What Happens When New Times Reviews Bar Bands?

Fact: Phoenix has a lot more gigging local bands than anyone realizes. Even you, Mr. Hipster Who Really Cares About the Local Scene. I don't care who you think you are — you've never heard of half the local bands playing out in a given week.

Thing is, a lot of them are super-low-profile, playing regular nights at dive bars, honky-tonks, and other watering holes. Some of these bands are good and some are bad, but all presumably manage to entertain people (or at least a bar owner) slightly more than a jukebox, helping sell sauce to regulars.

And most of those bands escaped review. Until now.

With the list of SB 1070 boycotters growing, it has become more and more important for New Times music writers to look closer to home. So here we are, reviewing bar bands for our blog, PHXmusic.com. The task falls to me. As someone who has lived in Arizona nearly my entire life, I realized that it was rare for me to venture outside of my comfort zone.

But, for the past couple of months, I've been outside my bubble, attending shows by hype-less bands at bars filled with patrons you may never see at Marquee, Trunk Space, or Martini Ranch. It's been interesting.

I've made some general observations that apply in nearly every setting and, of course, I've experienced some more specific high- and lowlights along the way.

The most striking thing about these nights? They really are "regular" in every sense of the word. The patrons come often and are familiar with the bands. They often know the other clientele and the bartenders and wait staff. And when you're walking into a place like that for the first time (and usually with a camera), you stand out.

Not that you're left alone on an island of awkwardness. The crowds at these sorts of events are usually warm and pretty friendly. Also, in many cases these nights feature such "old-timey" Americana music as country, blues, or jazz. Because of its down-home nature, this style is often a little more comforting and inclusive for someone who feels out of place.

Of the eight nights I've visited, my favorite was Rockabilly Thursday at the recently burned-down Blooze Bar. (This admittedly has more to do with my own taste and style than anything else.) Other notable acts have included the Arizona Blues Project at Cody's Restaurant in Cave Creek, and Running From Bears at The Lost Leaf in downtown Phoenix.

Of the Cave Creek experience, I wrote, "I arrived at Cody's just in time for the band's break . . . The people out on the patio were super-friendly, quickly offering up an ash tray as I sat by myself on a barstool with a bottle of Bud . . . The band worked well together as a cohesive unit, trading solos, and each member offering up a unique personality."

And as for the Lost Leaf, the tone of the night was set through multisensory experiences. It looked "like an New York jazz club underground, but with more space and above ground," smelled like "light perspiration and aluminum," and tasted "savory, and slightly forbidden." Not quite your typical Roosevelt Row hang.

As mentioned, though, there were a few disappointments. As they do with many music critics, cover bands just leave a bitter taste in my mouth. I realize that with genres like country and blues, one expects to hear old covers. It's these songs that made the style, and they're typically the ones people want to hear when they go out.

So, yeah, about the jam bands. I was recently very harshly accused by Up On The Sun readers of being unappreciative of jam band music. Here's the truth: I am. It's a niche genre that appeals to very few people any more. For those it doesn't appeal to, it's hard to like, even as a novelty. I can recognize good musicians, even if they play a style of music I don't like. But my description of Grateful Thursdays at 910 Live in Tempe (a night that features a Grateful Dead tribute band called Xtra Ticket) as something that looks like a "strip club next to a U-Haul that has been taken over by hippies" has apparently pissed off every self-identifying "hippie" in the city. In addition to the overall feel, the band featured a Philip Seymour Hoffman look-alike on keyboards and used sheet music periodically throughout the night.

Though not all the nights have knocked me dead, there have been a few pleasant surprises. The next few months will undoubtedly bring more, as I try to hit up places more unconventional than the ones I've been to so far. Feel free to add comments on Up On The Sun if you have suggestions.

You can also drop by PHXmusic.com for a list of local music nights and to read the reviews I've done so far.

