CVIndependent

Tue06252019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

May is here! Congratulations on surviving the uptick in traffic during the festival season—and for dodging all of those confused snowbirds.

Now, it’s time for the heat. Fortunately, there are some great shows coming up to help ease you into summer.

The McCallum Theatre will go dark during the summer months. But before the curtain closes for the season, the theater is hosting several compelling shows. At 7 p.m., Friday, May 5, the Coachella Valley Symphony will join forces with jazz great Diane Schuur for Rhapsody and Blues. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 4 p.m., Sunday, May 7, there will be a performance by the All Coachella Valley High School Honor Band, conducted by Richard Floyd. Tickets are $10 to $12. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a couple of events going on that are worth your consideration. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 19, Ann Wilson of the band Heart will be performing solo. A level of estrangement between Ann Wilson and her sister, Nancy, appears to have broken up Heart for the time being, after Ann Wilson’s husband reportedly assaulted Nancy Wilson’s children outside of a Heart concert last year. Family issues aside, Ann Wilson is a vocal powerhouse and will most likely rock the place. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 26, Mexican music sensation Larry Hernández will be performing. Hernandez is a star in the Latin-music world and has racked up many hit albums and singles. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a great schedule as we slide into the summer months. At 9 p.m., Friday, May 12, country star Dustin Lynch (right) will take the stage. He’s one of the newer stars of the country-music genre, with two high-selling albums and four No. 1 singles on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart; Lynch is definitely a rising star. Tickets are $40 to $60. Fans of international music, take note: At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 20, Filipino duo Martin Nievera and Lani Misalucha will perform their Masquerade show. The duo is well-known for performing pop standards and jazz—to opera music. Go and expand your musical palate! Tickets are $38 to $125. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has some big events on the calendar in May. How big? Really BIG! At 8 p.m., Friday, May 19, guitar icon and Eagles member Joe Walsh will be performing. Although the Eagles broke a promise that they wouldn’t perform after the death of Glenn Frey by agreeing to play at Desert Trip-style festivals in New York and Los Angeles, called “Classic East” and “Classic West,” this is probably the closest thing the Coachella Valley will get to an Eagles show these days. Walsh is a big name on his own, and was cool enough to perform on the Foo Fighters’ most recent album, Sonic Highways. Tickets are $99 to $139. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 20, comedienne and actress Mo’Nique will be at Spotlight 29. Mo’Nique is funny as hell, and her performance in the movie Precious, although disturbing, was epic. You won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is rolling into May with a solid schedule through the summer. Get ready to relive the ’80s in a big way with two big acts: At 10 p.m., Friday, May 12, get ready to jump some rope and bulk up, because Survivor will be performing. Yes, “Eye of the Tiger”! Tickets are $20. At 10 p.m., Saturday, May 20, Culture Club front man Boy George will bring the party. I caught the Coachella Valley stop of the recent Culture Club reunion tour, and I can say that Boy George remains very entertaining as a singer and front man. Tickets are $30. Check the Morongo website for details on other interesting shows, including a couple by comedian Ron White. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is settling down after a slew of Coachella-related shows in April—but there’s plenty to take in at Pappy’s in May. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 6, modern psychedelic-rock wild child Ty Segall (below) will be performing. Segall is a true-blue, no-bullshit psychedelic musician. He can make some pretty fantastic records—and is one hell of a live performer. You really don’t want to miss this show, especially with it being at Pappy’s. Tickets are $27. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 27, Dave Catching and the Rancho de la Luna cast of characters including Alain Johannes, Sweethead, The Mutants and the Mojave Lords will be playing on a bill that’s being called “Shared Hallucinations Part 1.” After seeing Alain Johannes perform solo last year, I must say: Make sure you get there in time to check him out. The Mojave Lords are also a lot of fun. Tickets are $30. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

It appears the Date Shed is going to go dark over the summer once again. If so, these are some of the events that will close out the Date Shed’s season. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 6, reggae singer HIRIE will be performing. HIRIE sure had an interesting childhood: She was born in the Philippines; her father worked for the United Nations; and she had exposure to a lot of different cultures, including Hawaii, which influenced much of her music. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 20, local bands Wild Sons, EeVaan Tre and Kanvaz will take the stage. EeVaan Tre is one of the Coachella Valley’s best talents; here’s hoping he will finally release some recordings sometime soon. Tickets are $8 to $12. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

The biggest month for music in the Coachella Valley is here, thanks to Coachella and Stagecoach—and even if you’re not going to either of the fests, there are still plenty of other things to do.

