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Previews

13 Mar 2015
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Gang of Four was a big name in the post-punk scene of the late 1970s and early ’80s, yet the group’s influence lives on—bands such as Franz Ferdinand and Rage Against the Machine cite the English group as a big influence. The band itself lives on, too: Although guitarist Andy Gill is the only remaining original member, the band just released a new album, and will be playing at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday, March 27. Gang of Four’s stripped-down punk/funk sound, often combined with political lyrics, made the band popular—and controversial. The first single, “Damaged Goods,” gained acclaim in Europe and the United States in 1978. In 1979, the group refused to play their hit single “At Home He’s a Tourist” over a disagreement regarding the word “rubber.” Soon after, single “I Love a Man in Uniform” was banned from BBC Radio. During a recent phone interview, Andy Gill…
10 Mar 2015
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Ne-Yo first hit the charts in 2006 with his hit single “So Sick”—and ever since, every album he’s released has hit the Top 10. A lot of people know that. A lot of people don’t know he’s also a talented and acclaimed songwriter who has penned hits for Mary J. Blige, Beyonce and many others. Ne-Yo will be performing at Fantasy Springs on Saturday, March 14. Ne-Yo (Shaffer Smith) was born in Camden, Ark.; his mother was from Arkansas, and his father was from Nevada. His parents, both musicians, split up when he was young, and he was raised by his mother in Camden before they eventually moved to Las Vegas. “There wasn’t a whole lot that was going on out there (in Camden),” Ne-Yo said during a recent phone interview. “It was the skating rink or the parking lot of the post office where the young people hung out,…
05 Mar 2015
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Singer-songwriter Don McLean is best known for his 1971 hit single “American Pie”—but he’s enjoyed a string of other hits throughout his career. After appearing at Stagecoach last year and stopping in Riverside last summer for a show, he’ll be returning to the area—specifically, the McCallum Theatre—on Tuesday, March 17. During a recent phone interview, McLean was quick to answer my questions; in fact, he often started answering before I finished asking—hinting that after 45 years in the music industry, he feels like he’s heard it all. McLean has been open about the fact that he suffers from asthma. “If you have asthma, you’re always an asthmatic,” McLean said. “Some people have bronchial asthma when they’re young. In my case, I had bronchial tubes that were not the proper size. When they spasm, you have terrible attacks, and it leads to pneumonia, and sometimes, you can die. I’ve had that…
02 Mar 2015
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It’s March … so we all know what’s comin’, weather-wise. We strongly recommend getting out and enjoying some fantastic events before the broiler gets turned on. The McCallum Theatre’s schedule is full of music events in March. While Johnny Mathis’ March 7 and 8 performances are sold out, here are some other shows to consider: At 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 17, singer-songwriter Don McLean will be stopping by. McLean wrote the 1971 hit single “American Pie,” for which he’s widely known; however, he’s written many other great songs, too. After catching his performance at Stagecoach last year, I can say he’s worth seeing. Tickets are $25 to $65. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 27, Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang will be performing. Tickets are $65 to $125. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some great stuff going on in March. At…
23 Feb 2015
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For years, Steve Tyrell worked behind the scenes as a producer and songwriter for artists and movie soundtracks. However, his cover of “The Way You Look Tonight” for the 1991 film Father of the Bride pushed him out of the shadows and into the spotlight. He will be performing at the McCallum Theatre on Thursday, March 5. “Mainly, I was a record producer,” Tyrell said during a recent phone interview. “I worked as a music supervisor and making music for movies. Those were my main two jobs.” However, Tyrell, now 70, has always been a singer, going back to his childhood. “I made records down in Texas with local bands,” he said. “… I got more interested in being behind the scenes writing songs and producing, but mainly producing. I’ve written songs that were successful, and some that have been recorded by some very legendary people. I enjoyed doing that…
19 Feb 2015
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The Purple Room Restaurant and Stage is known for its residencies featuring acts such as the Gand Band and The Judy Show—but the venue hasn’t been particularly well-known as a place to see edgier, younger talent. However, that is beginning to change, thanks to a new series of programming called Purple Room After Dark. The series features local and visiting acts in shows that start at 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Handling the booking for Purple Room After Dark is Alex Callego, who has worked with the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, as well as Bar. He also handles the Palm Springs Comic-Con and various other local events. “I was approached by Tony Marchese, and by Dean McFarlane, who I used to work with over at the Ace Hotel,” Callego explained. “When Dean moved over to Purple Room, I said, ‘Hey, maybe you can get me in there.…
06 Feb 2015
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Brett Dennen comes off as a genuine and laid-back guy—a fact that should make his Saturday, Feb. 21, solo acoustic performance at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace a fun and welcoming time. Dennen grew up Oakdale, Calif., where he was homeschooled, and his artistic endeavors were encouraged by his parents. While he was growing up, he was a camp counselor at Camp Jack Hazard in Dardanelle, Calif.—and that’s where he learned how to play the guitar. “I got a guitar when I was a teenager,” Dennen said during a recent phone interview. “I started playing, and that was fun. … I don’t know what made me want to start writing songs, but I just did. I got to a point where I knew a lot of songs, and I was that guy at the party you knew who could sing a Dave Matthews Band song really well, or the guy…
03 Feb 2015
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For more than 45 years, Paul Rodgers has been one of the most powerful voices in all of rock music. The front man of Bad Company has also fronted Free and The Firm; he can also say that he’s performed with the members of Queen. He’ll be stopping by Spotlight 29 for a Valentine’s Day performance on Saturday, Feb. 14. Paul Rodgers is originally from Middlesbrough, a large industrial town in the northeast region of England. “It was heavy industry,” Rodgers said during a recent phone interview. “It was shipbuilding, steelwork and chemicals. It was very bridge-y as I remember it. It’s changed an awful lot now, because a lot of the shipbuilding went to Japan, and the steelworks went to other places—but chemicals are still there, actually. We had the most amazing sunsets because there are so many chemicals in the air.” Rodgers credited the atmosphere in Middlesbrough for…