CVIndependent

Tue09172019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

A large and, by all accounts, successful comic con came to Palm Springs over the summer.

One problem: That comic con was improperly billed as the first and only Coachella Valley comic con.

Turns out a group called the Palm Springs Comic Con has been around since 2014—and this scrappy group of locals is putting on the Palm Springs Comic Con on Saturday, Nov. 19, and Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs. (Full disclosure: The Independent is a sponsor of the event.)

Locally, there is no one more passionate about comic and nerd-culture than Alex Callego.

“My love for it started 20 years ago,” Callego said during a recent interview. “My love for conventions began before that. I’d always heard about San Diego Comic-Con, even before it was this huge and gigantic thing. I always wanted to go to it because I had friends who were artists in high school, and I wanted to be a comic book writer. I joined forces with them and tried to be a comic writer, but it was never a serious thing; it was just out of love for my comic-book fandom.”

Callego said he went to his first San Diego Comic-Con by accident, more or less.

“I was on vacation with some family members. We stayed in San Diego at the same time as San Diego Comic-Con,” he said. “We walked over there, and this was back before you had to buy tickets. We just went in, and from that moment forward, it changed my life: I had to go every single year.”

Callego said he always thought it would be amazing to have a comic con in his hometown, but he was hesitant to produce one of his own.

“I was into music … and I wanted to be in a band and tour. After a while, the whole music thing went away for me for a few years,” he said. “But I was still going to San Diego Comic-Con … 10 years in a row, and then 15 years in a row. That idea of putting on my own convention was something I decided I wanted to do: It sunk in that I needed to create something of my own. Music wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

“The first event we did was in May 2014, and that’s when we launched our (Kickstarter) initiative.”

That initiative raised more than $14,000. Callego said he was bothered at first when the other group came in and started billing the summer comic con as the valley’s first and only.

“Very quickly, I let it go,” he said. “The way I saw it, and the more geek stuff out here in the desert, the better. It strengthens the culture that much more as long as it’s done right. The thing is, being first doesn’t mean anything. Being the best at something is a matter of opinion. What matters the most is being good and connecting with people. As long as I’m connecting to people, that’s what matters. I’m sure it matters to businesses that are involved and things like that.

“Our convention started off with a Kickstarter; the fans wanted it. They saw the desire to have a comic-book convention in their town and wanted it so badly that they put their own money behind it. It’s my duty as a person in the community to create something as best as possible with the resources that I have.”

What can attendees expect from the Palm Springs Comic Con? Callego said the weekend is all about offering a unique experience, as well as some really fun exhibits.

“We want the experience to be more interactive; we bring in the younger talents who are trying to do their artwork and art form,” Callego said. “This is a platform for us to be able to help them. What I want to give is an experience that is unique. … We have Titmouse Studios coming in, and they’re going to be doing a panel. They’re going to be talking about their latest show and their newest movie. We also have this thing called the Memory Box; it’s sort of like playing telephone, only through video.”

The Palm Springs Comic Con takes place Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19 and 20, at the Hard Rock Hotel, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $15 to $50. For tickets and more information, visit www.pscomiccon.com. For VIP passes ($50 value for $35), go to the Independent Market at CVIndependent.com.

Published in Local Fun

Balisage Bistro Closing on Nov. 5; an Impending Move Is Promised

When restaurant owners announce that they’re closing for a move—but don’t actually announce any details about the move—it usually does not bode well for the existence of said restaurant.

Take the fate of the Twin Palms Bistro and the Chop House Palm Springs as cautionary tales: Both announced they were moving to a space TBD; then they closed, and have (as of yet) not been heard from again

This brings us to Balisage Bistro, the popular Mediterranean place that has spent 2 1/2 years at 145 N. Gene Autry Trail—right next door to Atlantic Aviation: The restaurant announced via Facebook in October that it was closing on Saturday, Nov. 5—and said to “stay tuned for news of our exciting new location.”

Uh oh.

However, this closure may actually be followed by a move: After a fan asked where Balisage was moving, whomever responds to such queries on the Balisage Facebook page responded with a single word: “Downtown.”

Hmm. Watch www.facebook.com/balisagebistro for updates, or call 760-406-4565.


