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Fri01182019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Tysen Knight was surrounded by street art while growing up—and it inspired him to become a street artist himself.

Now living in Palm Springs, Knight has helped bring street art into the mainstream. He’s also an actor and a filmmaker, and his first street-art documentary, The Art of Hustle: Street Art Documentary, made the festival circuit—winning some awards along the way. A follow-up, The Art of Hustle: Homeless Street Artists Documentary, is in post-production and could hit screens as early as January. Meanwhile, Colliding Worlds Fine Art Gallery in Cathedral City is currently showing an exhibit of Knight’s art

During a recent interview, Knight discussed how street art inspired him.

“I discovered I was good at art around the ages of 10 to 13. I showed my parents, and they seconded it, and it took off from there,” Knight said. “I grew up in New Jersey near Philadelphia, and I had family in Northern New Jersey across from New York. We would go to New York and get on the subways, and I was exposed to graffiti and street art in the subway trains. For a kid who was creative, that fascinated me.

“I took those images back and had a couple of friends in my neighborhood who were also artists. We would airbrush on jeans and try to look cool. We would get spray-paint cans, and I would show them what I would see in New York City, and we would try to replicate those images. It was really big in New York in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.”

Knight said he saw many of the iconic images painted by New York City’s most-famous street artists.

“When I was a kid, I would see a lot of those images—but I couldn’t pinpoint who did it,” he said.

Today, artists such as Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Anthony Lister and Ben Eine have taken street art into a whole new level of mainstream respect.

“Those guys were able to push it up to the forefront and actually made galleries take a look at this stuff. Banksy and guys of that nature made gallery owners think, ‘Whoa, this stuff actually has value,’” Knight said. “Over time, no one cared about it. You’d put up a beautiful piece of artwork, whether it was legally or illegally, and they would spray-paint over it, or the city would come and cover it up. But now that these guys are able to push the culture into the mainstream, I think it’s actually a beautiful thing. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring were setting the groundwork, too, but now guys like Banksy and Shepard Fairey have taken it to a whole different level, and you can go to auctions and see a Banksy piece go for the same price as a Picasso piece.”

Knight explained the premise behind his second documentary, The Art of Hustle: Homeless Street Artists Documentary.

“I had a little stint of homelessness for a couple of months. I ran into a street artist in downtown Palm Springs who goes by the name of Skratch,” Knight said. “He was selling this weird abstract art, and I was drawn to him. I started talking to him, and he said, ‘I sell my art. I need to make $15 a day so I can get something to eat and take care of myself.’ … I gave him my business card, and he called me. I had him involved in the first documentary. When I showed the film, everyone was really intrigued by Skratch.

“I want to shed a light on people whom most people overlook. I got back into contact with Skratch and said, ‘I want to do a documentary on you.’ I filmed him for about nine months, and I was fortunate enough to meet two other homeless street artists. It’s fascinating how talented these people are; to be in that situation and be able to create, it’s pretty amazing. This film is taking people on a journey to show that although these people are homeless, and you overlook them every day, they’re actually talented and creating beautiful things.”

Knight said he was humbled by Skratch.

“A piece that Skratch would spend hours on, he would sell it for $5. There’s art on Sotheby’s going for $100 million; a Banksy piece that was shredded went for some ridiculous amount of money. At the end of the day, they’re all creations. To see someone create something and only charge $5 for it, I was like, ‘Wow!’ That was a really humbling experience for me to see that. People were actually purchasing it.”

I asked Knight how big the street-art scene is in the Coachella Valley.

“It’s very small, and it’s very contained,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to meet a local tattoo artist, and he was able to navigate me through the street-art scene here. It’s very small and nothing compared to major cities. In fact, you could probably count all of the people on one hand.”

Knight is now helping a new generation learn about art.

“I was fortunate enough to meet the art coordinator for the Palm Springs Unified School District. I sat down with her and told her what I had going on, and she said I would be the perfect candidate to mentor young boys through this art program,” he said. “We visit five different middle schools, and there are five of us all together. We do art, drum, dance, spoken word and photography. … We’d go to all the different schools with the canvases and teach kids how to paint, and talk to them, mentor them, see what their likes and dislikes are, and go from there.

“I feel I’m at the point in my career where I’m able to create art and give back, and inspire young people to explore their talents—especially in a time like now, when everything is divided.”

For more information, visit www.tysenknight.com.

When Penn and Teller first started performing in 1975, the duo was unlike anything else out there.

In 2018 … well, there’s still not anything else out there like Penn and Teller. The comedy/magic greats will perform at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa on Friday, Dec. 7.

During a recent phone interview with Penn Jillette—of course we interviewed the one who talks—he said they made a conscious effort to be different when they started out.

“Alfred Hitchcock said if you wanted to be a director, don’t see great movies and say, ‘I’m going to do that.’ See bad movies and say, ‘At least I won’t do that,’” Jillette said. “I came out of a background of really disliking magic. Teller was in love was magic since he was about 5, but I really never liked it. I was a juggler and a musician. I didn’t like magic because of the obvious dishonesty of it. Besides the obvious dishonesty of it … I disliked the lack of thought in magic. Teller and I started a conversation when we first met, and we would think about magic shows, saying, ‘We don’t want to do that.’ It’s like the Sex Pistols when they said they didn’t want to be the Beatles. Out of that came a kind-of honest relationship with the audience where we occasionally tell them how the tricks are done. We always tell them when we’re lying, and I like to think they never leave the theater believing something we ourselves don’t believe is true.”

