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Brian Blueskye

The city of Palm Springs may be a hotbed of midcentury modern architecture—but the valley’s most exciting example of modernism may be found in Rancho Mirage: Sunnylands, the former desert home of Walter and Leonore Annenberg.

“Palm Springs Modernism Week in February is a real celebration of modernism architecture,” said Mary Perry, deputy director of communications and public affairs at Sunnylands. “(Sunnylands) is a very good example of midcentury modernism. It has a lot of the inside/outside feel.”

Formerly known as the Annenberg Estate, Sunnylands has hosted eight U.S. presidents—and it will host Barack Obama yet again on Feb. 14, when the president meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan at Sunnylands. (Yes, the president is crashing Modernism Week, in a sense.) It was the spot of a state dinner between President George H.W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu in 1990—the first state dinner ever held outside of the White House. Richard Nixon wrote his final State of the Union Address at Sunnylands, and returned to Sunnylands several months later to wind down following his resignation.

During the Islamic Revolution in the late 1970s, family members of the shah of Iran were offered refuge within the walls of Sunnylands. Queen Elizabeth II (pictured) had a lunch date with the Annenbergs there. The estate hosted a New Year’s Eve party in the house’s atrium that Ronald and Nancy Reagan attended every year for 18 years.

The estate was commissioned by the Annenbergs in 1963 and completed in 1966, after they chose A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons to design the house. Jones, a modernist architect, was truly an innovator and a man ahead of his time; his designs were sustainable and environmentally friendly, and many were compatible with surrounding wildlife and agriculture. In fact, the Annenbergs believed their home in Rancho Mirage was “bringing the outside in.”

Both Walter and Leonore Annenberg were devoted philanthropists. After Walter Annenberg sold TV Guide to Rupert Murdoch in 1988 for $3 billion, he would go on to give away $2 billion to causes ranging from the public-education system and the United Negro College Fund to art museums. His collection of art, estimated to be worth $1 billion, was given to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art upon his death.

The final thing he donated through the Annenberg Foundation Trust was Sunnylands itself. He left $300 million for upkeep and to maintain it as a retreat for leaders seeking to address serious issues facing the nation and the world. It was opened to the public on a limited basis in 2012.

With Modernism Week approaching, Sunnylands recently granted the Independent a tour of Sunnylands.


After driving through the gates and going down a winding road featuring cacti and gorgeous landscaping, visitors start at the visitors’ center, which sits on 15 acres of the 200-acre property.

When the center opened for limited tours in March 2012, they quickly sold out, yet people still wanted to know what was behind the pink security walls—hence the visitors’ center, which is open to everyone, for free, Thursdays through Sundays.

On the day of our tour, a women’s yoga class was slated to take place outside in the courtyard. The garden there includes various cacti and other desert plants; there’s also a meditative labyrinth through which guests can walk.

The visitors’ center includes interactive multimedia stations with information on various aspects of the estate; there’s also an impressive 3-D presentation (no glasses required) that shows the construction of the home. I highly recommend checking it out before you hop in the shuttle for your tour.

As the shuttle passed through part of the golf course to get to the estate, the guide explained the story behind the pink walls: Leonore Annenberg favored the color pink—especially pink oleanders. In the early ’90s, pink oleanders were starting to die off worldwide; meanwhile, added security was needed for a visit by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher—so when the needed wall was built, it was pink.

The wall is not the only pink element of Sunnylands: The pink pyramid-style roof was inspired by the Mayan pyramids, according to our tour guide.

When the shuttle pulls into the cul-de-sac in front of the estate, and the doors open, the view is breathtaking. Digitalized replicas of the original artwork that used to belong to Walter Annenberg are on the walls in the same locations as the originals. (The replicas were made by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.) Original furniture and sculptures are spread out through the atrium. A giant sculpture, complete with a fountain and pink flowers, sits in the middle of the atrium under the skylight.

The Room of Memories is a study-like room, with a sprawl of photos of everyone from Bob Hope to various presidents sitting on the shelves. While visitors are given time to inspect the various photos and objects, it’s nowhere enough time to take in all of the details—like the Chinese-influenced art underneath the glass top of a coffee table, for example.

The master bedroom suite has a spectacular view of a cactus garden and the grounds. When asked why the master bedroom does not offer mountain views, the tour guide explained that those views were reserved for guests—one of many hospitable acts by the Annenbergs. The guide also said that Walter loved birds so much that he had a microphone placed on a birdfeeder—with the sound sent into his dressing area, so he could hear it every morning as he started his day.

