Since emerging from the punk underground with Black Flag in the 1980s, Henry Rollins has been a pop culture super force; aside from musician, he can list writer, DJ, and actor on his packed resume. Currently, he’s in the midst of a 13 month spoken word tour, which hits Crescent Ballroom on December 3rd and 4th, and finds the outspoken punk icon speaking his mind each night.
PHOENIX Magazine interviewed Rollins before the 2016 election but that didn’t stop the conversation from getting political.
Every year, nonprofit arts organization Arizona Musicfest produces a series of concerts in the fall and winter at various Scottsdale venues. The fall 2016/winter 2017 fests kick off on October 28, and the lineups include bluegrass, classical music, rock, opera, soul, folk, and Broadway songs. You can see the full schedule of shows at azmusicfest.org, but here are the five we deem the most unmissable.
#1: Mavis Staples at Highlands Church, March 6, 2017
At 77, gospel and R&B singer Mavis Staples shows no signs of slowing down. This year, Staples released a new album, “Livin’ on a High Note,” and was a Kennedy Center Honoree. She brings her powerful pipes and repertoire of popular songs such as “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There” to the acoustically impressive Highlands Church. 7:30 p.m. March 6 at Highlands Church. Tickets cost $34-$76.
While the Rose Room and billiards draw crowds nightly, the pull on Fridays is the rotating cast of characters that Valley Bar hosts for its collection of dance parties.
German techno pop pioneers Kraftwerk were the cream of the “krautrock” scene in the early 1970s, and last night, they demonstrated why they remain one of the most influential musical groups in history.
The setting: The gorgeous, historical Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Phoenix. With its Baroque Revival architecture, magnificent murals and molding, and balcony seating, this former vaudeville venue (built in 1929) provided classy, old world ambience for the show. Perfect for purveyors of art pop.
For Valley residents, September signals the welcome return of cooler nights with less sweltering days. Many Valley shopping centers offer evening shopping and dining as well as free outdoor concerts showcasing some of the Valley’s most talented musicians and bands.
The appeal of tribute bands is an illusion: the illusion that you’re watching one of the biggest music acts in the world perform some of your favorite songs live. In some cases, it’s not possible to see the real deal anymore because the bands are broken up or the players are dead; in other cases, the originals are still touring and the bands are like guitars crossing in the night (Def Leppard plays the Valley the same week as DL tribute band Pyromania), and in some cases, the originals take issue with their tributes -- like litigious Metallica, whose lawyers sent a 41-page cease-and-desist-or-we-will-sue-you letter to one of their tribute bands, called Sandman, for using the band’s name and lettering style in their logo.
Not every tribute band is good. Some could be considered downright insulting to the object of their homages. But maybe that just makes the truly terrific tribute bands worth seeing even more. Here are five very fine tribute bands playing Phoenix in the coming months.
Sitting between two couples in the music hall at Valley Bar, I observed the polarity of stages of romance. The couple in front of me argued for ten minutes about spending more holidays with one person’s family than the other and talked about a lot of stuff – as in, “I can’t get to my Nordic Track because all your stuff is in the way” and “I’ll come get my stuff next week.” They were wearing wedding rings. Maybe not for much longer. The couple sitting behind me was much younger, and it sounded like they were on a first date from all their slightly awkward, get-to-know-you Q&A (“So, um, I like peas. Do you like peas?”).
This eavesdrop sandwich was a lot like the jazz music of Thelonious Monk, which we were there to hear Wednesday night. The late, great pianist’s compositions ranged from wobbly, borderline-raucous bebop and hard bop (infused with gospel and blues) to mellow, swooning cool jazz so cool you’d swear the C notes were winking at you from behind sunglasses. Monk’s jazz scale tipped two directions – percussive piano-pounding peppered with melodic pretzels, and then sudden slides into dramatic silences. His best-known songs to a casual jazz fan are probably “Round Midnight” and “Straight, No Chaser,” but Monk is the second-most recorded jazz composer, behind Duke Ellington. So it’s little wonder that a show at Valley Bar featuring the Will Goble Quartet (actually, a quintet that night) performing the music of Thelonious Monk was sold out.
Imagine, if you will, a barn on the Lake Erie shore, the location of a summer camp. A drum set and an old piano are the first things that catch your eye. Then you see two guys take the stage in a blaze of energy and lights. The shows of their early days and the twenty one pilots clique I came to join in that barn was magnified one hundred fold at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Tuesday night.
Madeleine Peyroux played two shows at the Musical Instrument Museum on Tuesday, July 26, and prior to the first show, I described her as “smoky” to an older gentleman who had joined us at our table, and he got this look on his face like he was imagining the jazz chanteuse on fire and emitting clouds of smoke on stage. Of course “smoky” was in reference to Peyroux's vaunted voice, but after the show, my companion and I decided that wasn't accurate. And “sultry” wasn't totally apropos, either, because Peyroux has such a wide vocal range – she may hit a smoky note or go into a sultry slide, but her singing covers a wide range of styles, and octaves. And “sullen” was way off, because while Peyroux does sing some sad songs, her sense of humor and between-song banter was beyond entertaining. If she ever tires of being one of the most celebrated singers in modern jazz, she could totally kill it in comedy as a second career. So after some discussion of which s-words best described the stellar show Peyroux and her players (upright bass player Barak Mori and guitarist Jon Herington) put on, here are our top five:
#1 Sassy: “Saucy” or “silly” might work here, too. Going back to the between-song banter, Peyroux's intro to the song “Guilty” was: “Most of the songs I sing are love songs, blues, or drinking songs. This one is all three, thanks to [the songwriter] Randy Newman.” After the applause subsided from her stunning rendition (complete with pseudo-slurred words to bolster the I've-been-drinking effect), Peyroux said, “That song reminds me of my dad. I remember when I was a kid, we were driving and he saw this big sign that said DRINK CANADA DRY. So we moved there.”
No, not THAT band camp. THIS band camp empowers young girls to bring out their inner Joan Jetts: Girls Rock! Phoenix, which launched in February, is a nonprofit organization formed by Sarah Ventre, a senior producer at KJZZ 91.5 FM. The idea – gathering girls ages 8-17, giving them instruments and teaching them how to play, having them form bands and write an original song, culminating in a showcase – came from Girls Rock! camps in other states, including Washington, D.C., where Ventre volunteered in rock camp activities.
On Thursday, June 23, sultry singer Jane Monheit takes the stage. Monheit is equally at ease crooning Brazilian music and pop as she is standards from the American Songbook. She's collaborated with everybody from Michael Bublé to John Pizzarelli, and has been nominated for a Grammy twice. Her new album, “The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald” (Emerald City Records, 2016), is an homage to the legendary Fitzgerald. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $45.50-$50.50.
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