Jillette elaborated on their avoidance of dishonesty.

“When you saw a human being cut in half onstage during a magic trick, nobody—and I’m eliminating deeply mentally ill people, or someone who is too young to be at the show—leaves the show believing they witnessed a murder. The same goes with mind-reading and memory tricks. You need to leave the theater with us not misleading you on anything—we try to follow that as carefully as we can. Out of that, the skepticism, the atheism and the comedy comes.”

Penn and Jillette have never been afraid to get political or controversial, be it in their act or on their TV shows—especially Penn and Teller: Bullshit!, which ran on Showtime from 2003 to 2010.

“The nice thing is that our politics tend not to be nowadays in one of the camps that’s fighting,” Jillette said. “We’re both libertarian and atheist. That position is seen by both sides, Republicans and Democrats, with an eye roll. We’re so socially liberal that not even the Democrats agree with us. We’re so fiscally conservative that even the Republicans don’t agree with us.

Bullshit! is where most of our politics came out. We were so concerned with being pro-science, pro-rational and pro-human that the politics ended up not being partisan, in a very strange way. I used to go on talking-head shows as a pundit, but now that there is nothing to talk about on the news except the president—and I have made my position very clear, because I knew the president well—I’m kind of done. … I’m not willing to go on TV now and talk about the latest outrage. I like to remind people now that the world is getting better, and this momentary thing is just a glitch.”

Bullshit! tackled subjects ranging from religions to multilevel marketing to recycling—and a few episodes stirred up some intense anger.

“People often ask us who got the most upset after an episode of Bullshit!, and I must tell you that this fills me with shame,” he said. “We expected Christians to be a problem, but many Christians practice what they preach, and their reactions were very gentle, very kind and very understanding. But the Sept. 11 truthers and the chiropractors were out of their fucking minds. There were a couple of nuts who didn’t like the Sept. 11 show and threatened, of all people, our prop guy. The police had to be called and showed up at the offices, which is very strange.

“The chiropractors were very aggressive and claiming boycotts, which is a perfectly reasonably way to react.”

There were subjects Showtime refused to allow Penn and Teller to tackle.

“Scientology was one of them, because they were scared,” Jillette said. “Showtime and the lawyers told us, ‘You don’t fuck with Scientology,’ because there have been some bad things that happened. We also wanted to do that book The Secret that Oprah was promoting. (Showtime) didn’t want us doing that because of some sort of publishing entanglement that would have made us at odds with other parts of the company—not so much that we could affect their commerce, but that it could be a conflict of interest and may violate other contracts.

“We wanted to do one on reality shows like Big Brother and The Apprentice, but it’s impossible to get the footage—as we’ve seen with our president, because it’s incredibly locked down by legal teams.”

Penn and Teller remain busy these days, including their Las Vegas residency and their show Penn and Teller: Fool Us, a magic-competition show on The CW.

“We’ll be shooting all of the Fool Us episodes in early February and March,” Jillette said. “Teller and I are writing material to put in our show. We’re at a point now where our show is changing, and (new) material is going in every week, so it’s really fun. Teller and I are in our 60s now, and it’s supposed to be a time when you calm down—and we’re now writing material faster, better and crazier than when we were on Saturday Night Live, David Letterman and Broadway.”

Penn and Teller will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7, at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $45 to $65. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.hotwatercasino.com.

As I was watching videos of Shawn Ryan singing, I wondered why he hasn’t become the next Michael Bublé. Yes, he sings that well—and the comedic genius he brings to his act makes it even more intriguing.

Shawn Ryan will be performing his show Mistle-Ho, with the Kelly Park Band, at the Purple Room on Saturday, Dec. 1.

During a recent phone interview, Ryan discussed how the madness of combining vocal jazz with comedy came to be.

“I actually was a theater major in school,” Ryan explained. “I went to the American Academy in New York and studied acting, and right out of college, I got my first professional job in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The contract ended two or three months early, and I was paid for the entire contract, and I thought ‘What do I do now?’ There was a cabaret contest in San Francisco at a club that is no longer. They awarded 10 prizes in various categories, and I won ‘Best Singer,’ and my musical director—who I’ve worked with for 20 years now, Kelly Park—ended up winning ‘Best Composer.’

“We were supposed to go on this little cabaret tour in clubs, and these people were going to foot the bill for it. We waited six months, and the company went bankrupt. It wasn’t possible for them to send us all over the world. Kelly said, ‘If you can book the club in San Francisco, I can do all the charts for you, and we can do a two act show.’ That’s how I got started.

“My part of the deal was booking the club, and Kelly had an old Victorian house that he was trying to flip and sell. He made a deal with me where I painted the interior of the house, and he’d write the charts. I would be painting, and we’d be listening to cassette tapes of people like Mel Torme and people I really admired and wanted to emulate. He wrote the whole show. That was in 1998 or 1999 at the Plush Room in San Francisco, and we got a residency there doing a Sunday show for years.”

After taking the show on the road, they got their first big break in front of a national audience.

“In 2005, we got discovered by America’s Got Talent after they came to our Los Angeles show—and they put us on the air immediately. They told us it was an audition, but it turned out that it wasn’t,” Ryan said. “It sort of exploded from there. I was actually content being an actor for the rest of my life and not doing any professional singing. I’m a true bass baritone, which doesn’t exist anymore in the theater world; it’s all mostly high tenor.”