The vast majority of the furniture throughout the estate does not have modernist appeal; instead, much of it is what the tour guide called “Hollywood Victorian.” Walter Annenberg served as ambassador to the Court of St. James, which led to the Annenbergs living in London from 1969 to 1974—and when they returned to Rancho Mirage, they added a royal-themed sitting room to the estate and replaced most of their furniture with pieces inspired by Victorian furnishings. However, they did keep many of their beloved Qing Dynasty-inspired artifacts.

In the Yellow Room—a guest room in which the Reagans, Henry Kissinger and Bob Hope stayed—the yellow décor is overwhelming. The guide explained that the Annenbergs almost always had weekend visitors—and only weekend visitors. One of the embroidered pillows on the sofa in this room lightheartedly stresses that the guests will be leaving on Sunday—a personal rule that Walter Annenberg had for visitors to the estate.

As the tour ends, visitors are led around the estate’s nine-hole golf course where Walter Annenberg played golf with Ronald Reagan and Charles, Prince of Wales. Leonore Annenberg also enjoyed the course, holding a ladies’ only golf day that included Dinah Shore.


There’s no doubt the Annenbergs lived an elegant, expensive lifestyle. It’s hard to imagine what living there must have been like.

Today, Sunnylands remains a retreat for world leaders, including a meeting last year between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, it’s not just world leaders who come to Sunnylands; it is also the site of other types of retreats, high-level conferences and seminars—all related to world affairs and issues involving education. The Sunnylands estate does not charge for these retreats and seminars.

“We partner with the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and we held a two-day retreat here,” Perry said, offering an example of a recent event at the estate. “We hold this retreat for emerging filmmakers from all around the world who come to talk about how film can change the world. So, certainly, their topic fits in with our retreat. We’ve had medical; we’ve had education; and we’ve had some health-care retreats focused on HIV and the research that has just come out.”

Of course, Sunnylands is a modernist’s dream come true: On 200 acres, the 25,000-square-feet midcentury modern house, with many original art pieces still in the home, is a marvelous spectacle. It’s also a place that’s in demand: Tours require advance booking—and, alas, all of the Modernism Week tours are sold out. (During February, tickets for some March tours will go on sale.)

“The reason you have to buy them way in advance is because we always have to be ready for retreats,” Perry said. “… We need to be able to cancel tours if we have to—although we don’t like to cancel tours.” It's likely, in fact, that Obama's Feb. 14 visit will result in some tour cancellations.

If you do get a coveted tour spot, dress comfortably, and wear comfortable shoes—you’ll be standing for 45 minutes to an hour as you walk through the house. There is no photography inside the home due to what’s explained as national security reasons, but visitors are free to photograph at the visitors’ center.

The entrance to Sunnylands is located at 37977 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. The Sunnylands Center and Gardens is open for free from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Tickets for tours of the house and grounds are released in half-month blocks, and cost $35. For more information, visit sunnylands.org.

Monday, 03 February 2014 15:29

More Modernism: Some Events Worth Your Time

From Thursday, Feb. 13, through Sunday, Feb. 23, Modernism Week will take over the Coachella Valley with an overwhelming number of events celebrating midcentury architecture and design.

We’ve scoured the calendars, and here are five happenings that caught our eye. For a complete list of events, visit www.modernismweek.com—and do so soon, as many of the events will sell out, if they have not already. (As of our press deadline, tickets were still available for these events.)

Modern Mambo! At Caliente Tropics

Caliente Tropics will celebrate the opening of Modernism Week with—what else?—a mambo party! From 8 to 11 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 13, enjoy a Havana-themed party featuring DJ Alf Alpha; cocktails by Ultimat Vodka; chocolate treats by Godiva; and great food from the fine folks Crave. Tickets are $150; visit www.modernismweek.com. Caliente Tropics is located at 411 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs; 760-327-1391.

Modernism Week After Dark at the Purple Room

Gary and Joan Gand—you probably know them as the Gand Band—have put together an impressive schedule of music at the Purple Room during Modernism Week. On Friday, Feb. 14, the Gand Band will perform a “Motown to Memphis” show featuring Tony Grandberry. The following night, they will be joined by special guests to re-live the music from the iconic 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, the Blue Hawaiians will perform on Surf Rock night. Costs vary. For a full itinerary, visit www.purpleroompalmsprings.com, or call 760-322-4422. The Purple Room is located at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs.

