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It’s undeniable: Paul Rodriguez is a pillar of standup comedy.

Rodriguez has drawn the ire of some of his fellow Latino comedians in recent years because of his support of the Republican Party. Party affiliation aside, however, his loyalty to the Latin community runs deep—no question.

Rodriguez will be stopping by Spotlight 29 on Saturday, Sept. 23, as the headliner of the Latin Kings of Comedy Tour, along with Manny Maldonado, Joey Medina and Jackson Purdue.

During a recent phone interview, Rodriguez said that he still enjoys standup, and tries to keep doing it, no matter what other projects in which he’s involved.

“I’ve been preoccupied with a play I’ve been doing that’s getting some attention called The Pitch. It’s funny, but it’s not a standup show,” Rodriguez said. “In between—to pay the bills, and what butters my tortilla—are standup shows. When I do standup, it feels good, and it’s therapy for me.

“It’s the reason why I’m in show business. There’s no danger of me winning an Academy Award or anything like that—maybe an Emmy. … Standup is what I really enjoy. I never feel as free as I do when I’m onstage. It’s like therapy; you get whatever angst you have inside of you out. I try not to burden the people who come to see it with my problems, and they’re not paying for that, but tragedy and comedy are next-door neighbors.”

One of Rodriguez’s closest friends is Cheech Marin, who put Rodriguez, unknown at the time, in his 1987 film Born in East L.A.

“We remain friends to this day, and I talked to him a couple of days ago. Hardly a month goes by when we don’t talk about something,” Rodriguez said. “We were set to do a TV series with Cheech, my son and myself called Three Generations. It inspired the play I’m doing right now. I’ve always looked up to Cheech, and he’s been one of the most generous people I know. Everyone always says I’m the first Latin standup comedian, but in reality, he was. He precedes me, and he’s maintained his presence, and our friendship has endured. When I met him many years ago, he said he had an idea for Born in East L.A., and he promised me a part. He kept his word, and our friendship has remained strong. I look up to him, although physically, I’m taller.”

The absence of positive Latino representations in film and TV has long irked Rodriguez. One of his 1990s HBO standup specials featured a rant about his hatred of the Taco Bell Chihuahua commercials.

“There have been a lot of great Latino films, but if you look at the credits, the stories aren’t being told by us,” he said. “I would rather have a mediocre story than a fabricated story. It’s a syndrome I call, ‘America loves the taco, but they have a problem with Paco, who invented the taco.’ Case in point: Antonio Banderas is a close friend of mine, and he played Pancho Villa. Pancho Villa was not 5 four 4; he was a monster of a man, and he didn’t talk with a lisp, either. It was Hollywood’s idea of it. Marlon Brando played Emiliano Zapata, but there were others who would have made a better Zapata. Hollywood picks and chooses the things that they want. It’s an ongoing struggle. But if I’m the only squeaky wheel, I’m glad to do that. … I was just reading an article on the Associated Press wire (about how) at the entire Emmy Awards, the Latino community is a blank. There are no nominations, no stories, and yet we are the largest minority. How could this be? There was actually more representation of us in the past. Today, we’re hard-pressed to find something.”

He mentioned that he and other Latino actors such as Marin, Gabriel Iglesias and Anjelah Johnson have had deals with studios for TV shows—yet the projects never even made it to a pilot, staying at script level.

“There are 12 African-American TV shows, and we’re out of the picture,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know why, because our numbers keep growing, and our presence in television diminishes, but yet in other art forms, we dominate. Our music is so strong that we have our own Grammys. … These studios don’t have any Latinos in any position to green-light projects. Their idea of a minority helping a minority is always an African-American person who is able to green-light. Now, I’m not insulting or demeaning the African-American struggle; they deserve what they have because they have protested. What I’m saying is it’s our fault that we’re very passive. … It’s bad for our kids when my grandchildren sit down to watch TV, and they only have Dora the Explorer. We shouldn’t be an apparition or a surprise, but it should be like how it is in real life, where you can’t really go anywhere in any major city and not run into a Latino.”

