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Culture Club’s performance on Friday night, Nov. 11, at Fantasy Springs made good on a promise.

The well-known ’80s new-wave band, fronted by Boy George, was slated to kick off its current reunion here in the Coachella Valley back in November 2014, but after the show was announced Boy George learned he had a serious throat condition that required surgery. The show was cancelled, and the reunion tour was delayed.

On Friday night, the band gave fans a two-hour performance that was more than worth the wait.

Culture Club started the show with “Church of the Poison Mind,” and Boy George was the last member to walk onstage—dressed in an outfit covered with Xs and Os, which together stand for love. He addressed the audience after the song with his trademark wit and snarky humor, saying that people were probably not sure what they were going to get—and that the band members didn’t know what they were going to give—but he promised the crowd, “Slowly and surely, we will seduce you.” The band then performed “It’s a Miracle.”

“We’re a one-stop shop for those who are different,” Boy George said in between songs. “We have three requirements: Dance like no one is watching you, because if they are, we’re not doing our jobs. Love like no one ever broke your heart, because eventually, they will. And the last one: Dress like every day is Halloween.”

At another moment, Boy George observed a few people in the section where I was sitting using their cellphones to film him. He pointed them out, saying they were too busy on their cellphones, before waving and saying, “Hello! I’m actually here. This isn’t a third-party experience!” The band then launched into a cover of Bread’s “Everything I Own.”

Boy George took a moment to address the passing of Leonard Cohen, explaining how much of an influence Cohen was on him, and sharing some of the lyrics of Cohen’s “Anthem”: “There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.”

After “The Crying Game,” Boy George explained that “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” was the song that gave the band their big break in America. He said the only thing knew about America at that time was Kojack, The Partridge Family and The Jackson 5.

The three-song encore started with “Karma Chameleon,” and was followed by one of the best Prince tributes I’ve heard or seen all year: a full-blown cover of “Purple Rain.” T. Rex’s “Get It On” closed out the show.

Culture Club is band that was far more innovative than many 1980s contemporaries: The new-wave band took the sound of the ’80s and combined it with reggae, Latin, gospel and even easy listening and touches of Dusty Springfield’s style. Today, the band still sounds fantastic, and Boy George is the same sly, sassy and funny showman he’s always been.

Setlist

Church of the Poison Mind

It’s a Miracle

Tumble

Move Away

Everything I Own

Black Money

Time (Clock of the Heart)

Like I Used To

Different Man

Miss Me Blind

The Crying Game

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me

Victims

The War Song

Encore

Karma Chameleon

Purple Rain

Get It On

Published in Reviews

The holiday season is approaching, as are cooler temperatures—and hotter events, now that season is back in swing.

