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February is the shortest month of the year—but it’s also the high season in the Coachella Valley, which means there’s a wealth of great shows you should keep in mind.

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club will be hosting a performance by L.A. Witch at 10 p.m., Friday, Feb. 6, in the Amigo Room. The psychedelic female trio has been playing shows with the likes of the Black Angels, The Melvins and Blonde Redhead. Admission is free. The Ace is also hosting a special Valentine’s Day weekend put on by The Do-Over, known as the Lovers x Heartbreakers Palm Springs Weekender, on Saturday, Feb. 14, and Sunday, Feb. 15. There will be a special lineup of surprise musical guests hosted by Haycock, Strong and Blacc. Admission is free. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

Local DJ duo The Deep Ones have started an open-mic night for DJs. What does this concept involve? Well, if you ever wanted to try your skills on a turntable and a mixer, you’ll get your chance at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 26. Get more info on The Deep Ones’ Facebook page. Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails, 32025 Monterey Ave., Thousand Palms; 760-343-2115; www.myplanbbar.com.

The McCallum Theatre has a solid schedule for February—with shows on 24 of the month’s 28 days! At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 3, A Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor will be bringing his show featuring anecdotes from the American Midwest and other amusing portions of his life. Tickets are $45 to $75. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7, Great American Songbook singer Michael Feinstein will perform while sharing the history of these famous tunes. Tickets are $65 to $95. If you’re looking for something to enjoy with the whole family, the Vienna Boys Choir will be performing at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 19. The choir is split into four touring choirs of boys between the ages of 10 and 14; many are from Austria, but kids from other countries are included, too. Tickets are $25 to $65. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has great shows scheduled throughout the month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7, it will be hip to be square with Huey Lewis and the News. True story: I asked for a Metallica album for Christmas one year during my childhood—and my mother bought me Huey’s Sports album instead. Needless to say, I was not happy. Huey has been going since the late 1970s and has had quite a career. One of his more memorable moments was a cameo in Back to the Future, to which he contributed “The Power of Love.” Tickets are $40 to $80. If you had a great time at Air Supply’s Valentine’s Day performance at The Show last year, you’ll be happy to know they’ll be back to soft-rock your face off again, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 14. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 28, Mexican musician and composer Espinoza Paz will be appearing. Paz went back and forth between Mexico and the United States in the late ’90s when he was an aspiring songwriter and musician. He eventually found his calling and released his first album, El Canta Autor Del Pueblo, in 2008. Tickets are $65 to $85. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s February lineup is packed with great shows. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7, you can relive the short reggaeton era (remember that?) with Yandel. He is half of the duo Wisin and Yandel, and he released his second solo album, De Lider a Leyenda, in 2013; a brand new album, Legacy, is slated to drop just before this show. Tickets are $39 to $69. Natalie Cole (above right) will be performing on Valentine’s Day, 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 14. The daughter of Nat King Cole was a big success in the ’70s before falling into drug addiction. She made a remarkable comeback in the late ’80s and has been going strong ever since. Tickets are $39 to $79. The great Burt Bacharach will be returning at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 22. Bacharach has had 48 Top 10 hits over a 50-year period, and his songs have been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Linda Ronstadt, Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin. Tickets are $29 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a star-studded lineup this month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7, former Saturday Night Livewriter John Mulaney will be appearing. Mulaney was responsible for writing the “Weekend Update” portion of the show and created the character of Stefon! Tickets are $30 to $50. If you want a little edge on your Valentine’s Day, former Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 14. He also performed with the members of Queen for five years. Tickets are $45 to $75. Martina McBride will be bringing her “Everlasting Tour” to Spotlight 29 at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 26. The country vocalist has had a long and successful career, and her latest album, Everlasting, features duets with Kelly Clarkson and Gavin DeGraw. Tickets are $79 to $139. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will be busy during the month of February. At 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 10, Pappy’s will be hosting the first performance in 18-plus years of Babes in Toyland. The Riot Grrrl trio has had a rough go of it since disbanding. Frontwoman Kat Bjelland suffered a schizophrenic episode and had to be hospitalized in 2007; bassist Maureen Herman has written about a sexual assault that resulted in a pregnancy; and drummer Lori Barbero suffered from Lyme disease. Babes in Toyland is an intense band that will take you back to the days of grunge and alternative rock. Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21 singer-songwriter Brett Dennen (below) will be appearing. The Northern California folk singer has a unique voice, and his deep lyrics have landed him on the bill at the Newport Folk Festival, at Coachella and on various TV soundtracks. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Copa has had a steady season, and that trend continues in February. Leslie Jordan will be appearing at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 13, and Saturday, Feb. 14. Leslie may be short, but he’s a larger-than-life performer, guaranteed to be funny. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21, actress and cabaret singer Emily Bergl will perform. You may remember Bergl from her appearances on Gilmore Girls, CSI: Miami and Law and Order: Criminal Intent, among other shows. Tickets are $20 to $40. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-322-3554; www.coparoomtickets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza is hosting a couple of notable events. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 15, metal goddess and poet Otep will appear. Not only is Otep a poet and metal singer; she’s also a painter and writer. She’s been featured on HBO’s Def Poetry series. She also spoke at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Advance tickets are $10, available at The Hood, and they’ll be $15 at the door. Word to the wise: Buy your tickets in advance. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 28, there will be a special birthday party for local hip-hop artist MC Manny G featuring EeVaan’ Tre and the Show, Thr3 Strikes and others. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

It was on a gorgeous night last September at the Los Angeles County Arboretum that I first heard Patti Austin sing live.