Never Built Palm Springs

From 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15, the Saguaro Palm Springs will host a panel discussion led by Erin Feher, editor of California Home+Design. Panelists include Sidney Williams of the Palm Springs Art Museum; Lance O’Donnell of o2 Architecture; Jennifer Siegal of the Office and Mobile Design firm; and others. The topic of the discussion: the Palm Springs that “could have been.” Panelists will address a series of proposed projects that were—as the title of the event says—never built. Tickets are $15—or for $30, enjoy the talk after brunch at Tinto. Head to www.modernismweek.com for tickets. The Saguaro Palm Springs is at 1800 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-323-1711.

Showing of ‘Mid Century Moderns: The Homes That Define Palm Springs’

At 1 p.m., Monday, Feb. 17, the Horizon Ballroom at the Hilton will host a screening of the film Mid Century Moderns: The Homes That Define Palm Springs. The movie examines the homes of the Alexander Construction Company, which designed homes in Twin Palms, Vista Las Palmas and the Racquet Club Estates. It also takes a look at the Alexander Homes, which have never been shown on public tours. Tickets are $12; get them at www.modernismweek.com. The Hilton is at 400 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in Palm Springs; 760-320-6868.

Hugh M. Kaptur: Gentle Giant of Desert Design

The Palm Springs Public Library will feature a free lecture by Matt Burkholz on Hugh M. Kaptur, the architect who will be in the spotlight this year during Modernism Week. Kaptur was one of the youngest of the now-renowned midcentury modernist architects, and was a major force in the Coachella Valley’s architecture world, designing 200 residences, commercial and recreation centers, hotels and other structures. Seating is first-come, first served for the lecture, which begins at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 22; library doors open at 10 a.m. The Palm Springs Public Library is located at 300 S. Sunrise Way; 760-322-7323.

It’s February, and you know what that means: Love is in the air for Valentine’s Day, and it’s also the month of Modernism Week.

Here are some local events during our shortest month.

The McCallum Theatre is booked solid through February with a ton of events. Cesar Millan will be stopping by the McCallum at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9. Although his famous show on the National Geographic Channel, Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan, has ended, Millan is still sharing his techniques and wisdom in the field of dog-training; this live show should be a real treat (no pun intended) for dog-owners. Tickets are $45 to $75. Frank Sinatra Jr. (right) will be stopping by post Valentine’s Day, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15. Although the younger Frank may be best known as the victim of a famous kidnapping, he is a talented performer in his own right, and has also branched out into acting over the years. Tickets are $45 to $85. Boz Scaggs will be at the McCallum at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 18. The sometimes-lead singer of the Steve Miller Band was a songwriting powerhouse in the ’70s and continues to put on a great show. Tickets are $55 to $95. Roberta Flack will be appearing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22. Flack had a No. 1 hit in with “Killing Me Softly With His Song”; The Fugees would return the song to the top of the charts in 1996. Tickets are $35 to $85. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

After a slower January, Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some fantastic events in the second half of February. If you’re a fan of soft rock, Air Supply (bottom of page) will be softly rocking for a special performance on Valentine’s Day, at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14. Tickets are $35 to $55. The great Johnny Mathis will be appearing at 6 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16. The romantic-ballads singer has been performing since 1956 and was one of a handful of crooners from his era who survived the wave of rock ’n’ roll. Tickets are $60 to $100. For fans of Jeff Dunham, you’ll be pleased to know that he will be joined by Walter, Peanut, Achmed the Dead Terrorist and the rest of the puppet gang at Agua Caliente at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22. Tickets are $85 to $135. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino doesn’t have a lot of events in February, but there are a couple worth noting. Kenny “Babyface” Edwards will be performing on Valentine’s Day, at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14. The ’80s R&B star has had a long and successful career; not bad for a guy who originally started playing with Bootsy Collins—the man who gave Edwards his famous “Babyface” moniker. Tickets are $55 to $75. There will also be a tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21. Attendance is free. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a spectacular list of events for February. Chicago will be appearing at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7. The band has been around since 1967, and still features four of the founding members. Since Terry Kath’s unintentional self-inflicted shooting death in 1978, the band has experienced a series of ups and downs, but they are survivors and have continued to make great music. Also: In Little Nicky, Adam Sandler discovered a rather hilarious subliminal message if you play their self-titled debut album backward during “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” If you haven’t seen it, YouTube it! It’ll blow your mind. Tickets are $39 to $69. CeeLo Green will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15. The singer of “F**k You” (or “Forget You,” whichever version you prefer) has managed to escape the potential one-hit wonder status used to describe his former project, Gnarls Barkley. While Danger Mouse swears that he and CeeLo will make another Gnarls Barkley album, Green’s success as a solo artist seems to throw that into question. Tickets are $39 to $69. Rick Springfield will be performing the following evening, at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16. The soap opera actor and “Jessie’s Girl” hit-maker has a fanatical, mostly female following. He’s still wildly popular and is the subject of a recent documentary, An Affair of the Heart, currently available via Netflix. Tickets are $29 to $49. Fresh out of bankruptcy court, Wayne Newton will be performing at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23. While Newton was the king of Vegas and has remained a music icon, recent photos of him seem to prove that age and plastic surgery don’t always go hand in hand. Tickets are $29 to $49. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, per usual, has some good shows booked for February. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 2, Futurebirds will be performing. The experimental indie band recently released a new album, Baba Yaga. They have been described as a “psychedelic country” band and have toured with the likes of the Drive-By Truckers, Widespread Panic and others. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, Pappy’s will host a Valentine’s Day show with Ferraby Lionheart. Lionheart is an indie-rock performer out of Los Angeles. He has some very catchy tunes that will make for a non-traditional Valentine’s Day show. Take your sweetheart to Pappy’s for some pre-show barbecue and then enjoy the show; you won’t be disappointed—plus admission is free. There will be a show not to miss from Moistboyz (right) at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 27. Moistboyz is a project that includes Dean Ween, formerly of Ween; Nick Oliveri, formerly of Queens of the Stone Age; and vocalist Guy Heller. The project has been around since 1994, when they released their debut album on the Beastie Boys’ now-defunct Grand Royal label. After the breakup of Dean and Gene Ween, it’s not a surprise Dean Ween has resurrected Moistboyz. The current touring lineup also includes Hoss Wright of Oliveri’s Mondo Generator. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

