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Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

We’re past the halfway point of the hot season. Maybe. Hopefully. Whatever … at least there are some equally hot events to take in this August.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a full list of August events. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 3, the son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, Jason Bonham, will be performing his show Led Zeppelin Evening. I’ve read stories about Jason Bonham’s upbringing that are quite fascinating; apparently, when he was a child, his dad used to wake him in the middle of the night to play in late-night jam sessions. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18, the frontman of The Who, Roger Daltrey, will be stopping by. Daltrey has done well as a solo artist. I checked out some of the set lists from his solo appearances over the past year, and he’s been playing the entirety of The Who’s rock opera, Tommy. Tickets are $69 to $129. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 25, the legendary family of Motown R&B, The Jacksons, will be performing. I saw The Jacksons a while back at Fantasy Springs when they toured with The Commodores, and The Jacksons put on a pretty good show—although the Jackson 5 songs were relegated to a five-minute medley. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

August is a great month for The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 2, country-music superstar Brad Paisley will be performing. Paisley has sold millions of albums, won three Grammy Awards, and charted 24 No. 1 singles. Tickets are $160 to $200. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 4, enjoy stoner-comedy duo Cheech and Chong. I remember when I was about 13 years old, and Cinemax played a marathon of Cheech and Chong movies. That scene in the car at the beginning of Up and Smoke made me laugh until my sides hurt. Tickets are $40 to $60. If the names performing at The Show couldn’t get any bigger, prepare yourself: At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 24, Steve Martin and Martin Short will offer up An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life. Also performing: Steve Martin’s band, Steel Canyon Rangers, and keyboardist Jeff Babko. Tickets are $130 to $160. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29’s August brings some great Latin music—and another hot event. Need some pecs and abs in your life? Well, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 11, the world-famous Chippendales will be performing. The Chippendales nd became part of the pop culture of the 1980s. A friend of mine recently mentioned that she dated a Chippendale during the ’80s who put himself through medical school thanks to his bare-chested performances. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 19, Argentinian sibling duo Pimpinela (below) ill be performing. Lucia and Joaquin Galan have become international superstars with their romantic musical pieces and are touring behind their musical show, Brothers, The True Story; expect a giant screen, dancers, choirs and a lot of other surprises. Tickets are $45 to $90. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

There is a lot going on at Pappy and Harriet’s during the month of August (per usual). Be sure to check out the full schedule online (per usual). Here are but a few noteworthy events: At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 11 indie-punk band Swearin’ will be stopping by. There’s been a lot of talk about this band since it released its first EP in 2012; since then, Swearin’ has dropped albums that have received critical acclaim, and has embarked on some popular tours. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18, psychedelic folk band Timber Timbre will take the stage. Timber Timbre has an interesting sound that sounds at times like some of the mellower Marc Bolan songs. I was pretty amused when I heard their song “Run From Me” in the recent Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country, which is about Indian guru Osho and his Rajneeshpuram community in Oregon. Tickets are $16. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 30, the 14th Annual Campout will get under way. The Campout is an annual weekend event curated by Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker frontman David Lowery. As of our deadline, the entire list of performers had not yet been released, but you can expect to see Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven and the usual characters associated with both bands. Weekend passes for the three-day event are $125. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed will be open for an event in August. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 31, reggae and R&B artist J Boog will be performing. Some of his best-known songs are “Let's Do It Again,” “Sunshine Girl,” and “Good Cry.” Servant is also on the bill. Tickets are $20 to $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

Published in Previews

Desert AIDS Project’s Dining Out for Life Breaks Records

If anyone ever needs proof that the residents of the Coachella Valley are a rather generous lot, look no further than the results of the Desert AIDS Project’s Dining Out for Life (DOFL) fundraiser back in April.

First, a recap of how DOFL works: On one chosen day per year, restaurants across the Coachella Valley agree to donate at least 33 percent of their sales—from one particular meal, or from everything—to the Desert AIDS Project.

On April 26, 75 local restaurants participated, raising a whopping $280,000 for DAP—an increase of $50,000 from last year. An estimated 10,000 valley residents went to these 75 restaurants that day.

“You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing someone wearing a ‘badge of honor’—the ‘I Dined’ stickers given to diners at participating locations,” said event manager George Nasci-Sinatra, according to a news release.

That’s impressive. However, it’s even more impressive when these numbers are put into context.

Dining Out for Life is a nationwide (plus Canada!) campaign held the last Thursday in April every year by various HIV/AIDS service organizations. Representatives of all of these campaigns gathered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the North American Dining Out for Life Conference in July to compare notes. Well, it turns out that even though the Coachella Valley is one of the smallest markets participating in Dining Out for Life, we rank No. 2 (!) in terms of money raised.

“Only Denver, which had three times more participating restaurants, raised more funds this year,” said Darrell Tucci, the chief development officer for DAP. “To be the smallest market in population driving the second-largest results is absolutely extraordinary and something we should all be proud of. Other markets have more participating restaurants, but no other market can boast the level of commitment shown by restaurants in greater Palm Springs.”

