Desert Lexus Jazz: Mindi Abair Interview

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Mindi Abair, a two-time Grammy-nominated saxophonist, is returning to the desert to play in another Desert Lexus Jazz on Saturday, May 7, 2016. She took some time to speak with the Indian Wells Tennis Garden about her experiences in Indian Wells, what inspired her to pick up a saxophone, and performing with Bruce Springsteen. Tickets for the upcoming show are still available.

Could you talk about your past experiences at Desert Lexus Jazz and what Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers will bring to the 2016 edition?

I’ve done Desert Lexus Jazz for so many years. The last time I was there was with Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot for “Summer Horns” and that was a big tribute to horn bands like Tower of Power, and Earth, Wind and Fire. Before that I came with David Pack, lead singer of Ambrosia, and my good friend Jeff Golub, who unfortunately passed away recently. I just love coming to the desert. It’s a place where people want to party, and this year I’m with The Boneshakers. The Boneshakers is a mix of  blues, rock and just high energy. It’s a blast, and it should be an amazing show.

You alluded to your work with Dave Koz and Friends for Summer Horns, which was nominated for a Grammy. Following Summer Horns was your Grammy nominated solo album Wild Heart. Could you talk about those experiences and having back-to-back Grammy nominated records?

As a musician, you sit in a practice room for years and try to be as good as you can and put together inspiring records. But to get a Grammy nomination is above and beyond what I could ever expect. I always try to push myself to write better songs, but to get the nomination with my friends Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot – we were a team. It was so much fun to go to the Grammy’s – we felt like Reservoir Dogs! We lost, but we lost to Herb Alpert so how can you complain? So next year when I put out Wild Heart, and it was nominated for best Contemporary Instrumental Record, I was over the moon. My first nomination came with my friends, but this record was all songs that I wrote and produced and put together. It was really fun to soak that in, something that I did on my own. It was quite a high for me.

You’ve toured with Aerosmith, shared the same stage with Bruce Springsteen and countless other amazing musicians. Do you have a favorite performance or moment from your career?

Jim “Fitz” Fitzgerald, who is putting on this show, introduced me to Max Weinberg, who played drums in Springsteen’s band for 40 years. And I’m just such a huge fan. I know every note to every Clarence Clemons solo. Most sax players want to be Coltrane but I wanted to be Clemons. So Fitz called after Clarence died, and he asked if I wanted to come play saxophone with Max Weinberg. I came down and it was awkward, magical and the beginning of a great friendship with Max Weinberg. One of the most incredible moments of my career was playing with Bruce Springsteen and Max at the Beacon Theater in New York. It was amazing, and I couldn’t ask for more.

When did you start playing the saxophone, and when did you know that you wanted to make a career playing music?

All of it happened pretty naturally. My mom doesn’t do music, but my Dad played saxophone, keyboards and bass, and his mother was an opera singer. I grew up on the road with my Dad’s band, and I was just always around music. So when I got into school and had band class, I picked up the sax because my Dad played and looked like he had so much fun. So I’ve taken it way too far [laughter]. I’ve just always had fun, and it seemed like what I wanted to do.

Brian Culbertson, who will also perform as Desert Lexus Jazz, has released over a dozen albums and is currently working on another titled “Funk!” Could you talk about Brian and what he brings to Desert Lexus Jazz?

I’ve known Brian forever. We’ve done countless festivals together. He’s extremely talented, produces his own music and writes a lot. He’s just an amazing guy. He always puts on the big show. You will get a lot of blues, rock and soul from my band, and then Brian will bring you into the funk from his band. His band is really fun, and I don’t think you can ask for a more energetic evening.

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Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience Slated for March 5

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If you were asked to describe the perfect Saturday, what would it include? Great food? Fresh air and sunshine? How about both of those things accompanied by live music?

Then go ahead and consider Saturday, March 5th a perfect day.

The 5th annual Rhythm, Wine, and Brews event is returning to the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, CA.  Starting at 4pm, attendees have over 10 different food vendors to choose from as well as over 25 wineries and 45 breweries to enjoy while soaking in the vibes from six different bands, including rock sensation, 311.

