photo courtesy Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra

Music Notes: Holiday Booking

Written by Jason P. Woodbury Category: Arts Issue: December 2018
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Our top local musical acts for seasonal soirees.

Everyone knows the key to a good holiday party: an open bar. Aside from that? Well, great live music never hurts. Party planners in Phoenix have a great pool of local talent to pull from – pick any of the following groups and prepare for a Clark Griswold-size holiday bonus.

The Jon Rauhouse Orchestra
As a sideman for Neko Case, Billy Bob Thornton and Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers, pedal steel master Jon Rauhouse knows a thing or two about how to win over a crowd. His own outfit provides dusty Western swing, fusing country and jazz. Classic sounds made by classic players. jonrauhouse.com/contact

Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra (pictured)
Fronted by fiery vocalist Camille Sledge (daughter of Debbie Sledge of R&B powerhouse Sister Sledge), this 16-piece band abounds with bass, percussion and vibrant horns, tapping into the classic Afrobeat sound popularized by Fela Kuti. When PAO is on the stage, the dance floor is not optional. phoenixafrobeatorchestra.com/contact

Flamenco Por La Vida
Speaking of dancing: Angelina Ramirez leads Flamenco Por La Vida, a troupe combining both flamenco sounds and fancy footwork on stage, dressed in full traditional regalia. Entertainment for the eyes and ears. flamencoporlavida.com/booking

What’s the Big Idea
This Phoenix-based trio brings a modern sensibility to its classic jazz template. Providing more than just polite background music, Josh Kneisel, David Drew and Mike Kleinschmidt take cues from The Bad Plus and Brad Mehldau, building a sound even ardent hip-hop and rock fans appreciate. wtbiaz.net/booking

The Maya Spectra
The Maya Spectra bills itself as “omnigenre,” and while that sort of thing might smack of pretentiousness, brothers Donald Peña and Julian Peña, along with French-Canadian singer Janel Blanco, actually earn the descriptor. The trio blends jazz, hip-hop, post rock and mutated electronic sounds to create a melody strictly for adventurous gatherings. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; facebook.com/themayaspectra