Back in the Zone

Retooled version of local music showcase returns to the FM dial

The odds of hearing any Valley artists -- save the Gin Blossoms and Refreshments -- on the radio took a big hit last year when KZON-FM 101.5 canned all its local programming. Granted, KUPD-FM 97.9 Red Radio show (hosted by effervescent on-air personality Larry Mac) has done its part to further the cause of local bands, but the station's reputation as an oasis for headbangers has tended to place most of the focus on metal and hard-rock acts, neglecting the rest of the city's musical landscape.

Now, after a series of format shifts, the Zone has returned to a playlist closer to its original mandate. As part of this back-to-basics initiative, the station has reinstated a slightly retooled version of its Local Zone program.

The original, highly regarded show, Leah's Local Zone, hosted by Leah Miller, ran for just over a year before ownership changes resulted in its cancellation. Miller left KZON shortly after, going to work for the Tribune's Get Out. She returned to the world of broadcasting earlier this year, taking a position as advisor for ASU's student-run station 1280-AM, the Blaze.

Hang your weary head: SoCal honky-tonker Mark Insley pairs up with brother Dave's Rustic Records collective this week.
Mike Wilson
Hang your weary head: SoCal honky-tonker Mark Insley pairs up with brother Dave's Rustic Records collective this week.
Dallas' Uzigato: More like Bikini Kill and L7 than 'N SYNC and the Backstreet Boys.
Sean Newell
Dallas' Uzigato: More like Bikini Kill and L7 than 'N SYNC and the Backstreet Boys.

During its brief run, Miller's program yielded strong weekly sessions of live performances, interviews and new-record spins. The show even spawned a now-rare compilation disc, Take One, featuring rare tracks from Gloritone, Gas Giants, 9 Volt and many others.

New Local Zone host Tracy Lea is no stranger to the format; she hosted her own long-running local program on KDKB-FM 93.3 before moving up the dial. Lea's revamped version has been airing every Tuesday during her 8 p.m. to midnight shift for the past month. Unlike Miller's show, the new version features a mix of regular Zone programming and homegrown artists.

"Mixing local songs into the playlist, filtering them, seemed to be a more effective way of presenting the whole thing," says Lea. "That way, we can get people who might not normally listen to local music exposed to some Phoenix artists." Lea adds that she'll try to expand the program's format to include bits of local news and notes as well as in-studio guests.

Family Affair: Dave Insley's new Rustic Records label has been making plenty of noise this year with releases from the Nitpickers, Tammy Patrick, Trophy Husbands and Grave Danger. This weekend, Insley expands that collective with a rare Arizona performance by his older brother and Southern California honky-tonk hero Mark Insley.

The elder Insley will be in the state for a pair of shows: one local appearance at the Arizona Roadhouse on Friday, November 3, and a Tucson gig at Che's bar the following night.

Mark Insley's last album, Good Country Junk, put out by the now-defunct Country Town Records, graced a number of year-end best-country-album polls in 1996 and featured a who's who of L.A.'s hillbilly cognoscenti. Produced by Taras Prodanuk, longtime bassist for Dwight Yoakam, the album also boasts appearances by Yoakam mainstays Pete Andersen and Skip Edwards, as well as steel guitar virtuoso Greg Leisz.

Mark has spent the past few years making the rounds of music festivals, including a September appearance at Portland's North by Northwest conference. More recently, he's been behind the board, helming production of an album by retro-acoustic trio the Tatters.

While he's in the desert, Mark plans to begin work on a new album at producer Craig Schumacher's Wavelab studios in Tucson. Wavelab also served as the breeding ground for Calexico's The Black Light and alt-country singer-songwriter Richard Buckner's new disc The Hill.

Dave Insley notes that his brother may become a permanent member of the Rustic family in the not-too-distant future. "Once he's done with the new album, I think he's going to be pitching it to some labels, but who knows, maybe [Rustic] will get a chance to put it out," he says. "I'd certainly love to be able to do that."

Though Mark Insley's regular combo often includes luminaries like British twang master Albert Lee (Emmylou Harris, Everly Brothers), Tony Gilkyson (X, Exene Cervenka) and drummer Tom Fillman (Delbert McClinton), his Arizona appearances will be supported by a pick-up band comprised of former Gin Blossom and current Peacemaker Scotty Johnson and Gentlemen Afterdark/Bob Dylan stickman Winston Watson. Nitpicker bassist Jeff Farias and little brother Dave fill out the makeshift combo.

The Roadhouse show begins at 9 p.m. with opening sets by Tammy Patrick and the Trophy Husbands.

Rock, Roll and Remember: Phoenix homeboy and rock author Ed Wincentsen has penned a series of scrapbook-style bios of big-name artists including Jim Morrison, Fleetwood Mac and Rod Stewart. Now Wincentsen is revisiting his Valley roots as he begins work on a history of the city's 1960s rock scene. Wincentsen, who currently resides in South Carolina, is putting out a call to all alumni of that thriving era to help him compile the new project.

"I'm looking for all kinds of folks who were involved -- fans, band members, club owners -- to get their reminiscences about the period and what it was like," he says.

Wincentsen says his tome will focus on bands like the Mile Ends, Superfine Dandelion and 20th Century Zoo, all of whom have recently received the reissue treatment courtesy of local archivist Johnny Dixon and New York's Sundazed records. Those with relevant stories or information can contact Wincentsen by e-mail at edw@innova.net or snail mail at 157 Shannon Circle, Pickens, SC 29671.

Blazing Guns: It's true that Dallas quartet Uzigato was assembled two years ago by Joey Salerno, a former A&R man at Jive Records, the home of 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. But Uzigato's formation wasn't just some bit of music-industry manufacturing. Salerno quit his job with Jive's Ignition imprint to start up the punk-pop combo. And as the band's self-titled debut EP demonstrates, its Bikini Kill/L7-inspired muse couldn't be any further removed from genteel boy-band balladry (listen to the disc's lead-off track, "My Foot Your Ass," if you have any doubts).

Interestingly, the group constitutes a Dallas supergroup of sorts. Though Uzigato is drummer Salerno's first outfit, singer Rachel Strauss, guitarist Richard Paul and bassist Richard Garcia are all veterans of the city's Deep Ellum scene and well-regarded indie outfits like Pervis, rubberbullet and the Caffiends.

While the EP has already received heavy notice in punk and trash-rock quarters, the group is still readying its first full-length, expected to be out by early 2001.

Uzigato hauls into town this Wednesday, November 8, for a gig at the Emerald Lounge.

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