While everyone will have access to the amenities of the event once they are in, entry levels range from general admission at $70 to having your own private cabana (up to 12 people) for the evening at $5,000.   No matter which package you choose, you and your party can sit back and soak the evening in, or dance the night away – like we said, the perfect Saturday.

Rhythm, Wine, and Brews has been a popular event since 2011 for obvious reasons, but what adds to the joy of attending (as if you need another reason, right?) is that a portion of the proceeds benefit the Casey Lee Ball Foundation.  This foundation funds pediatric kidney research, which is often considered underfunded.  Now you can add charity to your list of reasons to spend March 5th at Empire Polo Fields, need we say more?

Visit http://www.rwbexp.com/ to purchase your tickets today and book the perfect Saturday!

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La Quinta Arts Festival Begins Today

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Credit: Palm Springs Life

The beauty of art, in all of its unique forms, will be in one place from March 3rd to March 6th.  Organized by the La Quinta’s Arts Foundation (LQAF) with its Premier Sponsor, the City of La Quinta, it raises funds for the Foundations non-profit mission of Promoting & Cultivating the Arts.  Two hundred and twenty exclusive artists who have competed with over 1,100 applicants will display their work at the La Quinta’s Civic Center Campus.

While you may have experienced an art festival before, there is really nothing like this one.  Not only has it been ranked #1 in the Nation for 2013, 2014, and 2015 by “Greg Lawler’s 2015 Art Fair SourceBook”, but it will also exhibit more than what is considered traditional forms of art.  Art styles include; ceramic, drawing and pastel, fiber/textile, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, and wood.  Accompanying these breath taking visual art forms, there will be the artistic entertainment ranging from eclectic rhythm mixes, classical flamenco guitar, rock music, body painting paired with interpretive dance, and jazz music.

With the abundance of displays from artists representing 35 US States, Canada, and Argentina, attendees are bound to need a pick-me-up, don’t worry, LQAF has you covered.  The on-site food line-up includes; Fisherman’s market & grill, Ruths Chris Steak house, Asian Inspired Lighter affair, among a variety of snacks and, of course, coffee options and wine/beer bars so that you can spend the entire day (or weekend!) taking in the world-class talent that surrounds you.

Whether you’ve attended the La Quinta’s Art Festival in the past or you are a first timer, prepare to be awe-struck by the simple, complex, and abstract forms of art that populate the campus in all of their beauty.

For tickets and more information, visit http://www.lqaf.com/cultural-events/la-quinta-arts-festival/

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Modernism Week

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While Palm Springs hosts year round parties and events, there is nothing quite like the experience and air of Modernism Week.  From February 11th – 21st, several museums and common Palm Springs venues will host a range of entertainment, educational lectures, and shopping opportunities.

The unique event expects to attract over 60,000 attendees.  What is so intriguing about such an event? Modern art and architecture is ever changing and allows a different perspective on beauty.  The Annenberg Theatre and The Palm Springs Art Museum are two of many locations that art enthusiasts can take part in activities. Less anticipated on the list, however, are Palm Springs neighborhoods.  Many of these neighborhoods and homes have been around for decades but what places them in the parade of modernism is the contemporary spin that the homeowners that have put on the mid-century architecture. Viewers of these homes often times are given instruction on how to do a similar project and certainly leave with inspiration.

While Modernism week is educational and filled with different events, the foundation is to celebrate and foster the contemporary designs and fields of work from creators, to buyers, to admirers.

The sense of celebration is clearly not forgotten during the ten-day span.  Live music, fresh food, and happy hours polka dot the agenda each day, savored pick-me-ups for a packed full schedule of things to do and see.

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Valentines Day in The Desert

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Valentines Day – the day of expressing your affection to that special someone in your life.  Love is already vibrant in Indian Wells and not just on February 14th.  The residents and visitors LOVE the surrounding mountains, ever-present sun, and variety of festivals and events that take place year-round.   What better way to show love to your significant other than by spending Valentines Day in the place you love.

With Valentines Day falling on a Sunday this year, it allows an entire day to spend time with that special someone.  Let this list of ideas springboard you into a day neither of you will forget.

To start the day off, the two of you should feel relaxed. Forget the stresses that life throws at you every other day and treat yourselves to an afternoon at the spa.  Whether it’s a relaxing massage, manicures or pedicures, these three spas are some of the most peaceful locations to relax in sweet serenity.

