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November is here, which means the weather has been cooling off, and the holiday season is about to arrive. It also means the Coachella Valley and high desert are full of great events.

Speaking of great events: The McCallum Theatre has a busy November, including shows by Lea DeLaria and Jake Shimabukuro, which you can read about elsewhere in this issue. Here are a few others you should consider: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, country-music star Travis Tritt will offer an intimate acoustic-style performance, during which he’ll share stories about his life and career. These types of shows are always interesting, and the McCallum is the perfect venue for this type of concert. Tickets are $38 to $88. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 15, singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell will take the stage. He’s written hit songs for many country musicians, including Keith Urban, and he’s won two Grammy Awards. Tickets are $25 to $65. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16, Irish singing group Celtic Thunder will perform. The group has been wildly popular ever since its first television special on PBS in 2008. Celtic Thunder is a huge draw in America and uses dramatics, comedy, lighting and choreography to dazzle audiences. Tickets are $60 to $90. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is offering an awesome list of November shows. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, Rascal Flatts will be performing. Rascal Flatts was one of the biggest country groups of the ’00s and continues to be a powerhouse in country music. The group has sold more than 20 million records and has 17 No. 1 singles. Tickets are $69 to $159. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall will be stopping by as part of her Turn Up the Quiet world tour. I had a chance to check out Krall during a stop at Fantasy Springs a couple of years ago—and she was magnificent. If you love jazz, Diana Krall is a must-see. Tickets are $59 to $99. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, pop legend Paula Abdul will be performing. Paula Abdul was a huge name in ’90s R&B and could dance like no other. She’s sold more than 60 million records, has been a dance choreographer, and has been a judge on American Idol. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has some big names stopping by in November. First up, at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, is Eagles lead vocalist, drummer, and guitarist Don Henley. Henley found success as a solo artist after the Eagles first breakup in 1980, releasing his first solo album in 1982—but it was his second, Building the Perfect Beast, in 1984, that landed him his big hit “The Boys of Summer,” which has become a radio staple. Tickets are $175 to $250. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, pop singer Johnny Mathis will be performing. Mathis does what has been described as “standards” and “romantic ballads,” but his vocal range and catalog include R&B, country, blues, soul and many other genres. Tickets are $90 to $120. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of fine events scheduled in November. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, it’ll be a night of music from Sinaloa, Mexico, when Voz De Mando and Kanales will be performing. You might remember Voz De Mando from the 2011 film A Better Life. The band has become a hit with both American and Latin audiences. Kanales’ life story—coming to the United States for a better life at the age of 15, and finding success through singing—is remarkable, but the music the man makes is definitely worth the hype: His songs are deep and tell the stories of lessons he’s learned and struggles through which he’s lived. Advance tickets are $40. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, country music star Easton Corbin (upper right) will be performing. Corbin has charted with “A Little More Country Than That,” “Roll With It” and “I Can’t Love You Back.” He’s performed at Stagecoach and toured with Brad Paisley. Tickets are $40 to $60. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a few noteworthy November events. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, comedian, talk-show host and political commentator Dennis Miller will be performing. While his political opinions have taken a turn toward the unpopular, he was the best Weekend Update personality Saturday Night Live ever had. Tickets are $69 to $89. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, reality-television star Teresa Giudice will be appearing. I spent way too much time trying to figure out how this show was going to work, and what the former Real Housewives of New Jersey and Celebrity Apprentice star will be doing. My best guess: Discussing her time spent in a federal prison for fraud? And her husband’s deportation back to his native Italy? Tickets are $35 to $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s is rolling into November with a fantastic schedule. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, Starcrawler will be performing. Starcrawler is an independent band that’s about to go to some pretty awesome places. This Echo Park group certainly knows how to rock, and the band’s songs are a kick in the ass. The group’s appeared on Apple Beats 1 radio, and Elton John played ’em on his Rocket Hour radio show. The band has an album being produced by Ryan Adams coming out soon, too. Also appearing: The Entire Universe, which is fronted by Jeffertitti, formerly the frontman of Jeffertitti’s Nile, and a former bassist in Father John Misty’s band. Jeffertitti is pretty far out, but in an awesome way. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10, country musician Jesse Dayton will take the stage. He’s performed on albums with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, The Supersuckers, and Kris Kristofferson. He also worked with Rob Zombie on some of his films. Also on the bill: Charlie Overbey, who has been touring after releasing his new album Broken Arrow earlier this year. Tickets are $20. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 24, the Meat Puppets will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. If you’ve never seen the Meat Puppets before, I highly recommend ’em. The band appeared with Nirvana on the Unplugged special and has been listed as an influence for many punk-rock and desert-rock bands. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has a couple of great dinner-show events to consider. At 6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, former Broadway actress and singer Nancy Dussault will be performing. She appeared on Broadway in musicals such as The Sound of Music, Bajour and Do Re Mi. She’s still performing at the age of 82. Tickets are $45 to $50. At 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3 singer/songwriter Chadwick Johnson will take the stage. He’ll be performing the music of Las Vegas, which is certainly jazzy, upbeat and good to listen to during martini time. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17, actress and singer Linda Lavin will be performing. You might remember her from the show Alice. She’s a noteworthy singer as well, and will be performing with a backing band. Tickets are $50 to $60. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Date Shed has one event scheduled for November: At 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 29, SoCal reggae band and Date Shed regulars Fortunate Youth will be performing. The Hermosa Beach band also includes ska and punk in its sound. The group’s shows are always well-attended, and they are always asked back. Tickets are $20 in advance. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

