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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

It’s that time of the year again: Coachella and Stagecoach are here, and things are crazy before the season begins to wind down. Consider April to be last call before the summer heat comes.

I will be throwing my third NestEggg Food Bank Benefit Show, this time at the Coachella Valley Art Scene, at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 4. On the bill: John Robbins, The Rebel Noise, Alchemy and CIVX. There will also be a closing DJ set by Pedro Le Bass. The Rebel Noise and CIVX have recently had to reshape after changes to their lineups—but both bands are back and sound great. There will also be raffle items. Admission is $10, and all proceeds go to the NestEggg Food Bank. Coachella Valley Art Scene, 68571 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City; www.thecoachellavalleyartscene.com.

The McCallum Theatre is concluding its season with a couple of great locally focused events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 11, the McCallum will host a special anniversary gala for the The Desert Symphony. The gala will be hosted by Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame. Tickets are $65 to $125. At 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 22, Jewish Family Service of the Desert will be presenting Michael Childers’ production of One Night Only, which features music from the ’60s. Tickets are $75 to $195. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will host Marie Osmond at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 4. She performed with her brother Donny under the name “Donny and Marie”; that led to a variety show during the late ’70s. She’s recorded 35-plus albums and has appeared on Broadway. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 25, Earth, Wind and Fire (first below) will be performing. One of those disco groups that defied “Death to Disco,” EW&F has been inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame, earned eight Grammy awards and sold 90 million albums worldwide. Tickets are $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa only has one big music event scheduled in April, but it’s a good one: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 4, it’ll be time to boogie with Kool and the Gang. Since 1964, the band has sold 70 million albums worldwide. 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.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of events worth mentioning in April. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 3, you can enjoy a personal evening with Barbara Eden (above right), of I Dream of Jeannie fame. The actress has had an acting career for six decades—and she has a lot of stories to tell. Tickets are $25. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 18, R&B singer Keith Sweat will be stopping by. With several hit singles in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Sweat became a household name. Tickets are $30 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is the place to be in April. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 3, Lily Tomlin will be performing. She’s as busy as ever, with rumors of a possible 9 to 5 sequel and various television appearances. This is a great time to see her live. Tickets are $49 to $59. You’ll be happy to know Margaret Cho will be returning to the area at 9 p.m., Friday, April 24. The Korean comedienne includes anecdotes from her family and personal issues in her comedy. Just a warning: She can get raunchy. Tickets are $35 to $45. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace looks ready to open the outdoor stage for the spring/summer season, so there are probably some great outdoor shows coming. At 7 p.m., Saturday, April 11, The Evangenitals will be returning to Pappy’s for a free show. If you missed them back in December, don’t miss them again. I can guarantee there will be plenty of laughs. At 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 14, Jenny Lewis will be performing in between Coachella performances. Tickets are $25. At 7 p.m., Thursday, April 16, Jamie xx from The xx will be performing. Tickets are $35 to $45. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The LED Day Club will be featuring performances during both weekends of Coachella at the Hilton Palm Springs. On Thursday, April 9, Chromeo will be doing a DJ set; on Friday, April 10, Panda Funk will be appearing; on Saturday, April 11, Odesza will be doing a DJ set; on Sunday, April 12, Flosstradamus will be appearing. On Thursday, April 16, CHVRCHES will be doing a DJ set; on Friday, April 17, Porter Robinson will be doing a DJ set; on Saturday, April 18, Skrillex and “friends” will be appearing (that guy has friends?); and on Sunday, April 19, DJ Snake will perform. A four-day pass to the event is $125 per weekend (which is really not bad); day passes vary. Hilton Palm Springs, 400 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; leddayclub.frontgatetickets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a couple of notable events taking place in April. At 6 p.m., Thursday, April 9, Fishbone will be performing at an outdoor show. The Pedestrians, which now features Machin’s David Macias on guitar, will be opening. Tickets are $25 pre-sale and $35 at the door. My suggestion: Get your tickets now! Remember McLovin from Superbad? Or “The Motherfucker” in Kick-Ass? Well, Christopher Mintz-Plasse will be bringing his band Bear on Fire (second below) to The Hood at 9 p.m., Saturday, April 18. Local bands Caxton and War Drum will also be on the bill, and admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

Marie Osmond has recorded numerous albums, been on many television shows, and written a handful of books; now she’s bringing “An Intimate Evening With Marie and Friends” to Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Saturday, April 4.

Marie Osmond comes from a Mormon family, and was one of nine children. Some of her brothers—she’s the only female among the nine—were teen-pop megastars as The Osmonds. The Osmond family’s musical success was due in large part to their father, George.

“My dad believed in hiring the best and managed our finances,” Osmond said during a recent phone interview. “My dad was a brilliant orchestrator, and he made sure we always worked with the very, very best.”

The family’s success in the music business is well-documented. “There are not many of us who can say we’ve worked consistently in the entertainment business for five decades,” she said. “We’re fortunate to say we’re still relevant.”