The McCallum Theatre has a busy schedule in November, with a number of great events to consider. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2, you’ll be singing “Urgent,” because Foreigner will be performing. Foreigner is one of the world’s best well-known rock bands, with 16 Top 30 hits, 75 million records sold and great songs such as “Dirty White Boy,” “Feels Like the First Time” and many others to its credit. Tickets, if there are any left by the time you read this, are $47 to $97. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5, bossa nova and jazz great Herb Alpert will take the stage alongside his wife, Lani Hall. Herb Alpert has made some great records in his long career, and many of them are now Latin and American music staples; Alpert is credited with bringing the Latin side to American jazz in a truly innovative way. Tickets are $37 to $77. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, be ready to say, “Oh myyyyy,” because George Takei will be appearing. Of course, Takei is known for his iconic role as Sulu on Star Trek, but he’s also a hilarious Internet celebrity, and on a serious note, he’s known for speaking emotionally about his family’s imprisonment in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Tickets are $37 to $97. But wait, there’s more: At 3 and 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 20, The Beach Boys will be performing. I admit that I’m not a fan of the current inception, which does not include creative genius Brian Wilson and Al Jardine. The current lineup is fronted by the Wilson brothers’ cousin, Mike Love, who has been scorned by many original Beach Boys fans. But if you’re feeling nostalgic, go ahead and check it out. Tickets are $67 to $97. Be sure to check out the McCallum’s online schedule for more events. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is rocking into November. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5, white-boy soul-singer Robin Thicke will be stopping by. Remember him? He had that song called “Blurred Lines” that was all over the place a few years ago that so resembled Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” that Thicke wound up in court. Thicke bottomed out pretty hard in 2014 when his follow-up to the Blurred Lines album, Paula, only sold about 30,000 copies. Watch as Thicke tries to get a comeback going. Tickets are $59 to $99. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, Culture Club (upper right) will finally be coming to the desert. The band announced a tour in 2014 that was slated to kick off at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa—but it was canceled before it began, because Boy George required surgery. You won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $59 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa will host an evening with Sheena Easton at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10. Did you know the Scotland native has sold more than 20 million records during her career? Tickets are $75 to $85. At 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, former Three Dog Night member Chuck Negron will take the stage. The former college basketball player has been performing for more than five decades now! Tickets are $40 to $75. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is offering some laughs in November. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 4, the star of BuzzFeed’s web series Whine About It, Matt Bellassai, will be stopping by. Bellassai had been getting 3.5 million weekly views, but in early 2016, he put his show on hiatus. If you’re looking for a funny Pride related-event, this is the one to pick. Bellassai is infamous for his comedic dialogue about being a single gay man living in the Big Apple. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18, Mr. Fluffy himself, Gabriel Iglesias, will return to the Coachella Valley with his new show, #FluffyBreaksEven. After several appearances in movies, he’s still a stand-up comedy genius and continues to amuse sold-out audiences. Tickets are $65 to $85. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will most likely see a boost in attention from locals and tourists alike thanks to Paul McCartney’s performance there in between Desert Trip weekends. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, there will be a great lineup of desert rockers: Fatso Jetson, Mondo Generator, The Freeks and Glitter Wizard. Fatso Jetson performed at a show at Pappy’s back in April, and I can tell you that the band kicked ass. Tickets are $10. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 26, it’ll get weird when the Meat Puppets and Mike Watt and the Secondmen perform. The Meat Puppets are coming back to Pappy’s after a performance there in 2013; it’s a great band from punk-label SST’s glory days. Mike Watt performed in the Minutemen, who were also on SST in the early ’80s; he’s a phenomenal bass player. I’ve seen Watt play with the Secondmen, and they’re mind blowing. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a show in November you won’t want to miss. At 9 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 23, there will be a special Thanksgiving Eve bash with Mighty Jack, The Sweat Act and 5th Town. This should be a fantastic show. I’ve become a big fan of 5th Town, which includes Long Duk Dong vocalist Chelsea Sugarbritches, and Blasting Echo keyboardist Linda Lemke Heinz. One of my favorites is 5th Town’s song, “Pretty.” Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Date Shed has some nice events taking place this month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 4, Metalachi will be coming back. Metalachi is on to something … performing metal songs in mariachi form? Brilliant! Opening the show will be Gutter Candy and Wyte Gye. Tickets are $10 to $15. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe Street, Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Purple Room is ramping up its schedule for the season. At 6:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, there will be a performance by Kal David and Lori Bono and the Real Deal. Kal David is a legend we’re lucky to have in our local scene. His blues credentials run deep: He’s performed with B.B. King and opened for Stevie Wonder. Tickets are $25. At 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, Branden and James (below) will be performing. Consisting of a cello (James) and a tenor voice (Branden), the duo will be perform everything from Bach to Justin Bieber. Tickets are $25 to $35. The Purple Room Supper Club, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

Alice Cooper is 68 years old, so one could assume he’d prefer to put the makeup away and spend his days enjoying his favorite hobby—golfing.

But rock ’n’ roll runs through Alice Cooper’s veins, and while he might enjoy spending time on the golf course, he still rules the stage: On Saturday night at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, it’s amazing the roof remained in place over the Special Events Center after Cooper was done performing.

After a brief Vincent Price-themed intro, the band blasted into “The Black Widow,” followed by his 1973 hit “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” It was evident early on that his band of Chuck Garric (bass), Tommy Henriksen (guitar), Nita Strauss (guitar) and Glen Sobel (drums) help make Cooper’s current live show sound nothing short of amazing—especially Strauss, who came from the Iron Maiden tribute band The Iron Maidens.

The show featured both familiar songs and live antics. During “Is It My Body,” a boa constrictor came out and slithered around Cooper’s head, wrapped itself around his neck, and was used by Cooper to taunt the front row. During “Feed My Frankenstein,” a tall Frankenstein figure came to life and walked around the stage. During “I Love the Dead,” the old guillotine trick—developed by the Amazing Randi, which helped Cooper’s live show became famous—was performed. One still has to wonder after all these years: How in the hell does he do that?

