CVIndependent

Wed10232019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The holiday season is upon us, which means things hectic, and you may feel the need to escape—or find something to that doesn’t involve shopping. Fortunately, there are plenty of great events going on in December (especially in the first two-thirds of the month) for people looking to escape, as well as people looking to celebrate the holidays.

The McCallum Theatre has an awesome December schedule. If you missed Merle Haggard at Stagecoach back in April, you’ll be happy to know the Okie from Muskogee will be coming back at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 2. Haggard, one of the creators of the Bakersfield sound, has written an astonishing number of great country songs throughout his long career. Tickets are $77 to $97. At 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 15, there will be a performance of The Nutcracker performed by the Los Angeles Ballet. Tickets are $27 to $87. At 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20, country star LeAnn Rimes perform a Christmas-themed concert. Back in the ’90s, Rimes captured the admiration and support of people everywhere as a star at the age of 13. She’s since carved out a fine career, with two Grammy Awards, a Country Music Association Award, 12 Billboard music awards and an American Music Award to her credit. Tickets are $37 to $87. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some great holiday events on the schedule. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, you’ll know it’s time for Christmas when Mannheim Steamroller returns. This is the 31st year that Mannheim Steamroller has taken its rock and electric-synth style Christmas show on the road; the concert includes dazzling multimedia effects, too. The group has sold 28 million copies of Christmas albums! Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19, it will be time to boogie for the holidays when The Brian Setzer Orchestra takes the stage. Setzer’s swing/rockabilly holiday shows have become a Christmas tradition; if you haven’t had the pleasure, check it out. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a light schedule, but there are two great events you should to know about. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4, Mama, the star of Mama’s Family, and comedienne Vicki Lawrence will be performing her “Two Woman Show.” Tickets are $20 to $40. If you don’t have plans for New Year’s Eve, you’ll be happy to know that at 10:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 31, former Runaways member Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (right) will be rocking into 2016. Forget attending those expensive parties where you stand in line all night to buy expensive drinks, and create fond New Year’s Eve memories with a legend! Tickets are $60 to $80. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a great list of December shows. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 17, Brant Bjork and the Low-Desert Punk Band will take the stage. Bjork, a founder and former drummer of desert rock gods Kyuss, performed at Coachella back in April. If you call yourself a fan of desert rock, you need to get your ass to this show—because Bjork delivers live. Tickets are $15. At 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 26, you can celebrate the day after Christmas with The Evangenitals. If you had a good Christmas, the Evangenitals will make it even better! If you had a bad Christmas, the Evangenitals will have you laughing, therefore lifting you out of your holiday blues. It’s become a tradition at Pappy’s to have the Evangenitals perform after Christmas, so go partake! Admission is free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed has some nice things happening in December. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4, things are going to get festive thanks to EeVaan Tre and the “Holiday Show.” EeVaan and the boys have quite an impressive R&B act, so you know their holiday show is going to be something you don’t want to miss. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, the vibe will be quite different, because rapper Paul Wall will be performing. The Houston-based rapper has been going since 1998 and has had songs on the charts. Tickets are $20 to $23. If you were concerned the Date Shed’s schedule was initially missing some performers who come back year after year … relax: Ghostface Killah is indeed returning to the venue, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19. Ghostface, a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, performed a hop, skip and a jump from the Date Shed at Coachella back in April with fellow Wu-Tang member Raekwon. Tickets are $28 to $38. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has released a list of nice events for the month. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4 rock/reggae band Fayuca will be stopping by; Machin’ and DJ Alf Alpha will also perform. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 10, you’ll be happy to know that Chicano Batman (below) will be coming back to perform at The Hood—and, of course, their compadres Slipping Into Darkness are also on the bill. Yay! Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Tryst Bar and Lounge continues to diversify downtown Palm Springs’ music offerings, with free shows at 10 p.m. virtually every Tuesday and Saturday. The month’s highlights include Derek Jordan Gregg on Tuesday, Dec. 1; and local metal-punk favorites Gutter Candy on Tuesday, Dec. 22. Tryst Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-832-6046; www.facebook.com/trystpalmsprings.

Published in Previews

On the surface, this “Best Of” package may seem pretty simple: It’s a list of winners and finalists in more than 115 categories, as voted on by Coachella Valley Independent readers, along with a handful of staff picks and photos—with a feature on the Best Local Band thrown in for good measure.

But if you look a little deeper, you’ll see these results paint a fairly interesting picture of the Coachella Valley as it stands today. For example: The fact that such varied and diverse local bands, musicians and DJs were chosen by our readers as winners and finalists points to an increasingly varied and diverse local music scene. If you peruse the places selected as winners and finalists in the various food and restaurant categories, you’ll discover the vast majority of them are locally owned places—pointing to an increasingly good local food scene.

On the flip side, you can find hints of deficiencies in the valley as well. For example: Because there are only three finalists in the Best Indian food category, one can guess there aren’t all that many Indian-food joints in the Coachella Valley. (In fact, you can guess there are probably three, give or take.) And a chain won in the Best Chinese category. ’Nuff said.

I could go on and on, but I won’t; I’ll simply leave you to the results instead.

Oh, one more thing (maybe two): Thank you to all of the many, many readers who voted—and congratulations to all of the winners and finalists. And mark your calendars: The Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016 Awards Party will be on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Details coming soon.

Welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016!