In 1994, Rodriguez directed and starred in the film A Million to Juan. The film tells the story of a man, in the United States illegally with his son and two brothers, who sells oranges; he encounters a mysterious man who gives him a $1 million check, with the condition that he must give all of the money back after 30 days. It remains Rodriguez’s only film-directing credit.

“That is one of my favorite movies, not just because it was one of the only times I directed, and it was profitable,” he said. “That idea came from a Mark Twain (story) that I read in college called The Million Pound Bank Note, and it was based on the idea that a fool and his money will soon be parted. I got that idea, and it’s an American idea, but it fit into the idea of where Latinos are today. Especially with the DACA thing, for example: There are circumstances that happen where legitimate people born in this country, though no fault of their own, are being displaced.

“One of the biggest Latino icons was (longtime Cathedral City resident) Lalo Guerrero, who wrote the music for Zoot Suit, and people don’t know that despite the fact he was born here, the Eisenhower administration deported many people like him to Mexico. Here’s a story that explains that: Lalo Guerrero, who was born in America, had the right to be an American, and yet was deported. People say, ‘Oh, that’s a made up story!’ No, it’s not a made up story! It happened to Lalo Guerrero! The Million Pound Bank Note was an inspiration, but I turned it and Latinized it into something that I knew about. It has found a place in the hearts of a lot of Latinos. Every Cinco de Mayo, I see that movie played, and it has stood the test of time. I’m proud of that movie. That was my graduating thesis just to prove I could do that.”

Rodriguez also talked about one thing that makes his blood boil … something you may hear about in his comedy show.

“Parking tickets: I don’t understand why 25 cents will give you 15 minutes, but if you’re late, you have to pay $50. Those numbers aren’t even in line with the crime: $50 versus a quarter? That’s a higher rate than the mob would give to you! I now understand why meter maids are now internationally disliked. It’s a civil-service job, but I don’t anybody who wants to have a fundraiser to help meter maids, and they’re just working Joes!”

Paul Rodriguez and the Latin Kings of Comedy will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23, at Spotlight 29, 46200 Harrison Place, in Coachella. Tickets are $20 to $35. For tickets or more information, call 760-775-5566, or visit www.spotlight29.com.

