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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Back in July, Little Big Town was scheduled to perform at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. Just a couple of weeks before the scheduled July 3 show, the quartet released a statement saying Jimi Westbrook needed surgery to remove a polyp from one of his vocal chords.

Little Big Town said the band would reschedule all of the cancelled shows—and the group made good on the promise to perform at Fantasy Springs, on Friday night, Sept. 11

The night began with an opening performance from Ashley Monroe. Monroe has had a lot of success in her brief career. The Nashville star has a side project known as the Pistol Annies with Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley, and has performed with Jack White and Third Man Records. Unfortunately, her performance was a little flat on Friday. There wasn’t much to her sound at times, and some of her live material just didn’t impress.

When Little Big Town took the stage, the nearly sold-out crowd at Fantasy Springs was quickly on its feet and roaring as the group kicked off the set with “Day Drinking.” Jimi Westbrook obviously had a quick recovery from his surgery; he was right on harmony with Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Roads Schlapman and Phillip Sweet.

Little Big Town’s live show is excellent, energetic and well-rehearsed. Whether the group is singing a country ballad or performing a song with a kick, the members play exceptionally well together. They know how to work the crowd—and the crowd responds right back, with loud ovations, clapping and singing along.

All of the songs seemed flawless, yet some stood out, especially “Little White Church,” “Sober,” “Girl Crush,” “Tornado,” “Stay All Night” and “Boondocks.” During “Girl Crush”—a newer song that was pulled from some radio stations over lyrics that could be taken as promoting lesbianism—the audience showed no problems or discomfort. “Stay All Night” lived up to its name; the band could have done just that, and the entire audience probably would have stayed to listen.

“Boondocks” was a perfect closer, performed as the band said goodbye while the lyrics were shown on the onstage video wall.

Setlist

  • Day Drinking
  • Quit Breaking Up With Me
  • Front Porch Thing
  • Pain Killer
  • Bones
  • Faster Gun
  • Little WhiteChurch
  • Bring It on Home
  • Tumble and Fall
  • Smokin’ and Drinkin’
  • Sober
  • Your Side of the Bed
  • Live Forever
  • Turn the Lights On
  • Stay All Night
  • Tornado
  • Pontoon

Encore

  • Girl Crush
  • Boondocks
Published in Reviews

While jazz music has been declining in mainstream popularity in recent years, Diana Krall remains a big name in the music world. Her stop at Fantasy Springs on Saturday proved she’s a masterful performer who knows how to entertain a crowd.

The stage setup offered a throwback to vintage radio days: There was a replica of what looked like a huge old radio from the 1930s; other items gave a big-band era feel. When Krall took the stage with her band, they opened with “We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye,” from her 2012 album Glad Rag Doll.

At one point in between songs, a woman in the front row screamed, “I’m from Ontario, Canada!” Krall—a Canadian herself—said, “I’ve been there a few times. … I think I saw you there!”

Krall’s show offered elements of jazz from the big band era, Dixieland, and even some Latin and bossa nova sounds. A real treat came when Krall performed a cover of Tom Waits’ “Temptation.” Her guitarist, Anthony Wilson, and fiddler, Stuart Duncan, were fantastic as they kept “Temptation” going with improvised solos.

Two other covers were highlights in her set: Jim Croce’s “Operator,” and Bob Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate.”

Aided by a great band that also included Karriem Riggins on drums, Dennis Crouch on upright bass and Patrick Warren on keyboards, Krall put on a spectacular show.

Setlist

  • We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye
  • Sweet Man
  • Just Like a Butterfly
  • Sunny Side of the Street
  • So Nice
  • You Call This Madness
  • East of the Sun
  • Temptation
  • Simple Twist of Fate
  • California Dreamin’
  • Operator
  • Just You, Just Me
  • Deed I Do
  • Boulevard of Broken Dreams
  • Frim Fram Sauce

Photos by Kevin Fitzgerald

Published in Reviews

The Jackson 5 caught the attention of America and during the ’70s and the early ’80s—and there was no group even remotely similar.

That is, there was no group even remotely similar until New Edition popped up in Boston in 1982. The group will be appearing at Fantasy Springs this Friday, Aug. 21.

