Getting down to business, let’s talk about what’s up in the Coachella Valley.  Ready, set, raise your pens to  scribble your datebook black with the best of the season’s entertainment.  We’ve listed the free tickets to ride, and the fun in fundraising, from high-brow opera to low-down jazz, from high-octane Broadway to fav-rave Disney movie ditties. Do the Bunny- hop on the Palm Springs Tram that will take you  up the mountain for Easter Sunrise with Breakfast on Sunday morning.  Swoon to the romantic strains of an internationally known pianist.  And our desert being the playground of the stars, don’t miss The Beach Boys (“Surfing USA!”), Barbara Eden (“I Dream of Jeannie”), Gary Sinise (“CSI: NY”) and his band, and Craig Chaquico, (“Jefferson Airplane/Starship”).  These luminaries have touched down on Earth to put patronage in philanthropy, benevolence in benefits, and caring in charity to create events that are out of this world.  Star power to the max!

Saturday, April 7, 5 pm.  This book signing is quite a “get!” Just Fabulous, an emporium in Palm Springs of “fabulous gifts for fabulous people” will feature co-star of Bravo TV’s #1 show, namely “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” Lisa Vanderpump, who will be the featured author at a reception in her honor, along with “Giggy” her darling little woofer who is a hirsute replica of the Star Wars character “Yoda.”  Her book, “Simply Divine, A Guild to Easy, Elegant & Affordable Entertaining,” is filled with fabulous recipes for entertaining, from intimate dinners, picnics, pool parties, girlfriend lunches, formal dinners for “heads of state, BBQs to feasting at every Holiday on the calendar.  There are clever and oh-so-right-now decorating tips that are both “simple” and “divine.”  She knows her business, and we do, too.  Her Beverly Hills restaurant Villa Blanca is the go-to place for everyone who is someone and loves her brand of easy elegance.  On the show she seems to be an all-American mix of hard-working Hollywood glamour and down-to-earth style.  We like that a lot.


Saturday, April 7, 7 pm.  Grooves in the Grove, La Quinta Resort & Club on the main lawn, 49499 Eisenhower Drive, La Quinta.  Master strummer Craig Chaquico, groovy guitarist, songwriter, co-producer, and arranger who drove multi-platinum Jefferson Starship/Starship to among the Top 10 acts in history with 20 gold records and multiple Grammy nominations, is getting down among the citrus trees and palms with his band for an outdoor jam on a carpeted lawn at the foot of the Santa Rosa mountains that’ll leave you breathing hard for more of his aphrodisiacal über-smooth jazz and seductive harmonies. ‘ Nuff said. Tickets, $25 to $65.  More heaven-on-earth programs scheduled for May.  Stay tuned, or better yet, call for a schedule, 760-777-4987.

Sunday, April 8, 5:20 am.  Easter Sunrise Service.  Take the first tram up at 5 am—no, we’re not kidding, for the non-denominational service held at the Mountain Station in Palm Springs enhanced by the beauty of the San Jacinto mountains with its fragrant pines, crisp, cool air and inspirational landscape.  At an elevation of 8,516 feet, this is one of the most beautiful places to watch the sunrise.  “The Greatest Thing in the World” is the sermon that will be given by Paster Sneed and the “Voices of Song” gospel group, both from the Rebirth Temple of Faith.   The energetic musical group will stir the pristine, quiet surroundings with hymns of praise guaranteed to stimulate the appetite.  Luckily, breakfast will be served in the Pines Café featuring your choice of scrambled eggs, French toast and breakfast meats, Potatoes O’Brien, fresh fruit, assorted breads and a fountain beverage, coffee or tea. Breakfast will be served à la carte until 10 am.  (If you don’t do mornings, stay for dinner, available from 11 am until 8:30 pm in the Pines cafeteria.)  Tram fare and Breakfast is $23.25 for adults and $16.25 for children ages 3 to 12.  No reservations necessary!  For more information, call 888-515-TRAM, or 760-325-1391.

Thursday, April 12, 8 pm. Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band will rock the house at the McCallum Theatre, Palm Desert, to honor “those who serve and protect,”  a benefit for the College of the Desert Veterans Affairs Program and the COD Public Safety Academy.  Co-partnering the event is the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation and the College of the Desert Foundation. You loved Gary Sinise in 1994’s film Forrest Gump as the Vietnam war vet “Lt. Dan” and today in the TV series “CSI:NY” as “Det. Mac Taylor,” now get ready to show your fan-creds for his rockin’ and rollin’ in the classic-to-contemporary genre. We don’t know how to define c-to-c, but we’ve heard this band and it is Jalapeño pepperized hot-hot-hot.   Future groupies take travel notes:  the Lt. Dan Band rolls out 30 to 40 shows per year mostly for charities or benefits and when Sinise is not working in his show, he travels the world to entertain our troops.  Add that to his support on April 12, for College of the Desert which adds more than $282 million a year to the local economy, this is a must-see program that benefits the community and its future. Tickets are $50 to $150 (includes VIP seating).  Call 760-340-2787, or visit www.mccallumtheatre.com

Saturday and Sunday, April 14, 7 pm. and April 15, 3 pm.  What the world needs now is a dose of the Disney mantra, the “happiest place on earth!”   “Songs of Disney and Dancing” will be performed by the California Desert Chorale at the Indian Wells Theater on the CSUSB campus, Palm Desert.  Hankering for Jiminy Cricket’s “When You Wish Upon a Star” or “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Perhaps you want to revel in sweet nostalgia as the 7 Dwarfs—Doc, Grumpy, Sneezy, Dopey, Bashful, Happy, Sleepy— listen to Snow White sing “Some Day My Prince Will Come.” If you remember the films, or caught the decades of replays, hearing this music is sure to be a tear-shedding moment. (Especially if your prince missed the boat, but never mind.) The 70-voice chorale is a collaboration of professional singers, along with talented amateurs, that find joyous expression in classical works by Bach and Handel, deeply moving American-traditional spirituals and Doo-Wop numbers from the 50s, and more.  The chorale performs for fundraisers, charities and other community organizations.  Tickets, $26 online, www.californiadesertchorale.org, or call 760-346-4933.  Tickets at the door, $30.