Published in Comedy

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

It’s August, which means we’re starting the downhill slide into fall (and the amazing weather that season brings). Meanwhile, there are still plenty of great shows to enjoy.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a couple of events to consider. At 5 p.m., Friday, Aug. 4, Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera of Riverside will square off against Jesus “El Renuente” Soto Karass of Los Mochis, Mexico, in a welterweight-division match that’s part of Golden Boy Boxing. The event will also be broadcast on ESPN. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 18, the legendary Doobie Brothers will return to Fantasy Springs. The band’s name has always amused me, but the music is no laughing matter: It’s great. 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 also has a sports event taking place: At 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 5, get ready for the beatdown … the Gladiator Challenge MMA: Ultimate Beatdown, that is. While the card had not been announced as of my deadline, you can bet the beatdown awesomeness will be … uh, awesome, considering the Gladiator Challenge has been going since 1999, and MMA greats including Dan “The Beast” Severn and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson have participated. Tickets are $40 to $150. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, you’ll be off the wall and asking Annie if she’s OK when the Michael Jackson History Show hits the valley. This is a production by Showtime Australia, and will feature MJ impersonator Dantanio. Tickets are $29 to $59. Speaking of the King of Pop (sort of): Do you love the ’80s? Well, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 19, you’ll be loving Lost ’80s Live, with a lineup featuring Wang Chung, Cutting Crew, Pretty Poison, Naked Eyes, The Flirts, Trans-X, Berlin (right) and Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet, who recently made it known that Spandau Ballet is officially done. Confession: Since I bought my new car a couple of months ago, the SiriusXM radio has been set to the ’80s station almost all the time. Tickets are $45 to $65. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is offering an interesting mix of events in August. First, do you know who really loves reggae music? Independent contributor Guillermo Prieto does—but I’m sure you do, too, and at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 5, there will be a celebration of Bob Marley put on by OneGunn, OneLove. There’ll be good times and good vibes, for sure. Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, you’ll be banging your head with the horns up during the celebration of Metallica put on by Masters of Puppets. The group has received a lot of props from Metallica fans, so don’t miss this one if you, too, are a fan. Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 19, fans of Norteño will be delighted to enjoy the show by Los Tucanes de Tijuana. The band has sold more than 13 million albums! Tickets are $30 to $50. It’ll be ladies’ night at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 25 when Las Vegas production Hunks comes to town. The scantily clad muscle men of your dreams will be strutting across the stage and making you scream! Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a solid August lineup. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 11, R&B crooner Peabo Bryson will be performing. If you were a ’90s kid who loved Disney films and/or had the “pleasure” of singing in your elementary school choir, you know him as one of the voices featured on several huge Disney hits, including “A Whole New World” from Aladdin and “Beauty and the Beast” from Beauty and the Beast. Tickets are $59 to $69. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 24, The Gipsy Kings will take the stage. Although it is a French group, The Gypsy Kings perform salsa, flamenco and other varieties of world music. Tickets are $59 to $69. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 25, Fuel will be performing, with the promise of “special guests.” Fuel was a ’90s radio staple, and songs “Shimmer” and “Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” always had the potential to get stuck in one’s head. Tickets are $28 to $35. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s has the best lineup for music-lovers in August; here are just a few highlights. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 17, Neon Indian (below) will be performing. Neon Indian’s electronic pop anthems are a lot of fun and have been remixed by some big names. If you’ve never heard of the band before, check out the song “Polish Girl.” Tickets are $20. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 24, New York City band Psychic Ills will come to Pappy’s. It’s hard to describe the band’s sound; think psychedelic rock with an experimental vibe. The group has been around since 2003 and has put out five full-length albums. This will be a great show for a summer night! Tickets are $15. And we saved the best for last: Thursday, Aug. 31, through Saturday, Sept. 2, the Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven annual event Campout will be back. In its 13th edition, the event will feature the usual Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker performances, along with appearances by The Dangers, Black Marshmallows, Tribesmen (Take the East Valley kids bowling!) and many others. Tickets are $25 to $100. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

In the 1990s, rappers were not afraid to produce amusing songs. Naughty by Nature made “O.P.P.”; Duice had “Dazzey Duks”; and then there was Sir Mix-a-Lot, with “Baby Got Back.”

On Saturday, July 8, Spotlight 29 will host the Old School Freestyle Festival, with Sir Mix-a-Lot as the headliner. The show will also include Taylor Dayne, Stevie B, Sweet Sensation, Ying Yang Twins, Debbie Deb, Snap!, Pretty Poison and DJ Unk.

During a recent phone interview with Sir Mix-a-Lot, aka Anthony Ray, I was surprised by not only the smooth tone of his voice, but his extensive musical knowledge—and his business acumen. I asked him what he’s been doing in between sporadic live appearances since releasing his last album, Daddy’s Home, in 2003.

“I’ve been doing all kinds of stuff, man,” Ray said. “I do pretty well with publishing and licensing. I have a tech company I started called True Human Interface, and we’re finally close to a first product, so that’s going pretty good. I’ve also been dabbling in some real estate and had bought some things in the down market in 2008 and got out of them now, so that’s looking good.”

Given the current state of the music industry, Ray seems like a genius for not putting all of his eggs into one basket.

“The industry now is so different than back then,” he said. “I’m definitely not a ‘get off my lawn’ kind of guy, but at some point, you have to see it for what it is. The old guys are being stupid, because they don’t want to let their music be posted on any streaming service, but these are the same old fucks who beg people to ‘please play my record for free on the radio.’ I always tell people that I always pitch myself, because in this day and age, it’s not normal in hip hop to be doing pretty well.”