After requesting a list of events from The Date Shed, I was informed that the venue is now heading in a direction toward more private events. However, the venue still hosts shows from time to time. Along with the Tribal Seeds show, The Date Shed has Ozzmania booked at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7. Ozzmania, a local Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath tribute band, has received acclaim for excellent covers. A true metal fan wouldn’t miss it—plus it’s a free show, so there’s no excuse for not attending. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has some great local shows going on. At 10 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 6, The Hoodwill host the second monthly Industry Night, featuring DJ Angelique. Attendance is free. At 10 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, Mikey Raines Acoustic Movement will be performing, with The Hive Minds opening. Derek Gregg and Sean Poe of the Hive Minds are starting to sound tighter and tighter as they keep playing regularly. Since they parted ways with bassist Patrick “Tricky” Mitchem, they have yet to find a permanent replacement, but have brought in friends on occasion. Attendance is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8, the aforementioned Mondo Generator will take the stage. While Nick Oliveri and some of the members of Mondo Generator are playing with Moistboyz at Pappy and Harriet’s later in the month, this is another not-to-miss show featuring Oliveri. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14, Long Duk Dong will be returning for a Valentine’s Day Show that will be themed like a 1980s prom. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com

The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs will be hosting Haunted Summer at 10 p.m., Friday, Feb. 21. After a successful show at Pappy and Harriet’s in January, the Los Angeles dream-pop duo is happy to be doing a performance for us here in the low desert. The Ace Hotel, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

There is no question that the city of Desert Hot Springs is in financial trouble: The city is facing a deficit of $6 million or more.

However, bankruptcy is off the table, as far as the newly elected mayor, Adam Sanchez, is concerned.

Sanchez was elected to the DHS City Council in 2011, and ran for mayor against incumbent Yvonne Parks in 2013. Sanchez won by the narrowest of margins—12 votes.

During a recent interview with the Independent, Sanchez discussed the economic issues that Desert Hot Springs faces, as well as his plans for the city, and his first month in office.

“It feels like it’s been a year,” Sanchez said. “I think the obvious reason why is because one day after the election, we’re told by the mayor, the city manager and finance director that we have a deficit of $6.9 million. Hearing that right after the election, it’s enough to make you stop in your shoes and start thinking about where this started going wrong—and (why) didn’t anybody notice it? Since then, it’s been basically a quick roller-coaster ride, going down. Being on a roller coaster going down, you’re holding on. The last month has been holding on and trying to figure out how to go about reducing the deficit, because we know we have to be at a balanced budget by June 30.”

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Sanchez attributed much of the deficit to Desert Hot Springs’ police force and city employees, along with their pension plans. While many American cities that have gone through financial stresses have placed the blame on city employees and their pensions, Sanchez said it’s a bit more complex than that when it comes to Desert Hot Springs. However, in a city of 27,000 people, there are no questions that some of the city’s salary figures are mindboggling—and smell of possible corruption.

