Arizona Squeeze

The Grammys blow off the state's most promising entries

But then, consistency isn't something we're likely to get from the Grammys. There won't be much rooting for the home team this year, and that really sucks.

New Times threw a party last week, and people came. Lots of people, as it turns out, from all different corners of the Valley music scene. The turnout intensifies my hopes for this year's New Times Music Showcase.

"Kick start my rock 'n' roll heart": The Grammys sure won't do it.
"Kick start my rock 'n' roll heart": The Grammys sure won't do it.

Now, even if only three publicists and some drummer for a shitty death-metal band with a CD to push showed up at our nomination party at Sugar Daddy's in Scottsdale on January 8, you'd still expect me to be all smiles about our own in-house venture. We rule and you don't! But I don't need to pour on the artifice Ė not much of it, anyway. Our experiment was simple: This year, we wanted to open up the process of establishing nominees for 11 categories, including Most Enjoyable Singer and Most Likely to Make it Big, and hand it over to the people who know best, namely the artists, managers, club owners, promoters, genre hawks and journalists who fuel the local scene. Rather than select a lineup on our own, let's give these folks a say. If the showcase marks a vast improvement over last year, these will be the people to thank. And hey, if it sucks, this new venture gets us off the hook just a little.

It was an absolute thrill, in the midst of playing party host (for future reference: I really suck at it and need some practice), to see Rob "Fun Bobby" Birmingham, the tall, skinny ponytailed booker for Mesa's Hollywood Alley, sharing laughs with shorter, plumper and older blues singer Big Pete Pearson. Everyone I talked to admitted that it was just weird to have so many local music honchos in one place, and with no punches being thrown or feelings being hurt. I saw quite a collection of folks mingling, from drum-and-bass promoter Jason Ayers to Steve Larson of Tempe power-poppers Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, from KEDJ-FM program director Nancy Stephens to Kimber Lanning and Leslie Barton of college-rock palace Modified Arts.

Hopefully, events like this party at Sugar Daddy's won't be such a foreign concept after last week's event. Yes, there is a scene in Phoenix and, for a night, it grew closer.

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