Osmond said there were times during her childhood when she wished she could have been doing something else.

“I have a very unique experience as someone who grew up in the entertainment industry. What is normal?” she asked. “My brothers played football with the Jacksons, and Janet (Jackson) and I were the cheerleaders. I could go on with the oddities in my life, but the principle is: We’re all going to go through up and downs through our life. God could care less who we are, but he cares about how we do it.”

Osmond has spoken openly about her struggles with postpartum depression. In 2010, her son Michael committed suicide due to issues related to depression.

“My son struggled his whole life with depression, and he eventually took his life,” she said. “I don’t know if I ever could have understood what my son went through continually if I had not gone through postpartum depression. I don’t care what they call it—depression is depression.”

Osmond explained she’s open about her struggles in hopes of making people feel comfortable asking for help.

“That’s one of the reasons why I’m open with my life,” she said. “The things I do disclose when I talk about postpartum—do you know how many women are ashamed? Women used to be institutionalized for postpartum depression, which is just barbaric to me. It’s one of the reasons why I spoke, because if you can talk about things, you can eliminate that fear that’s attached to it, and you create an open dialogue and bring peace to the situation. We’re all human beings going through life, and no one should feel ashamed for depression. There needs to be compassion and understanding for it.”

Regarding her career, Osmond has been recording new music.

“When you’ve been singing for five decades, you say, ‘Really? An album at your age?’” she said. “I should say age should never define our ability to give back. There are a lot of things that can be said musically when you hit the big 5-0 that could never be expressed any other way. I’m so excited about it, and one of the songs I’ll be doing in the show is a song that I recorded with Marty Roe, the lead singer of Diamond Rio. Marty has one of the most incredible voices.”

Osmond explained the concept behind her tour.

“The show is called ‘An Intimate Evening,’ and it’s the music through my life,” she said. “My brother Donny and I have been in Vegas for about seven years now. … Musically, this is not a Vegas show. This show, I produced it in the sense I’m a New York Times best-selling author; I’m invited to speak quite a bit as a motivational speaker; and I thought it would be really fun to combine my love of writing with my passion of music. I would say it’s a one woman show with music, and it’s an emotional journey that we’ll go on together. Part of the reason I chose the venues I’ll be performing in is because they’re more intimate.”

Osmond said she picked the Palm Springs area in hopes of performing for a multigenerational audience.

“I really like the Palm Springs area. There are multiple age groups out there, and it’s one of the reasons I chose that area,” she said. “My demographic is very diverse. I want to pull in as many people age-wise as possible, because there’s something for every age group in my show.”

“An Intimate Evening With Marie and Friends” takes place at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 4, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $39 to $79. For tickets or more information, call 800-827-2946, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Published in Previews

Despite the absence of Davy Jones and Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork managed to put on an outstanding two-hour performance as The Monkees at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Friday night, March 27.

Some of the fans in attendance were in their teens during The Monkees’ rise to fame in the ’60s—but The Monkees have a multigenerational audience, and a good percentage of the crowd consisted of younger folks.

Davy Jones died in 2012, and Michael Nesmith decided not to take part in the current Monkees tour, so Dolenz and Tork were left to carry the show. Before The Monkees took the stage, the video wall in the background played an intro that included footage of the television show, as well as modern-culture references to the group, including clips of the group’s music playing on television shows such as Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Also included: Tork’s cameo on one show during which a fan told him he had a Monkees lunchbox. Tork’s reply: “We never made any money on those things.”

Tork and Dolenz took the stage, and they wasted no time diving into the classics, opening with “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Your Auntie Grizelda” and “She.” Micky Dolenz’s vocals on “She” were almost opera-quality—his vocal range is still intact. The song of the night was “Mary, Mary”; Dolenz and Tork couldn’t have performed it better, and the backing band handled its duties nicely.

Other highlights included Tork’s cover of Tadg Galleran’s “Even White Boys Get the Blues,” and Micky Dolenz’s performance of “Randy Scouse Git,” which he said was about his experiences in the United Kingdom. He joked, “I was told I had a good time.”

The two told a story about how The Monkees were offered “Sugar, Sugar,” which went on to be performed by The Archies; they said they rejected the song in protest for more creative control—and the two then proceeded to perform a slow version of the song. They also performed their mid-1980s hit, “That Was Then, This Is Now,” while showing clips of various periods through their history.

Michael Nesmith was referenced in between numbers at one point, mentioned as their “sometimes partner.” They also paid tribute to the late Davy Jones at the end of the show with “Daydream Believer,” performing as a video played showing Jones dancing by himself with a psychedelic background.  

Before ending their excellent two-hour show with “I’m a Believer,” Micky Dolenz told the audience to go home and tell the “small children” that he sang the tune long before Shrek did.

Scroll down to see more images from the show, from photographer Kevin Fitzgerald.