—Jimmy Boegle, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Arts

 

Best Art Gallery

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. Heather James Gallery

3. CODA Gallery

4. Archangel Gallery

5. Hohmann Fine Art

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Hood Bar and Pizza

4. The Show at Agua Caliente

5. Fantasy Springs Special Event Center

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre

3. Palm Springs Art Museum

4. La Quinta Arts Foundation

5. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

 

Best Local Band

The Flusters

 

Runners up:

2. IIIZ (formerly The Yip Yops)

3. War Drum

4. Thr3 Strykes

5. R. Buckle Road

 

Best Local DJ

Alf Alpha

 

Runners up:

2. DJ Day

3. Alex Harrington

4. House Whores

5. One4All/Tommy Locust

 

Best Local Musician (Individual)

Jesika Von Rabbit

 

Runners up:

2. EeVaan Tre

3. John Robbins

4. Steve Madaio

5. Kal David

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Sofia Enriquez

 

Runners up:

2. Michael Murphy

3. Elena Bulatova

4. Ryan “Motel” Campbell

5. Michael Weems

 

Best Movie Theater

Century Theatres at The River

 

Runners up:

2. Cinemas Palme d’Or

3. UltraStar Mary Pickford Stadium 14

4. Camelot Theatres

5. Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum

3. La Quinta Museum

4. Coachella Valley History Museum

5. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Empire Polo Club

4. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

5. La Quinta Civic Center

 

Best Theater Company

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Coyote Stageworks

5. Dezart Performs


Life in the Valley

 

Best Alternative Health Center

Palm Springs Healing Center

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Hot Springs Health and Wellness Center

3. Neuro Vitality Center (formerly the Stroke Recovery Center)

 

Best Farmers’ Market

Old Town La Quinta Certified Farmers’ Market

 

Runners up:

2. College of the Desert Street Fair

3. Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market (Saturday)

4. Palm Desert Certified Farmers’ Market (Wednesday)

5. Palm Springs VillageFest

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

4. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

5. Mizell Senior Center

 

Best Gym

World Gym Palm Desert

 

Runners up:

2. In-Shape Cathedral City

3. EOS Fitness Palm Springs

4. Palm Springs Fitness

5. World Gym Palm Springs

 

Best Public Servant

Congressman Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans

3. Palm Springs City Council Member Ginny Foat

4. Palm Springs City Council Member Paul Lewin

5. La Quinta City Council Member Robert Radi

 

Best Yoga Studio

Bikram Yoga University Village

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Art Scene

3. Urban Yoga

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes Bowling at Morongo

 

Best Auto Repair

Desert Classic Cars

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Andy’s Auto Repair

Palms to Pines Automotive

4. European Auto Service

5. OMAG Automotive Machine

 

Best Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Car Wash

3. TIE

Airport Car Wash

Desert 100% Hand Car Wash

5. Red Carpet Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

The Living Desert’s Palo Verde Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Moller’s Garden Center

3. Moorten Botanical Garden

4. Bob Williams Nursery

 

Best Pet Supplies

PetSmart

 

Runners up:

2. Cold Nose Warm Heart

3. Petco

4. Bones ‘n’ Scones

5. Pet Oasis

 

Best Annual Charity Event

La Quinta Arts Festival

 

Runners up:

2. Paint El Paso Pink (Desert Cancer Foundation)

3. Evening Under the Stars (AIDS Assistance Program)

4. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards Gala (Desert AIDS Project)

5. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

 

Best Place to Gamble

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

3. Morongo Casino Resort Spa

4. Spa Resort Casino

5. Spotlight 29

 

Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. KMIR Channel 6

3. CBS Local 2

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. Ginger Jeffries, KMIR Channel 6

3. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

4. Jenifer Daniels, CBS Local 2

5. Gino LaMont, KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Radio Station

KCRW 89.3 FM

 

Runners up:

2. Q102.3 Classic Rock

3. Mix 100.5

4. The Bull 98.5

5. K-News 94.3

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Jim "Fitz" Fitzgerald, 103.9 FM The Breeze

 

Runners up:

2. Jeff Michaels, Big 106 (KPLM)

3. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3

4. Dan McGrath, 103.1 Sunny FM

5. Joey English, K-News 94.3

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. Crystal Fantasy

3. The Book Rack

4. Just Fabulous

5. Revivals

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley

 

Runners up:

2. Best Buy

3. Barnes and Noble

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Barnes and Noble

3. JB Sports and Varsity Jackets

 

Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Runners up:

2. Riviera Palm Springs

3. Renaissance Indian Wells Resort and Spa

4. La Quinta Resort

5. The Saguaro

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty

 

Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Red Panties Boutique


Fashion and Style

 

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Bobby G’s

 

Runners up:

2. Grayse El Paseo

3. Wil Stiles

4. R&R Men’s Wear

5. Glossy

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

TIE

Angel View

Revivals

 

Runners up:

3. Gypsyland

4. Resale Therapy

5. The Fine Art of Design

 

Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Misty’s Consignments

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Scandinavian Designs (formerly Plummers)

 

Best Antiques/Collectibles Store

The Estate Sale Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. Antique Galleries of Palm Springs

4. Victoria’s Attic Antiques

5. The POP Shop

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

Leeds and Son

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo Jewelers

3. The Jewelry Bar

4. Hephaestus

5. B. Alsohns Jewelers

 

Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Dishwater Blonde

3. Brien O’Brien Salon

4. Razors

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Spa

JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Resort

3. Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa

4. Studio M

5. Miracle Springs

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Rancho Mirage Florist

3. Palm Springs Florist

4. The Flower Company

5. Vaso Bello Celebrations

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

The Tattoo Gallery

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

Strata Tattoo Lab

4. Art and Ink Tattoo Studio and Design

5. Contrast Tattoo Studios

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. Ooh La-La de Paris

4. Desert Eyecare Center

5. Old Town Optometry


Outside!