The McCallum Theatre has a variety of shows in April, the last big month in the theater’s 2016-2017 season. At 8 p.m., Thursday, April 6, the daughter of Lucy and Desi, Lucie Arnaz will be performing her favorites from the Great American Songbook, backed by the Desert Symphony. Tickets are $67 to $115. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 7, get ready to laugh with Rita Rudner. Rudner is a legendary comedienne and will have you in stitches. Tickets are $37 to $87. At 8 p.m. Saturday, April 22, actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth will perform songs from Glee, Wicked and various Broadway standards. Tickets are $57 to $97. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a great April schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 7, Kenny Loggins will be performing. Loggins has had quite a career, including “Danger Zone” from Top Gun (and, more recently, Archer), “I’m Alright” from Caddyshack, the main song for the Footloose soundtrack—and a lot of hits that weren’t in movies. Alas, when I interviewed Loggins at Stagecoach in 2013, he was more interested in the M&Ms he was eating off of a napkin than my questions. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 8, Creedence Clearwater Revisited will be returning to the desert. The PR rep told me the group has a new singer, Dan McGuinness, who had subbed at various times for former vocalist John Tristao. Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 21, David Crosby will be stopping by for a solo performance. On top of his work with Crosby, Stills and Nash, he was a member of The Byrds, and he’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with both bands. Tickets are $39 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is hosting several sold-out shows in April, but as of our press deadline, there was still one show with tickets left: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 22, actor and comedian Kevin James will be appearing. James had a successful run on the show The King of Queens, and achieved some degree of movie fame by playing Paul Blart: Mall Cop. It seems in recent years that he’s been in too many bad projects produced by Adam Sandler. It should be interesting to see how his stand-up comedy will be after years of sitcoms and films. Tickets are $65 to $95. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 casino has a couple of events to consider. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 22, ’80s/’90s R&B sensation Keith Sweat (upper right) will be performing. Some of the best R&B music of that era was written and performed by Sweat; he’s released 12 albums and won the Favorite Male R&B/Soul Artist Award at the 1997 American Music Awards. Tickets are $25 to $45. I can’t believe I am about to write this sentence: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 29, Extreme Midget Wrestling will be returning to Spotlight 29. I honestly don’t know what to say here. Like anyone else, people with dwarfism are doctors, scientists, actors and actresses—yet people often first think of crap like this when it comes to dwarfism. Also, most people with dwarfism prefer the term “little people.” Whatever entertainment floats your boat, I guess. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa, much like Agua Caliente, is hosting a lot of great April shows that are already sold out. Get ready for glistening beefcake when Thunder From Down Under returns at 8 p.m., Friday, April 7. Tickets are $25—and the show was close to selling out as of our deadline, so act fast. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 28, Jana Kramer will take the stage. You may know her from One Tree Hill or (gag) Dancing With the Stars, but both her albums have reached the Top 5 on the U.S. country charts. Tickets are $29. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is the place to be in April, especially during Coachella and Stagecoach, when a lot of the festival acts stop by. At 8 p.m., Thursday, April 6, the band named after a KCRW DJ, Cherry Glazerr will be performing. Considering KCRW has been playing the band quite a bit, and Chery Glaser herself said she’s honored by the band’s name, it’s worth going to check them out. Tickets are $14. At 4 p.m., Saturday, April 8, Brant Bjork will be bringing back his Rolling Heavy-sponsored Desert Generator festival. On the bill this time are Earthless, Orchid, The Shrine and Black Rainbows. Tickets are $55 to $295. At 9 p.m., Sunday, April 30, hot off a Stagecoach performance, Son Volt will perform. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Take note of this Coachella-related event: At 9 p.m., Thursday, April 13, Goldenvoice and FYF will present Young Turks in Palm Springs at the Palm Springs Air Museum. The show will feature Ben UFO, Four Tet, Francis and the Lights, Jamie xx, Kamaiyah, and Sampha with special guests PNL. Tickets are $30. Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs; 760-778-6262; aeglive.com.

The Date Shed has one event scheduled. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 8, Katchafire (below) will be performing. The reggae band from New Zealand is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and the stop at the Date Shed should be pretty epic. Tickets are $25 to $35. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

Coachella and Stagecoach are just around the figurative corner—but March is bringing local music fans a lot of amazing shows to tide them over.

The McCallum Theatre’s fantastic season just gets better: The theater is dark just two days in March. At 8 p.m., Monday, March 6, you can experience Benny Goodman’s legendary 1938 concert with the Salute to Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall. This all-star tribute features some of today’s most talented jazz musicians. Tickets are $37 to $77. And now for something completely different: At 3 and 7 p.m., Sunday, March 12, John Cleese of Monty Python fame will be appearing. The comedy legend will be telling stories from his autobiography, which also covers some of his best work, such as Life of Brian, The Holy Grail and A Fish Called Wanda. Tickets are $57 to $97. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 31, Art Garfunkel will be performing. In 2014, I attended his performance at Fantasy Springs and enjoyed his mix of poetry, solo songs and well-known Simon and Garfunkel hits. Tickets are $47 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

If you thought Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s February lineup was great, the events in March are just as spectacular. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 4, singer-songwriter Paul Anka will be performing. “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” “My Way,” and “(You’re) Having My Baby” are just a few of the Canadian crooner’s hits. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 24, Saturday Night Live alumnus Dana Carvey will take the stage. Carvey is also well-known for the sketch-turned-film Wayne’s World and a handful of other comedy movies. Party on, Garth! Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 25, you’ll be happy to know that former Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers will be returning to the Coachella Valley. Rodgers was also part of Free, as well as The Firm, and performed with the surviving members of Queen. Tickets are $49 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 31, smooth-jazz superstar Kenny G will break out the sax. Kenny has sold 45 million records, and if you’ve ever been in a dentist’s chair to have a root canal, you’ve heard Kenny G. Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente has a packed March. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 3, Southern-rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd will be performing. After losing three members in a plane crash in 1977—including original frontman Ronnie Van Sant—Skynyrd kept going and found new life when Van Sant’s brother, Johnny, took over on lead vocals. Sadly, the band has continued to tragically lose original members, and guitarist Gary Rossington is now the only one left. However, the band is still fantastic and puts on a great show. Tickets are $96 to $126. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 24 and 8 p.m., Saturday, March 25, country great Alan Jackson will take the stage. Jackson has had a string of hits, and he’ll always be remembered for his post-Sept. 11 song, “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” Tickets are $130 to $160. At 7 p.m., Monday, March 27, Placido Domingo will be performing with the L.A. Opera Orchestra. Domingo has made more than 200 recordings, and is one of the world’s most popular opera tenors. Tickets are $65 to $400. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

