Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

An enthusiastic and community-minded crowd packed The Hood Bar and Pizza—the choice of Independent readers as the valley’s Best Dive Bar—on Friday, Dec. 15, for the Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018 Awards Show and Party.

Hosted by Jimmy Boegle and Brian Blueskye of the Independent, the awards portion featured a couple dozen winners coming onstage and thanking readers for voting them as the valley’s best—but only after Boegle emphasized the importance of supporting honest, ethical local media.

Following the awards, The Flusters—voted Best Local Band two out of the last three years—capped a busy week by performing to an enthusiastic crowd.

After The Flusters’ set, DJ Tommy Locust spun before the after-party launched with the spooky organ tunes of Herbert; he was followed to the stage by Sunday Funeral and Black Water Gospel.

Below are some photos from the event, by Independent contributor Kevin Fitzgerald. Congratulations to all of the winners!

Published in Snapshot

At long last … here are the results of the fourth annual Best of Coachella Valley readers' poll!

From all of us here at the Coachella Valley Independent, we’d like to thank the many, many readers who voted this year. The results, as you’ll see below, represent the amazing diversity of the Coachella Valley, with winners coming from all parts of the valley.

We’d also like you to come and celebrate with us! The Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018 Awards Show and Celebration takes place Friday, Dec. 15, at The Hood Bar in Pizza in Palm Desert—this year’s winner for Best Dive Bar! The awards start at 6:30, and will be followed by a performance from Best Local Band winners The Flusters. The event will be followed by an after-party featuring Herbert, Sunday Funeral and Black Water Gospel.

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists … and welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018!

—Jimmy Boegle, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Best Art Gallery

CODA Gallery


Runners up:

2. Shag

3. Melissa Morgan Fine Art

4. Hohmann Fine Art

5. J. Willott Gallery


Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre


Runners up:

2. The Show at Agua Caliente

3. The Hood Bar and Pizza

4. The Date Shed

5. Fantasy Springs Special Events Center


Best Outdoor Venue

Empire Polo Club


Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Indian Wells Tennis Garden

4. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

5. Palm Desert Civic Center Park


Best Local Arts Group/Organization

McCallum Theatre


Runners up:

2. The Coachella Valley Art Scene

3. La Quinta Arts Foundation

4. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

5. CREATE Center for the Arts


Best Local Band

The Flusters


Runners up:

2. John Stanley King Band

3. Sunday Funeral

4. Drop Mob

5. The Hellions


Best Local DJ



Runners up:

2. Jesika Von Rabbit

3. Alex Harrington

4. Alf Alpha

5. DJ Chub Jim


Best Local Musician

John Stanley King


Runners up:

2. Lisa Lynn Morgan

3. Dan Dillinger

4. Michael Keeth

5. Dave Burk


Best Local Visual Artist


Sofia Enriquez



Runners up:

3. Ryan Campbell

4. Cristopher Cichocki

5. Marconi Calindas


Best Movie Theater

Century La Quinta and XD


Runners up:

2. Mary Pickford Is D’Place

3. Century The River and XD

4. Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 and IMAX

5. Camelot Theatres


Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum


Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Air Museum

3. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

4. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

5. La Quinta Museum


Best Producing Theater Company

Palm Canyon Theatre


Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Dezart Performs

5. Coyote StageWorks

Life in the Valley


Best Farmers’ Market

College of the Desert Street Fair


Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Village Fest

3. Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market

4. Old Town La Quinta Certified Farmers’ Market

5. Palm Desert Certified Farmers’ Market


Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter


Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley

4. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

5. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

6. AAP-Food Samaritans


Best Gym

World Gym


Runners up:

2. EOS Fitness

3. Planet Fitness

4. Palm Springs Fitness Center

5. In-Shape


Best Yoga Studio

Bikram Yoga Plus


Runners up:

2. Urban Yoga

3. Yoga Bliss

4. Power Yoga Palm Springs

5. Yoga Central


Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Springs Bowling Center


Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Yucca Bowl


Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty


Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Gear Leather and Fetish

4. Q Trading Co.

5. Sensuality a Store for Her


Best Auto Repair

Andy’s Auto Repair


Runners up:

2. European Auto Service

3. Cam Stone’s Automotive

4. Singh’s Automotive Repair

5. OMAG Automotive


Best Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash


Runners up:

2. La Quinta Car Wash

3. Airport Quick Car Wash

4. Indio Car Wash

5. Desert 100 Percent Hand Car Wash


Best Plant Nursery

The Living Desert’s Palo Verde Garden Center


2. Moller’s Garden Center

3. Bob Williams Nursery

4. Vintage Nursery

5. Lotus Garden Center


Best Pet Supplies

Bones ’n’ Scones


Runners up:

2. Petco

3. PetSmart

4. Pet Oasis

5. Miriam’s Poochella Grooming


Best Annual Charity Event

Desert AIDS Walk (Desert AIDS Project)


Runners up:

2. Evening Under the Stars (AAP-Food Samaritans)

3. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

4. A Miracle on El Paseo (Bighorn Behind a Miracle)

5. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards (Desert AIDS Project)


Best Place to Gamble

Augustine Casino


Runners up:

2. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

3. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

4. Morongo Casino Resort Spa

5. Spotlight 29


Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3


Runners up:

2. KMIR Channel 6

3. CBS Local 2


Best Local TV News Personality

Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3


Runners up:

2. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

3. Karen Devine, KESQ News Channel 3

4. Gino Lamont, KMIR Channel 6

5. Bryan Gallo, KMIR Channel 6


Best Radio Station

Q 102.3 Classic Rock


Runners up:

2. Mix 100.5

3. Jammin 99.5 FM

4. Mod FM 107.3

5. K-News 94.3 FM


Best Local Radio Personality

Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5


Runners up:

2. Jeff Michaels, Q 102.3/KPLM 106.1

3. Jimi “Fitz” Fitzgerald, CV 104.3 FM

4. Joey English, KGX 99.1 FM/920 AM

5. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3 FM


Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble


Runners up:

2. Just Fabulous

3. Rancho Mirage Library Book Nook

4. The Book Rack La Quinta


Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley


Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Vinyl Records and Collectables

3. Best Buy


Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics


Runners up:

2. Game Stop

3. HooDoo!


Best Hotel Pool

Riviera Palm Springs


Runners up:

2. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

3. Ace Hotel and Swim Club

4. Arrive

5. The Saguaro


Best Urgent Care

Eisenhower Medical Center Urgent Care


Runners up:

2. Desert Oasis Healthcare Immediate Care

3. VIP Urgent Care

4. MedPost Urgent Care (Desert Regional)

5. Premier Urgent Care

Valley Professionals


Best Doctor

Dr. Amanda Curnock


Runners up:

2. Dr. Timothy Jochen

3. Dr. Michael Hughes

4. Dr. Michael Jardula


Best Eye Doctor

Dr. Albert Milauskas


Runners up:

2. Dr. Camille Harrison

3. Dr. David Esquibel (Desert Vision)

4. Dr. Athena Brasfield (CV Optometry)


Best Dentist/Orthodontist

Dr. Larry Kunkle (Palm Desert Dental Center)