“I think the biggest concern came when they did the numbers on the police department: They were working the regular shifts, but also double shifts,” Sanchez said. “The detectives were working overtime constantly. Most of the detectives worked during the day, but the crimes happen at night, so why pull them out again? When they did the breakdown on it, they were averaging $200,000 a year per police officer. A study came back and showed that we were the 20th-highest in the state for paid employees.”

Sanchez said other employees within city government were also taking advantage of a flawed system.

“We had a city manager making $217,000 as part of his salary, and then $900 a month for a car allowance,” Sanchez said. “When you look across the state and cities similar to ours, the city manager is making anywhere from $140,000 to $160,000. On top of that, the police chief’s salary went up, too. … All of a sudden, you have a police chief who could be making close to $190,000.”

Sanchez said that while he was on the City Council under Parks’ leadership, he was hesitant to vote for any of the city budgets without transparency and full disclosure.

“With the prior administration, when they did the audits, a lot of this was kept private from us. … In the two years I was on the City Council, I was never asked to sit down with the auditors and look over their reports; none of us were. The only ones who were that I’m aware of were the mayor and city manager. A lot of us were left out of the loop from the entire process.”

Sanchez didn’t list that as the only issue; he said he’s learning a lot from an audit, still taking place, that Sanchez ordered after he took office.

“Within the police department alone, they had their own budget analyst who was working with the police chief and city manager, and the city had its own finance director. We had two different analysts, and they weren’t communicating with each other.”

Sanchez has pledged that there will be more transparency under his administration.

“We’re trying to put together a system where the city manager, the finance director, the mayor and the whole council will act as one finance committee. Before, it was the mayor and the mayor pro-tems that did it along with the city manager, so the City Council was left out. … Everybody needs to be communicating, and we can’t afford to be overspending.”

Of course, more business development in Desert Hot Springs could help the city avoid future budget problems.

“Right now, Two Bunch Palms resort wants to do a major expansion. … They want to create a whole new spa area, a new dining area, and add additional condos. They want to invest a tremendous amount of money and expand the resort to where we can showcase our health and wellness. In the next year and a half, that’s what we’re going to be working on with them.”

Speaking of health and wellness: Those are words Sanchez uses repeatedly, as he believes health and wellness can lead to economic opportunities for the city, and well-being for the city’s population. He spoke with pride about the city’s new health-and-wellness center and the programs it offers.

“What you need to have is programming directed toward creating a healthy family,” he said. “To have a healthy family, you have to make sure the kids are seeing the doctor. At the same time, you have to make sure the family is well-educated in health needs. A lot of it is education and preventive medicine. Why can’t we find ways to take advantage of that? All of a sudden, now you’re building a community around health and wellness, so we can get away from what we hear now, which is violence, more crime, and a city government that can’t keep its budget balanced.”

Sanchez said that if he gets his way, Desert Hot Springs will keep its police department, and there will be no cuts to education. The painful 22 percent cut in pay for the police department and other city employees will hopefully help save the city’s budget going forward, he said.

On the subject of his narrow win over Yvonne Parks, Sanchez talked about how he refused to believe he’d lost on election night, when preliminary results appeared to show Yvonne Parks had been re-elected.

“People were telling me the election was really over,” he said. The number (of votes I was behind) had dropped so quickly, from 97 to 24 on the second day after the election, and people were saying, ‘Oh my gosh; it’s not over yet.’ On the third day after the election, at about 2 p.m., they posted the results and had me up by 12.”

Sanchez said he was the youngest of three children to a single mother, and he grew up in the Boy Scouts, learning the value of public service at an early age. He also has a degree in recreation management.

“For me, it’s almost like the best time to be here in Desert Hot Springs, building this health-and-wellness initiative that I want to build, to change the overall image of the community to being a positive place for families to live, and for us to be proud of the fact we have the great hot mineral waters, the best-tasting drinking water—and now we have a government in the city that’s engaged and involved to where we care about one another,” he said.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014 15:30

The Lucky 13: Mark Knapp, of Ozzmania

Ozzmania is a local band that pays tribute to the music of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, they’ll be performing a free show at The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., in Indio; Dirt—which performs the music of Alice in Chains—is also on the bill. For more information on Ozzmania, visit ozzmaniausa.com, or www.facebook.com/ozzmaniausa; for details on The Date Shed, head to www.dateshedmusic.com. Mark Knapp, Ozzmania’s Zakk Wylde (or, in other words, guitarist), was kind enough, apparently during the morning hours, to answer The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

Deep Purple in Tucson, Ariz. Let’s just say it was a long time ago.

What was the first album you owned?