Setlist

  • Last Train to Clarksville
  • Your Auntie Grizelda
  • She
  • Mary, Mary
  • The Girl I Knew Somewhere
  • I’ll Be Back Upon My Feet
  • For Pete’s Sake
  • Randy Scouse Git
  • Tear the Top Right off My Head
  • Take a Giant Step
  • Sometime in the Morning
  • Papa Gene’s Blues
  • I’ll Spend My Life With You
  • Cuddly Toy
  • DW Washburn
  • No Time
  • Words
  • Low Down
  • Can You Dig It
  • Sugar, Sugar
  • Even White Boys Get the Blues
  • Do I Have to Do This All Over Again
  • That Was Then, This Is Now
  • Daydream Believer
  • Listen to the Band
  • I’m Not Your Stepping Stone
  • Pleasant Valley Sunday
  • I’m a Believer
Published in Reviews

The Monkees were originally a fake band made up for a TV show—but before they knew it, the members were both television stars and pop music idols.

Almost 50 years later, The Monkees are still performing, and on Friday, March 27, members Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz will be performing at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino.

The Monkees first aired in 1966. The vision of Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Tork and Dolenz as a struggling rock band was inspired by the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night film. During a recent phone interview, Dolenz discussed the hectic schedule the band members faced when the show went on the air.

“Oh boy, fortunately I was only about 21 years old at the time,” Dolenz said with a laugh. “I had a lot of energy, but I’m not sure I could do it these days. It was intense. I had already been in the business for 10 years at that point, and I had a series as a kid, so I was familiar with the process. Those were long days filming a 30-minute sitcom, 10 to 12 hours sometimes. Then I had to go into the studio, and sometimes, I sang two or three lead vocals in one night—and they needed so much material for the show. During the weekends, we’d be rehearsing for the tour. Those couple of years were pretty intense.”

While The Monkees came together as a result of TV producers’ casting, Dolenz said it wasn’t hard to work with the other members.

“I think it’s easier to get along, because you show up one day, and it’s more formal,” he said. “It’s, ‘Hi, my name is Micky, and this is Michael, and you guys are going to be cast in a TV show. Your first call is at 8:30 in the morning, and in wardrobe by 9.’ In that sense, it’s a lot easier, because you start out in square one, and it’s sort of new.

“After years and years of being together, lots of things can happen, and you hear about that all the time—(like) that sort of feud between a couple of actors on Star Trek. … I can’t speak for the other guys, but I always approached it as I was an actor/singer/entertainer, and I was cast into a show, much like I’ve been cast into musicals recently. I played the wacky drummer on the television show, and The Monkees was an imaginary group. It really didn’t exist. … We didn’t all live in a beach house together.”

In 1967, The Monkees’ members won their creative freedom and began to write their own material.

“We had the control, and sometimes, I think we didn’t know what to do with it, but the sessions were a lot of fun and intense, because there was a lot riding on it,” Dolenz said. “I just remember loving being more and more involved in it. But it was a lot tougher, and it meant a whole lot more responsibility, but I still remember it being a lot of fun, and being more intimately involved in the process.”

One rather amusing story: The Monkees once had Jimi Hendrix on tour as the opening act. Monkees fans were not impressed with Hendrix at all, and Hendrix eventually left the tour, because he was finally seeing success on his own.

“It was pretty obvious back then what he would become. It was also pretty obvious what an incredible talent he was,” Dolenz said. “I had seen him at the Monterey Pop Festival, and I had suggested to the producers that they look at him as an opening act, because he was very theatrical, and that was a persona he was portraying onstage. I remember just seeing him at Monterey, thinking, ‘Now that’s a great act!’”

One of the more fascinating moments for The Monkees came when they were offered the chance to make a full-length film, which went on to become Head. The film was produced by Jack Nicholson and directed by Bob Rafelson; it had no plot and featured strange sequences with each of the members. The film was not only a flop; it alienated many Monkees fans. The film has since gained a cult following and was released in 2010 by the Criterion Collection as part of the America Lost and Found: The BBS Story box set.

“You always hope that something will be successful, but in retrospect, it probably wasn’t the kind of movie the fans were expecting,” Dolenz recalled. “But we had made a conscious choice. The consensus was we didn’t want to do a 90-minute version of the show, which commercially would have been the correct thing to do. At the time, the attitide was we wanted to stretch our wings a bit and do things and say things we weren’t able to do on the television show … and when you do a film, that’s not a problem. We all wanted to make a statement and do something kind of crazy, and we certainly did. I love it, and I’ve always thought it’s a great movie.”

The Monkees have been off and on since their initial split in 1971. In the mid-’80s, MTV ran a marathon of The Monkees TV show that introduced the band to a new generation of fans. During the mid-’90s, the group had a cameo in The Brady Bunch Movie. In 2010, the Monkees reunited again—and shortly after a reunion tour, Davy Jones passed away due to a heart attack, in 2012. Shortly thereafter, Michael Nesmith, who was hesitant to take part in past reunions, finally agreed to appear with the other members. While Tork and Dolenz are the only members performing on this tour, Dolenz said the door is always open for Nesmith.

