CVIndependent

Thu12132018

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Brian Blueskye

When you watch all-female band No Small Children perform, you’d never guess that by day, all three members are schoolteachers in Los Angeles.

Mark your calendars: They’ll be playing in the Coachella Valley for the first time at The Hood Bar and Pizza at the CV Independent Presents show on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Since the band’s start in 2012, No Small Children has released three full albums and an EP, covered the Ghostbusters theme for the 2016 version of the film, licensed various music to television shows and video games, and toured nationally. In September, the band played at Riot Fest in Chicago with Bad Religion, Beck, Suicidal Tendencies and many others.

During a recent phone interview with drummer Nicola Berlinsky, she explained how she and her bandmates—Lisa Pimentel (guitar and vocals) and Joanie Pimentel (bass and vocals)—entered the teaching profession as musicians.

“I studied music in college—not just drumming, but also modern composition,” Berlinsky said. “I was in the process of applying to go to graduate school, and my sister said, ‘This is so cool! Just think about something practical (like teaching) while you’re doing this.’ In my early days, I was a student instructor. I would always be teaching, and it felt really enjoyable.

“Lisa is probably the same way. She studied music, but she’s a natural teacher. Joanie’s story is a little different, because she entered as a private teacher, as a vocal coach and as a cellist; only in more recent years, she’s been at an elementary school. She had her own daycare at one point when she was raising her sons.”

The members of No Small Children have found their success to be a rather pleasant surprise.

“When we started, it wasn’t with any intention of a plan of what we hoped for it to be; we just knew we had to play for our own gratification, and we needed a way to balance out life and be in the moment,” Berlinsky said. “There was always so much energy between the three of us, and our motto was, ‘Say Yes to New Life Opportunities.’

“We don’t hide the fact that we’re not in our 20s. The beautiful thing about being older is an awareness of time. In the beginning, it was more about seizing life opportunities and experiences. We always equate it to falling in love and that high that you feel; it drove us through working full-time, writing and playing. As we kept going, we eventually had to say no to some things and choose what we do. Instead of playing every night in Los Angeles, we’d play once or twice in town and have bigger and better shows, and try to get out of the city once in a while, too. Now we have game plans for the year, and it’s still about creating new life opportunities—new places to go and play music, meeting new people, and things like that.”

Riot Fest was a new life opportunity—that could lead to even more new life opportunities.

“It was truly amazing. It was great to be able to play on such a big stage and with people that we’ve been listening to for so long,” Berlinsky said. “As much as we loved playing it and meeting new people, you also get these passes and stand on the stage, watching people you love playing to a huge crowd of people. That was a great experience to have. We loved everything about it, and they were so good to us. It’s actually one of our hopes—to be able to play more festivals.”

The recording experience has pushed the band creatively. The most recent album, What Do the Kids Say?, released earlier this year, marks a definite departure from previous recordings.

“We started off with our first album having a really raw sound—bass, guitar, drums and maybe an extra layer of guitar-over. As we’ve moved forward, there’s been experimentation,” Berlinsky said. “Now there’s more of that, and we’re not shying away from overdubs and playing around with sounds in the studio in a way we hadn’t before.”

Berlinsky explained how they work on albums.

“We were really lucky that Lisa is also a producer. She helps us orchestrate most of the recording, and she does all of the prepping,” she said. “When something is recorded, she gets a lot of it ready for the final mix. We have (record producer) Bob Marlette come in and add his magic over it. Lisa puts a massive amount of time into the studio; a lot of time also goes into it before the recording. There’s a lot of pre-production that happens with writing and finalizing the work from us playing around in the studio. We don’t record all together; I really respect that when it’s a live band doing a different cut, but this is more one on one.”

No Small Children will be playing two sets at The Hood on Jan. 26, and the members are excited about their desert debut.

“We know that we have people from that area who drive all the way to Los Angeles to come see us, so we’re hoping they will come out,” Berlinsky said. “We absolutely love our friends in GayC/DC, and they recommended The Hood Bar and Pizza to us, and we love them so much that we respect their opinion on that. We can’t wait to come out. From my experiences of spending time in that area, people are ready to have a good time in the evening. We just want to make the best night possible for everyone, so we’re really excited to play.”

No Small Children will perform with Sunday Funeral at 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 26, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on the show, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Jeremy Parsons is the lead vocalist of Mega Sun—even though his girlfriend tells me that he hates being in the spotlight. Thanks in part to his low-chugging bass tone and unique vocal style, Mega Sun has become one of the best bands to arrive on the music scene in recent years. For more information on Mega Sun, visit www.facebook.com/megasuntheband. Parsons was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

If you want to call it a “concert,” the first time I went out and saw a show was back in 1994 at Nona’s—I could be wrong about the name—which was out by the Del Taco and AM/PM in Cathedral City. I’d just started playing a guitar that I got from Aloha Music, and The Agents were playing. That was the first live band I’d ever seen. I remember thinking: “Wait a minute. You can just get a band together and go play shows?” I must have been 14 or 15. I heard there was another show they were playing the next week, at some mattress store after-hours. … I was hooked. Life was about finding out where bands were playing and what bands were playing.

