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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The kids are back in school. The days are getting shorter. It’ll officially be fall this month. And while the temps are still hot, so are the events.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting some shows that are out of this world. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 8, country singer Martina McBride will be stopping by. She’s a powerhouse in modern country music. She’s sold 18 million records, with 20 Top 10 singles, and six No. 1 hits. You don’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $49 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, it’ll feel like the ’90s again when TLC (right) and En Vogue perform. Both of these all-women R&B groups were pretty spectacular back in their day. TLC has sold 70 million records and was one of the most recognizable music groups of the ’90s. One of my guilty pleasures is the song “No Scrubs”; yes, I know all the words and will sing along when it comes on the radio. En Vogue was another ’90s great; “Free Your Mind” was a great jam. The group just released its first album in 14 years, scoring them a hit song. Wow! 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 goes into September with a great schedule. First, do you love Prince? If so, you’re in luck! At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1, Purple Reign: The Prince Tribute Show will be come to The Show. I watched this band’s sound check when the group was performing at the Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs—and was blown away by how good the band sounded. The group goes all out and even includes songs from Morris Day and the Time. Tickets are $20 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, classic-rock iconic band Styx will be performing. While Styx has received a lot of crap from critics, the band is beloved by a fan base of dedicated die-hards, and is one of the most successful touring bands in America. Tickets are $55 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29, enjoy An Evening With Mel Brooks. The man himself will reflect on his life and his career as an actor, writer, producer and director. At 92 years old, with works such as Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs and The Producers to his credit, he’ll have quite a bit to talk about. Tickets are $75 to $145. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

If you love Latin music, Spotlight 29 Casino has you covered. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, Mexican-American singer Marisela will be performing. Before Selena took Latin music by storm, there was Marisela. A native of Los Angeles, she released her first album when she was just 18 and has been going ever since. She’s a popular performer in Mexico and is also a hit in America with Latin-music lovers. Tickets are $50 to $100. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, norteño legend Ramon Ayala will take the stage. He’s considered the “King of the Accordion” and is a legendary Mexican musician; he has four Grammy Awards, too. Tickets are $40 to $60. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is getting back into the swing of things. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, and 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, that reliable all-male revue is coming back to town—Australia’s Thunder From Down Under. I’ve run out of things to say about them, so I’ll just tell you to look them up online and check out the pictures of them. If you like … go. Tickets are $25. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, get ready to journey back to the ’80s … because this lineup is the most ’80s thing I’ve ever seen: Boy George and Culture Club, the B-52s and the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey will be performing. Yeah, that’s quite a lineup. Tickets are $79 to $149, and as of our deadline, they were looking pretty scarce. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has had an amazing summer, and the September schedule continues the trend. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, desert-rock legend Sean Wheeler will be playing with his band Reluctant Messengers. Wheeler released his solo album Sand in My Blood in 2017. While it doesn’t have the over-the-top, crazy-fun sound of Throw Rag, it does have his impressive takes on country, folk, gospel and soul. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, Joshua Tree’s own Gene Evaro Jr. will be performing an outdoor show. He has traveled across the country and opened for acts such as Blues Traveler; it’s only a matter of time before he catches his big break. He’s a talented musician and a gifted songwriter. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 27, The Breeders (below) will arrive. It’s a band that features Kim Deal of Pixies; the group released great music back in the ’90s that was not wildly successful commercially, though it earned acclaim and praise. As of deadline, tickets were still available, but that’s most likely to change. Tickets are $35. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is back from its summer hiatus. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 2, The Judy Show will return to its weekly slot. It’s a fabulous show starring Judy Garland impersonator and Purple Room proprietor Michael Holmes. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, get out the thick black glasses for the Buddy Holly Tribute with Southbound and Company. This show has been popping up on occasion, and I’ve always been interested in going to check it out as a Buddy Holly fan. Maybe I will this time! Tickets are $25 to $30. At 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29, actress and singer Renee Olstead will take the stage. Olstead has had an impressive career in film, television and music. Her musical abilities caught the attention of producer/composer David Foster, who opened the door to her musical career. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa Palm Springs kicks off September with a special show: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1, country music performer Ty Herndon will return to the Copa stage. Herndon’s country music career includes 17 singles on the Billboard chart, including three songs that reached No. 1. A career slump and problems with drugs and alcohol followed, before he came out as gay in 2014. Fortunately, he’s back to performing and releasing albums again. Tickets are $25 to $35. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

The Ace Hotel Palm Springs has a great September schedule, but one event stands out: At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21, British psychedelic-pop legends The Zombies will perform an acoustic set, and founding members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone will do an interview during a live taping of the podcast The Trap Set with Joe Wong. Tickets are $30 to $75. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

Published in Previews

Two fantastic High Desert festivals—Stoned and Dusted 2018, and the Joshua Tree Music Festival—make May an exciting time for stoner rockers and world music fans.

