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Fri09222017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

TRIO Closed Indefinitely After Early-Morning Fire

Sometime around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2, a fire broke out in the parking lot behind TRIO Restaurant, located at 707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The ever-popular restaurant suffered significant smoke and water damage during the fire—and is now closed indefinitely.

In the aftermath of the blaze—which also devastated the neighboring Shag Store—TRIO owner Tony Marchese said he hoped Trio would reopen by Labor Day weekend. However, in late August, he announced via TRIO’s Facebook page that the cleanup and other work would not be completed by then.

Keep your fingers crossed for a reopening date sometime in mid-late September.

Authorities deemed the fire “suspicious,” but had not released any further concrete details as of our press deadline.

Watch www.facebook.com/TrioPalmSprings for updates.


Village Pub Closed for 'Rehab' After Liquor-License Violations

Whoever is in charge of the spin effort regarding the month-long closure of the Village Pub—at 266 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs—deserves a raise.

Here’s what happened: The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control suspended the Village Pub’s liquor license for 30 days due to a couple of major violations: A now-former employee “battered” a customer, and the pub had a bar manager who did not meet the state’s qualifications.

Oops. Well, how did the Village Pub handle the mess? The brilliant answer: Management ’fessed up and embraced the punishment.

Managers did TV interviews. Owners answered reporters’ questions. They announced the closure—which was cleverly branded as the bar’s “Rehab”—would take place starting Thursday, Aug. 24. They said that between then and a planned Saturday, Sept. 23, reopening, they’d “clean, refresh and retrain.” And they announced some great parties—some pre-“Rehab”-themed—before the closure.

Bravo for the PR effort … but not so much for the rules violations.

Watch www.facebook.com/villagepubpalmsprings for updates.


In Brief

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club, at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, is holding its sixth annual Craft Beer Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9 and 10. A craft-beer festival, a beer brunch and all sorts of other events are on the docket; get details, tickets and reservations at www.acehotel.com/palmsprings. … Congrats to our friends at Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill. On Sunday, Aug. 20, the restaurant, at 350 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, celebrated the two-year anniversary of its wildly popular Desert Divas Drag Brunch. The Sunday brunch and the show are a steal at $16.95; get info at rioazulpalmsprings.com/drag-brunch. … When Johnny Costa’s Ristorante, at 440 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, reopens for its 42nd season on Friday, Sept. 1, it’ll have a new look. “The new concept has a modern feel with exotic woods and soft earth-tone colors,” according to a news release. “The beautification of the dining room will feature new carpet, all new upholstery and seating, and new paint throughout the restaurant. Custom angled framed mirrors will showcase the walls; new chandeliers, sconces and other enhancements will allow the dining experience to be more intimate.” Visit johnnycostaspalmsprings.com for more info. … After a series of violent incidents at The Block Sports Bar and Grill, 68955 Ramon Road, in Cathedral City, the city shut down the restaurant on Aug. 10, apparently due to an expired business license. However, management jumped to resolve the paperwork issues, and reopened two weeks later. Watch www.facebook.com/theblocksportsbar for updates. … Coming very soon to the space at 68525 Ramon Road, in Cathedral City, that most recently housed Mike’s American Bistro: Bubba’s Bones and Brews. Watch this space for more information. … Coming soon: The valley’s fourth Koffi, to Tahquitz Plaza, at 600 Tahquitz Canyon Way, in Palm Springs. It’ll be the third Palm Springs location for the popular hangout; watch www.kofficoffee.com for more information. … Fans of the Desert Fox Bar, which called downtown Palm Springs home until closing in 2015, have cause to celebrate: The bar is making a return, at 44750 San Pablo Ave., in Palm Desert. Watch www.facebook.com/desertfoxbar for an exact opening date. … New to Palm Desert, specifically the Westfield Palm Desert mall: Burgerim, a “gourmet” chain burger joint. Customers who sign up can get all sorts of free food during a grand opening celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 13; visit www.facebook.com/BurgerimPalmDesert for info and signup details. … Grocery-delivery service Instacart has come to the Coachella Valley. For $5.99, you can get your grocery order of $35 or more—from stores including Stater Bros., Ralph’s, Smart and Final, Petco, Whole Foods and Costco—delivered to your door. Get more info at www.instacart.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Many of the Coachella Valley’s larger art galleries tend to hibernate during the summer heat. The (relative) exodus of tourists provides time for them to prepare new exhibitions for the fall.

But the need to experience art doesn’t go on vacation—and this time of year provides art-lovers with a great opportunity to shift focus and find art in public settings and smaller venues that promote local talent.

In Palm Springs, the “Lucy Ricardo” sculpture by Emmanuil Snitkovsky sits on a bench near the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at 211 S. Palm Canyon Drive, while the “Rainmaker” sculpture by David Morris inspires in Frances Stevens Park at 500 N. Palm Canyon Drive. There are also impressive works called “Monsieur Pompadour” and “Mademoiselle Coco” by Karen and Tony Barone greeting people at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, 4575 E. Mesquite Ave.

In Palm Desert, you can stroll through four acres of the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert (72567 Highway 111), while the Rancho Mirage Public Library often features exhibitions by local artists and photographers. The “Coachella Walls” mural resides on the side of a downtown building in Coachella and is accompanied by other murals on buildings opposite Dateland Park.

La Quinta has numerous works of art surrounding the Civic Center Campus. In Indio, you can find the “History of Water in the Coachella Valley,” a massive painting by Don Gray, on the south wall of the Indio Performing Arts Center, 45175 Fargo St. Each of these cities has maps that will guide you to the various works of art throughout their communities on their websites.

