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February is the month for love—and there’s plenty of love to go around at fantastic events throughout the month.

The McCallum Theatre has numerous events you’ll love in February. At 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 19, classical organist Cameron Carpenter and his electric International Touring Organ will take the stage. I interviewed Cameron two years ago, and not only is he a brilliant organist (with a rather unorthodox appearance compared to many other organists, starting with a Mohawk); the story of his electric organ is pretty remarkable. Tickets are $27 to $77. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 23, Broadway singing sensation Linda Eder will be performing. If Eder’s name doesn’t ring a bell, check out her impressive performances from the Broadway musical Jekyll and Hyde on the interwebs. Tickets are $37 to $87. At 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, you’ll get to see one of the talented women shown in the documentary 20 Feet From Stardom: Lisa Fischer. She has toured with Nine Inch Nails, Chris Botti, The Rolling Stones and many others. Tickets are $37 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a busy February; here are just a few events from the awesome schedule. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 3, R&B and hip-hop star Nelly will perform. Nelly has accomplished a lot in his career, with diamond and multi-platinum albums, big awards, successful acting gigs and a stint as a judge on CW’s The Next. Tickets are $39 to $79. Continuing on with R&B in the month of love, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, Charlie Wilson will perform. He’s had 10 No. 1 singles, and 11 Grammy Award nominations … without a win. Consider surprising your sweetheart with this show as an early Valentine’s Day gift. Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, crooner Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will appear. Just a warning: Frankie Valli shows often sell out! Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some fun shows on the calendar. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 16, soft-rock duo Air Supply will be performing. It’s close to Valentine’s Day, so you could take your sweetheart to the show if you love him or her … or maybe if you don’t. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, comedian Sebastian Maniscalco will be performing. Maniscalco has a lot of funny jokes about his family life, as well as every-day idiots you encounter in life; one of his more amusing bits is about how he had to start shaving at a very early age. Tickets are $65 to $95. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is set for a fantastic February. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, the folk-rock duo America will be performing. Chances are you’ve heard “A Horse With No Name” in a film, television show, commercial or video game. America is highly influential to many artists, while Fountains of Wayne; James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins and A Perfect Circle; and Ryan Adams (just to name a few) have recorded with America. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, former Chicago vocalist Peter Cetera will sing. A great documentary called Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago recently appeared on Netflix. Not surprisingly, Peter Cetera’s contentious departure from the band is widely discussed, although he did not participate in the making of the film. Tickets are $45 to $65. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is rocking in February. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 15, country-rock band Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight (below) will be performing. Back in November, I hosted Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight at The Hood Bar and Pizza—and it was fantastic. Mick has a great repertoire of country-rock originals that are fun, funny and sometimes sad. The band has a new record coming, and you’ll want to see this show. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 16, Los Angeles rock band Valley Queen will take the stage. This is a band on the rise. NPR and the rock zine Stereogum have given this band a lot of props for an original sound with influences such as Fleetwood Mac, Patti Smith and others. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb., 22, Southern California country-rock band Calico the Band will be performing. When I think of Pappy’s, I think of Calico the Band: The group’s sound is perfect for the high-desert roadhouse scene. Admission is free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed is back! After going dark last summer and mostly through the season, the venue is again holding events, even if the venue’s website doesn’t show any. At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, it’ll be a night of local rap music when J. Patron (above right), Thr3 Strykes, Provoked and Thoughts Contained will be performing. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased through Eventbrite. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has some top-notch entertainment in February that’s perfect for a romantic date night out. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, Crissy Collins, known for her roles in Tyler Perry’s films, will be appearing. She’ll be performing an evening full of love songs! Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, dance-music star Debby Holiday will sing. Who can ever forget her 2004 smash hit “Half a Mile Away”? Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa Room has a couple of notable events in February. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 9, comedy-and-music duo Amy and Freddy will be performing. The Copa regulars have appeared on America’s Got Talent and have shared the stage with Kathy Griffin, Mary Wilson and the Supremes, Bea Arthur and many others. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16 and 17, jazz vocalist Spencer Day will be performing. You might remember Spencer Day from Star Search back in 2002-2003. Since then, he’s released five albums; his most recent, Angel City, was crowd-funded through Indiegogo. Tickets are $35 to $55. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Published in Previews

Cameron Carpenter is an organist—and amazing organist at that. However, his approach to the instrument is unusual: He plays what’s called the “digital organ.”