New Edition was one of the first “boy bands,” and paved the way for groups such as Boyz II Men, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. The original lineup was Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant and Ronnie DeVoe.

Of course, the band and its members have been through rough times. Bobby Brown was dismissed from the group in 1985 due to behavior issues, and the band broke up in 1990. The group made a thwarted comeback attempt in 1996-1997; in 2002, the band again reunited, only to have issues with Bad Boy Records after the release of the 2004 album One Love. Nonetheless, the group continued on.

During a recent phone interview, Ricky Bell said he’s honored to have been a musical trailblazer, of sorts.

“What comes to mind is when we first got started, we were just kids having fun, and as far as our dreams went as to what we wanted to do, it was really just about performing,” Bell said. “Back then, a record deal would be the ultimate prize, but we really didn’t know how to go about getting that. We thought, ‘There’s a talent show; let’s join it; let’s win a little bit of money, and go from there.’

“Once we came out, we were getting compared to the Jacksons and the Temptations, and I just remember thinking, ‘One day, they’re going to start comparing other artists to us’—and that happened. It’s an honor, and we’re just truly grateful for it. We admire those artists who came out after us as well, because they keep that five-man or four-man group going.”

A few years later, New Kids on the Block also came out of Boston. “They were actually discovered by the same producer, Maurice Starr,” Bell said. “They were kids just like we were who had a dream, put a lot of hard work into it, and became very successful.”

After New Edition’s first major concert tour, following the release of debut album Candy Girl, the members realized their management was not looking out for their best interests—when they returned home to Boston and were given checks for $1.87 apiece. They eventually left Maurice Starr and Streetwise Records, and later battled MCA Records.

“During those times, everything was moving so fast,” Bell remembered. “We were always on tour, always in an interview, and always doing something. We were so busy that we didn’t really have time to think about what was missing or what wasn’t right. It wasn’t until things started to slow down that we found out more about the business and how things were supposed to work.

“Our fans, the people who did support us, they were there for us, no matter what. If we had a current record on the radio, whether it was a hit or a miss, we always had that audience who stuck with us. We didn’t take that part of it for granted, and even today, we don’t look at ourselves as victims or have any resentments, because our experiences have taught us a lot. Now we’re able to put all of that experience to work for us. We’ve also been able to mentor other artists and other kids coming up, so we’re grateful for that, because we get to continue and move on. A lot of artists we started out with who used to open up for us aren’t around any more, so we have nothing to complain about.”

Bell said he thinks two albums define the group musically.

“The first one, Candy Girl. Then I would say (the album) that transcended us from bubble gum soul to young adulthood was Heart Break.”

Heart Break, released in 1988, was the first album to be released without Bobby Brown, and with Johnny Gill, who is still with the group today.

“We recorded it in Minneapolis, and it was a very cold, very long winter, and the process they took us through was a lot different,” Bell said. “They allowed us to input into the project our personalities, our styles as to how we liked to perform on stage, and what we liked to sing about and talk about.”

Bell said it wasn’t hard to recapture the magic when the group reunited.

“We haven’t been in the studio for a while, but we’re still able to tour continuously year after year, and the fans continue to show up for us,” Bell said. “It’s more of the same, and today we’re older, so we can be ourselves. No matter what we do, as long as we remain ourselves, we can do the style of music where people relate as far as relationships go, and they sing along and dance along to what we’re giving them, so it’s a no-brainer for us.”

Moms and dads are now taking their kids to New Edition shows, Bell noted.

“I think most of our fans are the fans who have grown up with us, and we’ve been able to tap into that new generation because of their parents,” he said. “We see all ages at our shows. I’ve seen babies all the way to 70-year-olds dancing, and the music takes them back to an era in their lives, whether it was losing their virginity, or finishing high school or college, and you can actually see that look in their eyes to where they flashback. We have kids coming up to us today, saying, ‘My mom listened to you guys and plays your music around the house, and I know who you are.’ It’s like, ‘Wow, I’m getting kind of old.’”

