Hot and Bothered
When you think of the cutting edge of hip-hop, a flurry of names immediately springs to mind: Killah Priest, Sauce Money, Major Figgas, C-Murder, Barry Goldwater. Barry Goldwater?
It's true. Barry Goldwater III, the grandson of the late Arizona senator and presidential candidate, is poised to become a "playa" in the city's urban-music scene. Along with longtime local impresario Ty Carter, Goldwater, who heads his own event promotions company, is trumpeting the launch of a new weekly club night called "Heat." The event will be held every Wednesday at the recently renamed Freedom (formerly Pompeii).
Carter, whose previous weekly showcases included the highly successful "Vibe" night at downtown's Jackson Hole, says the new initiative has been a long time in the making. "It's been something that me and Barry have been discussing for a while," he says. "Over the last eight months, we'd been talking with the people at Pompeii about getting it going, but it wasn't until things got resolved with the new ownership that we got the go-ahead."
Carter adds he and Goldwater want to create a diverse atmosphere for hip-hop and R&B within the burgeoning East Valley scene. "For us, the ultimate goal behind it is to be able to bring people a big multicultural hip-hop night," he says.
Technically, Heat began at Freedom this past week, but the official kickoff isn't scheduled until November 8. That grand-opening celebration will feature performances from New York's legendary DJ Kid Capri (of Def Comedy Jam fame) and house turntablists Fashen and A.L. III, of Phoenix hip-hop powerhouse KKFR-FM 92.3.
Carter promises Heat will feature regular appearances from national talents. "We're going to play it as it goes," he says. "But at this point we're going to try to bring in one out-of-town act a month. And we're talking about all the top-name DJs."
Those who haven't yet ventured to the revamped Freedom will be struck by several changes at the Tempe danceteria. The club's new owners spent more than half a million dollars remodeling the venue this past fall; aside from myriad aesthetic improvements, the upgrades include the installation of a state-of-the-art Turbo Sound System imported from the U.K. (Jeez, doesn't anyone buy American?).
"It's all of that," gushes Carter. "A new sound system, all new decor, two new VIP rooms. The facilities they have there are really exciting. I think it's going to be a very strong event week to week."
Hardcore Recovery: The local music community has been pulling together for the past few weeks in support of one of its most fondly regarded denizens. Scott Moore (also known as Scotti Pierson and Scotti Hardcore), bassist for both the Piersons and Beat Angels, was involved in a near-fatal car accident during the early morning hours of October 6. The 29-year-old, who remains in intensive care, was struck by a pickup truck as he was crossing Mill Avenue in Tempe.
Although initial reports on his condition were grim, Moore appears to be making a steady, albeit slow, recovery. It's unclear how much longer he'll be forced to remain in the hospital, but Moore should be able to make a full comeback from his injuries after an extended period of physical rehabilitation.
While there has been much talk of a benefit concert to help defray Moore's medical costs, nothing official has been announced. However, look for a money-raising event before the year is out.
Complicating matters in the meantime is the fact that the Piersons were readying their third album, Last Train Down, for a joint CD-release party with the Pistoleros during the Thanksgiving holiday.
After much internal debate, the band has decided to go ahead with the release plans. However, they will not be going outside of the group to find a fill-in for Moore. Instead, they will perform as a trio with lead guitarist Jimmy Campisano switching over to bass.
The Beat Angels, the other combo Moore provided rhythm for, have canceled all their scheduled appearances. They will, however, honor their commitment to appear during the second evening of the annual Desert Trash Blast on Saturday, November 18, at Nita's Hideaway in Tempe. Former Beat Angel bassist Eric Stevens will substitute for Moore during the gig.
Hollywood Gypsies: Local eclectics the Hammertoes will soon be rubbing shoulders with La-La Land's elite. The group has landed a residency at House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, and starting this week will be performing every other Thursday in the club's VIP room -- even if they do have to wade through a sea of Hollywood Hills pretension to get there.
