Jam Land

Local improv musicians converge on Sail Inn for 4:20 Fest. Sedona may lie in their future.

Another extension of Intelligroove: Gordon says the networking it creates helped the Mojo Farmers land an opening spot for Tucson's Sand Rubies at Nita's Hideaway in March.

So far, the crowds, gradually increasing in size, are receptive, says Mike Bell, drummer for the Lymbyc Systym, which builds on grooves from Jared Bell's 1978 Fender Rhodes electric piano.

"They['re] open to things like improvisation," Mike says. "They usually relate to more basic music. They relate to pop songs and to vocal things. And for people to come and appreciate this music . . . that demands a lot of patience and total open-mindedness."

"It keeps life going": Kevin Gordon jams with the Mojo Farmers.
"It keeps life going": Kevin Gordon jams with the Mojo Farmers.

Now the bands and Intelligroove have a Utopia in their sights: Sedona Cultural Park. The folks from the gorgeous day trip 120 miles to the north are looking to build an identity for their new 5,500-capacity Georgia Frontiere Performing Arts Pavilion. Sarah Bowes, a spokeswoman for the park, says the management looks at the success of Red Rocks in Colorado in attracting regional travel among jam enthusiasts, then it looks at its own gorgeous cliffs, and the connection is clear.

The pavilion will be hosting two shows by national favorites the String Cheese Incident on May 24 and 25. No matter what I think of that band (for the record: the very worst Phish rip-off possible), the shows will almost certainly attract sellouts both days, and that has Hanley working hard. Intelligroove will be throwing an after-party at the Oak Creek Brewery up there featuring Tea Leaf Green and assorted locals.

At summer's end, the park also plans to try its hand at the two-day festival, namely the Mogollon JamFest, scheduled to feature Leftover Salmon, another staple of crunchy Colorado, and perhaps East Coast vets Widespread Panic. Bowes says the park hopes to draw on its proximity to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and Arizona State University, and Hanley obviously hopes the Sedona connection makes this desolate desert a more favored touring spot.

For now, the jam-band community has the unpretentious little Sail Inn and the comfort, experimentation, kids, dogs, old bassists and 4:20 high jinks it attracts. And neither the musicians nor Hanley are complaining.

"The bands love playing out there. They know the vibe is going to be really, really kind," he says.

Ahem . . . how kind?

"Oh, it'll really be a schwaggy vibe," Hanley says, catching himself.

The biggest, raunchiest, most invigorating noise at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival last weekend in Indio, California, erupted from . . . Iggy Pop? And the Stooges?

More to come on the vibe of the Coachella scene next week, but as for the festival itself, it was as progressive as imaginable; the organizers booked more than 80 artists, many of whom are the hipster kings of their respective genres (Mexican rebels Café Tacuba and Kinky, house DJs like Felix Da Housecat and Deep Dish, and the White Stripes, whatever you want to term their shtick). The artists performed on undecorated, vanilla-plain stages or in dome-style white tents -- nothing to distract from the music or the artistry. There was almost no room for nostalgia, and, save for the Heineken banners in the beer tents, no accommodation for product placement. This was not Woodstock '94 or '99.

Yet here were Iggy and his old Ann Arbor bandmates tearing it up on stage. All that drug and alcohol abuse and survival have subdued them and made them somewhat less demonstrative, but oh my Lord, can Ron Asheton still make a guttural, chaotic sound out of his guitar, and can Iggy, with veiny emaciation and sunken face, still capture the energy of those classic riffs! He pranced around on stage, promising the tens of thousands watching to "fuck you up." During the brilliant punk rave-up "Down on the Street," he climbed the stack of amplifiers on stage right and began forcefully humping it -- he was going to make that shit scream if it killed him.

The truest test: I walked from the front of the main stage all the way to the porta-johns by the front entrance, a distance of perhaps 1,000 feet. Amazingly, the Stooges sounded just as crisp and as urgent back there, and even the shrinking violets were rocking out.

Got a problem with Kick & Scream? Let's hear it. Contact the author at his online address: christopher.oconnor@newtimes.com

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