Agua Serena Spa at Hyatt

Spa Esmeralda at Renaissance Indian Wells

The Well Spa at Miramonte Resort

The Spa at Desert Springs

Palm Springs Yacht Club

Alright, now that you are relaxed, it’s time to get some endorphins flowing.  The truth is, not everyone is spoiled with sunny weather and balmy bliss in February.  Even though it’s right in your back yard, you may not usually take the time to explore Palm Canyon or stroll through the Botanical Gardens hand in hand.  Today is the day! Besides, you’ll want to work up an appetite for dinner tonight.

Dinner time! Hopefully you had a post-hike shower and freshened up for a candle lit dinner.  These restaurants are noted for their exquisite food, spectacular atmosphere, and a must-come-back dining experience.

Vicky’s of Sante Fe

Vue Grille and Bar

Purple Room

Tropicale

Melvynes Restaurant & Lounge

Make cheers in abundance and cherish the time together.  Also, don’t forget to order dessert. Happy Valentines Day!

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BRIAN CULBERTSON PLUS MINDI ABAIR AND THE BONESHAKERS STAR IN 2016 DESERT LEXUS JAZZ FESTIVAL PRESENTED BY THE CITY OF INDIAN WELLS

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Brian Culbertson plus Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers have just been announced as the talent lineup for the 2016 Desert Lexus Jazz Festival presented by the City of Indian Wells, a premier concert event in the Coachella Valley for the past 17 years will be held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Saturday, May 7. Abair, a two-time Grammy-nominated saxophonist, and The Boneshakers will open the evening at 7:00 p.m. followed by Brian Culbertson at 8:30 p.m.

Brian Culbertson grew up near Chicago, Illinois, loving genre-crossing jazz-pop artists such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago, and 2015 Desert Lexus Jazz performers Tower of Power. In 1994, Brian self-produced his debut album, Long Night Out, and 15 albums later he still continues to be a leading voice in contemporary jazz, funk and R&B. Culbertson has been in the studio writing songs for a new funk record, due out this September. Collaborations on the upcoming album include sessions with Chance Howard, St. Paul Peterson, Sheldon Reynolds and several more stars.

“I can’t wait to bring the funk to the Desert Lexus Jazz Festival for the first time!” said Culbertson.

In a career that spans seven solo albums and countless collaborations, Mindi Abair has made her mark on several genres, including jazz, pop, rock, R&B, soul, funk and more. The saxophonist/vocalist has made scores of friends along the way, including The Boneshakers at the Newport Beach Jazz Festival, when Abair hopped on-stage to perform with the band. The impromptu performance transitioned into a full-length album, Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers Live in Seattle, which was released on September 25, 2015.

“I can’t wait to come back to Indian Wells with my band The Boneshakers,” said Abair. “We are ready to give you a show you’ll never forget. The setting is amazing, and everyone in Indian Wells has made me feel so welcome for so many years that it feels like home, which always gives my show here a special magic.”

The event will be held under the Indian Wells Tennis Garden’s shade pavilion, offering seating for 2,000 patrons. In addition to music, the evening will also feature an assortment of food, wine and art. Reserved and Table seating is available and gates open at 5:30 p.m.

“I am thrilled to be partnering with the Indian Wells Tennis Garden team once again for this signature desert event, said CV 104.3’s Jim “Fitz” Fitzgerald, co-founder of Wendy Jayne Productions, Inc. “We’ve started a great tradition of wrapping up music month in the desert. Desert Lexus Jazz has had strong support over the years, and we are excited to keep growing this event and upping the experience for our loyal patrons in 2016 and the years to come.”

Desert Lexus Jazz is a presentation of IWTG and Wendy Jayne Productions, Inc.

For more information and to buy tickets online starting February 18, visit www.iwtg.net or call the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Box Office at 760-200-8000, 800-999-1585.

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5 Minutes With… Helen du Toit of Palm Springs Film Festival

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The 27th annual Palm Springs Film Fest began on Jan. 1 and will continue until Jan. 11. The City of Indian Wells caught up with Artistic Director Helen du Toit to discuss the history of the festival, fondest memories and more!

