico for her songs that promote strength and solidarity while challenging sexist machismo. Tickets are $35 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 27, the “comedian of a thousand faces,” Jo Jo Jorge Falcon, will bring the funny. Falcon is known for his twisted sense of humor—and for sometimes wearing a condom-tip cap. Tickets are $36 to $81. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa has a full slate of impressive April offerings. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 5, ’60s pop icons Chubby Checker and Frankie Avalon will be performing on a double bill. Frankie Avalon is best-known for his movie performances with Annette Funicello in what become known as the “beach party” genre. He’s also a singer-songwriter and has recorded seven albums. Chubby Checker is known for his hit “The Twist” (which was actually a Hank Ballard and the Midnighters cover) and the accompanying dance. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 12, comedian Cedric the Entertainer will be performing. He’s best-known for his role as Eddie in Barbershop, as well as his other acting roles, but he’s also been a popular standup comedian through the years. Tickets are $59 to $79. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 26, country artist Rodney Atkins will take the stage. He’s had six No. 1 hits on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Songs chart since his career began in 2003. Tickets are $45 to $55. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a lot going on in April—and is always a popular place to be during Coachella and Stagecoach, as you never know who will show up. Here are a couple of events with tickets still available. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 19, Pale Waves will be performing. It’s a four-piece indie-pop band from the United Kingdom—and this group is fantastic. When I listened to their debut album My Mind Makes Noises, it reminded me of the best alternative pop, such as the Cocteau Twins, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Echo and the Bunnymen. Pale Waves has been selling out venues in the U.K., Europe and North America. Tickets are $16 to $20. At 8 p.m., Sunday, April 28, the legendary rockabilly/rock ’n’ roll band Reverend Horton Heat will be performing, along with the Legendary Shack Shakers. No hyperbole: These are two of the best rock bands in America, and both have recorded great music that any rockabilly, blues or rock fan can appreciate. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The action remains hot at the Purple Room. At 6 p.m., Friday, April 12, the “King of the Song Cue Ball” Jerome Elliott will be performing. A hilarious award-winning actor, singer and director, and a friend of the Independent, he’s performed at just about all of the top cabaret venues across the country. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 6 p.m., Friday, April 26, jazz singer, songwriter and actress Ann Hampton Callaway (below) will come to the Purple Room. She’ll be singing jazz songs that were made famous in films. Tickets are $55 to $65. At 6 p.m., Saturday, April 27, actress and singer Renee Olstead will be performing. You might remember her from Still Standing and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Well, she’s also a hell of a singer, and performed at the Live 8 concert in 2005. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

March brings both the revelry of St. Patrick’s Day and increasingly warmer weather—which, given the relatively cold February we had, will be even more welcome than normal.

Oh, and March is also bringing a lot of great shows, too!

