Hope Diamond will become the first local to perform at Desert Blues Revival on May 18.

The Agua Caliente Palm Springs has recently become one of the best places for entertainment in the valley. Two weekly series—Jazzville on Thursdays, and Caliente Comedy on Fridays—feature jazzy touring bands and up-and-coming comics, respectively, inside the Cascade Lounge.

The organizer of those series is now adding a Wednesday series, too: Desert Blues Revival will feature the great blues musicians in our area, as well as touring blues and indie-rock acts—starting on Wednesday, May 4, with the Woody Mankowski Blues Band.

Adam Levy’s Take Five Entertainment, the promoter behind Jazzville and Caliente Comedy, is now involved in a deeper collaboration with Agua Caliente Casino for this new endeavor.

“Before omicron, Jay Bednar, the director of nightlife at the casino, reached out to me—and it was his idea to bring blues to the casino,” Levy said during a recent phone interview. “Jay wanted to create something like what we’ve been doing with jazz for Jazzville, with the same kind of business model—reach out to touring national blues artists and some local legends, and create a series that downtown Palm Springs hasn’t seen for many years, since the Blue Guitar.

The late, lamented Blue Guitar was Kal David’s blues club above the Plaza Theatre.

“Omicron happened, and we kind of took a step back from it,” Levy said. “Now things are kind of opening up again. The name Desert Blues Revival came alive in partnership with the casino. Unlike Jazzville and Caliente Comedy, where it’s been something I’ve been fronting solely, this is the first collaboration with the casino creatively, so I’m pretty excited about that. I’m also excited about some of the really big blues groups, soul and even indie-rock bands coming through. For example, we got one of my favorite bands coming, Born Ruffians.”

Levy was elated to do the blues series—because he has a history with the blues.

“I grew up in a blues household; my dad is a longtime blues musician, and he’s done several albums with Big Jay McNeely, who was one of the greatest blues saxophone players around, and he’s played with Taj Mahal,” said Levy. “For me, to be able to touch on that genre, which is dear to my family, is pretty cool—but to marry that with the genre that I’m familiar with, rock ‘n’ roll specifically, is cooler. The whole concept is to really just create peaks and valleys with the season as seen with Jazzville. We don’t just do jazz; we do a lot of swing. We actually did our first blues show at Jazzville, and it sold out. Honestly, jazz and blues are kind of distant cousins—but I feel like rock and blues and soul, they’re like siblings.”

While local acts have been featured in Jazzville, Levy is excited to be including locals more in the new series.

Take Five Entertainment’s Adam Levy: “I’m just trying to bring the best quality big-city entertainment to my hometown.”

“Since day one, we’ve been consulting the local legends, and that includes Kal David and Deanna Bogart, Hope Diamond, and Tommy Castro,” said Levy. “These are big players in the blues genre who live here locally, and they are all on the books with us. These are folks who I feel like are the gatekeepers to blues music in our valley, and it’s just going to be a natural and authentic fit to have them be a big part of Desert Blues Revival. The goal is to get them at least one day a month during the series. In the books already, we have Hope Diamond. She’s a phenomenal musician. She sings a lot of blues and some jazz.”

Hope Diamond Blues will perform on May 18. Hope Diamond, aka Hope Deans, said she’s proud to be the first local to perform in the series.

“It was really a surprise and an honor,” said Deans. “I recently had an album come out; it’s called Awaken. … I’ve been on tour a little bit, and as an artist in the desert, a lot of people don’t know me as a blues artist; they know me as a jazz artist. In Awaken, there are elements that really represent the soul of blues in jazz. … I deal with a lot of blues artists; many of them are in the band, and they know how to swing it that way for me.”

Deans’ musical background serves as a prime example of how different genres can work together in harmony.

“I’ve been very blessed in that I come from a strong gospel background,” Deans said. “In that element with gospel as a young child in the ’50s and ’60s, a lot of the members in the choirs also at night play blues, so we are always used to that guitar twanging. Then R&B came along, and that was a beautiful product of the ’60s and ’70s. Transitioning between those three were always in my midst and ability, so it was very easy. Jazz became the flow that I had to really grow into, but I can honestly say that between blues, jazz, gospel and R&B, it’s really not so difficult for me. … I always bring the best guitar players and bass players so that they can turn it up when we need to.”

Deans, who was a partner in the recently closed Frankie’s Back Room, said she’s grateful for the opportunities venues like the Cascade Lounge provide.

“It was an Italian bakery in Cathedral City, and we built this room to seat about 70 people,” Deans said about Frankie’s Back Room. “So I was playing there for a while, singing and bringing in acts from all around—and then the pandemic hit. We closed, and I now play with a big band orchestra. It’s a funky, jazzy, 17-piece big band called the Paul McDonald Big Band. … Jazzville is classy, classy, classy. What a great new venue. I call it new still, because people are still discovering it. It is a very cool place to go to hear blues, as well as other genres.

“The (Cascade Lounge) sound system’s magnificent; the seating is comfortable, and you take a step outside if you need to go gamble a little bit. It’s got a great appeal, and the audience is attentive. You’re going to be able to hear the band, and that’s kind of different from places where there’s more smoking and drinking … but at the casino’s Cascade Lounge, where Jazzville is home, you get to hear all of the instruments and all of the voices.”

Levy said that while he’s happy to be spotlighting locals, he’s also looking forward to bringing in more out-of-town talent for locals to enjoy—both to the Cascade Lounge and beyond.

“I own a company called Take Five Entertainment, and I also run the website eventspalmsprings.com,” said Levy. “That website was born to just house all the different kinds of events that I’ve already done instead of creating individual (pages) for each one, and my company … has also landed a deal with the city of Indio to produce outdoor concerts to the public for all ages. We bring food trucks; we have games for the family; we do some screenings, which is a lot of fun. We do that every second Saturday. Another venture that I’ve been working on is event staffing … and then I am working on a couple of comedy tours, and I’m also hoping to do a couple comedy shows at The Show in Rancho Mirage.

“I’m just trying to bring the best quality big-city entertainment to my hometown, which is honestly still my No. 1 mission. My overall mission is just to keep bringing rad stuff that we don’t have to drive out of town for.”

The Desert Blues Revival concert series takes place every Wednesday at 7 p.m. inside the Cascade Lounge at Agua Caliente Palm Springs, 401 E. Amado Road. Tickets start at $10. For tickets or more information, visit www.eventspalmsprings.com/blues.

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Matt King

Matt King is a freelance writer for the Coachella Valley Independent. A creative at heart, his love for music thrust him into the world of journalism at 17 years old, and he hasn't looked back. Before...

One reply on “Blues and Beyond: The Desert Blues Revival Series Brings Both Local Legends and Touring Greats to the Agua Caliente Palm Springs”

  1. The Desert Blues Revival at the Cascade Lounge, we discovered the music there on May 11th after reading Matt Kings’ article. The band featured was ‘Celso Salim and Darryl Carrier it was a fantastic performance a true revival of the blues. The Cascade Lounge is a terrific venue great sound system, Celsos talent left us in awe and wanting more!

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