You can pop in and find original art in various hotel lobbies, like the knotted macramé rope curtain, woven from 1.5 miles of cotton rope by Michael Schmidt, at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs. “A Day in the Life at Saguaro,” by local artist Sarah Scheideman, features dioramas of Barbie dolls at The Saguaro.

Back in Palm Springs, retail favorite Just Fabulous, at 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, has works by numerous artists displayed on the walls. Smaller galleries like Gallery500, located inside The Five Hundred building, 500 S. Palm Canyon Drive, provide a showcase for emerging artists like Christopher Williams.

“I got into Gallery500 through the Desert AIDS Project. They have a program that helps to find venues and create opportunities,” Williams said. “Responses to my art have been good—a lot of positive feedback. Because of showing at Gallery500, I feel more positive about my work, and I even sold a couple of pieces there.”

The point: Art is everywhere in the Coachella Valley, and it often doesn’t require an admission ticket.

Not all of the big galleries and museums close their doors during the summer. The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission every Thursday throughout the summer from noon to 8 p.m. The museum’s Annenberg Theater will show a free film, Paris, Texas, at 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 17. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Published in Visual Arts

The Coachella Valley is home to many arts festivals—but the new Desert X is unlike any arts event ever done here before.

Desert X, short for the Desert Exhibition of Art, is a site-specific contemporary art exhibition, spread out throughout the Coachella Valley, from Feb. 25 through April 30. Artists contributing installations include Date Farmers’ owner Armando Lerma, Doug Aitken, Norma Jeane and many others.

The president of the Desert X board of directors is Susan Davis, the editorial director at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands.

“It’s a valley-wide exhibition. A curator put together a list of artists who we invited to the desert to choose sites that specifically resonated in them,” Davis said. “They created works specific to those sites. There will be about 15 installations. One of them is up in Whitewater, and the farthest (east) are in Indio and Coachella. We will also have pieces in Palm Springs, Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage as well. The pieces will be available to view for free for anyone who wants to visit or happens upon them.”

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs will serve as the Desert X headquarters.

“People will be able to get maps and get information, and we’ll be offering bus tours on Saturdays and Sundays,” Davis said.

Davis touted the wide reach of Desert X’s participants.

“These are all artists with international reputations who are in major museums throughout the world,” she said. “It’s very exciting. We’re working with a number of local cultural organizations who have become our program partners. We have the Palm Springs Art Museum. Sunnylands is going to host one of the pieces. (Local student film festival) Digicom has a number of students in the local schools who are using these pieces to create documentary films, and we’re working with Modernism Week. The parallel projects are projects that have been selected through a series of criteria and include things up in the High Desert as well as an exhibition at the Marks Center for the Arts at College of the Desert.”

Davis offered hints about what people can expect at the installations.

“In the case of the project that’s out in Palm Desert in Adams Park, Claudia Comte chose that location and created a piece that echoes the landscape,” Davis said. “The shape of the wall is from her standpoint and echoes the mountains and the landscape.

“Another artist, Jeffrey Gibson, whose piece is going to be in the sculpture garden at the (Palm Springs) Art Museum, was inspired by the windmills. He went through a process where he wanted his piece on the wind farms, but as it evolved, he realized that it would better speak to being in Palm Springs, because he’s a Native American and was very interested in the confluence in Palm Springs of Native Americans, the LGBT community and the alternative energy history. All of the artists have created pieces for those places specific to the ideas that resonated in them and influenced them.”

Davis said she had the idea for Desert X after attending biennials and big festivals in other cities.

“The purpose is to show off a city or an area as a cultural destination, and to highlight contemporary art simultaneously,” she said. “… After Hurricane Katrina, they had an exhibition every three years to bring people back to New Orleans to show that the city was growing back after the flood, and that it was a vibrant community. It was bringing people back, which was good for the economy and showcased contemporary art.

“I’ve been living in the valley for about seven years, and my background and my passion is contemporary art. … Contemporary art exhibitions could fill a vacuum here in the valley. (Visitors) come for a number of things, but not contemporary art. They certainly don’t come for art at all. I thought this would also shine a spotlight on the Palm Springs Art Museum and also shine a light on the cultural richness here in the Coachella Valley.”

Davis said she’s excited about the potential that Desert X has to show off the Coachella Valley to visitors and locals alike, using Comte’s work at Palm Desert’s Adams Park as an example.

“It’s a way for all of us who live here to see the desert through the lens of contemporary art,” she said. “From my standpoint, the exhibition has already been successful, because people have already interacted with Claudia Comte’s work and started asking questions: ‘Is it political?’ ‘Is it a mirage?’ ‘What’s it doing here?’ ‘Is it staying here?’ ‘This should be permanent.’ It starts a conversation, and that’s one thing.

“The second thing is there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who don’t have a clue where Adams Park is. It shines a light on a beautiful part of Palm Desert for its residents and the people in the Coachella Valley.”

Desert X takes place from Saturday, Feb. 25, through Sunday, April 30, with installations across the Coachella Valley. For more information, visit www.desertx.org. Below: Phillip K. Smith III's "The Circle of Land and Sky," Palm Desert; mirror polished stainless steel; 165 feet diameter by 10 feet high (rendering).

Published in Visual Arts

New in Downtown Palm Springs: Moxie Palm Springs

For several years, Grind Brgr Bar languished on the second floor at 262 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs. I went to the Kaiser Restaurant Group-owned restaurant fairly frequently, because the burgers were good, and I loved the view. However, the place seemed constantly understaffed, and there was no vibe whatsoever.