Being the 27th Palm Springs Film Fest, could you talk about how the event has evolved over the years?

The festival was founded by Mayor Sonny Bono with the hopes that it would drive tourism to the desert in what was then the slow season. In its second year, Darryl Macdonald, the founder of the Seattle Film Festival, was brought down as Director of Programming and Darryl invited me to work here as well, initially in Hospitality then in the Publicity department. Darryl’s reputation gave a huge boost to the festival and his programing proved to be a big draw to audiences. He took a few years out in the mid-90’s and the festival faltered somewhat. Harold Matzner brought it back from the brink, and invited Darryl back in 2003, this time as Festival Director. Darryl brought in an experienced team and spent years fine-tuning the event. I re-joined the programming team in 2004 and took over as Artistic Director seven years ago.

Harold and the Board of Directors have developed the Black Tie Gala into a world class awards show, the media impressions of which have dramatically raised international awareness of the festival and now make us a key stop in Oscar® campaigns. In addition to supporting the festival, the BTG has also enabled us to increase our year round educational and community outreach programs. Meanwhile strong programming has steadily built a loyal audience and we now have the 3rd largest attendance in the US, which is especially surprising considering that we are based in a small town. With 70% of our audience coming from outside the Coachella Valley, the Palm Springs International Film Festival has a major impact on tourism.

What is your fondest memory of past Palm Springs Film Festivals, and how long have you been involved with the event?

I have so many fond memories of the film festival, but mainly the audience response and the wonderful filmmakers we have hosted over the years. My favorite part is always witnessing the connections made and how people are moved by so many of the films we show. One personal highlight was back in the early 90’s when I met the magnificent Marcello Mastroianni, star of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. He was one of the most charming men I have ever encountered – and a big flirt! And despite his stardom, he was humble and gracious. It was a privilege to have met him.

As we approach the final weekend of the festival, what should fans expect? Any go-to activities?

Asif Kapadia, the director of the Oscar® short-listed documentary AMY – about Amy Winehouse – will speak along with Amy’s Winehouse’s friend and manager following the screening on Thursday evening. Closing weekend has a plethora of wonderful films from around the world. Tickets have been selling very well but audiences report that many of their favorite films are those they knew nothing about in advance. So take a risk on an unknown film!

Could you talk about any films to make its debut at the PSFF that went on to be award-winning?

Departures from Japan was hardly on anyone’s radar when it came to Palm Springs IFF, but after it won the audience award here, it went on to win the Oscar® for best foreign language film. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Starbuck were also massive hits here and went on to great success – both being remade in English by Hollywood  - Girl with the Dragon Tattoo directed by David Fincher and produced by powerhouse Scott Rudin and Starbuck produced by Steven Spielberg. So our audience clearly has their collective finger on the pulse!

What makes the Palm Springs area a great place to host an event of this magnitude?

The glorious mountains and the sunshine – even though there was little evidence of that yesterday. But it’s back this morning! The people of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley are also great hosts and enthusiastic film-goers. We love our desert.

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5 Minutes With… Frank DiSalvo of Indian Wells Resort

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In honor of Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday, we spoke with local entertainer Frank DiSalvo of Frank’s Place Restaurant and Lounge in the Indian Wells Resort. DiSalvo talked about his favorite Sinatra memory, his favorite Sinatra song to perform and more!

City of Indian Wells: What can patrons that visit Frank’s Place at the Indian Wells Resort expect to see this month?

Frank DiSalvo: Saturday night (Dec. 12) is going to be a really great night. We’ll have a lot of live music. Sunday night will be a culmination, because we have a 16-piece big band, the Ted Herman Big Band. I will be doing all Sinatra for two hours, all the hits. It will be as Las Vegas as we can get! No one else will have that kind of deal in the Valley. We’ve got a 16-piece big band, and it is hot! It will be a presentation that is surely one to remember.

CIW: Could you tell us your favorite Rat Pack Drink?

FD: I like the Frank Sinatra, which is the Jack Daniels on the Rocks. Of course the Sammie Davis Jr. is the Jack and Coke, and the Dean Martin is the Martini. But, if I had to pick, it would definitely be the Sinatra.

CIW: When did you begin your career as an entertainer?