“Frankly, my understanding is he’s writing a new book and has since decided he really wants to focus on that,” Dolenz said. “He has written a couple of books in the past, and Mike has drifted in and out through the years, but he’s always welcome. He’s a little bit like Neil Young with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.”

The Monkees will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, March 27, at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $29 to $59. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Published in Previews

Ne-Yo first hit the charts in 2006 with his hit single “So Sick”—and ever since, every album he’s released has hit the Top 10. A lot of people know that.

A lot of people don’t know he’s also a talented and acclaimed songwriter who has penned hits for Mary J. Blige, Beyonce and many others.

Ne-Yo will be performing at Fantasy Springs on Saturday, March 14.

Ne-Yo (Shaffer Smith) was born in Camden, Ark.; his mother was from Arkansas, and his father was from Nevada. His parents, both musicians, split up when he was young, and he was raised by his mother in Camden before they eventually moved to Las Vegas.

“There wasn’t a whole lot that was going on out there (in Camden),” Ne-Yo said during a recent phone interview. “It was the skating rink or the parking lot of the post office where the young people hung out, and that was pretty much it.”

Music runs in his family, he said.

“My mom sings; my dad sings; my aunts and uncles—everyone does it,” he said. “I guess it was hereditary.”

However, that doesn’t mean he’s always been confident in his singing abilities.

“I didn’t like my voice, because I didn’t sound like the kind of heavy-voiced artists that my mom used to listen to,” he said. “It was my mom who introduced me to Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and how they sang. It helped me get a little bit more comfortable with my own voice. The first artist where I was really in love with music (was) Michael Jackson.”

He used a journal while growing up—which helped develop his songwriting abilities.

“I was kind of a pent-up kid, and I was aggravated and irritated,” he said. “My dad headed out really early, so it was just my mom, my sister and my grandmother. I didn’t have much of a male role model to vent all this aggravation to. My mom gave me a pen and a pad and told me, ‘Write it down.’ Journal entries became poetry, and poetry eventually became transformed into songs.”

While he’s written hits for himself and others, he said he hasn’t written his best song yet.

“I feel like with every song that I write, I grow a little bit,” he said. “I get a little better at what I’m doing, and as far as my best song, I don’t know what it is yet.”

Ne-Yo has worked with numerous artists, and he admitted that he has some favorites.

“Rihanna and I always have a lot of fun,” he said. “… I just love that she’s so honest. She’s all killer and no filler. She makes up her own mind and makes no apologies for it. … With her it’s, ‘This is how it is; this is how I feel, and take it or leave it.’

“I haven’t worked in Beyonce for a while, but she’s super-sweet and the nicest person on the planet. Despite the fact she’s a megastar, she’s just regular people and really down to earth. She has an untouchable thing that you feel  … but she’s the kind of person who would get up and go to the kitchen and get you a glass of water if you asked her to.”

In January, Ne-Yo released his latest album, which collaborations with artists including Pitbull, Jeezy and David Guetta.

“The album is called Non-Fiction, and I call it that because just about every song is a true story,” he said. “The songs are a story that’s mine, or stories from my fans that I got through social media. As far as the sessions went, I wish I could say I know when I’ve made the hits, but I really don’t. I just do what I feel and let everyone else do the same. “

What can you expect from Ne-Yo’s live show?

“Expect a show that is mainly about the music,” he said. “I’m not really the bells-and-whistles guy. I don’t do a lot with pyrotechnics, special effects and all that. It’s me, a band, dancers—and that’s pretty much it. We have a really good time, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Ne-Yo will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 14, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $49 to $109. For tickets or more information, call (760) 342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Published in Previews

It’s March … so we all know what’s comin’, weather-wise. We strongly recommend getting out and enjoying some fantastic events before the broiler gets turned on.