Toward the end of the show, a tombstone went up in the background for Keith Moon of The Who, as the band played a cover of “Pinball Wizard.” Another tombstone went up for the recently departed David Bowie as the crew covered “Suffragette City.” A third and final tombstone then surprised the audience: It was for Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead went up as the band covered Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.”

No Alice Cooper show would be complete without “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out,” which included a fantastic display of bubbles and pyro; it seemed like a fantastic end to a nearly two-hour show. But Cooper wasn’t done: He came back out and closed the show out with “Elected,” which included Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton characters fighting with each other.

This was my first time seeing Alice Cooper, and it felt like a Broadway musical gone bad, along with Christmas, Halloween and a scary acid trip—all rolled into one. In other words, it was pretty awesome. Cooper in large part created many of the the antics I have seen in punk and metal live performances over the years, after all.

Attending the show with me was local metalhead and lifelong Alice Cooper fan Frank Skalsky, who noted the show had a lot of surprises in it as far as the setlist was concerned, including songs that Cooper has not performed in a while, such as “Public Enemy #9,” “The World Needs Guts” and “Long Way to Go.”

Setlist

The Black Widow

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Under My Wheels

Public Animal #9

Billion Dollar Babies

Long Way to Go

Is It My Body

The World Needs Guts

Woman of Mass Destruction

(Guitar solo by Nita Strauss)

Poison

Halo of Flies

Feed My Frankenstein

Cold Ethyl

Only Women Bleed

Guilty

Ballad of Dwight Fry

Killer

I Love the Dead

Pinball Wizard

Suffragette City

Ace of Spades

I’m Eighteen

School’s Out

Encore

Elected

Published in Reviews

Desert Trip. Desert Daze. The Joshua Tree Music Festival. Alice Cooper. Clint Black.

Welcome to the start of season, folks: It’s a blissfully crazy music month here in the Coachella Valley.

The McCallum Theatre is up and running for the 2016-2017 season. It all begins at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 15, with Aida Cuevas and Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. Cuevas is a Latin Grammy winner who has been at it for more than 30 years, and she’s accompanied by what is being billed as America’s first all-female mariachi ensemble. Tickets are $27 to $87. At noon, Sunday, Oct. 23, the McCallum will celebrate its Fifth Annual Family Fun Day. There will be fun, games and a performance of B—The Underwater Bubble Show, about a character named Mr. B who is transported to a magic world of bubbles. Tickets are $9 to $25. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 29, Sue Sylvester … um, we mean Jane Lynch will entertain with a musical-comedy performance—as well as show tunes! You won’t want to miss this one! Tickets are $47 to $87. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting some fantastic shows this month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 22, the Doobie Brothers will be returning to the Coachella Valley, after performing at Stagecoach back on May 1. Since the group first appeared in Northern California in 1970, the Doobie Brothers have sold more than 40 million records—becoming a legendary name in rock music in the process. Hmm … I wonder where they got their name? Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs will share the spotlight. Interestingly enough, McDonald fronted the Doobie Brothers for a period of time. Meanwhile, Scaggs has been making waves in music since the ’60s, when he was a member of the Steve Miller Band. Tickets are $29 to $69. If all these legends aren’t enough to get you excited … at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 29, there will be a performance by Alice Cooper (right). That’s right, ALICE COOPER! Many, many things can be said about Alice Cooper. You can discuss the makeup, the live performances that have included a guillotine, collaborations with the Amazing Randi and Salvador Dali … and, of course, songs that have become heavy-metal staples, like “School’s Out,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “I’m Eighteen.” You need to get your ass to this show. 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 has one rather compelling event (if Desert Trip is not your thing, that is): At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 8, there will be a performance by ZZ Top. I’ve seen ZZ Top twice, most recently at Stagecoach in 2015, where the band delivered a kickass and unforgettable performance. No matter what your attitude may be, take some ear plugs! They play LOUD. Tickets are $85 to $115. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