Well, Grind is gone, as is its downstairs sister restaurant, The Chop House. In Grind’s place is Moxie Palm Springs—and it appears the charming second-story space (above what is now the Broken Yolk Café) is finally getting the treatment it deserves.

Don’t go to Moxie expecting a big, honking meal; instead, you’ll find salads, $4 bar bites (such as a single slider or a jicama shrimp taco) and “sharables” such as papas bravas ($8) and a charcuterie platter ($15). On the drink side, Moxie offers an innovative selection of “crafty cocktails” and “classy cocktails” for $11, and well drinks for $6—and you can knock a buck or two off those prices during happy hour, between 4 and 7 p.m.

Just as exciting as the food and drink, however, is the list of special events: A quick gander at Moxie’s Facebook page shows goings-on such as wine-tastings and live entertainment.

Moxie is open at 4 p.m. daily, and closes no later than midnight. For more information, call 760-318-9900, or visit www.facebook.com/moxiepalmsprings.


The Ace Looks to Taco Maria to Spice Up King's Highway Offerings

Forgive me if you’ve heard this before: The Ace Hotel and Swim Club, at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, has enlisted the aid of a highly regarded out-of-town restaurant to improve the food offerings at the King’s Highway restaurant.

This time, the help is coming from Taco Maria, the Costa Mesa restaurant that’s earned chef Carlos Salgado many awards; in fact, our friends at the OC Weekly have named it the best Orange County restaurant three years in a row.

It was just two years ago that I was telling you that the Ace had brought in Brooklyn, N.Y., restaurant Five Leaves to shore up the King’s Highway menu. Some of those changes were great—the Five Leaves burger was tasty, while the buttermilk fried Jidori earned a coveted Indy Endorsement from the rag you’re reading right now.

Despite these bright points, however, I’ve never really enjoyed eating at King’s Highway all that much—even though I would definitely qualify as an Ace regular. What came out of the kitchen over the last couple of years was inconsistent, while some of the prices were simply outrageous: Chips and salsa will set you back $9 in the Amigo Room. If you want the add “crushed avocado,” your total tab is $15. Really?!

So far, the changes I’ve seen to the menu have been encouraging. I’ll be curious to see what Salgado ultimately does as part of this culinary partnership. (Here’s hoping more-reasonable prices are among the changes!)

Visit www.kingshighwaydiner.com for more information.


In Brief

If you 1) love great food, 2) love great beer, 3) love a gorgeous restaurant atmosphere and 4) are reading this column fairly early, take note: You’ll want to be at the Purple Palm Restaurant, at the Colony Palms Hotel at 572 N. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, on Wednesday, Jan. 25, for the Winter Food and Beer Fest. According to this here news release, Purple Palm executive chef Nick Tall “has created a festive dinner of shared plates, all expertly paired with beer” from Coachella Valley Brewing Co. The evening—which starts with a reception at 6 p.m. and is followed by a sit-down dinner—costs $70. Call 760-969-1818 for reservations or more information. … Breakfast is becoming big in down Palm Springs: We recently heard a rumor that a veeeeery popular Palm Desert-area breakfast/brunch joint may be soon moving into the second-story space that The Falls Steakhouse used to call home, at 155 S. Palm Canyon Drive. We have not confirmed the rumor, so we won’t share any further details, but keep your eyes open and your fingers crossed. … Frenchy’s Sports Bar and Grill is now open at 2155 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in north Palm Springs, in the space the late, lamented Dickie O’Neal’s used to call home. Live entertainment and karaoke are in the mix along with the food and sports. Call 760-424-8765, or visit www.facebook.com/FrenchysPalmSprings.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Evan Enderle and Marissa Ross call themselves “Partners in Wine”—a playful turn of phrase. Not surprisingly, that’s exactly what the two of them bring to wine: playfulness.

That’s not to say they don’t know their stuff. During day two of a recent Wine Not? event—their regular weekend wine parties at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club—Evan was waxing poetic about the vibrant acidity of one of his favorite California rieslings while shirtless, in swim trunks. That is the beauty Wine Not?—it’s fun, but you learn. You’re drinking obscure varietals made by serious winemakers, but there is a DJ. Take note: The next and final Wine Not? of the year takes place Nov. 5 and 6 from 1 to 7 p.m. and will feature all female winemakers!

When they’re not sipping wine and swimming at the Ace, Evan and Marissa keep busy with other wine-related activities. Evan, formerly the bar manager at the rooftop bar at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, does freelance event production and is a hospitality consultant and occasional DJ. Marissa drinks wines and writes for her popular blog www.wine-allthetime.com and is the wine editor at Bon Appetit. She’s also writing a book, due out next year.

The three of us hung out poolside, drinking one of Marissa’s and my favorites, Vini Rabasco Vino Rosso “Cancelli,” out of delightful enamel wine tumblers designed by Marissa.

When did you first start getting into wine?

Evan: I’m from Missouri, where the first (American Viticultural Area) designation was given, and there is a surprisingly long history of winemaking. I’m not saying it’s all high-caliber stuff these days, but I was around it a lot as a kid. My mom drinks an inordinate amount of juice from a local winery, Les Bourgeois, particularly a bottle called Riverboat Red. Spoiler alert: It’s a sweet wine. I call her back home now, and she loves to say she’s “sailing on the riverboat.” I can’t touch the stuff now, but it was always more the culture of wine—the ritual of these folks gathering around a bottle in the backwoods—that intrigued me. I ran the rooftop bar at Ace Hotel in L.A. and wanted to bring that same spirit to the wine list there, so I’d drive around California and seek out thoughtful, well-made wines that people could celebrate with. I love wine itself, but I love the people, the smell of barrel rooms, the culture, the vineyards and the small towns in equal measure.