While he’s received praise from many, he’s also gotten criticism from organ purists. Decide where you stand when “the bad boy of the organ” performs at the McCallum Theatre on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

During a recent phone interview, Carpenter explained that what he plays is a touring organ, and that the “digital” part doesn’t change the sound. There are no synths or modern effects (beyond the digital part) involved.

“It’s musical performance. It occupies a certain presence in our lives, I suppose,” Carpenter said. “Part of the ethos of what I do is to expand upon what organ music is. My tastes run on a further field. I’m not a traditionalist, and I don’t take a traditional path to the instrument. The instrument occupies a third space between instrumental music and vocal music. It has aspects of both, but is neither, and has a thing of its own. Because of that, it lends itself very well to a great variety of things.”

Carpenter explained what he usually plays during a performance.

“I’ll be playing the works of Bach—most importantly, because I’m able to play them way differently than Bach would have been able to hear them or think of them. I’m also playing Tchaikovsky, an overture from a Wagner opera, some of my own music and some improvisations. On one hand, it’s quite traditional, because I do stay within the classical genre, but I have a reputation of bending that somewhat, even though I’m a classical musician. But in many ways, my tastes are quite conservative.”

Even though Carpenter is a graduate of the Juilliard School and has been playing since he was 4, he said his success is based on obsession, not discipline.

“It’s hard for me to discipline myself now. I had a great musical upbringing growing up, and had very accommodating parents who gave me every possible opportunity and had an enormous amount of patience with it. But I’ve always had a work obsession,” he explained. “I don’t particularly enjoy practicing, but I don’t seem to be able to stop. I wouldn’t be a person who would say music is my life; music is very much like a job at times if you do it seriously. Or it’s like a lover: Sometimes it’s great, and other times you just want to be away. In terms of discipline, I had a bad relationship with it. I wouldn’t say I’d be a great one for practice, and many of my colleagues put in many more hours than I did, even though I did my share. But I wouldn’t say I have a traditional view there at all.”

Carpenter said he doesn’t pay much attention to those who criticize his methods.

“I haven’t gotten to be able to design the world’s most innovative organ or play it all around the world in the way that I want by listening to how people think,” he said. “My impression is that it’s well-received, but the phenomenon of live music at the end of the era of classical, which I think we’re at, it’s very hard to quantify.”

Carpenter said the ceiling of a modern classical musician is limited, and while there are many things he’d like to do musically and non-musically, he’s accepted the fact that he might not be able to do all of them.

“There are many things I would love to do and won’t ever do, because a life in classical music is just that way. That’s one of the paradoxes of classical music,” he said. “As much as I believe children should have classical music in their lives, it’s something that people have to be realistic about. Matt Haimovitz, the famous cellist, told The New York Times that no one tells you when you’re 12 and playing the cello that 10 years from now, you’ll be carting that thing on the train across the East River to play a gig for $75. When you go there fully in classical music, there’s very seldom time for anything else. I’m interested in writing; I’m interested in studying to become a pilot. It might be doable at some point, but music consumes everything right now.”

Cameron Carpenter will perform at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 3 at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $27 to $77. For tickets or more information, call 760-340-2787, or visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Published in Previews

It’s been a fine year for the McCallum Theatre.

“This is one of the best seasons we’ve had in terms of artists—and financially, as well,” said Mitch Gershenfeld, the president, CEO and longtime booker of the McCallum. “Ticket sales have been very, very strong this year, considerably stronger than last year.”

The McCallum is winding down its wildly successful 2014-2015 season this month with just a handful shows, most notably the theater’s popular Open Call local talent competition (Thursday through Saturday, April 14-16). But all this leads to a question: How can Gershenfeld and the McCallum raise the bar next season?

The answer came over the weekend, when the McCallum released the schedule for the 2015-2016 season. Tickets went on sale today, and to raise that figurative bar, Gershenfeld looked east—specifically, all the way to Broadway.

