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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

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.

Published in Previews

The kids are back in school. The days are getting shorter. It’ll officially be fall this month. And while the temps are still hot, so are the events.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting some shows that are out of this world. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 8, country singer Martina McBride will be stopping by. She’s a powerhouse in modern country music. She’s sold 18 million records, with 20 Top 10 singles, and six No. 1 hits. You don’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $49 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, it’ll feel like the ’90s again when TLC (right) and En Vogue perform. Both of these all-women R&B groups were pretty spectacular back in their day. TLC has sold 70 million records and was one of the most recognizable music groups of the ’90s. One of my guilty pleasures is the song “No Scrubs”; yes, I know all the words and will sing along when it comes on the radio. En Vogue was another ’90s great; “Free Your Mind” was a great jam. The group just released its first album in 14 years, scoring them a hit song. Wow! Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa goes into September with a great schedule. First, do you love Prince? If so, you’re in luck! At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1, Purple Reign: The Prince Tribute Show will be come to The Show. I watched this band’s sound check when the group was performing at the Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs—and was blown away by how good the band sounded. The group goes all out and even includes songs from Morris Day and the Time. Tickets are $20 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, classic-rock iconic band Styx will be performing. While Styx has received a lot of crap from critics, the band is beloved by a fan base of dedicated die-hards, and is one of the most successful touring bands in America. Tickets are $55 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29, enjoy An Evening With Mel Brooks. The man himself will reflect on his life and his career as an actor, writer, producer and director. At 92 years old, with works such as Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs and The Producers to his credit, he’ll have quite a bit to talk about. Tickets are $75 to $145. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

If you love Latin music, Spotlight 29 Casino has you covered. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, Mexican-American singer Marisela will be performing. Before Selena took Latin music by storm, there was Marisela. A native of Los Angeles, she released her first album when she was just 18 and has been going ever since. She’s a popular performer in Mexico and is also a hit in America with Latin-music lovers. Tickets are $50 to $100. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, norteño legend Ramon Ayala will take the stage. He’s considered the “King of the Accordion” and is a legendary Mexican musician; he has four Grammy Awards, too. Tickets are $40 to $60. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is getting back into the swing of things. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, and 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, that reliable all-male revue is coming back to town—Australia’s Thunder From Down Under. I’ve run out of things to say about them, so I’ll just tell you to look them up online and check out the pictures of them. If you like … go. Tickets are $25. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, get ready to journey back to the ’80s … because this lineup is the most ’80s thing I’ve ever seen: Boy George and Culture Club, the B-52s and the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey will be performing. Yeah, that’s quite a lineup. Tickets are $79 to $149, and as of our deadline, they were looking pretty scarce. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has had an amazing summer, and the September schedule continues the trend. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, desert-rock legend Sean Wheeler will be playing with his band Reluctant Messengers. Wheeler released his solo album Sand in My Blood in 2017. While it doesn’t have the over-the-top, crazy-fun sound of Throw Rag, it does have his impressive takes on country, folk, gospel and soul. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, Joshua Tree’s own Gene Evaro Jr. will be performing an outdoor show. He has traveled across the country and opened for acts such as Blues Traveler; it’s only a matter of time before he catches his big break. He’s a talented musician and a gifted songwriter. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 27, The Breeders (below) will arrive. It’s a band that features Kim Deal of Pixies; the group released great music back in the ’90s that was not wildly successful commercially, though it earned acclaim and praise. As of deadline, tickets were still available, but that’s most likely to change. Tickets are $35. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is back from its summer hiatus. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 2, The Judy Show will return to its weekly slot. It’s a fabulous show starring Judy Garland impersonator and Purple Room proprietor Michael Holmes. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, get out the thick black glasses for the Buddy Holly Tribute with Southbound and Company. This show has been popping up on occasion, and I’ve always been interested in going to check it out as a Buddy Holly fan. Maybe I will this time! Tickets are $25 to $30. At 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29, actress and singer Renee Olstead will take the stage. Olstead has had an impressive career in film, television and music. Her musical abilities caught the attention of producer/composer David Foster, who opened the door to her musical career. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa Palm Springs kicks off September with a special show: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1, country music performer Ty Herndon will return to the Copa stage. Herndon’s country music career includes 17 singles on the Billboard chart, including three songs that reached No. 1. A career slump and problems with drugs and alcohol followed, before he came out as gay in 2014. Fortunately, he’s back to performing and releasing albums again. Tickets are $25 to $35. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