The desert has exploded into a music mecca—and that includes the High Desert, which is now home to some of the most awesome festivals in the world, attracting imaginative, cutting-edge music artists and some of the biggest names in rock today.

The High Desert is booming with visitors and an ever-growing population—many of whom are part of the latest wave of immigrants from L.A. The area has grown into an eclectic home to a multitude of artists, and the economy is booming: Strolling through old town Yucca Valley or the village of Joshua Tree, I feel like a tourist, because there are so many new shops to visit and so many new artists to meet.

On May 17-20, thousands of music enthusiasts will pour into town from as far away as Africa and Netherlands to take part in the Joshua Tree Music Festival. It’s a global live music experience dripping with culture and music that defies the senses. I have seen some of the best artists in my life at Barnett English’s two annual music festivals. Friday night’s headliner: Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles, hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y.; he’s a Hammond B3 master and three-time Grammy winner.

Saturday night’s headliner is Bay Area-based Con Brio, who draws from pop and takes it somewhere crazy.

Attendees will be excited to see the wealth of world music that English seeks out for each festival at the Joshua Tree Lake Campground.

A week later—Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27—comes Stoned and Dusted 2018, at a secret High Desert location.

The desert’s brand of heavy psychedelic music that shaped the face of rock forever was born in the wild desert’s canyons, boulder outcroppings and empty swimming pools—not inside the nightclubs or record studios. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, Sky Valley, North Indio and other secluded landscapes were our venues. There, Mario Lalli, Dave Travis, Brant Bjork and others brought generators for power and cardboard boxes for stages—and the shows were pure magic.

Desert rock dried up for a decade or so after Kyuss broke up, but by 2010, it began filtering back in—and now many of those desert music acts are right back here at home, where they belong. 

Stoned and Dusted pays homage to those early desert shows, offering a world-class lineup of bands that typically draw thousands of fans to shows—but this is not that kind of festival. It’s a two-day camping event where a couple hundred fortunate guests will be shuttled to a private desert location, guaranteed to be lush with desert boulders, teaming with wildlife—and exploding with live performances from Brant Bjork, The Obsessed, Nebula, Yawning Man, Sean Wheeler and the Reluctant Messengers, Big Business, Golden Void, Beast Master, Ecstatic Vision, Sasquatch, Alpine Fuzz Society and others.

“To me, it’s a celebration of life and friends—and that’s what I am hoping everyone else will experience before they are zapped out of this reality they are experiencing,” said organizer Sean Wheeler. “It’s a hard reality, but there’s a lot of love and light in it. That’s the goal of what we are doing with Stoned and Dusted.”

Read more at rminjtree.blogspot.com.

Published in Previews

Local band Dali’s Llama is celebrating 25 years of existence—and the members are celebrating in a big way.

The group is playing a Silver Anniversary Show on Friday, March 9, at The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert. The Hellions, Decon, Sean Wheeler (performing as Zezo Zece Zadfraq and the Dune Buggy Attack Battalion) and Mario Lalli (of Fatso Jetson) with the Rubber Snake Charmers will all take the stage.

When frontman Zach Huskey showed up to our meeting, he explained that he came alone because his wife, Dali’s Llama bassist Erica Huskey, was out of town handling family business, while drummer Craig Brown had a “hot date.”

The band recently parted ways with guitarist Joseph Wangler, and brought back guitarist Joe Dillon. I asked Huskey whether the band has ever gone through any painful transitions as members have come and gone.

“Painful transitions? None!” Huskey said with a laugh. “The core of the band is me and Erica. We try to just get people who play well, and people who we’re friends with, because it’s no fun to be in a band with someone you can’t get along with, no matter how good of a player they might be. I always enjoy playing with Joe Dillon, and he’s been in and out of the band for at least 10 years. He’s always fun, because I’ve known him for 36 years. We’re friends, and we have all our inside jokes and can talk about people who are no longer here. He’s also a really underrated guitar player and songwriter, as well as a lead vocalist.”

Dali’s Llama last year released a three-song EP, which headed in a more bluesy direction—a bit of a departure from the band’s regular desert-rock sound.

“We recorded most of that at Mikael Jacobson’s studio here in the desert,” Huskey said. “One of the songs, ‘Bacteria,’ the acoustic one, I did it at Scott Reeder’s place. That one was a little delicate, because it was all about microphone placement. That was done in one take. The other ones just kinda had a groove, and I wanted to get a little more of a Zeppelin groove going.”