Runners up:

2. TIE

Dr. Rene Dell’Acqua

Dr. Frank Hernandez

4. Dr. Maria Aguilar (Mirage Lane Dentistry)

5. Dr. Duane Nishikubo


Best Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Timothy Jochen


Runners up:

2. Dr. Mark Sofonio

3. Dr. Scott Aaronson

4. Dr. Bruce Chisholm

5. Dr. Suzanne Quardt


Best Attorney

Walter Clark


Runners up:

2. Brian Harnik

3. David Humphrey

4. Christopher Heritage

5. J. John Anderholt III


Best Air Conditioner Repair

Comfort Air


Runners up:

2. Esser

3. General

4. All Seasons

5. Priority One


Best Chiropractor

Dr. Jim Cox


Runners up:

2. Nazemi Chiropractic

3. Dr. Kristen Bohnet

4. Dr. Paul Ross


Best Real Estate Agent


Barbara Carpenter

Brady Sandahl


Runners up:

3. Valery Neuman

4. Deirdre Coit


Best Electrician

Desert Pro Electrical


Runners up:

2. Electric Man

3. So-Cal Electric

4. Wired Up Electric

5. DCH Electric and Lighting


Best Public Servant

Rep. Raul Ruiz


Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Mayor Jan Harnik

3. Palm Springs Mayor Rob Moon

4. Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia

5. Palm Springs City Councilman Geoff Kors

Fashion and Style


Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Oooh La la


Runners up:

2. Trina Turk

3. Grayse

4. Blonde Clothing Boutique

5. Wil Stiles


Best Resale/Vintage Clothing



Runners up:

2. Angel View

3. Goodwill

4. Plato’s Closet

5. The Fine Art of Design


Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers


Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. West Elm

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Erik’s Furniture


Best Antiques/Collectibles

The Estate Sale Co.


Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. Victoria’s Attic

4. Sunny Dunes Antique Mall


Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

Tiffany and Co.


Runners up:

2. El Paseo Jewelers

3. Leeds and Son

4. Robann’s Jewelers

5. B. Alsohns Jewelers


Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon


Runners up:

2. Dishwater Blonde Salon

3. Alankara, an Aveda Lifestyle Salon

4. Josef Saliba

5. Jake Turner Salon


Best Spa in a Resort/Hotel

Two Bunch Palms


Runners up:

2. The Spa at Desert Springs (JW Marriott)

3. Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa

4. Agua Serena Spa at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells

5. Well Spa (Miramonte)


Best Day Spa (Non-Resort/Hotel)


Revive Wellness Center

Studio M Salon and Spa


Runners up:

3. Bighorn Golf Club

4. Massage Rx


Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop


Runners up:

2. Jensen’s Foods

3. Rancho Mirage Florist

4. Palm Springs Florist

5. Lotus Garden Center


Best Tattoo Parlor

Bloodline Tattoo


Runners up:

2. Anarchy and Ink Tattoo

3. Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

4. Iron Palm Tattoo Parlour

5. Strata Tattoo Lab


Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer



Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. LensCrafters

4. Panache Optical Gallery

5. CV Optometry



Best Public Garden

The Living Desert


Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. El Paseo

4. Moorten’s Botanical Garden

5. Desert Healthcare District Wellness Park


Best Place for Bicycling

Joshua Tree


Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

3. Bear Creek Path (La Quinta)

4. Highway 74


Best Recreation Area

Tahquitz Canyon


2. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

3. Mount San Jacinto State Park (Top of the Tram)

4. Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area


Best Hike

Bump and Grind Trail


Runners up:

2. Ladder Canyon

3. The Cross Trail

4. South Lykken Trail

5. Art Smith Trail


Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park


2. Ruth Hardy Park

3. Rancho Mirage Community Park

4. La Quinta Civic Center Park

5. Ironwood Park


Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Dick’s Sporting Goods


Runners up:

2. Big 5 Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart


Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery


Runners up:

2. Tri-A-Bike

3. Joel’s Bicycle Shop

4. BikeMan

5. Velo Bum Elite Cyclery


Best Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods


Runners up:

2. Big 5 Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

4. Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis


Best Public Golf Course

Desert Willow Golf Resort


Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons Golf Resort

3. Indian Springs Golf Club

4. SilverRock Resort

5. Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort

For the Kids


Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park


Runners up:

2. Ruth Hardy Park

3. La Quinta Civic Center Park

4. Ironwood Park

5. Dateland Park


Best Place to Buy Toys

Toys R Us


Runners up:

2. Uncle Don’s Hobbies

3. Mr. G’s for Kids

4. The Lumpy Bunny


Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy


Runners up:

2. The Children’s Place

3. The Lumpy Bunny

4. JadaBug’s Kids Boutique

5. Janie and Jack


Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s


Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Old Spaghetti Factory

4. Shakey’s Pizza

5. Billy Reed’s


Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert


Runners up:

2. Wet ’n’ Wild

3. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

4. Boomers

5. Laser Oasis


Best Place for a Birthday Party

The Living Desert


Runners up:

2. Chuck E. Cheese’s

3. Boomers

4. Laser Oasis

5. Shakey’s Pizza

Food and Restaurants


Best Casual Eats

Café 54 at Augustine Casino


Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

5. Blaze Pizza


Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro


Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. TRIO/Liquid Catering

4. Dash and a Handful

5. Lynn Hammond


Best Diner

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery


Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

4. John’s

5. Rick’s Restaurant


Best Organic Food Store

Whole Foods


Runners up:

2. Sprouts Farmers Market

3. Jensen’s Foods

4. Clark’s Nutrition

5. Bristol Farms


Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery


Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. TKB Bakery and Deli

4. Real Italian Deli

5. Bristol Farms


Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow


Runners up:

2. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

3. Jensen’s Foods

4. Pastry Swan Bakery

5. Exquisite Desserts


Best Desserts

Nothing Bundt Cakes


Runners up:

2. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

3. Over the Rainbow

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Jake’s Palm Springs


Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Great Shakes


Runners up:

2. Cold Stone Creamery

3. Lappert’s Ice Cream

4. Creamistry

5. Ice Cream and Shop(pe) at Arrive


Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden


Runners up:

2. Hadley’s

3. Great Shakes


Best Frozen Yogurt


Beach House

Jus Chillin’


Runners up:

3. Yogurtland

4. Tutti Frutti

5. Yogurt Island


Best Bakery

Aspen Mills


Runners up:

2. French Corner Café

3. Pastry Swan Bakery

4. Frankie’s Italian Bakery

5. Peninsula Pastries


Best Barbecue

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse


Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Smoke Tree BBQ

4. Jackalope Ranch

5. Zobo and Meester’s


Best Burger

Café 54 at Augustine Casino


Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Smokin’ Burgers

4. Tyler’s Burgers

5. Grill A Burger


Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café


Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

5. TRIO Restaurant


Best Sandwich

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery


Runners up:

2. TKB Bakery and Deli

3. The Sandwich Spot

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Aspen Mills


Best Pizza

Bill’s Pizza


Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

3. Blaze Pizza

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. Upper Crust Pizza


Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings


Runners up:

2. Smokin’ Burgers

3. Wingstop

4. Smoke Tree BBQ

5. Kaiser Grille


Best Bagels

Townie Bagels


Runners up:

2. Bagel Bistro

3. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

4. Manhattan in the Desert


Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar


Runners up:

2. Jamba Juice

3. Luscious Lorraine’s

4. Koffi

5. Palm Greens Café


Best Buffet

Café 54 at the Augustine Casino


Runners up:

2. Grand Palms Buffet Agua Caliente

3. Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

4. Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo


Best Coffee Shop for Coffee



Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. IW Coffee

4. Ristretto

5. Ernest Coffee


Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out



Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. IW Coffee

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto


Best Tea

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf


Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. Koffi

4. Teavana

5. Panera Bread


Best Breakfast

Wilma and Frieda’s


Runners up:

2. Spencer’s Restaurant

3. Elmer’s

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Cheeky’s


Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro


Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Jake’s Palm Springs

4. Kaiser Grille

5. Acqua California Bistro


Best Brunch

Wilma and Frieda’s


Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. The Tropicale

5. TRIO Restaurant

6. Jackalope Ranch


Best Chinese

P.F. Chang’s


Runners up:

2. JOY at Fantasy Springs

3. City Wok

4. New Fortune Asian Cuisine

5. China King


Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant


Runners up:

2. Evzin Mediterranean Cuisine

3. Athena Gyro

4. Koutouki Greek Estiatorio

5. Nina’s Greek Cuisine


Best French

Le Vallauris Restaurant


Runners up:

2. Si Bon

3. Cuistot Restaurant

4. L’Atelier Café

5. Café des Beaux Arts


Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine


Runner up:

2. India Oven


Best Italian

Ristorante Mamma Gina


Runners up:

2. Mario’s Italian Café

3. Castelli’s

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. La Spiga Ristorante Italiano


Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse


Runners up:

2. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

3. Gyoro Gyoro Isakaya Japonaise

4. Joyce’s Sushi

5. Shabu Shabu Zen


Best Korean

JOY at Fantasy Springs


Runners up:

2. Maru Korean B.B.Q. and Grill

3. Umami Seoul

4. Domo Sushi


Best Sushi

Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar


Runners up:

2. Dragon Sushi

3. The Venue Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Edoko Sushi


Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill


Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Spencer’s Restaurant


Best Steaks/Steakhouse

Ruth’s Chris Steak House


Runners up:

2. LG’s Prime Steakhouse

3. Mastro’s Steakhouse

4. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

5. Suillivan’s Steakhouse


Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs


Runners up:

2. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

3. Blue Orchid

4. My Thai

5. Thai House


Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu


Runners up:

2. Rooster and the Pig

3. TIE

533 Viet Fusion

Watercress Vietnamese Bistro

5. Fuzion Five


Best Vegetarian

Native Foods Café


Runners up:

2. Luscious Lorraine’s

3. Chef Tanya’s Kitchen

4. Palm Greens Café

5. Nature’s Health Food and Cafe


Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s Restaurant


Runners up:

2. Le Vallauris Restaurant

3. Wally’s Desert Turtle

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Johannes


Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch


Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. Copley’s on Palm Canyon

5. Mitch’s on El Paseo


Best Late-Night Restaurant

Lulu California Bistro


Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. TRIO Restaurant

4. King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

5. Alicante


Best Mexican

Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill


Runners up:

2. Las Casuelas Terraza

3. El Mirasol

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Loco Charlie’s


Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Terraza


Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Blue Coyote Grill

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Casa Mendoza


Best Burrito

Las Casuelas Terraza


Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Taqueria Tlaquepaque

4. Casa Mendoza

5. La Perlita Mexican Food

Spirits and Nightlife


Best Beer Selection

Yard House


Runners up:

2. The Beer Hunter

3. Burgers and Beer

4. Draughtsman

5. Eureka!


Best Local Brewery

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.


Runners up:

2. La Quinta Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse


Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

The Beer Hunter


Runners up:

2. The Hood Bar and Pizza

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Big Rock Pub

5. Red Barn


Best Cocktail Menu

The Tropicale


Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Eureka!

4. Dish Creative Cuisine

5. Seymour’s


Best Gay/Lesbian Bar

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge


Runners up:

2. Chill Bar

3. Hunters

4. Streetbar

5. Blackbook


Best Happy Hour

La Quinta Cliffhouse


Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. The Tropicale

5. Mitch’s on El Paseo


Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza


Runners up:

2. The Nest

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Red Barn

5. Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails


Best Margarita

Blue Coyote Grill


Runners up:

2. Las Casuelas Terraza

3. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Armando’s Dakota Bar and Grill

5. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill


Best Martini

Sullivan’s Steakhouse


Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. TRIO Restaurant

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Kaiser Grille


Best Nightclub

The Nest


Runners up:

2. Copa

3. Hunters

4. Zeldas

5. Bart Lounge


Best Sports Bar

The Beer Hunter


Runners up:

2. Burgers and Beer

3. Smokin’ Burgers

4. Big Rock Pub

5. Playoffs Sports Bar


Best Wine Bar

Zin American Bistro


Runners up:

2. Mastro’s Steakhouse

3. The Wine Emporium

4. Dead or Alive

5. La Rue Wine Bar


Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More


Runners up:

2. Costco

3. BevMo!

4. Desert Wines and Spirits (Go Deli)

5. The Wine Emporium


Best Bar Ambiance

The Tropicale


Runners up:

2. Big Rock Pub

3. Mastro’s Steakhouse

4. TRIO Restaurant

5. Mitch’s on El Paseo

Published in Readers' Picks

Best Local Album


When I interviewed them last year, the members of Thr3 Strykes told me that putting together the album that would become CMNCTN-BRKDWN was a proving to be difficult task—and taking a long time.

All that hard work and time was worth it: The final result is awesome, and I can’t think of another album put out this year by a local band that matches its energy and insanity. The track with J. Patron and Christina Reyes of Caxton, called “The Colony,” is a must-hear.

—Brian Blueskye

Best Re-established Band

Sunday Funeral

Sunday Funeral was a worthy Best Local Band finalist this year—and what a year it’s been.

The band that Justin Ledesma has fronted for more than a decade has made a remarkable transformation. At the end of 2016, the members set the foundation by cutting back from a four-piece to a trio; meanwhile, Andrea Taboada took over bass duties.

The members found themselves in the finals of CV Weeklys Battle of the Bands in 2017, and have been playing more shows while putting together some great new original material. They’re a definite contender for Best Local Band honors next year; keep your eye on ’em.

—Brian Blueskye

Best Local Live Music Event

The 4/20 Coachella Inbetweener featuring The Flusters and The Yip Yops

The days between the two Coachella weekends are simply packed with great music events throughout the valley—but the one held this year on April 20 at The Hood Bar and Pizza may have topped them all.

The Flusters and the Yip Yops packed The Hood for the 4/20 Coachella Inbetweener, with the bar having to turn away patrons when the venue reached its capacity. Both bands put on spectacular co-headlining sets—after collaborating on marketing materials that were genius and went above and beyond.