The Ace Hotel Palm Springs has a great September schedule, but one event stands out: At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21, British psychedelic-pop legends The Zombies will perform an acoustic set, and founding members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone will do an interview during a live taping of the podcast The Trap Set with Joe Wong. Tickets are $30 to $75. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

Published in Previews

It’s that wonderful and crazy time of the year again: The holiday season is upon us, and you’re probably looking to celebrate with some fun events. With that in mind, here’s your final Blueskye Report for 2017.

The McCallum Theatre always brings great holiday cheer in December. At 3 and 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2, the mostly instrumental prog-rock-meets-pop-meets-synth-meets-classical project known as Mannheim Steamroller will be returning with its holiday show. Mannheim Steamroller has selling out venues doing this for 30 years, so don’t miss it if you’ve never seen it before. Tickets are $47 to $87. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 3, don’t miss All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914. This is one of the best-known true holiday tales in history, about the Christmas when Allied and German soldiers decided to call for a temporary truce during World War I. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, comedian Tom Dreesen will be performing his show An Evening of Laughter and Memories of Sinatra. As Frank Sinatra’s opening act for 14 years, Dreesen has stories that will be great to hear. Tickets are $27 to $67. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is definitely in the holiday spirit. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2, Alaskan folk-singer Jewel will be performing as part of her Handmade Holiday Tour. She’s put out two albums’ worth of Christmas music that have been well-received. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, jazz-legend Tony Bennett will return to Fantasy Springs. What can be said about Tony Bennett that hasn’t been said already? This show will most likely come with Christmas tunes as well! Tickets are $49 to $99. If you want a little more swing in your Christmas step, you’re covered: At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 22, the Brian Setzer Orchestra will be performing. This is the 14th year that Brian Setzer has set out on his famous Christmas tour. I caught his Christmas show a couple of years ago, and I can tell you that it’s a lot of fun, featuring Christmas music as well as the Brian Setzer classics that you love. 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 solid schedule during the month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 1, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies (upper right) will take the stage. Expect the outspoken Jefferies’ career to continue to rise while Trump is president; his Comedy Central talk show was recently renewed for a second season. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 5 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 3, Dance to the Holidays will take place, featuring Dancing With the Stars Mirrorball champions Tony Dovolani and Karina Smirnoff. The event will also include finalists from American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. This is one big mess of holiday awesomeness! Tickets are $45 to $75. If you’re looking for a festive way to bring in 2018, look no further, because at 10:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 31, KC and the Sunshine Band will be performing. With disco hits you know and love such as “Get Down Tonight” and “That’s The Way (I Like It),” you’re guaranteed a great time. Tickets are $75 to $95. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has some fine shows on the schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 1,’70s rock band Ambrosia will be performing. The group has been nominated for five Grammy awards and is responsible for hit songs “How Much I Feel” and “Biggest Part of Me.” Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, country music superstar Clint Black will take the stage. He’s had more than 30 country-music hits—ְand performs some Christmas music as well, so expect to hear some of that country Christmas twang. Tickets are $35 to $55. Do you like to party? Of course you do, so you won’t want to miss the New Year’s Eve celebration at 8 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 31 when Gap X—The Band performs. The group includes six original members of the Gap Band, famous for songs such as “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and “Outstanding.” Tickets are $35 to $55. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a couple of holiday offerings for December that aren’t yet sold out (at least as of our press deadline). At 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, enjoy a holiday “sleigh ride toy run” with ’80s metal bands Slaughter and Great White. Tickets are $17.50 to $20. At midnight, Sunday, Dec. 10, the “sleigh ride toy run” continues with Vixen and Autograph, both from the ’80s metal world. Vixen is an all-female band that proved they could play metal just as good as men. You might remember Autograph for the song “Turn Up the Radio,” which was featured on the Hot Tub Time Machine soundtrack. Tickets are $17.50 to $20. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some good events to consider. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, singer-songwriter Terry Reid will be performing. When I interviewed Terry a couple of years ago, he told me a variety of hilarious stories, including one about the time when Chuck Berry stole his amplifier while he was on tour with the Rolling Stones. Yes, Terry is a legend—and tickets are just $15. At 9:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, stoner-rock band Fu Manchu will take the stage. If you’re a fan of desert rock and love fuzzy guitars, sweet riffs and that funny stuff kids are smoking, you’ll love Fu Manchu. Advice: Don’t forget your ear plugs. Tickets are $15 to $18. At 8:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 22, the Supersuckers (below) will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. Eddie Spaghetti seems to have won his battle with cancer, so the band is still kicking ass and taking names. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs will have a fun month full of holiday events. At 7 p.m., every Sunday in December, Michael Holmes will be doing his holiday themed Judy Show. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 1, enjoy a holiday show by Kate Campbell and the Martini Kings. I chatted with Martini Kings frontman Anthony Marsico last year on the patio at the Paul McCartney show at Pappy and Harriet’s, and enjoyed his stories about playing with Bob Dylan. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 22, get out your blue suede shoes when Scot Bruce performs his Elvis-themed Blue Suede Christmas! show. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa Nightclub has some fun shows slated for the month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2, and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 3, Steve Grand will take the stage. He’s the young gay singer who rocketed to stardom when his song “All-American Boy” went viral on YouTube. Tickets are $35 to $55. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, Ty Herndon will perform. The country star enjoyed big success with a couple of gold records in the 1990s, and came out of the closet in 2014. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 23, Frenchie Davis will return to the Coachella Valley. Fun fact: The alumnus of both American Idol and The Voice has had several successful singles, but has not yet released a full album. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

