Shellie Muujiza Makes Her Debut At The Living Desert Sanctuary


A 5’11 baby giraffe was born and christened Shellie, after Shellie Reade, the life partner of philanthropist and Living Desert benefactor Harold Matzner. The birth occurred two days after the death of another giraffe named Pora…

Click Here To Read Original Article at The Desert Scene Sep 8, 2017    

Friends And Family Gathered One Last Time For Barbara Sinatra


The service for Barbara Sinatra at Sacred Heart Catholic Church was a star-studded reflection of her life, with guests ranging from TV legend Dick Van Dyke, to Suzanne Somers, to Philanthropist Harold Matzner.

Click Here To Read Original Article at The Desert Scene Aug 1, 2017

Though The Era of Celebrity Philanthropists Has Faded, The Altruistic Spirit Is Still Alive

Big-named celebrity philanthropists like Frank and Barbara Sinatra (to name a few) are gone, but the baton’s been passed to current Valley donors like Harold Matzner, who has not only provided big donations, but emphasized the importance of securing celebrity endorsements.

As one of a few regular donors of more than $500,000 a year, he’s also managed to continually pull in millions from a broader base of donors to benefit causes like the McCallum Theatre, the Desert Aids Project, ACT for MS and AAP Food Samaritans…

Click Here To Read Original Article at The Desert Scene July 31, 2017  

Mr. Palm Springs Celebrates His 80th Birthday

Businessman, one of the Valley’s top donors (with nearly $70 million given over the past 17 years), philanthropist, and 2017 Horatio Alger Award recipient Harold Matzner turns 80!

His life and accomplishments are were honored in the Desert Sun, as friends, businesses, and the rest of Palm Springs sent their well wishes his way…

Click Here To Read Original Article at The Desert Scene July 2, 2017  

And the Grand Prize at ShortFest 2017 Goes to…

“Facing Mecca” took home the Best of Festival prize, which included $5,000 from the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Chairman of the Festival Board, Harold Matzner, stressed the significance of the experience and educational opportunities that filmmakers received as the true prize. Not only do filmmakers, directors, and writers gain valuable experience, but the exposure and contacts they gain are priceless.

Click Here To Read Original Article at The Desert Sun June 25, 2017  

Harold Matzner’s Latest Namesake is One Big Baby

One of the Living Desert’s youngest denizens is Harold, a baby giraffe whose namesake is Palm Spring’s own Harold Matzner, a long-time supporter and recent donator of $50,000. His philanthropy goes towards further conservation efforts of wildlife in Africa, educational trips, and improving infrastructure of the Living Desert.

Click Here To Read Original Article at KMIR June 21, 2017  

American Cancer Society: Desert spirit award


Swaddle this year’s award for “Best Party of the Year” in bubble wrap and send it to the American Cancer Society now – because they are a shoe-in for the award. The 27th Desert Spirit Food and Wine Soiree for the American Cancer Society at Dick Heckmann’s lovely equestrian estate was a bargain at $600 per couple.  Among the supporters and sponsors were Harold MatznerSteve GarveyCharissa FarleyBobby Eakes and Jennell and Rod (Mr.Buzz Box) Vandenbos. Everyone involved with the event was delighted as almost 400 guests entered the  festive soiree, greeted by cocktails and appetizers.  It seemed clear that long time desert residents AndrewMelissa and Diane NeidermanAlan Abell,Dr. Ava Mahapatra and Dr. Gary Annunziata were partial to this charity.

Entertainment and silent and live auctions (that raised about $200,000 net) awaited guests upon entrance. The crowd was led to what appeared to be polo fields of perfectly manicured grass with tables, a multitude of tents and 2 large video screens.  Some notables in the crowd were Tristan and Teresa RogersPatti GribowSteve GarveyDr. Ava Mahapatra and Elaine Church and Jeff Jones.

Clearly there was heartwarming support for one of the valleys favorite charities. TV personality  Karen Devine welcomed the guests and Chris Long handled the auctioneer duties. This soiree clearly coddled those who enjoyed the vast variety of foods from 15 snazzy restaurants serving elegant, savory delectable dishes.

Food & fans

From left to right: Tanya Martin, DeAnn Lubell-Ames,

From left to right: Tanya Martin, DeAnn Lubell-Ames, Diane Neiderman, Heidi Ames, Christian Ames. (Photo: Marc Glassman/Special to The Desert Sun)


Chef  Dru Davis of Catalan presented delicious Paella adjacent to tents for Balisage Bistro, Cliffhouse, El Mirasol, Hyatt’s Lantana, Kaiser Grille, Adobe Grill, New Leaf Catering, Pacifica, Rio Azul, Roy’s, Smoking Burgers and Wally’s. If you had room left over there were tents for Koffi and a multitude of over the top desserts from Over the Rainbow Desserts.

Chairs Kim Waltrip and Renae Madore presented Tom Davis “The Celebration of Life” Award and Karen Devine oversaw the Van Patten Family’s  “Humanitarian Award”. Lastly Linda Gray received “The Inspiration Award” from Tristan Rogers.

The big screens showed memoriam video tributes of desert favorites, Lee Ames and Gloria Greer.

After the videos, DeAnn Lubell-AmesTanya Martin and Christian and Heidi Ames along with Norma and Ann Greer and the Desirae Cechin family, all accepted tributes for their loved ones.

American Cancer Society: Desert spirit award 1

Harold Matzner and Shellie Reade. (Photo: Marc Glassman/Special to The Desert Sun)


All “Cancer Survivors” were invited to the dance floor to be recognized and to everyone’s surprise 50 came forward to a standing ovation. Most of us had many friends stepping forward who survived Cancer without our knowing of their challenge. Desert Sun publisher Mark Winkler, earlier stated “As a cancer survivor, I can attest to the importance of good doctors, positive attitude and unwavering resolve. These are elements the ACS fosters in their everyday mission.”

If guests expected to be spoiled, they were not disappointed. Among those leaving this party with smiling faces were Debbie LeeAlexanda MiklosovaScott Chapman. and Stephanie and Dennis GreeneMitch Blulmberg had a smile on his face arriving and departing, but maybe it was because he was squiring Jenny Jones and Cari Sudmeier

For more information: Julie Mignogna: (760)568-2691 or visit

Tools for Tomorrow honors Jennie Inch




When it comes to raising money for charities, the honoring of popular individuals is a tried and true formula.  But my favorite honorees are the ones chosen from within – a volunteer whose dedication may be witnessed only by their fellow supporters and volunteers.

Such was the case a couple of weeks ago when Tools For Tomorrow honored JennieInch, first Chairman of their VISIONARIES program which has raised over $300,000 in just 2 1/2 years.

The event covered all the bases:  It was held in the breathtaking Bougainvillea room at Spencer’s where unlimited trays of those famous Spencer’s baby hot dogs were passed for hours, followed by the equally famous Spencer’s custom sliced prime rib sliders with homemade fries and potato chips.   The theme was Musical Memories, featuring the band The Carmens, which had even the non-dancers on the floor, taking lessons from memorable dance fads like the Twist, Stroll and Hand Jive.

Alaina Bixon-DeMartini and Suzanne Fromkin were the CoChairs of the event and the fast-paced program featured words of praise for Jennie by Chairman Judith Antonio.  Inch’s other quiet accomplishments for TFT include honoring Donna MacMillan and Harold Matzner at their first two lunches.

She also served as publicist and Ways & Means Major Gifts chair for The McCallum Muses for six years and has lent her skills to several other charities and nonprofits.  Jennie and her husband Bob danced briefly to “Truly by Lionel Richey” , the same first-dance song from their wedding, 32 1/2 years ago.

Jennie spoke of her and Bob’s awesome family which includes 5 of their siblings, a blended family of 5 children, 12 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren….many of whom were present!

Speaker Judith Antonio reminded the crowd of Jennie’s earlier accomplishments before moving to the desert, including her career as a professional dancer on stage and TV from the age of 3, and a successful PR agency owner in Orange County.

Jennie thanked Claire Smith, Founder of the VISIONARIES and Judith Antonio for their work on the event and in the TFT auxiliary.

The founder of Tools For Tomorrow, RachelDruten  was present and reminded those at her table that the very first Tools For Tomorrow fundraiser was held at Spencer’s, some 17 years ago.

TFT sponsors professional teachers who conduct after-school programs in 15 local schools with 18 programs designed to bring out the artistic and cultural talents of children, especially those in at-risk situations.

The next TFT fundraiser will be its March 21 Future Awards Luncheon honoring Charlie Pasarell. $125. Phone 760-601-3954 or visit

Tachevah bands revel in sense of community in the desert


The 38 bands that first submitted videos to the Tachevah Music Showcase have been narrowed to four: brightener, the BrosQuitos, CAKES and Jesse James. They’ll perform before a panel of judges Wednesday, May 18 at the Date Shed in Indio, and the winner will walk away with $3,000 and career-advancing prizes.

But the contestants in this four-month endeavor presented by The Desert Sun say they’ve learned the difference between this talent showcase and a more typical battle of the bands.

“I actually do not like battle of the bands,” said Monica “Cakes” Morones during an interview at College of the Desert. “I don’t like music competitions because I feel like it makes people competitive in a bad way. It also makes someone a loser and I feel like everyone’s a winner.

“(But,) since the beginning of Tachevah, everything has been very positive. It’s really changed my whole perspective on it. It is a showcase and it’s not a battle.”

Tachevah was founded four years ago as a collaboration between The Desert Sun, Goldenvoice, the city of Palm Springs, P.S. Resorts, Harold Matzner, the Spa Resort and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Its purpose was to provide exposure for up-and-coming bands and to let them open for Goldenvoice-booked headliners at a free Palm Springs Block Party on Agua Caliente land.

When the block party was discontinued, The Desert Sun carried on with its mission to provide exposure for up-and-coming bands, upping the rewards for local musicians by offering a cash prize and recruiting new industry judges who stepped to the plate with rewards of their own. Get Tested Coachella Valley came on board as a sponsor and brought their mobile units to the semi-finals venues to test people for the HIV virus.

Brightener won an opportunity to record a track at a new studio being developed in Joshua Tree by judge Spike Edney (music director of Queen) at the March semi-finals. Goldenvoice official Gopi Sangha saw their set that night at Pappy & Harriet’s and offered them a slot at Coachella.

Brightener leader Will Sturgeon said he founded his band last September in hopes of getting into the Palm Springs Block Party and possibly Coachella. But he and his bandmates weren’t too disappointed when the block party was curtailed.

“We could use the money as well,” he laughed. “But more, I was just about being here and participating in the desert scene. We weren’t really too worried about winning. That’s not why we do music. Our Pappy and Harriet’s show was a great night for us. We had a lot of family and friends and local support, so it was just one of those great playing nights. We’ve never played the Date Shed either, so we’re excited about that.”

The BrosQuitos made it to the semi-finals of last year’s Tachevah and were devastated when they didn’t get to advance to the block party. But the band members say now it was valuable experience.

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“That whole night brought us together closer as a band,” said drummer Hugo Chavez. “It showed us you’re not going to win them all but, at the end of the day, we’re all still together. We all still vibe off of each other and we’re here again, doing this one more time.”

“It really brought down our ego and it brought us to this now,” said singer-guitarist James Johnson. “I’m kind of proud of it. We grew. It made us realize you can’t always get what you want.”

“We had immense support from the high school. I think it brought a new level of appreciation for our supporters and in general the scene of the desert. It was almost one of those nights that proved to us that it’s not about the L.A. music scene, it’s not about Murrieta. It’s about the Coachella Valley music scene. Right now, this is where it’s at.  You can tell, this is where it’s at.”

Jesse Williams led the Little Red Spiders band that won the semi-finals competition featuring the BrosQuitos last year. He’s performing in the Tachevah finals Wednesday with a new sideman as part of his solo project, Jesse James. But Williams says he doesn’t see this project as anything different from last year, when he wound up being selected for a slot at Coachella with the Little Red Spiders.

“I don’t see this whole thing as ‘starting Jesse James’ because that’s me,” he said. “I’ve always been the driving force behind my projects.”

But Jesse James will be different from both the Little Red Spiders and the unit that got Williams into the finals last month at The Hood Bar & Pizza. Here’s a look at Jesse James and all of the bands performing at the Tachevah finale with their respective set times:

7:30 p.m.: Jesse James, featuring Williams on vocals and guitar, and John Marek on second guitar with both playing to pre-recorded tracks. Singer Brianna Dettelbach, who performed with Jesse James and with Williams last year in Little Red Spiders, will not join Williams and Marek at the Date Shed.

Marek is the lead guitarist of the Palm Desert band, Ideation. Williams graduated from Cathedral City High School with other members of the Little Red Spiders. But Williams continues to evolve in new directions. Jesse James came to The Hood sporting a garage sound in the tradition of The Strokes and Jack White.

“Originally, I included John Marek and Brianna Dettelbach at The Hood particularly for the high energy they bring to live shows,” said Williams. “But, recently (I) started a new project with John called SOUR. As for deciding to move away from live musicians to perform my music, I’m taking on a more minimalist approach and the band has all moved onto new projects that are gaining broad success.”

Whether writing for a full band or a minimalist project, Williams’ approach to songwriting doesn’t change.

“I make beats,” he said. “I make riffs. I make lyrics. I have always sat alone with my guitar, piano, laptop, drums, bass, theremin, harmonica, tambourine, kazoo, banana shaker… and written the songs alone with the lights dimmed. I use a particular formula to create my music I’d rather not discuss.”

The judges commended Williams for the passion he brought to his set at The Hood and for his songwriting, especially on his closing number.

“The last song preformed is called ‘Iron B*****,’” Williams said. “Brianna and I wrote it in about five minutes in my garage. It was the first time the song was ever performed in front of a crowd.”

8:10 p.m.:Brightener, featuring singer-guitarist Sturgeon plus his sister Abby Sturgeon on vocals and percussion, Aman Alem on guitar, Raefer Finnegan on bass and Elias Texel on drums.

Will Sturgeon formed his band last year with mostly long-time desert residents, but he didn’t grow up part of the desert scene. He went to high school in Ojai before studying music at USC. He returned two years ago after finding himself living in the maid’s quarters of a house in Los Angeles with few friends to hang out with.

“I kind of feel like an outsider a little bit,” he said. “It wasn’t until last year that I decided, ‘OK, I’m going to live here and try to connect with people.’ That’s when I got the band rolling and it’s been a crazy couple months since that happened.”

Now he’s immersed in a music scene. He became friends with the Flusters after his band played with them at the 111 Music Festival in Cathedral City and he wound up working on the album they’re recording. He played keyboards for them on the second week of Coachella – in the same noon slot brightener was given for the first week of Coachella. Now he’s even mentoring teen musicians at the Academy of Musical Performance in Indio.

“In my program at USC, I was surrounded by professional musicians,” he said. “It was hard for me to keep a solo band together because if we weren’t getting paid, a lot of my friends just wouldn’t do it. (That’s) what I like about out here. It’s more of a community scene and people are much more supportive. The passion for music can kind of get lost in L.A. It can become a lot more of a grind in L.A.”

He’s already achieved one of his two career goals since returning to the desert. He still aspires to make his living through music, but he’s had the chance to play Coachella. His next goal, he said, is to play a Coachella set after 3:30 p.m.

8:50 p.m.: CAKES, featuring leader Monica Morones with producer DJ Luthergates, backup vocalists Tabitha Torres and Porsia Camille and possible supporting musicians.

Morones, who was nicknamed “Cakes” by her fiancé, went to art school and now has her own Maniac Art and Photography company in Palm Springs. But she still burns to explore other creative endeavors. And she’s decided to eschew having children to pursue her artistic dreams.

“My mother was a singer and she regretted that she had children,” Morones said. “She always wanted to be a musician and a singer and she never did it. So I said, ‘I’m going to do everything you never got to do.’ So, my goal is to make an album and if that’s it– that’s it, but that’s my one goal.”

Morones was in a rock band more than 10 years ago, but now she’s developed an electro pop sound with three-part vocal harmonies she worked out alone before getting Torres and Camille to sing them live.

“I was listening a lot to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs,” she said. “I really, really wanted to make music like that and the Strokes. The band I finally ended up with was a reggae band, so I had to go from doing that to (having) a kind of a Gwen Stefani sound with a reggae band and I made them do some rock.  So the band fell apart and I kind of moved on. I needed instruments to get that rock sound and I didn’t want to do that anymore — I didn’t want to depend on other people to make my music — so I hit up producers. I completely changed the sound, but still wrote how I wrote.”