What was the first album you owned?

OK, let’s be honest: My mother was quite the garage-sale entrepreneur up in the La Quinta Cove, buying things from other garage sales just to sell at her garage sales. We ended up at a spot where I bought, at the same time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits, which became my first cassettes by recording them from the speakers of our record player, so I could take my jams on the road and listen to them on my Walkman.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Lately, not much other than local music. and too many bands to mention. One band I had always heard of and never listened to was Dinosaur Jr. Over the last couple of months, I have been putting them on from time to time, and I’m still trying to figure out if I like them. I may be trying to figure this out for the rest of my life while listening to them for the rest of my life.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Jazz, I guess. I can’t understand how they know where they are in a song (when) they are just jamming with no singer. I have that dog-with-a-tilted-head-to-the-side look trying to figure out what’s going on.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Rod Stewart at Copacabana 1984, from the side of the stage.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Rat Pack stuff.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I really like Pappy and Harriet’s. I haven’t been there many times, but I like the small places with a big history. I think I should go soon.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“He hung himself with a guitar string,” Beck, “Loser.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Def Leppard’s biggest fan right here. When Hysteria came out, it was like traveling through space while listening to it. I vividly remember my dad taking us to Kmart in Indio the day it came out, popping it into the tape player (while) across from Ciro’s in front of that checkered auto store, and saying how different it was from the first three albums. I must have been 7. I’m not sure if it changed my life, but it became a time in my life I look back to as the good old days—back when everyone would buy their Christmas trees at the La Quinta fire station, and you felt cool to listen to a CD with a “parental advisory” stamp on it.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

John Summers of Family Butcher: “You still owe me $20.”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I love The Dukes of Hazzard theme song.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

The Bronx’ self-titled album. They were the band that really dragged me out of the young melodic punk I grew up listening to and introduced me to grown up music like Truckfighters, Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Throw Rag.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“San Andreas” by Mega Sun! (Scroll down to hear it.)

Two decades ago, a group of friends who grew up together started a band called The Hellions—and they’re still rocking the local music scene today.

Although the Hellions have endured lineup changes at various points, the current group—Angel Lua (vocals/guitar), Bob Llamas (drums), Jamie Hargate (guitar) and Travis Rockwell (bass)—has been around for a while.

The Hellions will be receiving the Best of Coachella Valley Legacy Award on Wednesday, Dec. 12, During the Best of Coachella Valley Awards Party at the Copa Nightclub in Palm Springs.

During a post-rehearsal interview at Bernie’s in Rancho Mirage, I asked them how they’ve managed to keep playing, rehearsing and writing for 20 years as marriages, families and career moves have taken place.

“That was all part of the plan,” Hargate joked.

“You never start something hoping that it’ll end,” Lua said. “We had a common taste in music, and we thought, ‘Let’s do something with it.’ I think everything falls into place, and we just keep it going. If we ever felt like we were forcing ourselves to do it, we probably wouldn’t be doing it anymore.

“It’s something that’s second nature to us at this point. We grew up together musically, and we all got better as musicians playing together and learned off each other. You have to like the people you’re around to do that; otherwise, forget it. Everybody is on the same page for the most part … or at least 65 percent of the time.”

Over 20 years, the Hellions have written some songs, but have released just one record, 2016’s Hymns From the Other Side. Dali’s Llama frontman Zach Huskey told me once: “The Hellions are kind of the slowest songwriters in the world.” The members explained the lack of prolificacy.

“I don’t think we put the effort into finishing a song,” Llamas said. “Right now, we probably have at least a dozen songs that are almost done. Why? I don’t know. We’ll work on new music, but then we’ll have a show come up, and we’ll focus on our set instead.”

Rockwell said the band worked hard to make a professional recording, with former Kyuss bassist Scott Reeder recording and producing.

“It costs money to put an album out when you do it the right way,” Rockwell said. “Anyone can go out and buy a computer and record shit in their bedroom right now. We planned to go into the studio and put in the work and put in the time and money to have Scott Reeder produce it. That was probably the tightest we ever were, when we went up to Scott’s place to record that album. That was about $6,000, and when we play a show, usually we make $100. So how many shows do we have to play to make that? Then we have to pay for mastering, and then we have to pay for the production. It’s a lot of work. Our whole philosophy is whatever money we make as a band goes back into paying for that.”

Lua said he had personal reasons for wanting the album released.

“I wanted to give my mom something,” Lua said. “She always asks me, ‘When do you play again?’ ‘Oh, we’re going to play at 11 p.m. tonight,’ and she’s like, ‘Oh, that’s too late!’ So I gave her a record and said, ‘Here’s a record. Go play it on your phonograph!’”

The Hellions are known for being generous with their time: If they’re asked to do a benefit show for a worthy cause, and they’re available, the Hellions are always in.