There were downsides to the TV show—including some over-dramatizations by producers and the fact that Ryan was outed, something he was not expecting

“It was really interesting, because they knew I was a gay performer, because they had come to see me in the Gardenia in Los Angeles, and I’ve always been open onstage. I don’t think there was ever a choice for me not to,” Ryan said. “It didn’t make sense for me to deny it. … But in America’s Got Talent, they never discussed with me that they were going to bring it up on air.

“I escaped that with very few scrapes and bruises. There were people on that show with me who saw their careers totally change, for better or worse. My husband had worked in reality TV for years before I was on America’s Got Talent, so I heard the stories when he came home. I was clear to the producers that I was probably not going to be the best story, because I grew up in a family that was super-positive, and my mom is a motivational speaker. We didn’t know the words ‘can’t,’ ‘won’t,’ ‘no’ and ‘shouldn’t.’ I wasn’t their cup of tea from the beginning. They look for stories and how they can sensationalize something.”

Ryan still acts, often appearing as the gay BFF or the murderer on shows such as Bones and The Mentalist. He laughed when I brought up the stereotypical roles he’s played.

“About five years ago, I was in an acting class, and the teacher said if you haven’t gotten to play something you want, or you’re being stereotyped, write that role for yourself,” he said. “I wrote a short film called Charlie that got bought by Amazon and shown on Amazon Prime, and they loved it. It was something so different that I wrote for myself and is a completely different character than I’ve played before. With that sense of freedom and the project came opportunities to play so many different roles now; it really did open up the doors.

“But still, on network TV, the roles my agent calls me about are: ‘You’re going to be the gay best friend.’ Of course I am! I’ve studied that role for years!”

Ryan’s holiday-themed comedy/music show should be a hoot.

“This tour is all in support of our new album, Shawn Ryan Live! It’s a two-disc live album that we recorded back in September. One disc is completely holiday, and we call that Mistle-Ho—twisted takes on all of the classic holiday tunes.

“Some of them, we don’t even have to do twist. We do a take on Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney,’ and I didn’t change one word. With a gay boy singing it, it changes the meaning completely!”

Shawn Ryan will be performing Mistle-Ho with the Kelly Park Band at 6 p.m. (dinner with show at 8 p.m.), Saturday, Dec. 1, at Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $25-$30 plus dinner. For tickets or more information, call 760-322-4422, or visit www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Jimmie Dale Gilmore is generally classified as a country artist—but that’s a classification Gilmore doesn’t necessarily embrace.

The singer-songwriter and actor—he played Smokey in The Big Lebowski—is currently on tour with Dave Alvin in promotion of their collaboration Downey to Lubbock, and they’ll be appearing together at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday, Dec. 7.

During a recent phone interview, Gilmore explained his collaboration with Dave Alvin.

“We’ve been really good friends for 30 years,” Gilmore said. “We’re mutual fans of each other, but we never played music together until last year. My booking agent called one day and said, ‘What do you think about doing a songwriting tour with you and Dave?’ It worked out so well and turned out to be such a good pairing. We had so much in common musically that we hadn’t really been aware of and discovered that we both had a lot of blues and folk stuff in us from when we were learning to play. It was like an experiment that worked.”

Gilmore has collaborated with some of country best-known icons, such as Willie Nelson, and even recorded a song with the Seattle band Mudhoney. He said he’s always enjoyed the process.

“I’m sure it can go wrong, but my experience with it has been very positive,” Gilmore said. “I haven’t done it routinely, but I’ve done it a number of times through the years. For me, it’s always been fun and new.

“It’s almost like all band music is collaboration, in a sense. The other members of the band might not be well-known, but it’s always a collaboration. I’ve heard stories of people clashing, but it’s never happened to me.”

Gilmore is a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. I asked how it influences his daily life.

“It’s been something that I’ve been so interested and involved in for such a long time,” he said. “It’s not just an influence; it’s a big part of the way I approach life. I just finished a meditation retreat this week. One of the main, core pieces of the Buddha’s teachings is the view of what is life, what is real, and your view of life is what determines your happiness or unhappiness. It’s so pervasive, and it colors everything. This is something we could talk about for hours.

“I view Buddhism not as a religion, but a psychology. I see Buddha as the world’s first great psychologist. I don’t see the Buddha as a religious figure; he himself said he was not—that he was not a god, and was someone who had an insight into the way the mind works. I believe that from what I’ve learned from it. There are people who treat Buddhism as a religion and sort of worship the Buddha, but I never have.”

Gilmore explained why he doesn’t embrace the country label.

“I don’t really identify with any particular one brand of music,” he said. “I got labeled as a country singer and was deeply influenced by country music as a child, but when I started learning how to play, I was more influenced by the folk music and the folk blues. … My voice makes people instantly think, ‘That’s country!’ I’ve never identified with what’s called country music, and it’s such a diverse thing, anyway. But I’ve never felt the label has been accurate.

“Country is such an artificial label, anyway. If you read about the term ‘country music,’ it was invented as a marketing term back in the early days of recording. Among musicians, it’s always a blend of the influences that come together that you happen to be exposed to in your life. Most of the early, well-done country music recorded in a studio—most of the musicians were jazz-players. Louis Armstrong played with Jimmie Rodgers. Labeling things doesn’t make things accurate and doesn’t reflect the ways things really work.”

After listening to Downey to Lubbock, I heard exactly what Gilmore was talking about regarding him and Alvin going back to their folk and blues roots; the album is fantastic. While discussing the album, Gilmore also offered a preview of their show together.