I’ve been quite impressed with the events that Morongo Casino Resort Spa has hosted recently, and I’m excited to see what the coming year will bring. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 7, country star Clint Black will be performing. Black is a big name in country music—and has been since the ’80s. He’s also tried his hand in music production and has acted in films such as Flicka 2 and Anger Management. Tickets are $35 to $45. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 21, The Fray will be performing. The Fray confused a lot of people as the band rode up the charts of the alternative-mainstream music world. People labeled The Fray as an “emo” band and as a “Christian” band. Really, neither label is accurate. If you listened to the radio sometime in the last decade, chances are you’ve heard hit-single “How to Save a Life.” Tickets are $67.50 to $77.50. Cleveland does not have much of a local music legacy to speak of—but see an exception to the rule at 10:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28, when there will be a performance by Cleveland’s Breakfast Club. It’s actually a fantastic cover band featuring some of Cleveland’s best local musicians. The group is fun to watch! Tickets are $20 to $40. If that’s not enough … you want the best? Well, the best is coming to the Coachella Valley: At 8 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 30, KISS will take the stage. KISS? Yep, KISS! These days, that means Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and two non-original members, guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer. Personally, I’m ready for Ace Frehley and Peter Criss to return! Tickets are $100 to $150. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a packed October schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 14, Tommy Stinson’s Cowboys in the Campfire will be performing. Stinson (below) served as the bassist of the Replacements and Guns N’ Roses (after Axl Rose fired Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum). Stinson has departed GNR and released solo recordings recently; they don’t sound too bad. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 15, The Evangenitals will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. While the group is a Pappy’s regular, the band is always worth seeing. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

As we begin to (hopefully?) enjoy slightly cooler temperatures, there are a lot of hot events taking place ’round these parts throughout the month of September.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a great schedule this month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 2, iconic comedy duo Cheech and Chong will be performing. Their marijuana humor made them a huge deal—and their jokes have stood the test of time, as many younger people are now laughing at their special brand of silliness. Oh, yeah, Dave’s not here, man. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 9, Toto will take the stage. There aren’t too many bands whose members can claim 200 Grammy nominations and performances on 5,000 albums between them. Toto just might be one of the most underappreciated bands of all time. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16, there will be a double bill featuring Counting Crows and Matchbox 20 frontman Rob Thomas. Both Counting Crows and Matchbox 20 were huge hits on adult-contemporary radio in the ’90s, and Thomas was featured on Santana’s hit single “Smooth” in 1999; it’s one of the most successful singles of all time. Tickets are $49 to $119. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has one event that you won’t want to miss: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, ’80s pop icon Cyndi Lauper will be performing. Lauper is probably best remembered for “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” although she’s had other hits through the years, including “True Colors.” Her career reached a whole new level in 2013 when her hit musical Kinky Boots took Broadway by storm. Tickets are $75 to $95. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has some fine offerings in September. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 3, comedian Rodney Carrington will perform. Carrington has many other talents beyond comedy: He’s a singer and an actor, too. He’s released nine successful comedy albums. Tickets are $35 to $55. Another fantastic show will happen at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 23, when new-wave band Squeeze stops by. The group is known for hits such as “Cool for Cats,” “Up the Junction” and many others. The band recently recorded a new album, Cradle to the Grave—its first album of new material in 17 years. Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa continues to attract big names. At 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 9, the ’90s Remix Tour will be coming through, featuring Blackstreet, Ginuwine and Dru Hill. Confession: Blackstreet is one of my guilty pleasures. I secretly loved “No Diggity” in high school … and probably didn’t hide that fact so well. Ginuwine and Dru Hill lit up the R&B charts in the ’90s. This is one show you’ll want to go see. Tickets are $55 to $65. At 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16, country hit-maker The Band Perry (above right) will be performing. Siblings Kimberly Perry, Reid Perry and Neil Perry took the country world by storm in 2010 when they released their self-titled debut album, and have played sold-out shows around the world ever since. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 23, Micki Free of Shalamar will take the stage. Shalamar was a highly influential dance music group during the late ’70s and ’80s that had several hit singles. Free also won a Grammy Award for his contributions to the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. If you’ve seen Chappelle’s Show, you’ve probably heard Charlie Murphy’s story about his friends playing a game of basketball against Prince and the Revolution—and Micki Free. Tickets are $40. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace one can’t-miss event coming up. At 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 30, Shooter Jennings will be performing. Shooter Jennings, the son of Waylon Jennings, has had an interesting career. While he’s recorded alternative country music, he also recorded a bizarre conspiracy theory-related album titled Black Ribbons. His most recent release, Countach, is an entire album covering the songs of electric-music pioneer Giorgio Moroder, which has a guest appearance from… Marilyn Manson? Yeah … . Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed hasn’t released a full schedule of events yet; it remains to be seen whether the venue will branch out, or just keep booking the same acts over and over again. Speaking of returning acts, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, punk/reggae band The Expendables (below) will be back at the Date Shed. Then group has been around since 1997 and has shared the stage with bands such as Slightly Stoopid, NOFX, Less Than Jake and many others. Tickets are $17. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