It’s a trend: Spotlight 29’s March is also filled with great shows! At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 11, heaven help us all, because Michael Bolton is back. Wasn’t he just here? Anyway, tickets are $56 to $86. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 18, country singer Martina McBride will perform. She’s had six No. 1 hits and has sold more than 18 million records. Last year, she released her 13th studio album, Reckless. Tickets are $99 to $139. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 25, get ready to dance, because Kool and the Gang (above left) will be stopping by. After 45 years in the business and 70 million records sold, they are still fantastic. At one of my former workplaces, we had a saying: It wasn’t “That’s cool”; it was “That’s Kool and the Gang!” Tickets are $45 to $65. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 31, country singer-songwriter and actor Dwight Yoakam will be coming back to the Coachella Valley. I admit: I’m a big fan. You must listen to his Dwight Sings Buck, his tribute album to the late Buck Owens. Tickets are $55 to $75. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

While Morongo Casino Resort Spa’s lineup is not as insanely good as those at the other local casinos, it sure isn’t bad. At 10 p.m., Saturday, March 4, P.O.D. will be stopping by. P.O.D. was one of the first Christian-metal bands to receive significant acclaim. The video for “Rock the Party” went to No. 1 on MTV’s Total Request Live back in 1999, and the band toured as part of OzzFest in 2000 and in 2002. After the success peaked, the group went back to making music for a more conservative Christian crowd. I don’t know what Jesus would say about playing a show at a casino, but rock on! Tickets are $20. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some fine shows leading up to the craziness of April. At 9 p.m., Saturday, March 4, queen of the high desert Jesika Von Rabbit will be performing; also on the bill are the Yip Yops. Von Rabbit, chosen as the Best Local Musician by Independent readers, has enjoyed more widespread success recently thanks to her new single, “Going Down,” being played on KCRW. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 10, pop-punk band Joyce Manor (below) will be performing. The Epitaph Records band has become quite popular after the 2014 record Never Hungover Again became a hit. A new album, Cody, dropped in late 2016. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 24, and Saturday, March 25, Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. The entire band backed Neil Young on a recent tour, which included both weekends of Desert Trip. Lukas and his brother, Micah, are Willie Nelson’s sons; do you need any other reason to go to this show? With or without Neil Young (and who knows when he’ll show up?), Lukas and the boys are great. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Meanwhile, in Indio, The Date Shed has a couple of events on the slate. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 11, Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band Righteous and the Wicked will be performing. I’m not a big fan of tribute bands, but they can be fun sometimes—and any band willing to take on the Chili Peppers songbook must be pretty cool. Tickets are $10 to $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 31, Date Shed regulars Fortunate Youth will be back. Tickets are $20 to $35. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

During the late ’70s and ’80s, while new wave was taking over the radio, George Thorogood found success by melding Chicago blues with rock ’n’ roll.

Thorogood, turning 67 on Feb. 24, is still rocking today. He puts on one a hell of a show and will be performing a sold-out concert at Morongo Casino Resort Spa on Friday, March 3.

During a recent phone interview, Thorogood said he already knew what he wanted to do with his life as he grew up in Wilmington, Del.

“When I first played as a young boy in school, I was in a band, and we played a birthday party for one of my sisters,” Thorogood said. “That was pretty much my first gig. From that day, I knew what I was going to do for a living. I had been thinking about it for months before that. It wasn’t a hobby or something I was just trying to get out of my system: I knew what I wanted to do.”

George Thorogood and the Destroyers released their first album in 1977 and quickly had a hit with a cover of John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” The group’s second album, Move It on Over, released in 1978, had no original material, and found success with covers of Hank Williams’ “Move It on Over” and Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?”

In 1981, he and the Destroyers opened for the Rolling Stones.

“I thought it was overdue, to tell you the truth,” Thorogood said. “I had seen other bands work with the Stones, and I had grown up in an era when Bill Graham used to put on shows, and the bands were compatible with each other. Quicksilver Messenger Service would work with the Grateful Dead; the Paul Butterfield Blues Band would work with the Allman Brothers. I thought we cut our teeth on blues such as Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, so we should we on the bill. But the whole world had changed at that time. People didn’t book gigs because of that; they would book gigs because they could fill the arenas. They would put Guns N’ Roses and ZZ Top with the Rolling Stones to fill stadiums. I wasn’t aware of that at the time; I thought our credentials were right for the gig, because we listened to the same music they did. They tried us out one night in Philadelphia, and it worked.”

In 1982, he and the Destroyers put out Bad to the Bone, which included fewer covers than previous albums. Of course, the song “Bad to the Bone” was a huge hit. Does Thorogood ever get tired of playing it?

“Never,” he replied. “These songs, whether we wrote them or not, we thought of them as songs an audience would go for. Everybody wants a song they’re going to play for the rest of their life, because that’s how you make a living. Where would B.B. King be without ‘The Thrill is Gone’? You think Jerry Lee Lewis would stop playing ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’? You select material because you want it to be popular. It’s secondary whether or not I like it. As long as the audience likes it, I like it, and if they like it, I will keep playing it.”

The blues genre is in trouble—some people say it’s dying, and many well-known blues establishments have closed their doors—and Thorogood credits classic-rock radio for keeping his audience thriving.

“My perspective is that 75 to 80 percent of the people who come to my shows are people coming to see a classic-rock act,” he said. “We’re on classic-rock radio, and that’s where we’ve been for the past 20 to 30 years, maybe even longer. There are a few other people who say, ‘They used to be a blues band,’ or, ‘George is a blues man.’ But they come to see us because we’re a rock band. Blues acts aren’t selling out Madison Square Garden, and that’s just the way it is. Aerosmith does. I think our success has a lot to do with rock-classic radio.”

There’s a new album in the works—a solo album just featuring Thorogood.

“I think there might be one or two electric songs on it, but I think it’s pretty much acoustic stuff, and it’s me alone,” he said. “There will be a lot of new material, but I might cover a few tunes.

“You have to understand that there were songs I played alone before I had a band, so I’m going backwards to go forwards. There are tunes that I did in my very brief career as a solo artist, for what that’s worth,” he added with a laugh.

