Internet Travel Monitor - Travel Industry News

February 7, 2018

Coachella and Stagecoach Get a New Lead-In Music Festival in Indian Wells

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Wendy Jane Productions and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden have just filled the final open dance card in the month of April.

Jim Fitzgerald, who co-promotes the “Fitz’s Jazz Café” series at the McCallum Theatre, is teaming with the tennis facility owned by Larry Ellison to produce a two-day Indian Wells Music Festival April 6-7. The city of Indian Wells is paying $60,000 to be the title sponsor.

Tickets go on sale Feb. 1, following a pre-sale, at indianwellsmusicfestival.com.

The event is between the 16th annual Indian Wells Art Festival and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which uses the Tennis Garden to distribute passes.

“Music month in the Coachella Valley,” as Fitzgerald calls April, now runs from Easter Sunday, April 1, the last day of Dinah Shore Week, through April 27-30, when Stagecoach: California’s Country Music Festival, is held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio and the White Party, America’s premier gay circuit party, runs the same weekend in Palm Springs.

Coachella is April 13-15 and April 20-22 at the Empire Polo Club, and “Localchella,” featuring Coachella acts playing West Coast venues, including Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, is presented between the first and last Coachella shows.

Fitzgerald, a musician, radio personality for CV 104.3 and a partner in Wendy Jayne Productions, had presented the one-day Desert Lexus Jazz Festival at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden before 2017 in May. It usually featured two music acts, art and food under canopies at the Performance Pavilion in the Tennis Garden. But this will be a full music festival with well-known blues, jazz, country and rock performers.

Headliners are blues-rock singer-guitarist Jonny Lang on Friday and Jon Batiste & the Dap Kings on Saturday. Lang, who turns 37 on Sunday, was hailed as an heir-apparent to the late Stevie Ray Vaughan as a teenager. Batiste is the music director for “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert and the Dap Kings, which backed the late Sharon Jones and the late Amy Winehouse. Batiste also has played keyboards for Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and is known for his celebration of jazz legend Louis Armstrong.

“The city has wanted us to expand it,” said Fitzgerald. “We thought there was a great opportunity to serve up a different kind of blend and have it be a part of music month, with all of the attention on the valley during April. So, we’re going to expand the whole experience – the music, wine and art aspect of it. We’ve got some really cool painters who paint the artists and musicians coming in. We’re having a Lifestyle Village with different F&B (food and beverage) offerings. We’re really expanding it to make it the experience it deserves to be.”

The city of Indian Wells had been a presenting sponsor at Desert Lexus, at $25,000 a year, for three years. A city staff report said Desert Lexus “began declining in attendance, and due to the construction of Stadium One and the lack of growth, they chose to take a one-year hiatus. The city told the Tennis Garden that if they plan on bringing this back for sponsorship consideration, it needed to align with the city’s goals of growing out-of-town visitors and attracting a larger audience.”

City of Indian Wells Director of Marketing and Community Services Nancy Samuelson said Fitzgerald and a Tennis Garden representative approached the city about being the title sponsor for a more wide-ranging, two-day music event drawing tourists from San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles counties.

She said Indian Wells residents were happy with Fitzgerald’s previous festivals, so, “we’re happy they’re using the facility in such a great way.”

“It was a no-brainer for me," Fitzgerald said. "I wanted to move it up. Easter’s earlier this year and a lot of people cut out. So, we definitely have a bigger pool and it also gives a different audience a chance to have their own festival.”

The Friday opening act is the bluesy contemporary jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers, led by Randy Jacobs, a singer-guitarist for the Bonnie Raitt, Was Not Was and Willie Nelson bands. The second bill is the Fabulous Thunderbirds, led by Kim Wilson, who had the hit “Tough Enough” and who, along with former guitarist Jimmy Vaughan, are the banner carriers for Texas blues.

The Saturday opening act is country artist Sandra Lynne, who started in the blues-rock field and gravitated to country. Fitzgerald says she’s reminiscent of Shania Twain. The second bill is blues-singer-guitarist Robert Cray, who has won five Grammy Awards for his blues recordings.

“He played with Clapton, he played with Stevie Ray (Vaughan),” said Fitzgerald. “They all played that (Alpine Valley, Wisconsin, concert) on that tragic day when Stevie Ray’s helicopter went down. Robert Cray was supposed to have been in that helicopter. He’s about as legit as you can get.”

Fitzgerald said the music mix fills a niche that hasn’t been filled since the Desert, Wine and Brews Experience featured blues artists such as B.B. King and Buddy Guy.

“Just like any other festival, you go through a learning curve the first two or three years,” he said. “I went after the niche. Obviously with my perspective as an artist and as a broadcaster, the response from what I’m doing has something to do with that as well. Everybody loves all different kinds of music and this is a festival that hasn’t really been mounted in the desert. So I thought it would be a unique opportunity to start a niche.”

Indian Wells music

What: The Indian Wells Music Festival, presented by Wendy Jane Productions and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

When: Gates open at 4:30 p.m., bands start at 6:30 p.m.

Where: The Indian Wells Tennis Garden, 78-200 Miles Ave., Indian Wells

Tickets: On sale Feb. 1. $140-$175 Pavilion seats, $230 table seats

Information: (800)999-1585 or Indianwellsmusicfestival.com


Copyright 2018 www.desertsun.com. All rights reserved. From https://www.desertsun.com. By Bruce Fessier, The Desert Sun.
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