New: So Cal-Based Chain Luna Grill Opens Its Doors in Palm Desert

Luna Grill claims to be “one of the country’s hottest fast-casual concepts.” While we are not sure exactly what that means, we are sure that the 39th and newest Luna Grill is located in Palm Desert, at 73405 Highway 111, in Palm Desert—and we’re also sure that the Mediterranean-style food being served there is pretty darned delicious.

Independent contributor Kevin Fitzgerald and I were fortunate enough to attend a pre-opening training-day lunch at Luna. I ordered the chicken kabob and gyros plate ($14.95) while Kevin had the chicken wrap ($9.50), and we split the handcrafted spinach pie ($5.25) as a starter. While we had minor quibbles—the chicken in Kevin’s wrap was a little dry, and the rice on my plate needed a bit more flavor—everything was delicious (especially that gyro meat!).

The first Luna Grill opened in 2004, and there are now locations across Southern California, as well as in the Dallas, Texas, area. The company is in a “strategic growth push,” according to a news release, so don’t be surprised to be more locations popping up.

For more information, or to order food online, visit lunagrill.com.


Roc’s Firehouse Grille Cancels NFL Sunday Ticket in Protest of the Protests

On Oct. 4, ROC’s Firehouse Grille, located at 36891 Cook St., in Palm Desert, made an announcement on Facebook: Owner Roland O. Cook was cancelling the restaurant’s subscription to DIRECTV and NFL Sunday Ticket due to the ongoing player protests, during which some players are kneeling during the national anthem.

In the lengthy announcement, Cook—a former firefighter—said that he supported the rights of the players to protest, but that cops and military officers are his friends, and he thinks political divisions are “killing” the country.

“It’s a sure recipe for destroying our children's future,” he wrote. “Damn, can’t you leave politics out of football and just play the game on Sunday? Emphasis on ‘play’ and ‘game.’”