What: The Bi Bim Bap

Where: JOY Asian Cuisine at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio

How much: $17

Contact: 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com/prod/dining/dining.php#joy

Why: So many flavors and sensations!

Once upon a time, casino food was looked down upon. I grew up in Reno, Nev., home of the Club Cal Neva, which for years advertised a 99-cent ham-and-eggs meal on billboards far and wide. And, yes, you get what you pay for.

Of course, things have changed since those days, when casinos were pretty much limited to Nevada and Atlantic City. Today, casinos can be found most anywhere—and they’ve upped their game, no pun intended, when it comes to food. In fact, some of the world’s best restaurants are found in casinos. The same can be said about the Coachella Valley: I’ve recently discovered that one of the area’s best Asian restaurants can be found inside of Fantasy Springs.

JOY offers a pan-Asian menu, and on my inaugural visit there, I was happy with every dish that I tried. The kimchi? Amazing. The war wonton soup? Packed with flavor. And the bi bim bap? One of the best preparations of this dish I’ve ever had.

What made the JOY version of this Korean classic so gosh-darned yummy? Well, there is the well-seasoned beef. (My only nitpick is that I wanted a little more.) Then there are the tasty mushrooms and vegetables. And last but oh-so-certainly not least is the rice, oh that rice—pillow-soft in some parts, and delightfully crispy along the sides of the blazing-hot bowl.

Regular readers know I am not thrilled with the Asian food on offer here in the Coachella Valley. Well, I am feeling a little better about things after the first of what will most likely be many visits to JOY. My mouth waters at the mere thought of that bi bim bap; it was truly excellent.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

It’s always nice to be inside with air conditioning and cold beverages during the sweltering August heat. Well, here are some upcoming events where air conditioning and frosty drinks are abundant—as is great music.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting some big names this month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20, rapper Pitbull will be performing. It seems like every other hit pop song these days includes Pitbull on the track. After selling millions of albums and racking up numerous music awards, Pitbull is showing no signs of slowing down. Tickets are $69 to $129. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 27, former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar will be performing with a group that he’s calling The Circle. Joe Satriani and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers are currently unavailable to perform with him as the supergroup Chickenfoot, so Hagar has recruited Michael Anthony (who also played with him in Van Halen and Chickenfoot), Jason Bonham and Vic Johnson. 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 has one notable event taking place in August. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 6, British reggae band UB40 will be performing. UB40’s reggae credentials are incredible, and the band has had about 50 hit radio singles in the United Kingdom, with several here as well—many of which are reggae covers of songs, such as “Red Red Wine” by Neil Diamond and “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher. Tickets are $55 to $75. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has suddenly become the place to be! At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 5, Flogging Molly (right) will be performing, right on the heels of a European tour. One of the two best-known Irish punk bands in America (the other being the Dropkick Murphys), Flogging Molly falls a little bit more on the traditional Celtic music side—and isn’t afraid to slow things down to tell an Irish hard-luck story that will bring a tear to your eye. Fun fact: Frontman Dave King was in heavy-metal band Fastway in the ’80s, and that band did the soundtrack for the terrible horror film Trick or Treat. Tickets are $55 to $65. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 12, there will be a show by Flo Rida. Flo Rida is a fascinating figure in the sense that he’s been combining house music with hip-hop. He’s been highly successful, in part due to terrific collaborations with artists such as Sia, T-Pain, Fresh Kid Ice and others. Tickets are $65 to $75. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace continues to fill the Monday Open-Mic Night with local music figures as guest hosts. On Aug. 1, Big Dave Johnson, Pappy’s security man and bassist for Mojave Sky, will be hosting; on Aug. 8, it’ll be Stew Heyduk from the Pappy’s Sunday Band. On Aug. 15, Lisa Lynn Morgan of R. Buckle Road and Lisa Lynn and the Country Gentlemen will be hosting; on Aug. 22, the hosts are local musicians Nigel Roman and Jennifer Irvine. On Aug. 29, Brent Simpson from Daytime Moon and Spankshaft is in charge. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 13, Joshua Tree musician Gene Evaro Jr. (below) will be celebrating his album-release party. Gene has been on a fantastic run, playing a national tour with Elle King, and performing at various big events including the Joshua Tree Music Festival. His music has also made recent appearances on various soundtracks, including that of The Deadliest Catch. Every local-music lover should support Gene—and buy his album! Tickets are $12. At 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20, there will be a performance by Diane Coffee, featuring Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming. Diane Coffee is sort of a Broadway-meets-’70s-psychedelic-rock project. It’s definitely different … in a good way. Tickets are $10 to $12. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Splash House will be returning for Round 2 this year, from Friday, Aug. 12, to Sunday, Aug. 14, at the Riviera Palm Springs, The Saguaro and the Palm Springs Air Museum. The lineup features headliners Gorgon City (performing a DJ set) and Snakehips. Other performers will include Hudson Mohawke, Bondax, DJDS and many others. General admission tickets are $120—and as of now, the event is listed as sold out. For more information or to purchase tickets, should any others become available, go to www.splashhouse.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has one scheduled event that’s a must-see: At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 6, catch great triple-bill of Jesika Von Rabbit, The Yip-Yops and Herbert. This is the one local show in August you don’t want to miss. The Yip-Yops are back and performing under the band’s original name, after losing the IIIZ name to former record label Hood and Associates earlier this year. Meanwhile, Jesika Von Rabbit just performed a kick-ass show at Pappy and Harriet’s with the Death Valley Girls. Folks, this is the Low Desert’s chance to party with the cool kids from the high desert. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Photo below by Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net.