Wow… I wish I could remember. I think it might have been Kool and the Gang.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Pantera.

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

Justin Bieber and pop—or is that poop?

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

Original Van Halen.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Anything metal.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Anyplace metal.

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

At the moment, since I mentioned Kool and the Gang, it's “Jungle Boogie.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Ted Nugent. The second I heard "Stranglehold," my life in music started. I knew I was going to learn to play guitar, and will most likely die with one in my hands.

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

It’s way too early in the morning for that question …

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Iron Maiden, “Die With Your Boots On.”

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

Van Halen,Van Halen.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Whatever inspires them!

Jane Lee Hooker is not your average blues band.

The New York-based, all-women band features members of Nashville Pussy, Helldorado and Futurex—and they’re bringing their music to Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, Feb. 1.

The members of Jane Lee Hooker are Tracy Almazan, aka High Top Tracy (formerly of Nashville Pussy and Helldorado); Tina Gorin, aka T-Bone (formerly of Helldorado and Bad Wizard); Melissa Houston, aka Cool Whip (sister of semi-local musician JP Houston); Hail Mary, aka Mary Zadroga (formerly of Wives and Futurex); and Dana Danger, aka Dana Athens.

During a recent phone interview, both Almazan and Gorin said it seemed inevitable that they would share the same stage again.

“Tracy and I were in Helldorado together in the late ’90s,” said Gorin. “We both played guitar in the five-piece band that was very heavy and guitar-driven. We bonded way back then, and we’re great friends, too. We knew one day that we’d find ourselves back to playing together.”

Added Almazan: “This is the first time I’m in a band where everybody is really on the top of their game on their instruments. I get to play with people who are really at the highest level of playing. That’s so much fun, and I’ve never really had that before.”

The band has not put out an album and has gigged mostly around New York City, meaning many music-lovers have not yet been exposed to Jane Lee Hooker. The band’s sound offers a harder-edged version of the blues and Southern rock for which both Helldorado and Nashville Pussy have been known. The sound is aggressive—and not traditional by any means.

“I’ve always loved the blues and all kinds of other music that weren’t necessarily blazingly loud and harder,” said Gorin. “The bands that we were in were extremely loud rock bands. When you go through all that, and years of tours with that kind of attitude, even when you go back to playing the blues … we have it in our blood to turn it up very loud.”

Added Almazan: “I think that Tina and I have a great love of guitars and blues music. We decided to just play blues tunes together. When you put all these people in the same room who have all these different influences, this is what came out. It’s been really great. It’s got the blues-guitar playing I love, and the aggression that I love from hardcore and punk music. It’s kind of everything I like rolled into one band.”

Gorin shared a story about a conference gig the band played in Austin, Texas.

“Somebody from Texas at the conference in Austin said to us after we finished playing, ‘You guys are so New York!’ I was so surprised and said, ‘That’s how we sound? New York?’ I guess it’s the attack, or there’s the anger or aggression that you see in New York. I didn’t realize we were that heavy.”

When many people think of women in rock who play on the aggressive side, it’s the “Riot Grrrl” scene of the early to late ’90s that comes to mind, led Kathleen Hanna and her band Bikini Kill, and the band Hole.

Gorin and Almazan were not fans.

“I loathed and hated it. I was never more lost than in that time, and I still don’t like that stuff,” Gorin said. “It was like I was expected to be so happy for them and be like, ‘Yeah, you’re waving the flag for me!’ No, I don’t like that kind of music.”

Almazan was in a band called Wives during Riot Grrrl’s popularity.

“We were really lucky we were never really grouped in with any of them, because we played so well,” Almazan said. “Instead of opening up for Riot Grrrl kind of bands, we were opening for 7 Seconds and more established male punk bands who showed us an enormous amount of respect because of our playing.”

Jane Lee Hooker should see its fan base grow as the band gets exposed to new potential fans; the band is playing three California dates with The Bluebonnets.

When I told them about the rural Pioneertown location and atmosphere of Pappy and Harriet’s, Gorin and Almazan both expressed excitement.

“I can’t wait!” said Gorin. “That’s how I picture us being really happy—onstage in a club like that. We’re from Manhattan, which is distractions everywhere, and I just want to play in a honky-tonk.”

Added Almazan, with a laugh: “We may not come back to New York. We might just stay there.”

Jane Lee Hooker plays with The Bluebonnets at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

A lot of great bands have come out of San Diego’s music scene—and one of the latest is reggae group Tribal Seeds, performing Saturday, Feb. 1, at The Date Shed.

