California Blog-Desert Destination

California Blog-Desert Destination

Coming back down I-10 from the coast there are a number of small and large desert communities that have their own arts ecosystem, the Coachella Valley which encompasses Palm Springs and Indio, California being chief amongst those. The valley was a sanctuary for movie stars in the heyday of Hollywood. Bob Hope built a 100-million-dollar home here when 100 million was a lot of money. Sinatra and Rat Pack cohort Dean Martin lived here and Bing Crosby and Liberace were neighbors. The tradition continues with Leonardo DiCaprio and others. Needless to say, the valley is an arts community.

There are less than 100,000 people living in the valley and not everyone is wealthy or attached to Hollywood. Palm Springs sports a rich music and arts community, mixing national and international acts with local and regional musicians. Local music tends to be younger here, with lots of blues and rock bands, but there is also a jazz and community that rivals anything in southern California. There is the Women’s Jazz Festival in January that has featured Nona Hendrix, Diane Schurr, Patrice Rushen, Helen Sung and Patricia Williams. There are great piano bars and jazz lounges in both Palm Springs and Indio.

Both Indio and Palm Springs spend surprisingly little on arts and music in the valley, preferring to spend money on advertising the cities worldwide as an arts and culture destination. There is some thought that because there are so many legacy Hollywood families living here and because many of the valley’s wealth residents support the arts through endowments, grants or opportunities, that the need for support from the cities is not necessary.

Both cities have developed private festivals and events that bring thousands of people to their respective communities and, working with local government to promote those events have found a thriving partnership that allows musicians to make a living on the vital tourist trade that keeps these somewhat isolated desert communities alive.

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