BYLINE:  DIANE MARLIN-DIRKX

Coming Attractions Alert!  Yes, I know. We should be wrapping up the season of things to do, people to see, and the usual suspects of benefits and fundraisers.  But don’t bet on it.  The season heading into our sights is summer—which we start early in the Coachella Valley.  On the calendar is a whole new spectacular, simmering slate of events to enjoy that is neither age- nor gender-specific.  Parties, picnics, performances, cultural and crucial causes, a feast of festivals, hot entertainers and hot celebrations perfect for the millennial zeitgeist are still on the docket.  Wait a minute…did we say “parties?” What an understatement with the mother-of-all-parties, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival so big it’s gearing up to get down on two weekends this year. Here’s a culling of the calendar for the best of the best of star gazing, delicious eye candy and an earful in every musical genre from trill to thrill till the cows come home.  Enjoy!

April 13-15, 20-22, open at 11 am every day on two weekends.  The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival fills the sunny skies over the desert with the best musical acts in the world at the Empire Polo Club, 81-800 51st Avenue in Indio that’s just a few miles from Palm Springs.  Headliners this year at the worldwide destination event promoted by AEG-owned Goldenvoice include Radiohead, The Black Keys, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.  Consider yourself a lucky dog if you have tickets that went on sale in January.  A three-day pass is priced at approximately $315, or if you’re feeling flush you could pay over $1300 for full VIP status—tagged Sardines-ville by those in the know. But what a show!  Get your groove on with 120 cutting edge artists in a beautiful outdoor setting.  Two reminders:  Look cool and pack sunscreen!  Call 888-512-SHOW, or go to www.Coachella.com

Thursday, April 12, 8 pm. Englebert Humperdinck performs at the McCallum Theatre, taking the place of injured actor/musician Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.  Nicknamed “The Hump,” the golden throated singer and handsome Brit has garnered four Grammy nominations, a Golden Globe as “Entertainer of the Year,” 63 good and 24 platinum records and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  His hits “Release Me,” “Quando Quando Quando,” and others, made the Top Ten in the Billboard Dance charts.  Few know that it was the Hump who introduced Elvis to sideburns and flamboyant leather jumpsuits. Tickets range from $55 to $125, McCallum Box Office, 73-000 Fred Waring Dr., Palm Desert.  Call 760-340-2787.

Saturday, April 14, 9:30 am.  “Downward Facing Dog,” a basic stretch in everyone’s Yoga class, takes on new meaning during a “Dog Days of Yoga,” a  fundraiser for “Off the Mat, Into the World.”  Huh?  Relax and let us explain.  All donated proceeds from participants in the class and a pet-friendly raffle will benefit the Global Seva Challenge to India 2012 which supports and brings awareness to the problem of sex trafficking in India.   It’s a perfect and healthy day in the park for Fifi or Brutus, leashed or unleashed, as instructor Jayne Robertson leads a yoga class for their human companions.  For information call 760-333-2339, email: fitnessbeyond@aol.com, or go to www.desertyogatherapy.com

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Saturday and Sunday, April 14-15, 7 am to 2 pm. The Street Fair at College of the Desert has been welcoming desert denizens and visitors to the best open-air shopping in the Coachella Valley for over 28 years.  Over 300 vendors provide a shopper’s heaven of art for inside the home and out, costume and fine jewelry and the newest  fashion trends for the whole family—babies on up!  It’s a shoo-in as a shopping Mecca for the weekend!  We’ve witnessed dancing to the beat of live music in the food court, watched the action at the farmers’ market that features the finest fresh local produce, scouted for bargains and gifts for birthdays, graduation, anniversaries, you name it.  Free entertainment and parking with shuttles and trams that move people from parking lot.  The best news is that the Street Fair has given over $9.3 million to the college in grants, gifts, and scholarships.  Sunday, May 27, is the last day until the fall opening.  The COD Alumni Street Fair is on the COD campus at Monterey and Fred Waring Drives.  No tickets, no appointments, no dress code!  Be there!

Saturday, April 14, 5:30 to 7 silent auction, Dinner at 6:30 pm.   Hottest ticket in town:  “The Fire & Ice Ball” lights a fierce flame under heart disease for The American Heart Association, in partnership with the National Stroke Association.  Where?  On the roof of the Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa, Rancho Mirage, where cool breezes and a brilliant desert moon light up all the action for the fundraiser against the Number 1 killer in the Coachella Valley.  No honorees, just a delectable dinner, luscious libations, silent and live auctions where attendees bid on vacation getaways, golf and restaurant dinner packages, and fine jewelry to make the ladies drool with delight.  They promise it will feel like you’ve lucked into a nightclub where you can be assured that the dancing and revelry goes on till midnight!  Dress code:  Red Dress Requested. Black Tie Suggested.  Ticket per person, $325.  For more information, contact Charlie Myrick at 760-989-1728, email: Charlie.myrick@heart.org.  Or go to www.redhotheartball.com

