BEST CLUB FOR NEW BLUES AND ROCKABILLY

The Blooze

Blooze Bar
Situated in a strip mall on the northeast side, The Blooze may not look like much, but once you walk in and get a feel for the place, you appreciate the kicked-back atmosphere. On weekends, local blues and rockabilly bands like Jailhouse Poets, The Dynoglides, Maricopa County Prison Band, and Shadowcasters set up on the modest stage and rock the joint, while patrons enjoy $1.25 domestic drafts. Occasionally, an out-of-town band like Cali's Brian Jay & The Last Call Boys will play the club, too, and since The Blooze is so hot on cars (they broadcast every NASCAR race), they welcome car enthusiasts — vintage vehicle clubs like Glendale's The Invaders are frequent visitors.
The same scrubs behind the defunct Emerald Lounge are trying to make a go of it with their recent purchase of this downtown bar. It's a slippery game they're playing — trying to be all shadowy and underground and indie, without forcing it. Authenticity cannot be faked, but the Ruby Roomers must be doing something right because their club is starting to catch on with local bands and DJs. Every time we've been there, the place is riddled with local musicians, checking out their peers' work or showing their musician pals some support. With a crowd like that, we'll be keeping our eye on this spot for sure.
Mesa Arts Center
It takes more than a glitzy exterior for a venue to be fly. It's what's inside that counts. That's why the stunning Mesa Arts Center, arguably one of the most stylish arts spots in the Southwest, places a premium on programming happening events like Sound in the Ground. The bimonthly Thursday-evening series plugs the opening of exhibits in the Mesa Contemporary Arts galleries by bringing in local musical acts that represent the displayed shows. Because the art lives on the edgier side, the musicians — ranging from high-energy rock/funk group Attack of the Giant Squid to Terminal 11's electronica freak-out — are geared toward the experimental and improvisational. The larger ensembles perform outside on the spacious courtyard while eclectic DJs entertain folks queuing at the wine and beer cash bar inside. That old racket about Mesa shutting down after sunset just isn't true when SinG is in full effect, cuz the party goes off 'til midnight.
Club Mardi Gras & VooDoo Lounge
While Long Wong's may have gone to the great music scene in the sky after getting the bulldozer treatment a few years back, the spirit of the legendary Tempe rock 'n' roll bar lives on at Club Mardi Gras & VooDoo Lounge. Hang out at this raucous roadhouse in south Scottsdale and it'll feel like you've been transported back to the glory days of Mill Avenue, as many a local music scenester from the mid-'90s onward grabs some stage time here. Every Wednesday, brothers Brent and Kylie Babb unleash their brand of experimental pop-rock followed by a weekly gig by Dave Speed of Truckers on Speed. On Sundays, see The Zen Lunatics holding a weekly "Rockaraoke Night," in which they perform live-band karaoke. Steve Larson and Dead Hot Workshop have frequented the place, as have former Long Wong's favorites The Sand Rubies, and Greyhound Soul. Now if only Roger Clyne would reform The Refreshments and stop by for a couple renditions of "Banditos," we could die happy.

BEST PLACE TO CATCH LOCAL MUSIC SCENE NEWBIES

Trunk Space

The Trunk Space
Your newest band just spent the past few weeks in mom and dad's garage rehearsing like crazy — and making the folks equally so — and now a location is needed to unleash your indie efforts upon the world (and we don't mean a street corner during First Fridays). Unfortunately, until you've got more of a refined sound and serious following, the Marquee is out of the question (or Modified Arts for that matter), so we recommend ringing up the Trunk Space, where owners JRC and Stephanie Carrico have something of a yen for embryonic musical outfits such as yours.

In the past year alone, the Grand Avenue art gallery and performance venue has given up debut gigs for some of the newest bands the Valley music scene has birthed, such as folk-pop guitar and cello duo Jon Gake, shoe-gazing rockers A Technicolor Yawn, the experimental sounds of Glochids, the acoustic pop quartet Foot Ox, and the psychedelic roots band Iji. Who knows, Steph and JRC may even let you hawk your band's homemade CD-Rs at their joint. Just be sure to give a cut to your parents to cover their migraine meds.

