In a business known for short-lived triumphs, few would've thought local impresario Charles Levy could've captured lightning twice. After the original Nita's was sold, restyled as a hard-core club called the Heat, then reverted back to its old name without success, it seemed unlikely that even Levy's Midas touch could galvanize the club's sagging fortunes. But sure enough, under his… More >>
Without the clink of glasses, the click of pool balls or the clatter of conversation, the alcohol- and game-free Modified has proved itself as the most unique and hospitable place for watching live entertainment. Whether it's obscure indie bands, performance artists or even the occasional straight-ahead rocker, anyone who performs here raves about the rapt attention Modified patrons lavish on… More >>
Grunge, neo-punk reggae and rock-rap have done nothing to propagate the species once known as "guitar hero." In an age where you can flip an audience the bird to tumultuous applause, it's no wonder new musicians don't get better acquainted with their instruments.
That's why Big Blue Couch's science-fiction band bio, which claims the group was cryogenically frozen in 1969… More >>
Think of a "guitar hero" and the image usually involves the over-the-top wankings of some limey with six-string phallus in hand, offering up trite "ROCK 'N' ROLL FOREVER!" proclamations. But the Valley's premier axman, Greg Simmons, has taken the road less extroverted to the top. A shy, sensitive sort offstage, Simmons becomes a reluctant firebrand when he straps on his… More >>
It must be 10 years and holding for Carvin Jones and his familiar visage, ever grinning back at us from the local club ads. Ten years of wearing that black gaucho hat. Ten years with that heavy, solid-body Stratocaster slung over his back. Whew, just think of the pattern baldness and irreparable spinal damage this pose would cause someone who… More >>
Some sound guys have been doing it so long that they've completely fried their main asset -- those things hanging from both sides of their head that used to be for listening. You tell them what you want and think they understand, but they just nod up and down like that for everyone. Congratulations, you and your band are on… More >>
The corporate side of the music world biz ain't all bad. If you doubt it, check out Virgin Megastore, located in the Arizona Mills mall. With its sweeping space, angular racks, neon accents, in-store coffee house and multiple listening stations, you can spend hours browsing nearly anything ever heard or seen on any music chart anywhere in the world.
In addition… More >>
What do country singer Lefty Frizzell, jazzman Bill Evans and octogenarian crooner Perry Como all have in common? They have obscenely oversize multi-CD boxed sets dedicated to their work! Furthermore, all of them -- along with those of hundreds of others -- can be found for a reasonable price at the Valley's best outlet for new and used discs, CDGB's.
The… More >>
Only once in rock history did a drummer have the gall to insist on having his riser 10 feet in front of the rest of the band, and that was Gary Lewis, a guy who didn't sneeze in a recording studio without a session drummer wiping his nose.
If ever a trapsman truly merited an unobstructed view from the stands,… More >>
Don't believe those who tell you that used record stores are a thing of the past because of online auctions. Your computer might offer the most convenient shopping hours (24/7), but nothing replicates the fun of searching through bins, trying out a rare album and buying it -- all on the same day! Without shipping charges or the need to… More >>
The masters are here -- Monk. Armstrong. Holiday. Young. Ellington. Davis. Mingus. Rollins. Basie. Fitzgerald.
So are all the "new" kids on the block -- Osby. Redman. Moran. Wilson. Hunter. Medeski. Lovano. Scofield. Marsalis. Watts.
You'll find a ton of stuff by these giants of jazz at this superstore, and at a competitive price. So what if they spell tenor… More >>
Thanks to the evils of the "smooth jazz" radio format that's caught on around here like a dreaded disease, too many folks equate the slicked-up stuff done by the likes of the Antichrist -- a.k.a. Kenny G -- as "jazz." All the while, wonderfully inventive and prolific musicians such as James Carter, Cyrus Chestnut, Patricia Barber and Joe Lovano are… More >>
Despite the outdated façade and the less than, um, stellar location -- right off a bleak stretch of Van Buren, abutting a women's correctional facility -- the Celebrity Theatre continues to be the best spot to view the entire musical spectrum up close and personal. After all, where else in town can you get an equally good view of Belinda… More >>
Best Record Store Staffed by Overeducated Underachievers
Remember High Fidelity, the Nick Hornby novel turned hit movie in which the plot revolves around the owner of an indie record store and his small staff of pop-culture professors? Well, if you didn't know better, you'd think the story was written about the malcontents working the counter at Tempe's Eastside Records. On any given day or night, Eastside's employee… More >>
A few months ago, KUPD inaugurated a new TV advertising campaign. In the ad, a crowd of rambunctious kids at a hard rock concert shouts out their devotion to KUPD, while the mother of morning DJ Dave Pratt holds a picket sign complaining that the station is too damn loud.
