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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

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

The Eighth Annual Desert Stars Festival brought more than 30 bands to two outdoor stages and one indoor stage at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 25 and 26.

In other words, attendees really had some tough decisions to make regarding which bands to see.

The Desert Stars Festival is a traditional celebration of all things desert. Promoter Tommy Dietrick started the event as the Clean Air Clear Stars Festival in 2007, and changed the name in 2013. Via the festival, Dietrick did a excellent job of promoting the galactic efforts by the Mojave Desert Land Trust. MDLT had a petition table to urge POTUS to create several new land monuments. Dietrick reminded everyone to sign the petition and thanked MDLT for preserving 60,000 acres in the desert.

To my surprise, I ran into some music fans I met at a metal show in Orange County, and a couple I saw at the mega FYF Fest earlier this summer. I also saw a handful of West L.A. faux-hippies who apparently get their fashion cues from H&M, creating a look that would cause Ken Kesey to roll over in his grave.

Thankfully, music took center stage over fashion.

On Friday, Dead Meadow was a highlight. Dead Meadow perfects the new psychedelic genre with an original interpretation of bass, guitar and drums that allows you to just relax and listen as you groove under the Mojave sky.

Spindrift was on early on Friday; the band is always a crowd favorite with spaghetti-Western instrumental surf-rock. New song “Kama Sutra Tiger Attack” would be outstanding in a remake of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Alex Maas of the Black Angels is a regular at this festival—and to Pappy and Harriet’s. Maas had the honors of playing on the handmade Tee Pee stage, constructed by Tommy Dietrick himself. Alex Maas used minimal equipment and kicked ass.

I was relaxing in the billiard room waiting for the Lemonheads when I spied Cain Motter, Venice artist and owner of Domeland, walking outside Pappy’s with a hula hoop. Since flash is always a no-no in music photography, Caine showed off fire-breathing to illuminate himself. Just a normal happening in these parts of the desert.

I was really excited to see the Lemonheads headline. The band kicked things off with “Hospital” and delighted fans through a 12-plus-song set—but there was no cover of “Mrs. Robinson.” Sky Parade with Tommy Dietrick on vocals was great in the indoor stage.

On Saturday, the Cosmonauts spread gloomy acid rock to the main stage—and I loved it. The jam-filled set let one appreciate the difference that psych rock bands bring to this festival.

The Entrance Band is another regular at Pappy and Harriet’s. Guy Blakeslee and Paz Lenchantin form the core of the band, which is well-known in the L.A. music scene. Paz has been the touring bassist for the Pixies for a few years, too. Together, they stood out at Desert Stars, especially with “Back in the City” from the EP Dans La Tempete.

U.K. band Swervedriver headlined the last night of the festival. This group indeed has some dedicated followers; one fan tried to call dibs on the set list while it was being taped to the stage. Swervedriver is touring to promote a new album, I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, and the band included “Autodidact,” “Lone Star” and “Setting Sun” from the new release. The new material was well-received by the hardcore fans.

If you want to experience a buffet of psych rock, Desert Stars is the place for you—and the majestic views that only the Mojave Desert can bring are more than a bonus.

Published in Reviews