Published in Previews

They say that disco is dead—but if there’s one disco-era band that is still in high demand, it’s Earth, Wind and Fire.

Founded in Chicago in 1971 by the great Maurice White, who died earlier this year, the band has been an innovator in the R&B genre while also finding its way into funk, jazz, psychedelic soul and, yes, disco. The group will be bring its high-energy show to Fantasy Springs Resort Casino this Friday, July 29.

During a recent phone interview, bassist Verdine White explained what has kept Earth, Wind and Fire together despite various comings, goings, struggles—and now the death of Maurice White.

“I think it’s obviously the music: People love the music,” White said. “They love what it is we’ve been doing, and now we’re seeing a younger generation of people who are coming to the shows. That’s an amazing thing. I think they’ve heard the songs through movies and television shows, and through their parents and some of their friends.”

Earth, Wind and Fire last won a Grammy Award in 1983 for hit-single “Wanna Be With You,” but the band has been nominated regularly through the last decade and was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year.

“I think every group would love to have longevity like that, along with a few Grammy Awards,” White said. “Of course, we were given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award this year, and that was a wonderful thing for us.”

White—a man of few words who speaks those few words rapidly—said the band still loves touring after all these years.

“I really love it,” he said. “We recently got back from Europe, and we did Glastonbury with Adele and Coldplay. It’s always a great thing to work with modern artists of that caliber. We’re really pleased and feel fortunate for all of that.”

White said Earth, Wind and Fire lives on through the modern EDM scene and DJs remixing the band’s songs. For starters, one can find several different remixes of 1978 single “September” online.

“I think it’s kind of fun, because they do the mashups and things like that,” White said. “The best DJs, like David Guetta and people like that, play our music. To me, it’s actually a compliment.”

Earth, Wind and Fire has also been sampled by hip-hop artists including A Tribe Called Quest, Snoop Dogg, The Roots, Will Smith and many others. White said that he, unlike some other musicians, is not upset about sampling.

“It hasn’t bothered me yet, because it’s been done the right way,” he said. “I really love what A Tribe Called Quest did with our stuff. They did a good musical rendition with it too.”

Losing Maurice White—Verdine’s older brother—earlier this year was difficult. However, Earth, Wind and Fire had already been touring without him for more than two decades, following his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis in 1994, although he stayed active in the band’s business side. Verdine White his fellow band members are keeping on in his spirit.

