If you happen to miss the Free Street Band's sidewalk performances outside Carly's Bistro at Second Street and Roosevelt during First Friday in downtown Phoenix, don't worry. You can also catch the marching musical group at the corner of Garfield and Third Street, or McKinley and Fourth, or even... Well, you get the point. Like local rockers the MadCaPs, the pipe-and-drum trio stays on the move during the monthly art walk (except they're on foot instead of the back of a pickup truck), bringing their wailing brand of music to the masses. Led by abstract painter and bass drummer Joe Axton, this kilt-clad quintet of aging hippies also includes a bagpiper, snare drummer, bodrhán player, and bass player who perform such standards as "Scotland the Brave" or anti-war favorites like John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" all over the Evans-Churchill neighborhood. Unlike the MadCaPs, who always seemed to be getting tailed by the cops, we're betting the fuzz won't bother with these guys. Just try to catch them — The Free Street Band doesn't even have a MySpace page. Leave word at collins.fowler@cox.net.

BEST BAND WHO USE MOM'S POTS AND PANS

Tent/City

When we were young, the sounds of mom's clinking pots and pans signaled chow time was coming right up. Those clanks never held any musical value. But maybe they should have.

That's why we dig the creative mini-geniuses John Ryan Nelson, James Fella, Ashlea Hohm, Marla Thyer, and James Roemer of local sensation Tent/City, who incorporate objects such as saucepans and kitchen cutlery into their atmospheric sound. The playing of these "instruments" is only part of the ensemble's full sound. Live gigs normally feature one 20-plus-minute composition, where several members sample live sounds from woodwind instruments or human vox, which are then thrown into a digital sound processor to create ambient loops. These sound collages are played while the sextet are huddled under some sort of makeshift tent structure, such as a PVC pipe assemblage with colorful streamers, a pillow fort with blankets and sheets for the roof, or inside a camping tent on the Grand Avenue sidewalk.

If you can't catch this wonderful circus in person, recordings of these performances are available for purchase at www.gilgongorecords.com/tentcity.html.

BEST LOCAL BAND TO GET SOME NATIONAL RECOGNITION

Psychostick

How did the nation get hit over the head with humor-core metal band Psychostick? Was it because of the chicken-head hats and cow costumes? The smarmy back-and-forth banter with fans? The tours and shows with folks like Bobaflex, Indorphine, Army of Anyone, and Three Days Grace?

Well, those things are all well and good, but the two things that really put Psychostick at the forefront of Phoenix bands were 1) Having fans that play in bigger bands, and 2) That damn "Beer!!" song that they're probably sick of playing already.

When Psychostick's debut, We
Couldn't Think of a Title
(Rock Ridge) came out late last year, members of L.A. metal band Otep — specifically bassist eViL j and singer Otep Shamaya — started singing the praises of the wacky quartet, steering thousands of Otep's fans to Psychostick's music. Then, XM Satellite Radio station Squizz 48 put "Beer!!" in heavy rotation, and the song dominated the No. 1 spot on the station's top-10 countdown for seven consecutive weeks. The video for the song then popped up on Web sites like Ebaumsworld.com and Collegehumor.com, forcing Psychostick to identify as "the band that does that 'Beer!!' song." We can't wait to see what their next accidental hit is going to be.

BEST PLACE TO SEE AWESOME ROCK 'N' ROLL MEMORABILIA

Alice Cooper'stown

Alice Cooperstown
Phoenix's resident shock-rocker is a relic himself, so it's no surprise that a man who's spent more than 41 years recording and touring would accumulate enough rock memorabilia to fill the walls of his restaurant from floor to ceiling. Not only are several of Cooper's own platinum records displayed, but he's got shiny signed platters from dozens of other music legends hanging around, as well as signed guitars galore from the likes of the Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, Dave Matthews Band, Ozzy Osbourne, Santana, and the Rolling Stones.

For a while, there was a mounted boar's head hanging on the wall, courtesy of caveman rocker Ted Nugent. There are also numerous signed photos, set lists, and even signatures all over the walls outside the bathrooms. Clearly, Cooper's got friends in high places. Unfortunately, none of the memorabilia is for sale, but it's all there for the looking. And if your wallet does get antsy sitting in your pocket while you're scarfing down the restaurant's award-winning barbecue, Cooper's got a merchandise stand near the entrance, where you can buy all sorts of Cooper gear, from baseball jerseys to shot glasses.

Hi-Liter Lounge
The Hi-Liter is the "old reliable" of Valley flesh palaces. Largely, the eye-candy is young, friendly, and well worth ogling. The strippers tend not to be quite as aggressive when it comes to soliciting lap dances as in other spots. A delightful song-length dalliance (uh, with your clothes on, of course) will cost you only $10, and almost any tip is appreciated. The bouncers are actually helpful, as long as you're behaving yourself. And you can download a coupon from the bar's Web site that'll get you through the door gratis.