The main reason for the local Dining Out for Life’s success is the sheer generosity of local restaurants: In fact, the Top 3 restaurants in the country (plus Canada!) in terms of the total amount of money donated are here—Spencer’s Restaurant, Lulu California Bistroand Trio Restaurant, in that order. They raised a combined total of $61,679.

It’s also worth noting the sacrifice of some smaller restaurants that elected to give 100 percent or more of the day’s proceeds to DAP: Townie Bagels, Holiday House, The Barn Kitchen at Sparrows Lodge, Ristretto and Rooster and the Pig. Heck, the wait staff at Rooster and the Pig even donated their tips for the day to DAP.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, I should note that I’m personally a supporter of the Desert AIDS Project; the Independent does business with DAP; and George Nasci-Sinatra and Darrell Tucci are good friends of mine.)

Will the Coachella Valley be able to top these fantastic results during the next Dining Out for Life, on Thursday, April 25, 2019? Stay tuned.

For more information as the 2019 date draws nearer, visit www.diningoutforlife.com/palmsprings.


The Ace Hotel and Swim Club Celebrates Its Annual Craft Beer Weekend.

It’s become a summer tradition for Southern California beer-lovers: The Ace Hotel and Swim Club's Seventh Annual Craft Beer Weekend will take place Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4 and 5.

The weekend’s big events are a Craft Beer Festival from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, featuring entertainment, food and unlimited tastings (!) from some of the top craft breweries from SoCal and beyond; and a beer brunch at 11 a.m. on Sunday, featuring six beer-inspired and beer-paired courses—plus starting and ending beers, too.

Passes for the Saturday festival are $35, and the Sunday brunch will set you back $55—or do both for just $70. Attendees who book a room for the weekend get into the festival for free.

Get tickets and more info at www.acehotel.com/calendar/palmsprings/craft-beer-weekend-18.


In Brief

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, at 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage, has announced it has adopted new technology from a company called ORCA Digesters, Inc., that turns food waste into water. This will keep an estimated 624 tons (!) of food out of landfills each year. Awesome! … The Libation Room is now open at 73750 El Paseo, in Palm Desert. The new cocktail bar promises a speakeasy type of vibe; check it out Tuesday through Saturday from 4:30 p.m. on. For more information, call 877-869-8891, or visit www.libationroom.com. … The Manhattan in the Desert in Palm Desert, at 74225 Highway 111, has apparently closed. The Palm Springs location, at 2665 E. Palm Canyon Drive, is still alive and kicking. … One of the most happening outdoor-dining spots in downtown Palm Springs has been temporarily closed for a “facelift.” The patio at Tropicale, at 244 E. Amado Road, was closed on July 9 for a remodel that “should take about three weeks,” although the indoor bar and dining room remains open during construction. Depending on how that goes, and when you’re reading this, it may have reopened already! Call 760-866-1952 with questions.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

July is the hottest month of year in the Coachella Valley—and the month is bringing some hot shows along with the toasty temps.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has three big shows in July. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 7, enjoy your post-Fourth of July weekend with Michael McDonald. McDonald has been part of Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers. He’s also been an iconic force as a solo artist, winning five Grammy Awards and collaborating with greats like Elton John, Ray Charles and many others. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 13, venture back to the ’90s with the Counting Crows. It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the Counting Crows helped define ’90s pop-rock when hit single “Mr. Jones” was played endlessly. Tickets are $49 to $109. If you think it couldn’t get hotter, there’s more: At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 21, famed producer and electrifying performer Pitbull will take the stage. The man is known as “Mr. Worldwide,” and it’s been said that one way to guarantee a song’s success these days is to have Pitbull on board as a collaborator or producer. Tickets are $69 to $129. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa sails into July with some old-school events you won’t want to miss. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 7, head down the highway to the danger zone with Kenny Loggins (right). It’s amazing how many epic ’80s movie soundtracks Loggins found himself on—and even if the movies were box-office bombs, the songs were still hits. One example I’ll leave you with: “Meet Me Half Way” is from my favorite box-office stinker of all time, Over the Top. Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 14, you may not be able to handle all the disco when the Village People stop by. If there was ever a time to see the Village People, it’s now, because the original frontman, the cop/admiral himself, Victor Willis, is back after a lengthy absence. Willis had problems with drugs but has cleaned himself up and has enjoyed an epic run since rejoining the Village People in 2017. Tickets are $28 to $98. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 27, continue on with the tradition of the ’70s with Donny and Marie. The two famed Osmonds are part of a large family of entertainers, and are a regular act in Las Vegas. Tickets are $95 to $150. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a relatively quiet July, but there’s still some cool stuff going on. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 14, Bronco will be performing. The traditional Norteño band has been going for almost 40 years, has sold more than 10 million records, and continues to put out new music. Tickets are $49 to $69. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

On the flip side … Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a lot going on in July. Here are but a few events to consider for a high desert night out: At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 7, jam-band Moe (below) will be performing. The Buffalo, N.Y., band members are contemporaries of Phish, Widespread Panic and the Dave Matthews Band. Bassist Rob Derhak recently won a hard-fought battle against cancer—and Moe returned to the stage without missing a beat. Tickets are $30. At 8 p.m., Thursday, July 12, stoner-rock band Dead Meadow will be performing. If that’s not enough, desert-rock band Yawning Man, featuring Gary Arce and Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson, is also on the bill. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Thursday, July 19, Los Angeles producer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Adams, aka The Blank Tapes, will take the stage. If you’ve never heard of him, you should stop what you’re doing and look him up. Admission is free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Wexler’s Deli to Replace Reservoir at Palm Springs’ Arrive Hotel

A popular Los Angeles Jewish deli is coming to one of Palm Springs’ hippest spots in the fall.