Ray, originally from Seattle, said he loves different types of music. He recorded the song “Freak Momma” with the band Mudhoney for the Judgment Night soundtrack, and he performed and released several songs with the band the Presidents of the United States of America under the name Subset.

“I love music. I’ve never been a one-genre kind of guy,” Ray said. “I love hip hop. I’m crazy about EDM at my age, and then into old-school funk like Parliament-Funkadelic. The only thing I’m not crazy about is straight pop music. It’s always about been rock music with an edge—grunge music, obviously, and stuff like Metallica.

“Me recording with the Presidents of the United States of America years ago was a natural progression. We never released a record, because the old guys with money never gave a shit,” he added with a laugh.

Ray said he felt a little bit out of place in Seattle’s music scene early in his career.

“When I released my first record, Swass, in 1988, there really wasn’t any grunge music,” he said. “Seattle wasn’t musically dormant, because there was music being made; it just wasn’t national. It felt a little strange, and I felt a little guilty, because you had great bands who were just starting to come together. The Soundgardens and the Pearl Jams were just starting to get the momentum going, and I sneak in with this song called ‘Posse on Broadway’ and get a platinum record out of it. But once the grunge movement hit, and people realized Jimi Hendrix was from here, everything started to catch on, and I felt more comfortable.”

Some bands that have come out of the grunge world have said they hate the term “grunge.” Ray said he finds that opinion to be … well, stupid.

“I hate that,” he said. “Can you imagine Run-DMC saying to you, ‘Please don’t call us rap,’ at any point? I don’t understand why grunge is something to be ashamed of. It’s still rock ’n’ roll. It’s uniquely Seattle, and I personally think when artists diss that term or that name, they’re actually telling people not to take them seriously, because grunge is a unique sound.”

Of course, Ray’s biggest hit is “Baby Got Back,” released in 1992.

“‘Baby Got Back’ was actually a serious track,” Ray said. “The reason the song was written was because at that time, back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the African-American idea of beauty was never represented publicly. You only saw three types of African-American women on TV: a prostitute, a heavy-set woman who gave advice to white children on their way to school in the morning, or a black woman who had to assimilate to another culture to be accepted.

“After talking to the director (for the music video) and telling him the same thing, I was blown away when I walked in and saw this girl on a pedestal, which is what I wanted, but she’s wearing this … oh my God, talk about stereotypical. I thought someone was playing a joke on me. She had this big gold chain, and she looked like a prostitute with these cheesy shoes and leopard print, and I was like, ‘Whoa! You guys got me all messed up.’ It got me off on the wrong foot, and I had to explain to everyone in the room that this song was a serious subject wrapped in novelty. Those who did know that said, ‘Thank you,’ when I made that song. After that, the video went fine.”

“Baby Got Back” was controversial due to its sexual content.

“The song was banned from MTV, which I felt was ironic; that song wasn’t racy or sexist,” Ray said. “I was a little surprised that there was any issue whatsoever, to be honest. I made sure that in the song, I’m lusting for this girl, but I actually never get her. I never conquer. So it comes off like I’m a sexist pig, but I can’t get her because I’m a sexist pig, and that’s why, I think, the video really worked.”

Ray has made a new album—but he said he’s hesitant to release it.

“I have an album that’s actually ready … and what’s keeping me from releasing it is I have this issue with how it would be perceived,” he said. “I don’t want people to think I released a record only because I’m desperate. That’s kind of a fear I have, and I don’t know where that comes from.

“People are shocked when they meet me and learn that I’m not broke. I was driving my Lamborghini the other day, and I had a guy come up to me and ask, ‘Did you rent that, or do you own it?’ Perception is that I must be broke, and that’s not the case. I don’t want that perception to be the reason that I tarnish things I do in the past, because I love making music, and I’m doing what I’m doing because I love music. It’s not as easy as it sounds.”

The current state of rap music came up during our conversation.