—Brian Blueskye

Best Benefit Show

The Concert for Autism

Josh and Linda Heinz, the husband-and-wife duo in Blasting Echo and 5th Town, have now been producing the Concert for Autism for 10 years—and every year, it continues to grow.

Because Josh and Linda are the parents of autistic children, this is a cause that is very near and dear to their hearts—and their efforts to help others facing the same challenges that their family faces are simply remarkable.

Of course … the show is always fantastic, too.

—Brian Blueskye; photo of Josh Heinz by Cory Courtney.

Best Customer Service for Those Quitting Smoking

Desert Vapors

I recently transitioned from cigarettes to vaping—I tried to quit cold-turkey, but needed help with the transition away from cigarettes. I had a lot of questions, and I went to a few shops to get some information and ask questions.

Desert Vapors, with locations in Palm Desert and Indio, had by far the best customer service of the vape shops I went to—and I wound up purchasing my first vaping kit from them. I went back a few days later after having some problems and got service that went above and beyond.

Also, the flavors that they offer are fantastic.

—Brian Blueskye

Best Pet Grooming

Desert Pet Grooming

Let’s face it: When a pet groomer is named something like Royal Canine Resort and Day Spa, and the cutesiness level of the place is off the charts, that fluff is for human companions. All Fido cares about is that the potentially stressful grooming experience goes quickly and without a hitch. As for us human companions … if the grooming shop is welcoming, clean and safe, who needs to feel as though our pet is in the line of succession for the British throne?

Desert Pet Grooming, in Cathedral City at Vista Chino and Landau Boulevard, offers everything you need in a quality pet groomer—without the silliness and added cost of massaging the human companion’s ego. The functional shop is spic and span, and all the grooming is done out in the open. The groomers we’ve tried there have all been great, but Brenda in particular will treat your furry friends like her own.

—Jeff Clarkson

Best Great (but Unpretentious) New Restaurant

Justin Eat and Drink

We like this restaurant on Highway 111 in Cathedral City for the very reason that it’s unpretentious. The Coachella Valley can always use more restaurants like this—serving tasty, interesting food, at reasonable prices, in a simple but hip atmosphere.

This place doesn’t go over the top like some of the restaurants geared toward tourists here in the valley. It’s just a casual, contemporary setting where one can enjoy a relaxed dinner. The portions aren’t huge, but they’re price-appropriate, and while the menu is not extensive, everything we’ve ordered has been delicious.

Although the service is sometimes slow, it’s always friendly—and the food is definitely worth the wait. Now that the restaurant is becoming more popular, reservations are recommended. Justin, the owner/chef, may even pop out and greet you at your table.

—Jeff Clarkson; photo courtesy of Justin Facebook page

Best Local Restaurants (on a National Scale)

TKB Bakery and Deli

Shabu Shabu Zen and Sake Bar

It’s simple math: If there’s a list of, say, 100 top places to eat in the United States, that means the average state will be home to two places on the list. Right? Right.

That means if, say, a not-huge community like the Coachella Valley by itself were home to two places on the list, that would be freaking amazing. Right? Right!

Well, that’s exactly what happened in the case of Yelp’s 2017 list of the Top 100 Places to Eat for 2017. Rancho Mirage’s Shabu Shabu Zen and Sake Bar, long an Independent staff favorite, was No. 78 on the crowd-source review website—an amazing accomplishment. However, what Indio’s TKB Bakery and Deli has accomplished is even more fantastic: It came in at No. 5 on the list—making the Top 5 for the third straight year, something no other restaurant in the whole country has done.

TKB and Shabu Shabu Zen prove that despite some deficiencies, the Coachella Valley dining scene has much to be proud of.

—Jimmy Boegle

Best Quail

Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

I grew up eating quail—not all the time, or even regularly, but often enough that I knew what to expect whenever one of these gorgeous but silly small birds wound up on my dinner plate.

Well … at least I thought I knew what to expect.

That all changed the first time I enjoyed the codorniz estilo Ernesto at Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill in downtown Palm Springs. The grilled quail with sautéed tomatoes, potatoes, Anaheim peppers, garlic, green onions and cilantro is very, very good by itself. However, when it’s paired with Chef Ernesto’s diablo cream salsa, which is served on the side … well, let’s just say that none of the quail dishes I had while growing up were anywhere near this good.

A plate of codorniz estilo Ernesto, paired with a Rio Azul house margarita, is about as close as one can get to culinary nirvana here in the Coachella Valley, as far as I am concerned. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

—Jimmy Boegle

Best Prime Rib

TRIO Restaurant

TRIO is one of my favorite restaurants—but the place used to frustrate the heck out of me.

Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore.

Several years ago, TRIO would occasionally offer prime rib as a special—and after ordering it a time or two, I was hooked: It was the some of the best prime rib I’ve ever had. (Considering I grew up on a cattle ranch, this is high praise, indeed.)

Problem is … because it was a special, the prime rib wasn’t always on the menu. Therefore, there was a time or three that I got a hankering for prime rib, went to TRIO with my fingers crossed … and got frustrated when the server told me prime rib was not on offer that particular night. However, that’s no longer an issue: Every Tuesday at TRIO is now Prime Rib Tuesday—and the meal costs a downright-reasonable $26.

This system is not perfect—a prime-rib hankering can occur on non-Tuesdays, after all—but at least now I know precisely when I can go to Trio to get that hankering satisfied. And that is a very good thing.

—Jimmy Boegle

Published in Staff Picks

It would be nigh impossible to find a band more deserving of being voted Best Local Band by the readers of this fine publication than The Flusters.

The “California dreamsurf quartet” ended 2016 by releasing a well-received EP. They played a wildly successful Coachella “4/20 Inbetweener” show at The Hood—a year after playing at Coachella itself. The group then mounted a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised an impressive $21,000. That money helped the band members quit their day jobs to prepare for their first national tour—which was a rousing success. And The Flusters are now working hard on a sophomore EP, slated for release early next year.

In other words, it’s been one hell of a year for The Flusters, who were voted Best Local Band for the second time in three years. They’ll perform at the Best of Coachella Valley Awards Show and Party at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Dec. 15.

I rode along with The Flusters when they recently headed to Hollywood to play at the Viper Room. The crowd loved them, with one person remarking that they will do very well in Los Angeles if they continue to play there.

In mid-November, the band performed in front of a nearly sold-out audience at The Hood to celebrate the release of the music video for “Everyday Dreaming.” After the show, we discussed their Best Local Band win.

“Frankly, we were surprised,” frontman Doug Van Sant said. “You go away on tour all summer, and we came back, and we had this post-tour blues going on. We were our own bosses for the first time. None of us had a job to go back to, and we were kind of twiddling our thumbs—and you think people have forgotten about you after you haven’t played a local show in seven months. But when you get talked about, win something like this, or have a successful show like we did tonight, it feels like nothing changed, and we weren’t forgotten.”

Guitarist Danny White said he felt gratified after returning home from the national tour.

“We were all extremely relieved to have completed the task at hand,” he said. “There was a lot of … what I wouldn’t call doubt, but people trying to put doubt in our heads by telling us what we needed to do and how we needed to do it, and people telling us, ‘When you get to here, this is how you’re going to feel.’ We talked about it nonstop, and we had to find peace within ourselves and realize we’d given up control over what’s going to happen. All we can do is do our best, get there and be on time—and it led us to the end.”