“It’s a lot louder and more forceful than people are used to with my bands. It’s very lighthearted fun, and Dave is a very good guitar-player. There’s variety in it, and it’s kind of a comedy show, too,” he said with a laugh. “Dave’s band is really good, and oddly enough, Dave’s bass-player, Brad Fordham, played with me many years ago when I did the recording with Mudhoney and when I was on Elektra Records. Lisa Pankratz, Dave’s drummer, is truly great and played with me many years ago here in Austin when she was just a teenager. It’s kind of a reunion with me and the band members.”

Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Dave Alvin will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $25. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

High-desert ska band Spankshaft put out the long-awaited album Beasts and Goddesses earlier this year—and it was well worth the wait. Despite a series of recent lineup changes, including the departure of drummer Russel Waldron and bassist Brent Simpson, Spankshaft is soldiering on, including shows at Record Alley in Palm Desert on Saturday, Nov. 24, and The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Dec. 28. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/spankshaft. Speaking of soldiers: One of the new members is Joel Daniel, a music educator, bagpiper and former Marine who now plays trombone for the band. He was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Sounds crazy, but (despite) being a performing artist for my entire adult life, I never really could find the time to go to any major performances until just last year. So I guess you could say that the first “real” concert I attended was Green Day’s Revolution Radio show in San Diego.

What was the first album you owned?

Too-Rye-Ay by Dexys Midnight Runners. I was 12, I think.

What bands are you listening to right now?

The Interrupters, The Dollyrots, Mad Caddies, Less Than Jake, Madness, Mustard Plug, Suburban Legends, My Chemical Romance, Green Day, and Evanescence.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Today’s “popular” music. It’s over processed with benign lyrics and is simply too easy to digest. Gimme something with a little meat to it—something with chord progressions other than I-IV-V-I, challenging and inspiring instrumental solos, and meaningful poetry in lyrics.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I would love to not just see, but to share the stage with The Interrupters and The Dollyrots.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Playing sousaphone in polka and Dixieland bands or rock ’n’ roll bagpipes.

What’s your favorite music venue?

That I’ve played in? I’d have to say the indoor venues would have to either be The Cave in Big Bear or Big Rock Pub. For outdoor venues, it’d be really hard to top the Empire Polo Grounds, where Spankshaft played for Rhythm, Wine and Brews, as well as the Desert Oasis festivals. Maybe we can make the lineup for Coachella sometime in the near future!

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“She. She’s figured out, all her doubts were someone else’s point of view,” Green Day, “She.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Van Halen. The 1984 album was the first time I discovered music of my own rather than just listening to whatever my parents were always playing. It would’ve been my first album purchase, but my brother had already bought it.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

“What would you like to learn first?” as asked to the rookie band student in high school who has very limited skill, but has the drive, determination and passion to take it all the way.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Being a professional bagpiper, I most definitely do not want “Amazing Grace” played. So with that being said, I’d have to say the slow version of “The Marines’ Hymn” played by a Marine Corps band.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Van Halen, 1984. You never forget your first love.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

I think you misspelled the word “album.” I know this is going to sound like a shameless plug, but Spankshaft’s Beasts and Goddesses is absolutely wonderful! I used to think that listening to your own recordings made you a narcissist. However, I can honestly say that Brandon Simpson’s songwriting is just so powerful that I honestly listen to Spankshaft’s music just for the pure enjoyment of it—even the album they recorded before I joined the band! After all, it was the music that inspired me to join them in the first place.

Thursday, 08 November 2018 16:42

The Lucky 13: T-Lick, of Hip-Hop Duo Off Kilter

Off Kilter performed at the September CV Independent Presents show at The Hood Bar and Pizza with The Bermuda and Kosha Dillz. It was the duo’s first full live set (after some open-mic appearances at The Hood and the Big Rock Pub)—and they were fantastic. They recently arrived in the Coachella Valley from Santa Cruz; hopefully, there’s more to come. For more information on Off Kilter, visit www.facebook.com/offkiltermusic. T-Lick of Off Kilter was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Brother Ali in San Luis Obispo.

What was the first album you owned?

Kevin Sharp’s Measure of a Man.

What bands are you listening to right now?

My favorite band out right now is Orgōne. I drop everything to go see them when they’re in town. My favorite reggae band is Soulwise, straight out of my hometown of Santa Cruz. Whaddup, Soulwise!

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I don’t understand mainstream pop radio. It all sounds the same. We’re in the Derek Zoolander era of music, because these artists only have one look and sound!

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Michael Jackson, Prince and James Brown.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I’m a huge Shania Twain fan. Her album The Woman in Me is flame. “If It Don’t Take Two” is my favorite song on there, and I probably could recite it word for word. Also, what a babe. I nominate her to be my Babe of the Week this week.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz. Legendary spot.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug. Make you want to holler hi-de-ho,” “Chug-a-Lug,” Roger Miller.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

André 3000. Every aspect of his art and style is different. He’s arguably the greatest lyricist of all time. His originality as a musician and inability to conform has been a huge inspiration.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Shania Twain, from the cover of The Woman in Me album: “Will you marry me?” 

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Sell Your Dope” by Afroman.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Luther Vandross, “Never Too Much.” (Scroll down to hear it.)

When I spoke to the candidates for Cathedral City’s City Council two years ago, the main concern was economic development—how to generate revenue, grow new businesses, and continue to come back from the devastation of the Great Recession of 2008.

Today, the city is undeniably in a better financial position. Revenues from the new and growing marijuana industry have been a boon—but each candidate I spoke to this year acknowledged that Cathedral City still has a long way to go.