“It’s just like it was in any era. I say this about rock and rap: In any era, the cream rises, and the bad stuff sinks,” Ray said. “The kids grab a song, and it blows up. That’s good, but if those kids grow up and resent the fact they ever liked that song, that’s bad. Is there a formula for retaining those kids as they grow up? I don’t know. I got lucky, and three of my songs are still holding on, but it’s hard to do.

“There was some bad stuff out there in my era, and some people say I was that bad stuff,” he added with a laugh.

The Old School Freestyle Festival takes place at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 8, at Spotlight 29, 46200 Harrison Place, in Coachella. Tickets are $39 to $59. For tickets or more information, call 760-775-5566, or visit www.spotlight29.com.

Published in Previews

We’re in the depths of summer. Some venues, like the Purple Room (as of July 2), are on summer break. However, there are still hot events taking place in the Coachella Valley—in locations where you can stay cool.

Get your dancing shoes ready for two events at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 15, CHIC featuring Nile Rodgers will be performing. At one point, Nile Rodgers claimed that he and CHIC would be appearing at Coachella in 2017—yet they weren’t part of the lineup. If you found that disappointing, here’s a great opportunity to see them. Nile Rodgers has been on the rise again thanks to his work with Daft Punk on the Random Access Memories album. Tickets are $39 to $69. If that isn’t enough … do you like dancing on the ceiling? At 8 p.m., Friday, July 28, the legendary Lionel Richie will take the stage. I remember when I was a small child in the 1980s hearing Lionel Richie on my mom’s car radio, and seeing his videos on MTV—when MTV was still a new thing. Don’t miss this one. Tickets are $89 to $159. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is hosting some smaller events worth noting. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 1, Imparables will be appearing. Imparables features two of Mexico’s funniest comedians, Adrian Uribe and Omar Chaparro, who will definitely leave you laughing. What more could you ask for? Tickets are $55 to $85. At 7 p.m., Monday, July 3, you will be in heaven if you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, thanks to The Boy Band Night, featuring a variety of top-notch entertainers paying tribute to the boy bands you know and love. Another reason you’ll be in heaven: Admission is free! The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 will have a fairly low-key July, but at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 8, the Old School Freestyle Festival will be happening, featuring acts such as Sir Mix-a-Lot (read my interview with him on coming up at CVIndependent.com next week), Taylor Dayne, Stevie B, the Ying Yang Twins and others. Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 15, Elton John impersonator Kenny Metcalf (right) will be returning to Spotlight 29. His shows are always an impressive tribute to the legend. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s has a lot going on; here are just a few events. At 9 p.m., Saturday, July 15, Shooter Jennings will be appearing. The son of Waylon Jennings, Shooter has made a name for himself with his own brand of country music, as well as some very strange rock music on his 2009 album, Black Ribbons. Tickets are $25. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 21, the Queen of Joshua Tree herself, Jesika von Rabbit, will be performing. She recently released her version of the Culture Club single “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” which caught the attention of Boy George himself, who praised von Rabbit via Twitter. Also on the bill: Fartbarf (below), one of the most underrated acts to come out of Los Angeles in recent years. Imagine if Devo and Minor Threat had a baby … and then named it Fartbarf. Tickets are $15. At 9:30 p.m., Saturday, July 22, Terry Reid will be come to Pioneertown. Reid, a UK native who lives in the Coachella Valley, toured with the Rolling Stones and was almost a member of Led Zeppelin. He has a lot of stories, and he’ll gladly tell them to you. One of the funniest stories he told me involved Chuck Berry stealing his guitar amp. Tickets are $15 to $18. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Copa Palm Springs has an intriguing entertainer returning to the reigning Best Nightclub, as picked in the Best of Coachella Valley by Independent readers: At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 1, through, Monday, July 3, everyone’s favorite small-in-stature comedian, Leslie Jordan, will take the stage. Famous for roles in Will and Grace (will he be in the revival?), American Horror Story and Ugly Betty, Jordan is no stranger to the Copa. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

Ziggy Marley is one of music legend Bob Marley’s sons—but his music is all his own.