Marissa: I grew up in Southern California in the ’90s, and wine has always been the epitome of being a successful adult to me. I started drinking wine in college, and when I moved to Los Angeles, cheap wine was the only thing I could afford to drink—or eat, if we’re being honest! I was so broke. But I loved drinking it, and that eventually led me to be curious about other wines. Now six years later, wine is my entire life.

What was your first wine love?

Evan: I will always think fondly of the 2012 Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat.

Marissa: According to Internet history, it would be cabernet sauvignon, but cabernet is more like my first boyfriend I had when I was too young to understand what true love really is. I still love a good cab, but my first true love of wine, and forever love, is gamay. Nothing, to this day, gives me more butterflies than gamay.

What’s exciting about wine right now?

Evan: It’s not just the cabs and chards from California our parents drank in the ’90s anymore. There’s an influx of young winemakers coming in and sourcing vines that have been all but ripped up completely, planting grapes that have never been planted here, bringing pét-nat back to the masses. To quote Drake, “What a time to be alive.”

Marissa: To echo Evan’s sentiment, I think California is very exciting right now. I love all the wacky varietals and fermentations that the Golden State is playing with these days. I also love the natural wine movement, or as I confusingly like to call it, “low-intervention” movement. As someone who loves sour and salt, low-intervention wines are like my dream juice, and it’s crazy how these practices can change wines you think you know. For example, I fucking hate moscato—or I thought I did. I recently had one called Emma, a low-intervention wine, that was unlike any moscato ever. It wasn’t the sugary-sweet sorority-girl wine—it was bright and acidic, with a little meat on it. Incredible. That is so exciting to me—seeing varietals taken to places you’ve never seen them before, from the geography to the bottle.

What inspired you guys to start Wine Not? Why in Palm Springs?

Evan: Wine Not? was started to give small-production winemakers a platform. I think one of the more interesting byproducts has been to give the uninitiated a safe space to drink and learn. I see lots of people act sheepish around wine, because they don’t want to sound like they don’t know what they’re talking about. You don’t have to know everything about wine to enjoy it. No one can “know everything.” I’ve seen master sommeliers get stumped by a grape. We want to set folks free with good wine they’re not going to find just anywhere.

Palm Springs and Ace Hotel is that neutral territory: It’s not wine country, and it’s not a wine shop, so we’re catching people off-guard and in a safe space. Also, when a dude orders a glass of wine from us instead of a Jack and Coke, I sleep better at night. Maybe he’ll go home and stop by a wine shop and continue his journey.

Marissa: Wine Not? started sort of as an accident. I went to one of Evan’s events at the Ace in downtown Los Angeles, and we met and thought it’d be fun to host an event together. I really thought it was going to be a one-off thing. It turned out Evan and I were both passionate about small producers, low-intervention winemaking practices, and drinking outside of the dining room. Neither one of us was like, “All right, let’s start doing events monthly.” It was more like, “Hey, I love these wines—let’s share it with people!” Then suddenly, a year later, Wine Not? is a full-fledged monthly event, and Evan is one of my best friends. I’m so grateful for him, and for the Ace Palm Springs for giving us this amazing opportunity.

Your desert island wine?

Evan: The Tintero Bianco Secco covers a lot of ground. It’s mostly dry, a little frothy, affordable, drinks with food, drinks with me. I support that.

Marissa: The Brendan Tracey “Wah-Wah” red blend. Surprisingly, it’s not a gamay, but damn, is it close, with 75 percent grolleau (a rarer Loire Valley native grape used mostly for blends) and 25 percent côt (French malbec, but it’s much lighter than Argentinian malbec). It smells like barnyard lemonade, and tastes like poppy sour blackberries and ripe black cherries with hints of sea salt. I legitimately drink it like water, and I never cease to be delighted and thrilled by it.

Favorite Food Pairing?

Evan: Sparkling and any street food.

Marissa: Sangiovese and homemade pasta, or gamay and anything. I wanted to mix it up, but I cannot deny who I am—and gamay does go with everything! It’s the riesling of reds!

Favorite wine book?

Evan: Rajat Parr’s book (Secrets of the Sommeliers) was very generous. He’s a smart guy, but he doesn’t talk down to you in it. Also, did I mention Marissa’s book comes out next year?

Marissa:The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert. This sounds like a joke, and while, yes, it is a scratch-and-sniff picture book, so much of tasting wine is smelling it. It’s honestly the most useful wine book if you’re someone who wants to know more about wine, but isn’t interested in reading a novel on Mosel or some shit. … Oh, and my book—Wine. All the Time—of course!

What are you drinking now?

Evan: I discovered a new wine shop in Northeast L.A. called Rosso, which is my secret weapon. The Italian selection there is just bonkers, because the guy who runs it comes from an old family over there. There’s something about a nice Italian red and the smell of the leaves this autumn that is making me super emotional.

Marissa: Matassa “Coume de L’Olla” Rouge. It tastes like fresh, cold-pressed red Starburst juice.

What do you love about the desert?

Evan: I don’t think you have enough space in your column for all the things I love. Palm Springs is an inspiration to both Marissa and me. It’s like L.A.’s version of the Hamptons without the pretense. I want my bones buried in the mountains.