What else could you ask for? Well, you didn't ask for it, but here's a little history: The Hi-Liter's been in business in one form or another since 1962; it was a piano bar before it went go-go in the '70s. And, oddly, it had a hand in the creation of what eventually became Hustler magazine. According to Larry Flynt, who explains it all in his autobiography An Unseemly Man, it was while scouting strip clubs in Phoenix back in the day that he spotted a copy of the still-extant freebie adult newspaper Bachelor's Beat. Flynt's Dayton, Ohio, franchise of this PHX pub eventually morphed into Hustler, which now has its offices in a big, black building in Beverly Hills. Class dismissed. So Hi-Liter has another claim to fame other than being an awesome chichi bar, and one of the many places Mike Tyson's flipped out at while living in Sand Land.

Half Moon Sports Grill
Never has a little butt-crack been so sexy. Seriously. You'll literally see what we're talking about when you check out a Lunar Party at Half Moon Sports Grill. Once a month, women of all ages compete for the distinction of being a calendar girl of the month, which grants winning contestants a complimentary professional sports photography shoot and wall space for a large-format black-and-white image.

The catch? Winners gotta show a little booty, or just enough to expose their half moon. Our favorite calendar girl pinups include women shooting hoops, lining up a bull's-eye shot with a bow and arrow, fiercely smashing a tennis ball over the net, and walloping a volleyball in midair. Drink specials include $2 Pyramid hefeweizens and bargain-basement deals on Skyy vodka cocktails. For once, crack won't kill ya.

Tempe's newest swanky dance club places a premium on a Scottsdale-slick ambiance, sexy red lighting, cherry-infused libations and bikini babes. Yep, you heard it right, bikini gals who slide and grind on a pole inside of a cage. Drool. The space dedicates 3,000 square feet to loungy areas where patrons can ogle beautiful women and 7,000 square feet for booty-shaking, meeting, and mingling. Power hour every evening features $1 Bud Light bottles and black cherry vodka specialties. During each last Thursday of the month, sip on complimentary champagne and learn how to pole dance for free. A tip for newbie visitors: Don't let the faux queue outside the club fool you. One of the club's gimmicks is to make the place look like it's overly hoppin' so that you'll come inside. We can't really blame them, because it's obvious that the Pit is the place to be.

BEST PLACE TO MINGLE WITH WNBA PLAYERS

Majerle's

Majerle's Sports Grill
This sports bar, established by former Phoenix Sun Dan Majerle, has a prime spot across the street from U.S. Airways Center, making it the perfect postgame drinking hole for basketball fans and players alike. And while a handful of NBA players have made appearances there, it's the WNBA ballers — particularly our Phoenix Mercury — who make a regular habit of hanging out and mingling after games. Mercury guard Diana Taurasi holds fundraisers for community charities there, with fellow Mercury players like Cappie Pondexter, Penny Taylor, and Tangela Smith.

Sometimes she brings out players from other teams in the league, like her good friends Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson of the Seattle Storm. Fans come out to shake hands and take pictures with the players, who're very accessible and not at all secretive about their favorite watering spot. In fact, after the Mercury's last game of the regular season in 2007 (a victory over the visiting Sacramento Monarchs), Taurasi did an on-court interview following the game and announced to the whole arena, "Now we celebrate with some drinks at Majerle's!"

BEST PLACE FOR A SCOTCH AND A BASEBALL GAME

The Club Lounge

We've always liked the cozy, dark richness of the Club Lounge at Phoenix's grandest hotel. But it's only now, with the state's smoking ban in full effect, that cigars are strictly verboten and we find ourselves loving the place. With its big TVs turned to the big game and a clientele that includes the kind of guys who might be playing in tomorrow's doubleheader, it's that rarest of combinations: A sports bar that isn't loud, with a great scotch list that never feels snooty.
Marc's Sports Grill & Nightlife
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat come in many forms at this West Valley drinking spot. Throngs of sports nuts gather around the 25 different televisions to witness all manner of games and events, from die-hard football fanatics checking out every single NFL contest going down on any given Sunday to motorheads cheering on their NASCAR heroes as they round the track at Daytona. Other sporting events, from motocross to snowboarding, also get plenty of play on the boob tubes here. In the meantime, pool sharks get their fill on the joint's five billiards tables (with free pool daily from 2 to 4 p.m.), while poker pros can try their luck on Wednesdays with no-limit Texas hold 'em all night. Ping-pong and beer pong are another big draw with free paddle action going down on Sunday nights and all day on Mondays and Tuesdays. Wanna get some action? Head for Marc's, bub.

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