The Copa Palm Springs has one ticketed event in November, too: At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10, The Divine Miss Bette starring Catherine Alcorn will grace the Copa stage. It’s billed as a cabaret show with the songs of Bette Midler—and it’s received a lot of critical acclaim. Tickets are $25 to $45. Copa Palm Springs, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

While jazz music has been declining in mainstream popularity in recent years, Diana Krall remains a big name in the music world. Her stop at Fantasy Springs on Saturday proved she’s a masterful performer who knows how to entertain a crowd.

The stage setup offered a throwback to vintage radio days: There was a replica of what looked like a huge old radio from the 1930s; other items gave a big-band era feel. When Krall took the stage with her band, they opened with “We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye,” from her 2012 album Glad Rag Doll.

At one point in between songs, a woman in the front row screamed, “I’m from Ontario, Canada!” Krall—a Canadian herself—said, “I’ve been there a few times. … I think I saw you there!”

Krall’s show offered elements of jazz from the big band era, Dixieland, and even some Latin and bossa nova sounds. A real treat came when Krall performed a cover of Tom Waits’ “Temptation.” Her guitarist, Anthony Wilson, and fiddler, Stuart Duncan, were fantastic as they kept “Temptation” going with improvised solos.

Two other covers were highlights in her set: Jim Croce’s “Operator,” and Bob Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate.”

Aided by a great band that also included Karriem Riggins on drums, Dennis Crouch on upright bass and Patrick Warren on keyboards, Krall put on a spectacular show.

Setlist

  • We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye
  • Sweet Man
  • Just Like a Butterfly
  • Sunny Side of the Street
  • So Nice
  • You Call This Madness
  • East of the Sun
  • Temptation
  • Simple Twist of Fate
  • California Dreamin’
  • Operator
  • Just You, Just Me
  • Deed I Do
  • Boulevard of Broken Dreams
  • Frim Fram Sauce

