Paul Rodgers, Matt Sorum and Orianthi are part of the ‘Rock the Plaza’ concert being spearheaded by touring musicians for Paul McCartney and Queen. The 1930s theater has been dormant for eight years but a donation from ‘Frasier’s’ co-creator has already given fundraising a jump-start.
Brian Ray, a familiar sight to Paul McCartney fans as a 20-year multi-instrumentalist stalwart in the superstar’s band, has a dream for making Palm Springs a destination on the routing of touring rockers, as well as more of a cultural hub for the arts in general. It’s a dream whose destination is well in sight. He’s helping with the already partially funded campaign to restore and reopen the Plaza Theatre, a 1936 gem that has sat unpolished, if not quite completely dilapidated, through eight years of notable dormancy right in the heart of Palm Springs’ famous shopping district.
Since he moved to the desert part-time four years ago, Ray has often thought about what could be, or what could have been, when it comes to the Plaza. It hasn’t been fit for ages to use as a hub for the annual Palm Springs Film Festival, as it was back in then-Mayor Sonny Bono’s day. But, more in keeping with Ray’s day job: “How about the mid-week shows that all the artists do when they come to Coachella? Or with Paul McCartney during Desert Trip, when we chose to go to Pappy and Harriet’s [in nearby Pioneertown] and play for about 140 people” — something he suggests could have gone down in the 800-capacity Plaza instead. “You could imagine that before that festival, Neil Young would’ve stepped into that theater and said, ‘This is where I want to do mine.’ That’s what would’ve happened if it would’ve been ready, you know?”