The band—consisting of Steven Rene Jacobo (lead guitar and vocals), Victor Navarro (bass), E.N. Young (keyboards and vocals), Tony-Ray Jacobo (keyboards and vocals) and Carlos Verdugo (drums)—formally came together in 2005. During a recent phone interview before a show in Fresno, Tony-Ray explained that he and Steven, his brother, were raised on reggae music; in fact, Tony-Ray’s first album purchase was Born Jamericans’ Kids From Foreign.

“It started with me and my brother in 2003,” said Tony-Ray. “We were both in high school at the time, and we were just jamming in our garage. We wanted to take it seriously after a while, and we wanted to do it as a career. We decided to find band members who had the same mindset. We had some who came and went, but we finally got a solid group of guys who believe this is their passion, and this is their love.”

Tony-Ray said San Diego was a perfect place for them to form as a band.

“I think we were blessed to have grown up where we did,” said Tony-Ray. “There’s a strong reggae environment, the whole beach environment, and it just seemed to fit very well; reggae music seems to thrive there. We’re blessed to be from San Diego.”

Since 2005, the band has released three full-length albums; the most recent album, released in 2009, The Harvest, debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard reggae charts. They have shared the stage with some heavy hitters in the music industry, including as Gregg Allman; Earth, Wind and Fire; The Wailers; and their musical heroes, Steel Pulse. They have also toured extensively around the world and in the U.S.

Reggae music can be a challenging genre for an American band. While many American groups have given reggae a go, some of the most successful eventually incorporated pop or punk sounds, as Sublime did. However, the members of Tribal Seeds stay fairly true to reggae, and even embrace the spirituality element of the music, rooted in Rastafarianism, the religion that many reggae musicians follow.

“A lot of it is Bible teachings and Rastafarian teachings,” said Tony-Ray. “It’s just something that was in the music we heard while growing up, so we wanted to continue that message. It just seemed natural to us, so the spiritual element for us has been there from the beginning.”

While Rastafarianism may be best known (and is often parodied) for its embrace of marijuana, it’s also known—and criticized—for ultra-traditional views of women, the practice of polygamy, and homophobia. Around 2004, the “Stop Murder Music” campaign was enacted by a group of gay activists who opposed the violent messages in some reggae music; in 2007, a number of reggae artists signed an agreement to fight homophobia.

“I’m totally open-minded to however a person wants to live their life,” said Tony-Ray. “If they’re a good person, it makes them happy, and they’re not hurting anyone else, that’s all good with me. There are a lot of older people teaching the close-minded thing. I think times are changing … even in the Catholic Church with the new pope. It’s all about how we’re trying to live—good positive things.”

Fans who have been waiting since 2009 for a new album won’t have to wait much longer.

“We’re actually close to finishing up our latest album that we hope to release really soon,” said Tony-Ray. “We’re really excited about it. I know it’s been a long time since our last full-length album, and that our fans are anxious—and we’re just as anxious. We’ve got a lot of good artists featured on this one.”

I couldn’t help but ask what the backstage ritual was before a Tribal Seeds show. Not surprisingly, it involves some smoke.

“A lot of the guys like the green. They like to get a little buzz going just to have fun on stage and enjoy it,” Tony-Ray said.

Tribal Seeds performs with Through the Roots, Mystic Roots and Wakane at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, at The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., in Indio. Tickets to the all-ages event are $15 to $21. For more information, call 760-775-6699, or visit www.dateshedmusic.com.

Dance for Life Palm Springs, a benefit for the AIDS Assistance Program, should be a spectacular show at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theater on Friday, Jan. 17—but on Tuesday night (Jan. 14), one of the participating dance companies stopped by the Dance Dimensions studio in Palm Desert to offer local ballet students a workshop.

The workshop, put on by Las Vegas’ Nevada Ballet Theatre, was part of Dance for Life’s community outreach program, which offers students at local schools and dance studios a chance to work with professionals in the industry. Dance for Life is also holding free performances around the community—and even has planned a flash-mob performance at an undisclosed location.

“This is sort of an extension of Dance for Life,” said James Canfield, artistic director of the Nevada Ballet Theatre. “Any outreach and awareness that you can bring into a community enriches that community. It gives these kids an opportunity to work with professionals who are in this profession. It’s really about awareness, because funding in schools is stretched and limited—and the arts is one of the first things they drop, yet it’s been proven arts can increase self-esteem, discipline and focus. It can do things to help kids in a different way of learning.”

Olivia Frary, a 14-year-old from Palm Desert who is a ballet student at Dance Dimensions, was excited about the opportunity to take part in the workshop.