Bassist Mario Estrada discussed one of the tour stops—in Iowa City, Iowa.

“There were about two people in the bar when we started playing, and by the end of the set, there were a bunch of people walking in, who were all saying, ‘Our friends told us to come over and check you guys out. We just rushed down here. Are you guys still going to keep playing?’ We had already started packing up and had somewhere to go. They were all bummed out.”

Van Sant said he has fond memories of being on the road, including a regular occurrence when White and photographer/videographer Wolf Mearns would be driving and navigating at night.

“(Mearns) would hit a rumble strip, and it would wake me up. I’d feel a blast of cool air, smell a cigarette being lit, and hear the crack of the tab of a Red Bull,” Van Sant said with a laugh. “You should have heard some of the late-night conversations that (White) would have with Wolf. Wolf got some of them on camera, and they were some the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard in my life.”

The Flusters could teach other local bands a lesson on how to market themselves: They know what they’re doing, and are very creative while doing it.

“Marketing, to me—it’s presence and pulse,” Van Sant said. “(It’s important to) make yourself present digitally and through merchandising—and the advantageous thing through merchandising is it’s a two-fold thing. Yes, you can make some good money, but merchandising (means) your name is everywhere, and the advantageous thing about your name being everywhere is that you become a household name. All I do is create a presence for us where there is not one, and I think outside the box. I try to connect us as a band to things that other bands might not find interesting. For me, it’s just about being persistent.”

As the band sat in the green room of The Hood after performing at that November show, drummer Daniel Perry said the feedback on the show was almost entirely positive.

“A lot of people tonight told us, ‘I saw you at the 4/20 show the last time, and you guys have really improved, and you’re so cohesive. Everybody really thought you had achieved that next level.’ It’s amazing to see how our local support has continued to grow more and more.”

Perry joined The Flusters just two weeks before that 2016 Coachella performance.

“It was a flood out of the gates,” he said. “As soon as I joined The Flusters, one of the first shows I played was Coachella. It was amazing and one of the most anxious moments I’ve had in my life. … We’ve been doing nothing but leaps since then, and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come since I’ve joined.

“I can’t wait to see where we go next.”

Of course, every band is going to have its critics, and Van Sant said after that Hood show that he doesn’t worry about them; instead, he focuses on his fans.

“We’re getting the corporate events; we’re getting the outdoor events, and that’s all good, but the people who were in here tonight—those are the people we really, really want to please,” he said. “The people who buy the tickets and have watched us since Day 1 and compare our shows—we try to give them something rad and new, and throw in some surprising moments.”

Published in Features

The Flusters have achieved big things locally. Now, the band is working to achieve big things beyond the Coachella Valley.

On June 1, The Flusters began an all-or-nothing, 30-day Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 in “seed money” by June 30. The goal is to boost the band as the members leave their day jobs to embark on a six-week, 20-city national tour, as well as release the Flusters’ second EP in the fall.

The crowd-funding campaign has a lot of perks offered to those who donate, including new limited-edition merchandise and a copy of their new EP once it’s released. The campaign’s updates have included video footage of a private performance for a teenage girl, graduating from high school, whom band members called their “biggest fan”; the release of the music video for their song “Your Arms”; and a video of a mural of the band being painted by local artist Adam Enrique Rodriguez in their practice space.

As of this story’s posting, the campaign had received $14,308 in donations.

I recently visited the Flusters’ headquarters in Palm Desert before a scheduled practice to discuss the campaign and the plans surrounding it. Will Sturgeon, front man of Brightener, was also present and picking away on guitarist Danny White’s Fender Telecaster as we discussed the campaign. Sturgeon recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for Brightener’s new album; he raised $7,665, with an original goal of $7,000.

“All of our money goes to Will Sturgeon,” front man Doug VanSant joked.

Sturgeon smiled, nodded and said, “Time is money.”

VanSant continued: “The Kickstarter was something we had planned to do ever since our first EP release last year. We knew that we wanted seed money to grow our project to the next level, and had seen people like Will close in on a couple of successful ones himself. Our friends Kreg and Kelly at (Palm Desert restaurant) Wilma and Frieda’s also ran a successful one. It was something that we always had in our scope to do, and we finally did it. Will has been a huge help in doing consultation for this, and he’s been our co-producer. He plays keyboards with us, and very early on, we had meetings in phone and in person on how to do this. His knowledge is invaluable.”

The Flusters took a risk by running an all-or-nothing campaign: If the band members don’t raise the whole $20,000, they’ll receive nothing. It’s a risky endeavor; popular local band The Hive Minds failed to reach a crowd-funding campaign goal, despite a well-done video to promote it and a lot of great perks. Sturgeon also helped the Hive Minds with that campaign. VanSant said the Hive Minds’ experience proves that crowd-funding can be tough.

“I watched their video, and they had a great video,” he said. “They said exactly what they were going to do with the money, and they were clear-cut in their goals and offered great rewards, but it didn’t work. We backed that project, too.

“We have so many people counting on us,” VanSant continued. “The live venues are counting on us; our management is counting on us; and our fans are counting on us.”

The other band members expressed nervousness as well.

“To imagine doing this without all of that (crowd-funding money) is another terrifying thought; it’s like Russian roulette,” Danny White said.

Mario Estrada laughed and added: “But that’s also what makes it really fucking exciting!”

Meanwhile, the band continues to prepare for the tour and to head into the recording studio to record Extended Play No. 2. Drummer Daniel Perry explained that the recording will include some familiar tracks.

“It’s going to have ‘Elevator Dance,’ and our instrumental ‘Stinger,’ as well as a new song called ‘Everyday Dreaming’ and ‘Time Traveler,’” Perry said. “We are also going to finish it up with a song we’ve re-worked and re-titled ‘When Will Then Be Now?’ We’re going to do the new two in between synth instrumentals ‘003’ and ‘004’ as well.”

Similar synth tracks—a few seconds of strange noises in between tracks—can also be found in the form of “001” and “002” on the first EP. I asked VanSant about the reason behind them, and he responded that all will be revealed with the next EP release.

“If you read the project updates, you’ll read the narrative of EP 1. … That story gets continued in EP 2. EP 2 serves as the mirror of EP 1,” VanSant said. “Every song has a counterpart; every synth sequence has a counterpart; and (EP 2) picks up literally where EP 1 left off. There’s going to be a complete seamless transfer of all 10 songs across the board. When you get the double EP, there’s actually going to be a bonus track at a secret Web location, and we’ll release the location when you buy it, and it’ll be hidden in the sleeve. But you’ll have to get that sleeve at our live show, and you’ll have to hunt for it.”

While the EPs are linked, the band will be recording the second one at a different studio, with a different producer.

“We’re going to a place called comp-ny in Los Angeles to work with a guy named Be Hussey, who runs comp-ny, and he recently won a Latin Grammy Award as a producer,” VanSant said. “For tracking, we’re going to give this studio a shot, and we’re a band that tracks easily, because we have a pretty organic sound. Obviously, our comfort level is to mix with Will (Sturgeon), but we might mix with Be. We don’t want to fix what isn’t broken, but do things in a grander fashion.”