 

Best Urban Landscaping

Sunnylands

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo

3. Palm Springs (downtown)

4. Rancho Mirage (general)

5. Palm Springs International Airport

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. El Paseo

4. Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the PS Art Museum Palm Desert

5. Palm Desert Community Gardens

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Palm Springs (general)

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta (general)

3. Frank Sinatra Drive

 

Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Idyllwild

3. Indian Canyons

4. Whitewater Preserve

5. Tahquitz Canyon

 

Best Hike

Indian Canyons

 

Runners up:

2. Bump and Grind Trail

3. Painted Canyon

4. Palm Springs Art Museum Trail

5. South Lykken Trail

 

Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Francis Stevens Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5

3. Yellow Mart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Cyclery

3. Tri.A.Bike

4. Mike’s Bike Truck

 

Best Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5

3. The Sports Authority

 

Best Public Golf Course

Indian Wells Golf Resort

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Willow Golf Resort

3. Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort

4. SilverRock Resort

5. The Lights at Indio GC


For the Kids

 

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Cathedral City Town Square

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Toys “R” Us

 

Runners up:

2. Target

3. Mr G’s For Kids

4. Big Lots

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Crazy 8

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Islands

4. Ruby’s

5. Burgers and Beer

 

Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Wet ’n’ Wild

3. Children’s Discovery Museum

4. Boomers

5. Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum

3. TIE

Boomers

Chuck E. Cheese’s

5. Peaks Restaurant (Top of the Tram)


Food and Restaurants

 

Best Casual Eats

Eureka!

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Stuft Pizza

4. Bill’s Pizza

5. Pho 533

 

Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Lavender Bistro

3. Dash and a Handful

4. Desert Cities Catering

5. Lynn Hammond

 

Best Diner

Keedy’s Fountain Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. King’s Highway at the Ace

4. John’s

5. Bit of Country

 

Best Organic Food Store

Whole Foods

 

Runners up:

2. Sprouts Farmers Market

3. Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods

4. Nature’s Health Food and Café

5. Harvest Health Foods

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Cafe

4. Real Italian Deli

5. It’s a Deli

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Pastry Swan Bakery

5. Exquisite Desserts

 

Best Desserts

Manhattan in the Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. French Corner Cafe and Bakery

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Pastry Swan Bakery/Fix a Dessert House

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Great Shakes

 

Runners up:

2. Cold Stone Creamery

3. Ben and Jerry’s

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Lappert’s Ice Cream

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Palm Greens Cafe

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

Beach House

 

Runners up:

2. Tutti Frutti

3. Yogurt Island

4. Jus Chillin

5. Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt

 

Best Bakery

Aspen Mills

 

Runners up:

2. Nothing Bundt Cakes

3. French Corner Cafe and Bakery

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Frankie’s Old World Italian Bakery

 

Best Barbecue

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Jackalope Ranch

4. Smoke Tree BBQ Bar and Grill

5. CV BBQ

 

Best Burger

Eureka!

 

Runners up:

2. Grill-A-Burger

3. Woody’s Burgers

4. Burgers and Beer

5. Smokin’ Burgers

 

Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Grill-A-Burger

4. Lulu California Bistro

5. Woody’s Burgers

 

Best Sandwich

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. The Sandwich Spot

3. TKB Bakery and Deli

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Aspen Mills

 

Best Pizza

Stuft Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Bill’s Pizza

3. Piero’s PizzaVino

4. Matchbox

5. Giuseppe’s

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Upper Crust Pizza

3. TIE

Bar

The Village Pub

5. Lulu California Bistro

 

Best Bagels

Einstein Bros. Bagels

 

Runners up:

2. New York Bagel and Deli

3. Townie Bagels Bakery Cafe

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Sherman’s

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Jamba Juice

3. Juice It Up!

4. Koffi

5. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Buffet

Grand Palms Buffet at Agua Caliente

 

Runners up:

2. Emperor Buffet

3. Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

4. Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Coffee Shop for Coffee

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Old Town Coffee Company

3. Starbucks

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Tea

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

 

Runners up:

2. Teavana

3. Koffi

4. Starbucks

5. Ristretto

 

Best Breakfast

Wilma and Frieda’s Cafe

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. John’s

4. TIE

Lulu California Bistro

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Trio

Zin American Bistro

4. Tropicale

5. Copley’s on Palm Canyon

 

Best Brunch

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Escena Lounge and Grill

4. Vue Grille and Bar

5. Tropicale

 

Best Chinese

P.F. Chang’s

 

Runners up:

2. City Wok

3. Wang’s in the Desert

4. China 8

5. New Fortune

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Koutouki Greek Estiatorio

3. TIE

Miro’s Restaurant

Nina’s Greek Cuisine

5. Santorini Gyro Hamburger/Greek Food and Grill

 

Best French

Le Vallauris

 

Runners up:

2. La Brasserie

3. Pomme Frite

4. Cuistot

5. Chez Pierre

 

Best Indian

India Oven

 

Runners up:

2. Monsoon Indian Cuisine

3. Naan House

 

Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

3. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

4. Shabu Shabu Zen

5. Sushi Domo

 

Best Italian

Ristorante Mamma Gina

 

Runners up:

2. La Bella Cucina

3. Mario’s Italian Cafe

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. Trilussa

 

Best Sushi

Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

3. The Venue

4. No Da Te

5. Sushi Domo

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

3. Ruben and Ozzy’s

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5.Oceans Seafood Restaurant

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

LG’s Prime Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Sullivan’s Steakhouse

3. The Steakhouse at Spa Resort Casino

4. Outback Steakhouse

5. Chop House

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Thai Smile of Rancho Mirage (now in Palm Desert)

3. Blue Orchid

4. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

5. Le Basil

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Rooster and the Pig

3. Pho 533

4. Pho of the Desert

5. Le Basil

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Wally’s Desert Turtle

3. Lavender Bistro

4. Jillian’s

5. Tropicale

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. Lavender Bistro

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. Le Vallauris

5. Tropicale

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. King’s Highway at the Ace

3. Smokin’ Burgers

4. Alicante

5. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

 

Best Mexican

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. El Mirasol

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Pueblo Viejo Grill

5. La Tablita

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Pueblo Viejo Grill

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Loco Charlie’s Mexican Grill

