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Fri04262019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The kids are back in school. The days are getting shorter. It’ll officially be fall this month. And while the temps are still hot, so are the events.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting some shows that are out of this world. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 8, country singer Martina McBride will be stopping by. She’s a powerhouse in modern country music. She’s sold 18 million records, with 20 Top 10 singles, and six No. 1 hits. You don’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $49 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, it’ll feel like the ’90s again when TLC (right) and En Vogue perform. Both of these all-women R&B groups were pretty spectacular back in their day. TLC has sold 70 million records and was one of the most recognizable music groups of the ’90s. One of my guilty pleasures is the song “No Scrubs”; yes, I know all the words and will sing along when it comes on the radio. En Vogue was another ’90s great; “Free Your Mind” was a great jam. The group just released its first album in 14 years, scoring them a hit song. Wow! Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa goes into September with a great schedule. First, do you love Prince? If so, you’re in luck! At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1, Purple Reign: The Prince Tribute Show will be come to The Show. I watched this band’s sound check when the group was performing at the Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs—and was blown away by how good the band sounded. The group goes all out and even includes songs from Morris Day and the Time. Tickets are $20 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, classic-rock iconic band Styx will be performing. While Styx has received a lot of crap from critics, the band is beloved by a fan base of dedicated die-hards, and is one of the most successful touring bands in America. Tickets are $55 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29, enjoy An Evening With Mel Brooks. The man himself will reflect on his life and his career as an actor, writer, producer and director. At 92 years old, with works such as Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs and The Producers to his credit, he’ll have quite a bit to talk about. Tickets are $75 to $145. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

If you love Latin music, Spotlight 29 Casino has you covered. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, Mexican-American singer Marisela will be performing. Before Selena took Latin music by storm, there was Marisela. A native of Los Angeles, she released her first album when she was just 18 and has been going ever since. She’s a popular performer in Mexico and is also a hit in America with Latin-music lovers. Tickets are $50 to $100. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, norteño legend Ramon Ayala will take the stage. He’s considered the “King of the Accordion” and is a legendary Mexican musician; he has four Grammy Awards, too. Tickets are $40 to $60. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is getting back into the swing of things. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, and 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, that reliable all-male revue is coming back to town—Australia’s Thunder From Down Under. I’ve run out of things to say about them, so I’ll just tell you to look them up online and check out the pictures of them. If you like … go. Tickets are $25. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, get ready to journey back to the ’80s … because this lineup is the most ’80s thing I’ve ever seen: Boy George and Culture Club, the B-52s and the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey will be performing. Yeah, that’s quite a lineup. Tickets are $79 to $149, and as of our deadline, they were looking pretty scarce. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has had an amazing summer, and the September schedule continues the trend. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6, desert-rock legend Sean Wheeler will be playing with his band Reluctant Messengers. Wheeler released his solo album Sand in My Blood in 2017. While it doesn’t have the over-the-top, crazy-fun sound of Throw Rag, it does have his impressive takes on country, folk, gospel and soul. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, Joshua Tree’s own Gene Evaro Jr. will be performing an outdoor show. He has traveled across the country and opened for acts such as Blues Traveler; it’s only a matter of time before he catches his big break. He’s a talented musician and a gifted songwriter. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 27, The Breeders (below) will arrive. It’s a band that features Kim Deal of Pixies; the group released great music back in the ’90s that was not wildly successful commercially, though it earned acclaim and praise. As of deadline, tickets were still available, but that’s most likely to change. Tickets are $35. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is back from its summer hiatus. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 2, The Judy Show will return to its weekly slot. It’s a fabulous show starring Judy Garland impersonator and Purple Room proprietor Michael Holmes. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, get out the thick black glasses for the Buddy Holly Tribute with Southbound and Company. This show has been popping up on occasion, and I’ve always been interested in going to check it out as a Buddy Holly fan. Maybe I will this time! Tickets are $25 to $30. At 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29, actress and singer Renee Olstead will take the stage. Olstead has had an impressive career in film, television and music. Her musical abilities caught the attention of producer/composer David Foster, who opened the door to her musical career. Tickets are $35 to $40. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Copa Palm Springs kicks off September with a special show: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1, country music performer Ty Herndon will return to the Copa stage. Herndon’s country music career includes 17 singles on the Billboard chart, including three songs that reached No. 1. A career slump and problems with drugs and alcohol followed, before he came out as gay in 2014. Fortunately, he’s back to performing and releasing albums again. Tickets are $25 to $35. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