A BET miniseries focusing on the band is now being created with New Edition’s involvement, and Bell said the group would like to record a new album. While Bobby Brown has appeared with New Edition off and on in recent years, he will not be on their current tour. 

“You can expect us to do all of the hits you’ve grown to know us by and love, and expect us to do a few surprises—those songs on the albums that weren’t singles but favorites,” Bell said.

New Edition will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21, at the 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

Deep Purple was once listed by Guinness World Records as the world’s loudest band. On Saturday night at Fantasy Springs, the band made it clear that although Deep Purple may no longer hold that title, “loud” still defines the group’s live setup.

The 75-minute performance started off with “Highway Star” from the 1972 album Machine Head. Deep Purple’s live sound is much more powerful than what you hear on the records. Thanks to Steve Morse and Don Airey, the guitar solos and keyboard work, respectively, are quite tight.

While the show got off to a good start, much of the performance was improvised, which was both good and bad: The show was bogged down by long guitar solos and lengthy keyboard solos. It seemed like frontman Ian Gillan spent at least half of the show off stage while Morse and Airey improvised. After the first 25 minutes of the show, Gillan said, “That’s enough jazz. Now we’re going to play 45 minutes of folk music,” before performing “Vincent Price,” off the latest album, Now What?!

After “Vincent Price,” Morse was left by himself onstage and performed an impressive guitar solo that sounded at times like a classical orchestra. Airey was given the same treatment not too long after, when he showed off his skills on his Moog synthesizer before playing the intro to Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mr. Crowley,” a piece he’s known for playing during his days with Osbourne. This earned him quite an ovation from the knowledgeable Fantasy Springs crowd.

When it came time to end the show, people got what they paid for: Deep Purple’s two best-known songs, “Space Truckin’” and “Smoke on the Water.” Both are still live delights, especially “Space Truckin’.”

Deep Purple is still a powerful live band after all these years. The group was an early influence to heavy metal, but the performance showed how Deep Purple was also a pioneer band in prog-rock and blues-rock. Some minor details were problematic, such as the fact that Ian Gillan’s vocals were delivered in a fashion that sounded odd.

The long solos by Airey and Morse were top-notch and sounded great, but at times, I found myself hoping the band would throw in more material from the old days, or even the current era. Regardless, many people left the show (myself included) with ears ringing, having just witnessed great live material by one of the most innovative rock bands in history. That’s undeniably a good thing.

Published in Reviews

If you were ever a novice guitar player, one of the first songs you learned was probably “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple.

The famous band, an early influence to heavy metal, will be stopping by the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Saturday, Aug. 15.

The list of Deep Purple’s accomplishments and accolades is lengthy, to say the least. The band was called “the globe’s loudest band” by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1975, and has sold 100 million records worldwide.

As one would expect about a band that’s been around more than 45 years, there have been numerous lineup changes through the years. The band is touring with longtime members Ian Gillan (vocals), Roger Glover (bass) and Ian Paice (drums). Also on board: Steve Morse, who has been playing guitar with Deep Purple since 1994; and legendary keyboardist and organist Don Airey, who has been with the group since 2002.

During a recent phone interview from Nashville, Airey said that when he first joined the group, he was replacing longtime member Jon Lord. Lord passed away in 2012.

“Jon Lord was a really hard act for me to follow,” Airey said. “When I first joined, I knew I couldn’t be like him and just wanted to be myself, while keeping Jon in mind and what the band was. It’s been very successful.”

Airey—who played on Ozzy Osbourne’s renowned albums Blizzard of Oz and Bark at the Moon, and performed with groups including Rainbow and Cozy Powell—said he remembered the first time he saw Deep Purple.

“I saw them when I was a music student, and they were very good to the point where I said, ‘God! I want to do that!’” he remembered. “I came out wanting to be a rock musician—but a lot of people did after seeing Deep Purple. They were incredible, and it was such an incredible experience to see them. It’s slightly changed now, but the décor of mayhem and madness is still there, even today.”

In 2013, Deep Purple released its most recent studio album, Now What?! The album was a critical success and sold very well in parts of the world. It peaked on the U.S. Billboard 200 at No. 110.