“People enjoy our music and want to come and see us play. The least we could do is give something back to our community,” Hargate said.

“People who wouldn’t normally come out to see us get to see us, and we play to an entirely new audience,” Rockwell added. “Some 18-year-old kid’s mom comes out, and she’s fucking re-living the ’80s. She’s done a ton of shots; she’s dancing; and the skirt gets a little higher up.”

The Hellions have played with many national tour acts as they’ve come through town.

“One of my favorite shows we ever did was with the Dwarves,” Hargate said. “I was always a big fan when I was 15 years old and going to their shows. To bring them out here as our friends now is pretty humbling.

“We’ve even been fortunate enough to meet a lot of musicians who have done some great things. For me later on in life, and having been a fan of them when I was a kid, it’s very comforting. But I’m not starstruck anymore.”

Tony Orlando is best remembered for recording and performing with Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson—best known as Dawn—in the 1970s and 1980s.

Today, the trio is back together for a Christmas tour—which will include a stop at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino this Saturday, Dec. 1. During a recent phone interview, Orlando said that a holiday album the group released back in 2005 inspired the tour.

“We cut an album in Nashville many years ago; it was called A Christmas Reunion,” Orlando said. “I spoke to Telma, and she said, ‘Why don’t we go out and do a little Christmas tour? It’d be fun!’ The reaction has been unbelievable. Christmas was the right thing for us to do, and it was our favorite album that we ever did.”

Orlando explained why he has such fond memories of the album.

“We love the music. Michael Omartian was the producer for that album, and the history of him as a producer and writer—he’s iconic,” Orlando said. “To work with him on that album was a joy and a privilege. The music is Christmas-related, but we went a different route. A lot of the songs were new and different at the time.”

Tony Orlando, now 74, grew up in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan.

“Growing up in New York City, it certainly gives you a glimpse of the world in a composite. In a one block or a 10-block area, you could really be experiencing the planet,” he said. “(There is) every single background and every single point, from poverty and homelessness to the most wealthy in the penthouses. … You have peripheral vision when you cross the street, because if you don’t, you’ll get hit by a taxi. There are all kinds of benefits to growing up in New York that you wouldn’t imagine if you’ve never lived there. New York has given me a basis of respect for humankind and a respect for all cultures. It came out of that city, and thank God it gave me that as a performer, working all around the world for the past 50 years in show business.”

As a young man, Orlando asked a legend in the business for some advice.

“Groucho Marx’s remarks to me were pretty awesome,” Orlando said. “I asked him, ‘Mr. Marx, I’m 15 years old, and I just had my first hit record. I need the great Groucho Marx’s advice. What should I remember, Mr. Marx?’ I was expecting a joke, and he turned to me and said, ‘Never lose the ability to say thank you, Tony.’ I never forgot that.”

During the heyday of variety television in the ’70s, Tony Orlando and Dawn made their mark—but it wasn’t easy.

“I look back on that now with great respect, and I’m proud of the work we did,” he said. “I didn’t realize how good of a show that was. It was a period of our lives when we did 16 hours every day, and then filming and taping. We always taped it live and never stopped tape. What you saw from the beginning to the end was really a live show. I think that was a glorious time for us, for Sonny and Cher, for Carol Burnett, and for the Osmonds. We all had a great run during that time of variety television.”

Orlando lived in the Coachella Valley as a young man, and shared a holiday memory from that time.

“I remember living in Palm Desert, and it was Christmas Eve. I had just come off the road, and I had my son John with me, who at the time was just a little boy, and we had no Christmas tree,” he said. “We couldn’t find anywhere that had any Christmas trees. It was too late. I’m driving down Highway 111, and I look, and right in front of a yogurt place that was closed, there was the top of someone’s Christmas tree that had been chopped off. I looked at my son, and I said, ‘Well, it looks like that Christmas tree needs a family.’ We took it home, and it was only about 2 feet long, but we put it up—and it was probably the most beautiful Christmas tree, because it found a home.”

Tony Orlando and Dawn will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $39 to $79. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Christmas season is upon us! It’s a magical yet busy time of the year—so be sure to escape the hustle and bustle, and take in some great events.