Marley has incorporated traditional folk elements into his reggae music, and has collaborated with artists such as Jake Shimabukuro, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Jack Johnson and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea—among many others.

Marley is returning to Spotlight 29 at 8 p.m., Friday, June 16. During a recent phone interview, Marley explained why he does what he does.

“I keep it fresh by keeping an open mind and being humble,” Marley said. “It’s very inspiring to know what we do is something we are called upon to do. It’s always fresh, and there’s always a mission and a message behind what we’re doing. That’s what keeps me going—having a purpose.”

Even after winning eight Grammy Awards, Marley expressed a modest attitude regarding his career success.

“I don’t think I ever think about (success), because we’re still going to where we’re going,” he said. “We haven’t reached where we’re going yet. Where I am right now, I think of myself more as a human being than an artist, musician or singer. That is where my thoughts are on where I want to be.”

Marley’s latest, self-titled album is just as unique as his previous five solo albums. He explained what makes this one different.

“I went through some personal issues and dealt with some wider issues from a people perspective,” he said. “I would think that’s the biggest difference with this album.”

Charity is a big part of Marley’s life—something he’s been involved in since he was born.

“We started out doing charity when we were really young with our mother and father,” Marley said. “Charity is about that human thing I’ve been talking about. Sometimes, love is more giving than material things are. Sometimes, love is a charity, too. We formed an organization called U.R.G.E., which stands for Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment. We try to focus on children, because for the world to get better, the children need a broader and positive consciousness about living together as human beings.”

And now for something completely different: Marley recently collaborated with Man of Action writer Joe Casey and artist Jim Mahfood on a graphic novel/comic titled Marijuanaman. Marley laughed as he discussed it.

“That was so much fun. When I was growing up and going to school in Jamaica, I used to buy comics,” Marley said. “When the teacher was teaching, I was drawing in my notebook. I always tried to draw Batman and other superheroes. When I had the chance to work with Joe Casey and Jim Mahfood, I had the idea for the comic book dream of mine. We put a message behind it, and the title of it sort of makes me laugh. He’s not a stereotypical stoner dude; he’s a hero, and he represents the plant itself. So there’s a message behind the comic as well.”

Of course, the name Marley is semi-synonymous with Rastafarianism and marijuana. Marley said he is happy marijuana legalization is starting to occur in America.

“I think it’s the right step, because it’s a plant of many practical uses,” he said. “It’s medicinal, and it’s recreational for some people. I think it’s right to stop putting people in jail for using it and to stop criminalizing people. That is also a good thing for humanity. But that side of the plant is only one side of it—and the next side is the hemp side. We’re talking about the industrial uses of the plant now. So many trees are cut down to make paper. … There would be no more deforestation, because hemp could replace that easily.”

Marley started his musical career with his siblings Stephen, Sharon and Cedella as Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. While they split as a group in 2002, Marley said the future could bring a reunion.

“It’s better when it’s together,” he said. “Hopefully, one day we can do it again.”

Marley said his show at Spotlight 29 will not be the same as the concert he played at the Coachella casino in May 2016.

“It’ll be a little more serious, and I’ll be experimenting more this time,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes. But it’ll be a different show this time.”

Ziggy Marley will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, June 16, at Spotlight 29, 46200 Harrison Place, in Coachella. Tickets are $46 to $76. For tickets or more information, call 760-775-5566, or visit www.spotlight29.com.

Published in Previews

Summer is upon us—officially, even, as of the night of June 20. Why don’t you beat the heat and enjoy a great show or two?