Wexler’s Deli—which has three L.A.-area locations—will take over the space at Arrive Hotel, at 1551 N. Palm Canyon Drive, now occupied by Reservoir. Keep your fingers crossed for an October opening.

"We jumped at the opportunity to partner with the Wexler’s team,” said Matt Steinberg, co-founder and CEO of Arrive, in a press-release quote. “Their passion for elevating and re-imagining what a deli can be is evident in the quality of their food. We also know that their voice and style will be a great fit for the locals and visitors to our property and Palm Springs as a whole.”

At first glance, I thought this pairing was … odd, to say the least. Arrive has made its mark by being modern, exciting and hip. And, well, let’s just say that Jewish delis are not known for being anything close to modern, exciting and hip.

But the more I pondered the pairing, the more it made sense. Reservoir never made any sort of serious culinary impression since Arrive opened … and have you ever tried to get a table at Sherman’s in Palm Springs at noon on a Saturday during season?

Plus, Wexler’s is not exactly old-school. In fact, it’s only been around for five years. I’ll let the press release explain things from here: “In late 2013, the owners of the historic Grand Central Market in downtown L.A. approached (chef Micah Wexler and partner Michael Kassar) regarding their plan to renovate the 100-year-old market. … Mike and Micah had a vision to take Jewish deli food back to its roots, and to create a concise menu in a 350-square-foot space, where everything is made in-house. Wexler’s sought out to be the only deli in L.A. that cures, smokes and hand-slices all their meat and fish in-house, (and) uses sustainable meat and fish, and local farmer’s market produce.”

The Palm Springs Wexler’s will serve all three meals, offering a mix of Wexler’s “classics” and new-for-Palm Springs items, like a pastrami burger and “Sasso’s pancakes with blueberries, creme fraiche, and maple syrup.”

For more information, watch arriveenterprises.com.


Here’s Something New: Restaurants Expanding Their Hours During the Summer!

In July, many well-known Coachella Valley restaurants are closed for the season. We know that … but here’s something new and encouraging: A couple of Palm Springs favorites are actually looking to fill that gap by expanding their hours.

First: Until recently, gourmet-vegan restaurant Chef Tanya’s Kitchen, at 706 S. Eugene Road—which was and remains closed on Sundays and Mondays—locked its doors at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On Wednesdays, however, Chef Tanya’s stayed open until 8 p.m., adding a few dinner specials.

Well, as of mid-June, Chef Tanya’s is open until 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday! Yes! For more info, visit www.facebook.com/cheftanyaskitchen.

Second: Our good friends at Dead or Alive, the fantastic wine and craft-beer bar at 150 E. Palm Canyon Drive, followed Chef Tanya’s lead by opening earlier on Friday and Saturday—at 4 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.—and by adding Sunday hours: Instead of being closed, DoA is now open Sundays from 4 to 10 p.m.!

For more info about Dead or Alive—and its jam-packed schedule of tastings, charity events and free-food offerings—visit www.facebook.com/deadoralivebar.


In Brief

Azul Palm Springs, at 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive, has closed its doors. The restaurant and show venue with the epic patio swings had tweaked its name several times over the years, indicating possible concept and/or management issues. It’s a great space in a great location, so we’ll be eagerly watching for what comes next. … The Steakhouse at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, at 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage, has started serving brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. We’re dying to try the filet mignon benedict. Get details, including the menu, at www.hotwatercasino.com/dining. … A lot of new restaurants have opened in recent weeks! We’ve heard raves about The Pink Cabana at the Sands Hotel and Spa, at 44985 Province Way, in Indian Wells. “Designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, the Pink Cabana at Sands Hotel and Spa is a fresh, modern take on the great tennis and racquet clubs of the ’50s and ’60s in Palm Springs,” says the hotel website. The Pink Cabana is serving lunch and dinner daily; visit sandshotelandspa.com/dining-bar. … Balisage is back! Chef Daniel Villanueva and his “earth to table” dinners are being served at Beyond Balisage, Tuesday through Saturday at 68327 E. Palm Canyon Road, in Cathedral City; visit www.beyondbalisage.com. … Other recent openings: Sapporo Ramen and Grill, at 73759 Highway 111, in Palm Desert (sapporo-ramen-grill.business.site); Pizza Peel, at 69115 Ramon Road, in Cathedral City (www.pizzapeel.net); and Cups Café, serving breakfast and lunch at 77912 Country Club Drive, in Palm Desert (search for it on Facebook).