Marissa: When I was a kid, my family had a couple of places out in the desert, one off South Palm Canyon Drive. We’d spend one or two weekends out here a month, with my mom picking us up from school on any given cloudy day with our bags already packed. The desert came to represent an escape for me at a young age, and I could wax poetic about my love of it forever. It is my happy place—relaxing, rejuvenating and hedonistic all at once. My trips there as a kid cultivated an obsession with mid-century architecture and culture that permeates all of my work today. Even just the colors, like watching the Highway 111 sand turn into those rolling hills of green grass outside the communities across from the tram. It’s all heavenly to me.

Favorite places to go in the desert?

Evan: The Ace Hotel was the place I stayed when I first visited here. We owe them a great deal for giving us the platform to do our party out here and letting us run with it. We haven’t burned the place down yet, so that’s a relief. Obviously, we love Dead or Alive, and I’m not just saying that. And Revivals … I got what can only be described as a kimono made from rice sacks on my last trip, and let’s just say it’s turning heads.

Marissa: Las Casuelas Terraza has always been and will always be my favorite. I also love Mr. Lyons, and taking the boats around in the Palm Desert Marriott, although I wish they hadn’t ever remodeled it from its ’70s splendor). And most recently, Dead or Alive.

Palm Springs native Christine Soto is a co-owner of Dead or Alive wine bar in Palm Springs. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Wine

Daiana Feuer is well-known in the Los Angeles music scene—and she’s no stranger to the desert.

The L.A.-based freelance journalist and frontwoman of Bloody Death Skull also organizes a festival in Wonder Valley known as Deserted at the Palms. Finally, she’s a DJ, and is resuming a residency at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, with sets in the Amigo Room starting on Friday, Sept. 2, and continuing on Sunday, Sept. 11 and 18.

Bloody Death Skull shows are unique, to say the least. Feuer fronts the band on vocals and also plays the ukulele. The members are also known to dress up in costumes, and a female member often sits on the floor playing with action figures as the other members—including John and Bridgette Seasons of Haunted Summer—perform.

Feuer explained how she started creating music.

“I studied creative writing in college,” Feuer said during a recent phone interview. “I was inspired by what you can do with writing in song form; there’s just so much you can create. You can create these elaborate or strange moments and images through a song which hit you in a whole different way than what you can do with a story. I got really into that after grad school.

“I thought, ‘Mehhhh, I’m going to put the novel on the shelf; I’m going to write some songs!’ I picked up my friend’s ukulele; he was a lefty, but I picked it up and I was like, ‘Whoa, I’m in love!’ … It spoke to me and just fit the kind of songs I want to make. It sounds really great with those girl groups and those ’50s types of song structures—at least to me it does. Then I found an electric ukulele, which is a whole other thing.”

She said that when she started Bloody Death Skull with a friend, her interest in the arts influenced how they wrote songs and performed.

“We would write 10 songs in an hour as an exercise in creativity. I think that’s what fuels Bloody Death Skull: Immediacy, and not thinking so much—trusting that what comes out of you is real,” she said. “We’re really inspired by surrealism and those kinds of tactics that they use to create art.”

Bloody Death Skull performs a lot of covers of psychedelic rock songs—in the band’s own unique fashion, of course. Feuer described the kind of music that inspired the sound.

“I’d say it’s pretty much split between stuff like Roky Erickson and girl groups of the ’60s (like) The Shirelles and The Shangri-Las—all that teen pop of the early ‘60s,” Feuer said. “It’s between that and early psychedelic rock. Also, the proto-punk stuff like Richard Hell and Television.”

Deserted at the Palms has attracted some big names within the indie-music scene over the past couple of years. This past May, groups such as Fartbarf, Death Valley Girls and The Dead Ships performed. Interesting random fact, Feuer’s father, David Feuer, a rabbi, was at the door collecting entry fees and putting on wristbands.

“I love the desert. I love everything about it—the atmosphere, the nature and the weird locations that almost feel like they transport you to another universe,” she Feuer said. “The minute I stepped into the Palms, I said, ‘I have to do an event here!’ I just wanted to bring people to that place so they could experience it. Aside from bringing great music, I try hard not to change the environment too much. What people come to is the real thing of that venue and particular place. It’s so far out and unique. I go to a lot of big music festivals, given my background in journalism, and it’s fun, but I also think there’s something really beautiful (about) something not as crazy-ambitious and more about the environment that’s already there, and bringing a great soundtrack to that.”

Feuer has DJ’d at the Ace Hotel in the past—and having attended a performance in the past, I can tell you that you’ll hear a great variety of music.

“I did a residency there last year in September, too, so I’m coming back and doing it again,” she said. “I guess it varies between ’60s and ’70s, a lot of rock, pop, psychedelic and garage, and music from now that carries the torch of those genres. There’s something about those decades that I’m really drawn to, so I look for a lot of music from that time period. … I think the biggest pat on the back for a DJ is when someone comes up to you and asks, ‘What’s this song?’ I kind of strive to have people discover their favorite new song when I DJ. Through journalism, I’m exposed to a lot of new music, so I want to give that stuff exposure, too.”

Feuer explained what makes the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, where DJ Day was once a resident, a great place for people who aren’t run-of-the-mill DJs.

“I think that they really try to find DJs who have a statement about music,” Feuer said, “people who are crate-diggers and tastemakers themselves in whatever they do. I’m not a typical DJ, and I don’t DJ for a living, but I have so much exposure and taste. They try to find people like that—people who don’t necessarily know what they’re doing in terms of turntables, but people who have an interesting approach to what’s in their bins.”

Daiana Feuer will be DJing at 11 p.m., Friday, Sept. 2; and 9 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 11 and 18, at the Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club. 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Admission to the 21-and-older event is free. For more information, call 760-325-9900, or visit www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

Published in Previews

Hotels, resorts and other venues have been offering up all sorts of music and entertainment to keep the Coachella crowds rocking since they began rolling into the valley last week. As the party continues through Sunday, April 24 (with Stagecoach to follow), the Ace Hotel and Swim Club is offering some truly unique musical experiences as part of its eighth-annual Desert Gold event.