The announcement was followed by hundreds of comments both in support of and opposition to ROC’s decision. The public comment chain is at times moving, at times horrifying (with some definite ignorance and racism here and there), and completely fascinating.

While I disagree in principle with Cook’s decision, I admire his willingness to take a stand for something in which he believes. Beyond that, I’ll leave the pros-and-cons discussion of these player protests—started by Colin Kaepernick, regarding the disproportionate number of deaths of minorities at the hands of law enforcement in this country—for other sections of this newspaper, and simply refer you to www.facebook.com/ROCsFirehouseGrille, where you can read Cook’s announcement and the many, many comments that follow.


In Brief

So long, Appetito. The “Cal-Italian Deli” at 1700 S. Camino Real, in Palm Springs, has closed its doors. A sign went up saying the place would be closed for deep cleaning … and then everything inside disappeared. … Also closed: Palmie French Restaurant, which was located at 44491 Town Center Way in Palm Desert. … And now some good news: Numerous new restaurants continue to open along Highway 111 in Palm Desert. In addition to Luna Grill, the second valley location of Dragon Sushi will soon be opening—if it hasn’t already—at 72261 Highway 111. The original Dragon Sushi, at 82451 Highway 111, in Indio, is wildly popular. Let’s hope this new Dragon Sushi location lasts longer than a short-lived Cathedral City incarnation did three years ago. Search for Dragon Sushi Palm Desert on Facebook for more info. … Just down the street, the second Pokehana is open, at 73405 Highway 111, following in the footsteps of the original location in La Quinta. Learn more at www.pokehana.com. … Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, has hired Alen Badzak as the new executive chef. Badzak’s resume includes stints at the Europa Restaurant at the Villa Royale Inn, The Nest and The New York Company Restaurant. He replaces Jennifer Town, who moved over to Melvyn’s/Ingleside Inn. Learn more at purpleroompalmsprings.com. … Local wine-seller and social club Mood Wine is holding a red-wine tasting at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 15, at Tipper’s Gourmet Marketplace, at 276 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Food bites will be paired with the wines on offer; tickets are $57.30. Find more information and a ticket link at www.facebook.com/moodwinellc. … Mark your calendars: The Palm Desert Food and Wine festival will return March 23-25, 2018. Get tickets or sign up for updates at www.palmdesertfoodandwine.com. … If you don’t want to wait until March for local food-fest fun, no worries: The Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival is slated for Feb. 17, 2018. Head to www.ranchomiragewineandfoodfestival.com for tickets and details.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Hang in there, because summer is almost over. The kids are back in school; it’s starting to feel a little bit like season; and there are plenty of great shows to see.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a full list of September events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 2, former Traffic frontman Steve Winwood will be performing. Traffic is one of the most iconic British rock bands from the ’60s—and Winwood is a legend. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, it’ll be like rain on your wedding day, a free ride when you’ve already been paid, and the good advice you didn’t take when Alanis Morissette stops by. Alanis has had a fascinating career, going from You Can’t Do That on Television to a period as of the biggest pop-stars of the ’90s. Plus, it’s kinda weird that “You Oughta Know” is most likely about her tumultuous relationship with Full House star Dave Coulier. Tickets are $49 to $109. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29, get ready to rock when Tom Jones takes the stage. Yeah … that Tom Jones. Does “It’s Not Unusual” ring any bells? Random factoid: I’m booking a series of shows at The Hood Bar and Pizza, and I asked Charlie Ellis, frontman of local band Mighty Jack, if he would be interested in playing that night. His response: He couldn’t, because he was going to see Tom Jones. Tickets are $49 to $109. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is offering a couple of events that will heat up your September. At 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 15, Styx (right) will be returning to the Coachella Valley. The band just put out a new album titled The Mission—and fans are loving it. Former frontman Dennis DeYoung still is hoping for a reunion, but the band members have seemingly raised their middle finger toward that idea. Tickets are $55 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, Los Tigres del Norte will be performing. Los Tigres del Norte is just as successful as Metallica—only in Latin music; the band has sold 30 million records. That’s pretty impressive! Tickets are $65 to $115. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has some fun shows on Saturdays this month. Norteño music legends Ramon Ayala y su Bravos del Norte will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16. Tickets are $35 to $55. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23, it’ll be the night of the Latin Kings of Comedy, with Manny Maldonado, Joey Medina, Jackson Purdue and headliner Paul Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a huge name in Latin comedy, and he’s appeared in numerous films. He’s probably best remembered for his performances in Born in East L.A. and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. Tickets are $20 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30, get ready for a night of soul with Tower of Power (below). Despite some hardships, the band still lives on, and is known for fantastic live shows. Tickets are $20 to $40. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Beyond the nearly sold-out Thunder From Down Under show (Sept. 8) and the REO Speedwagon concert, which you can read about elsewhere in this issue, Morongo Casino Resort Spa has one more event you won’t want to miss: At 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 10, Bamboo and Morissette Amon will be performing. After watching videos of them doing covers of popular R&B songs such as “What’s Going On” and “Man in the Mirror,” I’ll say this will be a fun Sunday-evening show to take in. Tickets are $50 to $70. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, as always, has a crazy-good calendar. At 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, there will be a fundraiser to help Eagles of Death Metal bassist Brian O’Connor, who is once again battling cancer. On the bill are Chris Goss, Mojave Lords, Mark Lanegan and other special guests. Tickets are $50. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 21, local band Giselle Woo and the Night Owls will take the stage. Giselle is one hell of a performer, and she’s always put on a great show when I’ve seen her. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29, former Old Crow Medicine Show guitarist and banjo player Willie Watson will be appearing. Watson has been performing solo ever since leaving the band in 2011. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room comes back to life in September after taking a couple of months off. Jazz great Diane Schuur kicks things off on Sept. 1 and 2 with two sold-out shows, but there are tickets available for a lot of other great events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, get ready to swing to ’60s music with Kate Campbell and the Martini Kings. The Martini Kings are no strangers to the Purple Room; the band put on a great Christmas show there last year. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 17, Michael Holmes and the Judy Show will be celebrating 10 Years of Dezart Performs: All of the proceeds will go to our good friends at Dezart Performs, one of the valley’s best theater companies. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

