Death of Freedom

Tempe's long-reigning dance oasis shuts its doors

Jello's unexpected appearance definitely bodes well for Ziggy's future. As Shelton says, "If you're trying to do a new punk rock club, to have Jello Biafra show up is about the ultimate. If we wanted to plan a publicity stunt, we couldn't have in a million years come up with something better."

Shelton's influence is evident already, just seven weeks after he joined Josh Bartosh as a partner in the venture. Where ASU's maroon and gold once prevailed, now red and orange flames -- a signature Shelton motif -- are dominant, covering the wall behind the stage. A painting of a piranha with an engine as a dorsal fin hangs facing the bar, eight-ball stick shift gleaming in the water. Shelton, who owns a hot-rod-influenced custom furniture joint called Jake's Chop Shop, also has his own creations lurking around Ziggy's, like the couch made of a classic car's rear end with cushions where the trunk would be, and an amoeba-like coffee table decorated with flames.

Ziggy's Rock & Roll Lounge incarnation isn't like any bar Tempe's seen -- though it's starting to bear a resemblance to Shelton's former endeavor, a hot-rod-themed bar and restaurant called Fireballz in Richmond, Virginia (you can peep Fireballz decor in a virtual tour at http://www.jakeschopshop.com/fireballz/index.html). Ziggy's heart's in the right place, with a free North Carolina pit-cooked pulled barbecue buffet on Sundays when Busted Hearts plays its weekly gig, and live rock bands most nights of the week.

One of the faithful: Jake Shelton (pictured), Ziggy's new co-owner, hopes Tempe's ready to rock.
Benny Kee
One of the faithful: Jake Shelton (pictured), Ziggy's new co-owner, hopes Tempe's ready to rock.

It's yet to be seen if the fickle rawk scene will adopt Ziggy's as its own or abandon it after the novelty of a rock club on the Valley's most homogenized street wears off.

E-mail brendan.kelley@newtimes.com

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