Huskey said Dali’s Llama has deep personal connections to all the bands playing at the show.

“Those are people who when I was 13 or 14 years old, I was in bands with,” he said. “We got Herb (Lienau) and Decon; Mario (Lalli); Sean Wheeler, who I was in a band with back in 1982; and we got The Hellions, because they’re the “new” old friends, even though they’ve been around for a while.

“The Hellions are kind of the slowest songwriters in the world,” he added with a laugh. “Whatever their process is, it either has to fit them right or something. I don’t know.”

In the years before Dali’s Llama, Huskey said, he played in several bands that came and went.

“I was playing in a band with Sean back in the later years that was ’60s garage stuff, and I was really into that—original, but really influenced by the old ’60s stuff,” he said. “It all fit, because the scene was just a bunch of dysfunctional, pissed-off kids doing it ourselves. Mario did bands like Across the River, which led to more of a metal side, especially in songs like ‘N.O.’ that people go all over the Internet to find. … We all played in different bands, and I was trying to find my songwriting and get that after playing with Sean for a couple of years. Everybody was also trying to figure out their vocal range and how they should sing until it came naturally.”

There have been periods when Dali’s Llama has been inactive.

“We have done little breaks,” he said. “We have two boys. One is 20, and one is 16. I did three solo acoustic albums for a while. But we would take the kids when they were really little off to Phoenix to play. I’d also do the Phoenix folk festival every year, and songwriting things where they’d have me show people how to write songs. When Erica was ready again, and the kids were old enough to have a baby sitter who was a family member, we’d do another project or start the band back up.”

While Huskey spoke proudly about the desert music scene, he mentioned there’s one thing he despises: battle-of-the-bands competitions.

“I fucking hate those things. I hated them then, and I hate them now. You want to criticize me as a songwriter? Especially now? Fuck you!” he said. “Look at the panels of those things. No, ain’t gonna happen. Even when I was a kid, I learned you have to have that sort of ‘Fuck you!’ attitude in order to protect yourself and develop on your own. I don’t want criticism. OK, maybe I’ll take it from my wife or another band member, but even from another band? I don’t want to hear it. There’s constructive criticism, too, but I’ve never been good with either one. Believe in yourself. So a band had a better performance and gets a trophy? They even had that shit back when we were kids. We always stayed clear of those as kids. We were out in the desert playing with T.S.O.L., so fuck you. You could be going in the right direction, and someone’s words might be, ‘You can’t sing.’ Well, maybe your voice is unique, and just because this person didn’t like it, or four people sitting at a table in agreement didn’t like it, fuck them. Most of the backyard bands in the scene today like Panzram, Terror Cult, or Facelift—they don’t care what anyone thinks about them. That’s the similarity to how it was back then.”

Huskey also said he wished his wife and band mate, Erica, got the credit she deserves.

“Name another woman who has been here for 25 years playing in a band,” he said. “She’s a solid bass-player. There was a time when we were recording Raw Is Real, and we found out she had breast cancer. We recorded the basic tracks of that album one day before she went in for surgery, having a full mastectomy and hysterectomy, and then she continued with radiation and chemotherapy while we recorded that fucking album. That chick is badass! The only equivalent is a guy saying, ‘We were there for a couple days, and then the next day, I went and had to have my nuts cut off.’ She’s really something.”

Zach and Erica Huskey decided not to take part in the recent documentary Desert Age, in part due to their feelings about drug use.

“I had a drinking problem and stopped when I was 24. When we moved back to the desert, we were clean. We had already been through that shit. There’s not anything exciting about meth anymore,” Zach said. “By the time we started this band, that wasn’t an option—it was about music. I don’t like the whole feel of, ‘Drugs and alcohol go hand and in hand with music.’ That’s a bunch of bullshit, because they don’t. Sean and I had a talk about that when he was getting clean years ago, for the last time, and I told him, ‘You have to get that out of your head,’ because we grew up thinking that—you can go, drink, get fucked up and play music. Whether it’s weed, frying on meth, drinking or thinking we’re Keith Richards and looking cool—you grow up with that mentality that it goes together. No, it doesn’t go together.”

Dali’s Llama will perform with The Hellions, Sean Wheeler, Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers, and Decon at 9 p.m., Friday, March 9, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $5. For more information tickets, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Published in Previews

As of Jan. 1, the holiday season is over—but the tourist/snowbird season is cranking into high gear, meaning there are a ton of fabulous events to take in across the Coachella Valley.