The Purple Room at the Club Trinidad became a legendary place to have dinner and watch a performance in the 1960s, thanks in part to appearances by the Rat Pack.

After numerous changes over the years, the Purple Room is under brand-new management, and has gone through a complete makeover in an effort to return the classic venue to its glory days.

Who is in charge of the entertainment aspect of this ambitious effort? None other than Gary and Joan Gand, who handle booking for the venue, and themselves play Friday and Saturday nights at the Purple Room.

The Gand Band’s story starts long before the Gands' arrival here in Palm Springs—back in the city of Chicago.

“We met when we were 17 years old,” said Joan Gand. “Gary was a guitarist in my friend’s band, and I was the keyboardist in another blues band.”

Said Gary: “She was going out with the drummer. I was determined to steal her away from the drummer.”

Responded Joan: “We’ve been together and playing music ever since, and we won’t tell how many years that is.”

The Gands were part of the Chicago blues scene, playing in legendary clubs around Chicago and getting to know some of the well-known Windy City blues musicians.

“In Chicago, the blues for us as musicians was every day,” said Gary Gand. “You go to the liquor store, and you’d see Muddy Waters—he was a local guy. It wasn’t until the Rolling Stones came out later talking about how great Chicago blues was, the Chess (Records) sound and all that stuff, that we really thought it was special, and that wasn’t going on in the rest of the world.”

Blues music definitely runs deep in the Gand’s repertoire.

“It’s the emotion of (the blues),” Gary explained. “Blues is about the hardships that are in your life every day. (In) the great music, whether it’s blues, classical or country, there’s always a story of sorrow. You lost a woman; you lost your castle; you lost a war—there’s a whole religion built around that stuff.