This year’s election is being done differently: Under threat of a civil-rights lawsuit, Cathedral City—like many other California municipalities—has switched from at-large elections to district-based elections, and three of those five new district seats are up for election this year. The city is also eliminating the elected mayor’s seat; from now on, the position will rotate among the five council members. As a result of all this, two incumbents—Mayor Stan Henry and Shelley Kaplan—are not running for re-election.

One incumbent is running—Mark Carnevale is facing Juan Carlos Vizaga in the new District 3. In the new District 4, four candidates are facing off: Sergio Espericueta, Ernesto Gutierrez, Rick Saldivar and John Rivera. In District 5, voters will choose between Raymond Gregory and Laura Ahmed.

Four of the eight candidates—Juan Carlos Vizaga, Sergio Espericueta, Ernesto Gutierrez and Laura Ahmed—did not respond to e-mail requests and phone messages from the Independent. Here’s what the responding candidates had to say.


District 3

Mark Carnevale said he’s hoping to continue the work he started after being elected to his first term in 2014.

“I was a new candidate, and Cathedral City had planted the seed,” said Carnevale, who owns Nicolino’s Italian Restaurant with his wife. “There were a lot of development possibilities and a lot of empty buildings. There was a lot of work to be done, and I’ve always accepted challenges in my life. I thought I’d like to be involved in it and throw my personal background as a businessman in there, because a city is run different than a business. When the dice was rolled, we came up with a really good council.

He said the state’s elimination of redevelopment agencies earlier this decade took a toll.

“We’ve really done some good things with the efforts of the prior councils, but the redevelopment money was taken away,” he said. “We put some ideas together with a lot of goal-settings. The economy turned around; cannabis fell into our lap; the economy fell in our lap; and we started renting the buildings, so Cathedral City is moving forward. Timing is everything. We work together as a team to move forward.”

Carnevale said he’s fine with the move to district-based elections.

“It means being a little bit closer to the constituents there, and they can reach out to you,” Carnevale said. “But I’ll still represent all five districts. I don’t care if someone comes to me from District 5, saying, ‘Mark, I have a problem.’ I’ll be there. I’m going to the city manager, saying, ‘Hey, this person in District 5 has a situation.’ That doesn’t make a difference to me.”

Carnevale said he still sees economic development as Cathedral City’s key issue.

“We have to get the downtown filled up. We have to get the entryway from the Interstate 10 freeway onto Date Palm more conducive and get some building going along there,” he said. “We definitely would like to see the annex of Thousand Palms. That’s going to take some work. For me, being a businessman, if I want to build something, I’ll build it. If I want to knock down a wall, I’ll knock down a wall. But the city (red tape) is unbelievable. First, you have to get property entitlements and go through a process. If there’s redevelopment money involved, you have to get approval from their board. It could take years just to get a decision made to build. That’s frustrating. I’d like to see fast-line development here and want to see stuff grow fast.

“Cathedral City has property, and we have the lowest rents in businesses. That’s why we’ve seen 30 restaurants open over the past year and a half.”


District 4

Rick Saldivar is a newcomer to politics and was inspired by his church to run for City Council.

“I’m a pastor at a church in Cathedral City. Our main lead pastor asked a couple of the other pastors to go to City Council meetings,” Saldivar said. “I’ve lived in Cathedral City all of my life. … I love what they do for the city, and when they started doing district (elections), I decided to run for my neighborhood, because I feel I have a real pulse of the residents I live with in my neighborhood.”

Saldivar said people in his district have concerns about a lot of day-to-day issues that don’t reflect well on a city that is trying grow economically. 

“(People are concerned about) homelessness, drug abuse, youth-at-risk, and youth in general,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of senior citizens who are raising their grandchildren. That’s something that has become new to me. I think the homelessness issue needs attention, but I know that’s a valley-wide problem.”

Saldivar thinks small businesses could help solve the city’s economic problems.

“Cathedral City needs to have some sort of program or education on how to start your own business,” he said. “After all the door-knocking I’ve done, I’ve learned there are a lot of entrepreneur-minded people in our backyard—(potential) business owners who have had ideas, but have nothing to educate them on that. How can we make them self-sufficient and add a storefront to our city? I ran into a lady who does garage sales in different areas of the city with different families. She was so business-savvy, and I asked her why she didn’t have a storefront somewhere. It was because she didn’t know how.”

John Rivera is an architect who says his dedication to public service led to his City Council run. He currently serves on the city’s Architectural Review Committee, and formerly served on the Planning Commission.

“I have 25 years of service, including two years with the city of Palm Springs and 15 with Cathedral City,” Rivera said. “I was also a scoutmaster in Palm Springs for seven years with Boy Scouts of America. I tell people I am doing this because this is what my dad would have done. My dad was the type of person who did a lot for people and for family and friends. He was always the guy who stepped up to help. He would never ask for anything in return. That was just his nature.”

Rivera expressed concern about the lack of new construction in Cathedral City.

“We have a lot of growth with the cannabis industry, and that’s been a blessing,” he said. “The thing I see, being an architect by profession, is a lot of business and construction in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert—but none in Cathedral City. I think it’s a sign that there’s something not happening, and that needs to be corrected. Being an architect and being on the Planning Commission, I’ve been at both ends of projects and have gotten them through. I know the system, and I know ways to streamline and make changes for a faster process to make things more business-friendly.”

Rivera also said the city needs to look at economic development in a more-modern way.