The McCallum Theatre is hosting a lot of sold-out events in January, but there are still tickets left for a few great shows. At 8 p.m., Monday, Jan. 22, operatic baritone singer Nathan Gunn will be performing from the Great American Songbook, as well as songs by Leonard Cohen and … Pearl Jam. Operatic Pearl Jam? Whoa! Tickets are $27 to $87. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 25, Broadway legends Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune will take the stage. These greats have 12 Tony Awards between them! Tickets are $37 to $67. At 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 29, piano virtuoso Jeffrey Siegel will be performing his variations on classical piano pieces, all while offering commentary. Siegel has played with some of the world’s best orchestras, so this is one you won’t want to miss. Tickets are $22 to $42. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino had a rocking holiday season and is sailing into January with a great schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 12, Motown R&B and soul legend Smokey Robinson will be performing. Smokey Robinson is an icon—even Bob Dylan listed Smokey Robinson as one of his favorite singers. His list of awards and honors is endless. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 19, if you’re a man wondering where your wife is, she might be at the Michael Bolton concert. Bolton is a good sport and hasn’t been afraid to poke fun at himself, as seen in Netflix’s Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Special. Oh, he’s won two Grammy Awards and has sold more than 65 million records, too. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 26, witness the spectacle of Adam Sandler going back to standup comedy and performing his comedy songs. It’s been years since he’s performed these types of shows; given his massive Netflix contract; he certainly doesn’t need the money. Tickets are $79 to $139. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is going to be sizzling in January with hot events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 13, our favorite show is coming back: It’s Thunder from Down Under! That’s right, the all-male Aussie review that makes women scream will return to the Coachella Valley. Tickets are $15 to $25. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 20, crooner Burt Bacharach (right) will perform. The “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” scribe is always popular when he comes to the Coachella Valley, which is no wonder, considering Bacharach has written some of the greatest songs ever—plus he performs them beautifully. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27, comedy great Howie Mandel will be performing with Preacher Lawson. I’ve always found Mandel a little odd, with his fears of germs and his refusal to shake people’s hands, but he’s an icon. 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 has some fantastic weekend shows coming in January. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 12, comedian and actor Mike Epps will do his thing. You might remember Epps for performing opposite Ice Cube as Day-Day in Next Friday and Friday After Next. One of Epps’ funniest moments in my opinion was when he told the story of Baby-D and her “Y2K snacks” in Next Friday. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 26, recording artist and television star Tony Orlando will be performing. I had a chance to interview Orlando last year, and it was a pleasurable experience. Growing up, I remember seeing him on many television shows, and hearing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon,” which received heavy airplay on the radio. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a January event with a limited number of tickets still available as of our press deadline. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 5, comedian Sinbad will bring the funny. Sinbad seemingly disappeared for a while … until he had financial problems. However, he seems to be finding his groove and is getting good reviews for his “family friendly comedy.” Tickets are $29. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a ton of events in January, featuring acts both national and local, so be sure to check the full schedule. Here are a few highlights. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 19, punk/rockabilly band The Flesh Eaters will take the stage. The Flesh Eaters have some dark themes in their music and were a hit in the Los Angeles punk scene. Also on the bill are Sean Wheeler and the Reluctant Messengers. Tickets are $25. At 8:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 21, Monkees guitarist/vocalist Michael Nesmith will be performing with his band, The First National Band. Fun fact: During the ’70s, Nesmith wrote and performed country music. Just a heads up: Nesmith usually avoids performing Monkees songs. Tickets are $30 to $40. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27, country and rock singer/songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield (below) will be performing. Mayfield has shared the stage with rock contemporaries such as Ryan Adams, and has collaborated with The Black Keys. Given she’s from Northeast Ohio like me, I’m rooting for her. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is always a popular place during season. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 6, jazz singer Jonathan Karrant will perform. The Arkansas native has been on stages since he was a young child and says that he cherishes the storytelling aspect of performing. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 12, Tony Award-winner Levi Kreis will be performing. The Broadway singer and pianist from Tennessee is quite popular, and overcame personal beliefs and issues to embrace the fact that he’s gay. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 26, Barbra Streisand impersonator Steven Brinberg will be doing his show Simply Barbra. Considering Streisand is unlikely to be performing locally anytime soon, these types of shows are a great way to celebrate Bab’s music and style. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa has one event in January worth noting: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 20, get ready for Lee Squared: An Evening With Liberace and Miss Peggy Lee. This show will be performed by David Maiocco and Chuck Sweeney, who are both dazzling and acclaimed performers. Tickets are $25 to $40. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

Coachella 2015’s second weekend kicked off at 11 a.m., Friday, April 17, with a bang for local music fans.