Agua Caliente Casino Report Spa’s June schedule is a little light, but there are a couple of things worth mentioning (beyond a sold-out Moody Blues show on Saturday, June 3). At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 17, you’ll need to get your shout-outs to your “shorty in lockdown” ready, because the Art LaBoe Summer Love Jam will return. All joking aside, there’s some great music on the lineup this year. Funk legend ZAPP is one of the acts worth going to see, as the group has been sampled by several hip-hop artists, including Dr. Dre. Tickets are $45 to $65. If you never got to see Pink Floyd play a live show, you missed out, since the members have stated there will be no reunion—ever. But at 9 p.m., Friday, June 30, you can experience Pink Floyd’s music set to lasers at Paramount’s Laser Spectacular. Some of these laser shows with Pink Floyd’s music can be pretty cool—plus it beats sitting at home watching Netflix. Tickets are $20 to $30. 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 just one big show in June—but it’s huge. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, get ready for some serious laughs, because Chris Rock will be stopping by. Chris Rock has been incredible to watch over the years, given how well he always reflects the times in his stand-up routine. I still love the bit he did about Lil’ Jon and rap music, which has become one of his best-known standup moments. Tickets are $89 to $149. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29’s entertainment slate for June is also a little light, but there is one thing you won’t want to miss (aside from the Ziggy Marley show, which you can read about on Friday, June 2, here at CVIndependent.com): At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 24, Los Chicos del 512 will be performing a tribute to Selena. The group will perform all of Selena’s music that you know and love. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa has several great events on the calendar. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, Marlon Wayans will bring the funny; tickets are $23 to $29. Be sure to check out my interview with him here. That same night, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 2, power-pop band The Romantics (upper right) will perform. This is a show you should see if you’re a true rock ’n’ roll fan. The Romantics had a couple of big hit songs: “What I Like About You” and “Talking In Your Sleep.” The band’s lineup once included Blondie drummer Clem Burke; he’s no longer with the band, but three original members are! Tickets are $20. Keeping with the ’80s theme, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 16, new-wave band The Motels will be appearing. The Motels had one or two hits in the ’80s and then faded away, before re-forming in 1998. Martha Davis still fronts the band—and still believes in the music. Tickets are $20. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will be the place to go this summer for great live music—and the venue’s June calendar is packed. Read my interview with the Tijuana Panthers here; the band will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, and tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight will take the stage. Rhodes was once the front man of the Los Angeles punk band Human Therapy, and now performs in this spectacular alt-country band. If you can’t make it to the show, at least check out the band on the streaming services. I can almost guarantee you’ll like it. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 10, New Orleans R&B/country band The Deslondes will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. The band’s New Orleans sound is timeless; The Deslondes really do have something going for themselves. After seeing the group perform at Stagecoach, I can tell you it’s a fun band to watch. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 24, psychedelic rock band The Black Lips will be returning. The band’s shows are often pretty insane. While they’ve behaved themselves at Pappy and Harriet’s the last couple of times, they’ve been known to get naked, vomit, set things on fire and so on. War Drum front man Jack Kohler once told me a story about how when he worked for the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, he was told to deliver shaving cream to the band’s hotel room—and found the band shaving a group of women from head to toe. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has some familiar names returning in June. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, June 2 and 3, America’s favorite dragapella group, The Kinsey Sicks, will be performing the Things You Shouldn’t Say show. Tickets are $30 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 17, The Buddy Holly Review will do its thing. As a fan of Buddy Holly, I’ve been interested in this show; I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 30, there will be a benefit for the American Cancer Society featuring Debby Holiday (below). Debby Holiday is a star on the rise with two hit singles, “Never Give Up” and “Key to Your Soul.” Tickets are $25 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a couple of events, starring local bands, that are worth your consideration. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, there will be a metal show with Drop Mob, Perishment, Instigator and In the Name of the Dead. Considering how long as Drop Mob has been around, it’s good to see the band finally being noticed. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Thursday, June 8, Courtney Chambers, Caxton, and 5th Town will take the stage. This should be a fun show; all of the bands are female-fronted—and rather talented. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

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

Earth, Wind and Fire. Rick James. The Commodores. These were all big names back in the ’70s and ’80s—people who created music that made people want to dance.