The Flusters’ tour will include gigs in VanSant’s hometown of Philadelphia, and White’s hometown of Jackson, Miss. The band had help in mapping it out from Sherpa Management, a Los Angeles outfit put together by musicians and for musicians.

“We had Sherpa Management schedule the whole thing,” White said. “They’ve been extremely supportive and helpful. We couldn’t ask for a better team in our corner. But as far as people showing up, it’s going to happen, and probably not going to happen. It’s just going to be what it’s going to be. The main thing for us is getting that experience on the road to get ready for the next tour.”

VanSant said he’s a little worried about mishaps that come with touring.

“The logistics worry me a bit,” VanSant said. “Is the bus going to crap out? Is the sewage pump on the bus going to work? Will any of our gear break down? Are we going to get held up somewhere? These are things life throws at you. Having cultivated a strong group mentality of, ‘Let’s get through this,’ and, ‘Let’s be solution based’ when challenges and adversity come across our plate, we don’t bicker at each other. We’re working together, and the Kickstarter is proof—and we’re right on target.”

VanSant said the goal after the tour and second EP is to focus on writing more music, and working together to keep reaching for more success.

“We already have about five songs for our full-length album. We’re starting to book shows through November and looking to do some pretty big-ticket shows coming up here,” VanSant said. “It’s going to be a mixture of playing new markets, playing bigger venues in the same markets, and promoting those two EPs—and leveling up and staying busy. We believe we need to give ourselves six months, a full trial of focusing on The Flusters. That means jumping in the bus and going to another market for a week or two, setting up a residency to play that city, and then bouncing to another city.

“A lot of bands can’t level up, because they can’t chase the opportunity. Everybody scatters to the corners to their day jobs and tries to pay their bills, and we’ve decided to work together to pay all our separate bills. The solution is within this band. If we can play one gig and pay Daniel Perry’s car payment, that’s worth it to us. If we can play one gig and pay my rent for that month, that’s how we want to make our living. We’re going to go find the gigs—and they’re out there.”

For more information on The Flusters, visit

In the summer of 2015, I visited music producer Ronnie King’s studio, “Chateau Relaxo,” in Thermal as the Yip Yops recorded a new album.

At the time, the Yip Yops seemed ready to take the mainstream-music world by storm. The young band had just signed with talent-management company Hood and Associates, which was helping the band create that aforementioned album.

Shortly after that August 2015 article came out, the band’s name was changed to IIIZ. However, after a performance at the 111 Music Festival under that name in the fall, the band announced it had left Hood and Associates and was returning to its original name. Nonetheless, Hood and Associates released the album under the IIIZ name. (Today, the Yip Yops disavow that album.)

However, talent wins out—and the Yip Yops are as popular as ever, as shown by the band’s addition to the Coachella lineup. In between Saturday Coachella performances, the band will play at The Hood Bar and Pizza with the Flusters on Thursday, April 20.

I caught up with frontman Ison Van Winkle and drummer Ross Murakami in Palm Desert to discuss what happened with Hood and Associates.

“Basically, we were a younger, less-experienced band,” Van Winkle said. “We were promised the world, and we believed it. We thought it would be an interesting journey. It just ended up being the worst-case scenario. They wanted to push us in a direction that we didn’t have any desire to go in, and in the moment, we were trying to be open, collaborative and cooperative. … We grew a lot in that process, and looking back on it, we’re a much stronger band and stronger friends. In that situation … we knew we had an out, and we decided to exercise it and void the contract. It was bullshit what they did, and they were completely out of line.”

Murakami said they were saved by a good lawyer.

“The whole thing was a learning experience,” he said. “Now we’re moving forward. In a way, we were prepared for the worst-case scenario. Our lawyer wrote up the contract in a pretty smart way. We didn’t like them, and we didn’t want to be a part of that anymore. Now we’re free.”

Van Winkle said other local publications have incorrectly written about the band’s status, adding that one publication—which he would not name—incorrectly reported that the band members don’t have the rights to their own music.

“We’ve been completely free with no ties whatsoever for the past year,” Van Winkle said. “I think there’s a big misconception, because there have been other articles and such, where people ask if we own the music, and, ‘How can they play these songs live?’ We own the songs, and we have owned the songs this entire time. The way that it was all set up was that we licensed them to use the recordings from Ronnie King’s studio—that’s it. They still have that right, and they can do with (the recordings) what they want. We don’t really care for those recordings, anyway. That’s it, and that’s where the line is drawn. We own all the music; we own all the rights to play it live; and we feel that needs to be pretty clear.”

Van Winkle said Hood and Associates was very controlling during the recording process of that album released under the IIIZ name.

“We don’t think that Ronnie King was able to produce to his full potential because of the label we were working with,” Van Winkle said. “It was a controlled environment, and he would tell us his frustrations as we would tell him ours. Our insight into working with Ronnie King on those sessions is not the Ronnie King most people work with. It was a very controlling, very grueling process.”

The Yip Yops have started to record again.

“We wanted to do some recording and remind ourselves of what we set out to accomplish,” Van Winkle said. “We wanted to do it ourselves and not with anyone else. We’re going to control what it sounds like, and looking back at those recordings, everyone in our band feels they are eons better than what we did with the label. … It was a good reboot to everything. Since then, we’ve never stopped.”

The Yip Yops played with the Flusters on April 20 last year at The Hood Bar and Pizza, and also played at the Flusters’ EP release party last September. That second show was sold out, and The Hood Bar and Pizza’s security team had to turn away people long before 10 p.m., when the Yip Yops took the stage.

“The Flusters are always an amazing band to be working with,” Murakami said. “We’ve had a lot of meetings and calls, and it’s always been so fun to be working on something with the Flusters.”

Van Winkle said the Yip Yops have a lot in common with the Flusters; for example, the bands have similar goals.

“Both of our bands have a similar vision for the potential both of us have—just the drive and desire to keep progressing and keep getting out there,” Van Winkle said. “Both bands realize that this is our home, and it always will be, but to do what we feel the music has a potential to do, you have to get out and expand. Neither one of us wants to just play The Hood every weekend; we want more than that, and there’s more there. It’s good to have that, because we can push each other and reach that goal.”

Van Winkle said  the Yip Yops have no regrets about where they’ve been during the past two years. He also explained where the band is at in the recording process.

“The main question we always get asked is, ‘Where can we hear your music?’ or, ‘When are you going to come out with some music?’” he said. “We know there’s a demand and an interest for it, at least locally, and from our point of view, we want to fulfill that desire, but we want to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward. We want to make sure what we put out can last longer than we can. With that, it’s taken us a little longer.”

The Yip Yops will perform with The Flusters and Quay at 8 p.m., Thursday, April 20, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $8. For more information on the Yip Yops, visit

Published in Previews

In 2015, The Flusters were voted the Best Local Band by Coachella Valley Independent readers. In 2016, the band played higher-profile gigs—including Coachella—and released a well-received EP. What will 2017 bring? Stay tuned to find out—and visit for more information. Catch the band on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Saguaro as part of “Moonlit Mojave.” Flusters bassist Mario Estrada expressed interest in taking the Lucky 13, and here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Big Four: Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica. It was great!