Alchemy—which also played at Tachevah earlier this week, and at Coachella’s first weekend—launched the weekend on the Outdoor Stage. While their Tachevah performance was good, their Coachella performance was even better. Vocalist Andrew Gonzalez noted that the audience was much better this week—and some fans even started a mosh pit during the performance.

After Alchemy, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger took to the Outdoor Stage. The band is fronted by Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl; it was a homecoming, of sorts, since they met at Coachella 10 years ago. Their music at times sounded like Deep Purple, with a little bit of Pink Floyd thrown in. Lennon made reference to a couple of the band’s music videos, once claiming: “You’ll like it if you like nipples.”

After Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band took the Outdoor Stage. Bjork, the drummer of the pioneering desert rock band Kyuss, should have had a bigger turnout. The crowd was thin, but full of desert rock devotees. Bjork and his band managed to pump out a lot of volume and rock the audience at the same time. Desert local and Throw Rag frontman Sean Wheeler joined in for his last number.

I walked into the show by Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires—and soon discovered that the 66-year-old soul singer had young folks swaying and dancing to his sounds of love. However, Bradley went a few minutes over his scheduled set time—and show organizers cut the sound. Nonetheless, the band continued to play the last two minutes of his song without the PA system.

In the late afternoon, Azealia Banks took the Coachella stage. Banks has taken the world by storm, and I admit I was turned on by the first 15 minutes … however, I quickly grew tired of her act. I like my hip-hop with some rhyme and reason to it.

Speaking of rhyme and reason, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah began playing on the Outdoor Stage toward the middle of Banks’ set. The Wu-Tang Clan’s crowd was huge at the Outdoor Stage in 2013; Raekwon and Ghostface Killah managed to get a pretty large crowd crammed into the Outdoor Stage area for their performance this year. Raekwon handled the first two songs by himself, stating, “Ghostface is out back taking a shit.” After the photographers were ushered out of the photo pit, however, Ghostface Killah appeared. Their set was energetic, and featured songs from their solo efforts along with Wu-Tang works including “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Wu-Tang Ain’t Nuthin’ to Fuck Wit” and “Triumph.”

As the sun began to set, Lykke Li began to play in the Mojave tent. The Swedish indie-pop singer put on a mesmerizing performance with a combination of songs both slower and upbeat. The visual effects at times made it look as if she were performing in a forest; at other times, the effects offered a light show.

I admit I had my doubts about Steely Dan performing at Coachella. Well, now, I can eat my words: Steely Dan performed to a large crowd, including many younger fans who obviously knew the material. The jazz/blues combo sound of Steely Dan was a hit, with many festival-goers screaming “STEELY FUCKING DAN!” in between songs.

While Steely Dan came from the initial psychedelic era, Tame Impala comes from a new era of psychedelic music. The Australian outfit had a large turnout at the Outdoor Stage when they played Coachella in 2013, and it was fitting for them to play on the main stage before AC/DC. The intro was Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” As Tame Impala played, the psychedelic visuals were fantastic; a combination of older songs and new songs filled the setlist. Tame Impala is new and improved: The band sounds a lot tighter now than it used to. When frontman Kevin Parker announced their last song, he told the crowd not to be sad, because AC/DC was going to come out—and it was going to get crazy.

He was right. AC/DC took the Coachella stage crowd by surprise when the stage got dark and the band got down to business—with no intro whatsoever—opening with “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be.” The setlist was pretty close to the Weekend One show, and the performance was just as good.

I overheard many younger people saying things like, “I can’t believe I’m seeing AC/DC,” and, “My dad is going to be so jealous.” This proves that AC/DC is for everyone, including the children.

Scroll down to see a photo gallery from Friday’s Coachella goings-on.

Published in Reviews

The Coachella Valley has finally cooled off, and it’s time for the holidays! Per usual, December is one of the slower non-summer months in terms of entertainment, but there are still some great local events to consider.