 
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16 comments
Zack
Zack

The Phillip S Hoffman look alike is a good man and a great keyboardist and just because you're not talented gives you no right to disrespect a man who has spent decades living life by making people happy through music, as opposed to comparing and passing judgement on people who you aren't comfortable enough with yourself to enjoy. Only a major douchebag like you would even refer to these people as hippies, if you did research like a REAL journalist, you would find that there hasn't been such a thing as a hippie since the late 60's. Anyone who refers to themselves as such is just as lame as you are. Go hang out at the Cherry lounge on Mill maybe if you're lucky you'll get some free herpes along the way....

Richard Waddell
Richard Waddell

Yeah, bad article. High School newspaper junk. Not interesting, not fun to read.

Speaking of someone who has no credibility in the arts scene, Dungeon Master Wayne Michael Reich, isn't the Renaissance Fair calling you? Hazaa!

Wayne Michael Reich
Wayne Michael Reich

Mr. Ginsburg sums it up nicely, but if I might add one thing I find curious?

"With the list of SB 1070 boycotters growing, it has become more and more important for New Times music writers to look closer to home. So here we are, reviewing bar bands for our blog, PHXmusic.com."

So basically you wouldn't be wasting your time on the local scene if we weren't being boycotted by national acts? How nice of you to grace us with your condescending presence, New Times.

You have ZERO credibility in the arts community, you have ZERO credibility among the music community (mainly because of Martin Ciznar) and your recent attempts to showcase the downtown cultural scene have been laughable at best.

Sometimes intentionally, but usually not.

The recent "What are you wearing?" series on Jackalope Ranch has just proven once again that NT just needs to pack up it's collective bags, move to L.A., and start the well honed pretentiousness anew in a city it actually appreciates.

Do PHX a favor and act like an ex girlfriend, New Times- just come right out and tell us you hate us, instead of all these subtle little digs. You'll feel better, and then we know to just avoid you.

I use the term avoid, because no one actually reads you.Sort of like your editor.

Kelly OBrien
Kelly OBrien

Via Vengance (local one man band) with Fu Manchu @ Chasers bar 8005 E Rosevelt Scottsdale AZ Monday August 23 7:30 pm

Jackson Ginsburg
Jackson Ginsburg

Interesting that you qualify bands getting paid for gigs at bars by noting that it only really matters if the bartender likes'em. Yet, one of your stock defenses against criticism is that your legitimacy derives from the fact that you are a paid professional - which really means that only your editor thinks you are good.

Also, judging by the amount and the success of jam band festivals across the country - and the diversity (at least age-wise) of the audience - I think yr comment about the genre is unqualified. I'm not even a fan of it (quite the opposite), just sayin'.

It is that kind of dismissive tone othat probably irritates people more than your "critical" voice - like how a lot of your pieces make it seem like you feel like you are doing "these people" a favor just by gracing them with your enlightened presence (see: your comments re: 'tukee).

Finally, having opinions or writing about music doesn't make you a critic; contributing thoughtful, informed ideas to discussions about culture makes you a critic.

Wayne Michael Reich
Wayne Michael Reich

Um Ricky? I have no idea what you're refrring to with your "Dungeon Master" comment, so I'll ignore it.

And as for my credibility,I've been a full time working artist in PHX for the last 15 years,so next time do your research.

I do agree with your article asessment though- despite the fact you make no sense about anything else.

Phoenix New Times
Phoenix New Times

I like how you view the entire staff as some big, bad monolithic force acting in concert to push an agenda we all agreed on in a meeting while smoking cigars and drinking cognac.

Sigh.

You can't read for shit, Wayne, and you seem to think you pay close attention to what we run when you obviously don't. Or maybe you'd care to point out another publication that gives more attention to PHX music?

Aaron
Aaron

Well if he cant read for shit, you can't write for shit. Gotta love how Mr. Hate-filled himself comes out to defend Sarah who is perfectly capable of having a thoughtful discussion. She is also upfront about things she likes and dislikes and provides rationale for feeling the way she does.