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I asked my parents for when I was a kid? Millennium by Backstreet Boys. First album that really made me love music? Ænima by Tool.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve been listening to a looooot of Mac DeMarco. Can’t put him down. The new J. Cole is sick, too. Everyone should check out Yuck, and Palma Violets if you haven’t yet.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Country. I don’t have enough experience with driving tractors, drinking shitty beer and chewing big red.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Tool. I’ve never been able to see them live. Or The Doors.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

If Billy Joel is considered a guilty pleasure, definitely him. If not, it’s got to be Rod Stewart. It’s my mom’s fault for playing him when she would wake us up to clean on Saturdays.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Hmmm ... so many. I’ve been playing shows and seeing shows since The Hood used to be in its old location, so probably The Hood, because I’m so used to it.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“WELL, I JUST GOT INTO TOWN ABOUT AN HOUR AGO!” from “L.A. Woman” by The Doors. I actually just thought he screamed, “WELLIDABADABADABADABA HOUR AGO!” I have to look up the actual lyrics every time.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Tool. I never really appreciated music for what it could be until my tio, Chuy, played them for me for the first time. The first song I learned to play on bass was “Forty-six and 2.” If not for them, I think I’d still just listen to whatever was on the radio.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I’d ask Alanis Morissette if that song really was about Dave Coulier. It’s just so hard to believe that Uncle Joey could be that much of a douchebag.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Who Let the Dogs Out?” by the Baha Men. Nah, just kidding. “Why Judy Why” by Billy Joel.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Hmmm. Rock album? Ænima by Tool. Rap album? The Chronic by Dr. Dre. It would be Cold Spring Harbor by Billy Joel, but they messed up the mastering on it, so it’s sped up, and he sounds like a chipmunk on it. The re-master fixes the speed issue, but it still feels a little off. But every song on that album hits you in the gut.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Tomorrow Is Today” by Billy Joel. Or “Freaking Out the Neighborhood” by Mac DeMarco. Take your pick. (Scroll down to hear the songs.)

Published in The Lucky 13

It’s time to wind down after the busy holiday season—and January is filled with some great shows to help you do just that.

The McCallum Theatre has some fine post-holiday events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14, Broadway and Hollywood icon Vanessa Williams will be appearing. Williams had the No. 1 single in 1992, “Save the Best for Last,” and went on to create other hits, such as “Love Is,” “Colors of the Wind” and “Where Do We Go From Here?” She’s also had a successful film career. Tickets are $57 to $97. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 18, another actor/singer will be performing: Rick Springfield. Springfield is best remembered for his run on General Hospital, and for his hit tune “Jessie’s Girl.” Springfield has fought alcoholism and depression, but has found sobriety and a healthy mindset within the last few years. Tickets are $37 to $87. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 27, author Garrison Keillor will be returning to the McCallum to share stories about his life growing up in the Midwest. Tickets are $47 to $97. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787;

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a big show booked: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler (right) will be performing with The Loving Mary Band. It’s been said that Aerosmith might be bowing out of the game soon, and Tyler seems to enjoy performing solo, so it might just happen. Tickets are $165 to $215. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995;

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting some great comedy and music that’ll help you snap out of those holiday blues. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 13, Emmy and Grammy Award winner Kathy Griffin will be appearing. The comedienne, actress and best-selling humor writer is guaranteed to make you laugh. Tickets are $39 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14, it’ll be a double Motown bill when The Temptations and the Four Tops stop by. While the groups are only touring with one original member each, the show should still be a good time. Tickets are $39 to $59. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 20, Terry Fator will be bringing his comedy-based puppet show to Fantasy Springs. Fator can be hilarious; one of my favorite puppets is an Elvis impersonator. In my own opinion, he’s funnier than Jeff Dunham. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000;

Spotlight 29 has an event in January you won’t want to miss. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21, jazz guitarist George Benson will be performing. While Benson is classified as a jazz guitarist, his music also includes funk and soul. He’s won 10 Grammy Awards throughout his career. Tickets are $55 to $75. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566;

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some fun shows on the docket. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 5, Los Angeles psychedelic-pop band Haunted Summer (below) will be returning—with local favorite The Flusters on the bill as well. Haunted Summer did some recording at Rancho de la Luna in 2015; hopefully we’ll see a new album soon. Admission is free. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28, Los Angeles-based Americana band Moonsville Collective will be stopping by. Moonsville Collective has shared the stage with Old Crow Medicine Show, The White Buffalo, Wanda Jackson and Donavon Frankenreiter. Tickets are $10. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956;

The Date Shed has a couple of events about which you should take note. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 7, there will be a performance from Pato Banton. Banton, a London-based Reggae singer and DJ, has worked with Ranking Roger, UB40 and the Mad Professor. This should be a great show for reggae-lovers. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21, West Covina-based rapper Mr. Capone-E will take the stage. He’s known for his collaboration in 2006 with Twista on the song “Don’t Get It Twisted.” Tickets are $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699;

The Purple Room has a busy schedule of events. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 6, check out The Buddy Holly Review. As a big fan of Buddy Holly myself, I’m excited about this one. It’s been said that this tribute band does not disappoint. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14, Charles Herrera will be performing a show titled “There’s Always Room for Cello,” which will include guest Keisha D—as well as some of the best string musicians in the Coachella Valley! Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422;

The local folks behind New W8ve Entertainment are kicking off a new night at The Beer Hunter. Symara Stone and Hannah Mills will perform on the patio at the first #W8vyWednesdays, starting at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11. Admission is free. The Beer Hunter, 78483 Highway 111, La Quinta; 760-564-7442;

Published in Previews

It’s been a remarkable year for The Flusters. The band has taken the stage at both Coachella and Echo Park Rising, after being voted the “Best Local Band” by Independent readers.

Now the band is releasing its first EP. On Friday, Sept. 30, the Flusters will celebrate the release at The Hood Bar and Pizza with The Yip-Yops, Brightener and a special performance by Cakes and Brains.

During a recent interview in their new practice space in Palm Desert, guitarist/vocalist Doug Van Sant, guitarist Danny White, bassist Mario Estrada and drummer Daniel Perry all talked about the new EP.

“It took three days to record—two days in North Hollywood, and one day in Palm Desert,” Van Sant said.

Added White: “There were also about two months of pre-production in getting the songs right.”

Much of the recording was done at ReadyMix studios, with Paul Horabin in North Hollywood, while the vocals were recorded with Will Sturgeon, of Brightener, in Palm Desert; he served as the mixer and co-producer.

“He’s really easy to work with,” Van Sant said of Sturgeon. “I’d be interested to see how he’d work with a band that didn’t have as complete of a vision as we did. His producing was less vision creation and more nuts and bolts. When it comes to the fifth corner of the sound you hear in the EP, he produced it fully and wrote all the keyboard parts.”

