Pickster Uno, DJ Element, and the other members of the Blunt Club will be packing up their record crates and moving to a brand new home later this month.
The long-running Thursday hip-hop night (now in its seventh year of existence) is bidding au revoir to Tempe's Club Red in favor of the Yucca Tap Room, where it will re-launch on January 28.
What's the story behind the Bluntsters flipping the script? Per a conversation I had with Mr. Uno earlier today, there are a few different reasons:
One of which is the fact that Yucca Tap owner Rodney Hu promises he'll unveil his much-discussed expansion to the bar by then.
"Rodney's new room is gonna be the spot to be when it opens," Pickster says. "Plus, it's a new year and we're just ready for a new chapter for the Blunt Club."
Since its debut back in 2003, the Blunt Club has become one of the Valley's premier showcases for both local and nationally-known hip-hop artists, rappers, turntablists, and the occasional spoken word artist. While the impending expansion of the Yucca Tap into two rooms means that twice as many people can check out all the hip-hop action, Pickster told me they'll be sticking with just using the stage in the bar's main room.
This isn't the first time that Blunt Club organizers have reshuffled their location. A total of four different venues -- including Mesa's Hollywood Alley and bygone Tempe spots like Rio Salado Brewing Company and the Priceless Inn -- have hosted the night over the past seven years. It moved to Club Red back in 2008.
Pickster also feels like they're getting back to their roots in a sense by returning to a dive-like establishment like the Yucca Tap.
"It was great in a dive bar setting back in the Priceless Inn days, so it feels get back to a place with an edgy feel to it," he says. "One of the ways it also works out with Rodney is that Yucca is always free, which means more people."
Which also could be a drawback. Yucca's longstanding policy of "no cover ever" might hinder organizers like Adam "Dumperfoo" Dumper and Doug Quick (of Drunken Immortals fame) from bringing in the same kind of major-name hip-hop stars they have in the past -- such as Busdriver, One Block Radius, or Aceyalone -- due to a absence of ticket revenue.
"We were fortunate to host some big shows in the past, but the Brother Alis and the Evidences might not gonna come through the Blunt Club," Pickster says. "But we're still planning for some name acts for the future."
Speaking of the future, the final Blunt Club at its soon-to-be-former home takes place this Thursday (which also happens to be Dumperfoo's birthday) with a guest appearance by L.A. hip-hop/jazz ensemble Simple Citizens.
Oh, and for those you worried about the fate of the Thursday night Rockaroake session, Hu told me it will be moving to Wednesdays)