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When the band Chicago released its first album in 1969, the group’s combination of jazz and classical elements with rock music was unlike anything ever heard before.

Now almost five decades later, the band is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group will be performing at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Friday, July 1.

During a recent phone interview, Lee Loughnane, one of the band’s four remaining original members, discussed the group’s 2016 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“It took 25 years to get nominated,” Loughnane said. “It’s not that we didn’t care, but we didn’t think it would actually happen. When they decided to nominate us, we were shocked and excited. Even then, it was possible during the voting that we wouldn’t be elected to the induction ceremony. When that happened back in December 2015, and they announced the inductees, and we were one of them, it was pretty exciting.”

Also part of the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class: N.W.A. Loughnane said there was only one thing that disappointed him regarding N.W.A.’s controversial induction. 

“I would have actually liked to have seen them perform at the ceremony. That’s one of the reasons you’re on the map—you’re there to show how you got you there,” he said. “For whatever reason, they decided it wasn’t appropriate. But it’s fun to be included with your peers—past, present and future. That’s something that something no one can take away from you. It’s like winning the World Series.”

When Chicago first began playing all those many years ago, the band was known for lengthier than usual songs. However, that changed somewhat over the years.

“Radio did a lot of editing,” Loughnane said with a laugh. “That’s how you keep them under 4 or 5 minutes. They usually only allow 3:30 or something like that. It’s very rare to hear a song that’s over 4 minutes on the radio. They have to pay their way and do a lot of ads. That’s what cuts the music down.

“Initially, we just wrote music. It wasn’t until commercial radio decided they wanted to play something of ours (that songs got shortened). We didn’t worry about how long a song was and just wrote and played. We do the same thing now.”

An oft-stated fun fact about Chicago is that Jimi Hendrix was a huge fan of the band and envied the guitar-playing abilities of Terry Kath. Chicago even toured with Hendrix.

“I remember hearing him say he thought Terry played better than him,” Loughnane said. “… (He felt) that he just played one gig after the other and got tired of the stuff he was playing. He felt that he should have been further than he was. But honestly, he was fine the way he was. It was just that internal push with the artist wanting to be better and open new avenues of music. There’s an inevitable period when you feel you’re not going it. When we met Jimi, it was at the end of his career just before he died. It was fun playing with him, opening for him and hanging with him. Not many people can say they got to do that.”

The accidental death of Terry Kath in 1978 due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound is still a tough subject for the original members of Chicago to discuss, even though the band kept on going.

“Terry’s death was the hardest thing to get through. … As memory serves, we thought that was the end of the band,” Loughnane said. “That was only a couple of weeks, and I’d be really surprised if it was more than a month before we realized Terry was gone, but the rest of us were still together, and it was still viable, and we had to replace Terry, which was no easy feat.”

From 1969 to 1980, the band released an album every year—racking up numerous hits along the way. Through most of the 1980s, the band released albums every other year. As a result, Chicago has a massive catalog of hits.

“It’s impossible to play all the hits in one show,” Loughnane said. “We have experimented through the years with various shows … and we put things in, and if it doesn’t work, it gets pulled out of the set, and we put something in that does. For the most part, we have been successful every night in making people happy.”

Loughnane said the city that gave the band its name is still a great place for music.

“Obviously, it influenced us. We grew up listening to blues and rock ’n’ roll, along with jazz and all the other musical influences that came through Chicago. It was part of our being as we became musicians. Today, that has continued with other artists growing up in the city and being influenced by whatever types of music they were listening to at the time. You can tell that Chicago is musically multifaceted.”

Chicago will perform with Rita Wilson at 8 p.m., Friday, July 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.

Published in Previews

The kids are getting out of school. The temperatures are consistently reaching triple figures. There’s far less traffic in the valley. Yep, June is here—but that doesn’t mean things are going to be boring, because there are some amazing shows coming during the month.