5. Los Pepes Mexican Grill and Bar

 

Best Burrito

Chipotle

 

Runners up:

2. El Ranchito Taco Shop

3. El Gallito

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. La Tablita


Spirits and Nightlife

 

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Bart Lounge

4. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

5. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

 

Best Local Brewery

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

The Beer Hunter

 

Runners up:

2. Bart Lounge

3. Hunters

4. Neil’s Lounge

5. Palm Springs Lanes

 

Best Cocktail Menu

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Bar

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Tropicale

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Toucan’s

 

Runners up:

2. Hunters

3. Chill

4. Tool Shed

5. Streetbar

 

Best Happy Hour

La Quinta Cliffhouse Grill and Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Wang’s in the Desert

4. Hunters

5. Tropicale

 

Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Red Barn

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Score

5. Toucan’s

 

Best Margarita

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Armando’s Dakota Bar and Grill

3. El Mirasol

4. TIE

Los Pepes Mexican Bar and Grill

Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Best Martini

Mastro’s Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Melvyn’s

3. The Falls (no longer in business)

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Tropicale

 

Best Nightclub

Bart Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Copa

3. Chill

4. Hunters

5. Bardot Nightclub

 

Best Sports Bar

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. The Beer Hunter

3. Burgers and Beer

4. Playoffs Sports Bar and Lounge

5. Score

 

Best Wine Bar

Zin American Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. La Rue Wine Bar

3. Sullivan’s Steak House

4. La Brasserie

5. 12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar at Fantasy Springs

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. LQ Wine

4. Desert Wines and Spirits in the Go Deli Market

5. Fame Lounge

 

Best Bar Ambiance

Bart Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Melvyn’s

4. Tropicale

5. Chill


Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016: Staff Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016: Best Local Band: The Flusters

Best of Coachella Valley 2014-2015

Published in Readers' Picks

Stephen “Fish” Ellsworth is one of the more famous bartenders at The Hood Bar and Pizza, known for his exceptional bartending knowledge, his fast service—and his shenanigans while behind the bar. Fish is newly engaged, and he recently shared the news that his fiancée will be having a baby, so be sure to tip him well. He was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13, and here are his (rather brief) answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Lynyrd Skynyrd.

What was the first album you owned?

Megadeth, Countdown to Extinction.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Everything.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Psy, “Gangnam Style.”

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Band of Horses.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Sia.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts and Festival.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Dayman. Aaaaahhhhaa! Fighter of the nightman! Champion of the sun, you’re a master of a karate, and friendship for everyone,” “The Dayman,” from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Amigo the Devil. It’s enlightening folk music.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I would ask Tenacious D how they get their inspiration.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“The Funeral” by Band of Horses.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Silent Alarm, Bloc Party.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Midnight City” by M83. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

Thr3 Strykes is best known for hip hop, although the group sometimes includes a punk-rock set in a show. Catch Thr3 Strykes at The Date Shed on Friday, Oct. 16, the STREET party at the Westfield Palm Desert on Saturday, Nov. 7.

During a recent interview, Josh Fimbres and Josh Hall talked about how much Thr3 Strykes has changed since its formation.

“During high school and after high school, I was in a lot of punk bands and played drums,” Fimbres said. “Anywhere we could play when I was a teenager, we played. I was in one band, and we even did a little mini-tour and had Island Records interested in us for a little bit.

“I did that for a long time, and our friend Jesse—who doesn’t even fuck with us anymore—we started rapping. We all grew up in La Quinta, and we’d do parties and other shit. We had the little 8-track analog recording, and we did ridiculous shit with cheap microphones from Toys ’R’ Us. We went from party to party with nothing else to do but memorize each other’s shit.”

Hall said, with a laugh, that the group became known for being “white guys who rap.”

What are some of Thr3 Strykes’ songs about?

“Some are political, and some are about partying,” Hall said.

Fimbres offered a different answer: “Some are just stupid shit we say to each other at 3 in the morning playing FIFA Soccer, over and over.”

There are not a lot of local rap acts in the Coachella Valley, beyond local rap artist J. Patron and Thr3 Strykes. Fimbres said he remembers when the hometown crowd wasn’t showing them a lot of love.

“When it’s all said and done, and we’re 45 and still fucking rapping, or not rapping: We were doing it back when people were rejecting us, and venue owners we’re saying, ‘No, you can’t play here.’ Years later, we’re still doing it, when venue owners are telling us they don’t want anything to do with our scene or our crowd—and we’re still doing it. No matter where we went, people didn’t want to hear it, and it wasn’t cool.

“All of a sudden nowadays, with J. Patron, who is a close friend of ours, we’re getting noticed. That’s what I’m going to hang my hat on.”

Hall remembered one of the first shows that helped the group get noticed.

“It was underground, and we were different. We were influenced by punk rock,” he said. “People wouldn’t accept us for years and years—and then we realized people were starting to come to our shows. They started accepting us more and more, and trying to be our friends. I remember one year, they invited us to play at Chicago Freddy’s, which is now Cactus Jack’s, and we were super hyped up. It was cool, and it was one of our premieres. But we had (a person) who is now an ex-member jump off stage and punch a guy in the nose. It probably wasn’t the best first impression. But we came back in; people loved it and went insane, even with the little bit of drama that happened.”

While sitting in The Hood being interviewed, Fimbres remembered when Thr3 Strykes was not welcome there, either.

“We’ve been kicked out of a lot of places,” he said. “For a lot of years, they didn’t want us here at The Hood. Neither one of us were allowed here because of pre-show things or after-show things. We’re not crazy, and we’re not the first fucking band to deal with a crazy following or crowd. It’s always been someone stepping on our neck … but then we get these huge shows, opening for Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.”