A George Thorogood and the Destroyers show always includes the hits—as well as some material you may have never heard before.

“I’m not big on surprises, but we will try to do different material,” he said. “It has to be something that works, and it depends on how much time we have. We might have to stick to something short and sweet, or we get an extended night and throw some extras in there.”

George Thorogood and the Destroyers will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, March 3, at Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. The show was listed as sold out as of our press deadline. For more information, call 800-252-4499, or visit www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Published in Previews

February is upon us—which means it’s time for Valentine’s Day. In other words, the month is bringing some great romance-tinged events—as well as shows for those who might not be in the romantic mood.

The McCallum Theatre’s schedule is packed with so many great events in February that it’s hard to choose which ones to mention—so be sure to peruse the McCallum website for the full schedule. At 8 p.m., Monday, Feb. 6, the son of the legendary Mel Torme, Steve March Torme, will be performing his “Torme Sings Torme” show. He’ll be accompanied by a 10-piece band as he performs his father’s best-known material. Tickets are $27 to $77. At 8 p.m., Monday, Feb. 13, country music hit-maker Phil Vassar will be performing. Vassar has 10 No. 1 singles and 26 Top 40 hits under his belt. That’s impressive! This is a great show to put you in the mood for Stagecoach, which is coming up in April. Tickets are $27 to $67. If you’re not in the country mood, it’s OK, because at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 15, classical trio Simply Three will be performing. The YouTube sensation has gained more than 10 million views and is well-known for a repertoire of covers from Puccini to Coldplay. Tickets are $27 to $57. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some big events in February. Really big. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 10, Air Supply will be returning to rock your faces. OK, just kidding. The duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock is a soft-rock outfit that has sold millions of records. I guess this show could be a nice surprise for someone special in your life as an early Valentine’s Day gift. Just make sure that someone special likes soft rock … or else there could be consequences. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11, Sting will be stopping by, which is kind of a big deal. The Police was one of the bands that defined music in the ’80s. Since Sting went solo, he’s become just as big as The Police were—if not bigger. Fun suggestion: Watch Andy Summers’ documentary Can’t Stand Losing You, which was filmed during The Police’s reunion tour and also shows older footage of the band. You’ll learn Sting is kind of a jerk. Tickets are $95 to $200. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some heavy hitters coming—so many, in fact, that I don’t have space to talk about them all. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4, Chicago will be returning to Fantasy Springs. You really won’t fully understand Chicago until you see them live: I was absolutely blown away by them back in July. Tickets are $39 to $79. Remember the ’90s? Well, at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 10, get a double-dose of the ’90s with Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth. These bands are often the butt of jokes—but looking back, I have to laugh. Sugar Ray actually had more than 15 minutes of fame, and frontman Mark McGrath had punk credentials before Sugar Ray became a pop band. Smash Mouth, on the other hand, has been embarrassed after some recent fan-filmed performances—with the band melting down onstage—went viral. Still, both bands had enough popular songs to warrant greatest-hits albums. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24, R&B superstar Mary J. Blige (upper right) will be performing. She’s been charting hits since 1994 and has done duets with the late George Michael, Bono, Barbra Streisand and many others. Tickets are $59 to $129. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has a full schedule. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4, the supergroup The Golden Boys—consisting of Fabian, Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell—will be returning to the Coachella Valley. They’ve been sharing the stage since 1985; the chance to see all three 1950s teen idols together has attracted many fans. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 25, singer-songwriter Gino Vannelli will be performing. He’s toured with Stevie Wonder and earned a Grammy nomination. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa has a few events you won’t want to miss. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 10, Uncle Kracker will be performing. Uncle Kracker started out as Kid Rock’s DJ and provided some of the rap lyrics on Kid Rock’s early albums. Uncle Kracker later broke free and found success on his own. Tickets are $29 to $40. At 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 19, producer and songwriter David Foster will be performing. Even if you’re unfamiliar with Mr. Foster, you’ve heard many of the songs he’s produced or written for other artists. He’s a big name in the music industry. Tickets are $55 to $75. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, per usual, has a lot going. At 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 10, Nickel Creek frontman Sean Watkins will be performing. He has released five solo albums of contemporary folk music. While these albums haven’t produced any hit singles, they’re all great. Tickets are $15. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 16, country music singer-songwriter Brandy Clark will be performing. Her songs have been recorded by musicians from Sheryl Crow to LeAnn Rimes. Tickets are $20. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23, supergroup Crystal Fairy (below) will take the stage. It features Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover of the Melvins, Teri Gender Bender from Le Butcherettes, and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of the Mars Volta and At the Drive-In. The psychedelic sound will melt your face; this is truly a kick-ass band. Crystal Fairy released a single, “Drugs on the Bus,” back in October, and I highly suggest giving it a listen. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed has an event worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11, there will be a performance by Johnny Cash tribute band Cash’d Out, as well as a performance by my friend, CV Weekly writer Lisa Lynn Morgan, and her band Lisa and the Gents. Lisa has some mad country music credentials, an incredible voice and some great players backing her, including James St. James and Larry Gutierrez. Tickets are $12. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

During the month of December, there are more than enough events to keep you entertained—whether you’re in the Christmas spirit or not.