You can always depend on Fantasy Springs Resort Casino to keep bringing in great entertainment during the summer. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 3, country music star Billy Currington will be stopping by. Considering the guy has nine No. 1 singles under his belt to go along with multiple Grammy nominations, you definitely don’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 18, get ready for Madonna … the Mexican Madonna, that is. For more than 30 years, Yuri has stayed consistent, putting out 34 albums with a ton of hit singles. Expand your horizons, and go check her out! Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort has a must-attend music event in June. It’s that time of the year when you need to get those dedications to your boo ready, because at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 4, it’s time for the Art Laboe Summer Love Jam. This year’s performers will be Thee Midnighters with Little Willie G, Deniece Williams, Malo, Amanda Perez and MC Magic. Tickets are $45 to $65. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is hosting some intriguing events—and one of them in particular is quite a big deal. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 4, country superstars Lady Antebellum (right) will be stopping by. The group has won eight Grammy awards, four American Music Association awards and numerous varied country-music awards. Lady Antebellum has also been a headlining act at Stagecoach. Tickets are $100 to $200. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 24, a band from the late ’90s-early ’00s you may have forgotten all about, 3 Doors Down (below), will be stopping by. Who can forget that tour the group did with Creed after shortly arriving on the scene? Who can forget how many times that “Kryptonite” song played on the radio, ruining it for us all? I’d prefer to forget all about it, but if don’t want to forget, I won’t judge you for going. 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, per usual, has a fantastic slate of shows. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 4, Nick Waterhouse will be coming back. The Los Angeles based singer/songwriter/producer is a purist regarding ’60s rock ’n’ roll and vintage music. It’s been two years since he released his last album, Holly, so hopefully he has something new in the works. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 18, Los Angeles psychedelic rock group Mystic Braves will be appearing. The album Days of Yesteryear was one of my favorite albums of 2015. This group has been selling out venues across the country and is one of the hottest new bands you’ve probably never heard of. You definitely should go check them out; I promise you won’t be disappointed. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has some pretty good events coming up … wait, make that some awesome events. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 18, desert-rock legends Dali’s Llama will be performing. I have a confession: I somehow had never seen the band perform until earlier this year. Well, I was missing out. If you’ve never seen Dali’s Llama, get your ass to The Hood, and show some hometown love. If you have seen them before, be sure to go anyway. Admission is free! Now, for the really big event … on Monday, June 20, get ready to rock harder than you ever have before, because The Adicts will be stopping by. Yes, The Adicts, the legendary British punk band! However, as of our press deadline, that’s all we know; we could find no more details beyond the date appearing on The Adicts’ tour schedule on Facebook. Stay tuned to The Hood’s Facebook page for more details, because this going to be awesome. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

Queensrÿche endured a turbulent and ugly two-year period after parting ways with vocalist Geoff Tate in 2012.

However, thanks to legal clarity and the addition of vocalist Todd La Torre, Queensrÿche is back and better than ever. The new-and-improved Queensrÿche will be performing with former Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Saturday, June 11.

The drama over the 2012 split was big news in the heavy-metal community. The rift occurred when Tate’s wife was fired as the band’s manager, and his stepdaughter was fired from running the band’s fan club. These moves led to some physical altercations during the 2012 tour; the other Queensrÿche members then fired Tate—and the end result was two different bands performing as Queensrÿche until 2014, when Tate lost rights to the name in a settlement.

The revamped Queensrÿche has released two albums: a self-titled album in 2013, and Condition Human in 2015.

During a recent phone interview, La Torre explained his personal philosophy as a frontman.

“I don’t try to steal the show from anyone else in the band,” La Torre said. “I’m one fifth of the band, and I just try to give an honest performance. There’s nothing contrived or theatrical in what I do. I’m just singing from the heart, and honestly, I think that’s what I would want to expect and see from a band or performer that I like—just honesty in their delivery and performance. That’s better than any kind of technical proficiency or anything scripted or contrived.”

La Torre explained how he ended up in Rising West, the side project featuring members of Queensrÿche, which then became Queensrÿche. At the time, he was with Crimson Glory.

“I met (Queensrÿche guitarist) Michael Wilton in Los Angeles during a dinner party, and we talked about doing some side music,” La Torre said. “The former singer (Tate) was promoting his solo record and touring on it. So Queensrÿche was more or less shelved for a long time with only a handful of dates remaining. They wanted to keep doing things, and that dialogue between Michael and me evolved into working on some other material. He sent me some music, and I ran with it. He showed it to the other guys, and I did some of the old Queensrÿche stuff, and we did the side project Rising West. We did two shows under that name. Unbeknownst to me, they were having a lot of issues with the former singer, and when I found out that he was fired, it naturally made that transition happen.”

La Torre said he feels comfortable in Queensrÿche, because he knows he’s capable vocally.

“Obviously, there is some pressure when you think, ‘This is a band with one of the most iconic singers of the genre, and he’s always been held in such high regard for his vocal abilities,’” La Torre said. “I think that because … I wasn’t hearing the high notes being hit for well over a decade, and because of the ugliness that permeated through the Internet, it made me easier to go in. I knew I could hit the higher notes; I knew that I could do it in standard tuning; and I knew that the guys were in a happier place. With them being happier, it took pressure off of me. I don’t profess to be the greatest out there, but I’m doing the best I can.”