Photos by Kevin Fitzgerald

Published in Reviews

August is the final full month of summer, and there are a surprising number of great shows taking place during the month that you won’t want to miss.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s August is, simply put, awesome. So many events … so much awesome. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, hard-rock and heavy-metal pioneers Deep Purple (above) will be appearing. If you don’t know “Smoke on the Water” or “Perfect Strangers,” and you call yourself a music fan, something is wrong with you. Tickets are $49 to $79. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21, it’ll be an ’80s throwback night when New Edition stops by; however, it’s unknown whether Bobby Brown will be taking part, with the recent death of his daughter Bobbi Kristina. Either way, it should be an interesting show. Tickets are $49 to $79. You’ll be happy to know that Diana Krall (right) is returning to the desert at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22. The world’s favorite female jazz pianist and vocalist is guaranteed to deliver, so go check her out. 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 has a couple of events worth your time. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, comedian Russell Peters will be stopping by. The Canadian was the first comedian to sell out the Air Canada Centre in Toronto in 2007; unfortunately, he also played Santa in Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. Tickets are $65 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22, modern country duo Thompson Square will performing. The husband and wife from Nashville have taken the country-music world by storm since they released their self-titled debut on Stoney Creek Records. Their single “Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not?” reached No. 1 on the country chart and went double-platinum. They also took home three awards at the American Country Awards in 2011. Tickets are $35 to $55. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has some great tribute bands performing throughout the month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, get out the rhinestones and sequins as Kenny Metcalf performs the music of Elton John. AXS TV included him on its television show The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands. Tickets are $10. If you enjoyed the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus performance of ABBA tunes back in the spring, you can get another dose of ABBA at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 29, when ABBAFAB performs. Tickets are $10. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has some big names dropping in this month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, former late-night TV superstar Jay Leno (below) will be present. If you miss him on NBC (which I don’t), this is a great time to see him doing what he’s always done best: stand-up comedy. Tickets are $85 to $110. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21, you’ll be singing the chorus to “Joy to the World”—no, not that song, the other one, by Three Dog Night. While Chuck Negron doesn’t appear to be rejoining the group anytime soon, Three Dog Night is still going strong. Tickets are $40 to $60. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has plenty going on in August. At 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 8, former Kyuss frontman John Garcia will be performing. In 2014, Garcia released a self-titled solo album, which was welcomed by music critics and Kyuss fans alike. You should definitely make it up the hill for this one. Tickets are $10. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 20, London-based post-punk band Savages will be performing. The group’s 2013 debut album, Silence Yourself, was all the rage, and music critics were counting down the days to its release. In other words, the group is pretty awesome. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza will once again hold its Battle of the Bands every Sunday in August at 6 p.m. The judging panel will feature local music promoter Ming Bob, CV Weekly owner/editor Tracy Dietlin, and yours truly. Come out every Sunday and catch local talent competing for the grand prize of $1,000 cash. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

April brings Coachella and Stagecoach to the valley, of course—but there are a lot of other great music events going on as well.

The McCallum Theatre is winding down the 2013-2014 season—but in a big way. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 1, John Anderson and Tracy Lawrence will be performing. John Anderson had some success in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but in the late ’80s, his career was at something of a dead end. Then in 1991, Anderson staged one of the biggest comebacks in music history with his multi-platinum album Seminole Wind. Tracy Lawrence has had a steadier career ever since he arrived on the scene in 1991; multiple albums of his have hit the country Top 10. Tickets are $25 to $65. Diana Krall will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Friday, April 11. The acclaimed pianist and vocalist is considered one of the best modern jazz artists and has won five Grammy Awards so far. She’s married to Elvis Costello and is the mother of twin boys—yet her career is still going strong. Tickets are $75 to $125. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has one music event you won’t want to miss in April. ZZ Top (right) will be stopping by at 9 p.m., Friday, April 4. The Texas-based blues and rock band has become well known for their guitar-driven sound, as well as their beards—although Frank Beard, the band’s drummer, doesn’t have a beard. Go figure. Tickets are $75 to $115. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a great schedule during the month of April. Il Divo will be appearing at 8 p.m., Friday, April 4. This is the second stop in the Coachella Valley within a year for the operatic vocal group, featuring members from Spain, Switzerland, France and the United States. Tickets are $59 to $109. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 5, Rob Thomas (pictured below) will take the stage. Thomas is the frontman of Matchbox 20, one of the most successful bands of the late ’90s. He also has a couple of solo albums to his credit. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 19, The Temptations and The Four Tops will be performing. These legendary groups were both pioneers of the Motown/soul sound. Otis Williams is now the only remaining original member of The Temptations, while Abdul “Duke” Fakir is the only remaining original member of The Four Tops. Still, both groups are most definitely worth seeing. Tickets are $29 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino will be hosting Sugar Ray at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 5. Frontman Mark McGrath has become a Ryan Seacrest-like figure by hosting various television shows, and the band is best known for its pop radio hits—so many don’t know that the band started out by playing with an edgier sound that approached punk. In fact, many of their friends and contemporaries were quick to criticize them when they moved toward pop. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has an event in April that will get many country music fans excited. At 9 p.m., Friday, April 4, Big and Rich will be stopping by. Big Kenny and John Rich have billed themselves as playing “country music without prejudice” and are known for teaming up with various rock and hip-hop musicians. They have also worked with country rapper Cowboy Troy. One of their biggest hits, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” is a staple on jukeboxes, karaoke song lists, and cover-band set lists. Tickets are $69 to $79. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a lot of Coachella-related events going on that you can read about elsewhere in this issue, but other great stuff is happening at the venue in April, too. At 9 p.m., Wednesday, April 9, folk-rock band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals will be stopping by. In a little more than a decade of existence, the group has released five albums to critical acclaim and international success. Tickets are $25. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza will be welcoming back Amigo the Devil at 9 p.m., Wednesday, April 9. Amigo the Devil brands himself as performing “murderfolk.” He’s a rather talented banjo player who has plenty of songs about the dark side of life. No, this isn’t your parents’ folk music by any means. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com.

