Oh Mercy

The Bob-Man cometh; the Bash on Ash gets Hotter Than Hell; DJ Z-Trip bids farewell to the Valley

While last week's Bash & Pop took great pains to mention the impending concert arrivals of music legends Lee Hazlewood (July 9 at the Rhythm Room) and Joe Strummer (October 18 at the Cajun House) we neglected to note perhaps the most anticipated upcoming Valley gig, that of an August 23 ASU Sundome show from Bob Dylan.

Now, music industry journal ICE reports that a tentative date has been set by Columbia records for a new Dylan album -- his first since 1997's Grammy award-winning Time Out of Mind -- the release of which would coincide with the Bobster's Valley appearance in August.

That Dylan is already poised to put out another disc is a bit of a surprise, considering he's only recorded one album of new material since 1990. As ICE notes, the album was recorded quickly -- in just over two weeks -- at a New York City recording studio, with members of Dylan's touring band and keyboardist Augie Myers (Sir Douglas Quintet, Texas Tornados) providing the backing. Even if the record doesn't hit streets that week -- and the August release is being touted as very tentative -- fans can still expect a healthy dose of the new material to be previewed during the Sun Dome gig.

The Bobster heads to the Valley in August, possibly with a new album in tow.
Barry Feinstein
The Bobster heads to the Valley in August, possibly with a new album in tow.
DJ Z-Trip says goodbye to the Valley with a star-studded farewell performance on Tuesday.
Paolo Vescia
DJ Z-Trip says goodbye to the Valley with a star-studded farewell performance on Tuesday.

Tickets for Dylan's Phoenix date are already on sale, and can be purchased from Ticketmaster or directly at the Sun Dome box-office.

Taking Out The Trash: Although it derives its name from a Kiss song -- never a good sign -- this week's second annual Hotter Than Hell night does boast a cast of the Valley's most fervent practitioners of trash and retro rock. Headlining the concert event are power-pop punks the Beat Angels and Emerald Lounge house band the Hypnotwists. The Stumble Bums, rockabilly merchants Exit 56 and punk DJ Vil Vodka round out the lineup. Hotter Than Hell II is set for Friday, June 29, at the Bash on Ash in Tempe. Showtime is 9 p.m.

Spinning Off Into the Sunset: No litany of flowery adjectives or profuse streams of glowing praise would do better to describe DJ Z-Trip than to state the obvious: The man is a damn phenom. He's one of the most amazing turntablists working today. Period. Toasted by Spin for his work in the famed Bombshelter crew, and profiled recently in the full-length, DJ-culture documentary Scratch (which turned heads at this year's Sundance festival), the longtime Valley resident is about to pull up stakes for California, for which he really can't be blamed; his growing notoriety rightfully deserves a wider home audience, and requires a somewhat more strategically located base of operations.

Z-Trip ends his run this week with a pre-Independence Day farewell gig at Nita's Hideaway. The show will no doubt be -- at least by local standards -- a star-studded affair. To wit, the lineup includes opening bows from gypsy jazz collective the Hammertoes, up-and comer (and Z-Trip protégé) DJ Example, as well as a special appearance by local music archivist and Arizona rock-jock legend Johnny D., who'll be spinning a set of classic R&B and old, old school jams. While word is that he may toss in a scratch or two, audiences shouldn't expect any body tricks or spontaneous break-dancing from the 55-year-old custodian of Valley vinyl. Also listed on the bill are a handful of unannounced "special guests"; while we could hazard a pretty good guess as to whom this may include, we'll elect not to give away the surprise.

As a final thank-you to the audiences who've come out to the shows during his Phoenix tenure, Z-Trip has also delivered two breathtaking discs (one a collaboration with DJ P.) of his patented turntable-ism, nearly 150 minutes of the spinbacks, beat juggling, phasing and scratching -- the kind that made Z-Trip and his Bombshelter cronies a constant and worthwhile draw wherever they played. The bad news: These are very limited editions. Roughly 1,000 of each were pressed initially, but extra copies have been made available to local merchants. (Check Z-Trip's Web site, djztrip.com, for advice on how and where to scope a copy.)

The first of these, Urban Revolutions: The DJ Z-Trip Megamix, boasts a sound that'll be familiar to anyone who had the good fortune to hear the Bombshelter crew live. As the title suggests, it's the Future Primitive Sound label's comp album Urban Revolutions, as "mixed, scratched, tweaked, and just generally abused" by Z-Trip (according to the liner notes). It's a genuine thrill to hear Z-Trip rework tracks originally conceived and executed by some of the genre's most forward-thinking artists -- Mammal, DJ Design, Stellar Trax Soundsystem, Rob Swift, etc.

This isn't an example of pop eating itself, either. At its best, DJ culture makes explicit the interconnectedness of musical styles and genres, and that's precisely what's happening on the Megamix. As he recently stated in an interview associated with Scratch, Z-Trip's goal is to be a Renaissance DJ -- MC, party rocker, scratcher, selector -- but what pierces the surface of the Megamix most consistently is his commanding breakdown instinct. Z-Trip's skill and precision on the turntables reminds one of the Public Enemy line, "Slice and dice, super-mix so nice/So bad, you won't dispute the price." Particularly witty is Z-Trip's own flaying and restructuring of two tracks he himself contributed to Urban Revolution in its original form, "Downtime" and "Further Explorations Into the Black Hole."

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