A new music and vendor event is coming to The Dirty Drummer in Phoenix | Phoenix New Times

Country Music

The Dirty Drummer's new event celebrates Arizona country music with a bang

Country Club Volume 1 will feature stars of the local music scene, cool shopping and more.
Members of the local country music scene are coming together on Dec. 9 for The Dirty Drummer's Country Club Volume 1 event.
Members of the local country music scene are coming together on Dec. 9 for The Dirty Drummer's Country Club Volume 1 event. David Zickl
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Historically, many great things have started on Dec. 9. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" first aired on that date in 1965, introducing the world to Vince Guaraldi’s wonderful score, and actor John Malkovich was born in 1953. Closer to home, on Dec. 9, 1962, the Petrified Forest in northeastern Arizona was declared to be a national park.

On Saturday, the Dirty Drummer Country Club Volume 1 is taking over the parking lot of the small strip mall at the northeast corner of 44th and Oak streets, where the restaurant and bar has been a neighborhood mainstay for almost 40 years. The event begins at (high) noon and ends around 10 p.m.

Music begins at 12:15 p.m., when Lazy Aces starts things off. Richard Gans is up next, followed by Just Clark, Dirt Rhodes, Dog of the Moon, Brea Burns & The Boleros, Cheating Luck (5 p.m.), Rob Leines, Supertonkers (7 p.m.), and August Manley (a tribute to Waylon Jennings). Mr Mudd & Mr. Gold will close out the night at 9:15 p.m. DJ Johnny Volume, DJ Dana and Grassy Noel’s vintage country records will be spinning vinyl between and after the bands.

In addition to some excellent music, Country Club Volume 1 will also feature a dozen vendors selling clothing, records, Arizona-related items and everything else under the sun. Cold beverages will be available inside and outside the Dirty Drummer itself, and music will be a constant throughout the event inside the venue.

Dana Armstrong is a co-owner of the Dirty Drummer and longtime Phoenix-area keeper of the country music flame, thanks to her popular Valley Fever events. Armstrong says the event is more than just an opportunity for music fans to get a taste of some great country music — it's a celebration of Arizona, as well.

“The event ties in together with everyone’s appreciation of Arizona history and there is a common theme. We’ve really started developing this whole community over the past 15 years and a lot of people don’t realize what an amazing history Arizona has related to country music. We think many people would be interested to know that Arizona has a thriving underground country music scene,” she says.

Jesse Bass of Skull Valley Records, which just released a killer gospel album from the late Morris Belknap of San Carlos, Arizo., called "Jesus Saves," is one of the vendors. Bass’ label is interested in preserving “outsider” music from Arizona and the Four Corners states is one of the vendors who will have a booth at the event.

“I specialize in '70s Americana stuff. I bring records, weird records, tapes and clothing. I bring a lot of Arizona stuff — belt buckles, weird '70s kind of niche stuff. I have a 1993 Grateful Dead West Coast tour shirt that I’m bringing, too, and possibly some old '90s (Phoenix) Suns stuff. That stuff goes quick,” says Bass.

Phoenix-area music fans will want to peruse Bass’ vinyl collection, especially those looking for a holiday gift that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
click to enlarge A crowd of people watches a concert inside a bar.
A lively crowd enjoying some country music at the Dirty Drummer.
Dana Armstrong

Working alongside Armstrong to bring the show together has been Brea Burns who has been helping with booking at the Dirty Drummer. Burns and her band, The Boleros, are part of the bill as well.

“This is the first big country event Dana and Dirty Drummer has put together since the pandemic, so It’s exciting to get back to the flow of everybody working together. This one is extra special because a few of the groups who are playing are basically supergroups with members of longtime Arizona country bands coming together and forming new groups, so that’s pretty awesome,” says Burns.

Burns says she is very excited to see Supertonkers, which features Bobby Perez of the band Junction 10, as well as seeing what the different vendors will have available. She and The Boleros also have an exciting 2024 ahead of them as they look to record some new music and take their show across the pond to Europe in the late spring.

The aforementioned Bobby Perez is also excited about the show as well after taking an extended break from playing music to focus on being a dad. The former Junction 10 band leader decided it was time to get out there and do his thing again recently and seems to be very happy about his decision.

“I took about a seven-year hiatus from playing music to raise my son because as soon as he was born, I really didn’t feel like I had a place in a barroom with a brand-new baby at home. He’s becoming a little more independent now, so I put together a project,” says Perez.

That project became Supertonkers and it features fellow veterans of the Phoenix music scene Tommy Collins on bass, Todd Wade on drums and Pat Roberts on guitar. Perez is quite proud of the band’s name and should be.

“It comes from the idea that there’s hillbilly, rockabilly and psychobilly (music) but there is only one level of ‘tonk.’ There’s honkytonk and that’s it. I was talking to Dana at the Drummer one night over dinner and I told her that if I had a genre to pick for a new project, it was going to be ‘super-tonk’ and she said, ‘That’s it. That’s the name of your band.’ It took a few months to sink in, but we went with it and Supertonkers has been well received,” Perez says.

Another of the highly anticipated acts of the day is the new band, Cheating Luck, which features Phoenix legend Jon Rauhouse on pedal steel guitar as well as a great lineup of local players. Acclaimed Phoenix artist and sign-maker Matt Minjares who put the band together, chimed in on the show as well.

“This will be our first show and we got things together after Dana invited us to play the Country Club. It’s all original songs I wrote over the pandemic. Anything Dana is involved in is great and I love the music community she has been instrumental in bringing together and fostering, first with Valley Fever nights at the Yucca and now at the Dirty Drummer,” says Minjares, who is also excited to see Lazy Aces featuring Joe Baker.

Armstrong, along with two partners, bought and renovated the Dirty Drummer in 2019. The restaurant and bar had been a big part of Armstrong’s life as it had been opened originally by her father, Frank Armstrong whose nickname was “Drummer” and his friend, “Dirty” Dave Werner. When Werner decided to close the Dirty Drummer, Dana Armstrong stepped in.

“We renovated it to look it did in the '80s with the aesthetic that all of the Dirty Drummer locations (around the Valley) had. We decided to focus on keeping our North Star on positivity in the spirit of those original Dirty Drummers because people of all ages and interests were patronizing them. I think it plays a part in how we move forward, keeping all kinds of activities going,” says Armstrong.

About this weekend's Country Club Volume 1 event, she says, “It’s important to do a show like this one, and there will be more, because it’s all about pulling people together. A lot of us come out of the punk rock scene and whatever we were listening to before (discovering country music) and we all landed in the same place. That’s why it’s fun to recognize the history here, and we want to highlight that while welcoming the new people and bands, too.”

Dirty Drummer Country Club Volume 1: Noon Saturday, Dec. 9, at The Dirty Drummer, 2303 N. 44th St. There is no cost to attend.
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