The McCallum Theatre’s schedule is full of music events in March. While Johnny Mathis’ March 7 and 8 performances are sold out, here are some other shows to consider: At 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 17, singer-songwriter Don McLean will be stopping by. McLean wrote the 1971 hit single “American Pie,” for which he’s widely known; however, he’s written many other great songs, too. After catching his performance at Stagecoach last year, I can say he’s worth seeing. Tickets are $25 to $65. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 27, Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang will be performing. Tickets are $65 to $125. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some great stuff going on in March. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 7, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge will play. Etheridge won an Academy Award for her song “I Need to Wake Up,” for Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 14, R&B superstar Ne-Yo will be stopping by. Ne-Yo has won multiple Grammy Awards; this is one you don’t want to miss. Tickets are $49 to $109. I was very excited when I heard about the next event … but there’s a twist: At 8 p.m., Friday, March 27, ’60s pop group The Monkees will perform. Here’s the twist: The show is slated to include only Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork. Michael Nesmith, with whom Tork and Dolenz reunited with after the death of Davy Jones in 2012, will for some reason not be taking part in this show, barring a change in plans. Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple can’t-miss shows scheduled, too. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 7, comedian Kathy Griffin will be returning to The Show for what should be a very funny performance. After a successful run with her reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, Griffin is still going strong. Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 28, the ’90s-swing-revival band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will take the stage. If you don’t remember, swing music enjoyed a very brief comeback in the decade thanks to acts such as the Brian Setzer Orchestra and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has continued on successfully since then. Tickets are $40 to $70. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 had a strong February—and that strength continues into March. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 7, you’ll be happy to find a night of “country music without prejudice” with Big and Rich and special guest Cowboy Troy (pictured above right). During the ‘MERICA! years of the previous decade, Kenny Alphin and John Rich rode the charts, and also had several successful collaborations with Cowboy Troy, an African-American artist who does rap country music. Tickets are $80 to $100. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 28, plus-size comedian Ralphie May will be performing. May was the runner up on the first season of Last Comic Standing. He was also a contestant on Celebrity Fit Club. Tickets are $25 to $35. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has one event in March that leads to this question: Are you ready to rock? OK, just joking: At 9 p.m., Friday, March 13, Kenny G (pictured below) will be stopping by. That’s right: The smooth-jazz sax man will be performing here! Despite harsh criticism from some of bop-jazz’ notable musicians, Kenny G has captivated audiences while selling millions of records around the world. Haters gonna hate! Tickets are $60 to $70. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will host some amazing musicians in March. At 8:30 p.m., Saturday, March 14, Dave Catching and Rancho de la Luna will be taking over Pappy’s with performances by Earthlings?, Dinola and Rancho de la Lunatics. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 27, there will be a much-anticipated performance by Gang of Four. The English post-punk outfit just released a new album. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.

Copa has several interesting events booked for March. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7, Copa will be hosting performances by actress Molly Ringwald. Actually, she’s more than just an actress: Ringwald is also a decent vocal jazz singer! Her 2013 album Except Sometimes included a jazz-style cover of the Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from her ’80s film The Breakfast Club. Tickets are $45 to $75. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-322-3554; www.coparoomps.com.

Be sure to watch the websites and social-media presences of venues not listed here for newly announced events. Have a great March, everyone!

Published in Previews

Although he’s 88 years old, Tony Bennett is still the consummate showman—a fact he proved at Fantasy Springs on Friday night, Jan. 30.

Before Tony Bennett came out, his daughter, Antonia Bennett, performed for about 20 minutes, singing standards such as “Teach Me Tonight,” “Taking a Chance on Love” and “Always on My Mind.” She dedicated her performance of “Thank Your Lucky Stars” to her father before introducing him.

A vintage audio clip of Frank Sinatra introducing Tony Bennett played before he walked across the stage, waving and smiling. He began with “Watch What Happens,” and then followed with “They All Laughed,” a song that mentions great scientists and inventors who were laughed at before their moments of triumph. During the song, Bennett even offered a bit of a dance move.

Bennett’s voice isn’t as powerful as it once was, although his power and range are still strong enough, as he showed during “Maybe This Time.” During a performance of Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm,” he pointed out his drummer, Harold Jones; Bennett said Jones was “Count Basie’s favorite drummer.”

Bennett invited Antonia to return to perform Stephen Sondheim’s “Old Friends” with him. The result was beautiful; they hit the harmonies perfectly.

“Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” “But Beautiful” and “The Best Is Yet to Come” were all delights that showed off the talents of his backing band. Gary Sargent, his guitarist, played beautiful jazz solos and showed off a lovely sound that fit in nicely with all of Bennett’s standards. Mike Renzi, Bennett’s pianist (who also worked with the late Mel Torme and many others), also showed off his individual talents at times. Bennett pointed out singer Jack Jones, who attended the show and stood up when Bennett mentioned him.

After “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” Bennett mentioned his most recent recording, an album with Lady Gaga called Cheek to Cheek. “In case you’re wondering why, she needed the money,” he said—in a tone that didn't sound like he was joking. The remark got some laughs from the audience—and it was all he said about the album.

The performance lasted more than an hour and, of course, ended with “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

Bennett was a pleasure. He still has energy, class and countless fans who enjoy going to his shows and “being old fashioned” with him.

