When the idea was first hatched, no one could've imagined that this week's Scotti-Stock concert -- a local music extravaganza to benefit Piersons/Beat Angels bassist Scott Moore, who was involved in a near-fatal traffic accident last October -- would have taken on such a profound meaning.
Relying heavily on the charity and goodwill of merchants, club owners and artists, the event has produced what organizer Charlie Levy describes as "a really amazing sense of community."
With all the attendant hype and anticipation over the lineup (a dozen of the Valley's top acts, plus a slew of guest performers), it's been heartening that the true focus of the show -- namely, aiding Moore financially as he continues to recover -- has not been obscured. Of course, for those at all familiar with local music, that particular fact is both humorous and ironic. That Moore -- someone known for his biting wit and caustic tongue as much as his bass playing -- could engender such goodwill and unity is a pleasantly unexpected turn, as well as a testament to the deep bond that exists among Phoenix's fraternity of musicians.
In a world where success is often measured by the most trivial of yardsticks -- door receipts, record sales, radio airplay -- the efforts of those participating at Scotti-Stock are indicative of the selflessness and largess that working musicians only rarely get the opportunity to display.
On a creative level, it seems that with such an assemblage of talent in one spot, it would be almost foolish not to document the proceedings. To that end, organizers have commissioned a professional recording of the show, ostensibly for posterity's sake, but possibly for a live album release -- with proceeds again benefiting Moore. A team of cameramen from Groovy Movies, a Phoenix-based production company, will also be there to film the event. And there will be plenty of sights and sounds to capture as the bill is sure to include a bevy of surprises and moments that are decidedly of the once-in-a-lifetime nature.
Fittingly, the program will unite several generations of local talents -- from performers who began in the 1970s to those who weren't even born when their elders took the stage for the first time. Moreover, expected Scotti-Stock duets between peers like Dead Hot Workshop and the Peacemakers offer an added incentive for even casual fans to come out. Such collaborations are the kind that might have been common a decade or so ago, but that the changed and changing nature of local music -- specifically the fall of Mill Avenue as a centralized live music haven -- has rendered nearly extinct. If an event of this scope and magnitude is not to happen again, if this truly is a Viking burial for a fading era, then it seems a fitting and noble way to end it.
As a preview of the concert, we offer the following synopsis of each act slated to perform and what audiences can expect from their Scotti-Stock appearances. (As a side note, the show is an indoor/outdoor affair. Its 6 p.m. start time is also noteworthy, as the logistical nature of the concert means that bands -- even some of the bigger-name ones -- will be performing early in the evening. Organizers are advising that patrons arrive as doors open, and purchase tickets before the day of the show. The latter can be taken care of at Zia Record Exchange or www.ticketweb.com.)
Jamal Ruhe: The bassist, producer, all-around sound guru and member of something like 147 different bands (Sleepwalker, Yearofthemule and One, to name a few) is scheduled to perform a special 20-minute mini-set. Included in his acoustic showcase will be a song written about Moore titled "And the Way They Happen." Ruhe has long made a habit of collaborating with a variety of local talents, most recently with steel guitarist Jon Rauhouse and Clyde's Robin Vining as a part of the instrumental outfit Circle R. Now, Ruhe is touting a new one-off all-star project called Strategery (named after a George W. Bush malapropism) featuring himself, members of Gloritone, Loud Americans and the Pistoleros. That combo will see the light of day sometime before April, at which point Ruhe is expected to leave the Valley (permanently, he reports) for the greener pastures of New York City.
Zen Lunatics: Looks can often be deceiving, and nowhere is that axiom more true than in the case of the Zen Lunatics. The long-running, suit-wearing pop combo may look like clean-cut, normal guys, but those familiar with this troupe of Moon Valley eccentrics know they might be the strangest collection of musicians in town. Equally obsessed with Lawrence Welk and John Lennon, the band has an endless catalogue of originals and covers to choose from; you're just as likely to see the group run through infectious Lunatics anthems like "Media Sensation" or "Mack Truck Tracy" as a weird nugget like the "Theme from Maude." Last year saw the release of the band's multi-disc Live at the BBC set, plus the appearance of a pair of platters from the group's alter egos, the country combo Cartwheels and the esoteric Dead Brains -- the latter of which performs the brilliantly titled twanger "Shitfaced" and the Devo-esque "We're Gonna Kick Your Ass."