“We like to work with a lot of programming partners for this week,” said Ace Hotel cultural engineer David Knight. “Creative partnerships and collaborations for this event include the David Lynch Foundation, and all of the mini-programs we have happening during the week.

“(This coming) weekend, on Saturday the 23rd, we’ll have Nancy Whang from LCD Soundsystem doing a show and playing on the Moog 55 system that we have upstairs in the Clubhouse. And on Sunday the 24th, we The Gaslamp Killer and Daedalus.”

You can also book your own time to play on the Moog. From Wednesday through Friday, April 20-22, between noon and 6 p.m., anyone (yes … anyone!) can book a 30-minute time slot to visit the Ace and play the Moog System 55 synthesizer that has been set up in the Clubhouse, which overlooks the hotel’s pool area. Under the guidance of a Moog sound engineer, you can sit in the seat of music greats like award-winning soundtrack composer Hans Zimmer; Keith Emerson of the band Emerson, Lake and Palmer; or Rick Wakeman of YES, to name a few.

There are original works by artist Jenny Sharaf to check out, too.

The Ace has numerous cultural events coming up beyond Desert Gold. “We do a lot of music programming, so we have DJs or bands appearing here in our Amigo Room on most weekends,” said Knight. “We have a great lecture series that we’ve been doing with Kim Stringfellow from the Mojave Project. It’s about the history of the Mojave Desert, covering different points of interest throughout the Mojave that most people might not know about. Kim does what she calls her field dispatches once a month where she combines video and audio with her lecture, and it’s all content that she creates herself.”

Access to Desert Gold is free, but RSVP to confirm your attendance. For weekend 2, visit the Ace webpage

Published in Snapshot

After six years at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, DJ Day has decided it’s time for his popular weekly ¡Reunion! party to come to an end.

He recently announced that the sixth-anniversary edition of ¡Reunion! on Thursday, March 31, will be the final show.

“Honestly, after six years every week, which is something like 320 nights, it begins to take its toll,” DJ Day said during a recent interview in Palm Springs. “Long story short, I just got burnt out on the whole nightlife thing. It’s run its course, and I’d like to start doing something else. I want to get back into recording music, and I’m ready to move on as a person and just take a different path in my life. It’s been great, but it’s also a very trying thing.

“When I first started out, I talked to someone who had a weekly in Portland, and she said, ‘It’s not easy. You’re going to have stretches of good times and stretches of bad times.’ It’s been up and down lately, but it’s on an upswing right now, so I figured it was time for me to leave on a good note.”

For the past few months, DJ Day’s good friend and regular guest at ¡Reunion!, Aimlo, has not been present.

“(Aimlo) is moving away and hasn’t been coming since the end of last year. For the past three months, he’s been doing his own thing and gearing up for the move,” DJ Day said.

DJ Day, whose birth name is Damien Beebe, said the decision was completely his own, and that Ace Hotel management was surprised to learn about his decision, yet was supportive and understanding. He said he will continue his last-Saturday-of-the-month Highlife party at the Ace.

“The Ace Hotel didn’t even see this coming. I’ve been kicking around the idea for a year, and in my gut, something told me it was time to move on and do something different,” he said.

DJ Day said one of the things he enjoyed the most about ¡Reunion! was the vibe that could often be felt in the room—something I experienced myself many times.

“Trying to Rolodex through six years’ worth of shit is insane. There have been some crazy times, from people dancing on tables to trying to put money in my underwear,” he said. “The best times were (when the crowd was) willing to take a chance and trust me musically, and it creates this reciprocal feeling in the room where everyone is on the same vibe together. It’s a church-like vibe, and everyone has the same spirit going through them. It’s the best feeling I can get through music and playing other people’s music.”

¡Reunion! has featured many amazing guests. The first ¡Reunion! I attended was in 2013 during Coachella, when Flying Lotus showed up and performed a surprise set in the Amigo Room.

“There have been times when I didn’t even know who was in the room just hanging out,” DJ Day said. Lykke Li was in there chillin’ one night in a booth; Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine was there one night, and just other random people. You never knew who would be at the Ace.

“During the first two years, we’d have special guests once a month. Jeremy Sole (of KCRW radio) put together this flier, and I was trying to remember all of the people who came through, but it’s a pretty big list of folks. I just wanted it to be a place where people could come and hang out … and be comfortable. That’s why it’s ‘¡Reunion!’—it’s a place for people to come together. I wanted to create a good vibe, and I’m proud to say we never had any fights or dumb shit happen in six years.”

Along with Aimlo, the aforementioned Jeremy Sole was a regular guest at Reunion, and other local DJs such as Pawn, Pedro Le Bass, JF//Discord and Independent resident Alex Harrington often joined the party. There has always been a spirit of collaboration and openness.

“I’m very happy to be part of anyone else’s success, or give people a platform to do their art of playing their music when they never had (a platform) before,” DJ Day said. “I love being part of the community here and being part of the future of young people. For me to give a hand to anybody, it’s a great thing.”

Despite DJ Day’s busy touring schedule—including various international trips—he always came back home to play at ¡Reunion!

“I was on tour in Europe, and I remember coming back one night (and) getting off the plane at LAX,” DJ Day said. “I went home and showered, and went right to ¡Reunion!, because DJ Nu-Mark was playing that night. I wanted to go and just make sure everything was cool. My wife was like, ‘What the fuck you doing?’ And I was like, ‘Hey, I gotta be there.’