La Torre shared his views on the two Queensrÿche albums he’s participated in thus far.

“I would say that in some ways, the first one was more difficult. We were in more of a time crunch to get the album done,” he said. “Condition Human was easier because we had more time; I had one album under my belt, and I had well over 100 shows with the band live. The people knew how I sounded like. It allowed me to be more of myself on this record. I had more time to get into the material.

“In other ways, Condition Human was more difficult, because the first record was received well; could it equal or outperform the first one? There were some vocal stylings and things that I think were also more challenging.”

La Torre shared his favorite songs to sing from the expansive Queensrÿche catalog.

“Right now, I’d say it’s ‘Killing Words’ or ‘Screaming in Digital,’” he said. “I also love opening the show with ‘Guardian,’ which is on the new record.”

La Torre explained how he keeps his voice in shape.

“I do exercises at home and work on different techniques and areas where I need strengthening,” he said. “As far as outside of that, I don’t warm up much before a show—maybe five minutes, more or less, to get things loose. I try to be quiet, rest and drink the right liquids. I don’t drink alcohol; I’m not a partier; and I try to get enough sleep. I eat what I want; I drink a lot of coffee, Coca-Cola, but I also pound a lot of water on the road. Some guys have these rigorous regiments before going on and will spend hours; I don’t mess with any of that. I just go out and sing, and I’d say, ‘It’ll be what it’ll be.’”

The future for La Torre with Queensrÿche includes a documentary—and keeping on doing what they do.

“I’d love to do a live DVD at some point,” he said. “… We have hundreds of hours of footage from Rising West all through the lawsuit and us retaining the name and the whole transition. It’d make for a really cool documentary. I’d also love to keep writing really good music we’re proud of and do as many albums with the band as I can.”

Queensrÿche and Vince Neil will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 11, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $39 to $69. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Published in Previews

May means the big festivals are behind us, and traffic is starting to ease. Unfortunately, May also usually means a drop in entertainment offerings at our local venues. This month is indeed a little slow, although there are still some great events going down.

The McCallum Theatre will host a few shows before signing off until the fall. At 3 p.m., Sunday, May 8, An Afternoon at the Popera is a presentation by the Coachella Valley Symphony and the California Desert Chorale featuring selections by artists from Bublé to Bizet. Sounds like a great local event! Tickets are $27 to $67. At 4 p.m., Sunday, May 15, the McCallum will close out the season with a performance by the All Coachella Valley High School Honor Band. You’ll get to hear a selection of music picked by guest conductor H. Robert Reynolds, of the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, performed by 70 talented high school students from throughout the Coachella Valley. Tickets are $12. See you in the fall, McCallum! McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has several of events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 14, the man with hoes in different area codes, Ludacris, will be stopping by. While he may have three Grammy Awards, Ludacris has managed to piss off a lot of people on his way to the top, thanks to his explicit content. He also earned the scorn of Bill O’Reilly! Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 28, Mexican pop-rock group Camila will take the stage. Mexico has a lot of great rock bands, and Camila is one of Latin music’s biggest success stories, with more than 2 million records sold. What do Camila and Ludacris have in common? They both have three Grammy Awards! Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The good news: Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a great schedule for May. The bad news: Two of the best shows, featuring comedian Gabriel Iglesias and Jackson Browne, are sold out. However, as of our press deadline, there were will tickets left for Lynyrd Skynyrd (upper right); the Southern rock legends are performing at 9 p.m., Friday, May 20. That’s right: Get ready to scream “Free Bird!” all you want, and be sure to hold your Bic lighter in the air when the band plays it … at the end of the show, of course. Tickets are $86 to $126. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is hosting two big names in May. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 7, get ready to croon with Michael Bolton. Every housewife went crazy for Bolton in the 1980s and jettisoned him to success. Just in time for Mother’s Day … I guess this is something to which you can take your mom. Tickets are $55 to $85. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 27, Ziggy Marley will be performing. He started out with the Melody Makers in 1979 when he was only 11 years old, and performed with them until 2002, when he decided to go solo. Tickets are $46 to $76. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace was the place to be in April thanks to all of the events in the orbit of Coachella. While the month of May represents a bit of a slowdown, Pappy’s is still hosting some great shows. At 9 p.m., Friday, May 6, punk-band the Bronx will be bringing alter-ego project Mariachi El Bronx (below) to Pappy’s. When you listen to the Bronx, it’s hard to believe that these same people can turn around and perform mariachi music—but they do both quite well. Their brand of mariachi includes both humorous songs and works that may just bring a tear to your eye. Tickers are $15. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 7, Four Tet will take the stage. Four Tet is an electronica musician who has written jazzy and folk-sounding tunes, while also remixing songs by Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Aphex Twin, Explosions in the Sky and many others. Tickets are $25. At 9 p.m., Saturday, May 14, soul singer Charles Bradley will be performing. Bradley has sort of an odd story: He spent many years as a James Brown impersonator while holding down various jobs (he was a cook, for example) and playing small shows. In 2011, well into his 60s, he released his first album, No Time for Dreaming. Shortly thereafter, he was the subject of a documentary called Soul of America, which told his story. Now late in his life, he’s become a smash success. Last year at Coachella, he brought the house down on the Main Stage, performing a spectacular set. Tickets are $22. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Coachella and Stagecoach arrive this month, which means the season is at its busiest—and will soon be coming to an end.