Published in Restaurant & Food News

It’s June, which means that summer is officially arriving. While some venues close or slow down for the summer, there are still plenty of great shows from which to choose this month.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some fine events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 23, Latin-music greats Pandora and Yuri will be performing. They have become world-famous since they started performing music together in the ’80s. The vocal power that these women have is remarkable. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 29, country group Little Big Town will take the stage. Little Big Town performed at Fantasy Springs in 2015 to a packed house—and the electrifying show was one of the best I’ve seen. The group puts on a mind-blowing show no matter the size of the stage. Tickets are $69 to $129. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a nice variety of events. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 1, Mexico’s hilarious comedy duo, Adrian Uribe and Omar Chaparro, aka Imparables, will be performing. Uribe and Chaparro are known for their battle style of comedy that includes numerous colorful characters. Tickets are $55 to $85. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 15, Michael Carbonaro will bring his magic to The Show. On top of his awesome talents as a magician, he’s also an actor who has appeared in Grey’s Anatomy and Another Gay Movie; he also has his own truTV television show, The Carbonaro Effect. Tickets are $25 to $160. At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 30, my favorite annual event, Art Laboe’s Summer Love Jam, will return for its seventh year. I used to listen to the dedication hour of the radio show just to hear the “love and kisses” to people’s loved ones in prison, with names like “Baby Joker,” “Lucky” and “Little Brown Eyes.” Performing at this year’s event will be Peaches and Herb, Manhattans, Deniece Williams, MC Magic, Lighter Shade of Brown, Aalon, and the man himself, Art Laboe. Tickets are $45 to $65. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino’s June calendar includes a couple of heavy hitters. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 2, Banda Los Recoditos will be performing. Banda Los Recoditos, from Sinaloa, Mexico, includes performers with different vocal ranges, as well as a huge brass section. The group was nominated for a Latin Music Grammy in 2010; one of the group’s songs is “Ando Bien Pedo,” which translates as “I Am Very Drunk.” Hey, sounds like a good time to me! Tickets are $59 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 23, Eric Paslay (right) will bring the country. Paslay had a hit song called “Friday Night” that reached No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot Country Chart in 2014. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some big things slated for June, along with appearances by regulars. At 10 p.m., Saturday, June 9, Rancho de la Luna will be celebrating the release of its very own branded mezcal. It seems appropriate, given tequila seems to be the adult beverage of choice at the ranch, seeing as there’s a sculpture outside including a lot of Patron bottles. Performers include Mojave Lords, Bone Acre, Sinner Sinners and some “surprise guests.” Who knows who will show up? Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 23, enjoy the majestic comedic country vibes of Pappy’s regulars The Evangenitals. The group always puts on a show that will make you laugh until it hurts. The Evangenitals recorded an album that tells the entire story of Moby Dick, and created “The Vagina Song,” so you can’t go wrong. Admission is free. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, June 28, Scottish indie-band the Trashcan Sinatras will be performing. If you’re thinking this is some kind of tribute act with a name like that, you’re wrong: Trashcan Sinatras is a fantastic indie-alternative band that has been compared to The Smiths, and the album Cake is considered by some to be a masterpiece. Tickets are $20 to $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is preparing to go on a summer break—but it will be open through the end of June! At 8 p.m., Friday, June 1, R&B and pop performer Jake Simpson will take the Purple Room stage. He’s performed with Stevie Wonder, Adam Lambert, and Earth, Wind and Fire, and he’s been on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 23, the alt-cabaret performers known The Skivvies will perform. The show features musical comedy …performed by Skivvies duo Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley in their underwear. Wow! The “undie rock” stars will also be joined by surprise guests. Tickets are $30 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 30, it’s the last The Judy Show of the season. It’s performed by Purple Room owner Michael Holmes, in drag as Judy Garland … and others. It’s wild, over the top and one of the most popular regular live events in Palm Springs. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

Tom Davis is philosophical regarding his work: “I wouldn’t change a thing. I enjoyed having my own business, but when it became tedious, my attitude was, ‘I’m outta here.’”

That attitude was a lucky break for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Davis, 68, a Rancho Mirage resident, was born in Teaneck, N.J., and grew up in Anaheim. He started doing consulting work in the desert in 1990 and made the full-time move from Orange County in 1997.

“I had my own land-planning and development consulting business,” says Davis, “but when the recession that everybody forgets about happened, many of my competitors were heading to Las Vegas because there was so much development going on there. I wanted to expand my business reach and profile, and I knew the desert had great growth potential. Plus, my wife’s parents were here, and her grandma and grandpa had the first liquor store and motel in Palm Desert, so there were personal connections as well as business potential that made this area desirable.”

Davis earned his degree in landscape architecture from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

“My dad always said to be in a profession where you can be independent,” Davis said. “I was strong in math and had an artistic flair—I liked to draw. I also had a strong design sense. They had an accredited program, which was hard to find in the Western United States.

“I met my wife, Debbie, at Cal Poly in 1970 at a Three Dog Night concert on a blind date. A friend said, ‘You need to meet this young lady.’ We were married after less than two years. After school, I went to Denver because I wanted to ski all the time, and I worked for a company planning a ski resort.”