The McCallum Theatre has an excellent December schedule. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2, country icons Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen will be performing. While Lovett may be best known for once being married to Julia Roberts, he’s actually one of the best things to come out of Texas’ country music scene. Robert Earl Keen is also a fantastic singer-songwriter, known mostly for his Americana style. Tickets are $45 to $85. Are you a fan of the Boss? While Springsteen himself won’t be coming to the valley, here’s the next best thing: At 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 6, the Desert Symphony with various guests will be performing Bruce in the USA. This should be a great show. Tickets are $65 to $125. Sometimes during the holidays, you just need to laugh, so it’s good that at 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9, comedian Rita Rudner will be stopping by. She’s performed for audiences in Vegas for a long time. Tickets are $38 to $88. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some great December events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1, the reunited Tony Orlando and Dawn will be performing a special Christmas-themed show. When Tony Orlando and Dawn had their television show in the mid ’70s, they were a big hit. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7, the legendary Tony Bennett will be returning to the Fantasy Springs stage. Trust me: It’s amazing to watch Bennett, now 92, still performing shows that last 90 minutes and beyond. Tickets are $49 to $109. Ready to spice up your December with something a little different? At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15, Latin pop star Paulina Rubio will be performing. Rubio is a huge star in Mexico and is beginning to enjoy success worldwide. She recently released a new album, Deseo, and is ready to rock. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is offering a rather varied December schedule. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 6, José Feliciano (right) will be performing. He opened the doors for many Latin artists to cross over into the American market—and gain success around the world. He’s also one of the best guitarists alive. Tickets are $55 to $75. Do you love game shows? If so, you’re in luck (no pun intended), because at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14 a live version of The Price Is Right with guest host Jerry Springer will be coming to The Show. Remember, this is The Price Is Right, not the Jerry Springer Show, meaning there will be no chair-throwing. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15, and 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 16, the local-resident legend himself, Barry Manilow, will perform two Christmas-themed shows. While the shows should be great, they aren’t cheap: Tickets are $100 to $250. How about dancing on New Year’s Eve? At 9 p.m., Monday, Dec. 31, pop-variety cover band Pop Vinyl will provide the soundtrack as the calendar turns to 2019. Tickets are $35. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of events worth noting. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1, comedian Bill Engvall will be performing. He’s one of the Blue Collar Comedy guys (with Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy and Ron White), best known for his “Here’s your sign!” routine. He’s genuinely hilarious. Tickets are $40 to $60. From Friday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 9, Spotlight 29 will be holding its Annual Winter Gathering Pow Wow. Indigenous people from the United States, Mexico and Canada will be attending this huge event featuring handmade regalia, dancing, songs, arts, food and so on. Admission is free. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has some holiday events worth considering. At 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15, enjoy the Morongo Holiday Show featuring the George Shelby Orchestra. George Shelby was a member of the American Idol house band for seven seasons and has worked with Toto, Elton John, Sting and many others. Tickets are $99. Looking for something wacky and fun for New Year’s Eve? Well, here ya go: At 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 31, rock ’n’ roll into the new year with Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries. This band has been playing classic rock and Motown since 1972. Tickets are $45. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is rocking throughout December. At 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 3, it’s going to be a country-rocking Christmas good time when Old 97’s performs. Old 97’s is a noteworthy alt-country band with a lot of great songs—and the group recently put out a Christmas album. Tickets are $25. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 13, dark-wave band The Soft Moon will take the stage. After checking out the group’s most recent release, Criminal, and some live videos, I have concluded: This band kicks ass, reminding me a bit of 1990s Nine Inch Nails. Be adventurous, and go see this one. Tickets are $16. New Year’s Eve at Pappy and Harriet’s is always an awesome time, and this year should be no exception: At 9 p.m., Monday, Dec. 31, indie-rock band Black Crystal Wolf Kids will help ring in 2019. Don’t expect to be standing still—this is a band that forces you to move around and sing along. Tickets are $20 to $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has some shows that will help you break the holiday blues. At 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7, enjoy Lee Squared’s An Evening With Liberace and Miss Peggy Lee. That’s right: You get two Lees for the price of one, as David Maiocco and Chuck Sweeney put on a musical-comedy show in tribute to the two huge stars. It’s a musical performance with some camp! Tickets are $30 to $40. At 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, actress and singer Joely Fisher will be performing. You might remember her from the sitcom Ellen in the ’90s; she’s also sang on Broadway. Tickets are $50 to $60. There are a lot of Elvis impersonators, but at 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 28, enjoy a special treat—songs from Elvis’ early years, with Scot Bruce. Bruce is a top-notch Elvis performer who is a true dead-ringer for the King himself. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret has started to book some great shows—including some Christmas themed events in December. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Monday, Dec. 14, 15 and 17, music-comedy duo Amy and Freddy will be performing their Very Divalicious California Christmas. Tickets are $35 to $45. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 22, country star Ty Herndon will be performing his Not So Silent Night holiday show. Herndon is known for falling apart in the early 2000s, getting his life together and then coming out in 2014. He’s a fantastic country performer and has three No. 1 singles to his name. Tickets are $25 to $35 Toucans Tiki Lounge and Cabaret, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-416-7584; reactionshows.com.

The holidays are here again—and that means there are a whole lot of Christmas-themed events going on.

While we could fill pages upon pages of this newspaper with lists of things to do in December, we’ve selected seven of the most intriguing events for your consideration.

Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade: This is definitely the biggest Christmas-themed event in the Coachella Valley. The parade got its start in the early ’90s and has seemingly grown a little larger every year, with more and more illuminated floats—and participants walking whilst wearing lights! The celebrity grand marshal for this year’s event is Lorna Luft, while the community grand marshals are architect Hugh Kaptor and news anchor Gino Lamont. 5:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1, along Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs; free; psfestivaloflights.com.