A friend had invited my partner and me to the Pasadena Pops’ summer-season closer, and she was one of conductor Michael Feinstein’s guest vocalists. Although I had heard of Patti Austin before, I didn’t know a thing about her or her music. Well, on that lovely night, we learned one thing about Ms. Austin: Man, can she sing.

After she knocked our figurative socks off that night, we wanted to see more of Patti Austin, so we made a point to check out her show at the McCallum Theatre last Saturday night.

We expected a night of great vocals—and we certainly got just that. The 64-year-old R&B/pop/jazz singer was simply stunning as she took the too-sparse audience on a journey through the life of Ella Fitzgerald, backed by a tight three-piece band (piano, drums, upright bass).

What we didn’t expect was the hilarious, irreverent aspect of the show: Austin is a fantastic storyteller, and she kept the audience in stitches with her between-song banter about Fitzgerald’s life, the plight of being single, and the evils of Diana Krall.

She kicked off the show with “Too Close for Comfort,” immediately showing off her scat-singing skills. After adjusting the position of a stool with two large mugs atop it (and musing out loud: “Does Barbra Streisand have to go through this crap?”), and telling the story of how she finally won her first Grammy after eight previous nominations in the Best Jazz Vocal Album for Avant Gershwin (because “that bitch from Canada, Diana Krall, finally got out of my way”), she began her tribute to Fitzgerald with “Honeysuckle Rose.”

Austin—wearing an oversized, shining silver blouse, with grey pants and heels—would tell an anecdote from Ella Fitzgerald’s life, and then sing a Fitzgerald song that corresponded to that period of Ella’s life. The most amusing moment came after Austin sang “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” and explained how Fitzgerald finally started to embrace the Great American Songbook with that song. Austin said all great artists eventually sing the Great American Songbook to cement their legacies—and wondered out loud what would happen when Snoop Dogg finally did so. Austin then rapped several lines of “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” earning an ovation from the audience. She transitioned back to Fitzgerald by stating: “Speaking of drugs, Ella never did them,” before speculating Fitzgerald may have had a contact high when she wrote “A-tisket, A-tasket.” Of course, Austin then knocked the song out of the park.

Austin said she’d be returning to Cologne, Germany, next month to again record with the WDR Big Band; this time, the music of Cole Porter will be the focus. She’s made a number of albums with the WDR Big Band, including 2002’s For Ella, the aforementioned Grammy-winning Avant Gershwin, and a yet-to-be-released Ellington collection. “They play their asses off, and their government pays for it,” she said of her German collaborators. Austin then hoped out loud that Elvis Costello, Diana Krall’s husband, would perhaps clear the way for another Grammy award by “jacking her (Krall) up with another set of twins.”

Wow.

“Miss Otis Regrets” (my favorite song of the night) and “Hard Hearted Hannah” led Austin to discuss Fitzgerald’s constant problems with the romantic interests in her life. After a couple more songs, Austin “concluded” the concert with “How High the Moon,” featuring Austin’s exact replication of Fitzgerald’s singing/scatting to the Charlie Parker song.

Of course, this wasn’t the real conclusion; after walking off the stage and then returning for the encore, Austin joked about the “obligatory fake ending.” She then sent the delighted and amused audience off with a gorgeous version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”—a perfect way to kick off the holiday season in the Coachella Valley, thanks to one of the most amazing under-the-radar singers working today.

Published in Reviews

The season is in full swing, so there are plenty of great March events to talk about—and this is the last hurrah before the craziness of Coachella and Stagecoach set in next month.