New (Kinda): The Kitchen at the Hard Rock

When the Hard Rock Palm Springs announced a while back that Kerry Simon would lend his name to its main restaurant, it made sense; after all, Simon was often referred to as the “Rock ’n’ Roll Chef,” so the Simon Kitchen + Bar seemed like a good fit for the music-themed property.

Sadly, the fit would not last: Simon, who had been suffering from multiple-system atrophy, died on Sept. 11, 2015.

Now, a little more than year later, the Hard Rock Palm Springs restaurant is simply known as The Kitchen.

The menu is now a little smaller and less fancy than it was during the Simon Kitchen days. Gone, for example, are the rabbit ragu and the truffled mac and cheese. However, The Kitchen still serves all three meals, with burgers, sandwiches and entrées like pasta primavera and braised beef short ribs leading the way.

Check out the menu for yourself at www.hrhpalmsprings.com/restaurant.htm, or call 760-325-9676.


In Brief

Head on down to PIRCH, located at 71905 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage, from 5 to 8 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14, for “Bites and Sips for Scholarships,” a fundraiser by the Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI), Palm Springs chapter. What’s LDEI? It’s an “international organization of executive women in the culinary, hospitality and fine beverage industry with 39 chapters throughout the United States, Canada, the UK and Mexico,” says the news release. The Palm Springs chapter is celebrating its 20th year and has given nearly $75,000 in scholarships! Restaurants participating in the fundraiser include Sherman’s Deli, Zin American Bistro, Go Deli Market, Bernie’s Supper Club, Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill, and Cello’s Pantry; all of these places feature Les Dames d’Escoffier members. Alcohol sips and a prize drawing are also on offer; tickets are $50 at www.ldeips.org, or $60 at the door. … The AIDS Assistance Program—Food Samaritans is bringing back its Hollywood Dine and Dish fundraiser. It’ll take place at 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 29, at a private estate in Palm Springs. (The address will be provided when tickets are purchased.) Photographer to the stars Michael Childers is presenting the event, while lifestyle and real estate correspondent Michael Corbett will be the master of ceremonies. Entertainers for the evening will include Tony Award nominee Sharon McNight, and funnymen Alec Mapa and Bruce Vilanch. Open your wallets: $500, or $750 per couple, will also get you a great dinner and “premium cocktails.” For more information or to purchase tickets, call 760-325-8481, or visit aidsassistance.org. … The Broken Yolk Café is now open in downtown Palm Springs, in the former Chop House space at 262 S. Palm Canyon Drive; it’s the second Coachella Valley location for the chain, joining the La Quinta location at 78430 Highway 111. Get more info at thebrokenyolkcafe.com, or call 760-318-9655.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

To understand Splash House, look to the great Scottish band Belle and Sebastian, which declares: “Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance.”

This formula for success brings to Palm Springs the younger set, which was virtually banned from Palm Springs in the ’80s and ’90s. However, gone are the rabble-rousers popping wheelies with bikini-clad girls holding on for dear life; instead, this is a smaller house-music festival with a more-intimate feel, thanks to approximately 4,000 in attendance.

This was the second Splash House celebration this summer, this time taking over three venues: Saguaro, the Hilton and Hard Rock. The Saguaro’s pool was packed to capacity, requiring security to use a hand-held counter to determine how many people could get in the pool. You could, at times, walk from one end of the pool to the other—if you dared to balance yourself on the armada of floaties.

Fans dealt with the scorching heat by shuttling back and forth in free buses stocked with ice-cold water. The shuttle bus itself was part of the show, with excited music fans dancing to music being pumped in from the speakers—a tradition borrowed from Coachella itself.

By the festival’s second day, everyone appeared to be acquainted. People offered me recommendations on which performers to see. My only quibble: There was no shuttle stop at the Hilton, meaning attendees had to make the short-but-in-blistering-heat walk to the Hard Rock. However, the lack of a shuttle stop allowed me to have a great conversation with Katya Bachrouche, a Lebanese-American international swimmer who shares my love for Lebanese pickled turnips. These random social interactions illustrate how Splash House is more than a music festival; it’s a shared experience between people who want to have fun.

Here are photos from the August Splash House.

Published in Reviews

This month, I’m happy to welcome Hard Rock Palm Springs resident DJ Paparazzi, aka Cesar Rios.