“There was incredible demand for it, actually,” he said. “We were besieged with e-mails and requests for it on our website, asking when there would be new material. The record company pushed us into it, and luckily, we were able to work with the great producer Bob Ezrin. We’re very proud of the album, and it’s done well for us all around the world. It’s really given the band a boost on the road.”

Ezrin has worked with the best, includintg Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Phish and many others. Airey said Ezrin keeps bands on a fast-paced schedule.

“He’s amazing, and a bit of a shock to the system,” Airey said. “He works very quickly, and he has very sound opinions about what works and what doesn’t. We really had to get our act together before we started working with him. It was very productive. All the backing tracks were done in six days—15 songs in six days. … By the end of the second week, all the guitars were finished; all the keyboards were finished; and then Ian and Roger went away to write some vocals. He’s very efficient and very good at getting things done, and he’s got some amazing claims to fame.”

Airey said that while nothing will probably ever top “Smoke on the Water,” the band is still interested in writing and recording new material.

“It’s hard to come up with stuff that was as good as you did back in the day. That’s the difficult thing,” he said. “But making albums is the only thing we know; it’s such an actual thing to do that you keep doing it.”

Despite selling 100 million albums worldwide and serving as an influence to a large list of musicians, Airey said he and the rest of the members don’t believe the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will ever induct them. The group has been passed over many times since it first became eligible in 1993—even after a public ballot for induction put out by the nominating committee showed Deep Purple ranking second on the list.

“I don’t think it will happen. It doesn’t really bother us,” Airey said. “The things that bother us: What time do we play? Where’s the dressing room? And how far is the hotel from the gig? These are the things that are important and that we have to deal with.”

Airey conceded there’s a nostalgic yearning at times.

“Everyone misses the old days: The excitement of traveling in a van with the gear and getting to a gig, going on to play and then moving on to the next one,” he said. “It was amazing back then, and it’s much more civilized now. Touring is something you can’t stop doing, and it’s very addictive, and the only cure is to get up and do it. It keeps you happy and it keeps you honest.”

What does the future hold for Deep Purple?

“We’re in Nashville at the moment, and this is where Bob Ezrin lives, so we just met with Bob and discussed our strategy for our next recording, which will start in 2016,” Airey said. “More Deep Purple is a good thing. It’s good for you.

Airey explained what attendees of the show at Fantasy Springs can expect.

“We’re doing quite a bit of new material from Now What?! That’s a big difference, and we’re playing five tracks of the album and mixing it up with all the old stuff,” he said. “It’s the same routine: We go out and sock it to them if we can, and we usually succeed. I think the interesting thing about my time with the band is that the audience has changed from a middle-aged audience to a young audience, especially in Europe. It’s lots of kids who want to see what a real band looks like and sounds like. We don’t carry Pro Tools rigs. There’s a lot of improvising, and everything is real onstage. That’s the essence of it. What you’re seeing is what you’re getting, and there are no other people playing behind the stage, and no tapes playing.”

Deep Purple will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, 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

