Art Edwards Returns to Yucca Tap Room

By Sarah Ventre

The Yucca Tap Room is one of those celebrated landmarks left standing in Tempe, made famous by the bands that grew up there. Last Saturday night, local music fans were treated to a bit of nostalgia when Art Edwards, bassist of the Refreshments, made his first appearance on the Yucca stage in over twelve years.

It’s been a while since those Refreshments days, but Art “Buddy” Edwards has kept busy in multiple mediums. In addition to the release of a solo album, he’s written two novels: “Stuck Outside of Phoenix” and “Ghost Notes” which center around a Tempe bassist named Hote. I guess you write what you know.

The night dripped with nostalgia. Edwards covered local legends including Dead Hot Workshop, Gloritone, and the Meat Puppets, with guitarist/vocalist Jim Gerke, and later joined by drummer Curtis Grippe. Between songs, Edwards reminisced about his Yucca Tap Room memories, while the crowd smiled and nodded in approval and acknowledgement of their shared experiences.

He ventured to say that the Refreshments might have been the first original band to play at the Yucca. They played back when the watering hole’s primary idea of live music was karaoke. The place holds personal meaning to Edwards as well. He points out, “With so much gentrification in the Valley, it’s wonderful to still have a place to walk into where you can sense what it was like back then. I can’t think of any place else left in the Valley that so says ‘Refreshments.’” All the while he playfully poked fun of himself after the decade long time lapse, saying that you know you’re getting old if you have to explain a song for a half an hour before playing it.

Perhaps the crowning moment of the night for those die-hard “Freshies” fans from the ‘90s was the reunion of Edwards and Dusty Denham, original Refreshments drummer. People in the crowd could be heard conversing well after the show was over about how, despite all the years of absence, the two were able to click into a groove and perform their beloved hit, “Carefree.”

Edwards reflects on the importance of Phoenix to him in his twenties, saying “and his work, saying, “It’s an important decade of anyone’s life, that first one where you take a stab at what you think adulthood is supposed to be and before you find out how wrong you are.”

Keep an eye out for Edwards’s sequel novel to “Ghost Notes” entitled, “Badge,” as well as a new solo album which are both expected to be released next year.

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Jonathan McNamara