Since you’re from L.A., what has it been like transitioning to being a Coachella Valley resident?

As far as living day to day, it’s actually been a great transition for me. It’s paradise everyday and night here. Plus, I’m extremely lucky to have my DJ residency at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs. … Nevertheless, being born and raised in L.A., I do miss a good local scene. In Palm Springs, I feel like it’s not here ... yet. I do see it changing. I’m betting it will come when Bardot, (the new nightclub) at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, opens (tonight), where I will be curating events.

What would you say your style or favored genres are?

Dance music. Always dance music. Anything beyond that is a discussion I don’t get into.

What would you consider your "best" gig?

Coachella. Set-wise, it was a mess, though. I don’t normally plan my DJ sets in their entirety, but for some reason, I got obsessed with it just for that gig. I worked on it for about a month. … Thirty minutes before my set time, I was told instead of DJing for 45 minutes, I would be DJing for three hours in the Sahara Tent. … It wasn’t bad or anything; it just wasn’t great. At heart, I’m a club DJ, and I mean club DJ in the old-school sense of the word. I tend to play to what I think would make the best experience for my crowd.


Paparazzi has a lot in store for Palm Springs, make sure you follow him on his social media to keep up with it all!

  • Chris Lake, “Chest”
  • Vin Sol, “Off the Chain”
  • Marcelo Cura, “That Sh*t” (Pirupa and Leon Remix)
  • Billy Kenny, “I Eat Beats” (Ardalan Remix)
  • Stephane 1993, “Plaques”
  • Manik, “Silver”
  • Sophie, “Lemonade” (Durante Edit)
  • Tiga Vs. Boys Noize, “100”
  • Tinashe, “Hand on Deck” (Giraffage Remix) 
  • Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen” (Figgy Remix)
  • Autoerotique, “Woof”
  • Frankie Knuckles, “Baby Wants to Ride”
  • Zombie Disco Squad featuring DJ Funk, “Twerk”
  • Treasure Fingers and Anna Lunoe, “Bad MF”
  • Donna Summers, “Our Love” (Blake Baxter Remix)
  • Armando, “Don’t Take It” (Thomo’s Re-edit)
  • Stip Steve, “Ridin’”
  • Jamie XX featuring Young Thug and Popcaan, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”
Published in Subatomic

Mark Your Calendars: Dining Out for Life Is on Thursday, April 30

Every year, dozens of area restaurants agree to give a chunk of one special day’s proceeds to the Desert AIDS Project, and that sacrifice makes a big financial difference: Last year, more than $175,000 was raised for DAP’s client services, thanks to about 10,000 diners and 43 participating restaurants.

This year, DAP has even higher hopes for Dining Out for Life, which will take place on Thursday, April 30: As of this writing, 47 restaurants had pledged to participate, with each giving at least 33 percent of the day’s proceeds to DAP.

That’s fantastic. Even better: Two restaurants have committed to giving 100 percent of the day’s take to DAP: Ristretto (500 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs) and Pho 533 (1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 625, Palm Springs; more on Pho 533 later).

By the way: The Independent is a sponsor of Dining Out for Life, and we have agreed to “adopt” three restaurants during the day; follow us on Facebook to watch as we eat breakfast at King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club (701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs), lunch at Alicante (140 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs), and dinner at Bar (340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs). Or better yet—join us at these great restaurants; have a great meal; and help the Desert AIDS Project surpass last year’s $175,000 take.

Go out and eat for a good cause; it’s literally the least you can do!

For more information, including a complete list of participating restaurants, visit www.diningoutforlife.com/palmsprings.

Dash and a Handful Owner Buys Pho 533

Chad Gardner, the brains (and the culinary talent) behind the Dash and a Handful catering company, is in the process of buying Pho 533, the Vietnamese restaurant that calls the Smoke Tree Village Shopping Center in Palm Springs home.

In a news release, Gardner said he had no immediate plans to make big changes at the restaurant; in fact, he said he is a longtime fan of Pho 533.

“I’m extremely excited to take the reins of this great restaurant and its loyal following that has been lovingly cultivated by its current ownership,” Gardner said, in the type of awkward quote that could only be found in a press release. He continued: “You may see some new specials introduced here and there, but the current menu will remain virtually intact.”

