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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

It’s June, which means that summer is officially arriving. While some venues close or slow down for the summer, there are still plenty of great shows from which to choose this month.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some fine events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 23, Latin-music greats Pandora and Yuri will be performing. They have become world-famous since they started performing music together in the ’80s. The vocal power that these women have is remarkable. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 29, country group Little Big Town will take the stage. Little Big Town performed at Fantasy Springs in 2015 to a packed house—and the electrifying show was one of the best I’ve seen. The group puts on a mind-blowing show no matter the size of the stage. Tickets are $69 to $129. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a nice variety of events. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 1, Mexico’s hilarious comedy duo, Adrian Uribe and Omar Chaparro, aka Imparables, will be performing. Uribe and Chaparro are known for their battle style of comedy that includes numerous colorful characters. Tickets are $55 to $85. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 15, Michael Carbonaro will bring his magic to The Show. On top of his awesome talents as a magician, he’s also an actor who has appeared in Grey’s Anatomy and Another Gay Movie; he also has his own truTV television show, The Carbonaro Effect. Tickets are $25 to $160. At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 30, my favorite annual event, Art Laboe’s Summer Love Jam, will return for its seventh year. I used to listen to the dedication hour of the radio show just to hear the “love and kisses” to people’s loved ones in prison, with names like “Baby Joker,” “Lucky” and “Little Brown Eyes.” Performing at this year’s event will be Peaches and Herb, Manhattans, Deniece Williams, MC Magic, Lighter Shade of Brown, Aalon, and the man himself, Art Laboe. Tickets are $45 to $65. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino’s June calendar includes a couple of heavy hitters. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 2, Banda Los Recoditos will be performing. Banda Los Recoditos, from Sinaloa, Mexico, includes performers with different vocal ranges, as well as a huge brass section. The group was nominated for a Latin Music Grammy in 2010; one of the group’s songs is “Ando Bien Pedo,” which translates as “I Am Very Drunk.” Hey, sounds like a good time to me! Tickets are $59 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 23, Eric Paslay (right) will bring the country. Paslay had a hit song called “Friday Night” that reached No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot Country Chart in 2014. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some big things slated for June, along with appearances by regulars. At 10 p.m., Saturday, June 9, Rancho de la Luna will be celebrating the release of its very own branded mezcal. It seems appropriate, given tequila seems to be the adult beverage of choice at the ranch, seeing as there’s a sculpture outside including a lot of Patron bottles. Performers include Mojave Lords, Bone Acre, Sinner Sinners and some “surprise guests.” Who knows who will show up? Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 23, enjoy the majestic comedic country vibes of Pappy’s regulars The Evangenitals. The group always puts on a show that will make you laugh until it hurts. The Evangenitals recorded an album that tells the entire story of Moby Dick, and created “The Vagina Song,” so you can’t go wrong. Admission is free. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, June 28, Scottish indie-band the Trashcan Sinatras will be performing. If you’re thinking this is some kind of tribute act with a name like that, you’re wrong: Trashcan Sinatras is a fantastic indie-alternative band that has been compared to The Smiths, and the album Cake is considered by some to be a masterpiece. Tickets are $20 to $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is preparing to go on a summer break—but it will be open through the end of June! At 8 p.m., Friday, June 1, R&B and pop performer Jake Simpson will take the Purple Room stage. He’s performed with Stevie Wonder, Adam Lambert, and Earth, Wind and Fire, and he’s been on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 23, the alt-cabaret performers known The Skivvies will perform. The show features musical comedy …performed by Skivvies duo Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley in their underwear. Wow! The “undie rock” stars will also be joined by surprise guests. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 30, it’s the last The Judy Show of the season. It’s performed by Purple Room owner Michael Holmes, in drag as Judy Garland … and others. It’s wild, over the top and one of the most popular regular live events in Palm Springs. 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

Stagecoach celebrated its 10th year in 2016. Since its 2007 debut, it’s become one of the most successful country-music festivals in the world, popular with locals and visitors alike.

But that’s not to say it doesn’t have room to improve.

Stagecoach has had some truly epic moments. I first attended Stagecoach in 2008 as an employee of Borders Books and Music, which was an onsite vendor. The festival was only in its second year—and having The Eagles play was a solidifying moment for the festival. It was to Stagecoach what Daft Punk’s performance in 2006 was to Coachella.

This year’s festival was a definite success. On Sunday afternoon, as EmiSunshine played in the Mustang Tent—moving into the crowd to keep playing for a couple of songs while the power went out across the festival—the Marshall Tucker Band played to a large crowd in the Palomino Tent, while many faithful country-music fans gathered at the Mane Stage for A Thousand Horses and Dustin Lynch. The vibe was palpable as thousands of people walked around and gathered in various places.

But let’s face it: Stagecoach, in many ways, lives in the shadow of its music-festival sibling, Coachella. Coachella has become one of the most talked-about music events in the world, drawing celebrities and attention from every corner of the planet. It has become a preview of/kickoff for the music-festival circuit each year, and bands have come through Coachella and built their careers in large part on a great performance here.

