By Lauren Wise
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Slated to appear on Nita's patio stage are Early Outward, Uber Alice, Bullyrag, and Death of Marat. The all-ages event is Saturday, February 10. Show begins at 8 p.m., cover is $7.
We Like Ike: A veritable galaxy of Phoenix's biggest jazz stars is set to gather together this Sunday, February 11, at the Scottsdale Conference Resort for a special tribute show dedicated to longtime Valley vocalist/pianist Ike Cole.
Cole -- brother of Nat -- has been undergoing treatment for lung cancer; the concert is being staged by friends and colleagues to help defray his medical costs. The six-hour tribute event (which begins at 4 p.m.) will happen on two stages and feature performances from several members of the Cole clan, including younger brother and Grammy-nominated singer Freddy, vocalist O.C. Smith, the Dave Cook Trio, Margo Reed, Dennis Rowland, the C.C. Jones Combo, and dozens of others.
On sale at the event will be a tape featuring an interview conducted with Cole last November on Steve Shipp's One on Oneradio show. The cassette of the KMYL-AM broadcast also includes 18 songs culled from Cole's out-of-print albums. For more information about the concert, call 480-391-2091.
Sweet Soul Music: A lot of bands might object to being called "classic rock." Inspiring visions of Bad Company and Grand Funk Railroad, the tag has come to take on a somewhat negative connotation, especially in describing a group that's about to release only its second CD. But the members of Tucson's Greyhound Soul have learned to accept the label as a compliment.
Classic rock, after all, is nothing if not timeless. And the songs on the band's newly released sophomore effort, Alma de Galgo (following its 1996 debut, Freaks), sound as if they just as easily could have been released in 1971 as 2001, without at all seeming dated.
"The songs are really simple, really basic, and I think that's what we have in common with bands that have come to be known as 'classic rock,'" explains singer/songwriter/guitarist Joe Peña, the only constant, save bassist Duane Hollis, in the band's ever-shifting lineup.
You can never be quite sure who else will be filling out the roster at any given time, but the band's current members include a host of Old Pueblo talents, among them drummers Winston Watson and Tommy Larkins, guitarist Jason DeCorse and keyboardist Glen Corey.
"It doesn't really matter what configuration we're playing with. I mean, obviously, the more of us, the better, because it's just a bigger sound," says Hollis. "But Joey's songs are sort of like Neil Young's -- they sound good with just an acoustic guitar, and they sound good with Crazy Horse backing him up."
The comparison is apt. For one thing, the live version of Greyhound Soul is a different beast from that found on either of the band's discs. While the recordings feature concisely written songs, onstage the band stretches them out and improvises around them.
"Sometimes when we're jamming, you just get so lost in the sounds that are happening around you that you just don't want to stop," notes Peña. "And then suddenly it hits you that someone out there is probably getting sick of it, so you have to." Corey adds, "But no matter how long a song goes on, there's always someone out there still spinning to it."
The appeal of Greyhound Soul, a constant on the Tucson scene since the mid-'90s, is not hard to pinpoint. First, there's Peña and his songs, which borrow heavily from the traditional white-boy blues-rock canon, probably most notably the Rolling Stones during their Mick Taylor heyday. Then there's Peña's voice -- all nicotine-stained, desert-scorched sensuality -- alternately flashing the gravelly growl of Tom Waits and the dexterity of Gregg Allman. He's the kind of guy who can stretch a one-syllable word into seven, and somehow manage to get away with it. As a front man, the charismatic Peña offers up a hirsute charm, the kind of raw rock machismo that your girlfriend probably likes way too much for your taste.
And then there's the fact that he chooses to surround himself with players who not only have serious chops, but the passion to go along with it. Trapsman Watson -- a former member of Phoenix's Gentlemen Afterdark and a Bob Dylan sideman -- has proved to be an especially crucial spark during the band's live shows.
Greyhound Soul recently arranged an overseas distribution deal for both discs with a German label, which will fund an upcoming monthlong tour of Europe in April and May. It'll be their first time together overseas, the prospect of which has the band obviously excited. "It'll be great to do it with friends, people that I'm actually excited to be traveling with," says Peña.
For a band that's been around since 1994, there's clearly a sense of rebirth with the release of the new album, which has been three years in the making.
"It's really amazing that we're still around, that we didn't give up at some point," says Peña. "The first album just seemed like we were putting out a record. It was all paid for, and it just sort of happened. There were just too many people involved in it," he says, referring to contracts the band had signed with Redbeard label honcho Dan Kennedy and manager Mike Lembo, which held up the process, in addition to the usual financial woes and a botched previous attempt at recording the disc.