“What has taken its toll, in an emotional sense, is going overseas and playing for like 4,000 people in Tokyo, and coming back home to no love. It’d be like, ‘Where the fuck is everyone?’ I felt like people were starting to take this shit for granted, and it was like old reliable: ‘Oh, I’ll go next week,’ and next week becomes next month and on and on. Then you’re relying on the hotel guests, and that can fluctuate.”

DJ Day said ¡Reunion! has been a true learning experience, because he never knows what kind of crowd and vibe each Thursday night will bring.

“I have to be on my toes for whoever is there,” he said. “Some nights, it’s been straight party shit; other nights, I’m playing Portishead at fucking midnight. It just depends.”

DJ Day has talked about how much effort he put into his record Land of 1000 Chances, which was released in 2013. He said he’s a much different artist now than he was back then.

“Whatever music I choose to make now is coming from a totally different perspective, life-wise and internally, than where I was at that time,” he said. “That was a culmination of events that were going on behind the scenes both within myself and other areas of my life. That record addressed some of them, and I put my heart and soul into that record. I’ll still do that with the next one, but it’ll be from a different place. … I think I’ll be more of an optimist, and my taste has evolved and changed.”

What does DJ Day see himself doing on Thursday nights after the final ¡Reunion! show?

“Watching Better Call Saul on the DVR,” he joked. “No, actually, I don’t know. It’s going to be weird, and it’s going to be an adjustment. I’d like to spend more time with my family. That’s what I really want.”

DJ Day said he’s not sure what the future will hold for Thursday nights at the Ace.

“I’ve been there since Day 1—I used to do sets by the pool, so I’ve actually been there seven years,” he said. “I offered to find a replacement for me, whether it was Aimlo or Pawn, to continue that night, given they know it, but they might go in a different direction and do something completely different.”

DJ Day said he feels very thankful as six years of ¡Reunion! come to a close.

“I couldn't have done this without my man Aimlo, who's been there from Day 1, and my Ace Hotel family who have been nothing short of awesome,” he said. “I also want to give a tremendous thanks to all of the artists who've played ¡Reunion! and everyone who's come out and supported us throughout the years. Much love to you all.”

The Reunion Six-Year-Anniversary Farewell will take place at 9 p.m., Thursday, March 31, at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-325-9900, or visit www.acehotel.com/palmsprings. Below: DJ Day with Alex Callego.

Before I dive in to all of the great February goings-on around the Coachella Valley, I want to pay tribute to two big names in music we just lost.

Rest in peace, Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club will be holding a Modernism Week-themed event at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13: There will be a screening of Visual Acoustics in the Commune. The film is a celebration of modernist architecture and a joyful portrait of renowned architecture photographer Julius Shulman. Admission is free. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The McCallum Theatre is fully booked with great stuff in February. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5 and Saturday, Feb. 6, Frank Sinatra Jr. will be performing. The son of the Chairman of the Board is a great singer and will be singing in celebration of his father’s 100th birthday. Tickets are $61 to $111. Continuing with the Sinatra centennial celebration: At 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 14, crooner Steve Lawrence will take the stage. Lawrence was a close friend of Sinatra—in fact, when Sinatra retired, Sinatra gave Lawrence a book of his arrangements. Tickets are $67. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 24, get ready for a night of awesome country music: Wynonna Judd will be performing. After starting out as part of a smash-hit duo with her mother, Wynonna has been quite successful on her own. Tickets are $47 to $77. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa obviously made a wise choice when it booked with Johnny Mathis, considering his Feb. 13 show is sold out—but cheer up, because at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 12, you can rock out to Air Supply, or whatever it is crazy fans of Air Supply do. The Australian duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock has been soft-rocking since the ’70s and recently had a hit with “Desert Sea Sky,” which was remixed and played in dance clubs. Tickets are $40 to $60. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a fine slate of February events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, the original Jersey Boy himself, Frankie Valli, will be performing. He was a member of the Four Seasons, and he had a spectacular solo career, so you won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 27, there will be a double bill with The Commodores and The Jacksons. Both groups have continued on without their famed frontmen, and to an extent, it’s worked for them both. The Jacksons’ reunion since Michael Jackson died in 2009 has come with mixed live reviews, though. Lionel Richie is currently not joining The Commodores, and it doesn’t look like he will anytime soon. Nonetheless, if you’re a real fan, you will enjoy both. Tickets are $39 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of great events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 6, easy-listening superstar Engelbert Humperdinck will be coming back. The ballad singer has spawned numerous legends, including one that claims he’s bagged an impressive number of women—a number that puts Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead and Gene Simmons of KISS to shame. Whether or not that’s true, there’s one thing he gave to us millennials … Fly with me, lesbian seagull! Tickets are $45 to $65. Are you a fan of the ’70s? Did you live through the ’70s but don’t remember it? Either way, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 20, the ’70s Time Machine Tour will take you back. Featuring performances by Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night, and Denny Laine of Wings, the show will happily invoke the decade of leisure suits, pet rocks, shag carpet, van living and waterbeds. Yay! Tickets are $35. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