The McCallum Theatre has plenty going on in March. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 8, get in the Saint Patrick’s Day mood with The Irish Rovers. The Irish Rovers provide audiences with a good time featuring traditional Irish music; don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing and clapping along. Tickets are $25 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 9, Grammy Award-winning vocalist Steve Tyrell will be performing. Tyrell has been a regular at the McCallum for 15 years now. After a dozen or so albums, appearances on soundtracks for films such as That Thing You Do and Father of the Bride, and other accomplishments, he’s guaranteed to put on a good show. Tickets are $48 to $78. Here’s an interesting one … at 8 p.m., Friday, March 29, actor Rob Lowe will be performing his one-man show Stories I Only Tell My Friends. He’ll reveal tidbits about his life in Hollywood and his acting career, which now spans four decades. Tickets are $65 to $150. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a superstar-packed March. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 1, the former lead vocalist for Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald, will be performing. He’s collaborated with artists from Kenny Loggins and Van Halen to Grizzly Bear and Thundercat. He’s also won five Grammy Awards and charted with several singles. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 8, ventriloquist and comedian Terry Fator will take the stage. Ever since he won America’s Got Talent in 2007, he’s been a huge hit with audiences. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 22, classic-rock band Creedence Clearwater Revisited will be returning to the Coachella Valley. I’ve seen this band perform on three occasions, and the group—made up of two members of the original Creedence Clearwater Revival lineup and three other fantastic musicians—sounds just as good as the original. Tickets are $39 to $69. 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 of which you should take note. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 15, Latin-music duo Los Temerarios will be performing. Adolfo and Gustavo Angel have become Latin-music superstars since they started in 1978, earning a Latin Grammy Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Billboard Music Awards. Tickets are $55 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 23, Prince-tribute band Purple Reign will take the stage. I watched this band’s soundcheck one time, and I couldn’t believe how well this band does Prince’s music. Others have taken notice as well—the group appeared on The Late Show With Dave Letterman on New Year’s Eve in 2009. Tickets are $25 to $35. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of Latin superstars coming through in March. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 16, enjoy a double bill of Voz de Mando and Kanales. Since the group began in 2002, Voz de Mando has released seven albums; recent single “Pa’ Que No Me Anden Contando” became a Top 10 Billboard Latin Music hit in the United States. Kanales came to the United States from Sinaloa and became a big star in Norteño-music world. Tickets are $40 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 23, Latin-music duo Amanda Miguel and Diego Verdaguer will be performing. They are Latin-music legends who have been together since the 1970s. Tickets are $51 to $106. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s is the place to be in March … or, well, any other time of the year. At 8 p.m., Thursday, March 21, Cold Cave (upper right) will be performing. Cold Cave is a project of Wesley Eisold, of the bands American Nightmare and Some Girls. Eisold was born without a left hand, which means he does not play an instrument—but he excels as a vocalist. He’s also a published writer. Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Sunday, March 24, cosmic-country band Green Leaf Rustlers will take the stage. The band features Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, Pete Sears of Jefferson Starship, John Molo of the Phil Lesh Quartet, and Greg Loiacono of The Mother Hips. A “cosmic-country” band should definitely be a hit at Pappy and Harriet’s. Tickets are $30. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has a diverse list of events for March. At 6 p.m., Saturday, March 2, powerhouse cello and vocal duo Branden and James (below) will be performing. The duo features America’s Got Talent finalist Branden James, a classically trained tenor, and cellist James Clark. Tickets are $35 to $40. At 6 p.m., Saturday, March 9, Scot Bruce will be performing the songs of Elvis’ early years. Bruce is a regular performer at Disneyland and is considered one of the best Elvis-tribute acts in the country. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 23, get ready to laugh in tribute to one of the most iconic comics who ever lived when Joe Posa stars as Joan Rivers. He’s an impersonator of many stars, including Michael Jackson and Liza Minnelli. Tickets are $30 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

Matthew Morrison is a quadruple threat: His résumé includes acting, dancing, singing and songwriting—but the Broadway star is best known for playing Will Schuester on the TV show Glee.

Morrison will be performing at the McCallum Theatre on Thursday, March 21.

During a recent e-mail interview from London—he was unable to speak on the phone as his tour took him to Europe and Asia—Morrison discussed his stints in Broadway musicals such as Hairspray, South Pacific, Finding Neverland and others.

“Performing on Broadway, to me, was the big stage that I was preparing for years in advance,” Morrison said. “When something is your passion, I believe there’s no room for fear. I took that mentality into each role I was fortunate enough to attach myself to. There was a lot of pressure when I was offered the role of Link Larkin in Hairspray, but I’m thankful for that, as it prepared me for my biggest challenge yet, and that was The Light in the Piazza. All I can do as an actor is prepare as best as I can, in order to deliver the best possible performance. … Luckily for me, I feed off of the energy in the room, and I truly believe because of that, I was able to handle the pressure of performing on Broadway, even early on in my career.”

His 2015-2016 performance in Finding Neverland was well-received by audiences.

Finding Neverland was a true pleasure for me throughout the process,” Morrison wrote. “From the beginning stages of watching the tryout runs at A.R.T. in Massachusetts, to working with Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus during rehearsals, all the way through my last show in January 2016—there was an unspeakable energy that lured me to performing each night. There’s always a little bit of wonder about how the audience and Broadway community will interpret a musical of this kind, but I truly believe that this production was special in its ability to connect with audiences of all ages. I, like many others, have always had an attachment to the story of Peter Pan, and I think that alone was enough (of a) reason to deliver each night.”