Satellite: In response to the reunion of this popular Tempe juggernaut, we can say but one thing: "Oooh yeeeaahh!" Singer Stephen Ashbrook has brought his combo out of mothballs less than a year after the group disappointed its rabid fans by disbanding. Satellite -- whose current version features Ashbrook, Paul Cardone, Mike Kellums and Freddy Gildersleeve -- played a series of high-profile shows late last year, and the group plans to continue after its appearance at Scotti-Stock. Word is the band will be heading overseas in the spring to play Europe's outdoor-festival circuit. Before that, though, bassist Cardone will be pulling double duty, filling in for Moore during the Piersons' nightcapping tribute to their injured bandmate. Joining Satellite onstage for its set will be former Sledville and current Ghetto Cowgirl singer Marc Norman, who will likely trade exhortations with Ashbrook on the Doors' "Soul Kitchen" or Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower."
Truckers on Speed: Coming off a busy 2000, the Valley alt-country combo is readying its sophomore effort with producer Clarke Rigsby. TOS expects to include a version of the Piersons' "Lightnin' Speed" on the disc, due out in mid-2001. The group frequently includes a blistering cover of the 12-bar burner in its sets and may be joined for the song at Scotti-Stock by Piersons front man Patrick Sedillo. The pop mavens of Haggis and the honky-tonk heroes of the Rustic Records collective are rumored to be prospective onstage collaborators for the Truckers' benefit showcase, as is Dead Hot Workshop/Peacemakers guitarist Steve Larson for a rough 'n' tumble reading of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)."
Gloritone: The alt-rock power trio, which recently parted ways with its RCA-affiliated label Kneeling Elephant, has become one of the more talked-about developments on the Valley scene. The group reintroduced itself to audiences over the last six months, manning a hectic performing schedule which saw the band playing an average of three nights a week -- something of a surprise for a group that's rarely appeared locally since 1998. More than two years after releasing its debut, Cup Runneth Over, Gloritone quietly surfaced on the recording front with a limited-edition release of the nine-song Before the Paint Had Dried, a stop-gap collection of demos. Buoyed by the overwhelmingly positive response to the disc, the band is completing work on a second mini-album of home-studio tracks for release this spring. As a special treat, local legend Damon Doiron (Jetzons, Jennys) is tentatively slated to appear onstage with the group for a run-through of the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer," or perhaps a Roy Orbison chestnut.
Pistoleros: Despite the clouds that appear on the cover of the Pistoleros' newly released album (and first since the band's 1997 Hollywood Records debut Hang Onto Nothing), it's been nothing but sunny skies for the group, as its eponymously titled disc has enjoyed a good critical and commercial response. The band soldiers on, playing a regular slate of club dates, even as the Zubia brothers maintain separate identities with a couple of side projects; singer Lawrence with the big-name studio collective Storyline, and guitarist Mark with the roots-rock combo Los Guys. Word is that the Pistoleros' Scotti-Stock set will include some interesting wrinkles. The band is reportedly dusting off some old Doug Hopkins-penned tracks from its days as the Chimeras. The group's set may include the anthemic "Southbound Train" and "Long Last Lonely Mile" -- neither of which have seen the light of day in close to a decade.
Grave Danger: The outlandish psychobilly trio has been a favorite of Valley audiences since debuting in earnest last year. The band's wild antics and surf-tinged rock have also earned it a growing national reputation; the group's West Coast trip in November drew a legion of California converts. There's been no early indication on exactly what audiences can expect from Grave Danger's Scotti-Stock bow (except for a confirmed appearance from Nitpicker Dave Insley). Regardless, it's likely to be unusual. To wit, the group's New Year's Eve show at the Arizona Roadhouse, which saw Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman strap on a guitar and jam along with the band. Whether audiences will witness another high-profile turn remains to be seen, but rest assured, Grave Danger's bound to do something memorable and -- as its notorious reputation might lead you to believe -- destructive.
Gas Giants: Singer Robin Wilson is no stranger to onstage collaborations, as those who saw the November release party for his animated concept album The Poppin' Wheelies -- featuring a cast of local luminaries -- can confirm. The Gas Giants have been busy as of late working at their Mayberry Studios to record a follow-up to '99's From Beyond the Backburner.