Dave Koz Christmas Tour: It’s become a holiday tradition of sorts for the McCallum Theatre to host jazz saxophonist Dave Koz during the Christmas season. Last year, Koz celebrated his 20-year anniversary of holiday touring—and this year, Koz promises some special guests during his musical celebration of Christmas. When I interviewed Koz last year, he explained how much he enjoys performing holiday shows, in part because Christmas music takes him and others back to innocent times in their lives—therefore bringing out the holiday spirit. This is just one of a handful of great holiday shows happening at the McCallum; check the website for a complete schedule. 8 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 18, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert; $62 to $102; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa Sleigh Ride Toy Run: This event is a fundraiser for the JJ Johnson Foundation and will feature a performance by the Charlie Daniels Band. The Southern rock and country star is a lot of fun to experience live—and, of course, he does perform some Christmas music this time of the year. Also on the bill: Steel Wool, Second Sight and Gethen Jenkins. Go on out to Morongo Casino and support a great cause for the holiday season! 1 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon; $30 to $40, or $25 with a toy donation at the door; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Brian Setzer Orchestra’s 15th Anniversary Christmas Rocks! Tour: In each of the last 15 years, rockabilly/swing guitarist Brian Setzer (below) has embarked upon a holiday tour—often with a stop at Fantasy Springs. This is one best musical events of the holiday season, as Setzer puts on a marvelous, high-energy, holiday-themed show, featuring Christmas tunes as well as hits from both his orchestra and the Stray Cats. I’ve attended this show a couple of times, and I promise you’ll have a great time. 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 21, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio; $49 to $79; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus’ Men in Tights—A Holiday SpectacularThis show kicks off the 20th anniversary season of the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus, and will take holiday-themed music … back to the Renaissance? Yep! After the intermission, prepare to hear holiday songs in a more-modern format, including a country-Western-style performance of “Dreydl Dreydl.” OK then! 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Dec. 14 and 15; and 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 16, at the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, in Palm Springs; $25 to $50; www.psgmc.com.

Santa Fly-In and Winter Fun Land: This is a fun annual family event thrown by the Palm Springs Air Museum that features a very special guest—Santa Claus! Santa will meet with children and pose for photographs in a specialty created Winter Fun Land, including snow he’ll bring with him from the North Pole! 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9, at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, in Palm Springs; free with museum admission; 760-778-6262; www.psam.org.

WildLights: The Living Desert hosts this annual event every year on selected evenings from Black Friday through Christmas Eve. The park is transformed into an illuminated winter wonderland, complete with entertainment. This is the most festive way to experience The Living Desert for sure! 6 to 9 p.m. on selected evenings through Monday, Dec. 24, at the Living Desert, 47900 Portola Ave., in Palm Desert; $12 for adults; $10 military and children 3-12; free for children 3 and younger; 760-346-5694; www.livingdesert.org.

For Avenida Music—voted as the Best Local Band by readers of the Independent in the annual Best of Coachella Valley poll—music revolves around family.

The band includes three brothers—and may be the only local group to be the subject of a song by another local band (Frank Eats the Floor). Avenida Music has played all over Southern California for weddings and corporate events, and has a weekly residency at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells.

When I sat down with Josiah Gonzalez (piano/synth), he told me some fascinating stories about the musical journey that led to the formation of Avenida Music.

“The band is composed of two of my brothers (Vincent and Samuel), myself and Sean Poe (also of the Hive Minds),” Josiah Gonzalez said. “My brothers and I have been playing music together since we were 9 years old. My dad scrounged money together to get us lessons and instruments, and we were playing in church or just for fun. We’ve been playing for about 15 years together.

“We all found ourselves back in the Coachella Valley after college and decided we should continue to play. It started as a cover gig for my aunt’s birthday party; she wanted us to play some Beatles tunes. We liked doing it so much that we started playing with friends and playing in garages in 2015. We had no idea what we were doing and were just looking for some gigs playing covers.”

Avenida, like some other local bands, is named after an element of a local neighborhood.

“We spent the first two or three months playing in a garage trying to come up with a name. We couldn’t come up with anything anybody liked,” Josiah Gonzalez said. “We went through 50 or 60 different options no one could agree on. We were originally playing in Cathedral City, and every other street is called Avenida something. We thought, ‘Why not Avenida?’ It stuck.”

While Avenida Music started off playing covers, it is not just a cover band … although when you see “Avenida Music” on the bill, you should expect covers.

“We do have original music. We made an interesting pivot after we picked up Sean,” Josiah Gonzalez said. “We started playing covers and original stuff, but it was hard to differentiate. … When we started making more money as a cover band, we decided we really needed to focus on that. We wrote our five-year plan based on the idea we’d play corporate gigs and weddings. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been writing original stuff—and that’s what we’ve been working on right now in side projects not named Avenida Music. We really try to separate the two to remain consistent in what we do as a band.”

