Music News

1997 New Times Music Awards Showcase

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Slugger
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.

Latin

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."

Caliente
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.

Reggae/Ska

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.

Warsaw
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.

Jazz

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.

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