Davis worked for a firm while he was in college that did work in Palm Springs.

“They educated me about the interrelationship between the tribe and the city,” he said. “I was originally out here in the desert working the territory and doing collaborative work with (Southern California planning consultant) John Q. Adams—yes, he’s a real descendant. I was the physical planning guy; he was the policy guy. Then he died suddenly, and a friend he worked for told me about the Agua Caliente looking for a planner. That was in 1992.

“The tribe was looking for an outsider, not someone beholden to local politics. The tribe is an extended family that understands the importance of outreach and the need to be connected to all sides politically.

“For six months, I was doing a variety of different things as staff to the Indian Planning Commission. When I started with the tribe, they had only six employees, with me and their general counsel as outside contractors. Then we got involved with Caesars Palace when the tribe was getting into gaming and expansion. Land development is highly political. You have to go through architectural review committees, planning commissions and city councils. I went to Washington, D.C., and Sacramento. We all learned a lot as we went along.”

Davis is currently the chief planning and development officer for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. He has built the department to a staff of about 35.

A serious bout with cancer changed Davis’ life.

“I used to be really athletic, but the cancer set me back. I go through life now week by week,” he said. “We bought a house in 2008 on a kind of remote mountain at June Lake in the Eastern Sierras. I hike and go fly fishing. It’s pristine and quiet. I might not see another person for days. For me, a bucket-list item would be to visit with an old friend, sit on the porch, and tell stories … although I would like to make it to Italy.”

For a long time after his cancer treatment, Davis was resistant to make use of a support group. “When I got the bad news from the doctor, I was thinking about all the stuff I’d be faced with. They asked me questions like, ‘Are you worried about your treatment?’ Duh.

“Finally, I went to a support group and I was amazed how therapeutic it is. I could speak frankly, and realized that everybody has something to deal with. That was when I began to talk about what I’d been through. We could all cry and laugh. We could all share our experiences and tell others what works. We talked about lots of simple things we take for granted. I came to realize the positive impact of all that. It’s helpful to share.”

After obtaining a master’s degree in education, Davis has been sharing his knowledge of the tribe by teaching classes, including “Agua Caliente: Then and Now,” through the Osher Institute at California State University, San Bernardino’s Palm Desert campus.

Davis is also a reader, influenced by Moby Dick and The Godfather, and he is currently immersed in Stephen Ambrose’s Nothing Like It in the World, about the building of the transcontinental railroad. “It’s about a turning point in our history,” he says, “and it’s fascinating.”

Tom Davis’ guiding principle is to work hard and play hard. “I want to tell young people, based on my experience, to do something you love. There are different specialties in every era. Find a profession you love to do, and even if one day you wake up with a layoff or disappointment, you’ll just work harder and still enjoy every day.

“I’ve changed a lot in the last several years. Between my cancer and the loss of both my parents within eight months of each other last year, now I wake up, and I’m just happy to be here.”

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show That’s Life airs weekdays from 11 a.m. to noon on iHubradio, while The Lovable Liberal airs from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

That time of year is upon us when we say our temporary goodbyes to the snowbirds—and the valley becomes a lot quieter. However, there are still shows that’ll be just as hot as the weather will be.

Alas, the McCallum Theatre goes dark during the summer months—but there are still a handful of great events there in May. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, May 9, everyone’s favorite comedy/parody rocker, Weird Al Yankovic, will be performing. Weird Al has brilliantly spoofed many great pop, rock and rap songs through the years, and starred in his own “successful failure” of a movie, UHF. Speaking of which, Emo Philips, who played Joe Earley in UHF, will also be appearing. Tickets are $37 to $87. At 7 p.m., Saturday, May 12, singer-songwriter and actress Melissa Manchester will take the stage with the Coachella Valley Symphony. She’s released numerous albums since the early ’70s, and appeared in television shows such as Blossom and films such as For the Boys. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 4 p.m., Sunday, May 13, 70 high school music students from throughout the Coachella Valley will perform as part of the 2018 All-Valley High School Honor Band. This is the third-annual concert, for which students must audition in front of College of the Desert faculty members to perform. Tickets are $10. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