The Ace Hotel Palm Springs has a great September schedule, but one event stands out: At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21, British psychedelic-pop legends The Zombies will perform an acoustic set, and founding members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone will do an interview during a live taping of the podcast The Trap Set with Joe Wong. Tickets are $30 to $75. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

Published in Previews

Stagecoach kicked off on Friday with a whole lot of interesting things going on—and I am not even talking about the happenings on the Main Stage.

Son Volt played in the Mustang Tent in the afternoon—which created a schedule conflict for those (like me) who also wanted to see the Zombies play in the Palomino Tent next door.

While the Zombies’ 1960s psychedelic rock ’n’ roll won over a crowd that nearly filled the Palomino Tent, Jay Farrar and the rest of Son Volt also put on quite a show, holding most of the crowd as the band played.

Son Volt, coming off of a lengthy hiatus, actually played at the first Stagecoach in 2007. The group sounded magnificent, producing a stellar show that included edgier, rock-influenced stuff, as well as more country-sounding songs that included slide guitar.

After the Zombies and Son Volt, “The Killer” himself, Jerry Lee Lewis, finally enjoyed his Stagecoach debut. He’d been booked at Stagecoach before—only to drop off the schedule soon after being announced.

While it was great to finally see Lewis grace the Palomino Tent and play for the Stagecoach crowd, it wasn’t a perfect performance, production-wise. His intro was a video of his contemporaries such as the late Johnny Cash, the late Chuck Berry, Keith Richards and Steve Allen talking about him over archive footage—but the audio only played for a portion of it, as Jerry Lee Lewis walked to his piano with some assistance. He got a very welcoming and warm ovation.

After the botched intro, Lewis finally began—but the sound levels were off. Lewis’ piano sounded faint, unless you were standing up close. The tent was full, but it was obvious people were not hearing it—and were trying to give him a pass anyway.

Still, as a rock ’n’ roll fan who hadn’t yet had a chance to see Lewis, it was still very pleasing to watch. Yes, he did play “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On.” However, his set list was visible on his piano, and it included more than the eight songs that he played. He was scheduled for close to an hour, but he played for only about 30 minutes—before he stood up and walked off stage to a standing ovation.

The first Stagecoach Country Music Festival was back in 2007—meaning this is the 10th anniversary of the country companion to Coachella.

There are a lot of familiar names on the bill this year … and there are some serious oddities, too. To help attendees plan, I’ve come up with a list of acts I certainly won’t be missing.


Friday, April 28

John Moreland

I interviewed John Moreland in advance of his 2015 appearance at Stagecoach after hearing about him in the underground alt-country forums. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow spoke highly of him on her show, in part because he’s modest, down to earth and soft-spoken. Oh, he’s mega-talented, too: This singer-songwriter who spent his teenage years playing and touring in punk-rock bands is truly special. Even though he stays seated during his entire performance, Moreland offers folk/Americana songs that enter the depths of your soul. He’s mesmerizing as a performer and a songwriter; you truly won’t want to miss John Moreland.

Son Volt

This is one of my personal favorites. Front man and singer-songwriter Jay Farrar spent seven years playing in Uncle Tupelo with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco before they went their separate ways. While Tweedy and Wilco went on to become famous, Jay Farrar’s Son Volt received more critical acclaim (if, alas, not more record sales)—because Farrar’s songwriting evolved into something truly great. Farrar is of the same ilk as Woody Guthrie and is a purist when it comes to Americana music. Son Volt recently released a new album, Notes of Blue, and not long ago toured playing debut record Trace in its entirety. It’s great to see Son Volt finally on the Stagecoach lineup.

