Great Scott

Tragedy brings out the best in Valley musicians, as top bands unite for a benefit concert

When the idea was first hatched, no one could've imagined that this week's Scotti-Stock concert -- a local music extravaganza to benefit Piersons/Beat Angels bassist Scott Moore, who was involved in a near-fatal traffic accident last October -- would have taken on such a profound meaning.

Relying heavily on the charity and goodwill of merchants, club owners and artists, the event has produced what organizer Charlie Levy describes as "a really amazing sense of community."

With all the attendant hype and anticipation over the lineup (a dozen of the Valley's top acts, plus a slew of guest performers), it's been heartening that the true focus of the show -- namely, aiding Moore financially as he continues to recover -- has not been obscured. Of course, for those at all familiar with local music, that particular fact is both humorous and ironic. That Moore -- someone known for his biting wit and caustic tongue as much as his bass playing -- could engender such goodwill and unity is a pleasantly unexpected turn, as well as a testament to the deep bond that exists among Phoenix's fraternity of musicians.

In a world where success is often measured by the most trivial of yardsticks -- door receipts, record sales, radio airplay -- the efforts of those participating at Scotti-Stock are indicative of the selflessness and largess that working musicians only rarely get the opportunity to display.

On a creative level, it seems that with such an assemblage of talent in one spot, it would be almost foolish not to document the proceedings. To that end, organizers have commissioned a professional recording of the show, ostensibly for posterity's sake, but possibly for a live album release -- with proceeds again benefiting Moore. A team of cameramen from Groovy Movies, a Phoenix-based production company, will also be there to film the event. And there will be plenty of sights and sounds to capture as the bill is sure to include a bevy of surprises and moments that are decidedly of the once-in-a-lifetime nature.

Fittingly, the program will unite several generations of local talents -- from performers who began in the 1970s to those who weren't even born when their elders took the stage for the first time. Moreover, expected Scotti-Stock duets between peers like Dead Hot Workshop and the Peacemakers offer an added incentive for even casual fans to come out. Such collaborations are the kind that might have been common a decade or so ago, but that the changed and changing nature of local music -- specifically the fall of Mill Avenue as a centralized live music haven -- has rendered nearly extinct. If an event of this scope and magnitude is not to happen again, if this truly is a Viking burial for a fading era, then it seems a fitting and noble way to end it.

As a preview of the concert, we offer the following synopsis of each act slated to perform and what audiences can expect from their Scotti-Stock appearances. (As a side note, the show is an indoor/outdoor affair. Its 6 p.m. start time is also noteworthy, as the logistical nature of the concert means that bands -- even some of the bigger-name ones -- will be performing early in the evening. Organizers are advising that patrons arrive as doors open, and purchase tickets before the day of the show. The latter can be taken care of at Zia Record Exchange or www.ticketweb.com.) Jamal Ruhe: The bassist, producer, all-around sound guru and member of something like 147 different bands (Sleepwalker, Yearofthemule and One, to name a few) is scheduled to perform a special 20-minute mini-set. Included in his acoustic showcase will be a song written about Moore titled "And the Way They Happen." Ruhe has long made a habit of collaborating with a variety of local talents, most recently with steel guitarist Jon Rauhouse and Clyde's Robin Vining as a part of the instrumental outfit Circle R. Now, Ruhe is touting a new one-off all-star project called Strategery (named after a George W. Bush malapropism) featuring himself, members of Gloritone, Loud Americans and the Pistoleros. That combo will see the light of day sometime before April, at which point Ruhe is expected to leave the Valley (permanently, he reports) for the greener pastures of New York City.

Zen Lunatics: Looks can often be deceiving, and nowhere is that axiom more true than in the case of the Zen Lunatics. The long-running, suit-wearing pop combo may look like clean-cut, normal guys, but those familiar with this troupe of Moon Valley eccentrics know they might be the strangest collection of musicians in town. Equally obsessed with Lawrence Welk and John Lennon, the band has an endless catalogue of originals and covers to choose from; you're just as likely to see the group run through infectious Lunatics anthems like "Media Sensation" or "Mack Truck Tracy" as a weird nugget like the "Theme from Maude." Last year saw the release of the band's multi-disc Live at the BBC set, plus the appearance of a pair of platters from the group's alter egos, the country combo Cartwheels and the esoteric Dead Brains -- the latter of which performs the brilliantly titled twanger "Shitfaced" and the Devo-esque "We're Gonna Kick Your Ass."

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