FD: I’ve been a professional entertainer for 50 years, including 45 behind the guitar. And I had some friends who would say, “You know, you kind of look like Frank.” During that time, a big-band up north heard me at an event and they asked if I could go a Frank Sinatra tribute. I said sure! I did about three events in Northern California. When I came down to the desert, I did a one-man showed called “Frank DiSalvo doing the Sinatra Show” just to get people in.

CIW: Do you focus entirely on Sinatra, or do you sing songs from the entire Rat Pack?

FD: I will do songs from the entire Rat Pack! I will primarily do Sinatra but will break off into the others as well. The Rat Pack was a huge section of Sinatra’s life, so it’s very pertinent to do songs from all of these guys.

CIW: Could you share your favorite Frank Sinatra memory?

FD: In the early 50’s, Sinatra lost a good amount of his popularity. And he begged the producers from the film “From Here to Eternity” for a part in the movie. He was amazing in that film He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and that turned his career around. He put his heart and soul into that movie, and it blew everyone away. That is probably one of my fondest memories of Frank Sinatra.

CIW: What is your favorite Sinatra song to perform?

FD: I really have no favorites. They are all great! But whenever someone asks me to sing a Sinatra song, my first thought is [singing] “I’ve Got You Under My Skin!” This is always the first song that comes to mind.

CIW: Thanks, Frank!

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HAPPY HOUR HEATS UP THIS SUMMER AT THE VUE IN INDIAN WELLS

Although summer doesn’t officially start until June 21, at the Indian Wells Golf Resort’s lively VUE Grille & Bar, Summer Happy Hour is already in full swing from 3 p.m. until close.

On tap seven nights a week, the VUE’s super popular Happy Hour draws Greater Palm Springs area visitors and locals for fantastic specials on beer, wine, classic cocktails, plus hand-crafted signature drinks. Patrons can also enjoy 25 percent off deliciously fresh sushi rolls. Rotating nightly specials at the VUE include 50 percent off all bottle of wine on Thursday nights, $15 Flat iron steak with pommes frites on Fridays, and a savory multicourse prime rib dinner every Saturday night.

To learn more about sensational summer specials as well as the Bottomless Champagne Brunch Buffet offered every Sunday, visit www.vuegrilleandbar.com. For more details, call (760) 834-3800.

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RENAISSANCE INDIAN WELLS RESORT & SPA CELEBRATES FOURTH ANNUAL GLOBAL “DAY OF DISCOVERY” WITH FREE MOBILE PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS

On June 11, Join 160 Renaissance Hotels Around The World As They Help Guests Discover Incredible Local Experiences

WHO: Natalie Emerson, Vera in August Photography – Interactive Instruction on Exploring the World through the Lens of Your Smartphone

WHAT:  Small Camera, Big World: Using Awesome Mobile Photography to Document Your Travels
In this interactive two-hour course, local fine art photographer Natalie Emerson of Vera In August Fine Photography will teach participants the skills needed to improve their own mobile photography. This complimentary roving class will visit several areas of the resort, as participants learn composition, lighting, and editing techniques to catch the eyes of Instagram and Facebook followers and turn the average mobile photo into a work of art. Participants will practice with three subjects: portraits, nature, and food at the resort. Admission is complimentary for guests and local residents, with reservations required due to capacity.

Reservations: 760-836-1286. Participants with reserved attendance are asked to park in the resort parking structure and enter via the pool breezeway

WHEN:  Thursday, June 11, 2015
5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa
44400Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells, CA 92210
                      760-773-4444, http://www.renaissanceindianwells.com

WHY: Renaissance Hotels is known around the world for helping travelers discover unexpected resort and cultural experiences, and on Thursday, June 11, 2015, the brand’s fourth annual global “Day of Discovery” will offer exclusive local experiences to take place simultaneously at 160 Renaissance Hotels in 40-plus countries around the world. This year’s Day of Discovery also marks the official launch of the brand’s evening programming, in which Renaissance Hotels will encourage guests and locals to make time for the #5to9 when their 9 to 5 or day of play is done. This will come to life via new signature after-hours experiences at Renaissance Indian Wells and elsewhere, to evoke the local neighborhood and introduce new nightly bar rituals transitioning into an evening of discovery.

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