According to that news release, Gardner has long wanted to own a restaurant. “I started my career in restaurants, and I love all types of Asian food, but since I was trained as a French chef, I particularly love Vietnamese food,” he said.

Escrow is expected to close sometime in early April.

Congratulations to Gardner! Watch pho533palmsprings.com for updates.

In Brief

Serious Food and Drink has moved in to the space at 415 N. Palm Canyon Drive that was the longtime home of Hamburger Mary’s. The restaurant’s website describes Serious as a “new American restaurant with a fun, relaxed atmosphere that is great for all occasions,” and there is some serious talent behind the place. Expect compelling appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrées for lunch, while dinner brings a lot of tasty stuff—with price tags topping out at $28. I personally can’t wait to try out the Quack Stack appetizer ($13.95): Take duck fat fries, and add shredded duck confit and duck-egg hollandaise. I gained four pounds just reading that—but my mouth is watering. Learn more at seriousfoodanddrink.com. … With the change in seasons comes changes in menus—and such is the case at Simon Kitchen + Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs. On Monday, March 30, the restaurant—which carries the name of celebrity chef Kerry Simon, and is led by executive chef Jeremy Saccardi—added new “social plates” (read: appetizers) that include veal meatballs Parmigana with rapini and burrata; and wok-charred edamame with togarashi. That sounds good, but it was the steak addition that got our attention: a 22- or 36-ounce bone-in rib eye prepared with marrow butter and special steak sauce. Yes, marrow butter. More info at www.hrhpalmsprings.com/simon.htm. … Finally, sad news: Michael Farber, the proprietor at Dickie O’Neal’s Irish Pub, at 2155 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, passed away due to heart problems. Following his death, Dickie O’Neal’s closed its doors indefinitely. Both Farber and Dickie O’Neal’s Irish Pub will be greatly missed.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

On Friday, Feb. 13, the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs will host an event featuring fashion and music—with a local twist.

The Seven|Six Trade Show is now in its fourth year; last year’s show was held at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs. The Seven|Six is the brainchild of Coachella Valley local Omar Czar. Full disclosure: I am involved with the Seven|Six Trade Show—and I can assure you that Czar is a “jack of all trades” when it comes to throwing these types of events. He handles everything from booking the musical acts, to bringing in vendors for the show.

For the upcoming show, Omar is looking to bring in more than 50 fashion brands. The Seven|Six is open to any brand that has a seasonal line and a website. These loose rules make it easier for smaller and/or lesser-known brands to get their products exposed to a larger audience.

The first half of the show is open exclusively to scouts from larger retailers.

“We’re making brands available that (weren’t previously) available to locals,” Czar said.

He added that one of their main goals of the show is to encourage local companies to push for more exposure. While many of the participating vendors come from Los Angeles, he wants local designers to take advantage of the opportunity.

“I do it for the locals,” he said. “The local people are our main supporters.”

The Seven|Six also features musical acts at each event. This show will feature hip-hop artist Azizi Gibson, an artist on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label. Several DJs will be playing, including All Night Shoes (that’s me!) and Seven|Six collaborator Oscar Smith IV, aka Captain OSIV.

With a local focus and international state of mind, the Seven|Six has something for everyone at every event. Also: Keep an eye out for a Seven|Six retail location, coming soon to the valley.

The Seven|Six Trade Show will take place from noon to midnight, Friday, Feb. 13, at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, located at 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive. Admission is $10. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/thesevensixx.

Published in Local Fun

October is here, and in theory, we should begin to get some relief from the oppressive heat.