Front man Casey Wade says the band doesn't view the regular gig as a way to break into show business. "We just knew a girl who got a job booking the room, and she asked us," he says. "It's obviously a nice opportunity, whether we get to hang with Johnny Depp or not."
On the recording front, Wade says the group's forthcoming 11-song disc, tentatively titled Burning in Paradise, is nearly complete. "We've still got some overdubs left and some other parts we're working on with violinists and a string section," he says. "We're going to be adding a few different touches -- accordion and things like that. It's going to be a fat-sounding record."
Like the group's last long-player, 1999's I Too Have Sinned, the new album will be released through Tucson-based indie Tortuga Records, home to multimedia art rockers Spectro Sound System and Velvet-ish minimalists Loaded Hotel. "We're hoping to have it out on the label by January for a college push," adds Wade.
The Hammertoes' run of good luck started with their appearance on a sampler disc found in the March '99 issue of Pop Culture Press. Since then, the band has expanded its fan base, especially in the Bay Area, where its gypsy jazz is a favorite in clubs like Berkeley's Starry Plough and Frisco's Paradise. The group's popularity has been boosted by its frequent pairings with stylistic cousins and San Fran stalwarts The Eric McFadden Experience. "Oh yeah, they're very similar to us," enthuses Wade. "They're an older band, they've been around for a while, and it's a nice combination. [Playing with] them has been a real good way to introduce us to that audience out there."
The 'Toes have been maintaining a fairly regular local schedule, as well. They'll make their next appearance on Saturday, October 28, at Billy Gordon's in Tempe.
Ass Man: Notorious rockabilly wild man Al Foul and his backing combo the Shakes have proved to be one of the more exciting developments on the local roots circuit. In fact, Foul and company's raw retro noise has earned them a reputation as one of the most compelling live acts in Phoenix -- this despite the fact that Foul actually calls Tucson home.
Regardless of where he hangs his hat (or, in Foul's case, poufs his pompadour), the singer will be in the Valley on Halloween night to celebrate the release of his debut disc on Slim Style Records, Spank My Ass.
The band puts its vintage, reverb-drenched ethos to good work on the album, whose 10 tracks run a brief-but-burnin' 23 minutes. Backing Foul are bassist Shannon Moreno and snare 'n' brush man Joel Ford. If Moreno's name sounds familiar, it's because he's a Valley resident who also slaps the upright for his wife Heather Rae Johnson's quartet, the Moonshine Boys.
Foul explores a wide range of topics on the new disc, from morality ("Hell Bound") to domestic beer ("Milwaukee Beast") to the benefits of corporal punishment ("Spank My Ass"). Judging solely from the bloodcurdling laughter that appears on the song "All in the Name of Love," the band's Halloween gig at the Rhythm Room should be an appropriately wicked affair.
The Tuesday, October 31, bill also includes an opening set from Exit 56. The show begins at 9 p.m.
Cartwheel Keep a-Rollin': While much of this week's local focus will be on Zen Lunatic Terry Garvin's Halloween salute to underground mysterio John Wright (see page 113), the Lunatics' country alter ego, the Cartwheels, have recently been making some news of their own.
The band, in mothballs for most of the year, made a surprise appearance at a Valley fund raiser last week. The Desert Botanical Garden served as the unlikely backdrop for the combo's first performance in more than nine months.
Ironically enough, the group's protracted hiatus -- largely because of the birth of pianist/singer Jim Speros' baby girl -- came shortly after the release of its debut disc, Dang!. The 'Wheels' absence from the local scene also had something to do with the prolific recording efforts of the Lunatics and its various side projects (Dead Brains, Orangeberry). The group and its offshoots have reportedly amassed three more albums' worth of material since the release of this year's multidisc Live at the BBC series.
The Cartwheels take the stage in a much more conventional atmosphere next week as they open a Thursday, October 26, Long Wong's show for the Nitpickers.
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