Said Fimbres: “We opened for (Bone Thugs-n-Harmony) twice. We’ve done enough shows where we can judge each show on the vibe and how good the set was, and both times we played with them, it was the best it could fucking get. The first show, and we’re talking in Indio, there were a lot of hard motherfuckers, and they were there to see Bone. They paid good money too—those tickets were 40 bucks!”

Thr3 Strykes has always had a DIY approach.

“We used to make little six-song EPs,” Fimbres said, “just burning them on CDs with CD burners. We’ve also done stuff over Myspace back in the day, and things like that. Actual full length records—we just have the one that we put out in 2012 that’s 15 songs. All of those were good, but they’re all over the place with reggae, hard shit and real heavy rap shit. In the middle of making this new one, we had seven or eight songs with Jesse (Brown), who isn’t playing with us anymore, and who we have some bad blood with, so we dropped those songs.”

That new record, Communication Breakdown, will be out soon.

“Josh and I have 15 songs for Communication Breakdown,” Fimbres said. “In actuality, this feels like our first record to me. This is us at the core of what we do. All 15 of these songs are cohesive. They all go into each other. It’s our proudest shit to date right now.”

Hall agreed.

“Our producer, Tariq Beats, told us he loves it and says it’s one of the best albums he’s done, and he messes with a lot of big names in Los Angeles like French Montana and Xzibit.”

Thr3 Strykes will perform with Calico Wonderstone and Drop Mob at 9:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16, at The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., in Indio. Admission is $5; visit www.dateshedmusic.com for more info. The group will also play during STREET, which takes place from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Westfield Palm Desert, 72840 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission to the all-ages event is free; visit www.westfield.com for more information. For more information on Thr3 Strykes, visit www.facebook.com/3STRYKES.

Published in Previews

It’s been a long, hard road for D.R.I., but the band—known as a “thrash metal” band, although the group has the respect of punk-rock contemporaries—is still doing its thing some 33 years after its formation.

D.R.I.—that’s an abbreviation for Dirty Rotten Imbeciles—will be performing at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Oct. 30.

D.R.I. formed in 1982 in Houston. Spike Cassidy (guitar) and Kurt Brecht (vocals) are the only remaining original members. It’s been said the band’s name came from Brecht’s father, who hated listening to the band practice in the family home. In fact, Brecht’s father—interrupting the band’s practice—can be heard on the “Madman” track.

“We never saw ourselves making a living doing this,” Brecht said during a recent phone interview. “But we wanted to, and we thought about it—but it’s hard being that young and thinking that far in advance. We wanted to do what we saw other bands doing, which was touring and putting out records. I remember at one time, when we started getting a little popular, we realized we were still living in a van and not making any money.”

A 1983 “Rock Against Reagan” tour, often headlined by the Dead Kennedys, gave D.R.I. some of its first exposure.

“That was our first tour ever,” Brecht said. “We moved to California, lost our bass player and found another bass player. The band MDC was also from Texas, and they were living in the same squat thing that we were, and they invited us to go on the Rock Against Reagan tour. It was literally no pay. You got gas money and got fed whatever food the people that put together the tour had to give you. It wasn’t a show every night; it was a flatbed truck and a PA system, and they would take that around and set it up at different colleges. It was kind of cool, and people got to see it for free, but bands kind of came and went. People would walk by and check it out. It was kind of interesting to shove the music down people’s throats.”

Brecht was surprised years later by someone who told him about one of those shows. 

“Dave Grohl was just a kid, and he came and saw us play in Washington, D.C.,” Brecht said. “He told me that he bought a 7-inch record off of me from out of the back of our van.”

Metal Blade Records—known as the home of various thrash metal bands, and the first label to sign Metallica—signed D.R.I. and released the group’s first full length album, Dealing With It!, in 1985. The album showed that the band’s hardcore punk sound was becoming more thrash metal.

“At that point, we had only just started letting out our metal influences that we grew up with,” Brecht said. “We grew up listening to rock and metal, and we discovered hardcore and liked that better. But eventually, all the cool metal stuff started leaking out. Spike let someone from Metal Blade listen to the record, and they decided they wanted it. I still talk to Metal Blade, and they still pay us royalties, and we’re still in good relations with them at this point.”

The ’90s were a hard time for D.R.I., after Metal Blade released the band. The group put out two records on the label Dirty Rotten, but D.R.I. has not released a new album since 1995’s Full Speed Ahead.

“We call it the ’90s slump,” Brecht said. “When you’re in it, you don’t know what’s going on, and you can only look back at it later on. It was rough for us. We continued touring, and we weren’t making any money, and we had to change the way we toured: no more tour bus, no more roadies, no more big truck with equipment. We just shaved off all the fat. We were still hurting.”

Brecht said D.R.I. almost called it a day several times.

“There were times we talked about it, and asked how much longer we could do this, because it was going out on tour for two or three months and coming back with nothing,” Brecht said. “Your girlfriend, wife or whatever—they’re not going to put up with it very long, and you need to figure out what you’re going to do. Even bigger bands like Slayer weren’t doing good in the ’90s. They were doing better than us, but Metallica was the only band still doing good during that period.”

In 2006, Spike Cassidy was diagnosed with colon cancer.

“During the times when Spike had cancer and was sick for a while, thrash metal became popular again,” Brecht said. “We were excited to get back on the road again. Grunge wasn’t as popular any more, and kids wanted to see thrash metal bands again from the ’80s.”

Cassidy’s cancer also led to hard times for the band. In fact, Cassidy is still trying to raise money to pay his medical bills through D.R.I.’s website.

“Spike is doing fine now, and we have full tours scheduled—and it’s a brutal schedule for anyone, even if you’re not sick,” Brecht said. “He’s the one booking it all, so he’s obviously capable. Spike has a cancer fund, and he had some insurance at the time, but it’s still financially damaging. He said he was almost done paying it off, and all of a sudden, they dropped another $150,000 bill on him for some surgery he had that he thought was paid for, and insurance supposedly covered. I went on a few tours without him to help make money for him when he couldn’t go.”