In theory.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has two excellent events coming up that you probably shouldn’t miss. First, the Experience Hendrix Tour will be coming through at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11. The lineup is packed with big names, including Buddy Guy, Billy Cox, Zakk Wylde, Jonny Lang and many others. As you can probably guess from the name, the tour pays homage to Jimi Hendrix, and has been going for more than a decade. Tickets are $29 to $69. And now for something completely different: Cheech and Chong and WAR will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24. Cheech and Chong are the comedy world’s biggest stoners, of course, thanks in part to films such as Up in Smoke, Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie, and Nice Dreams. And if anybody asks, Dave’s not here, man. Tickets are $29 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has two fine events scheduled. The Beach Boys will be performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3. Former Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson came through the Coachella Valley in late August, so a performance by the Beach Boys should be a nice follow-up; however, keep in mind that technically, Mike Love is the only original member of this group of Beach Boys, although Bruce Johnston, a touring member since 1965, is also part of the lineup. There’s no word on whether or not John Stamos will be performing on the drums. Tickets are $45 to $75. Creedence Clearwater Revisited will be performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 17, featuring Creedence Clearwater Revival members Stu Cook (bass) and Doug Clifford (drums). The group formed in 1995 to play a couple of shows that a friend of theirs wanted to put on—and then they decided to tour. This did not sit well with Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty; Fogerty filed suit against Cook and Clifford, forcing them to perform under a different name until the courts ruled in favor of Cook and Clifford. Tickets are $40 to $60. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events worth mentioning. They’re back: Thunder From Down Under returns to Morongo at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3. Tickets are $25. If mostly naked men aren’t your thing, you’ll be happy to know that Paquita la del Barrio will be performing at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24. The renowned singer has been fighting sexism in Mexico since 1970—and she’ll put you on the spot if you give her any flak. This is a show definitely worth checking out. Tickets are $59 to $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

The Purple Room reopened as The Purple Room Restaurant and Stage just before Labor Day. Machin’, The Judy Show and The Michael Holmes Trio still have their usual weekly residencies, and the fine folks there have added the David Ring Duo on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. They play jazz and old favorites from the American Songbook. There is no cover. The Gand Band will be ending their snowbird season in Chicago and returning to the Purple Room at 8:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3. Tickets are $10. The Gand Band is also leading some themed events in October, such as Tiki Chic on Friday, Oct. 10, and an ’80s Halloween on Friday, Oct. 31. The Purple Room Restaurant and Stage, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa in Palm Springs has a full calendar in October. At 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 2, and 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3, Suzanne Westenhoefer will be appearing. Known as a panelist on GSN’s I’ve Got a Secret, and for her LOGO Television comedy special A Bottom on Top, this lesbian comedian will have you laughing for sure. Tickets are $20 to $40. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11, Gloria Loring will be stopping by. The actress and singer has released several albums and helped compose the theme songs for Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. Fun fact: She was married to Alan Thicke—and is Robin Thicke’s mom. Tickets are $40 to $60. Jazz singer/songwriter Tony DeSare will be appearing at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 18. DeSare’s songs have appeared in films such as The Tooth Fairy and My Date With Drew. Tickets are $20 to $40. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has booked several great shows. Dawes will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11. The Los Angeles folk-rock band has played the late-night talk shows, performed with Jackson Browne at an Occupy Wall Street event, and received acclaim from critics and fans alike for their albums. Tickets are $25. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 15, The New Pornographers (above) will be performing an outdoor show. The band’s blend of pop and indie-rock has made them popular since they formed in 1999. If that’s not enough to convince you, consider the lineup: Neko Case, Dan Bejar of Destroyer, Kathryn Calder of Immaculate Machine, John Collins of The Evaporators, Todd Fancey of Limblifter, and independent filmmaker Blaine Thurier. Wow. Tickets are $30. Tycho with Com Truise will be at Pappy’s at 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 26. Tycho is a well-known ambient-music artist and producer, and Com Truise is a solid name in dance music. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hard Rock Hotel’s schedule is heating up. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 24, it will be “Dive-In Movies” night, with the Palm Springs Film Society screening the Talking Heads concert film, Stop Making Sense, in the pool area. It’s a perfect pairing of venue and film, isn’t it? Admission is free. BB Ingle will be having his Annual Halloween Bash at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31. I can vouch for the fact that it’s a lot of fun. Tickets are $20 in advance, or $30 at the door; 21 and older only. Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9676; www.hrhpalmsprings.com.