The McCallum Theatre has a great list of Christmas-themed events. At 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 5, enjoy a special Christmas presentation from the Vienna Boys Choir. One of the best known boys’ choirs in the world, the group’s various incarnations perform about 300 concerts a year. Fun fact: The boys in the choir are around the ages of 10 to 14. Tickets are $37 to $77. Locals will take the stage at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, in a show being assembled by Best of Coachella Valley radio personality Jim “Fitz” Fitzgerald of CV 104.3 called “A CV Christmas.” The show will feature Kal David and Lauri Bono, Ronnie King, Brightener, John Stanley King and others. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, and Saturday, Dec. 17, Johnny Mathis will be bringing his 60th anniversary Christmas tour to the McCallum. You can’t go wrong with Johnny, especially when he’s singing Christmas tunes. Tickets are $67 to $137. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some good stuff onstage in December. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2, Celtic Woman will be performing a Christmas-themed show as part of the “Home for Christmas: The Symphony Tour.” Celtic Woman has made a name for itself by performing Celtic music that’s mixed with folk and new-age sounds. The group’s Christmas repertoire is very popular and has added to Celtic Woman’s success. Tickets are $49 to $89. If you aren’t in the Christmas music mood … at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, there will be a performance by ARW (Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman). These three members of YES hadn’t performed together in 25 years, so this is one tour you’ll want to catch if you’re a rock music fan. Rick Wakeman made the Moog what it is today in rock music, and Trevor Rabin’s guitar-playing is legendary in prog rock. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, the Goo Goo Dolls will be returning to the Coachella Valley. I’ve mentioned how annoying it was hearing the song “Iris” over and over during my junior and senior years of high school … and my high school even made the song part of my prom. Ugh! Tickets are $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events worth mentioning. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, Penn and Teller will be stopping by. Originally known for magic shows that included comedy, the duo stepped it up for a television show on Showtime called Bullshit!, which featured the duo taking on a variety of subjects, from Sept. 11 conspiracy theories to bottled water and beyond. Tickets are $45 to $65. Looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve? At 10:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 31, bring in 2017 with Huey Lewis and the News. Huey is a big part of one of my more tortured childhood Christmas memories: I once asked for a Metallica album … and received his Sports album instead. Boo, Huey! Boo! Tickets are $105 to $125. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of intriguing December offerings. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, former Supertramp vocalist and songwriter Roger Hodgson will be performing. He wrote most of Supertramp’s most well-known hits, which have sold more than 60 million records, so this should be a pretty good show. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 91 and 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10; and 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11, Spotlight 29 will be hosting its Winter Gathering Pow Wow. This Native American custom includes dancing, singing, visiting and the renewing of old friendships. This event is free and family friendly.Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566www.spotlight29.com.

After an epic summer, Morongo Casino Resort Spa’s entertainment schedule has slowed down just a bit—but there are a couple of great December shows worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, Morongo will be opening the Drum Room, a new bar and lounge on the 26th floor of the hotel. The grand opening will feature some great cocktails and appetizers in the venue, which has great leather seating and huge windows offering stunning views of the desert. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, there will be a performance by the Charlie Daniels Band. If you’ve never seen the Charlie Daniels Band, trust me: Mr. Daniels puts on one hell of a show, even though he’s 80 years old and has survived prostate cancer—with a pacemaker installed in his chest to boot. He was a highlight of Stagecoach in 2013. Given this is Christmas, you can expect some Christmas tunes mixed into his Southern-rock set. Tickets are $25 to $35. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some events in December you shan’t miss. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, Hanni El Khatib (upper right) will be returning to Pappy’s after a stunning sold-out show earlier this year. Hanni El Khatib denied being a blues man when I interviewed him last year, but blues and hard rock are definitely part of his sound. This show is a must-see. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 22, it’s locals’ night when The BrosQuitos and Yip Yops play Pappy and Harriet’s. This is a much-deserved gig for both local bands—groups with bright futures ahead of them. Admission is free. After the presents have been opened, and the holiday hangover has set in, get yourself to Pappy’s at 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 26, for the Evangenitals. The Evangenitals is one of the best bands to see when you’re sad—because you’ll enjoy a lot of laughs at the no-holds-barred humor. Oh, and be sure to stay until the end when the band does its own personal rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Admission is blessedly free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has a fine December schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9,and Saturday, Dec. 10, the Kinsey Sicks will be bringing a holiday show, “Oy Vey in a Manger!” to the Purple Room. The Kinsey Sicks is known as “America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet” and is named after the Kinsey scale—with six meaning “exclusively homosexual.” Formed in 1993 in San Francisco, the group has earned a reputation as one of the LGBT community’s most entertaining and hilarious groups. Tickets are $30 to $45. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, the Martini Kings will be performing. Back in October, when I was at Pappy and Harriet’s for Paul McCartney’s show, I had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Marsico of the Martini Kings. He was once a sideman for Bob Dylan, and he told me some fascinating stories from those days. The Martini Kings have a sound that modernism fans will love—and the group should turn in a great Christmas show. Tickets are $25. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has announced a December show you’ll want to mark down on your calendar. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, Dali’s Llama will be performing, along with other great bands such as Supersonic Dragon Wagon; an old group including Zach Huskey of Dali’s Llama, Hot Beat Pussy Fiend; and Sleazy Cortez. Admission is free! The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Date Shed has one event in December worth mentioning. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2, there will be a performance by Too Short (below). During the ’90s, when the whole East Coast-West Coast rap thing was going full-force, one man worked with both 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G.—and that was Too Short. While his lyrics are about pimping not being easy (Has it ever been easy?), and “bitch” is nothing but a word to him, he’s a legend of the genre. Tickets are $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe Street, Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

Wayne Newton has seen his fair share of controversy and financial problems over his nearly six-decade career. However, Mr. Las Vegas is still standing—and will be bringing his Vegas swagger to Morongo Casino Resort and Spa on Friday, Dec. 2.

During a recent phone interview, I asked him what makes him still love singing.

“I think it’s the fact I’ve done it my whole life,” Newton said. “When I was 4 years old, my parents took me to see a Grand Ole Opry roadshow that had come to Norfolk, Va., which is where I’m from originally. On the show was Hank Williams and many of the other greats of country music. We were way up in the nosebleed section, given my father was an auto mechanic, and we couldn’t afford better seats than that. I couldn’t even see the performers. I found myself looking around at the faces of the audience, and I saw the happiness that they were deriving from those performers and those songs. I turned to my mother and said, ‘That’s what I want to do!’ I wanted to bring that kind of happiness to people myself. I think that’s what’s always been my motivating force.”

