Top Phoenix Music Stories of the Week
The news waits for no one -- at least that's what we read somewhere -- so it's perfectly understandable that you, the reader, might have missed out on a musical tidbit, breaking news about your favorite venue, or one of our rants.
So enjoy this digest-style sampling of some of our biggest stories from the week of November 26-30.
Psy's Gangnam Style is now the most-viewed YouTube video ever, and as we go to press Monday morning that means it's been watched coming up on 830 million times. That means that the single biggest pop culture event of 2012--the video you're most likely to talk about with your grandma at Christmas--was, as I predicted back in 2011, an LMFAO-soundalike dance-pop track performed entirely in Korean and wrapped around a novelty horse-dance.
The particulars of every cultural phenomenon are different; Psy's as good an example of that as we're likely to get. But behind his success there has to be something that can be dissected, generalized, and exploited, or at least that's what I'm going to tell you if you send a message to my "Web 2.0 New Media Social Trend Analysis Analyst" LinkedIn profile. So what makes a billion-view video? What's the formula? So far as I can tell, there are two options: The Gangnam and the Bieber.
Bret Michaels is known nationally for his big hits and the big hair he sported as the singer of glam rock band Poison. More recently, his reality TV appearances on VH1's Rock of Love, and The Apprentice, have brought him to the attention of people who couldn't sing a single lyric from "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."
Michaels has made Scottsdale his home base since then, and when he suffered a brain subarachnoid hemorrhage and it was discovered he had a hole in his heart (you'd never guess, considering how nice he was to some of the most annoying contestants on Rock of Love) and the doctors at nearby St. Joesph's Barrows Neurological Institute saved his life. Since then the singer has been a part of numerous charity and fundraising events including his Life Rocks Foundation Super Concert and Charity Auction that will take place Saturday, December 1, at Celebrity Theatre.
"Life out of context is living ungodly," Ms. Lauryn Hill sings in "Black Rage," the new song she's named her 2012 tour after.
Built over a jazzy interpolation of the Sound of Music's "My Favorite Things," the song is heavy, exploring the brutal and checkered history of Black America: "Two-thirds a person," "rapings," "beatings," "victims of violence both psyche and body." It's the centerpiece of her show, an important moment that underscores that Hill has never been into the idea of easy lyricism, and that she isn't afraid to approach uncomfortable, but important, topics. So when she finished the song to a sea of whoops and cheers, she must have wondered if the message was lost on the audience, and a sea of cellphone camera flash. "What did I just say?" she queried.
"Listen," she commanded. Then she recited the lyrics. Sans music, alone at the mic, the spotlight shining down in the darkened round of Celebrity Theatre. "Try if you must," she bellowed, "but you can't have my soul."
--Jason P. Woodbury
Roger Gearhart has plenty of memories of many of the country music greats who performed at the renowned local country joint Graham Central Station over the decades. "George Straight performed at Graham's once, so did Johnny Cash, Hank Jr., and also Willie Nelson," says Gearhart, the president of Graham Brothers Entertainment, which is based in Texas and operated the venue. "Gosh, everyone seemed to play there."
Sadly, memories of country and western greats like the Red-Headed Stranger or the Man in Black taking the stage at Graham Centreal Station will soon be all that's left of the landmark local club as it shut its doors recently after more than 30 years in existence.
According to Gearhart, the Tempe nightspot closed on November 17 due to a downturn in business.
"We've got 6,000 songs to do, so let's get with it."
Rush bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee might have been joking, but something about his hyperbolic statement, made early in a nearly three-hour set by the legendary prog rock band rang completely true. Most 44-year-old bands are content to plot out a greatest hits set, maybe sneaking in a new tune here and there. Not Lee, drummer Neil Peart, and guitarist Alex Lifeson. The band's set was filled with deep cuts, extended solos, and a good chunk of the band's new sci-fi/steampunk record, Clockwork Angels.
The trio's shows are big productions, including elaborate lights and intricate videos (starring Jay Baruchel and the members of Rush as Three Stooges-like gnomes), and featuring, on this tour, a full string section.
--Jason P. Woodbury
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.