Sunday, April 15, 5 pm Reception, 6 pm Dinner, 7 pm presentation and a short period of Q & A.   The World Affairs Council (Interesting People Analyzing Global Issues) presents the Dinner Lecture “US Foreign Policy, the Middle East and Beyond.”  The speaker for this oh-so-timely discussion is Ambassador Meghan O’Sullivan of the Harvard Kennedy Center.  This program is an Eisenhower Medical Center Calendar “Club 50” benefit.  A non-partisan and non-profit organization, the World Affairs Council of the Desert provides a unique opportunity for a provocative, informative discussion of national and international topics that have significance to the foreign policy of the United States.  Speaker programs are open to the public and held on Sunday evenings at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa, 44-400 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells.  Tickets for the evening are $55 for members; $65 for non-members. For membership information, please call 760-322-7711; or email: worldaffairs3@msn.com;  online go to www.worldaffairsdesert.com.  Or write:  World Affairs Council Of The Desert, P.O. Box 3031, Palm Desert, CA 92261.

Sunday, April 15, 11 am.  “Paws for a Cause” starring bubbly, bites and a buffet brunch will be served up to benefit two important causes for the kids  and the animals we love in our lives, namely Animal Samaritans SPCA and The Inland Empire Chapter of The United Cerebral Palsy (UCP).  These two organizations have teamed up to raise money for their missions.  Animal Samaritans offers a full-service veterinary center and no-kill animal shelter in Thousand Palms, while their Animal Assisted Therapy program brings certified therapy dogs to local hospital patients, nursing home residents and disabled children.  The local UCP in Cathedral City works at no cost to families programs and services that promote independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities.  The luncheon will be hosted by Kris Long, KPSP-TV 2 news anchor.  Children from UCP will participate, along with the best behaved dogs from the therapy program. (That good behavior goes for the kids, too!)  “Watching the kids interact with the dogs is a joy to see,” says Fred Saunders, Executive Director of Animal Samaritans. The Palm Springs High School Orchestra will entertain throughout the program.  And be sure to bid on goodies featured in the silent auction.   Tickets, $85 per person.  Please contact Greg Wetmore, President and CEO of UCPIE, at 760-321-8184, ext. 103, or email: greg@ocpie.org.

Sunday, April 15, 7 pm. Italian tenor Pasquale Esposito makes his debut with “il Tempo—A Musical Journey Through Time” for one night only at the Annenberg Theater in the Palm Springs Art Museum.  Talk about swoon-worthy! Look at the facts:  A handsome Italian with a warm tenor voice (in itself  unusual for a tenor) who possesses the ability to “penetrate right into the emotional heartbeat of any song, classical or contemporary transforms the spirit of the crowd into a lasting impression.”  Wow.  Need we say he had us at “ciao?”  But seriously, Esposito will be accompanied by his stellar quartet (drum, bass, guitar, grand piano) down a memory lane of Broadway, opera and American/Italian/Spanish standards, as well as engaging stories of his life growing up in Naples.  Annenberg Theatre, PSAM, 101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs. Reserved seating only, tickets, $50 and $60.  Discounts on groups of 10 or more.  Call 408-528-6308, or go to www.AnnenbergTheater.org.

Friday, April 20, 7 to 9 pm.  Another reason to celebrate! The Joshua Tree Retreat Center at the Institute of Mentalphysics will host another of their successful Community Drum Circles to make a joyful noise on earth for the New Moon and Earth Day.  It will be led by well-known Morongo Basin percussionist Sam Sloneker at the Retreat Center’s Friendship Hall. “The new moon is a particularly auspicious time according to legend,” says Sloneker.  “it’s a time of birth, beginnings to plant seeds, start new projects, begin relationships.”  Beginners to season professional musicians are requested to bring drums, shakers, tambourines and other percussive instruments that also will be available at the event.  Express yourself and feel connected to the community while relieving stress are only two of the benefits according to the organization’s studies.  The Joshua Tree Retreat Center is at 59700 Twentynine Palms Hwy. in Joshua Tree.  There is no charge, but a suggested donation of $5 per participant $10 for family is requested. For reservations, call 760-365-8371, or go to www.jtcc.org.

Saturday, April 21, 4:30 pm.  The Annual 99 Bucks Sale, sponsored by the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Artists Council, is a showcase of hundreds of canvases submitted by celebrities, artists and others offered for sale for $99 each.  If you can’t guess who the artist is, you need to purchase it for the big reveal!  Last year the museum raised more than $30,000 to support youth and adult education programs.  What a haul for a good cause.  This year, you’ll have 500 chances to invest in an artwork that may be valued at, whatever and who knows what it will be worth in the future! This year’s artists include actress/entertainer Kaye Ballard, journalist Linda Ellerbee, Gloria Greer, singer kd Lang, fashion designer Bob Mackie, photographer Michael Childers, actor Joe Mantegna, and Bill “Bulldog” Feingold!  M.C. is the beautiful Bella da Ball!  Free admission and hors d’oeuvres. Non-host bar. Hotel Zoso, 150 S. Indian Canyon, Palm Springs.  For more information, call Gary Paterson, 760-322-4850.

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