“In the past four years, there have been 30 new restaurants that have popped up. We’ve had a couple of big-box stores shut down, Burlington Coat Factory being one of them. The big-box stores are disappearing with e-commerce,” he said. “One of the things I’ve been focused on trying to get is what I refer to as a millennial city. We have a downtown that is made largely of vacant lots. When the city was master-planned back in the 1990s, it was done by architects in San Francisco that designed our city based on models in the 1970s and the 1960s. I think that was a waste of taxpayer money, and we need to look forward on how millennials will live in our city. They aren’t golfers; they don’t live the lifestyle that baby boomers live, and trying to tailor a new look for our city that is millennial-friendly is going to take a lot of forward-thinking and a lot of changes, but will create something that is very unique and will draw a lot of potential home-buyers.”


District 5

Raymond Gregory, running in District 5, retired in 2017 after 25 years with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

“One of the reasons I retired was because I was tired of being removed from my own community,” Gregory said. “My intention when I retired was to work on my house and work on things I felt were neglected—but also to volunteer in my community and with the city. When I retired (in September 2017), I started looking for opportunities and talking to people. People said that with (my) experience in law enforcement and (my) experience with government—and I had gone back to school, getting a master’s in business management—they said I’d be a good City Council member.”

Gregory, like other candidates, talked about how the recession hit Cathedral City particularly hard.

“Cathedral City had some challenges before, but when the recession came, a lot of the stores and businesses that the city had attracted started to close, and bigger stores moved away,” he said. “We’re left with a lot of empty storefronts. We have residential and commercial portions that were started to be developed and were never finished. … Quality of life is related to economic development, because if you’re not generating the revenue, you’re not able to build up your public safety or maintain your roads, and you don’t have the recreational opportunities such as parks. So there are a number of quality-of-life issues that need to be addressed, but economic development is the No. 1 challenge we have.”

Gregory expressed hope that tourism dollars and new businesses could come to Cathedral City.

“We need to build up a good tax base, and if I had my wish, we’d build up hotels, because it’s a good tax for the city to make revenue off of,” he said. “We’re a west valley location with a lot of the same amenities that our neighbors in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage have. I’d like to see hotels, tourism and recreational businesses. We have to continue to build on our arts and culture district and attract small businesses related to that. I’d like to see some green technology come in, and something to offer great jobs for people who live here so they don’t have to drive elsewhere to work.”

Jimmy Boegle contributed to this story.

November is here, which means the weather has been cooling off, and the holiday season is about to arrive. It also means the Coachella Valley and high desert are full of great events.

Speaking of great events: The McCallum Theatre has a busy November, including shows by Lea DeLaria and Jake Shimabukuro, which you can read about elsewhere in this issue. Here are a few others you should consider: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, country-music star Travis Tritt will offer an intimate acoustic-style performance, during which he’ll share stories about his life and career. These types of shows are always interesting, and the McCallum is the perfect venue for this type of concert. Tickets are $38 to $88. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 15, singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell will take the stage. He’s written hit songs for many country musicians, including Keith Urban, and he’s won two Grammy Awards. Tickets are $25 to $65. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16, Irish singing group Celtic Thunder will perform. The group has been wildly popular ever since its first television special on PBS in 2008. Celtic Thunder is a huge draw in America and uses dramatics, comedy, lighting and choreography to dazzle audiences. Tickets are $60 to $90. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is offering an awesome list of November shows. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, Rascal Flatts will be performing. Rascal Flatts was one of the biggest country groups of the ’00s and continues to be a powerhouse in country music. The group has sold more than 20 million records and has 17 No. 1 singles. Tickets are $69 to $159. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall will be stopping by as part of her Turn Up the Quiet world tour. I had a chance to check out Krall during a stop at Fantasy Springs a couple of years ago—and she was magnificent. If you love jazz, Diana Krall is a must-see. Tickets are $59 to $99. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, pop legend Paula Abdul will be performing. Paula Abdul was a huge name in ’90s R&B and could dance like no other. She’s sold more than 60 million records, has been a dance choreographer, and has been a judge on American Idol. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some big names stopping by in November. First up, at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, is Eagles lead vocalist, drummer, and guitarist Don Henley. Henley found success as a solo artist after the Eagles first breakup in 1980, releasing his first solo album in 1982—but it was his second, Building the Perfect Beast, in 1984, that landed him his big hit “The Boys of Summer,” which has become a radio staple. Tickets are $175 to $250. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, pop singer Johnny Mathis will be performing. Mathis does what has been described as “standards” and “romantic ballads,” but his vocal range and catalog include R&B, country, blues, soul and many other genres. Tickets are $90 to $120. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of fine events scheduled in November. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, it’ll be a night of music from Sinaloa, Mexico, when Voz De Mando and Kanales will be performing. You might remember Voz De Mando from the 2011 film A Better Life. The band has become a hit with both American and Latin audiences. Kanales’ life story—coming to the United States for a better life at the age of 15, and finding success through singing—is remarkable, but the music the man makes is definitely worth the hype: His songs are deep and tell the stories of lessons he’s learned and struggles through which he’s lived. Advance tickets are $40. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, country music star Easton Corbin (upper right) will be performing. Corbin has charted with “A Little More Country Than That,” “Roll With It” and “I Can’t Love You Back.” He’s performed at Stagecoach and toured with Brad Paisley. Tickets are $40 to $60. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a few noteworthy November events. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, comedian, talk-show host and political commentator Dennis Miller will be performing. While his political opinions have taken a turn toward the unpopular, he was the best Weekend Update personality Saturday Night Live ever had. Tickets are $69 to $89. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, reality-television star Teresa Giudice will be appearing. I spent way too much time trying to figure out how this show was going to work, and what the former Real Housewives of New Jersey and Celebrity Apprentice star will be doing. My best guess: Discussing her time spent in a federal prison for fraud? And her husband’s deportation back to his native Italy? Tickets are $35 to $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s is rolling into November with a fantastic schedule. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, Starcrawler will be performing. Starcrawler is an independent band that’s about to go to some pretty awesome places. This Echo Park group certainly knows how to rock, and the band’s songs are a kick in the ass. The group’s appeared on Apple Beats 1 radio, and Elton John played ’em on his Rocket Hour radio show. The band has an album being produced by Ryan Adams coming out soon, too. Also appearing: The Entire Universe, which is fronted by Jeffertitti, formerly the frontman of Jeffertitti’s Nile, and a former bassist in Father John Misty’s band. Jeffertitti is pretty far out, but in an awesome way. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10, country musician Jesse Dayton will take the stage. He’s performed on albums with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, The Supersuckers, and Kris Kristofferson. He also worked with Rob Zombie on some of his films. Also on the bill: Charlie Overbey, who has been touring after releasing his new album Broken Arrow earlier this year. Tickets are $20. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 24, the Meat Puppets will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. If you’ve never seen the Meat Puppets before, I highly recommend ’em. The band appeared with Nirvana on the Unplugged special and has been listed as an influence for many punk-rock and desert-rock bands. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has a couple of great dinner-show events to consider. At 6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, former Broadway actress and singer Nancy Dussault will be performing. She appeared on Broadway in musicals such as The Sound of Music, Bajour and Do Re Mi. She’s still performing at the age of 82. Tickets are $45 to $50. At 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3 singer/songwriter Chadwick Johnson will take the stage. He’ll be performing the music of Las Vegas, which is certainly jazzy, upbeat and good to listen to during martini time. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17, actress and singer Linda Lavin will be performing. You might remember her from the show Alice. She’s a noteworthy singer as well, and will be performing with a backing band. Tickets are $50 to $60. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Date Shed has one event scheduled for November: At 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 29, SoCal reggae band and Date Shed regulars Fortunate Youth will be performing. The Hermosa Beach band also includes ska and punk in its sound. The group’s shows are always well-attended, and they are always asked back. Tickets are $20 in advance. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