The Gonzalez brothers had no choice but to play music growing up.

“That was predetermined. Literally: Before we were born, our parents decided what instruments we were going to play, and when they were going to have us,” Josiah said. “They knew they wanted a quartet that had a piano, bass, drums and a sax. They ended up with four boys (each) two years apart. … My dad has been a minister for most of his life, and he would do jobs for people, saying, ‘I’ll do your landscaping for free if you teach my son how to play piano.’ That’s how he got all of us lessons. We’d come out of the womb, and two years later, they’d be introducing us to the instrument as if it was propaganda, like, ‘Isn’t the piano great?’ We all ended up playing those instruments, and we all still do play those instruments.

“They didn’t let us quit. I tried to quit piano a couple of times, and my parents said, ‘We’re sorry, but that’s not really an option.’ I’m grateful in retrospect. They made sure to tell me, ‘We work really hard to make to get you these lessons, and this is something you will carry with you for the rest of your life.’”

The Gonzalez brothers’ parents believed music would help instill character.

“I remember being really scared, because they were making me play in a convalescent home. I got really mad and said I didn’t want to be playing in convalescent homes and church events for old ladies,” Josiah said. “I was about 11 or 12, and my dad told me, ‘I didn’t work this hard to get you these lessons so you could go hide in a corner and play by yourself. Your job is to go use this gift you have to help other people.’ To this day, that is one of the things I remember. … It made an impression on me, and it really resonated as to why we still play music today. The reason we play is not for us; whatever we have is to be used to bless other people.”

Josiah Gonzalez said he was surprised to learn Avenida Music had been voted Best Local Band.

“We were blown away when we were nominated and when we won,” he said. “We have a big family; my dad has six brothers and sisters, as well as a lot of cousins. But I think more than anything, we’ve really tried to be as supportive of other musicians as much as possible, and we’re really grateful, because some people reciprocated that and voted for us. … We’re really grateful that people appreciate what we do and the music we do.”

Avenida Music will perform at the Best of Coachella Valley Awards Party at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 12, at Copa Nightclub, 244 E. Amado Road, in Palm Springs. Admission is free. For more information on Avenida Music, visit www.littlestreetmusic.com.

Matt King of Frank Eats the Floor was shocked when he learned he was voted Best Local Musician by the readers of the Coachella Valley Independent—beating out local greats including Giselle Woo and last year’s winner, John Stanley King.

After all, King is not even out of high school yet—but it goes to show how Frank Eats the Floor is quickly developing an enthusiastic fan base.

King credits his older brother for spurring his interest in music.

“When I was 5 or 6, my brother played in this metal band called Fistful of Glass, and there are pictures and videos of me sitting on the front porch behind the drum set,” King said. “Music has been an integral part of my life, whether I’ve been watching it or listening to it—or in recent years, playing it. I always wanted something to do within music, and I started my record collection when I was 12. I went to my first concert at 14. My love for music really started when my brother showed me the Beatles.”

King and I discussed his influences, and he was extremely attentive when I suggested some musicians and bands for him to check out.

“The Beatles influenced me for sure. There was a point in time I knew all of their songs and no songs by other bands,” he said. “I started to branch out, and I went from The Beatles to hip hop and rap. I listen to Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye and all of that.

“When I first started playing bass, I was trying to emulate pop and hip-hop beats into my bass-playing. When I met the rest of the guys in Frank Eats the Floor, they expanded my mind and showed me all these other bands, like Primus and The Doors, that have shaped my style.”

King said he easily related to the bass guitar.

“Les Claypool of Primus has this great quote about how the bass was just the crown he picked out of the box, and I feel like that relates to me, too,” King said. “My brother played guitar, and the bass-player in the band was not that great, so it made me think, ‘I could do that! It doesn’t seem that hard!’ The bass just sort of found me, I guess.”

King is a senior in high school. I asked him what he plans to study in college, and whether it will be related to music.

“It is application season, and I’ve been trying to get all my stuff together,” he said. “(I am interested in) something along the lines of music, but something I can combine with performing arts, because I’ve been doing drama during my four years of high school as well. It’d be awesome to have music as a path for a career, but one of the problems I’m having now is this success that I’m seeing at 17: Will it translate to 20-year-old me? 30-year-old me? It’s hard to tell, and it’s hard to tell if it’ll translate if I go to Los Angeles, San Diego or somewhere out of state.”

King was said he was humbled to even be a finalist in the Best Local Musician Category.

“I’m huge fans of Sunday Funeral and Justin Ledesma. I love Nick Hales of Sleazy Cortez, Giselle Woo and John Stanley King, and they’re all amazing people in our local music scene,” he said. “I’m really grateful to have been paired with those names, and winning is not setting in with me yet.”

Given that college is approaching, King said the future of Frank Eats the Floor is uncertain.