At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6, The Festival of Lights Parade will take over Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs, with lighted floats, equestrians, cars and celebrities. One suggestion: Dress warm. Get more information at psfestivaloflights.com.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club has some great events worth noting. At 10 p.m., Friday, Dec. 5, the Amigo Room will host Katie Burden. Originally from Colorado, she moved to Los Angeles in 2012 and formed a band which released its first EP in June. Admission is free. At 10 p.m., Friday, Dec. 12, the Fullerton psychedelic band Cosmonauts will stop by. Again, admission is free! Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The McCallum Theatre is bringing the yuletide cheer this December. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 12, and Saturday, Dec. 13, the Irish Tenors (right) will be bring their Christmas-themed show to the McCallum. They are one of the most successful Irish touring acts, and their Christmas shows have been well-received—so you should definitely consider this one. Tickets are $35 to $85. At 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Moscow Classical Ballet will be performing the Christmas staple The Nutcracker. It’s a treat for the whole family! Tickets are $25 to $85. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, per usual, has some great offerings this month. Singer-songwriter Phillip Phillips will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6. Phillips’ unique folk-music sound helped him win American Idol’s Season 11, despite his struggles with a painful a kidney condition. Tickets are $49 to $69. Celtic Woman will be stopping by for a special Christmas show at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 13. Despite the singular name, there are actually four members. After a decade of performing in America, these Irish women managed to gain the attention of PBS, which led to a rush in album sales. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa will host some fun shows during December. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 5, Mr. Universe, Jim Gaffigan, will be stopping by. The successful comedian, actor and author is known for his hilarious jokes about laziness. Tickets are $65 to $85. Country-music singer-songwriter Gary Allan will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 13. California native started his career by playing older country-music covers in honky-tonks. He’s gone on to release 11 albums since 1996. Tickets are $55 to $75. Frances Yip will perform a special Christmas concert at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 27. The Hong Kong Cantopop singer has made a name for herself by singing in English, Indonesian, Thai, Mexican-Spanish and many other languages. After beating breast cancer in 2012, she’s back and touring around the world. Tickets are $58 to $118. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has an interesting schedule this month. Indie-pop sensation Ingrid Michaelson (below) will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 7. After busking in Manhattan, she recorded her first album, Slow the Rain, and released it independently in 2005; today, she sells out venues around the world. Tickets are $29; A Great Big World will also perform. Sublime With Rome will perform at 9 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 18. After the death of frontman Bradley Nowell in 1996, Sublime was pretty much over. However, in 2009, surviving members Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh revived the band with Rome Ramirez, who was only 21 at the time. Gaugh left the group shortly thereafter, and the remaining members now perform as Sublime With Rome. Tickets are $45 to $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is hosting some fine shows in December—and many of them are free! Check the website for details. A sneak preview of a January event: At 7 p.m. on New Year’s Day, you can celebrate with Pappy’s regulars The Palominos. The San Diego honky-tonk outfit is known for its West Coast country sound and is a delight to experience live. Admission is—you guessed it—free! Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza was still working on the December schedule when we went to press, but one great event is already on the books: At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 5, Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss will perform; local band Waxy will also play an acoustic set. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

As we head into July, we can expect the summer to become even more unbearable. Therefore, we recommend these fun events to get you out of the house—and keep you cool.

The first thing worth mentioning: The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club in Palm Springs is now open! At 9 p.m., Thursday, July 3, the venue will be holding a Pre-July 4th Party with DJs inside the Hacienda. There is no cover charge. On Friday, July 4, the Hacienda will continue the free party, this time at the pool, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Sunday, July 6, also from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., DJs Yolanda Be Cool (right) and Overjoy will be performing, and again, there is no cover. These events are for those 21 and older. Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-778-8954; www.haciendacantina.com.

The Desert AIDS Project is marking its 30th birthday with its annual Mid-Summer Dance Party at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club’s Commune from 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday, July 25. Playing at the event will be Independent resident DJ All Night Shoes, as well as Femme A; there will also be a special performance by Cameron Neilson of The X Factor. Tickets are $40 to $75; the late-night party pass, for entry after 10 p.m., is $20. For tickets or more information, call the Desert AIDS Project at 760-992-0440, or visit www.desertAIDSproject.org.