In contrast, you, Mr. Cizmar, mix opinions in with facts, present half truths, and only use material to benefit your cause, while ignoring all evidence contrary to your "elitist" opinions. Your writing is juvenile and mostly without any factual basis whatsoever. You're clearly a supremely angry person bearing a heavy axe with the world and in particular with most musicians. Why work in the music business if all you have to say is hate filled and negative? You're so quick to judge others seemingly without recognizing your own deficiencies.

I'd be very curious to see an upbeat article from you. Frankly, I dont think you know how to write one.

Don't worry though, I dont think you know the first thing about cognac.

Wayne Michael Reich
Wayne Michael Reich

Martin-That's okay- you can't write for shit, so I guess we're even.What a shock- you got it wrong again. I do not regard "the entire staff..." as doing anything other than following orders from your painfully out of touch editor. In fact, I can count many friends/fans among the New Times staff, and have appreciated their input for many years in some cases.

As well as the over 400 email responses I received after New Time's fluffy hatchet blog on yours truly that you trolled for.

By the way, like many others in the PHX Music/Art community- I'm breathlessly awaiting the followup to your article on Frankie Munoz's girlfriend.

That's some Pulitzer Prize material right there, let me tell ya.

As for who pays more attention to PHX music, you are actually right for once. No one does. Mainly because other than a few underfunded Zines, there isn't any real coverage to speak of, so I guess you guys deserve a pat on the back for that.

In fact- when I am out and about [hanging with the musician buds] and the subject of local coverage is discussed, your name pops up the most actually.

Due to the fact that this is an open venue, I won't spell out the vulgarities that are attached to your name specifically, but the overall suggestion is that you should eat a lot more fruit.

I know you like to believe that somehow your opinion is valued, but among the majority of musical creatives I know- the weekly rag you work for is regarded as a joke.

And when a "joke" covers you, the view slanted by either a sycophant's fawning or a failed musician's disdain- it doesn't help anyone.

Just my two cents,WMR

Wayne Michael Reich
Wayne Michael Reich

I am so buying you a cheese basket, Aaron.And a bottle of cognac,

respectfully,Wayne Michael Reich

Wayne Michael Reich
Wayne Michael Reich

Ricky-You're back! So glad to see you pick up your electronic crayon again and scribble on the wall of reality. However, once again?

You have NEVER met me, and if you have- where /when?And as to your other "points"?

1) While it is true I think McGuyver is the man, I don't have a mullet- proof can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/...

2) Last time I checked, I have never done "D&D inspired" art, and it's fairly obvious you have no fucking idea what type of work it is that I actually do - proof of that can be found at my website: http://www.waynemichaelreich.c...

As to the "dweeb and douche" references, is that the best you can do? What's next, gonna call me a sissy and then steal my lunch money? The erroneous opinion of a cyber-coward means little to me, especially when we have never met.

"you've been in the same room with me"- I doubt that. I hang out with talented people, and as we all can see from your writing- you are devoid thereof.

Who are you? Martin Cizmar in a dress?We're all waiting to find out.

Respectfully.Wayne Michael Reich

http://www.waynemichaelreich.c...

Ricky
Ricky

Funny, one of MY complaints about New Times is that it isn't elitist ENOUGH...that it is too mainstream...I mean, I don't I don't want it covering reichs D & D Mullet inspired crap...but, you know...

I gotta tell you, I've been in a room with BOTH of these guys...and I'd be way less embarrassed to be seen with Cizmar...wayyyyyyyy less.....Cizmar is just a nerd...Wayne is a dweeb & douche.

Wayne Michael Reich
Wayne Michael Reich

Marty-

Thanks for your prompt (albeit uninteresting) response!

That's definitely "the pot calling the kettle black" as my dear departed Oma used to say. Of course, she was a much nicer person than either one of us.

As to what "kind of person" I am, that judgment is not yours to make, and never will be. As I stated earlier- I don't like you, I don't respect you, and I sure as Hell don't fear you.