“I think it’s really awesome that we have the opportunity to work with them,” Frary said. “It’s a really great experience and something I’ll always remember—when the Nevada Ballet Theatre came to our dance studio in Palm Desert, California. It’s really important for dancers to see other dancers all the time, so you always have something to look up to, and someone to have as a role model.”

As the students of Dance Dimensions warmed up on balance bars on one side of the room, the Nevada Ballet Theatre warmed up on the other. Students showed signs of nervousness or intimidation—until one of the staff members encouraged them to mix it up with the pros.

To start the workshop, Canfield walked around and sized up all of the students as he introduced himself. He immediately asked, “What are the requirements to be a good dancer?”

Turns out he had already given the answers to them during a short warm-up exercise—and some of the students had already forgotten. “Coordination and balance,” he said.

Canfield’s calm teaching method reminded of a Zen master. He adjusted students’ posture positions, had them work on dance steps and cracked the occasional ballet-related joke.

“What’s your favorite children’s book?” he asked some of the students. “Snow White,” one of them answered.

“Without the dwarves? I see how it is,” Canfield joked.

When one student said The Giving Tree, Canfield acted elated, and said it was the answer he was seeking, explaining that the 1964 Shel Silverstein book offers a lesson that applies to ballet: You give your body to the art until your body cannot physically give any more.

Canfield stressed to the students that ballet goes beyond dancing; it also takes personality and emotion. Oliva Frary said that fact makes her love the art of ballet.

“It’s a really great way to express emotions, feelings, unique qualities and different ideas through movement without having to say any words,” Frary said.

By the end of the workshop, most of the students were tired; many of the students were not used to performing as long and as hard as they had. But despite the fatigue, they seemed happy: It was surely an experience that many of them will long remember.

Dance for Life, a benefit for the AIDS Assistance Program, takes place at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theater, 101 Museum Drive, in Palm Springs, at 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 17. Tickets are $95. Performers are scheduled to include Giordano Dance Chicago, ENTITY Dance Company, Tap Sounds Underground and Los Angeles Ballet, in addition to the Nevada Ballet Theatre. For more information, call 760-325-8481, or visit aidsassistance.org.

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.

There was not much evidence that Snoop Lion, aka Snoop Dogg, aka Snoopzilla, was serious about going reggae (as part of his 2012 conversion to Rastafarianism) when he performed at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Saturday, Jan. 11.

His first local performance since Coachella 2012 (when he played with Dr. Dre) was supposed to start at 8 p.m.; however, the show didn’t start until 8:45. Thankfully, what followed was well worth the wait: Snoop showed the enthusiastic crowd that he was still on top of his game.

After a lengthy intro performed by his full band and DJ, Snoop finally took the stage. He soon launched into “California Gurls,” performing his parts in the Katy Perry song. After getting the crowd dancing and grooving to “I’m Fly” and “Ups and Downs,” he transitioned into the classic material for which he’s best known.

The crowd gave him a loud reception when he went into “The Next Episode” from Dr. Dre’s 2001. “Gin and Juice,” one of Snoop’s biggest hits, easily received the crowd participation demanded by Snoop. Of course, no Snoop performance is complete without “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None),” which had his costumed mascot “Nasty Dogg” dancing around and stroking a long, furry appendage. (When Snoop finished the song, he told Nasty Dogg to “put it away.”)

The show’s biggest highlight was his tribute to Notorious B.I.G. with a cover of “Hypnotize,” followed by a tribute to 2Pac with “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.” Considering Snoop’s involvement in the East Coast-West Coast feuds in the ‘90s that resulted in the murders of both Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, it was a touching tribute.

After a cover of House of Pain’s “Jump Around” (which, of course, Snoop ended on the line “I’m smacking the ho”), it was time for “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” I swore that I heard him say “pocket like it’s hot” from his recent Hot Pockets commercial once or twice.

Following the classic “Who Am I (What’s My Name?),” Snoop said it was time for one last song before he took off. After performing “Young, Wild and Free,” Snoop ended the show by saying, “I can’t go out like that” and screamed: “SMOKE WEED, MOTHAFUCKAS!” He then made his exit, waving to the crowd as Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” played.

After more than two decades in the rapidly changing rap game, Snoop still puts on an energetic and highly entertaining show that fans both young and old can love. Nothing from his recent reggae album Reincarnated showed up in the set list—although every other part of his career was represented—and he wasn’t decked out in Rastafarian garb like he was during some performances last year. It seems Snoop can’t escape his hip-hop roots, no matter how hard he tries: While he expermients with other genres of music, those roots always seem to find him again.