“We’re just carrying on the work that he started,” Verdine White said. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. We just take it a day at a time, and right now, we’re doing great things like Glastonbury, Bonnaroo and things like that. We’re right on track.”

Anyone who has seen an Earth, Wind and Fire concert knows the group always puts on a good show. White promised a good time for Fantasy Springs attendees on Friday.

“We’re going to have a lot of fun, and that’s what we’re looking forward to,” he said. “Everyone will have a good time when we’re there.”

Is there anything new in the works from Earth, Wind and Fire?

“We’re thinking about it now—and you’ll be the first to know!” White said.

Earth, Wind and Fire will perform with at 8 p.m., Friday, July 29, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $49 to $79. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Published in Previews

Close to 1,000 young boxing hopefuls and proven amateurs this week are congregating at the 15th Annual Desert Showdown at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio—all in search of a title in their weight and age class.

For one local girl, the tournament means a return to the site of her first sanctioned bout and victory in her thus-far undefeated career.

“My first fight was when I was 12, and it was at the Desert Showdown four years ago,” said Citlalli Ortiz, of Coachella, during a recent training session at her boxing home, the Coachella Valley Boxing Club gym, run by the valley’s elder statesman of pugilism, Lee Espinoza.

Ortiz started boxing because she was dragged to the gym while her sister got into the ring.

“It was my older sister, Brenda, which was funny,” she said. “I would say, ‘No. I don’t want to go,’ when she went to the gym to train.”

Citlalli—pronounced “seat-lolly”—has been trained and managed by her father, Alex Ortiz. He explained the unlikely path taken by his younger daughter to the 2016 USA Boxing National Junior Championship at 154 pounds.

“It was not intended for Citlalli to be here at this moment,” he said. “My oldest daughter, Brenda, kept bugging me to bring her (Brenda) over to the gym so she could try boxing. Citlalli just came along because we had no one to leave her with.”

Citlalli eventually entered the ring because there were no other girls around to train with Brenda.

“Citlalli would get in the ring with her older sister and be like the punching bag,” said Alex Ortiz, who works as a substitute teacher. “And then one day, my dad brought some friends over to the house, and there were two boys about her age. They found boxing gloves lying around in the house, so the boys put them on, and they were both punching her. I got really upset watching her covering up, and not punching back. So I said, ‘You guys want to box? Let’s go out into the yard.’ I told her for the first time, ‘Just do the one-two. Left, then right.’ She knocked both of them out. One of the kids even spun around as he fell down. That’s when I realized that she really had potential.”

Those earliest boxing experiences with her older sister had a lasting impact on Citlalli.

“There’s a six-year difference between us,” she said. “But I tried every time, and even if I wanted to do something different, she would always have something better to do. I guess that’s how she helped me learn, and I was able to take a beating from anybody after that.”

Citlalli has not taken any beatings since she began her sanctioned boxing career. Still undefeated, Citlalli in the past year has won championship belts and medals at the 40th Annual Gene Lewis Invitational Tournament in Mesa, Ariz.; the 2016 USA Junior and Youth Boxing Championships in Reno, Nev.; and the 2016 USA Boxing Junior Olympic, Prep National and Youth Open Championships in Dallas. In the latter two events, she defeated former national champions to claim the titles.

Despite her undefeated record, Citlalli has definitely faced some challenges since she started boxing—including a battle with her weight.

“I was over 200 pounds when I started boxing,” she said. “So every time I would ask somebody to train me, they would say they couldn’t train me, because I wasn’t going to lose the weight.”

However, she has lost a lot of weight; all of her recent title victories have been in the 154-pound weight class. Still, Citlalli and her father believe her boxing future will be brightest if she gets down to 145 pounds. When does she hope to make that goal? Like ... immediately.

“I’ve been 154 for a while now,” Citlalli said, “but for the (Desert) Showdown, my goal is to be 145.”

Citlalli’s father also teased her about the fact that she’s trying to slim down for her upcoming quinceaneara.

“She wants to go down to 141,” he said. “So that’s another motivation for her. I told her she has to be at the weight (for the tournament), because if she tries on the dress she wants now and then loses 10 pounds, that dress is going to be too big for her.”

Once she makes her target weight, what will the rest of her future look like?

“I’ve heard that they’re going to let professionals compete in Olympic boxing, and if that’s official, then we want to go pro and then go to the Olympics (in 2020),” Citlalli said. “If it’s not true, then we would rather go to the Olympics.”