However, no act made people want to celebrate more than Kool and the Gang. The R&B and funk band made numerous songs that became disco staples—and the group is still going, with four original members among the current 12-piece band.

Kool and the Gang will be performing at Spotlight 29 this Saturday, March 25.

During a recent phone interview with Robert “Kool” Bell, one of the topics we discussed was the group’s 1979 hit “Ladies Night,” which has been featured in many films, and is used by Eagles of Death Metal as an intro song at some concerts. Bell said he did not expect the song to become such a big hit.

“I’m happy that it did, but I’m surprised to some degree,” Bell said. “That came about back in 1979, when my wife and I were hanging out in New York, and we noticed some of the clubs such as Studio 54, they all had a ladies’ night on the weekend. When we decided to get a new lead singer, who was James “J.T.” Taylor, we were putting together the album. George Brown, who is one of the songwriters in the band, he had the music and was looking for a hook on the concept. I said, ‘Why don’t we go with ladies’ night, because every weekend has a ladies’ night around the world?’ So, we started working on the hook, and it was perfect. It became our first single with a new lead singer.”

Bell listed what the band members would like to be remembered for down the line.

“Our music, the songs we have written and the fact we were able to stay together for over 50 years,” he said. “We still have four of the original eight members of the band; four have passed away. If you work together and you decide to resolve your problems—because there are always problems in a group that you have to work out, and we have been able to do that—(you can). So, I’d say we’d like to be remembered for working hard, staying together, staying united together and being successful.”

During Van Halen’s 2012 U.S. tour, Kool and the Gang were asked by Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth to open.

“When that first came up, people were scratching their heads, of course, and couldn’t figure that one out: How is Kool and the Gang going to go on tour with Van Halen?” Bell said. “David Lee Roth was in London when we did the Glastonbury Festival. That weekend, it was Coldplay, U2, and it was all rock ’n’ roll. He saw us. They were getting together for their 40th anniversary tour and had just brought back David Lee Roth. He said, ‘I just saw Kool and the Gang at Glatonbury, and they rocked the house. That’s who I want to be our supporting act.’ They were like, ‘Are you sure?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, those guys back in the ’80s had “Celebration,” and we had “Jump.”’ Back in the ’70s, he used to play ‘Jungle Boogie’ and ‘Funk Yourself’ in the clubs. I didn’t know any of this. He thought it was a perfect match.”

But Bell wasn’t sure about the idea at first.

“He told me that 50 percent of his audience are ladies,” Bell said. “I said, ‘Oh yeah? I thought it was all hard rockers.’ He said, ‘You guys wrote “Ladies Night,” so let’s go out and have a party.’ We did that for 42 cities.”

A Van Halen tour isn’t the only strange place the members of Kool and the Gang have found themselves.

“We played in Algeria. We were doing festival at some Roman ancient ruins,” he said. “We were leaving the hotel and had to go through this little town, and our escorts in this little town were carrying guns for protection. We’re going through the city, looking up through the buildings and all that. We finally got out to the gig, and it was beautiful, because it was at this beautiful Ancient Roman coliseum. The people loved it, but that was strange. You understand what I’m saying? Algeria!”

Kool and the Gang just released a new single, “Sexy (Where’d You Get Yours?),” and the group has some other new things coming in the near-future.

“(The single) has a bit of a young sound,” Bell said. “We’re always identified by our horn section. On the other side of the fence, we’re working on a book and a documentary. These should be out in the next couple of years.”

While you could sit at home and watch a Kool and the Gang concert on the Internet, trust me: It’s worth going and seeing them in person.

“A lot of our shows now are up on YouTube and the whole social media thing, but we do a segment of the ’70s in our show, and then most of the other songs are the hits of the ’80s,” Bell said. “We try to do a high-energy show, and we try to please our audience.”

Kool and the Gang will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 25, at Spotlight 29, 46200 Harrison Place, in Coachella. Tickets are $45 to $65. For tickets or more information, call 760-775-5566, or visit www.spotlight29.com.

Published in Previews

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