August is the final full month of summer, and there are a surprising number of great shows taking place during the month that you won’t want to miss.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s August is, simply put, awesome. So many events … so much awesome. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, hard-rock and heavy-metal pioneers Deep Purple (above) will be appearing. If you don’t know “Smoke on the Water” or “Perfect Strangers,” and you call yourself a music fan, something is wrong with you. Tickets are $49 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21, it’ll be an ’80s throwback night when New Edition stops by; however, it’s unknown whether Bobby Brown will be taking part, with the recent death of his daughter Bobbi Kristina. Either way, it should be an interesting show. Tickets are $49 to $79. You’ll be happy to know that Diana Krall (right) is returning to the desert at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22. The world’s favorite female jazz pianist and vocalist is guaranteed to deliver, so go check her out. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events worth your time. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, comedian Russell Peters will be stopping by. The Canadian was the first comedian to sell out the Air Canada Centre in Toronto in 2007; unfortunately, he also played Santa in Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22, modern country duo Thompson Square will performing. The husband and wife from Nashville have taken the country-music world by storm since they released their self-titled debut on Stoney Creek Records. Their single “Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not?” reached No. 1 on the country chart and went double-platinum. They also took home three awards at the American Country Awards in 2011. Tickets are $35 to $55. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has some great tribute bands performing throughout the month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, get out the rhinestones and sequins as Kenny Metcalf performs the music of Elton John. AXS TV included him on its television show The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands. Tickets are $10. If you enjoyed the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus performance of ABBA tunes back in the spring, you can get another dose of ABBA at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 29, when ABBAFAB performs. Tickets are $10. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has some big names dropping in this month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, former late-night TV superstar Jay Leno (below) will be present. If you miss him on NBC (which I don’t), this is a great time to see him doing what he’s always done best: stand-up comedy. Tickets are $85 to $110. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21, you’ll be singing the chorus to “Joy to the World”—no, not that song, the other one, by Three Dog Night. While Chuck Negron doesn’t appear to be rejoining the group anytime soon, Three Dog Night is still going strong. Tickets are $40 to $60. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has plenty going on in August. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 8, former Kyuss frontman John Garcia will be performing. In 2014, Garcia released a self-titled solo album, which was welcomed by music critics and Kyuss fans alike. You should definitely make it up the hill for this one. Tickets are $10. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 20, London-based post-punk band Savages will be performing. The group’s 2013 debut album, Silence Yourself, was all the rage, and music critics were counting down the days to its release. In other words, the group is pretty 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 will once again hold its Battle of the Bands every Sunday in August at 6 p.m. The judging panel will feature local music promoter Ming Bob, CV Weekly owner/editor Tracy Dietlin, and yours truly. Come out every Sunday and catch local talent competing for the grand prize of $1,000 cash. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

Flo Rida has taken the hip-hop world by storm thanks to his innovative work featuring elements of house music.

He’ll be stopping by Fantasy Springs on Saturday, Aug. 1.

The genesis of Flo Rida’s career occurred when he was in the ninth-grade. His brother-in-law was affiliated with the legendary Miami bass/hip-hop group 2 Live Crew.

“In ninth grade, my brother-in-law took me to meet Luther Campbell for the first time,” he said during a recent phone interview. “I actually did a rap for him, and Luther told me I had something.

“I continued to pursue my career, and I performed with Fresh Kid Ice in Hawaii, and I toured with him for almost a year or two. That’s the connection I have with 2 Live Crew. When I actually performed with Luther Campbell, I was about 15; with Fresh Kid Ice, I was about 19.”

The name Flo Rida serves as an ode to Florida’s place in hip-hop history.

“I think me growing up in Miami, it’s a bunch of different cultures,” he said. “We had different beats and a different vibe, and I think that’s a plus, and what really inspires me to want to try different things in music and just think outside of the box.”

Hip-hop music has certainly changed over the years; of course, some people think the change has been positive, while others disagree. Flo Rida is part of the former camp: He thinks innovation is driving the genre’s success. 

“I don’t really feel it’s missing anything; I feel it’s very innovative throughout the years, from Run-DMC doing something with Aerosmith, from Nelly doing things with country artists, and myself doing things from the Latin side of things to the Caribbean side of things,” he said. “It’s just being innovative and just growing. I love the fact you don’t have to be stuck in one genre as far as hip-hop goes these days, and I think it’s only going to get better.”

Flo Rida is certainly innovating with his house-music-friendly sound.

“What we’ve done before with mixing sounds and things like that, we just wanted to take it a step further,” he said. “I’m very versatile when it comes to having melodies and things like that. A lot of these records have a lot of takes on them, and when I’m overseas, sometimes I’ll hear a DJ playing some Whitney Houston over house music and things like that. I think it’s just us being versatile.”

Flo Rida said house-music DJs are doing some truly great things for music all around the world.

“The possibilities are definitely endless,” he said. “The one thing about it is we’re so passionate about the music. … A lot of times, you don’t get to hear it unless you go to a certain radio station, but if you go to see any house DJs perform, around the world, you can hear the music you’re passionate about, such as soul music and stuff like that. I love what they’re doing with the music.”

The best collaboration that Flo Rida ever did—and there have been many—was with Timbaland, he said.

