Shamsi Ruhe, vocalist for long-lamented Tempe alt-rockers One, has spent much of the new year basking in the attentive glow of several record labels. Ruhe is reportedly in final negotiations with Palm Records, an imprint of Rykodisc. The eclectic chanteuse has been living in New York for the last few years, where she's become a Village club favorite, performing with a combo that includes former One bassist Shahzad Ismaily. Some might also remember her short-lived Valley project, Niner. That group also featured members of One, including her brother and local stalwart Jamal Ruhe.
The singer was brought to the attention of Ryko owner and Island Records (U2, Bob Marley) founder Chris Blackwell by Timothy White, Billboard editor in chief. White has been a longtime champion of One and Ruhe, and it's been his high-profile support combined with Ruhe's disarming vocal ability that's drawn the eyes and ears of label suits in the Big Apple.
Ruhe has remained inactive on the studio front since One's 1997 disc, Long Road Home, an album written and recorded for release by Mercury Records before it was scrapped and buried in their vaults, the victim of executive turnover. If and when she does ink a deal to begin recording, Ruhe will have some 50 songs to choose from for her debut. Stay tuned.
Big Shot in Cowtown: A few weeks back, Bash & Pop did a roll call of locals attending this week's South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. One of the late additions to that roster is alt-rock outfit Big Shot Allstar. The group has been invited to the dance courtesy of their label, Mammoth Records, and will perform as part of its showcase at the Waterloo Brewing Company on March 17 at 1 a.m. (Yes, clubs do stay open real late in the Lone Star State.)
Formed about 18 months ago, Big Shot Allstar has already succeeded in doing something increasingly difficult for Valley bands -- gaining local airplay. The attention granted their song "Colorized" along with their 1999 EP, Smile, helped land them a deal with the North Carolina-based quasi-indie. The Mammoth imprint has served as a home for a cadre of big-name nationals, including the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Juliana Hatfield and "stoner rock" torchbearers Fu Manchu, which will play the set immediately preceding Big Shot's SXSW bow. After completing their Austin jaunt, Big Shot will return home to continue working on new material as they prepare for a trip to the studio to record their full-length debut.
Latest Trip: Bombshelter crew member and noted turntablist Z-Trip is making his much-anticipated return to the grind of weekly performing -- sort of. The Z-Tripper will be launching the appetizingly titled "Funky Cornbread" night at Nita's Hideaway in Tempe every Tuesday beginning March 21. The set will feature regular appearances by resident DJs Tige and Tricky T. Z-Trip will inaugurate the series of shows and then make return appearances as his schedule permits.
Long at the vanguard of the local scratch-and-dance scene, Z-Trip views the opportunity to re-establish a weekly showcase for a diverse range of dance and hip-hop music almost as a duty. He and fellow Bombshelter spinner DJ Radar pulled the plug on their weekly sets at the Green Room in January.
"The reason Radar and I decided to stop doing a regular thing was it had gotten to a point where our schedules made it difficult to be tied down to one place every single week," says Z-Trip. "But I still feel like I want to at least start something back up along those same lines, even if I'm not involved with it every week."
Z-Trip is also using the platform as a way to introduce new talent to the stage and engage in a bit of DJ alchemy. "Yeah, it is kind of like that," agrees Trip, "because I've never seen Tricky T and Tige work together. But in my head I envisioned it as a good match, so it will be interesting to see how it breaks down."
Z-Trip -- who's maintained one kind of local club residency or another for five years -- including a two-and-half-year run at the original Nita's -- says getting a progressive vibe going will be the key to recapturing an audience.
"It's always important to create a good atmosphere in the club. To get it to where it makes people want to check out something new. Hopefully, it'll be on the same tip as what we tried to do at Nita's before."
Look for a full-length feature on Z-Trip, including a more in-depth look at his activities with the Funky Cornbread showcase, in next week's New Times.
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Funky Cornbread featuring DJs Z-Trip, Tricky T and Tige will perform every Tuesday beginning March 21 at Nita's Hideaway in Tempe.
The Long and Winding Road: Like many residents of this sprawling desert metropolis, I invariably spend most of the year bitching and moaning about the bands and artists that regularly seem to take a pass at playing our fair city, usually jumping straight from Texas to the left coast. The one period when that seems to be untrue is during March and the inevitable bum rush of acts that pass through town on their way to, or back from, Austin's South by Southwest festival. To wit, this week's concert calendar, which includes Mason Jar appearances by Frank Black and the Catholics, and Nashville Pussy, a Green Room effort from Bay Area pop-punks Mr. T Experience and the Groovie Ghoulies, and a rare set from indie-rock godheads Sebadoh at Boston's. Of those fine musical bills of fare, the best may be a St. Paddy's show at Tempe's Cannery Row. Headlining the set -- and also on their way back from SXSW -- will be Junk Records artists -- and Portland natives -- the Weaklings. Local punk provocateurs the Daggers fill the middle slot, with the Used Needles to open. Of note, the Daggers' set should be heavy on material from their forthcoming full-length Lock Up Your Daughters. The record is set for an April 22 release date, and, as always, we will keep you posted. -- Bob Mehr
The Weaklings are scheduled to perform on Friday, March 17, at Cannery Row in Tempe, with the Daggers, and Used Needles. Showtime is 9:30 p.m.
Contact Bob Mehr at his online address: firstname.lastname@example.org