The McCallum Theatre will host some amazing theater events during the month of March; you can read more about that in our Arts & Culture section’s theater listings. Thankfully, there are some great music events as well. Michael Feinstein (right) will be stopping by for performances at 8 p.m., Friday, March 7, and Saturday, March 8. Feinstein was mentored by the late Ira Gershwin, and he’s been labeled as the “Ambassador of the Great American Songbook.” This is one you won’t want to miss. Tickets are $65 to $105. Jazz-vocalist Steve Tyrell will be appearing at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 22. Tyrell makes vocal pop classics cool for modern audiences—and has been doing so for more than 40 years. Tickets are $45 to $85.McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events that should be, in a word, huge—on back-to-back nights, no less. At 9 p.m., Friday, March 21, Everybody Loves Raymond stars Ray Romano and Brad Garrett will be performing. The TV show focused on the Barone family, and was based on the real-life experiences of Romano and some of the show’s production and writing staff. It was a huge hit during its entire nine-year run on CBS—in large part due to the talents of comedians-turned-actors Romano and Garrett. Tickets are $65 to $85. In a rather spectacular booking, Liza Minnelli will be coming to the desert at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 22. The daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli has made quite a name for herself both musically and on the big screen. More recently, she became a hit on TV as well, thanks to her hilarious portrayal of Lucille 2 on Arrested Development. Of course, she’s also famous due to some personal issues, including alcoholism and a strange marriage to David Gest, who filed a lawsuit against Minnelli for alleged physical abuse. (The suit was later dismissed.) Still, she’s a true icon—and an inspiration for many famous drag performers! Tickets are $80 to $120. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will host great events throughout March that should draw big crowds. At 8 p.m., Friday, March 7, Daryl Hall and John Oates will be playing. Hall and Oates are icons of ’80s pop music, best known for “Maneater” and “You Make My Dreams.” Meanwhile, video-game lovers know them thanks to the appearance of “Out of Touch” on the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soundtrack. Tickets are $49 to $79. R&B superstar John Legend will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 22. While many modern “R&B” singers don’t really have a lot of R&B in their music, Legend is a genuine soul singer with elements of Motown and Stax Records in his sound. In 2010, Legend and The Roots teamed up for the album Wake Up, which was a huge hit. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

At Spotlight 29 Casino, comedy trailblazer/legend Joan Rivers will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 1. An amusing personal story: I used to work at the now-late Borders Books and Music in Rancho Mirage, and Rivers stopped by there for a book-signing in 2009. At the time, she was being filmed for the documentary A Piece of Work. Well, I wound up in the film, with her sharing an amusing tidbit about Carol Channing while she personalized a copy of her book for me. Now 80, Rivers’ mouth is as filthy as ever, and she looks like a walking plastic-surgery miracle. Thankfully, she’s also as funny as ever. Tickets are $35 to $55. Country-music star Kenny Rogers will also be stopping by Spotlight 29, at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 15. The star of the ’80s film Six Pack is also well known for that song about how to be a good gambler; perhaps you should listen to it for advice if you plan on gambling that night in the casino. Tickets are $55 to $75. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has yet another busy schedule during the month of March. If you’re in the mood for blues, The Record Company will be performing at 8 p.m., Friday, March 14. They’re a group of young, modern-day blues musicians, but trust me: You will enjoy their traditional blues style and sound. I highly suggest listening to their song “Baby I’m Broken” if you want a little preview. Admission is free. The Black Lips will be stopping in at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 20. The Atlanta band is a throwback to the days of psychedelic rock, with a low-fi twist—and an unorthodox live show. Vocalist Cole Alexander often vomits during performances due to a medical condition. Other outrageous live antics have included chickens, setting instruments on fire, and a variety of other things that could have them arrested. Tickets are $18. In the midst of an impressive comeback due in part to audiophiles who seek out rare records and then share information about them online, Linda Perhacs will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 29. Perhacs released a trippy psychedelic folk anthem in 1970 titled Parallelograms, which has since been rediscovered by the millennials. The album featured haunting folk anthems that went the way of an Alice Coltrane album at times; “Hey, Who Really Cares?” is enough to give one the creeps. Now, 44 years later, she’s releasing her sophomore album, called The Soul of All Natural Things. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed has a couple of intriguing events booked in March. If you had a great time at Tribal Seeds show in February, you may want to attend the Fortunate Youth show at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 8. The Los Angeles-based reggae outfit has played some high profile reggae festivals and has toured with Tribal Seeds and The Expendables. Tickets are $10. At 8 p.m., Saturday, March 15, Cleveland rap legends Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (right) will be stopping by. As a native Clevelander, I remember when E. 1999 Eternal dropped in 1995, and you’d hear “1st of tha Month” and “The Crossroads” playing on every car stereo. “1st of tha Month” would also go on to be hilariously referenced in Chris Rock’s stand-up comedy routine. Plus there was the unforgettable moment in MTV Music Awards history when law enforcement showed up to arrest Bizzy Bone. Tickets are $40 to $100. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Copa Room has some worthy events occurring in March. Comedienne Heather McDonald will be performing at 8:30 p.m., Friday, March 14, and 8 p.m., Saturday, March 15. McDonald has regularly appeared on Chelsea Lately and is now a best-selling author thanks to her memoir, You’ll Never Blue Ball in This Town Again. Tickets are $20 to $45 with a two-drink minimum. If you’re a fan of the Broadway musical Rent, catch Adam Pascal (below) at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 20, and Friday, March 21. Pascal, who played the HIV-stricken Roger Davis in the original cast, is also a talented rock musician. He played Eddie in SLC Punk, and Jack Black’s nemesis, Theo, in School of Rock. Tickets are $20 to $45 with a two-drink minimum. The Copa Room, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomtickets.com.

The Purple Room in Palm Springs will be hosting an Academy Awards screening party at 4:30 p.m., Sunday, March 2. The screening will be part of The Judy Show, and there will be a “purple carpet,” mock paparazzi and a six-course dinner included with admission. Proceeds will go to the AIDS Assistance Program. Tickets are $75. The Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews