By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovannna

In the fire service when dispatched to a fire, upon arrival you get an “assignment” from the Chief in charge. The assignment can include anything from fire attack, search and rescue or cutting a hole in the roof to ventilate the interior of super-heated smoke and toxic gas.

This last Saturday my ‘Chief’ at CV Weekly, Tracy Dietlin, gave me an assignment that was smok’in hot in a different kind of way.

I was assigned to cover the Grooves at the Westin in Rancho Mirage; the first of several Jazz series concerts during February and March. Some of the stars this night were Jonathan Butler, Louis Price, Everette Harp, Lynn Fiddmont, Michael Paulo and a cast of others.

Upon arrival, we found a first class event. The staff at the Westin Resort was extremely hospitable and welcoming to all of the guests; kudos to all of you for making it so comfortable for us.

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Like working a fire in an unknown location, we worked our way through the halls of the Westin, uncertain of what to expect. Interviewing performers was not my area of expertise.

Upon entry, I met up with my first contact, Michael Paulo. What a true gentleman! Like a veteran firefighter, he took me under his wing, showed me the ropes and made the introductions to the other performers. I quickly got in the groove. After getting comfortable in the VIP room and hearing about their personal lives, one common thread they all shared was the love of golf and the beauty of the Coachella Valley!

From there we relocated to the main body of activity, the concert hall. The music, entertainment and energy were incredible. Like a rookie firefighter on his first assignment, everything was larger than life. We were treated to incredible seating with great company.

It started with Everette Harp who touched our hearts when he sang about a song he wrote with the late George Duke, “Going Through Changes.” As Everette said, “When we reach 50 years old, we quickly begin to experience loss of life with others.” The recent passing of my Mom reminded me the truth to that. Everette also reminded us of an important message: “This is the time to enjoy life! Not yesterday or tomorrow – but NOW!”

Jonathan Butler and Lynn Fiddmont came out performing favorites. Both so talented and what a duo they were singing together…

Next up was Louis Price from the Temptations. Talk about entertainment! Singing hits such as “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination” and “Heard it Through the Grapevine.” It was such an honor meeting Louis and I appreciated his generous listening and sharing about being a teacher and the desire to be a basketball player if he had not become a performer. Such a genuine and kind human being. A true of class act!

Tracy Dietlin, (Chief) thank you for the assignment. We were blessed and honored!

By the way, “I heard it through the grapevine” that Russ Freeman and the Rippington’s are playing February 20th? Let it Ripp!

Get into the groove at the Westin. These are shows you certainly don’t want to miss!