Will there ever be another D.R.I. album? Brecht hinted that a new release is just around the corner.

“It’s recorded and everything, and as far as I know, it’s in post-production,” he said. “It should be out this year, but I haven’t heard Spike talk about it much. Records aren’t important as they used to be, especially not for us. Now we don’t have to deal with all that stuff of a label, and our label now is not bothering us to put out a record. They probably don’t want to pay for it, and it’s not a lucrative endeavor.”

D.R.I. will perform with Fissure, Green Terror Grind, Facelift and Panzram at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, located at 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $20 at the door, and the show is open to all ages. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or check out one of the Facebook pages for the event.

Published in Previews

When Sonny McEachran decided to move up north, that meant the end of popular local band Boycott Radio.

However, Chris Long and Dan Dillinger pressed on—and soon, with the addition of Troy Whitford, the Sweat Act was born.

During an interview one afternoon not too long ago at The Hood Bar and Pizza, Long and Dillinger discussed how they met.

“My dad knew that I was playing music with Sonny McEachran in Boycott Radio, and he knew that I was heavily looking for a bass player,” Long said. “My dad finds this post on Craigslist that said, ‘Looking for a punk rock band.’ My dad said, ‘He’s a bass player; you should hit him up.’ I was like, ‘Dad, whatever. I’m not looking on Craigslist, and that’s kind of weird. Why are you on Craigslist, Dad? You have Mom at home; get off Craigslist!’”

Nonetheless, Long contacted Dillinger.

“He hit me up, like, ‘We’re not really a punk band, but we’re looking for a bass player. Maybe you’d like to come and check it out; here are some videos on YouTube,’ and all this other shit,” Dillinger said. “I looked them up. … I watched the videos, and I was like, ‘That dude is wearing a V neck; he’s probably a douche bag! I don’t wanna go over there!’ I went and thought, ‘This is gonna suck, but I might as well try it.’

“It worked out fine.”

When McEachran moved away last year, Boycott Radio was finished. Dillinger continued to play with local punk band Bridger, and metal band Remnants of Man. He also went on tour in a Sublime tribute band. However, Long and Dillinger missed having their own band.

“Dan and I were sitting there with our dicks in our hands like, ‘What’s next?’” Long said. “Well, here comes our archangel, Troy Whitford, coming down from the heavens and being like, ‘Hey, I play drums!’ It turns out I work with him at Babe’s in Rancho Mirage. I was like, ‘Let’s give it a shot sometime!’”

Whitford and Long then began to practice together. Long is not a fan of social media; in fact, he said he really doesn’t do anything with computers except play video games. So Whitford reached out to Dillinger via social media, and asked him to come to a practice session. He did, and before long, Dillinger and Whitford were chumming it up, talking about their favorite records and comparing influences.

“I was like, ‘Get a fucking room, guys!’” Long said. “I’m the third wheel. … They started doing this whole thing where Troy was like, ‘Can you play this song?’ and Dan was like, ‘Can you play this song?’ And, of course, they can play every song, because they both love NOFX, and they lived happier ever after.”

Dillinger remains with Bridger. When I asked him how he makes playing in two rather active bands work, he said it’s not that hard. The Sweat Act practices on weekdays, while Bridger practices on weekends. When it comes to gigs or practices, Dillinger said it’s first come, first serve.

“It’s a lot easier now being in two bands than it was being in four bands,” Dillinger said. “In anything that I’ve ever done … I always make it work. If I have to pull double-duty, so be it. One time, I played a Boycott show, and then ran over to do a Remnants show. I love what I do; I need to do what I do; and I’m not going to fucking piss off the people around me to do it.”

Whitford said he was surprised at how fast the Sweat Act developed a good following.

“We were only a band for three months, and we all looked at each other like, ‘Hey, that was a great show!’ ‘Hey, we’re nominated in CV Weekly for Best New Band!’” Whitford said. “When it comes to fan response, and I relate this to online and social media, it’s not that big. … It’s still very small, but just the fact that people in the industry and peers of ours give us a lot of praise and respect, that’s enough.”

Whitford said he’s been working hard to push the band forward.

“After the whole CV Weekly thing, it lit a fire under my ass,” Whitford said. “I did the most groundwork I could during the summer, which is the slow time, to get as many shows as possible. We played two shows a month throughout the summer. We did that so we could get exposure for when the big shows start coming up. I’m hoping we did a good enough job.” 

Dillinger said the band members hope to do some recording soon.

“I got someone on board, and I’m just waiting for the green light,” Dillinger said. “We’re kind of shopping, but at the same time, we’re musicians, so we’re broke as fuck. We want to record, and we know that we’re ready to, but it just all depends on who, when, and how much?”

The Sweat Act will perform with War Drum, the Electric Blankets and Fleischman and the Librarian at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 18, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, visit the event page on Facebook. For more information on the Sweat Act, visit www.facebook.com/TheSweatAct.

Published in Previews

Even though Tucson band Burning Palms is relatively new, the group has been finding indie success in many communities—including the Coachella Valley.

The group is returning to the valley for a show at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Sept. 11.

Burning Palms has a garage rock/psychedelic rock sound, and many of the band’s songs have Wiccan/Pagan references. During a recent interview at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, where the band played a late-August show, Julia Deconcini talked about how Burning Palms got started.

“It originally started as a bedroom project of Simone’s while she was in Australia,” Deconcini said about bandmate Simone Stopford. “We joined forces about two years ago in Tucson, and I was playing in another band at the time. She came to my very last show with that band, and right as we played our last song, and I was stepping off the stage, Simone was standing right there. She said, ‘I saw you; I had a vision. I know it’s you; you’re joining my band.’ I was like, ‘Absolutely not! I just had this crazy adventure with this band, and I can’t do that.’ She said, ‘Please just come and try it out.’ Two years later, here I am.”

