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Traffic is increasing on Highway 111. Pumpkin spice lattes (ew!) are here. Yep … fall has arrived, and that means season is here, too—and October has plenty of events great for locals, snowbirds and tourists.

The McCallum Theatre is reopening for the season—and it is opening with a bang. The first event of the McCallum’s season, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, features comedian/actor Bill Murray performing with cellist Jan Vogler, violinist Mira Wang and pianist Vanessa Perez. This collaboration will meld Bill Murray’s love for classical music with the world of literature. Tickets are $57 to $107. At noon, Sunday, Oct. 22, the McCallum will be holding its Sixth Annual Family Fun Day. The event will feature Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live. Tickets are $10 to $30. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, get in the spirit (no pun intended) with Dia de Los Muertos Live. The Day of the Dead celebration will feature the Grammy Award-winning Latin band La Santa Cecilia; the Latin tribute to Morrissey and the Smiths known as Mexrrissey; and the Grammy-nominated Mariachi Flor de Toloache. Tickets are $27 to $67. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a very busy month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6, get ready to get physical, because Olivia Newton-John will be stopping by. The Grease star is still in high demand and just released a new album, Liv On, with Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, it’ll be a double bill when The Isley Brothers and The Commodores perform. I’ve seen the Commodores perform before, and I can say this: The group puts on a show that you will never forget. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 20, Fleetwood Mac members Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie will take the stage. It appears Fleetwood Mac will be going on a farewell tour in 2018. That’s great … but I don’t believe it will be a “farewell” by any means. Tickets are $49 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a packed October that includes two sold-out Van Morrison shows, so consider these other great events. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 20, country music singer and songwriter Randy Houser will be performing. He’s known for penning the hit country song “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” with Jamey Johnson, which was recorded by Trace Adkins. He’s also had success with his song “Boots On.” Tickets are $45 to $65. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 26, blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa (upper right) will be in concert. Bonamassa is on the list of modern greats in the blues world, and he’s performed with Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, Buddy Guy and many others. He was opening shows for BB King before he was 18. Tickets are $89 to $149. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, renowned crooner Johnny Mathis will be stopping by. After 65 years in the industry, Mathis is Columbia Records’ longest-signed artist. He’s never had a slump and has continued to perform sold-out shows all over the world. However, this show hadn’t sold out as of our press time, so get your tickets quick! They’re $90 to $120. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has some compelling Saturday events in October. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 14, Latin-music star Espinoza Paz will be performing. In Mexico, they call him “the people’s singer-songwriter.” He’s one of the most popular performers there, and if you’re a Latin-music fan, this is one you won’t want to miss. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, controversial comedian Andrew Dice Clay will do his act. The Diceman is known for his extremely raunchy comedy, and he smokes while offending the masses. Women’s groups have put him on their hit lists, and he’s been banned by many television networks. Warning: His comedy is not for the faint at heart. Clay also believes that Donald Trump stole his comedy routine and used his persona during his presidential campaign. Tickets are $30 to $50. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a busy October—but it seems most of the shows are already sold out. However, at noon, Saturday, Oct. 7, you can get out your lederhosen for Oktoberfest. There will be authentic Bavarian brews and brats, as well as some fun and games. Tickets are $20 to $30. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Stop me if I am repeating myself: Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a busy October … but some of the shows have already sold out. However, as of this writing, there were still tickets left for some great events. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, jazz organist/pianist and gospel musician Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles will be performing. He’s a two-time Grammy Award winner, and he played the Apollo Theater when he was just 6 years old. His 2016 album The Revival reached No. 5 on the Billboard gospel chart. Tickets are $20. At 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 20, indie-supergroup The Skiffle Players (below) will visit. This band includes Cass McCombs and members of both Beachwood Sparks and Circles Around the Sun. This is a fantastic-sounding folk project that will be perfect for a night at Pappy’s. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, the Los Angeles string-band Moonsville Collective will play. Plan on hearing a lot of harmonies, mandolin, banjos and upright bass. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Now, for some shameless self-promotion: The Hood Bar and Pizza is where you will want to be at 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, for CV Independent Presents Sinner Sinners, Throw the Goat and Dali’s Llama. Sinner Sinners is a fantastic punk-rock band from Los Angeles—but its founders, Steve and Sam Thill, are from Paris, France. They’ve collaborated and toured with Eagles of Death Metal, and recently recorded a new album, Optimism Disorder, at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is back in action. Just so you know, at 7 p.m. every Sunday, owner Michael Holmes performs The Judy Show, a comedy-based drag show devoted to Judy Garland. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6, Kal David and Lori Bono and the Real Deal will take the stage. Kal David has had an impressive career; the native Chicagoan and his wife are residents of the desert and perform locally often. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, Iris Williams will be performing a benefit show for the Love and Love Tennis Foundation. The Welsh cabaret-style singer is well-known for her performance of the song “He Was Beautiful,” and she had her own television series on the BBC. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

There was a time when Woody Allen was consistently making the best movies in the business. Blue Jasmine is that return to form that some of us former Allen fans have been seeking, thanks in large part to a phenomenal central performance by the Oscar-nominated Cate Blanchett.

Blanchett plays Jasmine, the wife of a Bernie Madoff-type financier (Alec Baldwin) who must relocate from New York to San Francisco after she is bankrupted and emotionally destroyed. She gulps martinis, criticizes her helpful sister (Sally Hawkins, also an Oscar nominee) and, quite frighteningly, is prone to bouts of talking to herself.

Allen finds the dark humor in the story, and employs a supporting cast that includes comedians Louis C.K. and, most astonishingly, Andrew Dice Clay—who, doggone it, delivers an amazing performance as Ginger’s financially destroyed ex-husband, Augie.

Above and beyond the humor, though, Allen makes his film a parable about how some deeds are irredeemable, and some folks are simply doomed. It’s as bittersweet as any movie you will see. As far as the Allen film canon goes, it’s a Top 5 installment.

On top of the acting nominations, the film got a nom for Allen’s screenplay. It deserves the nomination. However, the film didn’t get nominations for Best Picture or Best Director—and Blue Jasmine is better than most of the films nominated in those categories. That’s a bit annoying.

This is one of those films in which everything comes together perfectly, with Blanchett at its powerful center. Yeah, Woody Allen is total scum, but he’s still making movies, and this is one of his best.

Special Features: As is usually the case with Allen releases, there’s not much here. You get a press conference and some quickie interviews. 

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

There was a time when Woody Allen was consistently making the best movies in the business—and Blue Jasmine is that return to form that some of us Allen fans have been waiting for, thanks in large part to a phenomenal central performance by Cate Blanchett.

Blanchett—sure to nab an Oscar nomination here—plays Jasmine, the wife of a Bernie Madoff-type financier (Alec Baldwin) who must relocate from New York to San Francisco after she is financially ruined and emotionally destroyed. She gulps martinis, criticizes her helpful sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), and, quite frighteningly, is prone to bouts of talking to herself.

Allen finds the dark humor in the story, and employs a supporting cast that includes Bobby Cannavale, Louis C.K. and, most astonishingly, Andrew Dice Clay, who, doggone it, delivers one amazing performance as Ginger’s financially destroyed ex-husband, Augie.

Above and beyond the humor, Allen makes his film a parable about how some deeds are irredeemable, and some folks are simply doomed. It’s as bittersweet as any movie you will see this year—or any year, for that matter.

As far as the Allen film canon goes, this is in the Top 5. It’s one of those films where everything comes together perfectly, with Blanchett at its powerful center.

Blue Jasmine is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews