Music News

1997 New Times Music Awards Showcase

Modern Rock

Rusty Jones
Note: Jazz-informed beatnik rock, with a monster sax player, deep bass grooves and intensely poetic lyrics via front man G. DeVoe.

Quote: "We love to fly, and it shows."--Garrett DeVoe
BTW: Rusty Jones goes through drummers like Spinal Tap, and the resulting long gaps between live shows have made this band one of the Valley scene's best-kept secrets.

The Sport Model
Note: Big, fast, brash guitar rock with just enough sheen to skid the Sport Model shy of the punk category. Think the Stooges mated with Blur.

Quote: "We're definitely not a shorts-and-baseball-hat kind of band."--Jason Garcia, rhythm guitarist

BTW: This band's members dress like Oasis, but there's no doubt they could take the Gallagher brothers in an alley fight.

Note: Beck. Primus. Beastie Boys. LSD. Honeybucket. The Music Awards selection committee mentally tossed a coin to decide whether to put this band's acid-laced jam rock in modern rock or funked-up. Honeybucket is competitive in either lineup.

Quote: "Teachers were yelling at me to stop using profanities, and the vice principal jumped in to break up the pit. He got nailed."--lead singer Justin Palicki on Honeybucket's first gig, a lunchtime show at Dobson High, where the band formed

Releases: Blue Lite Specialists (1996)
BTW: Honeybucket took its name from a Seattle Port-a-Potty company.

Chronic Future
Note: Aggressive, frequently political guitar rock with iridescent tinges of suburban skater punk and white-boy hip-hop. A highly marketable sound. This band is poised to go national.

Quote: "I bought a pair of Sheriff Joe's [Arpaio] pink boxers just so I could rub my ass on his name."--Ben Collins, guitarist

Releases: Chronic Future (1996)
BTW: This band's average age was 14.5 when its single "Scottsdale" strafed the airwaves last winter with 56 spins a week on The Edge (KEDJ-FM 106.3).

Jesus Chrysler Supercar
Note: Hard-edged, guitar riff rock with pretty, grunge/pop vocal stylings.
Quote: "Everywhere we go, people think we're a Christian band. But the real savior is Lee Iacocca, who rescued Chrysler from a fiery corporate death."--Mitch Steele, lead singer

Releases: Latterday Speedwagon (1997); Supercar EP (1995)
BTW: This band helped a mob dismantle a Plymouth Reliant station wagon with sledgehammers at the Latterday Speedwagon release party this winter.

Club DJs

Markus Schulz
Note: Resident DJ at the Works in Scottsdale. Co-founder of Plastik Productions. High-demand remix wizard with several dance-chart hits to his credit. Spins progressive house.

Quote: "This whole DJ-as-artist thing doesn't get as much respect as it should. When most people think of DJs, they think of some guy with a drink in his hand, spinning records at a bar mitzvah."--Markus Schulz

BTW: Schulz's most recent success story (co-written w/Plastik's C.L. McSpadden) is a reshaping of the Madonna single "Love Don't Live Here Anymore."

Peter "Supermix" Salaz
Note: Resident DJ at the Red Monkey (Saturday nights at the Riverbottom Lounge). Co-founder of the legendary Valley underground club Chupa. Spins house music in all its flavors.

Quote: "I come from the days of dodging bullets in the backyard. It was like, 'Drive-by, get down!' You don't have that problem at raves."--Pete Salaz

BTW: Salaz is also one half of the DJ team "Direct Force," with fellow Chupa founder Eddie Amador.

Kevin Brown
Note: Resident DJ at the Cage in Scottsdale. His sets are heavy with trance, but Brown spins all over the electronic landscape.

BTW: Brown is formerly of People Forever.

R.C. Lair
Note: Resident DJ at Utopia. New Times Best of Phoenix '96 pick for "Best Rave DJ."

Quote: "Phat enough for ya?"--R.C. Lair
Releases: Velociraptronic (1997)
BTW: Lair's a Canadian transplant who runs his own rave-card graphic design company.

Note: Resident DJ at Jetz. Recently picked by URB magazine as one of America's top 100 rising-star turntable artists. Spins primarily hip-hop and breakbeat.