As is the case with many groups, band members have come and gone.

“Not a lot of people can tour as much as we’d like them to,” Deconcini said. “Honestly, I feel like we’ve been on tour nonstop and are keeping pretty busy. We just did a tour where we played Desert Daze, the Austin Psych Fest and the Milwaukee Psych Fest. It took us all around the country, and we did a short run after that. In a week a half, we’re heading out again.”

Burning Palms has found a lot of success utilizing Bandcamp to sell music and reach potential fans.

“I am of a big fan of Bandcamp, because we don’t have to build a website and maintain it,” Deconcini said. “It’s very simple with uploading photos of the band and tour dates, and the fans also get to hear our music.”

Bandcamp also saved the band from a tough situation.

“On one of our previous tours, we were in Minneapolis, and our van broke down,” Deconcini explained. “It was unsalvageable. We were able to post on our Facebook page and all of our social media: ‘Our van broke down. Please buy our merch.’ We updated our merch page with items that aren’t traditional, like, ‘We’ll write a song just for you, $200.’ Another one was, ‘If you have a mystery and can’t find something, call us, and we’ll help you solve your mystery.’ (We also did) things like palm readings, dirty talk and other things. … We made the most of an unfortunate situation, and we were able to make money to buy a new van with the proceeds within 24 hours and get back on the road. We only missed one show.”

Burning Palms’ music is not feel-good or traditional by any means. However, Deconcini notes there’s an upside to it.

“Our music definitely has a kind of a dark side to it,” she said. “I think, especially in our newer music, it’s taking a turn from being this high-energy music to much more magical and chanting songs. I think that comes from playing with different people. Every time we play with new people, we gain something new. After this tour, we’re going to be writing and recording the new stuff that we’re playing on tour. Half of our set right now is unrecorded.

“There are a lot of themes of strength and power. We’re not a girly-girl kind of band, and we want to emulate strength and power. Our songs do have some ancient and Wiccan themes to them. We’ve been calling it ‘witch rock’ for a while. It’s the most fitting … when we get asked about genres.”

Deconcini explained how those Pagan/Wiccan themes developed.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily anything any of us had the intention of studying,” she said. “I feel like a lot of it is something we’ve gravitated toward. I think that we all have very strong relationships with nature in general, as well as health and friendship. I just find that we’re more into cosmic energy, and we’re out to create good energy and feel grounded when we have the right intentions. As far as potions and pentagrams, I don’t think that’s the image we’re trying to create. It’s more of a lifestyle.”

Tucson has been great to Burning Palms, and creative inspiration is easy to find in the scene there, Deconcini said.

“Tucson’s music scene is wonderful. As far as the Tucson community goes, it’s a very strong community and really supportive,” she said. “Our CDs are made by a friend locally who has a lathe and cuts records onto all of our CDs for us. All of our shirts are silkscreened and made by friends in Tucson. All our music videos are also made by friends there. It’s a great place to pull things together, and we all have good understanding of each other’s intentions, and creatively, there’s a lot of collaboration. The scene has always been there, and there have always been great bands there.”

Burning Palms is performing with Tribesmen and Venus and the Traps at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 11, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on the show, visit the event’s Facebook page. For more information on Burning Palms, visit the band’s Facebook page

Published in Previews

Question: What do you get when you combine Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols, Clem Burke from Blondie, James Stevenson from the Cult and Gene Loves Jezebel, and Gary Twinn from Supernaut?

Answer: You get a supergroup called The International Swingers, which will be making its second appearance at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Aug. 7.

The idea of The International Swingers was pitched to Gary Twinn by Australian promoter Bicci Henderson. While the idea seemed crazy at first, the band has proven to be a fine success, leading to an EP and a recently released album.

During a recent phone interview, frontman Gary Twinn discussed how The International Swingers came to exist.

“Many years ago, I had a career in Australia as sort of a pop star, so every now and again, I would sort of go over there and play some shows. I was asked to come back again, and I really wanted to do something different,” Twinn said. “James, Clem and Glenn were really good friends of mine, and we all happened to be hanging out at the same time. When I was asked to do this Australian tour, I was like, ‘Hey guys, how would you guys like to start a new band and come with me to Australia for a holiday? And that’s what we did.”

Twinn said the group wasn’t intended to exist beyond the Australian tour. “It just happened that we started this band, and we did it for a laugh. … When we were on our way back, and there was a bunch of stuff on YouTube and people inviting us to play here and there, we thought, ‘Let’s just keep doing it.’”

While the members are friends, it’s hard to imagine these four very different personalities working so well together.

“It’s actually been a pleasure,” Twinn said. “We can’t argue about the music, but we might argue about football.”

Last year, The International Swingers played a free show at the Farmers Market in Los Angeles. There were some concerns about whether some of the band’s material, such as the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant,” would work there.

“It was great. It’s an awesome place to play because anybody can come; it’s free to get in; and it’s a really eclectic audience. It’s a very historic part of Los Angeles, and it’s been there for 80 years,” Twinn said. “… We were proud to be part of it. … Bob Gruen, the famous rock photographer, came to the show and took a picture of us playing there. So the Farmers Market has a great rock ’n’ roll photo taken by one of the great rock ’n’ roll photographers.”

Twinn conceded there was some hesitation regarding what songs from the members’ various bands would be played.

“James and I sat down, and I wrote down a huge list of songs, and the idea was one of us had to have a connection with each song, no matter how tenuous it was,” he said. “There are actually some of my old songs from my first band I didn’t want to do, but the other three wanted to do. Glen didn’t want to do ‘Pretty Vacant,’ saying it was boring, and we were like, ‘C’mon man, it’s great!’”