“I’ve worked with a lot of people, and I’ve certainly have had those memorable moments,” he said. “… (Timbaland) worked with (hip-hop group) Jodeci during Da Bassment Crew, and I actually worked with DeVante (the person who gave Timbaland his name), and I actually stayed with him out in Los Angeles and lived with him for about five years. Just for me to see him work with DeVante … and here we are collaborating on my single ‘Elevator,’ we had a lot to be thankful for and talk about. We were just excited to get a big record and see the outcome.”

Flo Rida is preparing to drop a new album; in fact, our interview once had to be rescheduled because he’d spent the previous night in the studio working on material for his upcoming album. He also recently released an EP called My House.

“I just want to make sure we have some hits on there,” he said about the upcoming new album. “I’ve been traveling around the world getting inspired, and I didn’t want my fans to wait, which is why I put out the EP. …. I’ve been putting together material just making sure we have a multi-platinum album.”

Flo Rida promised he’d turn in an excellent show at Fantasy Springs.

“I’m a guy who is always inspired by people who are fans of my records, and I’m a fan of my own records,” he said. “When I go onstage, I give a 1000 percent of my energy, and I always do right by my fans. It’s a workout, and you’ll be so tired when we’re finished, because you’ll be jumping up and down. It’s always a plus to see people smiling and families coming out to my show. I might have people come up on stage; I might go out in the crowd. And there’s always a grand finale.”

Flo Rida will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 1, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $49 to $99. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Published in Previews

It’s a light month for live music in the Coachella Valley—although the Coachella Valley Independent and I are doing our part to fill the entertainment void.

We’re holding a series of benefit shows for the NestEggg Food Bank at Chill Bar Palm Springs; call it the NestEggg Food Bank Summer Concert Series. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 7, EeVaan Tre and the Show will be performing. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 14, Independent resident DJ Alex Harrington will get the crowd dancing. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 21, Derek Gregg of The Hive Minds will turn in a solo show. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, July 28, DJ Aimlo will be featured. Each show is free, but we’re asking for a donation of $5 or more—all of which will go straight to the food bank! Chill Bar, 216 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs; 760-327-1079; chillbarpalmsprings.com.

You won’t want to miss the 1950s Mid-Summer Dance Party, benefitting the Desert AIDS Project, at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 25, at the Palm Springs Pavilion (401 S. Pavilion Way). The ’50s themed party will feature live DJs, go-go dancers and an open bar. This is definitely the function of the summer! Tickets are $40 to $75; www.desertaidsproject.org.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some great events on the schedule. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 3, Calibre 50 and the Banda Carnival will take the stage. Calibre 50 was created in 2010 and hails from Sinaloa, Mexico. The band has sung about some very controversial subjects about life in Sinaloa. Meanwhile, Banda Carnival has been nominated for a Grammy; the group also hails from Sinaloa. Tickets are $65 to $85. America will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 25. The trio started in 1970 and was a big hit when the song “A Horse With No Name” hit radio waves. Dan Peek left the group in 1977 (and passed away in 2011), but Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell are still going strong. Tickets are $30 to $60. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 31, the legendary classic-rock outfit The Steve Miller Band will perform. Since founding the group in 1966, Steve Miller has not only written some of the best songs in rock history; the group has gone on to become a primary influence for many guitarists and bands, even in the current generation. Tickets are $75 to $150. 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 one event worth noting. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 10, Alejandra Guzman will rock the Special Events Center. Guzman is one of Latin music’s most successful modern artists and has a history of Latin rock hits going back to 1988. Tickets are $29 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a full schedule of events for July. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 3, The Family Stone (right) will be performing. Unfortunately, Sly Stone won’t be with them—although one of the first multi-racial and multi-gender American rock bands will still entertain. A blend of soul and psychedelic rock took the group to unbelievable heights when frontman Sly was in the band. Unfortunately, drug use and other problems have kept him absent from the group. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 18, actor/comedian Paul Rodriguez will be stopping by. He’s starred in films such as Quicksilver with Kevin Bacon and Born in East L.A. with Cheech Marin. He’s also had various successful stand-up specials on HBO. Tickets are $25 to $35. For those who have argued over that great music question—The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?—you can hopefully settle that argument at 8 p.m., Friday, July 31, when tribute bands Abbey Road (Beatles) and Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Rolling Stones) will engage in a “Musical Shootout.” Tickets are $10. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a couple of intriguing events coming up. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 10, country-music duo The Swon Brothers will be stopping by. The brothers from Oklahoma were a sensation on The Voice in 2013 and released their self-titled debut album on Arista Records in October 2014. Tickets are $29 to $39. At 9 p.m., Friday, July 31, former Doobie Brothers front man Michael McDonald will be performing. The five-time Grammy award winning artist was also a studio member of Steely Dan. Tickets are $55 to $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some great listings in July. At 9:30 p.m., Saturday, July 4, Nick Waterhouse will be returning to Pappy’s. Waterhouse’s retro sound, featuring ’60s rock ’n’ roll and R&B, has earned him accolades; he’s also been featured in a commercial for Lexus. Take note: If you go to the show, don’t wear tennis shoes; Waterhouse prefers those who put effort into their appearances. Tickets are $15 to $18. At 9 p.m., Thursday, July 9, there will be a vinyl release party for Jesika von Rabbit and her album, Journey Mitchell. Tickets are $10. At 9 p.m., Saturday, July 25, 10 year-old Emi Sunshine (below) will be performing. The Tennessee native and performer of Appalachian music is a wunderkind. Tickets are $10 to $12. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Summer is upon us as of this month—but fantastic acts continue to come through our toasty little valley, and there is some entertainment you definitely won’t want to miss in June.

