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.
In most parts of the United States, Labor Day signals the end of summer – a time to cover the patio furniture and wheel in the barbecue. Valley of the Sun residents have a little bit more summer to endure. So why not make the most of it and head out to one of the many local resorts that offer Labor Day weekend specials?
Here’s a great equation: Jazz bassist and bandleader Will Goble’s talented quintet + the impeccable acoustics at the Musical Instrument Museum Music Theater = an amazing night of live music. Goble has performed with Grammy-winning pianist Marcus Roberts and drummer and vibraphonist Jason Marsalis, but as we recently observed at an intimate club show, the Valley resident has his own swinging swagger. Presented by MIM and The Nash. $19.50-$23.50. 7 p.m. August 29 at Musical Instrument Museum. mim.org
#2: “Abstract to Absurd” – Carlos Rausch and Cindy Schnackel Art Exhibit at Olney Gallery, September 2
A former PHOENIX magazine Artist of the Month, Cindy Schnackel has a fondness for the absurd, which she colorfully paints on canvases in the form of coffee-drinking chickens and surreal (and sometimes cute) blobby monsters. Argentina-born Carlos Rausch creates large-scale non-representational paintings that combine various shapes and colors into eye-catching but seamless abstract amalgamations. Free. 6 p.m. September 2 at Olney Gallery at Trinity Cathedral. Exhibit open through September 28. azcathedral.org
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.
During the month of September, Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation is asking the community to “Go Gold” during Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month to raise $1 million in support of the hospital’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. More than 50 Valley businesses will offer promotions on food, merchandise and services, with a percentage of the proceeds going to support the fundraising effort.
The back-to-school barrage has begun. In fact, some schools are already in session. Many organizations have held their back-to-school clothing and supplies drives, but if you would like to donate, here are some places that are still accepting donations.
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.
Get your daily dose of culture with our curated picks of the best events and experiences in the Valley, from art and music to sports and the outdoors. Culture vultures can sign up for our Things to Do and VIP List newsletters for even more hip happenings.