Photos by Kevin Fitzgerald

Published in Reviews

February is the shortest month of the year—but it’s also the high season in the Coachella Valley, which means there’s a wealth of great shows you should keep in mind.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club will be hosting a performance by L.A. Witch at 10 p.m., Friday, Feb. 6, in the Amigo Room. The psychedelic female trio has been playing shows with the likes of the Black Angels, The Melvins and Blonde Redhead. Admission is free. The Ace is also hosting a special Valentine’s Day weekend put on by The Do-Over, known as the Lovers x Heartbreakers Palm Springs Weekender, on Saturday, Feb. 14, and Sunday, Feb. 15. There will be a special lineup of surprise musical guests hosted by Haycock, Strong and Blacc. Admission is free. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

Local DJ duo The Deep Ones have started an open-mic night for DJs. What does this concept involve? Well, if you ever wanted to try your skills on a turntable and a mixer, you’ll get your chance at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 26. Get more info on The Deep Ones’ Facebook page. Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails, 32025 Monterey Ave., Thousand Palms; 760-343-2115; www.myplanbbar.com.

The McCallum Theatre has a solid schedule for February—with shows on 24 of the month’s 28 days! At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 3, A Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor will be bringing his show featuring anecdotes from the American Midwest and other amusing portions of his life. Tickets are $45 to $75. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7, Great American Songbook singer Michael Feinstein will perform while sharing the history of these famous tunes. Tickets are $65 to $95. If you’re looking for something to enjoy with the whole family, the Vienna Boys Choir will be performing at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 19. The choir is split into four touring choirs of boys between the ages of 10 and 14; many are from Austria, but kids from other countries are included, too. Tickets are $25 to $65. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has great shows scheduled throughout the month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7, it will be hip to be square with Huey Lewis and the News. True story: I asked for a Metallica album for Christmas one year during my childhood—and my mother bought me Huey’s Sports album instead. Needless to say, I was not happy. Huey has been going since the late 1970s and has had quite a career. One of his more memorable moments was a cameo in Back to the Future, to which he contributed “The Power of Love.” Tickets are $40 to $80. If you had a great time at Air Supply’s Valentine’s Day performance at The Show last year, you’ll be happy to know they’ll be back to soft-rock your face off again, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 14. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 28, Mexican musician and composer Espinoza Paz will be appearing. Paz went back and forth between Mexico and the United States in the late ’90s when he was an aspiring songwriter and musician. He eventually found his calling and released his first album, El Canta Autor Del Pueblo, in 2008. Tickets are $65 to $85. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s February lineup is packed with great shows. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7, you can relive the short reggaeton era (remember that?) with Yandel. He is half of the duo Wisin and Yandel, and he released his second solo album, De Lider a Leyenda, in 2013; a brand new album, Legacy, is slated to drop just before this show. Tickets are $39 to $69. Natalie Cole (above right) will be performing on Valentine’s Day, 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 14. The daughter of Nat King Cole was a big success in the ’70s before falling into drug addiction. She made a remarkable comeback in the late ’80s and has been going strong ever since. Tickets are $39 to $79. The great Burt Bacharach will be returning at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 22. Bacharach has had 48 Top 10 hits over a 50-year period, and his songs have been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Linda Ronstadt, Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin. 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 star-studded lineup this month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7, former Saturday Night Livewriter John Mulaney will be appearing. Mulaney was responsible for writing the “Weekend Update” portion of the show and created the character of Stefon! Tickets are $30 to $50. If you want a little edge on your Valentine’s Day, former Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 14. He also performed with the members of Queen for five years. Tickets are $45 to $75. Martina McBride will be bringing her “Everlasting Tour” to Spotlight 29 at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 26. The country vocalist has had a long and successful career, and her latest album, Everlasting, features duets with Kelly Clarkson and Gavin DeGraw. Tickets are $79 to $139. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will be busy during the month of February. At 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 10, Pappy’s will be hosting the first performance in 18-plus years of Babes in Toyland. The Riot Grrrl trio has had a rough go of it since disbanding. Frontwoman Kat Bjelland suffered a schizophrenic episode and had to be hospitalized in 2007; bassist Maureen Herman has written about a sexual assault that resulted in a pregnancy; and drummer Lori Barbero suffered from Lyme disease. Babes in Toyland is an intense band that will take you back to the days of grunge and alternative rock. Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21 singer-songwriter Brett Dennen (below) will be appearing. The Northern California folk singer has a unique voice, and his deep lyrics have landed him on the bill at the Newport Folk Festival, at Coachella and on various TV soundtracks. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Copa has had a steady season, and that trend continues in February. Leslie Jordan will be appearing at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 13, and Saturday, Feb. 14. Leslie may be short, but he’s a larger-than-life performer, guaranteed to be funny. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21, actress and cabaret singer Emily Bergl will perform. You may remember Bergl from her appearances on Gilmore Girls, CSI: Miami and Law and Order: Criminal Intent, among other shows. Tickets are $20 to $40. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-322-3554; www.coparoomtickets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza is hosting a couple of notable events. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 15, metal goddess and poet Otep will appear. Not only is Otep a poet and metal singer; she’s also a painter and writer. She’s been featured on HBO’s Def Poetry series. She also spoke at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Advance tickets are $10, available at The Hood, and they’ll be $15 at the door. Word to the wise: Buy your tickets in advance. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 28, there will be a special birthday party for local hip-hop artist MC Manny G featuring EeVaan’ Tre and the Show, Thr3 Strikes and others. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

It’s been a long road home for Coachella boxer Randy Caballero.

