The first weekend in March is always special in the Valley. The weather is warmer, and the anticipation of spring is in the air. It’s also festival season, filled with food, art, and of course, music. Your choices this weekend seem endless — always a good problem to have.
Now in its 17th year, M3F (formerly McDowell Mountain Music Festival) is still my favorite springtime festival. It offers a wide mix of not-so-mainstream music, and it's the largest nonprofit music festival in Arizona. Proceeds go toward many Arizona-based charities, including the Phoenix Children’s Hospital music therapy program.
M3F also gives plenty of love to our local independent music community. This weekend, you can check out the rock stylings of Wyves, the jam collective Scattered Melodies, synthpop duo SLWLY, disco sounds from Kharachi, and Flagstaff-based The Canaries. M3F goes from Friday, March 6, through Sunday, March 8, at Margaret T. Hance Park, located at 67 West Culver Street. Tickets are still available on the event's website.
If you’re going to stick to the fantastic First Friday festivities (say that five times fast) around M3F, Paz Cantina would be a great stop. You can grab some dinner while The Irie entertain patrons with their chill reggae sound from 6 to 10 p.m. They just released their EP Coming Down and are currently touring the Southwest, so it’s nice when they come back home for an evening for a free show. Paz Cantina is located at 330 East Roosevelt Street.
If festivals aren't for you, Pho Cao in Scottsdale has some First Friday fun planned with its Friday Night Live series. Thrash-pop band Carol Pacey and the Honeyshakers, Steve Mak, rock trio Five Dollar Milkshake, and queer rockers The Pubes are all taking the stage that night. This free show begins at 8 p.m. Pho Cao is located at 7436 East McDowell Road in Scottsdale.