White said all the pre-production work meant the band was truly ready when it came time to enter the studio—and even then, the recording process was trying.

“We learned it was very tiring,” White said. “I actually had a caffeine overdose and had to sit down for two hours because I thought I was going to throw up or die. We were so fried and trying to find the energy to get this stuff done within the two days we had to do it.”

Estrada said the band underestimated how tough the recording process would be.

“We’d be playing all day and thinking, ‘We’ll play; we’ll do everything during the day; and we’ll go out at night,’” he said. “We finished the first day, and we went out once just to get pizza together. We were that fried.”

While Daniel Perry is The Flusters’ current drummer, Chris O’Sullivan was the drummer during the recording process. Van Sant said they decided to keep O’Sullivan’s drumming on the album.

“It would be manipulation by omission to not credit him, and I’m not here to do that, and we’re not here to do that,” Van Sant said. “There’s zero ill will toward Chris. He did an excellent job on the album and was in the studio with us the entire time, doing his thing. … We’re not shy to give praise to people who had anything to do with this record.”

The title on the EP art is simply Extended Play No. 1. That hints at the fact that The Flusters are already working on the second EP. Perry said he’s enjoying the band’s writing process.

“It’s so comfortable, so easy, and so fluid,” Perry said. “Mario and I have known each other for quite a long time. We’ve jammed together before and have a sense of how each of us plays. He already knows how Doug and Dan work; I just kind of adapted to it. Their style is what I actually grew up on—that dream/surf feel. It’s everything that embodies me as a musician. I’ve never felt so fluid with a band like I do with these guys.”

However, the writing process is not always easy and fluid.

“It gets heated in this room sometimes,” White said.

It’s clear all of The Flusters’ hard work has paid off. The band has had some nice out-of-town shows and is gaining respect within the Los Angeles independent-band scene. The Flusters have found a kinship with Haunted Summer, who shared the stage with The Flusters at Chill Bar last November during the George Zander benefit show put on by the Independent.

“Beyond the artistic part, they’ve become really close friends,” White said about the members of Haunted Summer. “Anything we get to do with them, we love. We’re huge fans of them as musicians and people, and John Seasons has gone above and beyond for us. We are extremely grateful for that and for them to care and be fans of theirs.”

Van Sant said The Flusters have achieved success because the members work together as a team.

“It’s all done by delegation. Everybody in this band has a job beyond their instrument,” Van Sant said. “Danny is a great liaison to our Los Angeles circuit. Mario has a great relationship started with the East Valley. Daniel is good with gear management and knows a lot about electronics, sound, music and production.

“I’ve taken the manager’s reins. (At night in bed, I ask myself), ‘Have I done everything today that I possibly could do with the hours in the day with this band?’ If I can’t answer that, I can’t sleep. I have had many sleepless nights: ‘If the bass trap over there in the corner falls down because it’s too hot, it has to get fixed now, not tomorrow—right fucking now!’ The other guys have been on the ass end of that mentality from me, and I’m sure it hasn’t been pleasant.”

As for the album release show on Sept. 30: It’s going to include something that should bring back memories for anyone who has followed the Coachella Valley music scene over the years—a reunion of local band Cakes and Brains.

“People are going to get the flashbacks and say, ‘I remember those guys from high school! They’re still doing stuff? Let’s go check them out!’” Perry said. “I know I would. It would give me the nostalgia feels and want to experience that again. Their shows were so fun.”

The Flusters will perform with Brightener, The Yip Yops, and Cakes and Brains at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 30, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on the Flusters, visit

July is going to be hot—but never fear, because there are some great air-conditioned events going on.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is again the place to be in July. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 2, get some advice on how to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them, when Kenny Rogers performs. The pop-country icon has sold more than 120 million albums! Tickets are $29 to $69. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 9, pop-star Kesha will be stopping in. Since 2010, Kesha has taken the music world by storm—although many still don’t know what to make of her. After a nasty court battle with producer Dr. Luke, she’s returning to live performances and seems to be heading down a different creative path. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, July 29, get out your dancing shoes, because Earth, Wind and Fire is coming back to town. It’s been a rough year for the group due to the death of founding member Maurice White, but the band is still in demand and continues to dazzle audiences. Tickets are $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000;

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has several intriguing events in July. At 8 p.m., Saturday, July 16, standup comedian Brian Regan will perform. Regan, who is known to refrain from using profanity, is quite popular across all age groups and has been going strong since the ’90s. Tickets are $55 to $85. There’s another event worth mentioning if you are a fan of world music: At 6:30 p.m., Saturday, July 30, there will be a show by Armenian singer Armenchik. Born in Armenia and raised in Los Angeles, Armenchik showed a natural talent for singing at a young age and has performed all around the world. Tickets are $60 to $150. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995;

Spotlight 29 is going to heat up at 8 p.m., Friday, July 22, when Maxwell (right) stops by. In 1996, Maxwell released Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite, which is said to have changed R&B forever. Maxwell’s singing ability is right up there with that of Marvin Gaye; it’s no wonder that Urban Hang Suite was a hit, even though Maxwell did it without much commercial support. In fact, the album went on to sell 2 million copies. If there is one show you shouldn’t miss in July, this is the one. Tickets are $71 to $111. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566;

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a solid schedule through July. Ted Quinn, the longtime host of the free open-mic nights on Mondays, has stepped down. During July, Pappy’s is bringing in a series of guest hosts: Jesika Von Rabbit on July 4; Leslie Mariah Andrews of the Small Wonder Experience on July 11; Bella Dawn on July 18; and Lee Joseph on July 25. In other news: At 9 p.m., Sunday, July 10, the group Imarhan will be performing. Imarhan performs Tuareg music, which has a soulful and groovy rhythm. Sadam, Imarhan’s frontman, is the cousin of Eyadou Ag Leche, of Tinariwen, who also helped write some of the music for Imarhan’s self-titled debut album. Tickets are $15 to $17. At 8:30 p.m., Saturday, July 16, the queen of the high desert, Jesika Von Rabbit, will take the stage. Also on the bill: Death Valley Girls. Hopefully this performance will mark the return of Von Rabbit’s dancing man, Larry Van Horn, who recently told me he suffered a leg injury, but is getting back into the groove. Last but certainly not least, at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 30, The Evangenitals will be coming back yet again for a guaranteed great time. The show is free! Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956;

The Coachella Valley Art Scene is teaming up with the Ultrastar Mary Pickford Theatre in Cathedral City for the second summer in a row. Each Friday, a local band will play from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. On Friday, July 1, Giselle Woo will be performing. On Friday, July 8, David Morales from EeVaan Tre and the Show will take the stage; on Friday, July 15, The Flusters are the act; on Friday, July 22, EeVaan Tre himself will be performing, and on Friday, July 29, Madison Ebersole will perform. Admission is free. Ultrastar Mary Pickford Theater, 36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City; 760-328-7100;

Copa Palm Springs will be hosting comedian and actor Leslie Jordan (below) again at 8 p.m., Friday, July 1; 8 p.m., Saturday, July 2; and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, July 3. He’ll be performing his one man show, Straight Outta Chattanooga. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-322-3554;

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