Best Valley Music Legend 2013 | Hans Olson | Bars & Clubs | Phoenix

Hans Olson arrived in Phoenix from San Bernadino, California, in the late '60s, not long after many of the town's musical rising stars — like Alice Cooper and Mike Condello — had departed for bigger cities. With self-deprecating wit, the guitarist, songwriter, and blues harp-blower says there was no one else around to keep him from becoming the city's biggest musical name. Since that time, Olson has shared stages with Muddy Waters, offered Tom Waits a couch to crash on when the hobo-like singer bummed into town in the '70s, and helped open the Sun Club, which would become instrumental in launching acts like the Gin Blossoms. Olson himself has kept busy recording, too: His 2013 album, Dust to Dust, simmers with a distilled variation of the blues energy he's put to tape since arriving in Phoenix. It's a record that sounds very "Phoenix," from a man who's furthered the legacy of his adopted hometown.

God, we love this job. It seems obvious now that there's an online history of greater Phoenix gay bars (other than our Facebook friends list), but we never thought about it before. Inspired by a random remark at a party a couple of years ago, we were able to confirm, at, not only that what is now Apollo's Lounge (and has been since 1985) was a gay bar even before that, but also when (in the 1970s, if not earlier) and what it was called (Mr. Fat Fingers and, later, Tommy and Clyde's "cruise 'n' boozery"). It matters not what a tacky old dump a place might be when it's a beloved neighborhood fixture like this, where you can visit with buddies on the patio, enjoy bingo, drag shows, dance nights, and special events, and give thanks for barkeeps with a generous pour.

When your parents were just gleams in your grandparents' eyes, Phoenix had few venues for popular music concerts. (This was also when pop encompassed just about every genre.) There was the Coliseum, Sun Devil Stadium, the original Compton Terrace (eventually), and, since 1963, Celebrity Theatre, which was — and still is — the classy hall with the rotating stage.

The legroom for the 2,650 seats is based on stumpy midcentury Arizonans, but no one's ever more than 70 feet away from the entertainment. Jerry Riopelle still plays the Celebrity every New Year's Eve, a tradition he started in 1974. And you never know what's up next (we also saw Michael Moore there in 2004 and KC & the Sunshine Band a bit before that), but at this point, it's safe to say it'll probably be retro or adult contemporary music, comedy, martial arts, or something on the urban side.

Courtesy of Don & Charlie's

Back in the good ol' days of baseball, players could be alarmingly fat, surprisingly skinny, and just about everything in between and still be considered professional athletes — not the 'roided-up monsters of the past 15 years. And it's these men whose deeds are enshrined at Don & Charlie's, the 32-year-old steak house in Scottsdale. It's more or less the Valley's own version of baseball's Hall of Fame. Countless pieces of memorabilia (autographed baseballs, autographed pictures, baseball cards, etc.) line the walls of a place ballplayers and broadcasters frequented back when spring training was a more casual affair, not the cottage industry it's become. Tradition is the name of the game here, and the food reflects the old-school vibe — 28-day-aged steaks, chops, ribs, prime rib, burgers, and retro cocktails. If you're the sort who yearns for the Golden Age of baseball, when guys like Mays, Banks, and Williams were swinging the lumber, step up to the plate at this paean to simpler times.

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