Bar is hosting a special event at 9:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 9. The Rebel Noise will be playing the first show of the band’s California tour for the hometown crowd. Also on the bill are CIVX and former War Drum guitarist John Marek. Admission is free. Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs; 760-537-7337; www.barwastaken.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has two events that should not be missed. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3,punk veterans Guttermouth will be returning to The Hood. The controversial and humorous punk band puts on an excellent show. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31, the Koffin Kats (below) will be stopping by for a Halloween show. The Detroit psychobilly group’s performance would be a perfect way to celebrate Halloween. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Date Shed is back with an encouraging calendar of events going into 2015. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11, rapper and producer Warren G will be performing. In 1994, his song “Regulate” was a major hit. Tickets are $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe Street, Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Here’s some advance notice about an early-November event: Celebrate the Day of the Dead on Saturday, Nov. 1, and Sunday, Nov. 2, at the Dia De Los Muertos festival in Coachella, at Rancho Las Flores Park. Scheduled to perform are Chicano Batman, Noel Torres, Banda Nachos, La Santa Cecilia, La Bikina and others. There will be food vendors, art exhibitions, and many other things Day of the Dead. This is a great event for all ages. Tickets start at $20. Rancho Las Flores Park is located at 48350 Van Buren St. in Coachella. For more information, visit www.diadelosmuertosusa.com.

Published in Previews

Hard Rock Replaces Sessions With Simon Kitchen + Bar

Another celebrity chef is coming to the Coachella Valley.

Simon Kitchen + Bar, a restaurant under the direction of Kerry Simon, is slated to open in mid-September at the Hard Rock, located at 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. It’s replacing Sessions, which had occupied the Hard Rock’s restaurant space since the remodeling of the former Hotel Zozo.

“Palm Springs is hot right now,” Simon said in a news release. “I’m very excited to be a part of this laid-back, hipster getaway. The menu that I’ve developed for Simon Kitchen + Bar is a little edgy, a little fun and full of contemporary takes on the comfort foods we all love.”

As for that menu: It will include “an emphasis on sharing,” with “sandwiches, entrées and stone-oven flatbreads. Social plates include tempura green beans made with pepper jelly and cream cheese; bacon jam served with baked brie and toasted baguette; and ‘devil’s eggs’ complete with crispy pancetta and caviar.”

Sounds tasty to us. Simon should be a good fit for the Hard Rock; after all, Rolling Stone once called him the “Rock ’n’ Roll Chef.”

Watch www.hrhpalmsprings.com for updates and more information.

Cactusberry Getting a Remodel and a Concept Tweak

Cactusberry, the popular frozen-yogurt shop in the Smoke Tree Village Shopping Center at 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, is going in a slightly new direction following a change in ownership.

Johnny Ramirez Jr. and Dale Sutherland are the new owners. After they got the keys, they closed the shop for remodeling. Ramirez tells the Independent they hope to reopen around Oct. 1.

“We are taking ‘Cactusberry Frozen Yogurt’ and expanding the brand, but keeping the same great tastes, as well as adding new items like gelato and frozen custard,” Ramirez said via email. “Our new name in honor of this expansion is ‘Cactusberry+ Frozen Treats.’ We hope to become the Coachella Valley’s go-to shop for frozen treats and drinks!”

Watch Cactusberry’s website (cactusberryplusps.com) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CactusberryPlus) for updates and more information.

TRIO, Purple Room Shaking Things Up Just a Bit

Trio and the Purple Room, the popular restaurants in Palm Springs owned by Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen, are both going through some minor yet welcome changes.

At TRIO, located at 707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, executive chef Van Laanen recently introduced weekly specials to complement the tried-and-true menu. Every week, TRIO is offering an all-day drink special and three new dinner dishes.

“We love pairing fresh ingredients with distinctive flavors, and we are thrilled to cook up these new specials,” Van Laanen said in a news release.

For example, the specials ending the week of Sept. 4 are seared Cajun ahi tuna and carrot cucumber slaw with pickled ginger wasabi; a USDA New York strip steak with caramelized onions and sautéed wild mushrooms; and pan-roasted barramundi with mango pico de gallo and sweet saffron butter sauce. The drink special is the “TRIO Fizz,” featuring muddled orange, Absolut Mandarin, orange juice, lemon juice and soda.

Watch www.triopalmsprings.com for a list of specials throughout September.