Published in Previews

When the McCallum Theatre announced its 2013-2014 season in the spring, the first show on the calendar was the Second Annual Family Fun Day, featuring the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater, on Sunday, Oct. 13.

But as of today, Family Fun Day is the fourth show on the calendar.

“When you get offered Bill Maher, but he can only do a show in September, we’re going to do it,” says Jeffrey Norman, the McCallum’s director of communications and public affairs.

That Bill Maher performance—on Saturday, Sept. 28—is one of a dozen new shows that was announced by the McCallum today. Single tickets for some of those early-season shows—including the Maher show ($55 to $95)—will go on sale next Thursday, Aug. 1, with the rest of the single tickets available on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

Other new shows announced today include Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell (Wednesday, Oct. 9, $65 to $125; on sale Aug. 1), Graham Nash (Thursday, Nov. 21, $35 to $75; on sale Aug. 1), and the legendary Lily Tomlin (Friday, March 21, 2014, $55 to $95; on sale Sept. 17).

Tickets for four previously announced shows will also go on sale Aug. 1: the aforementioned Family Fun Day ($7 to $15); the premiere of Alton Brown Live! (Friday, Oct. 18, $25 to $75); Frida, the Musical (Friday, Oct. 25; $29 to $79); and Vince Gill (Saturday, Nov. 2, $45 to $75).

And the season, even now, is not yet complete: Norman says that up to a half-dozen shows, and maybe even a few more, could be added before all is said and done. He describes the process of putting together the season as a “big jigsaw puzzle”—a puzzle which is primarily completed by the McCallum’s president and CEO, Mitch Gershenfeld.

“What we try to do is put together a very strong season (early) so we can send out our subscription brochure around April or so,” explains Norman. That means first booking things like Broadway musicals, plays, dance performances and tribute shows that can be scheduled well in advance.

But many artists these days, Norman says, are booking tours and deciding on show dates at the last minute. “All of a sudden, we’ll get a call from a booker. They’ll say, ‘Bill Maher is interested in coming.’ We’re interested if we can find a date and pay the fee.”

Sometimes, that means starting the McCallum season well before snowbirds and tourists have returned. But these days, that’s less of a concern, Norman says.

“Last year, we had Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers on Aug. 29,” Norman says. “It was a little bit of a risk, but we sold out. We’re noticing that increasingly, there’s a significant year-round community here, and they want to be entertained as much as the snowbirds do.”

Norman says he’s really looking forward to Diana Krall’s appearance on Friday, April 11, 2014 ($75 to $125). He says he saw her perform a couple of times at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, where he worked for two decades before moving to the McCallum at the start of this year.

“We had two theaters, and she’d played in the 2,800-seat theater. She then tried out a new show in our 500-seat theater,” he remembers. “It was a quirky show—just a beautiful night of her at the piano.”

He says he’s also looking forward to the performance by Maher.

“You just never know what he’s going to say,” Norman says.

For tickets and more information, including an up-to-date schedule, visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Published in Theater and Dance