That puts a huge kink in the working relationship, as I see it. It's a shame, really.

In closing, I wish for a happy resolution to that whole "Frankie Muniz's girlfriend is stalking me" drama- she is one crazy wench.

Respectfully,Wayne Michael Reichhttp://www.waynemichaelreich.c...

Phoenix New Times
Phoenix New Times

Oh, Wayne... you sure don't know a lot of things. I think you've shown pretty well what sort of person you are here, though.

Wayne Michael Reich
Wayne Michael Reich

WAYNE MICHAEL REICH RESPONDS TO MARTY! (to be fair, he was waiting on his laundry and had time to kill.)

Wayne,

- Marty?

I'm fairly certain you have no idea who my editor is.

- [Actually Marty, I had a meeting with Managing Editor Amy Silverman about a month ago. You would have liked it as I did bring cookies. Glad to see you're in the loop. If she isn't your boss, my sincere apologies to whomever is. May she/he soon have a much better writer working beneath her/him.]

You say you have, "many friends/fans among the New Times staff." How about you give me one name of someone that will vouch for you not being a curmudgeonly douchebag without the ability to appreciate great art/writing/music, let alone create it?

-[I see... we're gonna start playing the "prove it" game much like a six year old would. So if I start name dropping to satisfy your curiosity, you would believe it?

I strongly doubt that you would. The sad fact of your life is that like most people in it, I don't have to prove anything to you. Sorry- simple as that.

As for your career critique, how drunk and lonely were you when you wrote this? Since I make a living selling my art, and I still have a rather nice roof over my head, I must be doing something right, no matter what you would like to believe.

Now, in relation to your attempt at insulting me, it's better to be a douche bag than a windbag, my bloated non-artistic brother. Nice to know that when given an opportunity to debate, you take the much easier (and less intelligent) low road. And yes, I am aware of the hypocrisy of stating that right after I made a fat joke.]

Actually, I'd love to hear the name of a local band -- the "musician buds" that you're "hanging with" -- that'd vouch for you?

- [In my case, you could start with Sha Pink, Laura Sowosko (whose album I shot), or The Complainiacs. I am curious as to why I must have someone "vouch" for me in order to curry the favor of a gasbag that I don't respect, like, or obviously fear in any way, shape or form. BTW, where are the musicians who would vouch for you? At least my article had people defending me and my POV. Where are your musician buds, Marty?]

I can't imagine anyone thinks I'm either a fawning sycophant or a failed musician -- I don't really fawn over anyone much and I haven't played any instrument since 8th grade -- but, hey, who knows what your "buds" think!

- [Actually, this IS true! Most of your detractors seem to think you're an idiot who should write for his high school paper- I strongly disagree. You're not good enough to do that yet. As I once said in my blog ( http://www,waynemichaelreich.com ) on the subject of critics: "They are legless men who teach running." I was speaking generally of course, since you look like someone who can't find his lap, much less run one.

The only people in this town who give a rat's ass what you think are the good folks at Krispy Kreme, Marty. And you know it.

Basically, what I'm saying is that you should lay off the donuts before all that fat and sugar causes you to have a stroke and shuts down half your brain..

But on the up side, it would improve your writing.

Respectfully,Wayne Michael Reichhttp://www.waynemichaelreich.c...

Phoenix New Times
Phoenix New Times

Wayne,

I'm fairly certain you have no idea who my editor is.

You say you have, "many friends/fans among the New Times staff." How about you give me one name of someone that will vouch for you not being a curmudgeonly douchebag without the ability to appreciate great art/writing/music, let alone create it?

Actually, I'd love to hear the name of a local band -- the "musician buds" that you're "hanging with" -- that'd vouch for you?

I can't imagine anyone thinks I'm either a fawning sycophant or a failed musician -- I don't really fawn over anyone much and I haven't played any instrument since 8th grade -- but, hey, who knows what your "buds" think!

 
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