For the upcoming Nita's show, Wilson confirms that Beat Angel Brian Smith will join the band for a version of Cheap Trick's "Surrender," and possibly Alice Cooper's "Clones," while other Valley bigwigs (including members of the Peacemakers and Dead Hot) may also take turns sharing the stage. Wilson's former bandmate Scott Johnson will likely appear for run-throughs of a couple of old Gin Blossoms favorites also.
Beat Angels: There will be plenty of punk 'n' pop on tap when the Valley's arbiters of trash rawk, the Beat Angels, hit the boards. The group was preparing to record its third disc (and first since 1997's Red Badge of Discourage) when bassist Moore met with his tragic accident; the band did finish a recording of "Terminal Love" with Moore for a tribute album dedicated to U.K. punkers the Boys. At Scotti-Stock, former Beat Angel bassist Kevin Pate will fill in for Moore, who joined the group in 1998, replacing Eric Stevens. Those expected to appear with the band include Sonic Thrills shouter Jim Monarch -- joining the Angels for the Heartbreakers anthem "Chinese Rocks" -- among other Phoenix punk notables.
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers: The Peacemakers have kept a relatively low profile since late last fall. The band, which spent much of the past 18 months on the road, has settled back into its Valley home base, as singer-songwriter Roger Clyne has been busy working on material for the eagerly anticipated follow-up to the group's 1999 debut Honky Tonk Union. Meanwhile, guitarist Steve Larson has been busy with the Dead Hot Workshop reunion and his own solo acoustic endeavors, while Scott Johnson has been an in-demand sideman, recently laying down tracks for honky-tonker Mark Insley's new album. Bassist Danny White has been working on a more technical front, setting up high-end recording equipment in his north Phoenix home (featuring a console from London's famed Trident Studios). Clyne reports that the Peacemakers will enter White's home studio in late spring to begin work on the new album. In the meantime, rumor is the band will pull out one or two rarely heard numbers from the old Refreshments catalogue for its Scotti-Stock appearance. And just as Clyne may turn up at various points in the show with other acts (including Dead Hot Workshop and the Gas Giants), expect members of those groups to do the same during the Peacemakers set.
Dead Hot Workshop: Having won raves for a quartet of winter shows featuring its classic lineup, Dead Hot is expected to go back on an indefinite hiatus after participating in this charity event. But those who've missed the shows may have some hope yet, as the band has been recording all its "comeback" concerts for a possible live release. As for its Scotti-Stock set, Dead Hot will continue with its reunion tour m.o. and mine a rich vein of classics from its songbook, such as "Crackerbox" and "Cadillac Rhythms." And though it's a slim chance, former One chanteuse (and soon to be solo recording artist) Shamsi Ruhe may make it into town from her NYC home to guest with Dead Hot on the group's much-beloved duet of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams."
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The Piersons: In what will surely be the most poignant hour of the evening, an augmented version of the Piersons will take the stage for a special Scotti-Stock tribute set. Bassist Paul Cardone, Beat Angels guitarist Michael Brooks, drummer Tony Chadwick and singer Patti Sedillo will work through a special set of originals and covers dedicated to Moore. Offering help will be Sonic Thrills axman and former Pierson Michael "Johnny" Walker, who will break out his silver sparkle Gretsch for workouts of "Wasted" and "Pink Dress."
Original Piersons guitarist Doug Nichols, late of San Francisco alt-poppers Vegas De Milo, will be there to take fans back to the band's early days of Replacements-inspired noise. Nichols returned to the Valley in November for the Piersons release party for Last Train Down, briefly joining Sedillo to sing "Here Comes a Regular." Expect Nichols to take the stage again on the Mats classic or to grab the microphone to perform the band's old-school crowd pleaser "Candy Girl."
Scotti-Stock, featuring performances from Dead Hot Workshop, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Pistoleros, Gas Giants, Gloritone, Grave Danger, the Piersons, Beat Angels, Satellite, Zen Lunatics, Truckers on Speed, Jamal Ruhe, and special guests, is scheduled for Saturday, January 20, at Nita's Hideaway in Tempe. Showtime is 6 p.m.