The McCallum’s new season features eight Broadway and Broadway-style shows, with musical comedy classic 42nd Street (Nov. 24-29) and newly revived hit Pippin (Jan. 12-17, 2016) leading the way, followed by the ever-popular Jersey Boys (Feb. 16-21) and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (March 25-27).

Joining those shows are shorter runs of the 20th anniversary tour of Riverdance (Jan. 23 and 24), one-man comedy show Steve Solomon’s Cannoli, Latkes and Guilt (Feb. 12), the now-legendary The Producers (Feb. 27 and 28), and a brand-new McCallum production, Tribute to the Follies (March 10-11).

“This one of the strongest Broadway seasons we’ve ever had,” Gershenfeld said.

In particular, Gershenfeld said he was proud to nab Pippin, on its first national tour after winning four Tony Awards—including Best Revival of a Musical—in 2013.

“The production is so brilliantly done,” he said.

As for that Tribute to the Follies: Gershenfeld said the folks at the McCallum wanted to pay tribute to—and not imitate—the legendary Palm Springs Follies. Therefore, they assembled a show honoring not only the Palm Springs Follies, but theatrical revues including the Folies Bergère and the Ziegfeld Follies. Performers from the Palm Springs Follies will play a big part in the show.

“We’re doing three performances,” Gershenfeld said. “If people like it, we’ll do more next year.”

For a second year, Gershenfeld is offering his series of “Mitch’s Picks.” These are his personal selections of shows featuring unfamiliar or under-the-radar artists. (For what it’s worth, several of his picks for the soon-to-conclude season ended up being wildly successful: Tickets for 2Cellos and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain sold out well before show time.)

In something of a contradiction, his first pick features a fairly familiar name: Jane Lynch, who will be taking the stage on Nov. 14. The Glee star, known best for being a comedic actor, will be bringing to the McCallum stage her new solo-concert show, “See Jane Sing!”

“She has a wonderful cabaret act,” Gershenfeld said. “People don’t know her as a cabaret performer.”

Mitch’s other picks: Rebel organist Cameron Carpenter (Feb. 3); the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, a long-performing ensemble that plays songs from the 1920s and 1930s (Feb. 10); The von Trapps (yes, those von Trapps; March 2); and comedy violin-and-piano duo Igudesman and Joo (March 18).

Gershenfeld compared Carpenter to 2Cellos, but in reverse: While the 2Cellos guys look traditional, and use traditional instruments to play non-traditional (read: rock) music, Carpenter looks non-traditional, and uses a (sort of) traditional instrument (a souped-up organ, in his case) to play traditional (read: classical) music.

“He is known for his technical brilliance,” Gershenfeld said. “He plays Bach on an organ—but he is kind of a rebel and a bad boy. He’s very flamboyant. He’s … developed an organ that has electric elements to it. It’s like an organ on steroids.”

All of the usual McCallum staples are back for another year, including five shows as part of Fitz’s Jazz Café (curated by Easy 103’s Jim Fitzgerald), four “Keyboard Conversations With Jeffrey Siegel,” and McCallum’s season-opener, the Fourth Annual Family Fun Day, starring lots of animals and ventriloquist Kevin Johnson, on Sunday, Oct. 18.

Something new this year: Frank Sinatra would have turned 100 in December, so the McCallum is celebrating the legend with several shows, including Frank Sinatra Jr. in “Sinatra Sings Sinatra” (Feb. 5 and 6), and Steve Lawrence paying tribute to his longtime friend on Feb. 14.

“More than any other singer alive today, Steve Lawrence is the personification of the Great American Songbook,” Gershenfeld said.

Of course, Gershenfeld is not done with the 2015-2016 schedule; in fact, he’d booked another show on the day we spoke to him, he said.

“I’ve pretty much filled the calendar,” he said. “There will probably be another six to 10 shows added to the season.”

In other words … stay tuned.

Tickets for the McCallum Theatre’s 2015-2016 season are now on sale. Visit www.mccallumtheatre.com for details.

Published in Local Fun