Speaking of the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, the venue is offering some great events in the Amigo Room on top of the regular weekly and monthly schedule. At 10 p.m., Friday, July 4, Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss will be performing an Independence Day show. If you have never seen Coachella Valley local and Throw Rag frontman Sean Wheeler perform with Circle Jerks and Weirdos bassist Zander Schloss, you should go: They are a fantastic acoustic duo who always put on a great show. Admission is free. At 10 p.m., Saturday, July 5, Stronghold Reggae will feature DJ Journee and Dash Eye. Again, admission is free. Check out the website for even more great events. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The Purple Room in Palm Springs has added a revue show, hosted by friend of the Independent Brian Wanzek and his famous alter ego, Bella da Ball. Act II will follow The Judy Show on Sunday nights at 8:30 p.m. There’s no cover. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has one July music event worth mentioning. The Go-Go’s will be stopping by as part of the “Replay America” tour at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 26. Also performing will be Patty Smyth and Scandal, Martha Davis and the Motels, and Cutting Crew with Naked Eyes. Tickets are $65 to $170. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a slate of excellent events in July. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 5, Art Garfunkel (right), half of the legendary Simon and Garfunkel, will be performing. After staying away from the stage for a few years, Garfunkel is back, and this should be a great show. Garfunkel released his last solo album, Some Enchanted Evening, back in 2007, but he has dates booked through the summer, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be hearing more from Garfunkel going forward. Tickets are $29 to $59. Korean rapper Kim Jong-Kook and Haha have teamed up for a summer tour and will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 12. Tickets are $45 to $110. If you’re a fan of The Voice, you’ll be happy to know that The Voice Tour will be here at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 26. Tessanne Chin, Will Champlin, Dia Frampton and others will take the stage. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has some nice tribute acts booked in July. Gregory Wolfe will be performing a tribute to Rod Stewart at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 5. Tickets are $20. Dean Colley will be paying tribute to Neil Diamond at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 26. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is shrugging off summer and putting on amazing shows throughout the season. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 2, Ronnie Spector will be performing. Spector, the famous ex-wife of music producer Phil Spector and former lead singer of the Ronettes, is the original bad girl of rock ’n’ roll. Tickets are $25. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 19, the Los Angeles punk band X will be stopping by for … an acoustic performance? Strange! X’s lineup includes Exene Cervenka (who recently went crazy and claimed a recent Southern California mass shooting may have been a hoax), John Doe, Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebrake. Tickets are $27.50. At 8 p.m., Sunday, July 20, the indie-rock dance group !!! (Chk, Chk, Chk, below) will be stopping by. !!! is one of the most energetic and entertaining bands touring today. At an intimate venue like Pappy’s, their show is going to be insane. Tickets are $17. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

When Throw Rag frontman Sean Wheeler and Circle Jerks/Weirdos multi-instrumentalist Zander Schloss came together to record their debut album, Walk Thee Invisible, in 2011, the two icons of the punk-rock scene showed off a lighter side.

More music is coming from them, too: Amid several tours and appearances at festivals such as Punk Rock Bowling and the Muddy Roots Festival, the locals have recorded a new album that’s due out sometime this year.

Not too long ago, they played their first show together after a short break, at Schmidy’s Tavern in Palm Desert. While Zander Schloss had played a high-energy show with the Weirdos at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown the week prior, it had been awhile since Sean and Zander had played a local show together. They are quite a sight to see: Schloss strums away on his 12-string acoustic guitar while Wheeler sings. It’s just them—with no bassist, and no drummer. The dialogue between Wheeler and Schloss is comical, as they call out their friends in the audience, tell amusing stories, and chat about anything—say, for example, the boots and clothing they are wearing.

The climax of their acoustic driven show is their song “Retablo,” which they can perform in several different ways—as an extended audience sing-along, or with added dialogue. During a show last year at the Ace Hotel, Wheeler led the audience in a conga line outside of the Amigo Room, out around the pool, and back in again—all while Schloss played the instrumental part.

Wheeler once lived a wild rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, and Schloss has years of experience with successful bands like the Circle Jerks, Thelonious Monster and others. In other words: It’s good to see the two musicians now having fun; after all, they’ve paid their dues—and then some.

“It’s more of an emotional outlet,” Schloss said about their partnership. “It’s also a great outlet for us to relax and have fun. We enjoy each other’s company without all the personalities of a band. It’s really nice to just have a couple of guys: It’s economical; it’s fun; and we let each other do what we do. Sean does something I can’t do, and I do something he can’t do.”

Added Wheeler: “We’re like wonder twins.”

While Walk Thee Invisible was an independent release, Schloss said they are currently looking for some distribution help for their next album, which is already completed and mastered.

“It’s better than the first record—which is saying a lot, because I love the first record,” Schloss said. “This record is much more soulful. We have different influences, and along the way, it’s become apparent to me what a great soul singer he is. We’re thinking he’s a soul man, so there’s more soul on the record.”

Both Schloss and Wheeler said that when it comes to songwriting, they try to share personal stuff to which people can relate.

“If you tell them a truth—good or bad—and you’re sincere, I think it transcends whatever comes through,” Wheeler said. “It’s mostly personal experiences. I’m trying to think if there are any songs I’ve written that aren’t directly related to someone I know. You have to be honest—or people’s bullshit detectors go off.”

Added Schloss: “If you tap into the spirit, and people are into the spirit, they’ll connect. There are a lot of people who aren’t open to the spirit, and we have to say to ourselves, ‘Well, it’s OK; they’re celebrating their life in a different way. This is the way we celebrate our lives.’”

