Rock 'n' roll rousers the Van Buren Wheels roll to success at SXSW


Hopefully Rauhouse will be able to get some rest before next year's SXSW.

Ay Like It: It's not a stretch or unwarranted hype to say Chicano Power Revival is unlike anything local music buffs have ever seen. The group is first and foremost an amazing interpreter of true Latin music, and we're not talking about the Ricky Martin/Marc Anthony kind, either. In truth, even a broad term like "Latin" fails to accurately capture the breadth of the CPR sound -- the 11-piece big band simply defies most genre constructs. Playing an amazing melange of original music, ranging in style from traditional salsa to modern rock, the group begins a regular monthly set on March 29 at Nita's Hideaway in Tempe. Be sure to check these pages for a full-length profile of this amazing collective in the coming weeks, and more importantly, be sure to catch the band's Nita's set this Wednesday.

Phoenix native and indie-pop queen Lois Maffeo, foreground, expands her sound on The Union Themes.
Bob Mehr
Phoenix native and indie-pop queen Lois Maffeo, foreground, expands her sound on The Union Themes.
This Wheel's on fire: Guitarist Steve Shelton spikes his licks as singer Vic Bochini looks on.
Tae Won Yu
This Wheel's on fire: Guitarist Steve Shelton spikes his licks as singer Vic Bochini looks on.

Chicano Power Revival is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, March 29, at Nita's Hideaway in Tempe. Showtime is 9 p.m.

Mamma's Pride and Joy: Lois Maffeo is very indie rock. The Arizona native is so immersed and identified with the genre that even Maffeo's mother seems to know more about the indie world than most music critics. "She called me last week and said, 'Well, the New Times better do something on you when you play here because they just ran a big article on Love as Laughter,'" chuckles Maffeo, on the phone from her Washington state home. "I just love the fact that my mom even knows who Love as Laughter is."

Aside from a familiarity with obscure Sub Pop bands, Maffeo's mother is absolutely right, her daughter deserves some serious media attention, not only for her contributions to the Pacific Northwest's underground rock scene but for her role as a consistently engaging artist in her own right.

A frustrated Catholic schoolgirl and Xavier High School grad, Maffeo bolted Phoenix in 1981 for tiny Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington. Little could she have guessed then that the campus and city would become ground zero for a rock revolution, serving as home base for the venerable K Records imprint, as well as headquartering the Op zine, which would later become Option magazine (a stirring history of K and the whole Olympia scene can be found in Heather Rose Dominic's new video documentary, Shield Around the K: The K Records Story).

Maffeo began her career as a DJ on Evergreen's college station KAOS, hosting her own specialty program Your Dream Girl, which would serve as an inspiration for a whole generation of aspiring riot grrls. Maffeo elected to get on the other side of the mike, forming her first band, the Cradle Robbers, with Rebecca Gates, who would go on to fame with the Spinanes. Maffeo later found some short-lived success with Courtney Love (the band, not the "actress"), issuing a trio of singles before the duo disbanded in 1990. Relocating to Washington, D.C., Maffeo began playing her brand of ethereal indie-pop under the moniker Lois. A quartet of critically lauded LPs followed on K, including 1992's masterful Butterfly Kiss.

Her new album, The Union Themes (Kill Rock Stars) is Maffeo's first in almost four years. Written, recorded and co-credited to Fugazi drummer and multi-instrumentalist Brendan Canty, the disc features 10 of her trademark lyrical vignettes. This time out, she and Canty have expanded the musical formula to include hints of folk, soul and even a couple stabs at '60s-style girl-group pop.

Though she's been on hiatus, Maffeo has stayed busy in recent years contributing to projects by everyone from Scotch "Teen-C" revolutionaries Bis to Seattle indie rockers Red Stars Theory to Native Tongues-styled hip-hoppers the Evil Tambourines.

Maffeo has also spent the bulk of her downtime pursuing what she lists as her "full-time occupation" -- journalist. A gifted writer, Maffeo's work and criticism have appeared in Salon, CM J, The Stranger and New Times' sister paper the SF Weekly.

Though she admits to getting "pretty fed up" with the touring grind that accompanied her last record, 1996's Infinity Plus, Maffeo insists that her return to the road this time out will be a much more moderate endeavor. Bash & Pop urges all indie-pop fans and the civic-minded alike to catch this homegirl's return to the Valley on March 26. After all, it would make her mother proud.

Lois Maffeo is scheduled to perform on Sunday, March 26, at Modified, with Go by Go and Yolanda and Joel from Chula.

Contact Bob Mehr at his online address:

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