Splash House is returning for two 2015 weekends, and the June version of the festival will be held on Saturday, June 13, and Sunday, June 14, at The Saguaro, the Hilton Palm Springs and the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club. Shuttles will run between the three venues. Performers include Bakermat, Cashmere Cat, Gigamesh and Wave Racer, just to name a few. Tickets start at $115. For more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s month is highlighted by Cheap Trick and Peter Frampton at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 13. Peter Frampton was a staple of ’70s rock, and they joked in Wayne’s World that his album Frampton Comes Alive! came in the mail with samples of Tide. He continues to record to this day—and he’s a brilliant performer. Cheap Trick is a big name in rock music that won over young fans through the ’90s. Don’t miss this one. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 26, Latin music icon Marco Antonio Solís will be stopping by. After 30 years and 50 million albums sold, he’s one of Latin music’s most successful performers. Tickets are $59 to $129. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has busy June schedule. At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 6, Art Laboe will be returning with his Summer Love Jam IV. The “Oldies but Goodies” radio show is popular, and I love it when listeners call in to declare their adoration for their loved ones in lockup. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 12, the Doobie Brothers will be returning to the Coachella Valley. While many members have come and gone over the years, Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons keep it going, and they have a devoted following. 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.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a great lineup this month. While Magic Mike XXL doesn’t come out until July 1, you’ll be happy to know that at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 6, Hunks: The Show will be at Spotlight 29. The Las Vegas-style show is similar to the performances by the Chippendales and Thunder From Down Under. Tickets are only $20, which means you’ll have more dollar bills to “tip” the performers. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 19, Gregg Allman will be following up on his Stagecoach performance. Allman is a true survivor who has managed to return spectacularly after a liver transplant a few years ago. Tickets are $35 to $55. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is filling up the summer schedule. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 19, Tim Allen will be performing. The star of Home Improvement and the voice of Buzz Lightyear can breathe a little easier now that his current sitcom, Last Man Standing, has been picked up for another season. Tickets are $65 to $85. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 20, Wynonna and the Big Noise will be stopping by. This is a new project for country star Wynonna Judd (above right), and it’s been well-received by her fans. Tickets are $49 to $69. Partridge Family fans will be thrilled to know that at 9 p.m., Friday, June 26, David Cassidy will be performing. Cassidy has admitted to problems with alcohol and received another DUI in January 2014. Let’s hope that’s behind him now. Tickets are $29 to $39. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace recently announced some great new shows. At 7 p.m., Thursday, June 4, indie-folk band The Mountain Goats will be appearing. The North Carolina trio has put out 15 records since forming in 1991 and has performed around the world. Tickets are $20. At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 13, country singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard will take the stage. Hubbard has been considered a traditional country musician while also getting tagged with “cowpunk” and “folk” labels. Whatever you want to call him, the man is a brilliant songwriter, and this is indeed one of those June shows you don’t want to miss. Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 26, the Paul Chesne Band will be playing. Chesne played at the Campout last year and has brought in the New Year at Pappy’s. This regular puts on a great show. Admission is free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Copa in Palm Springs has one event worth noting in June. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 12, and Saturday, June 13, well-known dragapella beautyshop quartet The Kinsey Sicks (below) will be stopping by. The name is a play on words referring to the Kinsey scale, of course, with six being the number on the scale that defines “exclusively homosexual.” The group sings parodies of various songs a cappella and has remained a crowd-pleaser in the LGBT community despite lineup changes. If you want to mix things up, take your dad as a Father’s Day gift! Tickets are $30 to $50. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