Jugheads
Dubbing itself "Arizona's Underground Hip-Hop Movement," Southwest RapStock is the brainchild of Sassy, a west-side promoter and vice president of local label Topp Notch Records. The monthly RapStock event is the culmination of Topp Notch's weekly "Hip-Hop Thursdays" event at J-heads, which packs dozens of Valley MCs onto the stage in a single night (always the first Thursday of the month). Each rapper performs about two songs, hoping to impress the crowd and potential talent scouts who may have dropped in unannounced. Local artists like Influence, Fetti Profoun, Big Yo, Loc Dawg, BobKatt, Thee Originals, The Hood Cartel, Candilicious, Golden, and J-Slugg have all honed their skills at RapStock, and the event just keeps getting bigger. Promoters are currently booking acts for the 12th RapStock show, and competition is getting fiercer, as the event has drawn the attention of Cali acts like G-Bundle and JT the Bigga Figga.
Blues Alley Hidden House
DJ Al Page is P-town's impresario of hip-hop. Since starting The Shop back in 2001 because no one was playing the true hip-hop he wanted to hear, the funky pool hall — the Hidden House, at Seventh Avenue and Osborn Road — where it all goes down has become the place for outstanding underground and above-ground DJs to flex their skills on the wheels of steel, and for old- and new-school heads to appreciate same. Friday nights are for Page's Friday Night Live spectaculars, featuring any number of MCs and DJs doing their thing. On Saturdays, resident she-jays Robyn and KGB rock the house, keeping it funky, fresh and as ill as an AZ rattlesnake. Also, you never know when Page himself will step to the decks and start mixing classics from a pre-nose-job Michael Jackson or Marvin Gaye with joints from Blackalicious or The Roots. Without Page, the PHX would largely be left with top-40 hip-hop nights sans soul or authenticity. We just hope the playa doesn't get a hair up his ass and move to Denver, San Diego, or some such shit. As long as he keeps spinnin', we'll keep attendin', drink in hand.
Bruno Mali's Cafe & Gift
It's a fact of life in our overworked, career-driven climate that Mondays are usually not fun days. If the days of the week had to go to high school, Monday would be the socially inept kid with headgear and zits. But here in Phoenix, there's a killer little club that has given that day a new lease on life. At Bruno Mali's (the club right next door to the Hidden House), they party it up with "A Foreign Affair," a weekly Monday DJ night. Turns out, there are plenty of downtown kids who are singing a tune other than "I Don't Like Mondays," because the place is usually packed with attractive twentysomethings, ready to get down and dirty. This dark hole in the wall is decked out from floor to ceiling with paintings by local artists. If that's your thing, you'll surely dig Monday nights because among the spinning beats and dancing, there's usually an artist on hand, painting or drawing live.
If you happen to be a weekday worker, Wednesday nights usually mean dinner and TV at home. If you really want to punch it up, maybe you watch your latest Netflix and stay up past 10 p.m. Sexy.

We recommend ditching your midweek rut to get funky. "Groove Candy" at the Door in Tempe has been going strong for over a year and has managed to hook in loads of folks looking to drink, dance, and get a little wild. The small club, decked out in posters of pin-up girls, fills up quick and stays bumping right through to last call, surely making for some tough Thursday mornings at the office.

We're thinking that everyone should ditch their typical Wednesday routine for Groove Candy. After all, a dry hump on the dance floor seems the perfect way to wrap up a hump day.

BEST PLACE TO HUMP BLOWUP GODZILLA DOLLS

A NunZilla show

Valley punk band NunZilla knows how to bring out the party animal in people. At any given show — from gigs at Casa Blanca Lounge to the Zombie Ball performance at The Sets in Tempe to their early shows at Hollywood Alley in Mesa — the members of NunZilla encourage audiences to get hammered (Sister Kenyattasaurus Rex once poured her whiskey down some dude's throat) and act the fool. And the best tools for fools are kids' toys, particularly giant, blow-up Godzilla dolls. NunZilla's got three of 'em at every show. They're supposed to be props, but they become plastic whores, as audience members ride them around mosh pits and hump them for drunken photos. Some people get quite attached — at one show, one very ardent fan grabbed a Godzilla, proclaimed it as his date, and waltzed off with it to God-knows-where and to do God-knows-what, a direction violation of the "Thou Shalt Not Steal" commandment. Let's hope the Nunz don't start showing up with giant rulers at shows to start rapping our knuckles.

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