One of his earliest performances on Broadway—back in 2000—was in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

“That production was my last supporting role in theater, and it prepared me a lot for what was to come,” Morrison said. “A Broadway show is demanding and challenging to any artist, in my opinion, and our job is to make sure it doesn’t seem that way when we perform. The story is entertaining in whatever production it’s told.”

When Glee premiered in 2009, it quickly became a hit with young audiences—and the first season was nominated for a whopping 19 Emmy Awards. Morrison said he was surprised by the reaction.

“I think everyone was in the beginning, to be honest,” he wrote. “Ryan Murphy is such a talented writer, producer and director, and he had such a strong vision for this show, along with Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan. I strongly feel that Glee was the most socially relevant program for its time, connecting with audiences on all levels. The storylines, characters and music clicked in a way that was so unique for television, and still is today. I’m truly proud of what that show accomplished on a social level. I hear day after day just how much that show changed lives.”

Thanks to his time on Broadway, Morrison discovered his ability to sing jazz songs, as well as American standards.

“As a Broadway actor and singer, your voice is trained to tell a story and emote in a wide range,” he said. “I’m a huge fan of American standards and the ‘feel’ of the legends from the ’60s—like Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. These standards they sung told beautiful stories, and that is why I connected with them so much. When I’m up onstage during a concert, connecting with an audience by singing these songs, it brings me back to the Broadway stage. Many of these songs were also sung throughout Broadway shows, so there’s a natural connection there as well.”

Morrison released two studio albums, both during Glee’s run; his most recent, Where It All Began, was released in 2013 on Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine’s 222 Records. I asked him if there was any new music from him forthcoming.

“Music has and always will play an integral role in my life and career,” he said. “The only thing that changes is where I see myself, and how I can authentically deliver a message to my audience. All I can say right now is that I’ve been working very hard on creating a project that is relevant to my life as father, and I look forward to sharing it in the near future with everyone.”

There is one Broadway role that Morrison said he still wishes to play—and if you listen to his version of that play’s title track on Where It All Began, you’ll realize how perfect he’d be in the role.

“A main source of inspiration has come from Gene Kelly. He was an all-around entertainer and talented individual. A production of Singing in the Rain would be an honor to be a part of,” Morrison said. “The title song is one I perform at almost every concert. It’s my way of attaching myself perpetually to the story.”

Matthew Morrison will perform at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 21, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $80 to $130. For tickets or more information, call 760-340-2787, or visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Published in Previews

Michael Childers is truly a renaissance man; Merriam-Webster’s definition—“a person who has wide interests and is expert in several areas”—describes him perfectly.

The Coachella Valley resident is an award-winning photographer, producer, writer and documentary filmmaker—and his talents are being showcased in several upcoming events.

Childers was the photographer and production assistant on the movie Midnight Cowboy, the legendary 1969 film directed by his late partner, John Schlesinger. Childers and former Variety editor Peter Bart will be sharing memories and photos at a special 50th anniversary screening of the film on Saturday, March 2, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.

On Wednesday, April 24, Childers will bring his annual One Night Only Broadway extravaganza back to the McCallum Theatre.

Childers has been very busy as of late; in fact, he just picked up the award for Best Short Documentary at the 2019 Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival in Los Angeles for I Knew Andy Warhol, which he produced. He’s also working on a documentary film about the late actress Natalie Wood. He recently took some time to speak to me about all these goings-on.

His gorgeous book of photography, Icons and Legends, graces coffee tables in homes across the country—but as far as the desert is concerned, Childers’ crowning achievement would have to be One Night Only, the musical-variety extravaganza he produces each year at the McCallum. He created the event 15 years ago as a fundraiser for local charities. Since then, more than 150 Broadway performers have participated in the show.

This year’s production, “Broadway Showstoppers,” features some of the best songs from Broadway musicals, including Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and Dear Evan Hansen. Proceeds will benefit the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, which provides services for abused and neglected children. The nonprofit center was founded in 1986 by Frank and Barbara Sinatra and offers individual, group and family counseling, as well as outreach and prevention programs.