Despite a series of embarrassing legal issues and odd behavior, R. Kelly remains a powerful and relevant figure in the ever-changing R&B music world—which means it was no surprise that his show at Fantasy Springs on Saturday night, May 23, was nearly sold out.

His live show was full of surprises—not all of them good surprises.

R. Kelly took the stage about 45 minutes late. When the lights shut off, and his DJ started the intro, a curtain opened—revealing what looked like a bar complete with an actual bartender, tables, chairs and lamps. Some members of R. Kelly’s entourage were out in the audience recruiting ladies to stand on the stage and fill the bar space. The video wall showed images of the Chicago skyline—referencing R. Kelly hometown.

R. Kelly eventually appeared, sending the mostly female audience into screams and howls. For what seemed like 20 minutes, he appeared to be singing and rapping. However, he would move the mic away from his mouth—to stick his arms in the air or encourage a louder ovation from the audience—and the lyrics would still be playing.

During a break between songs, he said, “Welcome to the Black Panties Show.” He then asked how many ladies were wearing black panties; asked if ladies were wearing panties in other colors; and then asked how many were wearing no panties at all—which, of course, got the loudest ovation. Then he asked, “How many people have made love to my music?” followed by, “How many people have fucked to my music?” He told people it was all right to have no shame, because, “I’ve done it to my own music. I have three kids off my own shit.”

There were strange moments throughout the show. At one point, he was freestyle-singing about how he wanted someone to wipe his face with the towel he was holding. He bent down in front of the stage and gave the towel to some lady, who wiped and caressed his face as he sang her directions on how to wipe his face.

It got even weirder when R. Kelly recited a poem he called “Poetic Sex.” He talked about what he wanted to do with a woman, referencing a g-spot, getting her “wet like an aquarium” and moving her “up and down on my elevator.” He ended the poem saying: “My lyrics got a big dick, and I just fucked the shit out of y’all.”

All night, R. Kelly engaged with female members of the audience in odd ways. He let one woman sing the chorus to one of his songs, and then declared she was “singing off key like a motherfucker.” He told one lady, “Here, hold this,” and let her hold his mic as he played with the cigar he held throughout the show. He then took a drink of water; meanwhile, the lady began rambling something into the microphone. When he took it back, he said, “Thank you for whatever the fuck you were saying. I don’t know what it was, but I appreciate it.”

At one point, he wandered off stage while a video played of him getting drunk in the recording studio and talking about the flavor of the kettle chips he was eating. When he came back out, he was wearing a poncho that looked like a black towel with a hole cut in the middle of it. This was when he actually began to sing—and it sounded as if his vocal power is not what it once was, as he sang “Trapped in the Closet,” “Bump and Grind,” and “Your Body’s Callin’.”

During the final part of his show, he went into the audience and sang a couple of songs. He ended the show by looking at his watch and saying, “My time is up,” thanking the audience for supporting him for more than 20 years, and telling everybody to drive safe.

I’ve seen a variety of hip-hop performers and R&B singers in concert, and they often go to great theatrical lengths to make shows more entertaining—but R. Kelly’s actions often seemed awkward and overly ego-driven rather than entertaining.

But what do I know? Most of crowd loved it, screaming for him from beginning to end.

Published in Reviews