The Copa Palm Springs has one ticketed event in November, too: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10, The Divine Miss Bette starring Catherine Alcorn will grace the Copa stage. It’s billed as a cabaret show with the songs of Bette Midler—and it’s received a lot of critical acclaim. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Did you know the Coachella Valley has a growing reggae scene?

Higher Heights is one of the bands that’s come out of that scene, playing shows consistently while in the process of recording the band’s first full-length album. A single, “Indian on the Mountain,” was produced by Ronnie King in 2015 and is available on streaming services.

Higher Heights will be playing at the seventh annual Synergy Music and Arts Festival on Saturday, Nov. 10.

During a recent phone interview, frontman Mike Fernandez discussed his passion for reggae music.

“When I first heard Bob Marley back in 1981, it was the message. I could understand it, but I couldn’t figure out why he was singing about it,” Fernandez said. “If I wanted to dance to it, how would I do it, or how would anyone go about doing it? It was the newness of it, and I had never heard anything like it. It was the Rastaman Vibration album, and it was the days of 8-track, and a friend of mine let me borrow it on 8-track. I fell asleep listening to it; 8-tracks didn’t end and would start over again, and by the time I woke up the next morning, I was kind of indoctrinated. It peaked my imagination.

“I started buying Bob Marley’s music. When I was at school growing up, they were calling me Bob Marley, and I started going by Reggae Mike. It was the music and the power of the lyrics.”

However, for a while, Fernandez did not think all that much about music.

“What happened with me was that I was working a job that was 10-15 hours per day, even on Sundays. I was really stressed out and worked there for 10 years straight,” he said. “When I finally quit working at that job, this music started coming back into my mind—and it was original stuff I never heard. I was working again, but in a much more relaxed atmosphere, and I was more rested. I stopped cutting my hair, given (at the previous job), I had to be clean-shaven and my hair had to be short all the time. As my hair started growing out and the songs started coming back to me, I harnessed those songs and memorized what I was hearing. I memorized the hooks, the messages, and then I built on them and started writing songs, one after another. All this was new to me. It just comes to me through spiritual force—and I harness it.

“I harness it, write it down, and get it a hook. One time, I had a hook, and I woke up to memorize it. I was singing it over and over and over for about 30 minutes. I should have recorded it, and I didn’t. I thought after 30 minutes of repeating it over and over, I’d remember. The following morning, I didn’t remember. I tried to tap into that and meditated on it—it was somewhere in my brain, and I’d repeat the words, and it didn’t sound right anymore. But about two months later, after never letting go, it came right back—and this time, I recorded it. That’s our song called ‘Searching.’ I had that experience of losing a melody on a couple of other occasions, but not anything more than a couple of months.”

While reggae music was born out of the Rastafari spirituality, Fernandez said he does not follow it.

“My music is actually unlike reggae: It’s totally original, because in reggae music you have the ‘roots message,’” Fernandez said. “The Jamaican artists take offense to it. … Unless you follow their dietary rules, you have no right to be singing reggae music and calling yourself ‘roots.’ My music is not that, and I don’t believe that the man they call Rastafari (the late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia) is Jesus Christ incarnate. That’s their claim … and all those songs about Jah Rastafari are giving him glory and serving him. My music doesn’t do that. My music is not political and has no political overtones. … Every song has a life and breath of its own.”