Enjoy the craziness, folks. It means all sorts of great things are taking place.

April is the McCallum Theatre’s last full month of regular activity before the summer lull. At 8 p.m., Monday, April 4, get ready for the original sexy-sax man, Kenny G. That’s right: Everyone’s favorite soft-rock jazz saxophonist will be stopping by again to ROCK THE COACHELLA VALLEY! All kidding aside, Kenny G is actually pretty damn good, and his soft-rock jazz sound was a sign of the times a couple of decades ago. While he might not bop or swing, he does what he does very well. Tickets are $37 to $80. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 9, singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka will be performing to celebrate the Desert Symphony’s 27th anniversary. Sedaka is an awesome showman and still has a great voice at the age of 77. Tickets are $77 to $202. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs has some fantastic events in April. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 1, enjoy a fantastic night of Latin rock with Los Lonely Boys and Los Lobos. Los Lobos is legendary in the Latin rock scene and was a big hit in the Los Angeles music scene in the early ’80s. Los Lonely Boys came out of Texas in the late ’90s and found an audience when “Heaven” became a No. 1 hit on the radio in 2004. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 2, Il Volo will be performing. This Italian trio sings what it calls “popera” and has become a hit with both classical-music lovers and those who fall into the “opera music for people who hate opera music” crowd. Tickets are $59 to $109. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 9, Gladys Knight will be performing (sans the Pips). Knight started her R&B singing career at the age of 16 when she signed to Motown, and she’s been a big name ever since. She’s also ventured into gospel and religious music affiliated with the Mormon faith, into which she was baptized in 1997. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 will be heating up with a couple of interesting shows. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 16, it’s going to be a special night for ladies thanks to Hunks. The Las Vegas-style production is similar to that of Thunder From Down Under and the Chippendales; these guys will have the ladies sweating and screaming. Tickets are $20. If dancing near-naked men aren’t your thing, relax: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 23, R&B superstar Keith Sweat will be performing. With hits that include “Something Just Ain’t Right,” I Want Her” and “Make You Sweat,” this will be a popular show. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa has some fun events on the slate. First, at 9 p.m., Friday, April 1, get ready to groove at the love shack, because The B-52s are returning to the area. One of the biggest names of the ’80s came out of the punk-rock scene in New York. The B-52s have recorded some truly timeless music that continues to gain them younger audiences and—makes the old audiences love them even more. Tickets are $65 to $75. At 11 p.m., Friday, April 8, the Village People will be performing. That’s right: It’s the Village People, known for hits such as “Macho Man” and “YMCA.” Tickets are $10. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 15, Shinedown (upper right) will take the stage. The Jacksonville, Fla., band has sold 6 million albums since starting in 2001 and is currently touring to promote album No. 5, Threat to Survival. The members of Shinedown have stated that they are simply a rock ’n’ roll band and don’t want to be labeled as “post-grunge” or “alternative.” Tickets are $40 to $50. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is again enjoying a kickass Coachella season. The bad news: Some of the Coachella-related shows are sold out. The good news: There are still plenty of shows with tickets available. At 12:30 p.m., Saturday, April 9, desert-rock godfather Brant Bjork will be putting on Desert Generator, a day of heavy psychedelic rock ’n’ roll. Also on the bill: Red Fang, Acid King, Golden Void and Ecstatic Vision. This is definitely going to be a great show—and a throwback to the days of generator parties, albeit in a legit setting. Tickets are $48. At 9 p.m., Saturday, April 23, country-bluegrass singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale will take the stage. Jim has written songs that have been recorded by artists such as the Dixie Chicks, Elvis Costello, Blake Shelton and many others. It’ll be a nice event to get you in the mood for Stagecoach! Tickets are $15. You’ll be happy to know that Har Mar Superstar (below) will be performing at 9 p.m., Saturday, April 30. OK, here’s the deal: You might not have heard of him … or perhaps you’ve heard of him for the wrong reasons. He’s basically a guy who looks like Ron Jeremy and performs R&B-style music in a Speedo. His shows are typically funny and impressive—but he dances, too, so prepare yourself for that. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Palm Desert Amphitheater is hosting an intriguing event: At 7 p.m., Saturday, April 9, a rock opera titled Untamed will be performed. Untamed is written by Palm Desert resident Kara Aubrey and is about a millennial man in search of significance in these troubled times. Good news: Admission is free! Palm Desert Amphitheater at Civic Center Park, 43900 San Pablo Ave., Palm Desert; www.tobeuntamed.com.