The band is now selling its first full-length album. Fans can pledge money through PledgeMusic to receive a copy of Whatever Works Now.

“We just finished it. The EP, we did as something to sell to our fans at shows and were just really demo recordings,” Twinn said. “Over the last year, whenever we’ve had time, we’ve been going into the studio owned by the Foo Fighters, and our friend Tommy’s studio, and we recorded a bunch of songs and just mixed and mastered them. We kind of announced to the fans on Facebook that we were looking to make an album through PledgeMusic, so all the fans that pledged their $10 just received their digital album.”

The members do have a problem coordinating their schedules. In fact, Glen Matlock is not on the current tour.

“It’s a frickin’ nightmare, to be honest. It’s like herding cats together,” Twinn said. “With Clem, Blondie takes permanence, and these days, Blondie is pretty busy. James has another project now called Holy Holy, and they’re doing a whole production around The Man Who Sold the World. Glen has his own band, and Glen actually won’t be doing this tour with us, or doing anything with us, really, because he’s busy with his own project now.”

So what can attendees expect?

“We’ll still be playing our covers, so you can expect to hear some Blondie and Sex Pistols,” Twinn said. “During our recent gigs, we’ve been playing ‘Brand New Cadillac,’ which was a song The Clash covered, and we might throw that in the mix. But we want to try out some of the new songs from the album and see how people like those, because we’re really liking them. We’ve got a friend of ours, Steve Fishman, filling in on the bass, and he’s a great bass player. We’re happy to have him with us.”

The International Swingers will perform with Machin’ at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $5. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

August is the final full month of summer, and there are a surprising number of great shows taking place during the month that you won’t want to miss.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s August is, simply put, awesome. So many events … so much awesome. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, hard-rock and heavy-metal pioneers Deep Purple (above) will be appearing. If you don’t know “Smoke on the Water” or “Perfect Strangers,” and you call yourself a music fan, something is wrong with you. Tickets are $49 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21, it’ll be an ’80s throwback night when New Edition stops by; however, it’s unknown whether Bobby Brown will be taking part, with the recent death of his daughter Bobbi Kristina. Either way, it should be an interesting show. Tickets are $49 to $79. You’ll be happy to know that Diana Krall (right) is returning to the desert at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22. The world’s favorite female jazz pianist and vocalist is guaranteed to deliver, so go check her out. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events worth your time. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, comedian Russell Peters will be stopping by. The Canadian was the first comedian to sell out the Air Canada Centre in Toronto in 2007; unfortunately, he also played Santa in Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22, modern country duo Thompson Square will performing. The husband and wife from Nashville have taken the country-music world by storm since they released their self-titled debut on Stoney Creek Records. Their single “Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not?” reached No. 1 on the country chart and went double-platinum. They also took home three awards at the American Country Awards in 2011. Tickets are $35 to $55. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has some great tribute bands performing throughout the month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, get out the rhinestones and sequins as Kenny Metcalf performs the music of Elton John. AXS TV included him on its television show The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands. Tickets are $10. If you enjoyed the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus performance of ABBA tunes back in the spring, you can get another dose of ABBA at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 29, when ABBAFAB performs. Tickets are $10. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has some big names dropping in this month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, former late-night TV superstar Jay Leno (below) will be present. If you miss him on NBC (which I don’t), this is a great time to see him doing what he’s always done best: stand-up comedy. Tickets are $85 to $110. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21, you’ll be singing the chorus to “Joy to the World”—no, not that song, the other one, by Three Dog Night. While Chuck Negron doesn’t appear to be rejoining the group anytime soon, Three Dog Night is still going strong. Tickets are $40 to $60. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has plenty going on in August. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 8, former Kyuss frontman John Garcia will be performing. In 2014, Garcia released a self-titled solo album, which was welcomed by music critics and Kyuss fans alike. You should definitely make it up the hill for this one. Tickets are $10. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 20, London-based post-punk band Savages will be performing. The group’s 2013 debut album, Silence Yourself, was all the rage, and music critics were counting down the days to its release. In other words, the group is pretty 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 will once again hold its Battle of the Bands every Sunday in August at 6 p.m. The judging panel will feature local music promoter Ming Bob, CV Weekly owner/editor Tracy Dietlin, and yours truly. Come out every Sunday and catch local talent competing for the grand prize of $1,000 cash. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

Two years ago, I did an article on a band from Palm Springs called Forfeit Your Skies. The band was reeling after the theft of a bunch of equipment. Today, the band is still largely intact, but with a new name: Cloud District. The hardcore group will be playing a free show at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Saturday, Aug. 15. For more information, visit the band’s Facebook page. Alex Sanchez, the guitarist for Cloud District, was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

My first concert was Panic! at The Disco when I was 15. It blew my mind how good of a singer Brendon Urie was.

What was the first album you owned?

Highway to Hell by AC/DC. I asked my mom to buy it for me when I was 10 or so.

What bands are you listening to right now?

They include Beartooth, This Wild Life, and Fall Out Boy’s previous album.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

How Drake can do so bad at Coachella 2015, being that big of a name, and then … people tell you he was the best of the weekend.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I have to say Queen back in their prime. I’ve always wondered how much better Freddie Mercury was live compared to recordings.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Probably Owl City. It’s just such upbeat music.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I haven’t played there yet, but as far as watching bands, I would have to go with House of Blues in San Diego.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

Lately, it’s been “Stay Up Late” by This Wild Life.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Panic! at the Disco. It was my first musical experience, and they absolutely blew me away! They showed me that live music is an art form and forever changed how I judged recorded music.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I really just want to ask Elvis to come hang out with me—young Elvis, though, not the older one.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“What’s Left of the Flag” by Flogging Molly, hands down!

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Issues’ self-titled album is right up there with A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out by Panic! at The Disco.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Shadow Life” by Cloud District. Share it with everyone you know! (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13