As for Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace: I’m sure we’ll be hearing some very big announcements soon regarding outdoor shows for the spring and summer, especially with Coachella right around the corner. But in the meantime, the February schedule is wonderful. At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5, Joshua Tree locals Gene Evaro and the Family (right) will be appearing. Gene is one of the most talented musicians in the Coachella Valley; Alf Alpha has told me stories about Gene’s production skills in the studio as well. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 14, it will be time for local rock fans to rejoice and celebrate Eddie Spaghetti’s victory over throat cancer, because The Supersuckers are back! Funny story: I saw The Supersuckers in 1995 in Cleveland; the band was opening for White Zombie and the Ramones. Let’s just say The Supersuckers didn’t get a welcome reception that night—and I was one of the hecklers. But over time, The Supersuckers grew on me; they’re an excellent rock ’n’ roll band. Also worth mentioning: My friend Charlie Overbey will be opening. His new record The California Kid is awesome. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has one event we know about worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend—at a prom out of a John Waters film, that is—with Shannon and the Clams (below). Desert Hot Springs’ finest, Slipping Into Darkness, is also on the bill. Shurpadelic, dude! Admission is $10 at the door. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

The first Coachella Valley Beer Week—which I helped create—recently wrapped up after 10 days of craft-beer events all over the valley. On Nov. 14, the Indio BBQ and Beer Competition took place, and on that same day, La Quinta Brewing celebrated its second anniversary.

Now that these excellent events are over, where in the Coachella Valley can you go to enjoy the ever-expanding craft-beer revolution?

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club keeps up with trends in music, art, food and drink, and the folks in charge have updated the Amigo Room to carry more craft beer again. You can enjoy them in the dim, cavernous space, or brighten up by the pool.

In the northernmost reaches of Palm Desert, you’ll find the beloved La Quinta Brewing Co. and its taproom. On any given evening, you may find a local band playing, or women enjoying Koffi Porter ice cream floats during Ladies Night. The Heat Wave Amber and Tan Line Brown Ale beers recently returned, and the Napoleon barrel-aged beer was released for the brewery’s second anniversary. The biggest news of all: La Quinta Brewing just opened a taproom in Old Town La Quinta!

In Rancho Mirage, Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse has been serving up barbecue (just voted as the valley’s best by Independent readers) and craft beer since 2002. Try the award-winning Belgian Vanilla Blonde Ale, brewed with raisins and whole Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans. Babe’s also offers new, seasonal brews and a nice selection of other Southern California beers in the restaurant bar. Keep an eye out for the recently released DIPA, a hoppy pilsner, as well as an apricot tripel.

Babe’s neighbor at The River, the Yard House features 155 beers on tap. I’ve recently met knowledgeable bartenders there who will guide you in the right sudsy direction.

Schmidy’s Tavern is a favorite in Palm Desert among the younger crowd. Live music is a constant, and the pool tables are typically full. Enjoy beers on tap like Bell’s Midwestern Pale Ale, Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale and Ironfire Outcast Dead Barrel Aged Imperial Red Ale.

Up Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs is a restaurant offering a farm-to-concrete-table dining experience that’s industrial chic and progressive. While the menu at Workshop Kitchen + Bar is heavy with cocktails and duck fat, the spot also offers a nice selection of beer. With a 34-foot-long concrete communal table and lofty wood-trussed cathedral ceiling, you may feel as if you’re sharing beer steins in Bavaria.

A little closer to the heart of downtown Palm Springs is Bar. The street-art-friendly, chalet-inspired watering hole serves classic cocktails and a nice sampling of Southern California craft beers. Try the Picnic Eggs—deviled eggs with Sriracha and wasabi—with the War Gin beer cocktail, with gin and lemon honey pale ale.

The spirit of Sinatra is alive at the Purple Room Restaurant and Stage—but unlike hangouts of the ’60s, this swanky supper club offers a great selection of craft beers. In bottles, you can enjoy San Diego beers like Ballast Point Longfin Lager and Stone Pale Ale. On tap, enjoy CVB’s Desert Swarm, Babe’s Blackfin Lager, La Quinta’s Poolside Blonde and many other brews

Fame Lounge is an upscale cigar, wine and microbrew lounge located in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. At the bar, you’ll find a rotation of beers on tap. Recent finds: Stone Wootstout 2.0 and North Coast Indica IPA.

On Indian Canyon Drive, check out the progressive Vietnamese-American beer bar Rooster and the Pig. Try the banh mi burger with one of the California craft beers on draft. Chef/owner Tai Spendley also has a nice variety of Vietnamese beers in bottles.

What happens when you combine traditional Tokyo cuisine with American and Japanese craft beer? You get the upscale-casual Gyoro Gyoro, at Tahquitz Canyon Way and Palm Canyon Drive. The spot offers a nice selection of craft beers from the states and Japan, along with a variety of fantastic sake.

Beloved farm-to-table brewery Coachella Valley Brewing Co. also celebrated its second anniversary recently. Sustainability, creativity and passion are key ingredients in these exceptional beers. Be sure to check out head brewer Chris Anderson’s sour program, as well as the brewery’s Profligate Society, which features rare beers. Palms to Pines, the ever-popular Triple IPA brewed with locally foraged spruce tips and coconut palm sugar, will be released around mid-December.

On Highway 111 in Indian Wells, you’ll find So Cal chain Eureka! Currently, Eureka! boasts 20 impressive taps ranging from Stone’s Barrel Aged Brown Ale with Balaton Sour Cherries to Mother Earth’s Imagination Land. Watch for great beer-pairing events.

The Stuft Pizza locations in Palm Desert and La Quinta have become hot spots for watching the game and sipping your favorite suds. The “not just pizza” joint in Palm Desert has 15 taps, two of which rotate with the latest craft seasonals. There’s a reason why pizza and beer are a match made in heaven: The acids and tannins in wine tend to amplify the acidity of tomato dishes.

Wherever you go … take time to savor your beer and enjoy the craft-beer revolution! 

Published in The Beer Goddess

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