What about days when Wayne Newton feels under the weather? He said experience helps him pull through.

“I think that from the work ethic that I had to develop at such a young age, singing in the lounges in Vegas at the age of 15—six shows a day, six days a week—I kept learning different instruments to provide me with some vocal relief,” he said. “The one thing I learned is that’s when you earn your money—when you go onstage, and you’re not feeling good. I’ve always had a rule with my musicians: Being sick is OK, but if you’re not in the hospital, you’d better be onstage. There’s no question that it’s taxing when you don’t feel well.”

Newton has been revered as a singer and entertainer, but he’s never been known for songwriting and putting out original material—and he’s OK with that. He mentioned a song that he did about Elvis, based on a letter written by Elvis that Newton bought through a Sotheby’s auction.

“That’s never been something that’s motivated me as much as doing songs that I love to sing, and songs that bring happiness to the people,” he said about songwriting. “I am not one of those performers who would be happy walking out on stage and going, ‘And then I wrote, and then I wrote, and then I wrote.’ I have always wanted to do what people wanted to hear. I wrote a song called ‘The Letter’ which went No. 1 on the country chart, and that was fun, and I still get requests to do that song, but it’s such a downer, because I wrote it after Elvis Presley died.”

Speaking of Elvis: Newton was not only a fan, but a close friend.

“When I met him, he was so unassuming and the first one to find humor in what people thought of him,” Newton said. “He never took himself seriously in any way. We became really good friends and remained friends until the day he passed away. His father called me the night that he did pass and told me when I was working at the Frontier in Vegas.”

There’s no doubt that Newton still loves Las Vegas, even with all of the changes the city has gone through.

“I think it will continue to change. It certainly has changed in the years I’ve been here since I came here in 1959,” he said. “When I came here, it was Frank, Sammy, Dean and Elvis. I got put into the mix somewhere in there. Then as some years passed, and those people passed, there were fewer real stars who could fill the showrooms. The shows and the management of the hotels turned to a different idea. The first idea was the magicians; that went on for about 10 years. Then it went through the impressionist stage with Danny Gans, Rich Little and people like that who were doing impressions of other performers. Now we’re going through the Cirque faze. But in the last four or five years, it has started to go back to star policy again. … Now we have Celine Dion, J-Lo, Britney Spears, Elton John and all of them are doing two weeks and coming back a year later doing another two weeks. They’re doing permanent stays in the hotels they’re in. The star performer is coming back, and it’s full circle. It’ll probably last five to 10 years, and they’ll move on to something else.

“Thank god there’s always been room for me! The thing I love about Vegas is that there’s room for every kind of show. It doesn’t matter what it is. Where else could you go around the world and find that many shows and that many stars on one street on any given night? The sound systems are great; the show rooms are great; and the lighting is great.”

Regarding his problems in the business and financial world, he offered some perspective.

“As I was coming up in the business and working as many nights as I worked, we had to depend on managers and business managers,” he said. “Those people took great advantage of the performers, including myself. There’s no one to blame but yourself in so many ways. On the other hand, when you are a performer who is recording, doing television and motion pictures, and performing in nightclubs, you don’t have the time to consider the true business end of it, and you have to turn it over to someone to trust—and finding people to trust when it comes to money is a very difficult thing to do.”

Wayne Newton will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2 at Morongo Casino Resort and Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. Tickets are $55 to $65. For more information, call 800-252-4499, or visit www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Published in Previews

The holiday season is approaching, as are cooler temperatures—and hotter events, now that season is back in swing.