“Showstoppers” will be directed by Broadway choreographer and director Larry Fuller, with musical direction by Christopher Marlowe. This year’s cast includes Ann Hampton Callaway, Liz Callaway, Lucie Arnaz, Christine Andreas, John Barrowman, Davis Gaines and Sal Mistretta. The production will be dedicated to the memory of two desert icons we lost recently, Carol Channing and Kaye Ballard. Both appeared in his One Night Only shows, and Childers knew them both well. In fact, he told me that he photographed Channing’s wedding to her former high-school sweetheart, Harry Kullijian, at her Rancho Mirage home—and Ballard actually introduced Childers to his partner of 30 years, the aforementioned director John Schlesinger. She set them up on a bind date.

“Something just clicked,” he said.

Childers said he always has themes and dream casts for future shows floating around in his head. One Night Only is a huge undertaking, requiring seven months of planning and preparation. He said that having a great team around him, including the hard-working crew at the McCallum, makes it possible.

The show sells out every year, and because of its reputation, many Broadway stars are eager to join the cast.

“Who wouldn’t want to come enjoy the sunshine in Palm Springs when it’s cold and rainy in New York?” Childers said. Also worth noting: Performers are treated royally, with lots of perks and parties thrown into the mix. JetBlue is once again a main sponsor, offering a number of free airline tickets to those performing.

So what’s on Childers’ bucket list? He says he would like to produce more documentary films. In other words, it does not seem that the multi-talented Michael Childers will be slowing down anytime soon.

The 50th Anniversary of Midnight Cowboy takes place at 6 p.m., Saturday, March 2, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $20 to $45. For tickets or more information, call 760-325-6565, or visit Eventbrite.com.

One Night Only, a show benefiting the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, takes place at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 24, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $75 to $175, with a limited number of VIP tickets, including an after-party, available for $495. For tickets or more information, call 760-340-2787, or visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Published in Local Fun

February is the shortest month of the year—but it just so happens to be the time for some of the hottest events of the year.