Sunday, April 15, 12:30-2:30pm, and absolutely free! Opera Arts and The City of Palm Desert are offering the beautiful setting of the Palm Desert Civic Center Park on San Pablo Avenue, between Fred Waring and Magnesia Falls Drives, as a free-for-all for the whole family.   Warm-up concert starts at 12:30 with the Opera beginning at 2:00, an intermission, and event ends at 4:30.  Opera buffs will be treated to the enduring music of Verdi, Mozart, Bizet, Bellini, Offenbach and more presented by world-class singers, and a 33 piece orchestra under the baton of Maestro Gualtiero Negrini with the musical direction of Victoria Kirsch.   Art exhibits, including interactive art from valley artists.  Kids get their facesFace painted, and more fun activities!  Food and non-alcoholic refreshments from Big Mama’s Soul Food and the Café at Shields Date Garden. Pack a blanket, chairs, umbrellas, family and friends for a day that will be unforgettable for everyone!  For more information, call 760-323-8353, or go to www.OperaArtsPalmSprings.org.

Sunday, April 15, 6:30 pm-8:30 pm.” Living Waters” will be presented by The Young Designers Program of The Palm Springs Fashion Council at the Star View Restaurant, 135 E. Tahquitz Way in Palm Springs.  It is being produced by hostess Jasmin Aleman, a 16 year old student at Cathedral City High School with her goal of raisings funds to support Charity Water, www.charitywater.org, a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.  The council believes that with encouragement young people in the fashion industry can use their positions to bring an awareness of the need for social change to the benefit of all.  Young designers Stephanie Green and Kristin Santiago will show the latest trends from their collections.  There will be a reception, buffet and silent auction.  Tickets are $15 for students, $25 for adults. Call 760-534-2130, or email, info@psfashioncouncil.com. RSVP by April 12, 2012.

Wednesday, April 18, 6:30 pm.  Famed photographer and producer Michael Childers presents “One Night Only,” this year celebrating the music of The Gershwins (sibs George and Ira) featuring the best of Broadway and Hollywood performers to benefit the Jewish Family Service of the Desert at the McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts.  Trust us, it truly is one night only and you don’t want to miss a minute of it, so fair warning:  Be in your seat at 6:30.  This show starts on time!  Here are a few performers’ names to drop about this spectacular evening of entertainment, laughs and soul-stirring magic:  Lucie Arnaz, David Burnham, Ann Hampton Callaway, Patrick Cassidy, Carole Cook, Jason Graae, Michele Lee, Lypsinka, Freda Payne, Valarie Pettiford, and one of the ladies who lunch, Elaine Stritch, for gawd’s sake.  Be There!  At 6:30!  General Admission, $75, $95, $160, McCallum Theatre Box Office, 760-340-ARTS, or www.mccallumtheatre.com.  VIP Theatre & Dinner Package, $395 each, includes after-party with cast at Acqua Pazza California Bistro, The River, Rancho Mirage.


Saturday, May 5, Cocktails at 6 pm, Dinner at 7:30 pm, Dancing afterward. Actress/singer Lainie Kazan is Mistress of Ceremonies for this year’s “Evening Under the Stars,” the fabulous, festive frolic of a benefit for the AIDS Assistance Program (AAP) that honors the leading lights in our community.  Barbara Eden (“I Dream of Jeannie”) will be one of the high-profile stars awarding the honorees for their efforts as humanitarians, constant inspiration, avid volunteers and super-heroes in the fight against AIDS.  This evening is the largest annual fundraiser.  Receiving no government support AAP has been providing nutritional support to people living with the dreaded disease in the Palm Springs area since 1991.  Come for the entertainment, a superb silent and live auction, the menu by celebrity chef Susan Feniger, and stay for the world-famous all-female rock band, The Go-Go’s who’ll dance your shoes off on the grassy O’Donnell Golf Club grounds, 301 N. Belardo Road, Palm Springs.  Dress code is festive or theme attire. Black-tie is optional. RSVP by April 20. Tickets, $395 ($270 is tax deductible); $500 ($375 is tax deductible).  Call for more information 760-325-8481.  Or go to www.aidsassistance.org

Saturday, May 26.  Talk about “Good Vibrations!”  Surf’s up in the desert and The Beach Boys are catchin’a wave on their 50th Anniversary Tour to perform at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84-245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. “Wouldn’t it Be Nice?”  It sure will!  In fact, it’ll be the first time in twenty years that Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks will tour together. Celebratory concerts in Chicago, New York City and the Hollywood Bowl have already sold out!  The first American pop band to bring attention to the sounds of summer of the 60s in southern California, The Beach Boys were inducted into  the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 1988, and received The Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY Award.  They are indeed an American institution.  Hum that tune,  “I Get Around,”  “Surfin’ U.S.A., “Surfer Girl,” “Catch a Wave” and get your ticket now:  $129, $99, $79, $69. Go to the Fantasy Springs Box Office, or call 800-827-2946, or online at www.FantasySpringsResort.com.  Exclusive VIP ticket packages will be available through VIP Nation, including premium seats, meet & greets, sound check access, exclusive merchandise, and more.  For more info, visit www.vipnation.com




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