The McCallum Theatre has a busy schedule in November, with a number of great events to consider. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2, you’ll be singing “Urgent,” because Foreigner will be performing. Foreigner is one of the world’s best well-known rock bands, with 16 Top 30 hits, 75 million records sold and great songs such as “Dirty White Boy,” “Feels Like the First Time” and many others to its credit. Tickets, if there are any left by the time you read this, are $47 to $97. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5, bossa nova and jazz great Herb Alpert will take the stage alongside his wife, Lani Hall. Herb Alpert has made some great records in his long career, and many of them are now Latin and American music staples; Alpert is credited with bringing the Latin side to American jazz in a truly innovative way. Tickets are $37 to $77. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, be ready to say, “Oh myyyyy,” because George Takei will be appearing. Of course, Takei is known for his iconic role as Sulu on Star Trek, but he’s also a hilarious Internet celebrity, and on a serious note, he’s known for speaking emotionally about his family’s imprisonment in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Tickets are $37 to $97. But wait, there’s more: At 3 and 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 20, The Beach Boys will be performing. I admit that I’m not a fan of the current inception, which does not include creative genius Brian Wilson and Al Jardine. The current lineup is fronted by the Wilson brothers’ cousin, Mike Love, who has been scorned by many original Beach Boys fans. But if you’re feeling nostalgic, go ahead and check it out. Tickets are $67 to $97. Be sure to check out the McCallum’s online schedule for more events. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is rocking into November. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5, white-boy soul-singer Robin Thicke will be stopping by. Remember him? He had that song called “Blurred Lines” that was all over the place a few years ago that so resembled Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” that Thicke wound up in court. Thicke bottomed out pretty hard in 2014 when his follow-up to the Blurred Lines album, Paula, only sold about 30,000 copies. Watch as Thicke tries to get a comeback going. Tickets are $59 to $99. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, Culture Club (upper right) will finally be coming to the desert. The band announced a tour in 2014 that was slated to kick off at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa—but it was canceled before it began, because Boy George required surgery. You won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $59 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa will host an evening with Sheena Easton at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10. Did you know the Scotland native has sold more than 20 million records during her career? Tickets are $75 to $85. At 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, former Three Dog Night member Chuck Negron will take the stage. The former college basketball player has been performing for more than five decades now! Tickets are $40 to $75. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is offering some laughs in November. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 4, the star of BuzzFeed’s web series Whine About It, Matt Bellassai, will be stopping by. Bellassai had been getting 3.5 million weekly views, but in early 2016, he put his show on hiatus. If you’re looking for a funny Pride related-event, this is the one to pick. Bellassai is infamous for his comedic dialogue about being a single gay man living in the Big Apple. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18, Mr. Fluffy himself, Gabriel Iglesias, will return to the Coachella Valley with his new show, #FluffyBreaksEven. After several appearances in movies, he’s still a stand-up comedy genius and continues to amuse sold-out audiences. Tickets are $65 to $85. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will most likely see a boost in attention from locals and tourists alike thanks to Paul McCartney’s performance there in between Desert Trip weekends. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, there will be a great lineup of desert rockers: Fatso Jetson, Mondo Generator, The Freeks and Glitter Wizard. Fatso Jetson performed at a show at Pappy’s back in April, and I can tell you that the band kicked ass. Tickets are $10. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 26, it’ll get weird when the Meat Puppets and Mike Watt and the Secondmen perform. The Meat Puppets are coming back to Pappy’s after a performance there in 2013; it’s a great band from punk-label SST’s glory days. Mike Watt performed in the Minutemen, who were also on SST in the early ’80s; he’s a phenomenal bass player. I’ve seen Watt play with the Secondmen, and they’re mind blowing. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a show in November you won’t want to miss. At 9 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 23, there will be a special Thanksgiving Eve bash with Mighty Jack, The Sweat Act and 5th Town. This should be a fantastic show. I’ve become a big fan of 5th Town, which includes Long Duk Dong vocalist Chelsea Sugarbritches, and Blasting Echo keyboardist Linda Lemke Heinz. One of my favorites is 5th Town’s song, “Pretty.” Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Date Shed has some nice events taking place this month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 4, Metalachi will be coming back. Metalachi is on to something … performing metal songs in mariachi form? Brilliant! Opening the show will be Gutter Candy and Wyte Gye. Tickets are $10 to $15. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe Street, Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Purple Room is ramping up its schedule for the season. At 6:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, there will be a performance by Kal David and Lori Bono and the Real Deal. Kal David is a legend we’re lucky to have in our local scene. His blues credentials run deep: He’s performed with B.B. King and opened for Stevie Wonder. Tickets are $25. At 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, Branden and James (below) will be performing. Consisting of a cello (James) and a tenor voice (Branden), the duo will be perform everything from Bach to Justin Bieber. Tickets are $25 to $35. The Purple Room Supper Club, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

Morongo wanted the best, and Morongo got the best when KISS stopped by to perform on Sunday night, Oct. 30.

KISS performed in the outdoor tent at Morongo, which has a capacity of about 3,000. It was immediately obvious that this would be a scaled-down show; after all, tents aren’t conducive to over-the-top pyro and members of the band flying around. Also worth noting: This edition of KISS lacks Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, as they were replaced in the early ’00s with Tommy Thayer (guitar) and Eric Singer (drums).

When the lights dimmed and the KISS curtain fell, all four members appeared onstage in their usual makeup, and with the help of some minimal pyrotechnics, they started “Detroit Rock City” and were welcomed with a loud reception. Frontman Paul Stanley acknowledged crowd after a performance of “Deuce,” telling the audience, “As you can see, this is a tent. There’s a lot of things we can’t do, but we can kick some ass,” which got him a loud ovation before “Shout It Out Loud.”

Before playing “Do You Love Me,” Stanley brought up KISS’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2014, saying, “Things have changed a bit in the past couple of years. We’re now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Everyone knows the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame hates KISS, but they have to listen to you, and thank you for making it happen.”

During Gene Simmons’ bass solo, blood came out of his mouth along with that infamous tongue—launching KISS fans into a frenzy before the catchy bass lines started to “God of Thunder.” Ace Frehley was well-known for working to develop the pyrotechnics that shot out of his Les Paul Gibson guitar during KISS’ heyday, and Tommy Thayer continued that tradition during his guitar solo after “Shock Me.”

The most memorable song from the setlist was “War Machine,” which included an animated sequence on the stage’s video monitor of knights going into battle, and Gene Simmons spitting a fireball at the end of the song.

During the encore, I unfortunately developed a sour taste in my mouth as drummer Eric Singer sang a Peter Criss-penned hit, “Beth.” While Singer sang it beautifully, it felt a sacrilegious to keep it in the setlist. Paul Stanley later took a moment to praise America’s military and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance along with an instrumental of the “Star Spangled Banner,” before closing out the night with “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

While I applaud Morongo Casino for upping their game and landing some amazing acts including KISS, this show proved that it would be ideal for the casino to build a proper concert venue. The tent does not have great acoustics, and a few people told me the music actually sounded better outside of the tent.

It’s obvious that KISS remains a popular draw, and remains one of America’s greatest rock ’n’ roll bands.

Setlist

Detroit Rock City

Deuce

Shout It Out Loud

Do You Love Me

I Love It Loud

Flaming Youth

God of Thunder

Psycho Circus

Shock Me

Cold Gin

Lick It Up

War Machine

Love Gun

Black Diamond

Encore

Beth

The Star-Spangled Banner

Rock and Roll All Nite

Published in Reviews

During the ’70s, KISS captured the attention of teenagers worldwide, appearing on lunchboxes and as action figures—all while selling millions upon millions of records.

After longer than four decades, the band remains a big deal. KISS will be performing at Morongo Casino Resort and Spa on Sunday, Oct. 30.