May is flat-out hot with spectacular events at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 5, Train will be performing. The band arrived with its debut album in 1998, scoring a hit with “Meet Virginia,” and then found it on the very top of the charts in 2010 with “Hey, Soul Sister.” Tickets are $69 to $129. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 19, legendary R&B outfit Earth, Wind and Fire (right) will be performing. Although frontman Maurice White passed away in 2016, Earth, Wind and Fire remains as popular as ever. It is one band every music-lover should experience live at least once; I’m speaking from experience. Tickets are $49 to $79. And now the highlight: At 8 p.m., Sunday, May 27, ’80s rock icon and badass Billy Idol will take the stage. Idol’s mainstream success was well-deserved … but there was a punk-rocker inside of him who always needed to unleashed—and that side of him comes out at times. Tickets are $59 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a great May schedule. At 8 p.m., Thursday, May 17, former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar will be performing with his band The Circle. That band includes drummer Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham), bassist Michael Anthony (of Van Halen) and longtime Hagar guitarist Vic Johnson. Hagar was a successful solo artist in his own right before temporarily replacing David Lee Roth. Tickets are $95 to $125. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 18, enjoy a double bill from Tower of Power and Average White Band. There’s a lot of truth in Tower of Power’s name, as it is one of the most powerful R&B bands in music history. Average White Band may have a funny name, but it is one of the best-known names in funk music, most remembered for “Pick Up the Pieces.” Tickets are $45 to $65. At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 26, husband-and-wife Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo will be performing. Benetar and Giraldo married in 1982, and have been performing together at times ever since. Tickets are $55 to $75. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a fun Cinco de Mayo event: At 8 p.m., Saturday, May 5, enjoy performances by Nacho “Nash” Bustillos, Mariachi Serenata Mexicana and DJ Morales. Mariachi Serenata Mexicana has been performing in the Coachella Valley for several years and is quite popular. Tickets are $10. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is showing no signs of a post-Coachella/Stagecoach hangover, with a packed May. At 8:30 p.m., Sunday, May 20, X bassist John Doe will be performing a solo set. John Doe’s performance at Stagecoach last year impressed me; he’s a fantastic songwriter, and his style of performance will go over well at Pappy and Harriet’s. Also on the bill: J. Micah Nelson (son of Willie, performing as Particle Kid), and Feisty Heart. Tickets are $20. At 9 p.m., Thursday, May 24, punk/ska band Fishbone will rock Pappy’s. If you’ve never seen Fishbone, you have no idea what you’re missing. Nearly the entire original lineup is back. This is going to be a high-energy show in a small setting, and you’ll love it. Tickets are $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, May 25, the instrumental band Godspeed You! Black Emperor (below) will perform outdoors. I’m personally stoked for this one, given I have always wanted to see the band. Godspeed’s “songs” are not songs in the classical sense; they are long and evolving jams that go to some dark and psychedelic places. Tickets are $40. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Copa Room Palm Springs is hosting the return of a longtime favorite. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, May 25 and 26; and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, May 27, comedy and music duo Amy and Freddy will be performing. They've shared the stage with some great names such as The Supremes, Kathy Griffin and even Bea Arthur. Tickets are $25 to $35. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Published in Previews

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians made it perfectly clear to the city of Palm Springs: The tribe strongly objects to Measure C, the ballot initiative that would effectively ban vacation rentals, which will be decided on by Palm Springs voters on June 5.

“The tribe is concerned that this ban is onerous and unnecessary restriction of the use of allotted trust land,” said the letter from Tom Davis, tribe’s chief planning and development officer, hand-delivered to City Manager David Ready. “The complete prohibition of vacation rentals in R1 zones is an extreme action that will likely only serve to drive this activity ‘underground.’”

According to city records, approximately 770 of the 1,986 permitted short-term vacation rentals are on tribal land. As a sovereign nation, the tribe does not need to implement any of Palm Springs’ ordinances when it comes to properties built on its reservation.

After sharing the letter with me, Davis—who started working for the tribe more than a quarter-century ago, when current Chairman Jeff Grubbe was still in high school—agreed to an email interview.

What is the main concern for the tribe regarding the possible ban on short-term rentals in Palm Springs?

The tribe believes that a total ban on short-term vacation rentals is overly restrictive and, in certain cases, contrary to the principle of highest and best use of allotted trust land.

What are the tribe’s legal options in the case?

Land-use regulation is under the tribe’s sovereign authority. However, allotted trust lands in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage and parts of the county are subject to our land-use agreements with those jurisdictions. These land-use agreements allow for local jurisdictions to regulate land use, and all decisions are appealable to the Tribal Council for final decision.

You have been with the tribe for decades. Has there ever been a situation like this before?

Nothing specifically like this. However, in 2004, there was a referendum of the city’s rezoning of “Section 14,” a square mile in downtown that is reservation land master-planned by the tribe and rezoned in cooperation (with) the city. The referendum was sponsored by labor unions. A “yes” vote approved the City Council’s decision, and it passed.

On a brighter note, the tribe just announced plans for a new downtown Palm Springs cultural center.

The tribe invites the community to its groundbreaking at 9 a.m., Friday, May 11, of its new 5.8-acre cultural center in the heart of downtown Palm Springs that celebrates the history, culture and traditions of the Agua Caliente people.

What is the timeline for finishing the project?

The groundbreaking will be at the corner of Indian Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way, and kicks off a two-year construction cycle to build a new cultural museum; an Agua Caliente Spa and Bathhouse that celebrates the tribe’s ancient Agua Caliente hot mineral spring; a gathering plaza; gardens; and an Oasis Trail. The project is on target to open in 2020.

Simultaneously, the tribe is making plans for an expansion of the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage. More on that?

The tribal environmental impact report will study the potential environmental impacts of an expansion of the resort that may include expanding the gaming area by up to 58,000 square feet; meeting space by up to 41,000 square feet; the food, beverage and retail space by 25,000 square feet; and the development of up to 310 new hotel rooms in 364,000 square feet of hotel space. About 120,000 square feet of new commercial space is also being considered to the south of the resort. Like any environmental analyses, the tribe’s environmental report will study the maximum development potential and use that information to refine the project.

