Location, Location, Location! What could be a more spectacular setting for a night of great jazz than Andreas Canyon, in the mountains overlooking Palm Springs, California? The setting for this festival is ideal: the mouth of Andreas Canyon slopes down from the San Jancinto Mountains hundreds of feet above the valley floor and served by steady cool breezes. A large amphitheatre is nestled into the canyon, surrounded by palm trees with a swiftly-flowing stream beside. You drive down South Palm Canyon Drive until it becomes a narrow two-lane road, leave your car in a parking lot at the base of the mountain, and ride a shuttle bus into a different world. It’s cool and breezy now. The driving keyboard sounds of Scott Wilkie greet you as you arrive; they are playing from a small stage set with a full view of the Palm Springs Valley while the crowds mix and mingl among tables and chairs scattered comfortably around, participate in raffles and silent auctions, and pose for a professional portrait against a natural rock backdrop. You savor a glass of wine while looking up at the rock formations that surround you, which are artfully lit by colored spotlights, or gaze down at the lights of the city below. It seems so far away. As the darkness settled in, the crowd drifted a short distance to the dinner-tables set up in the main amphitheatre. A near-perfect 4 course meal followed as the trees were artfully lit by a rainbow of stage lights and the hosts with guest emcee Huell Howser gave away many raffle items and announced auction winners. After dessert the evening became even sweeter as Boney James played a solid 1 1/2 hour set. Sporting a new “summer do” (the ringlet curls are gone!), Boney and his band played a smooth diverse set including some of Boney’s early work, including his signature version of “Ain’t No Sunshine” as well as several cuts from Sweet Thing and Shake It Up. Sunday’s itinerary was simpler, with lighter food-fare and three concerts: Scott Wilkie playing another solid opening set, then performances by smooth-jazz masters Peter White and Rick Braun. How those wonderful sounds do echo in a canyon!
Hanson House , a project of the Desert Healthcare Foundation, is a shelter provided for the families of patients who are recovering from major illnesses or surgeries. Named for its benefactors, the Lord and Lady Hanson, this million-dollar facility has already had its groundbreaking thanks to the generous support of the community through events such as Festival In The Canyons, now in its sixth year.
Location, Location, Location, great music, and a great cause. Swift and efficient handling of details such as logistics, food and wine, catering, and the shows themselves – thanks to a hard-working team of professionals and volunteers – make this an all-around exceptional show, not to be missed!