But at Stagecoach? That has not happened yet.

From a local standpoint, Stagecoach stands a step or three behind Coachella as well. Every year, local bands get the honor of taking the Coachella stage, as happened with brightener and The Flusters this year. That’s not the case with Stagecoach. R Buckle Road, a local country band, would be great to hear at Stagecoach. The closest thing I can remember to a local band playing at Stagecoach was the Honky Tonk Angels Band, from the Inland Empire.

Stagecoach also suffers from a lot of repetition. The headliners for the Mane Stage this year included Eric Church and Luke Bryan, who both headlined in 2014—just two years ago. Carrie Underwood, Saturday’s headliner, has now performed at Stagecoach three times.

Meanwhile, many great performers have never taken the stage at Stagecoach. Off the top of my head, Hank Williams III has never played the festival. Ryan Adams has not brought his country sound to Stagecoach, even though he’s played at Coachella, The Dixie Chicks have been performing off and on—but never at Stagecoach. The Lumineers would be great to include at Stagecoach as well as Coachella. Where’s Neil Young? Personally, I’d love to see some of the remaining folk legends such as Joan Baez or Gordon Lightfoot, given folk performers have been included in the past. There many alternative country and indie-folk bands playing at festivals such as the Austin City Limits Festival and SXSW who would do well on the Stagecoach stage.

Still, I have to tip my (cowboy) hat to Goldenvoice for getting legends to Stagecoach. Shows by the late Merle Haggard and the late George Jones are truly worth remembering, and performers such as Wanda Jackson, Ray Price, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Charlie Pride and Billie Joe Shaver have shined. Southern rock bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Charlie Daniels Band and ZZ Top have played to overflowing crowds, as did John Fogerty did this past Saturday.

Still, it’d be nice if Goldenvoice could branch out to attract more indie-country and alternative-country followers to fill the added capacity that has just been approved for Stagecoach.

Stagecoach has had a great 10-year run so far. Here’s hoping that in the years to come, the festival will grow and become even more successful—with more variety.

Scroll down for photos from the final day of Stagecoach 2016, by Kevin Fitzgerald.

This year’s Stagecoach lineup—one of the better slates in recent years, despite the high number of repeat performers—includes a nice variety: big Nashville stars, country legends, and new players in the game. Americana, outlaw country and a bunch of other genres are being mashed together for an unforgettable weekend.

Here are the acts I’ll be sure to catch at Stagecoach.


Friday, April 29

Dale Watson

Hank Williams III has given Watson (right) a nod, as have many other alternative-country bands and outlaw-country purists. Watson is a true outsider and has written songs about his distaste for the modern Nashville country machine that sells millions of records—even though no one is singing real country songs anymore. Well, Watson’s music is the real deal, and while he’s not a big name, he’s loved by alt-country fans and underground/indie music critics. That’s worth something.

Emmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris is often mentioned along with Gram Parsons and Willie Nelson—both because she’s on the same footing as a country-music legend, and because she’s worked with them both extensively. During her early career, she was actually Parsons’ creative partner. She’s won 12 Grammy awards, is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, is an inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and is one of the most influential women in rock ’n’ roll. Need any other reasons to catch her set at Stagecoach?

Robert Earl Keen

He may not be the biggest name, but this guy has written songs that have been covered by the Dixie Chicks, Lyle Lovett, The Highwaymen and many others in country music. Not only is he a fantastic songwriter; he’s one of the Americana music scene’s crown jewels. Dig out some of this guy’s music if you need any more convincing. I am truly excited about the opportunity to see him live.

Eric Church

I was sort of skeptical of the Friday headliner, given he is a big modern Nashville success story. However, he’s one of the few who has earned that success by doing things his own way—a way that, at times, sort of scares people. His band members look like they’d fit right in with some of the nastiest metal bands; his fans wear T-shirts with skeletons flipping the bird that say “Eric Fucking Church” on the back; and his material touts marijuana-smoking, Jack Daniels and Bruce Springsteen. He’s the one headliner I will definitely watch.


Saturday, April 30

Jamestown Revival

Hailing from Magnolia, Texas, this duo sports a name that references one of the first European settlements in what became the United States. These guys are country-music storytellers in the spirit of Willie Nelson, Louis L’Amour, John Prine and others. They have a brand of folk music that meets Americana, and then meets country. As a result, this standout group is starting to build a faithful audience. In the short time they’ve been on the scene, the duo has played at Coachella, Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits. They’re on the path to becoming one of the biggest new things in country music à la Sturgill Simpson and Shovels and Rope, so be sure to check them out.

Langhorne Slim and the Law

It’s hard to believe this guy has been around since 1999 and has toured with the Avett Brothers, Violent Femmes, Old 97’s and many other big name acts—yet he remains an independent artist. He’s probably one of the best modern-day songwriters, yet not that many people know about him. This is someone you’ll definitely want to put on your list; whether you’re going for the Big Nashville bands or the Americana and alternative-country acts, you’ll agree that he belongs at Stagecoach. Also: Do the music world a solid by buying some of his merchandise and telling your friends about him.