Meanwhile, the Purple Room, inside Club Trinidad at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, was slated to reopen after a month off on Thursday, Aug. 28. The slightly rebranded Purple Room Restaurant and Stage also has a new chef and a new menu; a “peek” was posted on the Purple Room Facebook page shortly before the Independent’s press deadline. The new menu includes a wide variety of modern cuisine, ranging from a Brussels sprout salad as a starter ($10) to filet Oscar ($36) and chicken paillards ($23) as main courses.

Head over to www.facebook.com/purpleroomrestaurantstage to get gobs more information on the Purple Room, including a list of upcoming shows.

In Brief

After a seemingly endless construction period, Pho Vu is finally open at 285 S. Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs. … The transformation is complete: The former Chop House Palm Desert has been converted into the Kaiser Grille Palm Desert. The moderately priced restaurant at 74040 Highway 111 is now open. … Tell your beer-loving friends in Arizona that offerings from Coachella Valley Brewing Company will soon be available there, thanks to a distribution deal with Young’s Market Company. … The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, which opened in June with the first 2014 Splash House, closed with the second 2014 Splash House in August. However, management says the closure is only temporary, and that the Hacienda will reopen on Friday, Sept. 26. … The Bootlegger Tiki bar is slated to soon debut at 140 W. Via Lola, Suite 1101, in the back of the building occupied by Ernest Coffee. … Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill, which has been a La Quinta staple for almost a decade, recently opened a second location in the Westfield Palm Desert at 72840 Highway 111. Get more info at www.stuftpizzabarandgrill.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

The first Splash House, in 2013, proved that Tyler and Kelly McLean’s theory was correct: Summer events can be quite successful in Palm Springs.

The second Splash House, held in June of this year, was also a rousing success—so much so that Splash House No. 3 is taking place just two months later, Friday through Sunday, Aug. 8-10.

The pool party/EDM festival will return to the Hard Rock Palm Springs, The Saguaro and the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club with a lineup including A-Trak, Chromeo, Cut/Copy, Viceroy and many others.

“The first one was a lot of learning lessons,” said Tyler McLean, who dreamed up the concept with his sister, Kelly. “It was our first foray into this concept of a pool festival. The details that go into hosting an event through three different venues and transporting people to each venue—it was an interesting project, for sure. I think we learned a lot; above all, our goal going into the first one was to bring people out during the summertime to Palm Springs, and to have people leave saying that they had a good time and that they want to come back to Palm Springs.”

So what if it’s hot—very hot—’round these parts in the summer?

“Not one single person complained about the heat,” Tyler McLean said.

The first Splash House gained 1,500 attendees to The Saguaro, Caliente Tropics and The Curve Palm Springs. The reviews were generally positive and paved the way for the Hard Rock and the Hacienda, both of which have opened since the inaugural Splash House, to sign on in 2014 and accommodate larger crowds.

Splash House has been able to expand quickly for another reason: Promoters Goldenvoice and LED joined forces with the McLeans.

“Having Goldenvoice and LED come on board really gave us the opportunity to grow in a way we haven’t been able to on our own,” Tyler McLean said. “It’s a big venture to take on your own company. There’s a lot of risk and a lot invested. Having Goldenvoice on board gave us the opportunity and the tools we needed.”

Although event promoters don’t get much bigger than Goldenvoice—the AEG subsidiary puts on Coachella and Stagecoach, after all—Tyler McLean insisted that Splash House remains close to the original vision he and his sister had.

“There was definitely the thought of expanding our marketing and taking the lineup up a notch. All of those things put us into a different realm, but we still provide the same atmosphere and experience,” Tyler McLean said. “We had 2,000 people attend the event each day in June, and … people loved the experience. Even with all of those things that go into planning a big event, you still accomplish what made your event special to begin with, and I think that’s what happened. The experience itself is unique, and it is something that people enjoyed and will come back for again and again.”

LED, known for its club-based events, has also proven to be beneficial to the Splash House festival.

“For a first time promoter, some of the artists (we’ve had), like Moby and Cut/Copy, you kind of have to work your way into getting their trust,” Tyler McLean said. “Goldenvoice and LED have certainly given us the resources to go for the big fish and book the artists who are going to bring a lot of people here to Palm Springs.”

The McLeans make a point to include local artists in each Splash House lineup. Local DJs Aaron C, Colour Vision, Alf Alpha and All Night Shoes all played at the June festival.