Quote: We'll let Rolling Stone speak for him. From the April 3, 1997, review of a recent DJ compilation album: "Every DJ battle must have its winner, and on Return of the DJ, Vol. II, it's Z-Trip's "Rock Star." By mixing Public Enemy and Run-D.M.C. with Black Sabbath, AC/DC and Van Halen, Z-Trip hands rock its own head on a vinyl platter. And--like any good DJ--conjures a brave new sound out of the remains."

Releases: Several local releases on Swell and Bomb labels. Major-release debut on Moonshine Records forthcoming.

BTW: One of Z-Trip's new tricks is to beat mix without a mixer--just by laying hands (well, fingertips) on the actual records in an incredible demonstration of dexterity.


Hans Olson
Note: Olson's an O.B.--Original Bluesman. He first came to Phoenix in 1969 and is now an icon in the Valley blues scene. Olson plays ominous, witchy folk blues stirred by his strong, gravelly voice and eerie, vibrato harmonica technique.

Quote: "If you just play the blues, it's like you're a priest and you live in poverty. You're respected for keeping the tradition alive, but you never get ahead."--Hans Olson

Releases: Arizona (1997) is the most recent among many.
BTW: Hans used to hang out with Tom Waits in L.A., back in the day.

Big Pete Pearson and the Blues Sevilles
Note: Everything about Pete Pearson is big: his nickname, his physique, his voice, and his traditional, Texas blues sound. Live, this guy holds nothing back.

Quote: "Chicago blues has a boogie beat, but I'm more of an urban blues, like late '40s, early '50s. It's got more of an upbeat shuffle."--Big Pete Pearson

BTW: Pete also cooks a mean barbecue.

Patti Williams and Delerious
Note: A blues diva with a three-and-a-half-octave range, Patti has one foot in the church and the other in the nightclub--she's Saturday night and Sunday morning in one package. She also has exquisite taste in clothes and back-up bands.

Quote: "I like to relax and go with the vibes I pick up from the audience. That's what I thrive on."--Patti Williams

P.S. Williams learned to sing by listening to her grandmother's Mahalia Jackson records.

Hoodoo Kings
Note: The Hoodoo Kings are the bad boys of Phoenix blues. These guys play '50s blues like they do their hair: big and greasy.

Quote: Good luck--front man Dave Trippy's stage patter is auction-barker fast.

Releases: One Foot in the Groove (1995)
BTW: "Hoodoo" is Deep South speak for voodoo and other witchy stuff. As in, if a hoodoo woman gives you the evil eye, you best get your mojo workin'.

Sistah Blues
Note: This six-piece band is all women, and when they cook, it's onstage--with good-vibe, highly danceable modern blues. Sistah Blue is the fastest-rising star in the Valley blues scene.

Quote: "[Harp player] Rochelle Raya's body and soul goes into every 'blow,' which keeps her audience alive with her natural movin' & groovin' eccentric enthusiasm." [From Sistah Blue's promotions kit]

BTW: Last fall, Sistah Blue took second in the 13th annual International Blues Talent Competition in Memphis, Tennessee.


Know Qwestion
Note: KQ's twin guns are intricate, clever brag-rap word play layered over evolutionary beats. Producer P-Body Scott's unconventional use of strings, xylophone and original bass samples is exquisite.

Quotes: "See, you cannot like Mike Tyson, you might say his voice is funny, or laugh at his big ol', snaggly toothed ass, but I'll bet you don't say shit about his boxing, 'cause he's knocking fools out."--MC Cash

"That's what we're doing. You can say we think we're all pretty, or we're money-hungry, but you can't say shit about the way we rap, and everybody knows that."--MC Cappuccino

Releases: Conversation and Public Speaking (1996)
BTW: Exceptional freestylists able to spin wide, wild webs of spontaneous street poetry, Cash and Cappuccino have egos to match their talent.

Negro League
Note: No-frills East Coast-style beats and rhymes. This is stripped-down, hard-core rap 101.

Quote: "We're tight, and we come at you hard. That's all we need to say, 'cause that's all you need to know.--Negro League motto

BTW: Negro League's declared patron saint is the Method Man.

Note: Shindiggs is one half of the recently defunct veteran Valley hip-hop act Brothers Grimm (DLB) paired with vocalist Killtone, doing a more singsongy, West Coast-flavored and--let's be honest--commercial sound.