Published in Previews

The Commodores and The Jacksons were two of the bigger groups during Motown’s heyday—and while their celebrity may have faded a bit over the years, the groups remain relevant, as proven by the nearly sold-out audience at Fantasy Springs on Saturday, Feb. 27. While The Commodores were a delight, The Jacksons’ set was a disappointment, largely because of the curious setlist.

The first up was The Commodores. While Lionel Richie is no longer part of the group, having left in 1982, The Commodores have never stopped performing since the group began in 1968. While William King is the only remaining original member, Walter Orange has been with the group since 1972, and James Dean Nicholas has been a member since 1984.

The group started off with “Wild Thing” (not the Jimi Hendrix tune) and was energetic from the very first note onward; it soon became obvious this was a night when the crowd at Fantasy Springs would not remain seated as usual. “Easy” was the third song on the setlist, and The Commodores performed it beautifully, with people swaying their arms in the air, and shouting the lyrics “I WANT TO BE HIGH!” in unison.

Toward the middle of the Commodores’ set, just before starting “Three Times a Lady,” Nicholas said there was a special guest in the house: Katherine Jackson, the mother and patriarch of the Jackson family, which led to thunderous applause as people stood up, hoping to see her seated in the front row. During “Nightshift,” The Commodores’ tribute song to many of the R&B stars that are no longer with us, the group added Michael Jackson’s name to the lyrics.

The performance offered a taste of each member’s individual talents. William King performed his duties on trumpet, guitar and keyboard admirably, while Walter Orange really shined on a set of electric drums on “Brick House,” which closed out their set.

Despite some technical difficulties with the wireless microphones during a brief period in the middle of the set, The Commodores rocked.

Then came The Jacksons, bringing a lengthy history and many rumors along with them. Since Marlon, Tito, Jermaine and Jackie reunited in 2012, they’ve been performing more and more as a live act and have even recorded new material. Before taking the stage, a video played showing them as The Jackson 5—when they were mere kids—followed by footage of them performing in later years.

Starting off with “Can You Feel It,” the band exuded a palpable energy—at a surprisingly loud volume. The Jacksons can still dance and move in sync with each other, including Tito, with a guitar strapped over his shoulder.

The Jacksons offered a variety of material in their set, including Michael’s songs “Rock With You” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” While both were good tributes to Michael, the vocal range of the remaining Jackson brothers does not live up to that of Michael. The Jacksons did not have any involvement in the recording of those songs, although they backed Michael during “The Victory Tour” in 1984. Late in the set, the group performed another of Michael’s songs, “Can’t Let Her Get Away,” from 1991’s Dangerous.

After a video montage showing The Jacksons, along with Katherine and Joseph Jackson, speaking about their small home in Gary, Ind., before the Jacksons made it big, the group tackled the big hits of the Jackson 5 by including a medley of 60-90-second bits of songs such as “I Want You Back,” “Never Can Say Goodbye,” and “ABC.” 

The one song the group gave extra attention was “Shake Your Body,” which seemed like it was never going to end, as all of the backing musicians were given solos during an extended series of audience interactions. Turns out the song was the closer.

The Jacksons remain vocally talented and continue to display some rad dance skills—and it looks like they are having a great time performing as a unit again. But I was not the only audience member disappointed by the short shrift given to the legendary Motown material: Only minute-long snippets during a long medley?! There were also times when I questioned whether Tito’s guitar and Jermaine’s bass were plugged in, given the backing musicians were drowning them both out.