As she enters her junior year at Coachella Valley High School, Citlalli is aware of the importance of her education.

“I know I have to keep up with my grades,” she said. “I know boxing is not forever, so I’m going to have to look for a career that I like. But for now, I really want to focus on boxing.”

Citlalli’s father noted that her mother has always been wary of boxing. “But she’s been seeing Citlalli’s results in the ring, and that’s what makes her say, ‘I know that you’re good at this, but just don’t forget school.’ And we’ve got to respect that. I feel that way, too. I know it’s important and that you have to have that Plan B and be prepared. Time flies.”

Published in Features

July is going to be hot—but never fear, because there are some great air-conditioned events going on.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is again the place to be in July. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 2, get some advice on how to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them, when Kenny Rogers performs. The pop-country icon has sold more than 120 million albums! Tickets are $29 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 9, pop-star Kesha will be stopping in. Since 2010, Kesha has taken the music world by storm—although many still don’t know what to make of her. After a nasty court battle with producer Dr. Luke, she’s returning to live performances and seems to be heading down a different creative path. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 29, get out your dancing shoes, because Earth, Wind and Fire is coming back to town. It’s been a rough year for the group due to the death of founding member Maurice White, but the band is still in demand and continues to dazzle audiences. Tickets are $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has several intriguing events in July. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 16, standup comedian Brian Regan will perform. Regan, who is known to refrain from using profanity, is quite popular across all age groups and has been going strong since the ’90s. Tickets are $55 to $85. There’s another event worth mentioning if you are a fan of world music: At 6:30 p.m., Saturday, July 30, there will be a show by Armenian singer Armenchik. Born in Armenia and raised in Los Angeles, Armenchik showed a natural talent for singing at a young age and has performed all around the world. Tickets are $60 to $150. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is going to heat up at 8 p.m., Friday, July 22, when Maxwell (right) stops by. In 1996, Maxwell released Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite, which is said to have changed R&B forever. Maxwell’s singing ability is right up there with that of Marvin Gaye; it’s no wonder that Urban Hang Suite was a hit, even though Maxwell did it without much commercial support. In fact, the album went on to sell 2 million copies. If there is one show you shouldn’t miss in July, this is the one. Tickets are $71 to $111. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a solid schedule through July. Ted Quinn, the longtime host of the free open-mic nights on Mondays, has stepped down. During July, Pappy’s is bringing in a series of guest hosts: Jesika Von Rabbit on July 4; Leslie Mariah Andrews of the Small Wonder Experience on July 11; Bella Dawn on July 18; and Lee Joseph on July 25. In other news: At 9 p.m., Sunday, July 10, the group Imarhan will be performing. Imarhan performs Tuareg music, which has a soulful and groovy rhythm. Sadam, Imarhan’s frontman, is the cousin of Eyadou Ag Leche, of Tinariwen, who also helped write some of the music for Imarhan’s self-titled debut album. Tickets are $15 to $17. At 8:30 p.m., Saturday, July 16, the queen of the high desert, Jesika Von Rabbit, will take the stage. Also on the bill: Death Valley Girls. Hopefully this performance will mark the return of Von Rabbit’s dancing man, Larry Van Horn, who recently told me he suffered a leg injury, but is getting back into the groove. Last but certainly not least, at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 30, The Evangenitals will be coming back yet again for a guaranteed great time. The show is free! Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Coachella Valley Art Scene is teaming up with the Ultrastar Mary Pickford Theatre in Cathedral City for the second summer in a row. Each Friday, a local band will play from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. On Friday, July 1, Giselle Woo will be performing. On Friday, July 8, David Morales from EeVaan Tre and the Show will take the stage; on Friday, July 15, The Flusters are the act; on Friday, July 22, EeVaan Tre himself will be performing, and on Friday, July 29, Madison Ebersole will perform. Admission is free. Ultrastar Mary Pickford Theater, 36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City; 760-328-7100; www.ultrastarmovies.com.

Copa Palm Springs will be hosting comedian and actor Leslie Jordan (below) again at 8 p.m., Friday, July 1; 8 p.m., Saturday, July 2; and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, July 3. He’ll be performing his one man show, Straight Outta Chattanooga. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-322-3554; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Published in Previews