The Zombies

This is one of those aforementioned Stagecoach lineup oddities. The Zombies were part of the British Invasion during the ’60s, and had a sound that was very psychedelic—even for that time. Hit song “Time of the Season” is a psychedelic-rock staple, as is the band’s other big hit, “She’s Not There.” The Zombies broke up in 1967, and the only remaining original members are lead singer Colin Blunstone and organist Rod Argent. It will be great to see The Zombies … and it will be interesting to see how the band is received at Stagecoach.

Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis, now 81 was, announced as part of Stagecoach’s 2013 bill—before he cancelled without explanation. Hopefully he will be there this year. While Jerry Lee Lewis is most remembered for the scandal surrounding his December 1957 marriage to his 13-year-old first cousin, there is actually much more to talk about than that. Jerry Lee Lewis has recorded some of the best songs in rock history, such as “Great Balls of Fire,” “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On” and “Breathless.” He’s also the last man standing of the Sun Records legacy. I’m still laughing at the joke Beavis made in Beavis and Butt-head about how he “did the piano and kicked his cousin.”


Saturday, April 29

The Walcotts

I love the fact that I can picture The Walcotts (pictured right; photo by Max Knight) playing in some smoky honky-tonk with chicken wire to protect them from flying objects. However, this group throws in some rock ’n’ roll0, too. This Los Angeles outfit should be a treat for those who arrive at Stagecoach early. I also highly suggest checking out the album Let the Devil Win, because it’s quite good.

John Doe

John Doe of the punk band X is also a solo artist—and like his X bandmate Billy Zoom, Doe is a fan of country music. Doe is actually quite multi-faceted; he’s also dabbled in acting and poetry, and just released a book, Under the Big Black Sun, about the Los Angeles punk scene from 1977 to 1983. You won’t want to miss John Doe—because he will definitely put on a great show.

Tommy James and the Shondells

One has to wonder what Goldenvoice is thinking with all of these psychedelic rock bands from the 1960s on the bill. Don’t get me wrong, though; I am not complaining. Tommy James and the Shondells can be heard on oldies radio quite often with “Crimson and Clover,” “Mony Mony,” “I Think We’re Alone Now” (which was covered by Tiffany in the ‘80s) and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” It will be interesting to see how this group is received, too.


Sunday, April 30

The HillBenders (Performing The Who’s Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry)

OK, things keep getting stranger here. The HillBenders are a relatively new bluegrass band from Springfield, Mo., and the group is going to perform The Who’s Tommy, a rock opera … but in a bluegrass style. The band released a recording of this in 2016, and has been touring with it recently, so arrive early to check this one out. It sure is odd to hear bluegrass versions of “Do You Think It’s Alright,” “Fiddle About” (no pun intended), “The Acid Queen” and “Pinball Wizard.” I’m wondering if we’re going to see bluegrass versions of the characters performing in the background as the band plays.

Cowboy Junkies

This one isn’t all that weird: Stagecoach is actually the perfect place for the Cowboy Junkies, who have been putting the “alt” in alt-country since 1986. Cowboy Junkies has made some downright dark originals and some haunting covers; in any case, Margo Timmins’ voice is just beautiful. The band has recorded numerous albums, and put out a series of four albums known as the Nomad Series from 2010 to 2012. If you’re a fan of alt-country, make sure to check out Cowboy Junkies.

Los Lobos

Because a lot of people love Los Lobos (below), myself included, I think this performance will go over well at Stagecoach, and the fact that a Latin band from Los Angeles will be performing at Stagecoach is fantastic. One of my favorite albums of all time is Los Lobos’ By the Light of the Moon, and the band’s live shows are always interesting—because you don’t know if you’re going to get a lot of originals, or if you’re going to get a lot of jam-band-style covers. Having seen Los Lobos before, I can say you’ll walk away at the end very happy.

Published in Previews