Setlist: The Commodores

Wild Thing

Too Hot ta Trot

Easy

Just to Be Close to You

Sweet Love

Lady (You Bring Me Up)

Three Times a Lady

Nightshift

Won’t You Come Dance With Me

Brick House

Setlist: The Jacksons (pictured below)

Can You Feel It

Hallelujah Day

I Wanna Be Where You Are

Rock With You

Enjoy Yourself

Let Me Show You the Way to Go

Lovely One

I Want You Back/ABC/The Love You Save/Dancing Machine/Never Can Say Goodbye/I’ll Be There (Medley)

Gone Too Soon

Can’t Let Her Get Away

Heartbreak Hotel

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’

Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)

Published in Reviews

The month of March is packed with events in the Coachella Valley. Take in the revelry of St. Patrick’s Day; enjoy the tennis at the BNP Paribas Open; and relish these music events.

The Empire Polo Fields will once again be hosting the Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience on Saturday, March 5. With performances by 311 (see our interview here), Matisyahu and the local ’80s themed band Long Duk Dong, the event also features excellent craft beer (get info from The Beer Goddess here) and some of the finest wines. Music, wine and beer make a wonderful good-time combo, don’t they? Tickets are $70 to $150; www.rwbexp.com.

The season’s end is getting closer—which means the McCallum Theatre’s season will also soon come to an end, so be sure to enjoy the busy schedule in March. At 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 9, prepare to be dazzled and mystified by Tao: Seventeen Samurai. This show combines athleticism and taiko drumming; tickets are $22 to $52. At 8 p.m., Thursday, March 17, Canadian blues rocker Colin James will be stopping by. James has a career full of hit singles and 15 Juno Awards. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, Steve Tyrell will be returning to the McCallum. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tyrell last year; he explained how he’s adapted to the ever-changing music industry—and even recorded his latest album in his house. Tickets are $47 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

If you could be at only one local music venue in March, the venue to choose would be the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 12, Grammy-Award-winning rapper Nelly will perform. Considering his 2000 debut album Country Grammar has sold 8 million copies, he should be a household name. He’s enjoyed more success ever since, and has branched out into film as well as television, with his own reality show, Nellyville. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, Motown legend Smokey Robinson will take the stage. While Bob Dylan has dubbed him “America’s greatest poet,” I concede I am having a problem getting past the freakishly young-looking photos of the 76-year-old Robinson in promotional materials and on album covers. Some of them are downright hilarious; some are spooky; and some look like political-propaganda fodder. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 26, get “Physical” with a performance by Olivia Newton-John. While Newton-John is often remembered for that 1981 hit, she may be best remembered for her role opposite John Travolta in Grease. Tell me about it, stud. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has an event in March that should be a great show on behalf of a great cause. At 7 p.m., Thursday, March 3, a benefit for American Cancer Society Desert Spirit will feature an intimate performance by Rick Springfield. Tickets are $49 to $129. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is hosting a couple of events you won’t want to miss. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 5, get ready to get funky with The Gap Band. Honestly, I really enjoy the Gap Band. There’s just something about “You Dropped a Bomb on Me”; it’s catchy as hell. The band has some great bass lines, excellent guitar and good keyboards—all of which make for fun funk songs. Tickets are $35 to $55. If you’re in more of a country mood, that’s fine, because at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, country-music sensation the Eli Young Band will be performing. Remember a few years ago when “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” was all over country radio? Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

The Morongo Casino Resort Spa is offering a couple of worthy events—on the same night! At 9 p.m., Friday, March 11, .38 Special will be performing. The band used to include Donnie Van Zant, who is the middle brother of the late Ronnie Van Zant, and Johnny Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Sadly, inner-ear issues forced him into retirement. Tickets are $30 to $40. If you love the ’80s, you’ll want to be in Cabazon at 11 p.m., Friday, March 11, because the Spazmatics (upper right) will be performing. The ’80s tribute band is a lot of fun to watch. Tickets are $10. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

As always, Pappy and Harriet’s is hosting some must-see events. At 9 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, Shannon and the Clams will be returning to Pappy’s. The band performed a fantastic show at The Hood Bar and Pizza last month; if you missed that, here’s another chance to see ’em. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, get ready for some laughs and great music, because The Evangenitals will be back! Admission is free. Here’s another welcome return performance: At 9 p.m., Tuesday, March 22, The Melvins (below) will take the stage. It seems the Melvins are making a regular thing out of playing at Pappy’s; the band first played there in the summer of 2013, and Buzz Osbourne came through Pappy’s for a solo performance in 2014. Tickets are $18. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed has one event on the March calendar: At 9 p.m., Friday, March 25, Seedless will be performing. Seedless is a rock/reggae band out of Orange County that has shared the stage with Sublime With Rome, The Dirty Heads and others. Tickets are $13 to $17. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

Heart is one of the most successful rock bands ever. One trivia tidbit: The band has now had a Billboard Top 100 album in five straight decades—with a Top 10 album in four of those five.

With such an amazing résumé, the band is expected to deliver—and Heart certainly delivered on Friday night, Jan. 29, at Fantasy Springs.

Heart was due to take the stage around 8 p.m. At that time, the house music changed, getting louder and sounding like stuff you’d hear in a yoga studio—but with a hard-rock edge. After about 10 minutes of that, the lights went down—and Heart started things off with “Kick It Out,” from the 1977 album Little Queen. “Heartless” then followed.

I had never seen Heart perform live before, and within the first 10 minutes, it became clear that Heart’s reputation as a fantastic live band was well-deserved—and beyond. Ann Wilson’s vocals sound extraordinary; at the age of 65, she still easily belts out the difficult parts to songs. Her sister, Nancy Wilson, plays the rhythm guitar well with lead guitarist Craig Bartock; add in the rest of Heart, including drummer Ben Smith, and the band is a well-functioning machine.

During the 75-minute set, the band included both hits and some interesting covers, such as James Brown’s “Get Up Off That Thing.” Another surprise: The Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach song “God Give Me Strength.”

Sarah Palin infamously used the Heart song “Barracuda” during the 2008 election. I’d felt that whole mess ruined the song, even after the Wilsons made their cease-and-desist case against Palin public. But hearing “Barracuda” live—with the pounding drums and the guitar solo—made me forget all of that … for a few moments, at least.

For the encore, Heart played three Led Zeppelin songs: “Immigrant Song,” “No Quarter,” and “Misty Mountain Hop.” Playing Led Zeppelin songs live is not easy—and taking three songs and making them an encore should be quite the challenge. But it’s Heart we’re talking about here: The greats pulled it off.

Setlist

Kick It Out

Heartless

What About Love

Get Up Off That Thing

Straight On

These Dreams

Two

Sand

Alone

Even It Up

Bebe Le Strange

God Give Me Strength

Crazy On You

Barracuda

Encore

Immigrant Song

No Quarter

Misty Mountain Hop

Published in Reviews

Before I dive in to all of the great February goings-on around the Coachella Valley, I want to pay tribute to two big names in music we just lost.

Rest in peace, Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club will be holding a Modernism Week-themed event at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13: There will be a screening of Visual Acoustics in the Commune. The film is a celebration of modernist architecture and a joyful portrait of renowned architecture photographer Julius Shulman. Admission is free. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The McCallum Theatre is fully booked with great stuff in February. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5 and Saturday, Feb. 6, Frank Sinatra Jr. will be performing. The son of the Chairman of the Board is a great singer and will be singing in celebration of his father’s 100th birthday. Tickets are $61 to $111. Continuing with the Sinatra centennial celebration: At 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 14, crooner Steve Lawrence will take the stage. Lawrence was a close friend of Sinatra—in fact, when Sinatra retired, Sinatra gave Lawrence a book of his arrangements. Tickets are $67. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 24, get ready for a night of awesome country music: Wynonna Judd will be performing. After starting out as part of a smash-hit duo with her mother, Wynonna has been quite successful on her own. Tickets are $47 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa obviously made a wise choice when it booked with Johnny Mathis, considering his Feb. 13 show is sold out—but cheer up, because at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 12, you can rock out to Air Supply, or whatever it is crazy fans of Air Supply do. The Australian duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock has been soft-rocking since the ’70s and recently had a hit with “Desert Sea Sky,” which was remixed and played in dance clubs. Tickets are $40 to $60. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a fine slate of February events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, the original Jersey Boy himself, Frankie Valli, will be performing. He was a member of the Four Seasons, and he had a spectacular solo career, so you won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 27, there will be a double bill with The Commodores and The Jacksons. Both groups have continued on without their famed frontmen, and to an extent, it’s worked for them both. The Jacksons’ reunion since Michael Jackson died in 2009 has come with mixed live reviews, though. Lionel Richie is currently not joining The Commodores, and it doesn’t look like he will anytime soon. Nonetheless, if you’re a real fan, you will enjoy both. Tickets are $39 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of great events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 6, easy-listening superstar Engelbert Humperdinck will be coming back. The ballad singer has spawned numerous legends, including one that claims he’s bagged an impressive number of women—a number that puts Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead and Gene Simmons of KISS to shame. Whether or not that’s true, there’s one thing he gave to us millennials … Fly with me, lesbian seagull! Tickets are $45 to $65. Are you a fan of the ’70s? Did you live through the ’70s but don’t remember it? Either way, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 20, the ’70s Time Machine Tour will take you back. Featuring performances by Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night, and Denny Laine of Wings, the show will happily invoke the decade of leisure suits, pet rocks, shag carpet, van living and waterbeds. Yay! Tickets are $35. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