Pokey LaFarge

Pokey LaFarge is to country music as Nick Waterhouse is to rock ’n’ roll: They’re young men who have an appreciation for the old-school style. Pokey hails from St. Louis, performs country-swing music, and expresses distaste for most modern music. He grew up on his grandfather’s music, dresses the part of an old Americana performer, and has a sound that is a throwback to another time—and he pulls it all off brilliantly. He released a record on Third Man Records and was produced by Jack White himself; that alone should give him some credibility.

John Fogerty

Creedence Clearwater Revisited, which just played a show here, is successful and fun to watch. But let’s face facts: John Fogerty was the driving force behind Creedence Clearwater Revival. Fogerty has found success beyond the nasty end to Creedence Clearwater Revival, and he continues to play Creedence songs in his set. Considering there was a lot of Southern influence in the legendary band’s brand of rock ’n’ roll, Fogerty fits in at Stagecoach. In fact, he played a fantastic set at Stagecoach in 2008.


Sunday, May 1

Emi Sunshine

I interviewed Emi Sunshine (below), now 11, for her show at Pappy and Harriet’s last summer, and I was instantly charmed by her Southern accent, her love for old country music, and her fondness for the ukulele. Considering she’s already played the Ryman Auditorium (the former Grand Ole Opry House), has been on national television and has toured the United States extensively, she’s going to be a hit at Stagecoach.

The Marshall Tucker Band

When it comes to Southern rock, the Marshall Tucker Band is a name that always comes to mind. “Can’t You See” and “Heard It in a Love Song” are Southern-rock staples and continue to be played on radio stations across the country. While the band has endured a lot of lineup changes, frontman Doug Gray is keeping the group going strong. Word is the band is still great live.

The Doobie Brothers

The Doobie Brothers seem sort of out of place at Stagecoach—but that’s not a bad thing. Numerous acts have been considered out of place at Stagecoach in the past, including Don McLean and The Eagles. This is one of best rock bands of all time, and there’s no doubt the group will turn in a great performance at Stagecoach.

Little Big Town

I reviewed Little Big Town’s show at Fantasy Springs last fall, and while I’m not usually a fan of the Nashville sound, Little Big Town put on a marvelous performance that was energetic and nearly flawless. This is a great live band, and songs such as “Little White Church” and “Girl Crush” will likely get an enthusiastic crowd response. They are the one “Mane Stage” act I highly recommend; you won’t be disappointed.

Published in Previews

Back in July, Little Big Town was scheduled to perform at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. Just a couple of weeks before the scheduled July 3 show, the quartet released a statement saying Jimi Westbrook needed surgery to remove a polyp from one of his vocal chords.

Little Big Town said the band would reschedule all of the cancelled shows—and the group made good on the promise to perform at Fantasy Springs, on Friday night, Sept. 11

The night began with an opening performance from Ashley Monroe. Monroe has had a lot of success in her brief career. The Nashville star has a side project known as the Pistol Annies with Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley, and has performed with Jack White and Third Man Records. Unfortunately, her performance was a little flat on Friday. There wasn’t much to her sound at times, and some of her live material just didn’t impress.

When Little Big Town took the stage, the nearly sold-out crowd at Fantasy Springs was quickly on its feet and roaring as the group kicked off the set with “Day Drinking.” Jimi Westbrook obviously had a quick recovery from his surgery; he was right on harmony with Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Roads Schlapman and Phillip Sweet.

Little Big Town’s live show is excellent, energetic and well-rehearsed. Whether the group is singing a country ballad or performing a song with a kick, the members play exceptionally well together. They know how to work the crowd—and the crowd responds right back, with loud ovations, clapping and singing along.

All of the songs seemed flawless, yet some stood out, especially “Little White Church,” “Sober,” “Girl Crush,” “Tornado,” “Stay All Night” and “Boondocks.” During “Girl Crush”—a newer song that was pulled from some radio stations over lyrics that could be taken as promoting lesbianism—the audience showed no problems or discomfort. “Stay All Night” lived up to its name; the band could have done just that, and the entire audience probably would have stayed to listen.

“Boondocks” was a perfect closer, performed as the band said goodbye while the lyrics were shown on the onstage video wall.

Setlist

  • Day Drinking
  • Quit Breaking Up With Me
  • Front Porch Thing
  • Pain Killer
  • Bones
  • Faster Gun
  • Little WhiteChurch
  • Bring It on Home
  • Tumble and Fall
  • Smokin’ and Drinkin’
  • Sober
  • Your Side of the Bed
  • Live Forever
  • Turn the Lights On
  • Stay All Night
  • Tornado
  • Pontoon

Encore

  • Girl Crush
  • Boondocks
Published in Reviews