The McCallum Theatre’s packed schedule includes a lot of great stuff. At 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 4, classical violinist Joshua Bell will be performing. He’s the violinist who was the subject of a Washington Post story about him busking in the subway—with few paying attention to him or knowing who he was. Bell has a classical-music career that goes back 30 years, and he’s played some of the biggest classical music halls around the world. Tickets are $60 to $105. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 14, Broadway star and vocalist Linda Eder will take the stage. Eder is no stranger to the McCallum and has turned in sell-out performances on its stage before. Tickets are $38 to $68. Do you love magic? Then at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 17, you’ll love It’s Magic! The show will feature some of the biggest stars of magic, and it’s produced by Milt Larsen and Terry Hill, best known as the producers of America’s Got Talent. You’ll see magicians who have performed in Las Vegas and magicians who have racked up international acclaim. Tickets are $18 to $38. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some big names coming through; here are just a few to give you an idea. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1, The Beach Boys will be performing. Beach Boys member Mike Love is now the only original member remaining, though longtime member Bruce Johnston is still along for the ride. The band’s shows remain wildly popular with fans; you’ll hear all the songs that sold millions of records and changed rock ’n’ roll history in America. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8, R&B group Boyz II Men will be performing. This would be a nice Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetheart, if you have one—or even a great night out with friends. I’ve always been blown away by the Boyz’ singing talents and unbelievable harmonies. Tickets are $39 to $79. If those two big names aren’t big enough for you, you’ll love this one: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, the Dogg himself, Snoop Dogg, will be performing. Snoop’s name is iconic in hip-hop, and he was one of the biggest rappers in the world back in the ’90s (in fact, he still is today), with rap anthems that get heavy radio and club play. Tickets are $59 to $109. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some compelling offerings in February. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, the famous all-male revue Thunder From Down Under will take place. If your girlfriend isn’t replying to your text messages that night, that’s most likely where she is. Tickets are $15 to $25. On Valentine’s Day, specifically at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 14, it’ll be a magical night at the Art Laboe Valentine’s Super Love Jam. Laboe has become comically known for all the people who call into his radio show to give shout-outs to their loved ones in prison, which often involve names like “Baby Joker.” Laboe recently gave an interview where he said that he doesn’t judge his listeners—and that’s kept him on the air and has led to some uplifting moments for inmates and their families. The Love Jam will feature Zapp, Midnight Star, The Jets, GQ and The Delfonics. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, you’ll want to soft-rock all night, because Air Supply (upper right) will be performing. I’m sure Air Supply is hoping for a big resurgence similar to the one that soft-rock contemporary Toto is enjoying having right now … but actually, Air Supply is doing just fine without a Weezer cover and without any memes, because Air Supply has sold more than 20 million copies of its greatest-hits record and is still highly in demand. Tickets are $40 to $60. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a few shows booked for the showroom in February. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, comedian Felipe Esparza (below) will be performing. You might remember him from his performances on Comics Unleashed and Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, as well as other TV and film appearances. He currently has a hilarious Netflix special out. Tickets are $30 to $40. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, Mexican singer-songwriter Pancho Barraza will take the stage. Barraza is a performer of traditional Mexican music. Tickets are $65 to $85. Now for something different … at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, a comedy play titled A Oscuras Me da Risa will be performed. It’s a multi-character comedy about a happy couple going on a weekend getaway and going their own separate ways. Tickets are $36 to $91. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some must-see shows, per usual. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15, psychedelic rock-band La Luz will be performing. I recently gave La Luz’s new album Floating Features a listen, and it’s fantastic. This should be a great show—and is a must for any rock fan. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23, the alt-countryish band Evangenitals will be back. As I always say, you haven’t lived ’til you’ve seen the Evangenitals play. Stick around for their multiple sets, especially the last one at the end of the night. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry … wait, you won’t cry, but you’ll laugh hysterically. Admission is free! At 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, Pearl and the Canyon Revelry Band will be performing. Pearl Aday (daughter of Meat Loaf) has quite a set of pipes, and at a young age was a backing vocalist in her dad’s band. She’s been performing country and released her debut album in 2010; she just released a new album, Heartbreak and Canyon Revelry. My metal-loving friend Frank pointed out that her husband is Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian—so you might catch a glimpse of him at the show. Tickets are $10. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is definitely a nice place to consider taking that special someone to for dinner and a show. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9, singer Jonathan Karrant will be performing. Karrant is known for his “Hollywood’s greatest hits”-style show, as he performs songs by Burt Bacharach, Michel Legrand and many others. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, Broadway star and vocalist Roslyn Kind will take the stage. The half-sister of Barbra Streisand has toured the globe performing with Babs and her nephew, Jason Gould. Tickets are $45 to $55. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23, cabaret performer and singer Iris Williams will be performing. Her jazzy vocals on up-tempo numbers and her ballads will be a treat to hear. Tickets are $40 to $45. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge and Cabaret has a February event worth noting. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15 and Saturday, Feb. 16, pop-country singer Steve Grand will take the Toucan’s stage. You’ll probably remember him as the singer of “All-American Boy,” a song about a gay man in love with a straight man, which went viral on YouTube. The gay country singer has since found continued success; he’s no stranger to the Palm Springs area, having performed at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s Center Stage gala in 2016. Tickets are $35 to $45. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; reactionshows.com.

Published in Previews

The Lettermen began performing in the late 1950s, had their first hit record in the early ’60s, and went on to have an amazing career that’s still going today.

The trio will be stopping by the McCallum Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 24.

Tony Butala is the only remaining original member of The Lettermen; the others, Jim Pike and Bob Engemann, sold their interests to Butala. Today, Butala is joined by Donovan Tea, who joined in 1984, and Bobby Poynton, who joined originally in 1989 and returned several years ago.

During a recent phone interview, Butala explained how The Lettermen worked to stand out in the pop scene.