There are also plans for a new casino in Cathedral City.

The tribe proposes to build a gaming facility and ancillary amenities on land that it owns contiguous to the tribe’s reservation within the city of Cathedral City. As part of the proposed project, an application has been filed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take approximately 13 acres of land into trust on behalf of the tribe for gaming purposes. The federal actions necessary to implement the proposed project trigger the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. The tribe proposes to develop and operate a gaming facility and ancillary amenities on the project site, which has been previously developed. The proposed project is planned to be designed and constructed in multiple phases and ultimately consists of the development of a casino, parking, bars, restaurants, retail and mixed-use space, and tribal government office space.

Published in Local Issues

April is the final month of the busy season—and it seems like some venues have saved the best for last.

April marks the final full month of events at the McCallum Theatre. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 3, Lucie Arnaz—actress, singer, producer and daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz—presents Stepping Out for College of the Desert: Latin Roots. The show will pay tribute to Arnaz’s Latin roots, especially the man who helped bring Latin music to America—her father. Tickets are $67 to $127. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 7, enjoy a rock show by Boz Scaggs. His soulful singing combined with his rocking guitar is always a treat—and “Lowdown” is a great song to hear live. Tickets are $100 to $250. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 14, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra will be performing A Tribute to John Williams. Considering how many great films for which Williams has composed soundtracks, this should be a wonderful show to take in. Tickets are $87 to $137. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting two fine events in April. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 7, comedian and puppeteer Terry Fator will be performing. Fator’s wildly popular shows are always funny and entertaining. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 14, enjoy a double-bill of Latin music when Los Lobos (right) and Los Lonely Boys perform. While Los Lobos is best known for the cover of “La Bamba” for the 1987 biographical Ritchie Valens film, there are a lot of cuts the band recorded early in a 45-year career that are political and go deep into the Latin-music genre. Hopefully some of that will be played here! The group Los Lonely Boys is best remembered for hit-song “Heaven,” and the band has sold millions of albums. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has one compelling music event in April: At 8 p.m., Friday, April 6, The Doobie Brothers will be performing. The famed Northern California rock band is no stranger to the desert. The group has won four Grammy awards and has sold 48 million records. Tickets are $60 to $80. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has an event in April comedy fans will love: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 7, Marlon Wayans will be returning to the area. I spoke with the comedian and actor last year, and during the interview, his mother—the famous “Mrs. Wayans” referenced in Wayans brothers comedy—actually called him on his other phone. Marlon is hilarious, and he’s proven himself to be a talented actor outside of the comedy genre—see Requiem for a Dream—and has worked as a screenwriter and producer. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa doesn’t have any big music events in April, but get ready to celebrate, ladies … that’s right: At 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28, Australia’s Thunder From Down Under is BACK! The all-handsome, all-hunk, all-male revue is a hit, and the shows usually sell out—so get your tickets while you still can. They cost $25. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will probably be bonkers with surprises in April thanks to Coachella and Stagecoach—and already, there are a lot of sold-out events. Here are some great shows with tickets left as of our deadline: At 9 p.m., Thursday, April 5, bass-and-drum duo Sumo Princess will take the stage. Sumo Princess features Abby Travis (KMFDM, Eagles of Death Metal, The Bangles) and Gene Trautmann (Queens of the Stone Age, Mojave Lords, Mark Lanegan). Also on the bill is Elettrodomestico, featuring Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Gos. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 6, talented local musician Gene Evaro Jr. (pictured below; photo by Guillermo Prieto/irockphotos.net) will be performing an outdoor show. Also on the bill: His sister, Gabriella Evaro. Tickets are $15 to $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has a busy month of April, per usual. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 14, Palm Springs cabaret star Jerome Elliott will be performing. Elliott will sing hits from Broadway, the world of pop music, and the Great American Songbook. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 21, internationally known singer and pianist Lori Donato will take the stage in a show celebrating Marilyn Maye. Donato has a vocal range that allows her to master blues, jazz and other genres. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 27, Ann Hampton Callaway will perform songs from all the divas that we love—Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and many others. Tickets are $55 to $65. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

In the ’90s, Boyz II Men enjoyed an incredible ride to the top of the charts—and in the years since, no group has matched Boyz II Men’s combination of style and talent.

The group continues to record and perform around the world as a trio, and has had a residency in Las Vegas at the Mirage Hotel and Casino since 2013.

Boyz II Men will be stopping by The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort and Spa this Friday, March 2.

During a recent phone interview, Boyz II Men member Shawn Stockman discussed Under the Streetlight, the group’s most-recent album, featuring doo-wop covers such as “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “I Only Have Eyes for You.”

“It was a whole lot of fun to record,” Stockman said enthusiastically. “These were songs (where) we obviously weren’t born during the time they came out, but we did listen to them as kids, because our parents played them. We feel just as connected to them as they do. It helped us as future vocalists to appreciate a certain type of sound. Doo-wop is beautiful, and the songs we picked are the nearest and dearest to our hearts, because we heard them when we were children. It was a fun project. because it brought back a lot of memories.”