“We just released our album, and we started promoting it. But as for next July, it’s time for me and Aleks (Romo) to go to college, and that’s what we’ve been talking about,” King said. “We’re trying to make a plan where we’re able to pick this back up every month or every few months and still work as long as everyone is down. But it’s really starting to come down to the time when people grow up and grow out, which happens. The future is uncertain, but I think it’ll work as long as we all put in the work and try to make the Frank Eats the Floor train go for as long as we can.”

King said he’s enjoying the ride on that aforementioned Frank Eats the Floor train.

“Being onstage in drama is fun, but being onstage playing music and singing my songs is a step above,” he said. “My favorite memories of high school are kids coming up to me, saying, ‘Hey! You’re in that band, Frank Eats the Floor! “School Food Sucks!”’ Aleks doesn’t like to own up to it that much, but I think it’s cool being in high school and playing in a band. The only downside would be the fact that we were sort of looked down upon by some of the people around here, saying, ‘You can’t play this venue! You’re too young!’ Some people say that we’re just a novelty act. But we’re just having fun right now.”

Frank Eats the Floor will perform as part of the CV Music Showcase at 9 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on Frank Eats the Floor, visit frankeatsthefloorfetf.bandcamp.com.

Tysen Knight was surrounded by street art while growing up—and it inspired him to become a street artist himself.

Now living in Palm Springs, Knight has helped bring street art into the mainstream. He’s also an actor and a filmmaker, and his first street-art documentary, The Art of Hustle: Street Art Documentary, made the festival circuit—winning some awards along the way. A follow-up, The Art of Hustle: Homeless Street Artists Documentary, is in post-production and could hit screens as early as January. Meanwhile, Colliding Worlds Fine Art Gallery in Cathedral City is currently showing an exhibit of Knight’s art

During a recent interview, Knight discussed how street art inspired him.

“I discovered I was good at art around the ages of 10 to 13. I showed my parents, and they seconded it, and it took off from there,” Knight said. “I grew up in New Jersey near Philadelphia, and I had family in Northern New Jersey across from New York. We would go to New York and get on the subways, and I was exposed to graffiti and street art in the subway trains. For a kid who was creative, that fascinated me.

“I took those images back and had a couple of friends in my neighborhood who were also artists. We would airbrush on jeans and try to look cool. We would get spray-paint cans, and I would show them what I would see in New York City, and we would try to replicate those images. It was really big in New York in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.”

Knight said he saw many of the iconic images painted by New York City’s most-famous street artists.

“When I was a kid, I would see a lot of those images—but I couldn’t pinpoint who did it,” he said.

Today, artists such as Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Anthony Lister and Ben Eine have taken street art into a whole new level of mainstream respect.

“Those guys were able to push it up to the forefront and actually made galleries take a look at this stuff. Banksy and guys of that nature made gallery owners think, ‘Whoa, this stuff actually has value,’” Knight said. “Over time, no one cared about it. You’d put up a beautiful piece of artwork, whether it was legally or illegally, and they would spray-paint over it, or the city would come and cover it up. But now that these guys are able to push the culture into the mainstream, I think it’s actually a beautiful thing. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring were setting the groundwork, too, but now guys like Banksy and Shepard Fairey have taken it to a whole different level, and you can go to auctions and see a Banksy piece go for the same price as a Picasso piece.”

Knight explained the premise behind his second documentary, The Art of Hustle: Homeless Street Artists Documentary.

“I had a little stint of homelessness for a couple of months. I ran into a street artist in downtown Palm Springs who goes by the name of Skratch,” Knight said. “He was selling this weird abstract art, and I was drawn to him. I started talking to him, and he said, ‘I sell my art. I need to make $15 a day so I can get something to eat and take care of myself.’ … I gave him my business card, and he called me. I had him involved in the first documentary. When I showed the film, everyone was really intrigued by Skratch.

“I want to shed a light on people whom most people overlook. I got back into contact with Skratch and said, ‘I want to do a documentary on you.’ I filmed him for about nine months, and I was fortunate enough to meet two other homeless street artists. It’s fascinating how talented these people are; to be in that situation and be able to create, it’s pretty amazing. This film is taking people on a journey to show that although these people are homeless, and you overlook them every day, they’re actually talented and creating beautiful things.”

Knight said he was humbled by Skratch.

“A piece that Skratch would spend hours on, he would sell it for $5. There’s art on Sotheby’s going for $100 million; a Banksy piece that was shredded went for some ridiculous amount of money. At the end of the day, they’re all creations. To see someone create something and only charge $5 for it, I was like, ‘Wow!’ That was a really humbling experience for me to see that. People were actually purchasing it.”

I asked Knight how big the street-art scene is in the Coachella Valley.

“It’s very small, and it’s very contained,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to meet a local tattoo artist, and he was able to navigate me through the street-art scene here. It’s very small and nothing compared to major cities. In fact, you could probably count all of the people on one hand.”

Knight is now helping a new generation learn about art.