KISS was truly innovative, with four distinct and powerful personalities in its early days. In fact, all four members recorded their own solo albums in 1978. During a recent phone interview, frontman and guitarist Paul Stanley said that when KISS first started out, those strong and different personalities led to some difficult times—which in turn led to the departure of both Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. Original member Gene Simmons, of course, remains in the band.

“I think initially what propelled the band in the beginning was the combustibility of the band,” Stanley said. “The four of us were all so different, but that caused the danger of imploding or exploding. At some point, the chemistry had to change to have the band continue. The thought ‘all for one and one for all’ is great—until it’s not ‘all for one.’ When priorities and egos get out of hand, then, unfortunately, you have to pick a side, and for me, that side is always KISS. If something is a risk to the band, then there needs to be a change.”

KISS has become a huge business and has gone beyond the lunchboxes, pinball machines and action figures. Over the years, the band’s image and name have graced credit cards lottery cards, slot machines and even caskets: Yes, there’s an official KISS casket, in which Dimebag Darrell of Pantera was buried.

When I asked Stanley whether the business side of things takes away from the art side, he was clearly annoyed by the query.

“Maybe a journalist would think so,” Stanley said. “I don’t think so, and the fans don’t. Speaking as objectively as I can, there are people who perhaps like the merchandise, and that’s terrific. There are also people who like the music and don’t like the merchandise.

“A band ultimately can only survive on being a band. If your music isn’t any good, the engine isn’t there. What we do is propelled by being an incredible live band. When people come to see us, I have to say that it, in many ways, is a drive. The people coming to see us are not about demographics. This is the world’s largest cult. It’s really about the people who believe in the same thing, and KISS as a band is life-affirming, and believes in self-empowerment and celebrating life. This is much more timeless than some bands who have fallen by the wayside singing about saving the whales. Everything has its place, but there is a lot of truth in simplicity. What we were once lambasted for in terms of subject matter has stood the test of time, while other things have fallen by the wayside. Merchandising getting in the way of what we do? No! If it ever did, it would be pushed aside. But the two can co-exist very easily.”

Stanley noted that many of KISS’ critics have fallen by the wayside, too.

“I remember early on when some critics would talk about … sliding across the stage or dancing on the piano,” he said. “For us to do it, (that showmanship) was something that was lacking. Those journalists have been recruited into other jobs at this point, if they were lucky, or they’ve fallen off the map. Our success speaks for itself. You can’t thrive for 40 years unless you have something valid to offer.”

Paul Stanley is 64 years old and has had hip-replacement surgery; he’s hinted that a second surgery may be in his future. When I asked how much longer he thinks he can continue his over-the-top stage performances, he implied that he has no plans to slow down.

“It’s far less challenging after a hip replacement. When we’re injured, that’s the issue,” Stanley said. “When we are lucky enough to have medical science or medicine heal us, we’re that much better for it. Twenty-five years ago, I did shows with cracked ribs. That’s just par for the course. I’m Superman with an electric guitar. I’m a superhero; I’m an athlete; and I’m all of those things. I’m in uncharted territory. What I do is unlike anything else. You don’t see basketball players at my age or football players at my age. The rock musicians you see at my age are ready for the rocking chair—and not the rocking music.”

Stanley said his short run as the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera in 1999 in Toronto as an example of his work ethic.

“It was one of the most gratifying and satisfying things I’ve ever done creatively,” he said. “It took enormous discipline and was a completely different technique of singing. In theater, you don’t get to complain about your pinky hurting or showing up late. Rock musicians are a bunch of wusses. You need to go into the theater to see the discipline of being consistent and working toward a high bar, which is a great lesson for everyone. Honestly, for me, it was exactly what I expected, and to attain that was an incredible amount of work. I was getting standing ovations every night.”

I asked what non-original members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer bring to the table and the creative process.

“They are as much a part of this as Gene (Simmons) and I,” he said. “They are part of the heart and soul of this band. They are part of the passion of this band and the integrity of what we do. Every night, I just look around the stage and think this is the band I wanted us to be: Four people who take incredible pride in what they do and want the band to be better. If you make the band bigger, you make yourself bigger. Creatively, Eric is one of the great drummers in rock ’n’ roll. He’s played with everyone from Brian May to Bono to Gary Moore to Tony Iommi. He’s phenomenal. Tommy just blows people away from other bands when they see them. To have these guys ride in this band and in its history is worth its weight in gold. There’s nobody in this band who is a sideman. Everybody in this band pulls their weight and makes everyone work harder.”

Stanley said fans who have been hoping for another KISS reunion with Frehley and Criss—hopes buoyed by Stanley’s appearance on Frehley’s 2016 album, Origins, Vol. 1—need to know it’s not going to happen.

“No, and I find myself at a loss for words there,” he said. “Ace and Peter were part of what made this band possible, and they’re also part of the reason that they couldn’t remain in the band. The band couldn’t survive with them. At this point, I’ve been playing with Eric Singer for over 20 years, and Tommy has been in the band for 13 years. There’s no reason to go backward. I played on Ace’s last album and shot a video with him, and it’s been great to have him in my life. That is more than good enough, and that is a terrific thing in itself.”

The band starts off its live shows with an announcement saying, “You wanted the best; you got the best,” and Stanley promises nothing short of greatness for the upcoming show at Morongo.

“We just did 40 shows in 10 weeks, which is pretty mind-boggling and would be a challenge for anyone to do,” he said. “The band has never sounded better. The band is phenomenal; the setlist is great, and we are everything that you’ve heard and more. We hit the stage every night, not to live up to expectations, but to blow them out of the water, and that’s what we do.”

KISS will perform at 8 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 30, at Morongo Casino Resort and Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. Tickets are $100 to $150. For more information, call 800-252-4499, or visit www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Published in Previews