In what could prove to be either a groundbreaking stroke of genius or a decision of such vicious stupidity that a certain local power-pop band could get drawn and quartered by pickup trucks in Apache Junction, Evening Star has booked the Beat Angels to open for the Scorpions and Alice Cooper at Compton Terrace on June 23. Reached at home, Angels singer Brian Smith said he was too busy learning the lyrics to "Shout at the Devil" to comment at length. "I expect a hail of Budweiser bottles," he said. "Anything less will be a disappointment." Meanwhile, Beat Angels guitarists Keith Jackson and Michael "Rudolf Schenker is my idol" Brooks are rumored to be head-bang-testing longhair wigs and putting in serious mirror time on their poseur-guitar-god stage moves.
In related news, Evening Star also announced that local gangsta rappers the Weirdoz would open for Garth Brooks on June 5 at America West Arena, and that the Tempe hard-core punk band Since I Was 6 was signed on to warm up the crowd for Tori Amos on July 2 at Symphony Hall.
Continuing with our tales of weirdness as usual in the world of Valley music, we come upon a small print line in the schedule of acts for Nita's Hideaway--"Moris Tepper, Fri. May 24." Tom Waits fans (or Captain Beefheart fans, if there are any still around who haven't crisped their brains beyond the point of basic reading comprehension) probably perked up at that last sentence. Yeah, that Moris Tepper. The longtime guitarist for Don Van Vliet (Beefheart) and Waits, two of the most brilliant eccentrics in rock history. Tepper's out on his own now--his solo debut Big Enough to Disappear was released in February. It's a killer recording that, I dare say, eclipses many efforts by his former employers. Think of a weirder, ballsier John Mellencamp. Tepper's takes on shattered love hit you right where it hurts so good, especially on his album's opening cut, "Can't Stop Cryin'," an emotionally desolate tale of a ruined romantic. The gravel-voiced singer/songwriter employs adventurous instrumentation on the recording and (according to some friends of mine in New York) in his live shows, he uses tubas, mandolins, bagpipes and accordions for a maverick vibe that reflects both Beefheart and Waits but doesn't come off contrived. An accomplished acoustic and electric guitarist, Tepper is also out of this world on the banjo. Right now, he's about four months into his first tour in support of Big Enough. He and his band recently sold out the Bottom Line club in New York City, the House of Blues in L.A. and the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle. Now's your chance to see him in a cowboy dive bar turned modern rock venue that holds about 200. Only in the Valley.
Gotta throw out props and a fat, happy-birthday wish to local rock historian and founding father of the Valley music scene John "Johnny D" Dixon, who celebrated his 50th on May 15 with a nostalgia-soaked soiree at the Rockin' Horse in Scottsdale. Local blues hero Chico Chism is scheduled to perform on the prestigious Petrillo main stage of this year's Chicago Blues Fest on Friday, May 31, as part of a Howlin' Wolf tribute (former Phoenician Francine Reed headlines that stage the next night). KJZZ-FM (91.5) will prerecord both performances and broadcast them on Sunday, June 2, during Those Lowdown Blues (6 to 11 p.m.).
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Deadline for submissions to the Macintosh New York Music Festival (formerly the New Music Seminar) is June 1. Call 212-679-6377 for pertinent info.--David Holthouse