When you see Higher Heights perform, you can feel the energy Fernandez is putting out. He explained where that comes from.

“It’s an experience. I’m not moved by music; I’m moved by the story behind the music,” he said. “First comes the lyrics. If the lyrics are telling me something, and I’m connecting to the lyrics—if I can reflect on the lyrics and connect them to an experience of my life—then I can connect to the song. The music comes secondary. I get a wave of energy coming our direction when I sing certain parts of a song that people connect with. I can feel that energy like a tidal wave coming from the crowd toward the band. I can feel that coming through my chest and out my back. In my opinion, that’s important. I’m not just doing music to do music; for me, it takes the magic of what a song is supposed to be.”

Higher Heights has played at the Synergy Festival before, and Fernandez said it’s always a great time.

“It’s outdoors, and I like that it’s in November when the weather is nice,” he said. “The turnout is always pretty good. I like serving the musical community with the music we’re playing. It’s a joy to be doing it. It’s a community thing, and it’s people from all walks of life.”

The Synergy Music and Arts Festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10, at Dateland Park, 51805 Shady Lane, in Coachella. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.culturasmusicartscoachella.com.

Let’s face it: When you think “shopping mall,” you don’t think “cool cultural events.” Yet for the past three years, that’s exactly what’s happened at the Westfield Palm Desert with the popular and ever-growing STREET event.

STREET takes food, art, music and fashion—and incorporates it all into one fantastic event. This year’s fourth annual STREET on Friday, Nov. 2, features a music lineup including The Flusters, Ocho Ojos, C-Money and the Players, DJ Day, the Yip Yops and the Academy of Musical Performance. On-site food vendors include Stuft Pizza, The Grilled Cheese Truck, Jo Jo’s Grill-A-Dog, Baby’s Bad Ass Burgers, Ramona’s Express and Royal Red Velvet Cupcakes. Interactive art exhibits by YMCA of the Desert and Flat Black Art Supply will highlight the event.

STREET is different this year in one big way: The Coachella Valley Art Scene is no longer involved. But during a recent phone interview with Franchesca Forrer, the marketing director for Westfield Palm Desert, she said she hopes to work with the Coachella Valley Art Scene and its CEO, Sarah Scheideman, in the future.

“I have hopes that they’ll emerge in some other entity,” Forrer said. “We’re actually going to be working with Sarah on social media and doing events. So stay tuned, because they’ll be involved again, or at least Sarah will.”

Where did the idea for STREET come from?

“(Our former GM) was looking for something different to do on the property that would tie in with some of the retailers we have that are edgier and cool—that have some of that street edge, like Hot Topic and Vans as an example. She saw the third-level parking deck; this is one of the highest levels in the desert that has panoramic views of the mountains and the city of Palm Desert. I wanted to do something that celebrated the art that’s tied into the Coachella Valley, but also offer things such as food, fashion, food trucks, music and all of the things we love about street culture in one space.”

Forrer explained what people can expect to find at STREET.

“As events grow, so do the number of partners, which makes it all the better, because it’s bigger and better each year,” she said. “The event is sponsored by the city of Palm Desert, which has been extremely generous and supportive of this event, which is great to see. The event is curated by Flat Black Art Supply; they have been working with artists all year, and these artists come from all around Southern California and San Francisco. There’s a giant spray can that will be interactive, and there’s much more interactive art sponsored by Flat Black Art Supply. In addition, the YMCA of the Desert is on hand to help us with kids’ crafts, and we’re going to be doing everything from bubble art to wire sculptures, and making our own graffiti T-shirts and bandannas. People can come and work with graffiti spray cans and help artists make large-scale murals. It should be a lot of fun.”

STREET has grown significantly over the past three years, Forrer said.

“STREET has become an official art setting and is listed as a public art tour by the Convention and Visitors Bureau,” she said. “We had around 1,500 people the first year, and last year, we had just under 5,000. It’s great to have a free event for all ages; that’s part of the appeal. I think there’s something to be said about an event where we invite the locals, but we also invite our visitors.”

The mall doesn’t seem like a place where you’d find a lot of local music, but the Westfield Palm Desert has actually worked with many of the STREET performers before.

“Having the Academy of Musical Performance speaks to two things,” Forrer said. “One, we are a community gathering space for families as well as a place to shop and dine, and two, we love all kinds of music, including rock and how great it can be done by teenagers in a School of Rock style. A lot of the artists this year, we have had play in the mall at special events and retailer openings. Some of the bands have made contact with some of the major brands, which is the link between art and fashion.”

STREET will mark the first time the Palm Desert band Yip Yops has played a local show in about a year; the group has been focused on shows out of town.

“Their career trajectory has just blossomed,” Forrer said. “They’re playing really solid Los Angeles spots now, and this is the first time they’ve been back to the desert in about a year. It’s great to see them come home.”

Forrer said she hopes STREET continues to grow.

“We want to focus on doing more sculpture, because we believe that’s an important piece we want to bring into the (shopping) center,” she said. “We know that shopping is a very different experience now. It’s completely about experiences now, and to document that moment that you couldn’t have online, that you have with your family and friends. I think that art and music coming into the center will be part of that experience.”

STREET starts at 5 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, at the Westfield Palm Desert, 72840 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.westfield.com/palmdesert/entertainment/the-street.