More than any station in town, KUPD knows its demo.… More >>
In 1993, when KEDJ debuted on the local airwaves, starting an alternative-rock radio station was a safe bet. Nirvana and Pearl Jam had shattered the old programming order, and Lollapalooza Nation was congregating every summer to celebrate the shared triumph of a new music revolution.
In 2000, Nirvana and Lollapalooza are both history, and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder is about as… More >>
By day, KJZZ is a National Public Radio affiliate, replete with talk shows and news reports. But when the sun goes down, KJZZ mutates into the Valley's premier (okay, only) source of authentic acoustic jazz, covering the gamut from legendary artists like John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie to modern torchbearers like Roy Hargrove and Wynton Marsalis. Local jazz chanteuse Blaise… More >>
Seven years ago, when KBAQ began broadcasting out of a cramped office space at Mesa Community College, local radio was caught in a classical drought. The Valley's lone classical station, KONC-106.3, had recently fallen off the commercial end of the dial to be replaced by the alt-rock ravings of KEDJ. For a few months there, the only chance you had… More >>
These days country ain't cool, and most of the blame can be placed on navel-exposing poseurs like Shania and She-Daisy, whose manufactured pop inundates the airwaves on the Valley's two country radio powerhouses. Meanwhile, true country music has remained buried, hidden way up on the AM side, usually nestled somewhere between the police band and the airport traffic station.
But… More >>
Phoenix's unlikely reputation as a hotbed for the dance and DJ genres has always tended to obscure the other side of the urban music coin, hip-hop. Part of this can be blamed on the historical lack of a progressive broadcast powerhouse to bring the music to local ears. In more recent years, Power 92 has emerged as something of a… More >>
When Ian Hunter sang "It's a mighty long way down rock 'n' roll" in 1973, he couldn't possibly have appreciated the profound insight contained in that lyric. The horrendous and brutal slides many have since taken from rock's dizzying heights to the primordial ooze of oblivion lend that line a frightening significance that makes one wonder whether Hunter and fellow… More >>
Imagine an autumn evening at an outdoor cafe. As you sip a perfectly executed cappuccino, wisps of exotic languages drift through the evening mist of the nearby lake. Seated at the concert grand piano just inside the open glass doors is world-class pianist Jian Liu, playing as if his life, and yours, depends upon his perfect execution of an intricate… More >>
Most local music aficionados have heard that the Rhythm Room is being forced to move from its central Phoenix digs by early next year. It's been nearly a decade since the onetime go-go joint turned into a house of blues, a period in which booker/co-owner Bob Corritore has continued his one-man mission to keep that music form alive in Phoenix.… More >>
Though some Valley danceaterias may be larger, newer or more glamorous, none has managed to merge aesthetics and content as well as Club Freedom at Pompeii (recently renamed, after an ownership change). From steady appearances by internationally known DJs (BT, Donald Glaude, Sasha) to regular sets from top local record spinners, this two-story Tempe hot spot is a mecca to… More >>
Like Davy Crockett and the besieged band of rebels holed up at the Alamo, the local swing contingent refuses to wave the proverbial white flag and ditch the retro craze that's been replaced by Latin dance fever. Just as neo-swing bands have seen their sales and popularity dwindle, so too has the local movement of clubs and clubgoers that once… More >>
Best Joint for BPM Junkies and Fashion-Conscious Candy Ravers
Through police-instigated turmoil and the rave scene's unfortunate media-hyped drug hysteria associations, Swell has soldiered on for the past seven years selling the records that are spun at parties and the gear that the kids sport, throwing raves (including Musik, an annual event that's arguably the year's best consistently), and releasing cassettes, vinyl and CDs by local luminaries like the… More >>
Best Live Band to See in the Middle of a Three-Day Bender
For those arguing that rock 'n' roll is truly the devil's music, they might just have the evidence they need in the form of local combo Grave Danger. It's not the band's sound -- which isn't really satanic rock, but actually a kind of surf-tinged rockabilly. Nor is it the songs -- usually sprite instrumentals or cartoonish tales of drunken… More >>