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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

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.

The month of December is full of holiday magic—and many of the local venues are bringing in great holiday-themed shows, along with other worthy acts.

The Palm Springs Festival of Lights starts at 5:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. It’s a huge parade on Palm Canyon Drive featuring floats, marching bands and other special participants. Past guests have included the Budweiser Clydesdales, Snoopy and the Gang, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Attendance is free. 760-323-8276; www.psfestivaloflights.com.

The newly formed Modern Men, the Coachella Valley Men’s Chorus, is holding an inaugural concert at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs. There will be a second performance at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Tickets are $20. The chorus is also asking those who attend to bring a nonperishable food item to donate to the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s NestEggg Food Bank. Temple Isaiah, 332 W. Alejo Road, Palm Springs; 760-992-5109; www.modernmen.org.

The Classic Club in Palm Desert will host a special fundraiser thrown by Opera Arts and the Steinway Society for their children’s music programs in the Coachella Valley. For the Children starts at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8, with a wine-and-cheese reception; it’s followed by a sit-down dinner at 7:15 p.m., and a musical presentation at 8:15 p.m. with Shana Blake Hill and Gregorio Gonzalez. Tickets are $125. 75200 Classic Club Drive, Palm Desert; 760-323-8353; www.operaartspalmsprings.org.

The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus will be performing their holiday concert “With Bells On” at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, and 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Palm Springs High School Auditorium. They say they’re going to be performing a mix of sentimental, spiritual, humorous and classical songs. Tickets are $25 to $50. 2401 E. Baristo Road; www.psgmc.com.

The city of Palm Springs is hosting yet more special events at Forever Marilyn. The free Forever Marilyn Holiday Concert Series will take place at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21, and 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 22. The performers include Celine Dion tribute performer Brigitte Valdez, Just Like That and local band New Sensations. 101 N. Palm Canyon Drive; www.visitpalmsprings.com.

The McCallum Theatre certainly is the place to be during the month of December. The McCallum will host The Ten Tenors for five shows, Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8. The Australian musical ensemble is well known for choral covers of Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” as well as other pop and rock classics. Here, they will be performing an all-new show of holiday classics. Tickets are $25 to $95. Willie Nelson will be making a stop at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 17. The Red Headed Stranger is still going strong at 80 years of age; he’s still doing what he can to help out farmers through his Farm Aid concerts; and, yes, he’s still advocating for the legalization of marijuana. Tickets are $60 to $100. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Of course, the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some fine holiday shows on tap in December. Jazz saxophonist Dave Koz will be performing a Christmas show at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14. He’ll be bringing special guests Oleta Adams, Jonathan Butler and Keiko Matsui. Tickets are $40 to $60. If you’re suffering from a Christmas hangover, Chris Isaak can help at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27. While Isaak is a well-known actor with roles in Little Buddha, The Silence of the Lambs and The Informers, he’s also a brilliant recording artist with a music career that goes back almost 30 years. Tickets are $40 to $75. At 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Agua Caliente will be hosting Danny Bonaduce’s ex-wife, Gretchen Bonaduce, and her band, The Fatal ’80s. I don’t know what to make of a woman who divorces Danny Bonaduce and continues to keep that last name, but more power to her! Tickets are $25. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will be hosting Mannheim Steamroller (right) at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Not to be confused with the near-heavy-metal, prog-rock Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mannheim Streamroller is also known for holiday shows full of MIDI-sounding keyboards and an electronic-symphony sound. Tickets are $39 to $69. America’s Got Talent star Jackie Evancho will be appearing at Fantasy Springs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14. Evancho, now 13, won the hearts of America during the fifth season of the show and finished as the runner-up—sparking outrage among her fans who felt she should have won the competition over Michael Grimm. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino is hosting the Winter Gathering Pow Wow from Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8. The pow wow will include Native American tribes from across the country sharing clothing, dances, songs, arts, crafts and food. There will also be a drum and dance contest. Hours are 7 to 11 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6; 1 to 11 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7; and 1 to 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8. Admission is free. The Spinners, a legendary Motown R&B group, will be making a stop at Spotlight 29 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 28. Most of the original members of the Spinners are not active, but original member Henry Fambrough remains. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Stayin’ Alive, a tribute to the Bee Gees, will ring in 2014. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a solid schedule for December. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13, Charo will be performing. The Spanish-American actress known for both her campy comedy and her flamenco-guitar music is still going strong—and she’s a huge hit in the LGBT community. Tickets are $20 to $29. Hiroshima plays at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 20. The Japanese-American act was a hit in the ’70s in the electric-jazz scene, and even performed as the opening act for Miles Davis. While the band has gone through several lineup changes, Dan Kuramoto, June Kuramoto and Danny Yamamoto are still around. Tickets are $15 to $20. Morongo’s Vibe Nightclub will host a New Year’s Eve Party at 10:30 p.m. The Dazz Band will be performing their high-energy R&B to bring in 2014. Tickets are $25, or $40 on the day of the show. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s will be hosting Dengue Fever (the band, not the virus) at 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7; the show is one of the highlights of an absolutely packed month for the Pioneertown venue. The Los Angeles band is known for combining Cambodian pop music with psychedelic rock—a unique and eccentric combination. If that wasn’t enough, Jesika von Rabbit from Gram Rabbit will be the opening act, performing under the moniker JVR. Tickets are $10. Pappy’s will be throwing a New Year’s Eve concert featuring the blues-rock sound of the Paul Chesne Band. Doors open at 6, and tickets are $5. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert has established itself as a hot place to be, especially after November’s show with Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. Rick Thorne and his band Thorne will play at 10 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6. Thorne is one of the most-recognizable BMX riders around today—but he also puts on an excellent show as a punk-band frontman. Attendance is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21, The Hood will host Strung Out. The Simi Valley band has been performing its brand of punk since 1992 and has been on Fat Wreck Chords since its debut, Another Day in Paradise, in 1994. There’s talk of a new record coming out in 2014. Given the intimate size of The Hood, Strung Out should be another wild show. The cost is $10 at the door for those 21 and older; or $15 for those 18 to 20. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com.

Clinic Bar and Lounge in Palm Springs is picking up steam with a regular schedule of music nights. On Thursdays at 9 p.m., Symara Stone hosts Spotlight, a local talent showcase. A variety of performers bring their own instruments, and it’s guaranteed to be a good time. On Wednesday nights at 10 p.m., Derek Gregg and Sean Poe, now known as the Hive Minds, are putting on a show. Considering the quality of Derek’s originals, it’s not a surprise he’s continuing to make a name for himself in the local music scene. Clinic Bar has a lot more to offer with regular DJ sets by talented people including Independent resident DJ Alex Harrington (aka All Night Shoes) and various other music nights. Admission is free. Clinic Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-864-4119; www.clinicbarps.com.

The Purple Room in Palm Springs is back, and the Rat Pack-inspired lounge is now hosting a regular schedule of shows. The Judy Show, a comedy and song show, will take place on Sunday nights at 9:30. Tickets are $20. The Gand Band will perform on Friday and Saturday nights at 9 p.m. The cost is $10. The Michael Holmes Trio will perform on “No Cover Wednesday” nights from 6:30 to 9 p.m., and Machin’ will be bringing the Spanglish Jive every Thursday at 7 p.m.; there is no cover. Watch the website for yet more shows. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Below: Strung Out: The Hood, Dec. 21.

Published in Previews