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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Reviews

31 Jan 2016
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Heart is one of the most successful rock bands ever. One trivia tidbit: The band has now had a Billboard Top 100 album in five straight decades—with a Top 10 album in four of those five. With such an amazing résumé, the band is expected to deliver—and Heart certainly delivered on Friday night, Jan. 29, at Fantasy Springs. Heart was due to take the stage around 8 p.m. At that time, the house music changed, getting louder and sounding like stuff you’d hear in a yoga studio—but with a hard-rock edge. After about 10 minutes of that, the lights went down—and Heart started things off with “Kick It Out,” from the 1977 album Little Queen. “Heartless” then followed. I had never seen Heart perform live before, and within the first 10 minutes, it became clear that Heart’s reputation as a fantastic live band was well-deserved—and beyond. Ann Wilson’s vocals sound…
19 Jan 2016
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Forgive the odd comparison, but it’s true: Tony Bennett shares one thing with the late Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister—he can stand in one spot and effortlessly deliver an amazing performance. On Saturday night, Jan. 16, Tony Bennett returned to Fantasy Springs a year after performing a great show there. Saturday’s performance was also incredible; it was more jazz-focused than last year’s show was and featured a few surprises. However, many of Saturday night’s moments were repeats from last year’s gig, including a joke about how he did an album with Lady Gaga because she “needed the money.” The show also started off similarly: Antonia Bennett, Tony’s daughter, opened with a few songs. She also delivered a great performance—while pregnant! After she thanked the audience and walked off the stage, she said to pay attention to a message from the chairman of the board. A vintage audio clip then played of…
21 Dec 2015
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The Brian Setzer Orchestra has become known for profitably celebrating the holidays. The group has released four Christmas albums and has gone on several holiday-themed tours over the years—so it’s no surprise that the show on Saturday night, Dec. 19, at Fantasy Springs was nearly sold out. Setzer started off the show with the first track on Rockin’ Rudolph, the group’s new Christmas album: “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” a true classic. While the show might have been billed as a Christmas affair, Setzer made it clear early on that things were going to vary when he played “This Cat’s On a Hot Tin Roof” and then went back to his Stray Cats era with “Stray Cat Strut.” After “Stray Cat Strut,” it was time for him to switch out his signature Gretsch guitars: He traded his red guitar for a beautiful green one while receiving an ovation from the…
19 Oct 2015
As you drive in the dark to the Joshua Tree Music Festival on Highway 62, you have to look carefully for the right turn. As I tried to enter, I was met by a security person manning a handmade level barrier with the word “Alto” hand-painted on it. I stopped. Lucky for me, I am bilingual. This was the 10th year for the fall Joshua Tree Music Festival, which took place Oct. 8-11 at the Joshua Tree Lake Campground. This micro-festival takes place an hour away from the spot where those mega-festivals take place in Indio. With the help of volunteers, this is definitely a DIY affair. Familiar faces were everywhere, helping with everything from food to production to the construction of the grounds. Gene Avaro Jr. and the Family (which just finished a national tour with RCA recording artist Elle King) provided the soul of the festival: The musical…
05 Oct 2015
The Eighth Annual Desert Stars Festival brought more than 30 bands to two outdoor stages and one indoor stage at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 25 and 26. In other words, attendees really had some tough decisions to make regarding which bands to see. The Desert Stars Festival is a traditional celebration of all things desert. Promoter Tommy Dietrick started the event as the Clean Air Clear Stars Festival in 2007, and changed the name in 2013. Via the festival, Dietrick did a excellent job of promoting the galactic efforts by the Mojave Desert Land Trust. MDLT had a petition table to urge POTUS to create several new land monuments. Dietrick reminded everyone to sign the petition and thanked MDLT for preserving 60,000 acres in the desert. To my surprise, I ran into some music fans I met at a metal show in Orange County, and a…
02 Oct 2015
Oakland’s Shannon and the Clams appeared at Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Sept. 24, in support of the group’s fourth album, Gone by the Dawn, which dropped Sept. 11. The front of the stage was crammed, with one fan dressed in an undersea-themed outfit. You could feel the love for the band as fans talked about the building excitement. The band’s sound can be described as retro doo-wop, with some influence from early ’80s California surf punk. “It is an extreme pleasure to play here,” said Shannon Shaw, the lead vocalist and bassist, as she positioned herself onstage. “This is the best place we have played.” Shannon has a voice somewhere between a soprano and a tenor. She plays a glittery Danelectro bass, and she can be distracting as you listen to her sing as she plays the bass with amazing intricacy. Those in attendance were ready to hop the…
14 Sep 2015
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Back in July, Little Big Town was scheduled to perform at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. Just a couple of weeks before the scheduled July 3 show, the quartet released a statement saying Jimi Westbrook needed surgery to remove a polyp from one of his vocal chords. Little Big Town said the band would reschedule all of the cancelled shows—and the group made good on the promise to perform at Fantasy Springs, on Friday night, Sept. 11 The night began with an opening performance from Ashley Monroe. Monroe has had a lot of success in her brief career. The Nashville star has a side project known as the Pistol Annies with Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley, and has performed with Jack White and Third Man Records. Unfortunately, her performance was a little flat on Friday. There wasn’t much to her sound at times, and some of her live material just didn’t…
04 Sep 2015
Campout 11 came to Pappy and Harriet’s for three days starting last Thursday, Aug. 27, bringing to Pioneertown the annual migration of “Campers” and “Crumbs” fanatics from all over the United States, Canada and even the United Kingdom. Custom, of course, dictates that there are dress themes everyday. Thursday’s unofficial theme was “Pink,” in commemoration of fan Karen Pratt-Mills, aka “KPM,” who passed earlier this year due to cancer. A sea of pink demonstrated the strong bond among this family of music fans. The Hickman-Dalton Gang was the first band to perform inside. Hickman entered stage-right, strapped on his Gibson Les Paul “Lucky Seven” guitar and said: “Lots of love for Karen.” Johnny Hickman was wearing a pink KPM sticker in the style of the ETG logo (Eurotrash Girl). Claire Wilcox, one of the Queen Crumbs, told me Nancy Wheeler produced the sticker to hand out to fans with the…