The producer who has become most integral to her act is the popular local electronic artist, DJ Luthergates. They write songs together, with Luthergates giving her beats and Morones working out the lyrics and melodies. They wrote two songs together just before going on to perform them at the Tachevah semi-finals at The Hood.

Morones sees herself following in the footsteps of M.I.A., who is a visual artist, designer, singer, rapper and electronic artist.

“I try to make all my own videos and be as creative as I can,” she said,. “I only get one shot at this. I’m 35 now and I feel there is an expiration date for female musicians. So, for the time I do have left, I want to do it all.”

9:30 p.m.: The BrosQuitos, featuring James Johnson on vocals and guitar, Max Powell on bass, Hugo Chavez on drums and John Clark on lead guitar.

Johnson, Powell and Chavez formed such a tight bond at Desert Hot Springs High School, they named themselves the BrosQuitos to seal their friendship.

“You go through school with people and you get to know a new level of them,” said Johnson, 18. “We knew that only four years of friendship in high school wouldn’t last that long (and) we wanted to look at ourselves as a constant brotherhood. So we called ourselves the BrosQuitos because our music can become infectious and we all look at ourselves as brotherly. So, BrosQuitos — kind of like mosquitoes. That’s supposed to represent the fast paced music we have and the rapid growing we’re trying to achieve.”

The source of their attraction is their mutual affinity for the Irish indie rock band, Two Door Cinema Club.

“We all have an obsession with Two Door Cinema Club,” Johnson said. “That’s our band. We love it so much. That’s kind of what brought us together.”

But the BrosQuitos have spread their wings since high school. They brought Clark in to play guitar last year and got a record deal with the Inland Empire recording label, DownPour Records, which they say may be the smallest record label in California. They used to record heavy metal groups, but Johnson says they’re now the only band on the label. Their website says, “Content coming soon.”

But they’ve recorded 13 new songs for an album and, at the Tachevah semi-finals competition at Pappy & Harriet’s, they were able to launch into the Frank Sinatra standard, “In Other Words (Fly Me to the Moon),” in honor of the death of Frank Sinatra Jr.

They’re beginning to play gigs outside of the desert, but they have one big gig they’d still like to play in the Coachella Valley.

“I’ve never been to Coachella,” Johnson said. “I don’t think any of us have. I guess a local dream we have is we all envision playing or at least going to Coachella because a lot of our idols have been there. It’s difficult watching in your backyard on YouTube knowing someone you’ve looked up to since you were 8, like Interpol, is there. In the next five years, I hope to see myself at Coachella.”

2nd Annual Friend Awareness Reception Benefiting The Actors’ Fund – Apr. 27, 2016


Hosts Grafton Doyle, Helene Galen, Donna MacMillan, Peter Mahler, and Harold Matzner feted about 85 guests at the Second Annual Friend Awareness Reception for The Actors’ Fund at the stunning Las Palmas home of Peter Mahler and his partner, actor Grafton Doyle.

Doyle is very active with The Actors’ Fund, which has been assisting artists and entertainment industry professionals in times of need since 1882. Despite its name, The Actors’ Fund provides financial, physical, and emotional assistance, a cause that hits home in the Coachella Valley where many working and retired entertainment industry professionals reside.

After a brief introduction by Mahler, oboist / author Blair Tindall performed and spoke of her experiences as a freelance orchestra musician. The Actors’ Fund gave her counseling, new skills development, and helped her earn a full scholarship to Stanford. Her memoir, Mozart In the Jungle, was published in 2005, and is now a hit series on Amazon Prime.

Actress Lorna Luft spoke about her bouts with breast cancer, and how the Actors’ Fund paid for the medical bills not covered by her health insurance. There was even a representative at her hospital bed when she awoke from surgery.

Other Actors’ Fund ambassadors on hand were Lucie Arnaz and Linda Gray, joined by Western Region Major Gifts Officer Meg Thomas and Western Region Director Keith McNutt. Local supporters included Marjorie Victor, Michael Smith, Michael Childers, David Zippel, Larry Luckinbill, Pamela Ruehrdanz, Susan Meredith, Jackie (Mrs. Gene) Autry, Kim Waltrip, and Tom Truhe.