As for Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace: I’m sure we’ll be hearing some very big announcements soon regarding outdoor shows for the spring and summer, especially with Coachella right around the corner. But in the meantime, the February schedule is wonderful. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5, Joshua Tree locals Gene Evaro and the Family (right) will be appearing. Gene is one of the most talented musicians in the Coachella Valley; Alf Alpha has told me stories about Gene’s production skills in the studio as well. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 14, it will be time for local rock fans to rejoice and celebrate Eddie Spaghetti’s victory over throat cancer, because The Supersuckers are back! Funny story: I saw The Supersuckers in 1995 in Cleveland; the band was opening for White Zombie and the Ramones. Let’s just say The Supersuckers didn’t get a welcome reception that night—and I was one of the hecklers. But over time, The Supersuckers grew on me; they’re an excellent rock ’n’ roll band. Also worth mentioning: My friend Charlie Overbey will be opening. His new record The California Kid is awesome. 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 one event we know about worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend—at a prom out of a John Waters film, that is—with Shannon and the Clams (below). Desert Hot Springs’ finest, Slipping Into Darkness, is also on the bill. Shurpadelic, dude! Admission is $10 at the door. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

Forgive the odd comparison, but it’s true: Tony Bennett shares one thing with the late Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister—he can stand in one spot and effortlessly deliver an amazing performance.

On Saturday night, Jan. 16, Tony Bennett returned to Fantasy Springs a year after performing a great show there. Saturday’s performance was also incredible; it was more jazz-focused than last year’s show was and featured a few surprises. However, many of Saturday night’s moments were repeats from last year’s gig, including a joke about how he did an album with Lady Gaga because she “needed the money.”

The show also started off similarly: Antonia Bennett, Tony’s daughter, opened with a few songs. She also delivered a great performance—while pregnant! After she thanked the audience and walked off the stage, she said to pay attention to a message from the chairman of the board. A vintage audio clip then played of Frank Sinatra introducing Tony Bennett, and Tony came (slowly) running out and waving to the audience. He took his place in front of the piano and started off with “Watch What Happens.”

One of the best moments of the night was his tribute to Frank Sinatra, which included a cover of “One for My Baby.” Another excellent portion: He told a story about how when he was struggling and attempting a comeback, he decided to perform a cover of a song that he always loved. After the song was released, he received a letter from the man who composed it, telling Bennett that it sounded magnificent. The letter was signed, “Charles Chaplin.” Bennett then began to sing Chaplin’s “Smile.”

At one point, Bennett proclaimed that a magazine had declared him to be the best jazz performer of 2015. He said he received the honor because of his wonderful backing band, which includes Count Basie’s former drummer, Harold Jones.

Bennett could probably phone in a performance, and it would still be one of the best performances you’d ever see. However, he most certainly didn’t phone it in. His vocals couldn’t have been better, and he sounded marvelous.

Setlist

  • Watch What Happens
  • They All Laughed
  • This Is All I Ask
  • I Got Rhythm
  • (In My) Solitude
  • Sing You Sinners
  • Stepping Out With My Baby
  • But Beautiful
  • Love Is Here to Stay
  • The Way You Look Tonight
  • Who Can I Turn To
  • Just in Time
  • Boulevard of Broken Dreams
  • The Good Life
  • How Do You Keep the Music Playing
  • The Shadow of Your Smile
  • One for My Baby
  • For Once in My Life
  • I’m Old Fashioned
  • I Left My Heart in San Francisco
  • Who Cares?
  • Smile
  • When You’re Smiling
  • Fly Me to the Moon 

 

Published in Reviews