“We didn’t take (success) lightly, and made sure we did something more in person than stand onstage and do hit records,” Butala said during a recent phone interview. “So many of the other acts at the time were not entertainers and were lucky to have a hit record or two. With The Lettermen, we started with three solo singers when I put this group together. We made sure each individual was a lead singer as well as a performer. So many groups had a lead singer and two or three guys in the background going, ‘Doo-wah, doo-wah, doo-wah.’ We never had that philosophy.”

The Letterman became popular thanks, in part, to popularity at colleges.

“When we had a hit in the early ’60s, we were wanted in the colleges,” Butala said. “We’d go around playing 150 colleges a year—the large universities on the weekends and smaller colleges on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays.

“When you work a lot, it’s like rehearsal. You’re learning what works and what doesn’t work. We found audience participation was the most important thing in our shows. People can always buy a record and hear how pretty you sound, but in person, we wanted the audience to leave with something intangible—that was the fact that they were being entertained.”

When The Lettermen went on to tour the world, Butala said the group had an advantage over other performers.

“When I was a kid, I was in a choir that sang in 17 different languages. We went around the world,” he said. “Capitol Records was an international record label, and instead of our records just being hits in the United States, our records were released around the world. Our popularity was romantic ballads; they were universal, because people fall in love in every language in every country. The Beatles were known for their British Invasion music; the Beach Boys are known for their surfing and hot-rod music; The Lettermen are known for our backseat music.

“When we received inquiries to go to different countries, I taught the other two guys at least one song in each language of the countries we were going to. They wanted us in their country because they played the Lettermen songs in English, but we’d do two or three songs in their language. We showed them we cared, and we tried harder to please them instead of looking down on them.”

Butala said being on Capitol Records was a great experience.

“When we signed to Capitol in 1960, they were just expanding, and they became the first international company,” he said. “Shortly after we signed to Capitol, they signed my friends the Beach Boys. Then shortly after, they signed the Beatles. We were the first ones in … (and were) three big recording acts that helped each other. If you’re a disc jockey in Des Moines, Iowa, playing a Lettermen record, when the Capitol promotions person went there a couple of months later, he’d say, ‘We have this new group called the Beach Boys, and if you play the Beach Boys, I’ll give you the first play of the next Lettermen hit.’ It was a big help and an exciting label to be on at the time.”

Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys is a big fan of the Lettermen, and the Lettermen style can be heard as an influence on many Beach Boys songs.

“He came to one of our sessions saying, ‘I want to sing just like you guys,’” Butala said. “Well, the great thing is he’s a genius, and he did some ballads after that, but he did them in a different way. There was no competition, and it was all camaraderie. It was a wonderful time.”

As pop music faded in popularity in favor of rock ’n’ roll, which itself began changing, The Lettermen tried to adapt with times. However, it proved to be too difficult, Butala said.

“People just never heard the stuff we tried, because it was commercially never played,” he said. “In the ’60s, when all the counterculture music was coming, the Lettermen actually recorded a song called ‘All the Gray Haired Men,’ and it was kind of a rebel song. It was putting down the people older than 30 in a way that was saying you can’t think old; you have to think young. We got about five air plays and sold 10 copies to our relatives. We learned by experiment: That wasn’t us. After that, we stuck to what we knew about and kept the romantic ballads coming.”

When I asked Butala if he was tired of touring, he scoffed at the question and said he had no gripes.

“We’ve performed at least 50 shows a year for 56 straight years,” he said. “We try to adapt our shows to the audience that we’re performing to.”

The Lettermen will perform at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 24, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $28 to $68. For tickets or more information, call 760-340-2787, or visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Published in Previews

After the holidays, you may need some excitement to perk you up and recharge your batteries. Well, January features plenty of exciting events to help rejuvenate your spirit.