“I was fortunate enough to meet the art coordinator for the Palm Springs Unified School District. I sat down with her and told her what I had going on, and she said I would be the perfect candidate to mentor young boys through this art program,” he said. “We visit five different middle schools, and there are five of us all together. We do art, drum, dance, spoken word and photography. … We’d go to all the different schools with the canvases and teach kids how to paint, and talk to them, mentor them, see what their likes and dislikes are, and go from there.

“I feel I’m at the point in my career where I’m able to create art and give back, and inspire young people to explore their talents—especially in a time like now, when everything is divided.”

For more information, visit www.tysenknight.com.

When Penn and Teller first started performing in 1975, the duo was unlike anything else out there.

In 2018 … well, there’s still not anything else out there like Penn and Teller. The comedy/magic greats will perform at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa on Friday, Dec. 7.

During a recent phone interview with Penn Jillette—of course we interviewed the one who talks—he said they made a conscious effort to be different when they started out.

“Alfred Hitchcock said if you wanted to be a director, don’t see great movies and say, ‘I’m going to do that.’ See bad movies and say, ‘At least I won’t do that,’” Jillette said. “I came out of a background of really disliking magic. Teller was in love was magic since he was about 5, but I really never liked it. I was a juggler and a musician. I didn’t like magic because of the obvious dishonesty of it. Besides the obvious dishonesty of it … I disliked the lack of thought in magic. Teller and I started a conversation when we first met, and we would think about magic shows, saying, ‘We don’t want to do that.’ It’s like the Sex Pistols when they said they didn’t want to be the Beatles. Out of that came a kind-of honest relationship with the audience where we occasionally tell them how the tricks are done. We always tell them when we’re lying, and I like to think they never leave the theater believing something we ourselves don’t believe is true.”

Jillette elaborated on their avoidance of dishonesty.

“When you saw a human being cut in half onstage during a magic trick, nobody—and I’m eliminating deeply mentally ill people, or someone who is too young to be at the show—leaves the show believing they witnessed a murder. The same goes with mind-reading and memory tricks. You need to leave the theater with us not misleading you on anything—we try to follow that as carefully as we can. Out of that, the skepticism, the atheism and the comedy comes.”

Penn and Jillette have never been afraid to get political or controversial, be it in their act or on their TV shows—especially Penn and Teller: Bullshit!, which ran on Showtime from 2003 to 2010.

“The nice thing is that our politics tend not to be nowadays in one of the camps that’s fighting,” Jillette said. “We’re both libertarian and atheist. That position is seen by both sides, Republicans and Democrats, with an eye roll. We’re so socially liberal that not even the Democrats agree with us. We’re so fiscally conservative that even the Republicans don’t agree with us.

Bullshit! is where most of our politics came out. We were so concerned with being pro-science, pro-rational and pro-human that the politics ended up not being partisan, in a very strange way. I used to go on talking-head shows as a pundit, but now that there is nothing to talk about on the news except the president—and I have made my position very clear, because I knew the president well—I’m kind of done. … I’m not willing to go on TV now and talk about the latest outrage. I like to remind people now that the world is getting better, and this momentary thing is just a glitch.”

Bullshit! tackled subjects ranging from religions to multilevel marketing to recycling—and a few episodes stirred up some intense anger.

“People often ask us who got the most upset after an episode of Bullshit!, and I must tell you that this fills me with shame,” he said. “We expected Christians to be a problem, but many Christians practice what they preach, and their reactions were very gentle, very kind and very understanding. But the Sept. 11 truthers and the chiropractors were out of their fucking minds. There were a couple of nuts who didn’t like the Sept. 11 show and threatened, of all people, our prop guy. The police had to be called and showed up at the offices, which is very strange.

“The chiropractors were very aggressive and claiming boycotts, which is a perfectly reasonably way to react.”

There were subjects Showtime refused to allow Penn and Teller to tackle.

“Scientology was one of them, because they were scared,” Jillette said. “Showtime and the lawyers told us, ‘You don’t fuck with Scientology,’ because there have been some bad things that happened. We also wanted to do that book The Secret that Oprah was promoting. (Showtime) didn’t want us doing that because of some sort of publishing entanglement that would have made us at odds with other parts of the company—not so much that we could affect their commerce, but that it could be a conflict of interest and may violate other contracts.

“We wanted to do one on reality shows like Big Brother and The Apprentice, but it’s impossible to get the footage—as we’ve seen with our president, because it’s incredibly locked down by legal teams.”

Penn and Teller remain busy these days, including their Las Vegas residency and their show Penn and Teller: Fool Us, a magic-competition show on The CW.

“We’ll be shooting all of the Fool Us episodes in early February and March,” Jillette said. “Teller and I are writing material to put in our show. We’re at a point now where our show is changing, and (new) material is going in every week, so it’s really fun. Teller and I are in our 60s now, and it’s supposed to be a time when you calm down—and we’re now writing material faster, better and crazier than when we were on Saturday Night Live, David Letterman and Broadway.”

Penn and Teller will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7, at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $45 to $65. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.hotwatercasino.com.

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