Joan Gand credited a high school friend for introducing her to blues.

“I was taking jazz theory and messing around with improvisation,” she said. “A friend of mine who was two years older than me and had a blues band heard me playing in the music department at school. He said, ‘You should come play in my blues band!’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t know anything about blues,’ and he said, ‘You don’t have to; if you know jazz, jazz is based on blues.’ I went and played in his band, and ever since then, I’ve always been a fan of blues and that whole world. From a keyboardist’s perspective, it’s just great music to play, and I really enjoy it.”

The Gands later headed to Palm Springs, and played regularly at the late, lamented Blue Guitar.

“We ended up coming to Palm Springs because of the modernism thing going on,” said Joan Gand. “With the architecture preservation, all the amazing buildings in town, and the whole town of Palm Springs, we just fell in love with it from the architecture point of view. That’s a hobby of ours, and we collect modernism furniture—and, of course, that fits in with guitars from the era. All that design adds together with the music, so we got deeply involved in that.”

Their favorite local show thus far was put together by the Palm Springs Art Museum at the Bob Hope house.

“We played a fundraiser there, and when we were looking for an area to set up the band, we discovered this huge outdoor fireplace made out of concrete,” said Joan Gand. “They weren’t using it, and it was a warm night, and it actually looked like a giant stage. Imagine a fireplace that big—that a whole band could fit in there.”

Gary added: “When I went into the backyard, it was right off the patio. I said, ‘Oh, look, they got a stage right here.’ I was talking to the house manager, and I asked, ‘What’s that big pile of wood for?’ and he said, ‘That’s for the fireplace.’ I asked him, ‘Where’s that?’ and he said, ‘You’re standing in it.’ I asked, ‘Are you planning to use it tonight?’ He said, ‘No,’ and I said, ‘Great! Then we’ll set up in here in the fireplace.’ That was really fun.”

After playing fundraisers and home shows—one of which included Max Weinberg, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band’s drummer—friends convinced them to seek a new local regular gig. However, it was not easy to do; they said there was not much variety in the local scene, and many venues wrapped up entertainment around 9 p.m.

After some residencies in various local places, they found the Purple Room last season.

“When we played here last year during the season, it was barely making it,” said Joan Gand. “It hadn’t been renovated in a long time; it had been reopened by new management who didn’t know what they needed to do to make it work. We have a lot of fans in Palm Springs, and they would come because there was nowhere to hear this music. It would be just packed in here, and when they tried to do other nights of music, no one would come, because (the other acts) didn’t have a following.”

Gary Gand shared a pet peeve that he and Joan share.

“It was a lot of track acts—people singing around with their computer,” said Gary Gand. “Our policy here is no tracks: It’s live musicians playing live music in front of a live audience. Everything that comes off the stage is someone playing a musical instrument. DJs are great for the late-night dance crowd, but that’s not a substitute for a live band playing music. We’re cool with (DJs), but what we’re not cool with is a guy crooning along to his laptop.”

When Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen, the owners of TRIO, took over management of the Purple Room over the summer—remodeling it and returning food service to the venue—they brought in the Gands to put together a great music program. They have put together residencies that include local band Machin’, jazz musician Michael Holmes, and Barry Minniefield, a singing chef who performs soul music. The Gands have a special musical lineup planned for Modernism Week in February, too.

As a result of the music, the food and the renovated venue, business has been pretty good since the October reopening.

“It’s been very well-received by the public,” said Marchese. “All the old groups are coming out again. For the past six weeks or so, it’s been awesome. We’re 40 percent above what we thought we were going to do.”

Joan Gand said they want to make sure the Purple Room stays true to its roots.

“The main point of everything is to preserve the traditions of live music and roots music,” she said. “If people don’t hear it performed live, it will be forgotten.”

The Purple Room, at the Club Trinidad at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, is open from 3 p.m. to midnight, Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday; and 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday. Live music is featured every night. For more information, including a complete schedule, call 760-322-4422, or visit purpleroompalmsprings.com.