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 July 30-August 3.
Switching on the Grateful Dead channel this week on satellite radio (yes, I have it preprogrammed) and wondering if there would be anything special happening for what would have been Jerry Garcia's 70th birthday (yes, I know that too), it was pretty much business as usual--just one of the hundred or versions of "Cold Rain and Snow" floating in the Grateful Dead universe.
But that got me thinking. There is no need to do something special for Garcia when in fact it's pretty special that a band like the Dead can have its own radio station. It confirms the viability of the band long after its founder, lead guitarist and central figure died. Drummer Mickey Hart, in a promo spot for the station said something to the effect of "it's Grateful Dead 24/7. Who'd have thought that could ever happen?"
Indeed, but no band has ever had the following or influence of the Grateful Dead--an influence still impacting and shaping bands today. In the course of reporting on music for nearly 30 years, dozens of bands have expressed to me the profound influence the Grateful Dead have had on its sound.
The desert is the perfect place for heavy metal to spawn: desolate, hot, seemingly devoid of life, save for the plants and critters that spit poison or are encased in thorny flesh.
Yet Valley of the Sun's healthy metal scene just can't seem to get the attention it truly deserves. What the hell is with that? Because contrary to popular belief, metalheads need lovin' too.
Yes, yes: We can proudly state that this fair state has helped spawn such acts as Job for a Cowboy, Flotsam and Jetsam, Sacred Reich, and Megadeth. We even have ties to Metallica and Slayer. But when it comes to heavy bands that dominate the underground scene, unearthing the great ones takes a little more dedication to show-hopping.
If there was one thing that was surprising at the Kelly Clarkson show at US Airways Center last week, it wasn't that Clarkson looked smoking hot as she wore a flattering, form-fitting dress. It was that she was the opener for The Fray.
Yes, you read right -- Miss Clarkson performed before The Fray on their co-headlining tour, and the acts have been switching spots all tour. Considering Clarkson has probably the most beautiful voice in America, that fact was just blasphemous. The tour should have never been put together this way -- instead, Clarkson should have sold out Comerica Theatre like she's used to, and The Fray would have been better at a smaller venue such as Marquee Theatre.
But alas, Clarkson hopped on-stage after first act Carolina Liar, singing her way through nearly an hour-and-a-half of her hits on what is her Stronger tour. Her voice was the show, which was a little disappointing considering the show was in an arena.
Local "punkgrass" combo The Haymarket Squares isn't afraid to ruffle feathers. The band's 2010 record Dancing in the Streets features divisive songs like "Bullet Catcher" and "I Hate This City."
It also features a jingle-istic ditty called "Sheriff Joe." The band debuted a new video for the song on Tuesday, July 31.
"I wrote the song back in 2009," explains mandolin player Mark Sunman. "Lyrically, I wanted to inform people about Joe Arpaio and why he's bad for all people of all races. Musically, I was going for something kind of old TV western style, maybe even a little 'hokey', but also going along with The Haymarket Square's punkgrass style. I crammed as much information as a could in two verses and a chorus and called it done. We played the song at bars and protests and put it on our second album, Dancing in the Streets, in 2010. I made I made the video for several reasons, mostly selfish: Arpaio is in the news again lately and I want to be a part of his demise."
Filmed in part at the Cronkite School in 2009, the video captures a spirited protest, and adds footage culled from Google and Facebook, featuring Joe in all his foot-in-mouth glory.
--Jason P. Woodbury
In last week's issue, we spoke with Alice Cooper about the 40th anniversary of his signature ode to teenage rebellion, "School's Out."
"I've never had a song or heard of any song that's had as much impact on kids," Cooper says. "That song is everybody's national anthem. From presidents of the United States to movie stars to guys you would look at in an airport and think were the furthest thing away from rock 'n' roll, they would come up to me and go, ''School's Out' got me through school.'"
Of course, fans of Cooper's syndicated radio show Nights With Alice Cooper know the man likes to talk, so we ran up with more than we could fit into this week's feature. So read on for our collection of Alice Cooper "outtakes."
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