They’re looking to a lot in 2014, they said: The new album; their first trip to Brazil, right before the World Cup takes place in that country this summer; and more touring. Their unorthodox, anything-goes touring style includes festivals, bars, opening slots for other bands, and gigs in small towns.

“We got together right around the time the economy crashed,” Schloss said. “We’ve actually been thriving. Economically, it’s great, because the travel (for just two) is less expensive. We can go to places where other bands can’t go. We went to Alaska with Flogging Molly … and we went up there a week before to play saloons. We actually took a ferry up the inland passage to Skagway, and took the train that used to take people out to the Yukon during the gold rush. We went into the rainforest and hiked up a glacier.

“Now, what bands can do that kind of shit? I’ve been touring with bands for 30 years, and I’ve never had richer experiences than I’ve had with this duo.”

For more information, visit www.seanandzander.com, or www.facebook.com/SeanWheelerandZanderSchloss.

It all began at an Ace Hotel job fair in 2009.

“Our vice president saw Linda in line, with this fabulous glittery dress and a pair of her signature glasses,” recalled Jason Dibler, the hotel’s general manager. “He said, ‘I don’t know what she does, but we need her.’”

That’s how Linda Gerard started her rapid ascent toward becoming something of a Palm Springs icon. Sadly, the hostess of the Ace’s wildly popular Sissy Bingo Monday nights is currently in the battle of her life: Several weeks ago, Gerard was diagnosed with lung cancer. Now, her friends and fans are joining forces to put on a fundraiser at the Ace next Monday evening, March 25.

That Ace’s vice president’s instincts have paid off: It turns out that woman in line is one hell of a performer. She was Barbra Streisand’s understudy when Funny Girl was on Broadway. She became a Provincetown singing legend, and opened one of the East Coast’s biggest lesbian bars in that town in the 1970s. Later, she moved to West Hollywood and opened The Rose Tattoo cabaret club. She even made a splash on Deal or No Deal, with the briefcase-holding models wearing oversized glasses in tribute as she won some good money.

Of course, Linda made an instant splash at the Ace. Her first gig was as the hostess at the King’s Highway restaurant, and somewhere along the line, she started singing—for a diner’s birthday, perhaps. So then she became the singing hostess, which led to a bingo night in the Amigo Room bar. Of course, this was no regular bingo night; Linda often would stop calling numbers and break into song, or a story about her life, or something else entertaining.

“It got so busy, so fast, that we moved (the bingo night) to the restaurant,” Dibler said, citing social networking as being key to Linda’s rise: Someone would post a video on Facebook, for example, of Linda doing her thing, and people would decide they needed to check her out themselves.

The Ace also released a compilation album of some of Linda’s songs, Fabulous Selections, on vinyl. (You can listen to some excerpts online at the Ace website. Good stuff.)

Gerard said that on a Monday in February, Linda showed up for bingo not feeling well—she was having difficulty breathing—but she still put on a fine show. She was soon thereafter diagnosed with lung cancer.

This Monday, March 25, starting at 7 p.m., the Ace is throwing a “Linda Fabulous” party. A portion of bar proceeds and all revenues from rooms booked for that night with the code “fabulous” will be donated to Linda (plus, the resort fee will be waived, and patrons will receive a 25 percent discount). Linda will also receive the proceeds from raffle tickets, and the raffle prizes look pretty sweet, with well more than a dozen businesses—from LuLu California Bistro to Vons to the Living Desert to the Ace itself—chipping in.

The entertainment lineup is impressive as well. Performers include Lady Tigra (of L’Trimm), Sean Wheeler (of Throw Rag and a frequent collaborator with Zander Schloss), JP Houston and the Fabulous Band, DJ Day, Rachel Dean, Giselle Woo, Alf Alpha and Ace karaoke host Kiesha. Manny the Movie Guy will host.

There’s also a chance of an appearance by Linda, the OWL (Older, Wiser Lesbian) herself, depending on how she’s feeling. Here’s what she wrote in a letter to friends and fans posted on the Ace website: “Thank you so much for your love and support. I look forward to returning to the Ace very soon. I will do everything in my power to rid my body of the monsters inside me and once again join you in King’s Highway, outside on the patio, the Amigo Room or wherever you are at the Ace. I will wear my giant glasses, sing lots of songs and even play some fucking bingo Monday nights. I hope to see many of you on the 25th. And again, thank you. This will be a celebration for all of us.”

Hear, hear.

Linda Fabulous takes place at 7 p.m., Monday, March 25, at the Commune space at the Ace Hotel, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Admission is free, but donations, raffle-ticket purchases and generosity are appreciated. For more information, visit acehotel.com/fabulous.

Published in Local Fun