BEST SPORTS BAR, SCOTTSDALE 2006 | Fox Sports Grill | People & Places | Phoenix
Ever since we've been in the Valley, friends have been telling us about this great sports bar or that cool sports bar. It seems that everybody's got a favorite sports bar like everyone's got a favorite college football team. But most of these joints smell like beer and piss and have patrons who're butt-ugly and need a bath. A lot of those so-called bars even have little ol' TVs where you can barely make out who's just scored that touchdown or hit that three-pointer. So when we first entered Fox Sports Grill, we though we'd died and gone to sports bar heaven. The place is immaculate, a virtual shrine to sports, exotic cocktails and hot babes. If your team is winning, you can glue yourself to one of the giant screens that can be seen from any vantage point. (We like sitting at the gigantic, rectangular bar, but you can reserve a table if you desire a more intimate setting.) But if your team is losing, you can eyeball all the hot gals who are usually there only to pick up on studly, sports-loving dudes. The women at Fox actually seem to love being stared at. What a perfect place! There should be a man rule that if a woman enters a sports bar, she must enjoy the leering of horny males. The thing is, most of the women we observed at Fox were bored shitless by the games, but they were certainly more than willing to strike up a conversation if a guy's willing to buy them a Manhattan Iced Tea or three. A couple of them were even willing to join us in the parking lot. (Calm down, mom, we're just kidding.) On any special occasion say, Super Bowl Sunday or game seven of the NBA Finals fuhgedaboutit! Unless you reserve months in advance, you'll have to shoehorn into the place. But even standing around streets-of-Hong Kong-style at Fox is a trip you'll enjoy taking. Like we say, the drinks are plentiful, the scenery's tremendous, and the games are on, baby! Oh, and if you're looking for bar food that doesn't bite back, Fox has among the best in the sports bar business.
You've still got to pay five bucks to park there, but at least you don't have to fight downtown Phoenix traffic. There are other benefits to seeing national acts at the Marquee, too. The venue often hosts bands just before they blow up big (H.I.M., The Darkness), so it's a great place to catch "the next big thing" before they're too big for you to afford tickets to their arena shows the following year. And there are no "nosebleed seats" at the Marquee. With a capacity of around 1,000, you've got more than an ant's chance of actually seeing the performers without the aid of a big projection screen. And the venue books a wide range of hot national acts in the past year, Marquee Theatre's hosted shows by everyone from hip-hop act Jurassic 5 to old-school punks Social Distortion to Jack White's red-hot new band, The Raconteurs. Makes it worth the price of admission plus the five bucks to park.


Art Resource Center

Macram? Macra you, buddy. We know your dirty little secret. You've got a big ol' stash of fabric, beads, clay, yarn, paint, paper and whatnot, and you were going to make all kinds of fabulous things someday. Hey, buying craft supplies is supposed to motivate you, right? Well, when you've faced reality (or at least your bulging closet door), donate the goods to the Art Resource Center, which funnels art and craft supplies to schools and other nonprofits. (It'll take money, too.) Sherrie Zeitlin founded the center in 2004 when she was an artist-in-residence at Valley schools and saw firsthand how badly the supplies are needed. You'll feel virtuous knowing that other folks are expressing themselves creatively with your recycled stuff. And once you've dismissed your inner Martha Stewart and her grandiose decorative schemes, you'll have better feng shui in your head as well as in your home.
Jamie Peachey
There's an age-old stereotype that artists are nocturnal creatures, immersed in their craft 'til morning and sleeping the day away. Not the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed creative cats in The Breakfast Club, an artist group founded in 2003 by Beth Ames Swartz, Heidi Hesse, and Jon Haddock that meets bi-monthly at a Scottsdale restaurant of the same name. More than 30 artists, working in mediums ranging from gestural paintings and encaustics to resin figures and politically charged mixed-media pieces, gather for morning grub, java, and conversations about the creative process while sharing their artistic victories and challenges with one another. Individually, their work has been featured in the Valley's best-known venues, including the Phoenix Art Museum, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, the Shemer Art Center, and eye lounge, as well as New York's PaceWildenstein Gallery, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, South Korea. In April, the Club presented its first group exhibition at Scottsdale's Cattle Track Gallery, and instead of serving the traditional wine and cheese, breakfast was prepared and dished out by the artists. The group meets on Sundays, and membership is open to new attendees. Bon apptit.
There aren't many great music venues left in the Valley. Many have closed or become so run-down that you have to bring a can of Mace with you just to get out of the parking lot safely. The Clubhouse Music Venue is one major exception. It's got a relatively clean, spacious location, with matte black walls and a portable stage. Plenty of patrons sport Mohawks and sleeves of ink, but there are also minors (confined in the front, away from the bar), college students and thirtysomethings taking the edge off with a cold beer and some heavy metal. Headliners like Presidents of the United States of America and Brit rockers Kasabian have played the Clubhouse, along with local favorites Stereotyperider and The Necronauts. Technically, the venue accommodates 640, and depending on the band, it can be completely jammed. It's standing room only, unless you're lucky enough to find a seat at the bar.
Bob Corritore's blues juke joint has won this award before, and, to be honest, we really tried to find a topper this year. But with blues legends like Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, and Louisiana Red playing regular gigs in this cozy club, we just can't stay away. Some artists like Johnny Rawls, Asylum Street Spankers, and Candye Kane play exclusively at the Rhythm Room every time they're in town. Local legends like Hans Olson, Sistah Blue, Chico Chism, and Big Pete Pearson regularly rock the stage as well, and Corritore himself can often be seen blowing a blistering blues harp onstage. Throw in the colorful regulars, the stiff drinks, the smoking patio, and the Rack Shack BBQ stand out back, and you've got everything needed for the best balls-out blues night in Phoenix.



We've heard whisperings lately amongst art scenesters that First Friday isn't what it used to be, especially in the Evans-Churchill neighborhood (home to Roosevelt Row). These catty kooks claim the downtown district from where the monthly art walk sprang more than a decade ago has become too gentrified and overpriced, with all the hipper happenings going down over on Grand Avenue. Guess these naysayers haven't stopped by .anti_space yet, as the newest location of Scot McKenzie and Justin McBee's art space transmogrifies into a crazy-ass countercultural carnival every First Friday. Not only does their concrete bunker house two chic boutiques and four gonzo galleries, it's also the site of plenty of outlandish and enjoyable antics. Madcap mixed-media installations are erected each month (like an enormous Newton's Cradle made with bowling balls or a gigantic gas-powered blender used to obliterate watermelons and piatas), while McKenzie or other local DJs work the wheels of steel on the sidewalk, and friends jet around on screwy-looking modified bikes. We're pretty sure you'll never get bored here.
Courtesy of Handlebar-J
The Herndon family has owned this landmark institution since 1975, when the late Brick Herndon and his wife, Gwen, sold almost everything they had to purchase the place where Gwen had worked as a waitress for eight years. Over the past 30 years, the family's turned Handlebar-J into the country capital of Phoenix, with the Herndon Brothers band (led by Gwen's sons, Ron and Ray) playing Wednesdays through Saturdays. Guest performers who've graced the stage include Jessi Colter, Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams Jr., Toby Keith, Vince Gill, and Lyle Lovett. Getting ahold of the big country stars isn't hard for Handlebar-J, considering that Ray Herndon is a well-known Nashville recording artist who's played with Lovett's band for years. Handlebar-J has awesome steaks, too, but the best thing about the place is the unpretentious atmosphere. As one patron put it, "You don't have to be country to come in here, but you might be a little country when you leave."


Tilt Gallery

We had just become accustomed to tromping around Grand Avenue in the dark when galleries began opening off Grand. Don't be afraid of this one Tilt really is just barely off Grand; you can almost see it from the main drag. Look for the bright pink walls. We love to hang at Tilt on Third Fridays, the best time to really see the art at any of the galleries on Roosevelt Row or Grand, given that the First Friday crush usually allows for people-watching and not much else. Third Fridays are for arty types, and Tilt, quickly becoming known as one of the best photography galleries in town, knows that usually the artist or artists are on hand to discuss their work or mingle with the crowd that hangs on Tilt's patio to sip wine and hear live music. Viewing hours beyond that are by appointment only, so mark your calendar accordingly.
Why has the Blunt Club nabbed this award three years in a row? Because we just couldn't help it; there was no alternative. Blunt Club's arsenal of awesome includes a crew of P-town's hottest hip-hop DJs, including residents Mr. Hyder, Tricky T, Pickster One (Vinyl Rockers, Drunken Immortals), and DJ Daddy Rich (3rd Bass); stellar national underground guest acts like Tee Double, Radioinactive, and J. Boogie; and local rap artist Emerg McVay, a host who can spit it with the best. With all those aces, the Blunt Club's got a winning hip-hop hand that's hard to beat.

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