“Having locals is a win/win. They get a chance to play in a lineup that has Moby and Cut/Copy,” Tyler McLean said. “These local DJs are the ones playing every weekend in front of the crowds and are really entrenched in what the local music scene is. For us, it gives us some trust of the locals, because we’re not just some outside promoter coming in and throwing a party for outsiders. We really wanted to be engrained and allow locals to come. That’s why we book local DJs and offer local discounts.”

Splash House has obviously moved beyond being just an annual event. Tyler McLean explained why Splash House is holding its second festival this summer.

“We can’t really grow the event into a major music event like Coachella or Lollapalooza,” McLean said. “… I think the vision for us is growing as a series versus an annual event. Every summer, there will be this party that happens once every month or every other month at these venues with a different lineup each time.”

Splash House will take place Friday, Aug. 8, through Sunday, Aug. 10. Pre-sale tickets cost $60 to $99. For tickets or more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.

Published in Previews

The heat is here. The snowbirds have gone home.

But great events are taking place in June for the ample number of us who remain.

The first big event worth mentioning is the second annual Splash House. The three-day event featuring pool parties and world-class DJs at three different venues returns this year with an amazing lineup, from Friday, June 13, through Sunday, June 15. The venues this year are the brand-new Hacienda Beach Club, the Hard Rock Hotel, and the Saguaro. The lineup includes Moby (right), Purity Ring, Neon Indian and many others. Tickets start at $103. For more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.

The Hard Rock Hotel has a great new weekly event. Flirt is a Thursday show hosted by friend of the Independent Bella da Ball. Each week revolves around music, entertainers, dancing, partying and rocking, and includes local personalities Marina Mac, Sassy Ross, Jersey Shore and others. The shows start at 7:30 and 9 p.m. There is no cover charge, but there is a two-item food/drink minimum. Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, 150 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9676; www.hrhpalmsprings.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some good stuff going on heading into the first month of summer. The very funny and controversial Kathy Griffin will be appearing at 9 p.m., Friday, June 6, and 8 p.m., Saturday June 7. Tickets are $45 to $75. Fans of Art Laboe’s radio show, take note: The Art Laboe Summer Love Jam III will take place at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 14. The show will feature El Chicano, Rose Royce, MC Magic, Amanda Perez and Club Nouveau. I wonder if you can call in a live dedication for that loved one of yours who couldn’t make the show with you, or that special someone who is far, far away. Tickets are $35 to $65. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

We realize this is primarily a music column, but Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in June has a sporting event and a comedy event that we can’t help but mention. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 6, is the Golden Boy Boxing tripleheader. The main event is a bout between Hugo “The Boss” Centeno and Domonique Dolton; both fighters are undefeated. Tickets are $25 to $45. In what should be a great night of comedy, The Wayans Brothers will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 21. Damon, Keenen, Marlon and Shawn will all be there. I grew up with In Living Color, and I have seen many of their films, so I feel comfortable saying this is one you won’t want to miss. Both Damon and Keenen are excellent stand-up comics, while Marlon and Shawn aren’t too far behind. Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 will be bringing the folk-duo America back to the desert at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 7. After 44 years, the duo is still going strong and has influenced numerous contemporary musicians, including former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha. Tickets are $35 to $55. Latin-music fans will be happy to hear that Roberto Tapia will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 14. Tapia has been at the top of the Billboard Latin music charts and brings electronica and hip-hop to his traditional Norteno sound. Tickets are $30 to $50. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has booked Motown legend Gladys Knight to perform at 9 p.m., Friday, June 13. Gladys Knight and the Pips is one of the best-known Motown acts, usually mentioned in the same conversation as Marvin Gaye or the Temptations when discussing Motown’s legacy. In recent years, Knight has talked extensively about her conversion to Mormonism, and how that helped her keep her life together. Obviously, this woman still has a lot of soul. Tickets are $59 to $79. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

The Date Shed—remember that venue?—actually has an event booked in June. San Diego reggae band Big Mountain (below) will be stopping by at 9 p.m., Saturday, June 28. Since 1991, the San Diego group has put its city on the reggae map, along with Tribal Seeds. Big Mountain’s cover of Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way” was a smash hit, and the group has had a solid career ever since. Tickets are $15 to $40. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews

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