Quote: "This camp is a self-contained unit, from song concept to recording, to the finished production."--DLB

BTW: DLB recently produced the single "Don't Stop Shakin'" for the Southsyde Boyz on LaFace Records.


Note: Hard-hitting tribal/industrial with acoustic percussion and a judicious yet powerful use of deep-toned guitars.

Quote: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is on television."--Lucius Warbaby, lead singer

BTW: New Times industrial critic Frank Smith recently nailed the Godless sound as "apocalyptic rock for a Mad Max world."

Note: Machine-gun sequencers and live drumming lay a mile-deep foundation for towering infernos of guitar, billowing, monstrous vocals and just enough science-fiction-film samples to situate this band firmly in the cyber-realm.

Quote: "N17 will jump out of the CD player and kill you in your seat."--Trevor Askew, lead singer

Signed: Yes. SlipDisc Records.
Releases: Trust No One (1995)
BTW: This band's live show is best measured in megatons.

Note: Nihil's strength is a raw, warm, live industrial guitar sound--sometimes sweeping and lonely, others chunky and vicious, always yoked to a relentless, deeply physical BEAT.

Quote: "Nihil creates harsh soundscapes that freeze in a dark moist corner with naked emotions."--Scott Crowley, singer-guitarist

Releases: Drown (1996)
P.S. Formerly a one-man studio display of guitar and programming wizardry, Nihil is starting to mount a formidable live assault.

Country & Western/Americana

The Burnlackers
Note: Down-home folk-rock five piece with acoustic/electric guitars and a female lead vocalist.

Quote: "We're not country enough to play in country bars, and we're not rock enough for most other clubs. We're just stuck in this weird limbo somewhere between, but that's where we like to play."--Brad Cloch, guitarist

BTW: What the hell is a Burnlacker? Not even Cloch knows. "It just sounded tough."

Earl C. Whitehead and the Grevious Angels
Note: The Angels play quasi-country--the sort of slightly twisted two-step sound that results when lifelong rock 'n' rollers fall head over spurs for roots country.

Quote: "Country music today is so far from its roots. Everything now is straightahead rock beats. It's because people line dance to that kind of music. It's what sells. We don't do that."--Russell Sepulveda, lead singer

Releases: Angels and Inbreds (1995)
BTW: Sepulveda's stage persona, Earl C. Whitehead, is a tribute to his late grandfather.

The Ronnie Dye Band
Note: Foot-stompin', cry-in-your-Budweiser country that rides the range from mellow to rowdy and worships the holy trinity of Dwight Yoakam, Keith Whitley and Randy Travis.

Quote: "The main thing people don't know about me is I'm a dedicated family man. I have four kids and they come before anything and anyone."--Ronnie Dye

BTW: Dye is the celebrity spokesmodel for Perryman Western Wear. Check out his fashion layouts in KNIX Country Spirit.

Suicide Kings
Note: The song titles say it all: "Hard Luck and Heroin," "I've Seen the Light at the End of the Bottle," "Even Hookers Say Goodbye." Hank Williams country for the millennial transition, this band's got a visceral kick.

Quote: "That simple, old music has always hit a stark note with me."--Bruce Cannole, lead singer

BTW: This band's country cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass" somehow makes perfect sense.


Freudian Slip
Note: Pack-a-wallop funk/metal laced with thick harmonies and odd-time meters. Alice in Chains meets 311 meets Helmet. This trio's muscular rendition of "Carol of the Bells" is a favorite Yuletime spin on hard-rock station KDKB-FM 93.3.

Quote: "Everyone in the band has a split personality. We're all mellow, laid-back guys in person but when you get us onstage, we lose control."--Christian Henry, lead singer/guitarist

Releases: Involuntary Pelvic Contractions (1997); Freudian Slip (1996)
BTW: Henry is a sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserves, stationed in Phoenix.

Note: Super hard-core with funk and hip-hop in the mix.
Quote: "Everything in Oil is as cool as the other side of the pillow."--Anthony Mclain, lead guitarist

Releases: Lubrication for Your Mind (1996)
BTW: In January, Oil was ranked No. 8 on the Top 10 AZ bands list compiled by Zia records. Last month, it was No. 5.

Note: Agro rock with accessible melodies. Think Deftones, Korn and Tool.
Quote: "Being in this band is kind of like having three girlfriends, but you don't get the sex thing. You eat together and you get the arguments, but that's about it."--David DeVere, lead singer

Releases: One Ounce Short (1996)
BTW: Trudge also has a Web page ( DeVere swears he will answer all e-mail, "especially if it's erotic in nature."

Zig Zag Black
Note: After its original lead guitarist died three years ago, this veteran Valley rock juggernaut took some time off, then came back strong with a second album of more precise, melodic material that trades in the sledgehammer for a scalpel.

Quote: "Our ambition became to quit buying beers and start selling records."--Mark Morrell, guitarist

Releases: Dose (1996) and Zig Zag Black (1993)
BTW: The vixen on the cover of Dose is described in the liner notes as, well, "a sexy love chicken." Larry Flynt would be thrilled.


Note: This three piece does the loud, melodic emo (short for "emotional") punk thing kids seem to dig so much these days, accented by sudden speed shifts.

Quote: "We are not pretentious. We are Bullyrag."--band mantra
P.S. The New Times standards and practices department heaved a sigh of relief when this band recently changed its name to Bullyrag from "Fucking Thunder."

Mad At 'Em
Note: Grrl-dominated (three XX chromosomed members, one XY) p-rock foursome that plays catchy, estrogen-fueled pop-punk tunes.

Quote: "We have a message for Slugger: You guys better be ready to slug it out at the award showcase."--Kim Smith, lead guitarist

Releases: Debut seven-inch due out this summer.
BTW: Mad At 'Em songs concentrate on "important women's issues," like how hard X-Girl clothing sucks.

Note: Three guys, one grrl who kick out brooding punk dirges laced with static guitar leads. Lead vocalist Yolanda Bejarano's piercing, emotive wail will break hearts along with eardrums.

Quote: "We're all about crushing bands like Mad At 'Em. We hate 'em."--Yolanda Bejarano

Releases: "Girl" b/w "Fixerupper" seven-inch (1997)
BTW: This feud is serious. At a recent show, Slugger challenged Mad At 'Em to a mud-wrestling charity event in Hayden Square between sets.


Straight Up
Note: Booty-shakin' blend of '70s funk, Tex-Mex and Sanchera-style dance music, with bilingual Rick James covers and a tightly choreographed stage show.

Quote: "We're hard to categorize because we're sort of a bilingual crossover-type band. I don't think anyone knew exactly what category to throw us in."--Mary Hurtado, co-lead vocalist (Editor's note: She is correct.)

BTW: Straight Up's members are 10-year veterans of the Valley club scene.

Barrio Latino
Note: This group's dance music is all over the floor, from America covers to salsa to regional Mexican folk and contemporary Latin pop.

Quote: "We know over 250 songs. Whatever you want to hear, we can play."--Andy Gonzales, bass and vocals

BTW: Signature cover: Kool and the Gang's "Get Down On It."

Note: Quick Spanish brushup: "Caliente" means "hot." This salsa sextet also plays everything from ballads to dance tunes, traditional Latin to modern Tex-Mex.

Quote: "We play because we like to, not because we have to make a living at it. It shows onstage. We have a lot of fun."--Jesus Jaramillo, keyboards/vocals

Releases: Feel the Heat (Siente el Calore) (1996)
P.S. Four of this band's six members are originally from Nogales, Mexico.


Grant Man and Island Beat
Note: Warm and soulful, Grant Man and his band play authentic, earnest roots reggae in the key of Jah.

Quote: "Let love be at the forefront of all."--band motto
BTW: Man was born and raised in Liberia.

Kongo Shock
Note: Bottom-heavy punk/ska with the traditional elements of upright bass, trombone and trumpet.

Quote: "We're just five average guys playing above-average music."--Micah Huerta, trombonist

BTW: None of the members of Kongo Shock has a day job.

Walt Richardson and Morning Star
Note: White-sand-and-coconut-oil blend of Caribbean reggae and Latin pop, with echoes of African world beat.

Quote: "I feel like the music is medicine. It's a holistic experience for audience and performer alike--definitely a shared thing."--Walt Richardson, lead vocalist

BTW: Richardson often performs acoustic sets around the Valley with singer/guitarist Hannes Kvaran. Kvaran will likely make an appearance at some point during Richardson's showcase set.

Note: Triple-espresso, dance-or-go-home ska with flavor shots of funk and gleaming sax solos.

Quote: "Ska bonds a lot of race gaps and age groups together. Also, it has a dance beat so it draws a lot of women. And when you've got women, you've got men."--Jesse Ribyat, unofficial band spokesperson

BTW: Warsaw is one of three bands clearly responsible for breaking ska in Arizona. The other two are Kongo Shock and Dave's Big Deluxe. Dave couldn't be with us today because he's from Tucson (this is a Valley-only affair).

Zebbhi Niyah
Note: Jamaican guitarist Zebbhi Niyah worked as a session man with both Rita and Ziggy Marley before he moved to Phoenix three years ago.

Quote: "We try to reach beyond the usual reggae crowd. Every time we play, we make new fans."--Zebbhi Niyah

BTW: "Zebbhi" is a reference to the Israelite tribe of Zebulon. "Niyah" is Jamaican for a close friend or family member.


Lady J and Blues Ratio
Note: Don't let the name fool ya. This band blurs the line between jazz and R&B, but the Ratio is about 3:1.

Quote: "We're a spicy mixture of everything. It just depends on who we're playing for."--Lady J

BTW: Watch for the mother/daughter one-two combo of Maxine Johnson and moms Lady J.

Nuance Jazz Ensemble
Note: Nuance puts a plugged-in spin on Thelonious Monk and pre-fusion Miles Davis, along with originals that hopscotch among standard jazz, bebop and world beat.

Quote: "Essentially, what we try to do is place classical jazz into a modern context."--Steve Sorenson, guitarist

BTW: Sorenson used to back up Ella Fitzgerald.

Odd Man Out
Note: Progressive jazz originals accented by a few Monk and Coltrane standards.

Quote: "It's real simple. Three words: original, modern, jazz."--Bryon Ruth, saxophonist

BTW: Unlike most jazz combos, this band is run as a creative collective, with no leader in name or deed.

Sherry Roberson
Note: Roberson's voice is honey, smoke and sin, and she's a clever arranger who makes jazz standards her own. Sometimes she plays with just a drummer and piano player, sometimes a standup bass man, too.

Quote: "I realized a few years ago that if I'm not singing, I'm dying inside."--Sherry Roberson

BTW: Roberson sings in English, Spanish, Japanese and Yoruba, an African dialect. She's a Buddhist.


Fred Green
Note: Stoner funk that leaps and drifts from deep, blissed-out grooves to incendiary instrumental breaks. Front man Ben Gilley has wizard's fingers on the bass.

Quote: "We call what we play 'stinkasmokafunkagrooverama.'"--Ben Gilley
Releases: Dillywagon (1996)
BTW: This band throws unbelievable after-parties. As in, good luck peeling yourself off the pillows to un-be-leave.

Note: This band's got a sick horn section and grooves so fat they should come with a calorie counter. Whiskey-voiced front woman Tiffany Sullivan pogos between a smoky croon and Janis Joplinesque keens.

Quote: "We want to make something beautiful and meaningful--not meaningful in any political or cosmic sense, just an artistic one."--Travis Brinster, guitarist

Releases: More Soul Than a Rabbit Factory (1996)
BTW: Polliwog spent 18 months and $20,000 on its debut CD.

Stone Circle
Note: Stone Circle fuses jazz, funk and rock, with an emphasis on melodic bass lines that stand out in get-on-up jams like "Beyond Your Dreams" and "Funky Blue Monkey."

Quote: "We're all about enjoying life."--Sherrie Petersen, lead vocalist
Releases: Beyond Your Dreams (1996)
P.S. Stone Circle sells condoms at its shows with wrappers that show a monkey with a banana between its legs and the logo: "Funky Blue Monkey . . . Wrap Yours."

Yoko Love
Note: Tempe trio that plays bluesy, pumped-up funk hinging on tight drum/bass grooves and front man Josh Prior's frenetic mike prowess.

Quote: "The combination of everything we put into our music is something nobody else has tapped into. We're proud of that--doing something original."--Josh Prior

P.S. Yoko Love has three songs about pimps.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.