The International Boxing Federation’s world bantamweight champion has been fighting in faraway places for more than a year now. The twisting road led him first to Sunrise, Fla., then to Kobe, Japan, and then finally to Monte Carlo, Monaco, where he seized the world title he’s wanted since he was 8 years old, when he first began boxing under the tutelage of Lee Espinoza, director of the Coachella Valley Boxing Club (pictured to the right).

But Caballero is now home, and the first defense of his title will happen in the friendly confines of the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s Events Center, on Friday, Feb. 27.

The Independent spent time with him at the Coachella Valley Boxing Club gym, on Douma Street in Coachella. We asked him how it feels to be a world champion.

“It feels good, but it feels the same,” replied Caballero, 24. “The title hasn’t changed me. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, the belt changed you.’ I’m the same person. I’ve still got to wake up in the morning and go run, and come to the gym and train hard every single day. You’ve got to train extra-hard to make sure you keep that title and not let it go anywhere.

“But other than that, I’m the same. My family’s the same. We all hang out still and have barbecues. We’re all the same people. We’re never going to change.”

Caballero’s nuclear family and support group includes his wife, Yaniva; their three children; father, Marcos Caballero (also his trainer and manager); and mom, Stephanie. And unquestionably, one of the strongest presences in Caballero’s life is Lee Espinoza.

Commonly referred to as the “godfather of local boxing” in the valley, Espinoza comes across as a guardian angel, of sorts, for the local kids who enter his club’s doors in search of a lifestyle that keeps them off tough neighborhood streets. For more than three decades, he’s been teaching valuable life skills and, on several occasions, grooming world champions.

“Lee has been a big part of my career and my life—my dad’s life, too,” Randy Caballero said. “My dad, when he came from Nicaragua at a very young age, he ended up walking into a boxing gym, which I believe was on Sixth Street in Coachella, in the old fire station. I got to visit it when I was little, but I never fought there, since I was too little. Lee trained my dad; he’s always been with us, and we’ve always had him in my corner. … It’s a learning sport, and Lee’s been around it for so long that he can tell us what to do or not to do.”

The traveling that Randy Caballero has done has not always included Espinoza: The coach hates to fly, so he skipped the trips to Japan and Monte Carlo.

“I got to witness that when we went to Miami; he was really bad on that plane,” Randy Caballero said. “But it’s nice to know we have him when we’re here. He’s opened the doors and his arms to us here at the Coachella Valley Boxing Club gym since we were little. It’s my second home here.”

For Espinoza, there’s no place he’d rather be, either. “It’s like something you get hooked on,” Espinoza said with a big smile. “It’s something almost like drugs. I can’t be at the house no more. I don’t know what I’m going to do there. So I come here and do this, because what we’ve done is, like, amazing. Everywhere in the world we go, they recognize us and me.

“Six kids from this little gym have fought for world titles, and four won. Pancho Segura won twice. Julio Diaz won twice. Sandra Yard got a title, and now Randy Caballero. So that’s it—I’m hooked. They ask me, ‘When are you going to retire?’ And I say when I die. I’m not leaving here.”

Meanwhile, Caballero is happy to be back home.

“It’s been over a year since I fought here,” Caballero said. “So it feels good to be back in my hometown, and I finally get to fight in front of my fans, family and friends. It will be good to walk into the arena and hear people cheering for me instead of the other guy.”

Is there added pressure to do well in front of that hometown crowd?

“Having to go to Miami, to Japan and to Monte Carlo—being in different arenas and in some one else’s hometown—kind of taught me that no matter where you’re at around the world, once you’re in that ring, it’s just you and that guy, and nobody else,” Caballero said. “… Once that bell rings, it’s like everything just goes ‘swoosh’ and closes in. I just can hear me and the guy breathing, and then I just hear my dad, and my brothers and my wife and my mom. That’s just about it.”

What kind of fight does he expect in his first title defense, against Mexico’s Alberto Guevara?

“I’m expecting a really tough fight,” Caballero said. “This guy’s brother just won a world boxing title, so in this guy’s mind, he’s thinking, ‘OK, this is my chance to win a world title, too.’ So I know he’s going to come in and give it a hard fight. This might be his last opportunity to win a world title.

“Like I’ve said, I’ve trained hard. I train hard every single day, and whenever they put a fighter in front of me, I train 100 percent. Whether it’s someone with a bunch of losses, or someone who has the best record in the sport of boxing, you never take anyone lightly. I’m going to make sure that I dictate the fight from Round 1 on. I’m ready to put on a good show for my fans out here at Fantasy Springs, and it should be a great fight.”

For more information, or to purchase tickets ($35 to $105), visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Published in Features

It’s time to put away the ugly holiday sweaters, throw away the wrapping paper and embrace the new year—including the fact that season is in full swing.