The McCallum Theatre has some great post-holiday hangover-busters. While many shows are sold out, tickets are still left for these shows as of our press time. Back by popular demand, at 3 and 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 13, the Capitol Steps will be performing. The Capitol Steps is a troupe of former congressional staffers who perform a comedy show based on current affairs. It’s a lot of fun. Tickets are $30 to $70. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 22, the sons of the Okie From Muskogee, Ben and Noel Haggard, will be performing. Ben and Noel will be paying tribute to their late father in an intimate performance. Ben played in his father’s band, while Noel struck out on his own; this should be a great show and tribute. Tickets are $25 to $65. You have to love the amazing diversity of shows the McCallum offers; for example, at 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 28, prepare to be mesmerized by the Golden Dragon Acrobats. They are the premier Chinese acrobatic touring company and have performed for audiences all over the world. Tickets are $22 to $48. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some great stuff going on. Do you miss the ’90s? Sure ya do, so mark your calendars for 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 12, when you can go Back to the ’90s with Vanilla Ice, Coolio, Tone Loc and C&C Music Factory! Go rollin’ with your homies to this one, and get down during the ninja rap. Tickets are $39 to $69. Do you like to party … hard? At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 25, party hard to the smooth sax of Kenny G. I would think that being Kenny G requires a sense of humor, and he does indeed seem to be a good sport; all kidding aside, he’s one hell of a musician. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has two great events taking place at The Show. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 12, singer-songwriter Burt Bacharach will be performing. Bacharach is a legend; like Neil Sedaka, he’s penned a lot of great songs that have become hit songs for others—and for himself. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 26, the Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo will be doing her thing. Caputo is a fascinating figure, given she’s managed to stay wildly popular and usually sells out shows. Tickets are $75 to $120. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 will have a residency every Saturday night in January at 9:30 p.m. by Banda SN LA Sin Nombre at En Vivo. There is a $15 cover at the door. Over in the Spotlight Showroom, at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 25, Queen Nation (upper right) will kick off a weekly series of tribute bands called The Next Best Thing. Tickets are $10 to $102. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a fun show in January to mention. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 4, ’90s R&B group Bell Biv DeVoe will be performing. If you're unfamiliar, it’s basically three members of New Edition: Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe. They had that fantastic song “Poison” that you still hear on the radio. Tickets are $49 to $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some big things going on in January. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 12, Dirtwire will be performing. Trying to explain Dirtwire is not easy, but I’ll give it a shot: It’s a fantastic band that fuses world music and bluegrass. The group has played around the world in some very odd venues, including a festival in Kazakhstan. There are a lot of different sounds incorporated, and the result is highly enjoyable. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 17, the grandson of Bob Dylan, Pablo Dylan, will be performing. Pablo Dylan has done a lot in music, especially in hip-hop—he was proclaimed “Bob Dylan’s rapping grandson” by some publications. He’s a great songwriter in his own right, and he’s moved on to a more folk-music kind of style. Best part about this show: Admission is free! At 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 31, murderfolk performer Amigo the Devil will take the stage. I highly suggest checking him out; he’s the darkest country music singer-songwriter you’ll ever hear, and he’s armed with a banjo. He’s a performer who can get a whole room of people to sing along to lyrics of “I Hope Your Husband Dies.” Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed has a January event worth noticing. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 19, reggae band The Green will be performing. Originally from Hawaii, this reggae band has traveled all around the world, playing dub-heavy roots reggae and combining it with Hawaiian roots. Tickets are $20 to $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has plenty to offer in January. At 5 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 6, Purple Room owner Michael Holmes’ regular Sunday The Judy Show will be a fundraiser for our friends at the Desert Ensemble Theatre Company. Enjoy tons of laughter as Holmes performs as Judy Garland—for a good cause. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 6 p.m., Friday, Jan. 11, actress and singer Renee Olstead will be performing. Olstead is probably best remembered for the television shows Still Standing and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, but she’s also a talented singer who has released three albums. Tickets are $35 to $40. Do you like a good battle? How about a Battle of the Bitches? At 6 p.m., Friday, Jan. 25, drag stars Jackie Beat and Sherry Vine (below) will be performing. These two are known for their epic insult wars with each other through song. It's hilarious, fun and no holds barred. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge and Cabaret will be having a fun event in January. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 12, cabaret singer Tori Scott will be performing. Scott is a big name in New York’s cabaret scene and is considered one of the top cabaret performers in the country. She’s also sang on shows such as Sesame Street and Cathouse: The Musical. Tickets are $25 to $35. Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; reactionshows.com.

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