By Noe Gutierrez
On November 17, 2017 my son Ruben and I were honored to attend the JIMI FITZ AND FRIENDS show at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, California along with more than 900 other attendees. The show featured performances from Faults of Andreas, Lauri Bono, Kal David, Will Donato, Kevin Henry, John Stanley King, Ronnie King, Barry Minniefield, Penny Unniversity, Will Donato, Sergio Villegas and what seemed like a legion of musicians supporting these respective artists. It was a spectacular turnout for an all-local contingent of local working musicians. I felt so much satisfaction to know that these magnificent performers are from my own backyard. I think Ruben put it best, “I liked how there were different genres of music. Oh, and I loved the part at the end of the show where everyone got on stage together to perform one last song.” FITZ certainly has a formula that is successful and making waves for our local artists.
FITZ is recognized for supporting many Coachella Valley musicians through his morning radio show on CV 104.3 like Gene Evaro, Jr., Courtney Chambers, Kelly Derrickson, Mozaiq, as well as musicians from Orange County such as Micah Brown, The Outriders and Zen Robbi. FITZ has also produced shows for local artists at The Gardens on El Paseo, The River at Rancho Mirage and Schmidy’s Tavern. He is a vital reason why local artists have a platform to share their passion and voice.
I spoke with some of the performers after the show and here are some highlights of my conversations:
FITZ: “My fellow musicians played their butts off tonight to an appreciative audience for our local music community as we had the biggest audience for a local concert featuring exclusively just desert talent two years in a row now!”
Ronnie King: “jimi FITZ is one of the most organized promoters that I have ever worked with on every level and I have been involved in many shows from The Hood to playing the Rhythm Wine and Brews Experience with Pepper last year. FITZ’s organizational skills are as professional as anyone.”
Barry Minnifield: “Being a part of FITZ AND FRIENDS is like a family reunion with great talent and friends that are able to get together once a year thanks to FITZ. I love it!”
Charlie Ellis (Faults of Andreas): “jimi FITZ is one hip cat. He and Wendy know how to throw a party that’s for sure. What an honor getting to share the evening playing with so many of the desert’s brightest and best. It was extra special that I got to play bass with my old high school band mate Jimmy Palmer and my long time friend and drummer Jeff Bowman, on the same stage where the likes of George Burns, Lucille Ball and Johnny Cash have performed. We made it from the ‘Iron Door’ to the McCallum Theater and it only took us close to 30 years!”
Penny Unniversity: “We were honored to be a part of a wonderful night for the local talent of the Coachella Valley to showcase for our friends, family and fans of our desert community!”
Sergio Villegas: “This is a show that should be toured throughout the world! I had such a great time supporting my friend FITZ and being on the stage with world-class musicians. I had the opportunity to share my passion with all those wonderful people. I’m a multi-instrumentalist, (guitar, charango, accordion, percussion), so it was a beautiful thing to be able to do what I love with people I love.”
Tracy Dietlin: “What an amazing show from start to finish. There were so many stand- out moments that I hate to single anyone out, however Kevin Henry playing the piano and singing Prince’s “Purple Rain” and then Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” completely blew me away as it was the first time I had ever heard him perform. His son Nicholas on sax was also a hit for me along with sax man Will Donato, as was Scott Carter on guitar. Brothers Ronnie and John Stanley King performing together were nostalgic, awesome and poignant! I’m also always amazed by Kal David and Laurie Bono; the way they bounce off each other’s talents is a treat. But Faults of Andreas closing the night out with a couple of jimi’s original songs and then “Rockin’ in the Free World,” by Neil Young, was as priceless this year as it was last year. This will surely have to be a tradition!”
On behalf of our community, we want to thank FITZ for all that he does to present our musicians and their music in a top-notch manner and as frequently as he does. I look forward to what FITZ comes up with for FITZ AND FRIENDS 2018!
gotothenest.com (Kevin Henry)
Find ‘The John Stanly King Band’ on iTunes