The McCallum Theatre is hosting some excellent events, as always. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 7, the red-headed stranger, Willie Nelson will be returning for another performance at the McCallum. He’s 81, and it seems like nothing can slow him down. Tickets are $65 to $100. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 16, America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho will be stopping by. She was only 10 years old when she competed on the show in 2010 and has since seen a great deal of success, including becoming the youngest person to ever play at the Lincoln Center. Tickets are $55 to $125. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 23, iconic actor Hal Holbrook will be performing Mark Twain Tonight. For 59 years (!), Holbrook has portrayed Mark Twain in his one-man show. Tickets are $45 to $75. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a fabulous lineup this month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 10, Paul Anka will take the stage. Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Anka started off his career with the 1957 hit song “Diana.” He’s been on and off the best-seller charts ever since. Not bad for a career that’s lasted almost 60 years. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 17, Motown singing sensation Smokey Robinson will perform. His honey-coated voice has produced some beautiful soul hits, and he continues to sing beautifully today. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 30, the legendary Tony Bennett will be returning to the Coachella Valley. He has 17 Grammy Awards; he’s a Kennedy Center honoree; and he has more than 70 albums to his credit, including his latest with Lady Gaga, Cheek to Cheek. What more can you say? Tickets are $49 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs announced recently that it would begin an outdoor concert series. Kicking things off, The Guess Who will be performing at 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 10. The Canadian rock band was an international success in the late ’60s through the mid ’70s. You know them thanks to their hit song “American Woman.” Admission is free, and the concert will be on the corner of Calle Encilia and Andreas Road. Spa Resort Casino, 401 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 888-999-1995; www.sparesortcasino.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has two great events scheduled. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 17, you can venture back into the ’50s with The Golden Boys. The group consists of Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell and Fabian. Considering these guys once ruled the music charts, seeing all three together should be a real delight. Tickets are $50 to $70. If you prefer something with a little more edge, you’ll be happy to know that Styx will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 24. When Styx started in 1972, the band offered a truly unique sound that blended hard-rock songs with brilliantly written ballads. However, the band was never the same after a bitter dispute between frontman Tommy Shaw and keyboardist Dennis DeYoung. While Styx fans hope for an eventual return by DeYoung, that’ll probably never happen. Tickets are $45 to $85. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 will host some fun January shows. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 10, country greats Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers (above right) will be performing. During 50 years in the business, they’ve racked up numerous country music hits. Tickets are $20 to $40. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 24, Starship featuring Mickey Thomas will play. If you remember Jefferson Airplane, they turned into Jefferson Starship, and now they’re just Starship. Hmm. Tickets are $20 to $40. Spotlight 29, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has one noteworthy concert scheduled during the month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 23, Vince Neil—Mötley Crüe frontman and star of Janine and Vince Neil: Hardcore and Uncensored—will be performing. Given Mötley Crüe has announced its retirement, expect Neil, Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx to promote themselves through their solo acts … until they decide to come out of retirement. Tickets are $40 to $60. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Copa will be booming in January. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 16, and Saturday, Jan. 17, former Mouseketeer Lindsey Alley will be performing. She was part of the revival of the Mickey Mouse Club from 1989 to 1994. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 18, former American Idol and The Voice contestant Frenchie Davis will sing. Davis was the subject of controversy in 2003 when topless photos from years previous began to surface during her run on Idol. In 2011, she was a contestant on The Voice, and made it to the semifinals. Trust me: If you plan to meet her after the show, don’t bring any of that up; she doesn’t like to discuss her past. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-322-3554; www.coparoomps.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace was the talk of social media after announcing that Neutral Milk Hotel will be playing in May; tickets quickly sold out. Meanwhile, in January, the venue will be hosting some great indoor shows. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 3, there will be a performance by The Solid Ray Woods Raw Soul Revival. Frontman Ray Woods has worked with some big names, including as The Jayhawks and Victoria Williams. Admission is free. At 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 15, Ryan Williams will take the stage. He is described as an Americana performer with a knack for songwriting. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 31, the indie-rock band We Are Scientists (below) will play. They have toured with the likes of the Arctic Monkeys and Kings of Leon since breaking on to the scene in 2000. Admission is $7. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.

The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club has an event planned you won’t want to miss. At 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 4, there will be a poolside DJ performance by FSQ. FSQ is made up of several people—including Chuck Da Fonk, who used to tour and record with George Clinton and Parliament during the ’90s, and The Hourchild, from Tommy Boy Records. Resident DJ Colour Vision will also perform. Attendance is free to those 21 and older. Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-778-8954; www.haciendacantina.com.

Mark your calendars for a couple of cool events at The Hood Bar and Pizza. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 23, there will be an album release party for local Latin/hip-hop artist J. Patron. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 30, a triple bill will include the Hellions, You Know Who and the Chuck Norris Experiment. Admission is again free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews