Local Wire

Blues Blast

Nothing says "modern American blues" quite like . . . Mesa? It's the dodgiest cultural pairing this side of "Utah" and "jazz," but that hasn't stopped the Phoenix Blues Society from establishing a fine live-music tradition in this city of menudo joints and Mormon churches. In this, the 19th year of the Blues Blast, the Society welcomes a diverse canvas of brass bands, torch singers, and blues-fusion acts to Mesa Amphitheater for a sun-soaked afternoon of boogyin'. The headliner is Big James Montgomery and the Chicago Playboys, four-time winner of Living Blues magazine's annual critics poll for Most Outstanding Horns (and their instruments ain't bad either, yuk yuk). The second-billed act needs no introduction to Valley habitués of the Rhythm Room: Candye Kane, the plus-size blues mama and sex-positive feminist who has been known to bang out piano riffs with her eye-popping decolletage. Rounding out the lineup are the Insomniacs, a Portland-based band specializing in West Coast "jump" blues, and a trio of local acts: The Sugar Thieves, the rockabilly/blues quartet Jump Back Brothers, and the jazz combo Arthur Migliazza and Tom Walbank. And it all wraps up by sunset, Mesa-style.
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Craig Outhier