They recruited a friend, fellow ’90s R&B vocalist Brian McKnight, for the album; he appears on three of the tracks.

“Brian is a good friend, and we’ve known Brian since the beginning,” Stockman said. “We came out at just about the same time, and we’ve always had this rapport and friendship that’s lasted at least 20 years. Reaching out to him, he almost never says no, unless he has something pressing that he has to do. We never say no to him if there’s something he needs from us. That’s just a friendship thing. It just made sense for him to be a part of this.”

Boyz II Men represents the last of the great artists on Motown Records. The group appears on many Motown Records compilations—along with some of the most recognizable R&B singers in history.

“It was almost like everything was set up for it to just happen, and we were just there,” Stockman said. “There are certain things you cannot plan. I feel blessed every day, and I mean that; I’m not just saying that to sound good during an interview. There could have been so many people; there are so many better singers than myself, and I didn’t have to be part of this group. I’m thankful and grateful to have experienced what I have so far, and I’m taking full advantage of it.”

It seemed as if Boyz II Men was trying to create something new, by combining group harmonies, doo-wop and the new jack swing sound of the ’90s.

“Even though there was a surge of musical groups that came out at the same time we did, I think the thing that separated us from everyone else was we came from the same background, and we sang together in high school,” Stockman said. “We were very familiar with each other’s voices. It was like being on a football team that practiced. When we were presented to the world, we were fairly groomed with a sense of knowing how to perform, vocalize and deliver a song. I think that was our greatest advantage.”

The group’s 1991 debut, Cooleyhighharmony, was a smashing success, a rarity for musical groups. The song “Motownphilly” peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 3. Boyz II Men also managed to score a hit with a cover of the G.C. Cameron single “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”

“It says everything it needs to say when you miss someone that you love, or someone that you love is gone forever,” Stockman said about “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” “That’s pretty much it. The greatest songs are the simplest ones and carry the deepest sentiment and translate into the simplest form. That’s what makes songs great. Everyone can relate to it. That’s the beautiful thing about that song: It’s beautiful and it’s simplistic.”

Sophomore album II was an even bigger smash success in 1994, with songs such as “I’ll Make Love to You,” “Thank You” and “On Bended Knee.” The pressure during the recording of II was intense, but the members worked through it, Stockman said.

“It’s funny, because when you first get signed, no one at the label knows you. No one really cares about you, and maybe there are a couple of people who are excited about you. You’re successful all of a sudden, and then you have a whole bunch of chefs in the kitchen. You have all these people up your butt that you didn’t have before, and that causes craziness and pressure. But we weren’t just some contrived group; we were friends. We were able to deflect a lot of that stuff that came with success. The first album did well; the second album did better. There were a lot of people trying to get in on this success. That part sucked. But we managed to keep it cool and keep it about the music.”

I asked Stockman about the 2014 album Collide, which was panned by some critics thanks to an EDM sound and Auto-Tune vocals.

“The irony of the music industry is if you keep it the same, people say, ‘Ugh! They kept it the same!’ If you do something different, ‘Ugh! They did something different! Why didn’t they keep it the same?’” Stockman said. “So, really, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. There’s always going to be someone who won’t be happy. Collide was one of those records that didn’t get us a lot of the attention we hoped it would, but I still feel like it was a great effort.”

Stockman recently recorded vocals on the title track of the Foo Fighters’ newest album, Concrete and Gold.

“I ran into Dave Grohl and met him a few years prior at a really hard rock ’n’ roll spot called ‘the flower shop,’” Stockman said with a laugh. “It was actually just a flower shop, and we were buying flowers for our wives, and we just happened to see each other. We started talking about music. When he was recording Concrete and Gold, I saw him sitting outside the studio. … He was out there working on some lyrics, and we started catching up, and he was like, ‘Hey, I’m recording this record. Want to be on it?’ I was like, ‘Yeah! Just give me a little while, and when I’m done doing my thing, I’ll come by your studio.’ That’s how it happened. I’m old-school in the sense that I don’t need a team of lawyers to be beside me to get a song recorded. It’s all about vibe and good energy. I like Dave, and I’m a fan of the Foo Fighters, and that’s how that came about.”

Stockman is the father of an autistic child.

“It’s a daunting condition. No one, including the people who are directly affected by it, want to talk about it,” Stockman said. “It’s rough to look at your child and see something different about him that you have to help regulate. It’s a rough thing, and people don’t like to give to charities in the first place, especially to something they don’t understand, and for autism, a lot of people don’t understand it. It’s not a condition that you can pinpoint to one cause. No one knows why kids develop autism. … With our foundation, Micah’s Voice, which is named after our son, it’s about being proactive with the people who have autism, and leaving the speculations up to the experts. All we know is that there are over 70 million people in the world with autism, and that’s like the population of an entire country. These people will grow up to become adults, and some of them are adults, so you have people you have to protect.”

Boyz II Men will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, March 2, at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $55 to $75. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.hotwatercasino.com.

Published in Previews

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