Wheeler Walker Jr.
Country meets comedy during the sets of Wheeler Walker Jr.
Courtesy of Thirty Tigers
Saturday, August 5
It may be best not to try to define Wheeler Walker Jr. beyond what you’re getting from him in the moment. In a previous incarnation, he was an edgy Hollywood sketch comedian named Ben Hoffman, who mysteriously disappeared from the public appearances. But in this moment, he is a classically influenced country and western musician, buoyed by pedal steel and songs laced with R-rated lyrics. He writes forlorn songs of heartbreak like “Fuck You Bitch” and the R-rated ditties like “Drop 'Em Out,” exhorting women to open their shirts. But no matter who you think Walker really is — country music bad boy or the Tony Clifton-esque alter ego — the real question is, does it really matter? After all, Walker's independently released album, Redneck Shit
, debuted in February at No. 9 on Billboard
’s country music chart (and #1 on the comedy chart, but he says he doesn’t give a damn about that one). It's an answer to what he describes as a commercial country music wasteland presented by a Nashville music machine that is only interested in formulaic pop singles. Karen Brooks Harper
In the Valley Below
Angela Gail Mattson and Jeffrey Jacob Mendel of In the Valley Below.
Courtesy of Big Hassle
Saturday, August 5
Following the success of 2014’s The Belt
, In the Valley Below knew they needed to escape the noise. The married couple, Jeffrey Jacob and Angela Gail, packed up their life in Los Angeles and moved with their son to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The family settled into their new city and explored its vibrant arts scene. The change of scenery didn’t stop them from making new music. Instead, it gave them the opportunity to do so on their own terms. Their latest EP release, Elephant
, was recorded in the basement studio of their 93-year-old house. It features songs with their signature dreamy buzz and gospel undertones, with lyrics inspired by this new chapter. “Hold on Tight” talks about the birth of their son, while “Break Even” reflects on how far they’ve come. There’s more travel on the horizon, as the duo hit the road this summer, playing downtown Phoenix with Flagship and MRCH. Ashley Harris
You can party poolside with Porter Robinson in August.
Courtesy of Paradigm Talent Agency
Saturday, August 5
Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale
Porter Robinson has spent his adult life in the laser-filled limelight. Before he was 20 years old, Robinson literally crashed Beatport's servers with the release of his first EP, Spitfire, and had three chart-topping records before he turned 21. Porter originally produced hard-hitting dubstep and moombahton beats but has softened his touch with synth-heavy house tracks. You'll probably hear both when he visits Talking Stick in Scottsdale on August 5 to headline one of the resort's Release pool parties. Dylan White
Downtown Chamber Series
The musicians of the Downtown Chamber Series at a 2013 performance.
Courtesy of the Downtown Chamber Series.
Saturday, August 5
Phoenix Art Museum's Great Hall
Think the summertime is a dead period for classical music? Try telling that to the musicians of the Downtown Chamber Series. While it’s certainly true that most local orchestras and chamber ensembles generally take a hiatus from performing during the hottest months of the year, the folks who perform with the DCS, which is made up of a rotating lineup of locals, stage concerts even when it’s boiling outside. And such shows typically take place inside urban galleries and art spaces around downtown Phoenix. Hence this weekend’s concert, which will happen in the Great Hall at the Phoenix Art Museum and feature such selections as Mozart’s Quintet in E-flat, K407, Dohnanyi’s Serenade
, various solo selections by Bach, and Night Storm
by Dan Coleman. The musicians performing include horn player Johanna Lundy, violinist Ellen Chamberlain, cellist Robert Chamberlain, and viola players Sarrah Toy and Mark Dix. (And if you can’t make it out to this weekend’s show, the performance will be repeated on Wednesday, August 9.) Benjamin Leatherman
Dokken is still rockin' after all these years.
Sunday, August 6
BLK Live in Scottsdale
Don Dokken has always had a reputation for being temperamental, but he seems to have taken that crankiness to a whole new level recently. Insulting local opening bands, chastising sound people — is Don losing the plot or is he simply turning into a grumpy old man? Either way, with or without guitar maestro George Lynch, when Dokken (the band) hit their stride, songs like “The Hunter” and “Into the Fire” still sound magnificent live. The classic lineup that includes Lynch has reformed occasionally in recent years, but this isn’t it. Still, former Warlock/Doro man Jon Levin is an excellent player, more than capable of shredding through a tune like the Freddy Krueger-approved “Dream Warriors.” As for Don himself, the frontman can wail with the best of them. There hasn’t been any new material in a while, so expect a killer greatest-hits set. Brett Callwood
Valley Fever's Rooster Club
Barefoot & Pregnant will rise and shine on Sunday morning to celebrate the repeal of Arizona's blue laws.
Courtesy of Barefoot & Pregnant
Sunday, August 6
Yucca Tap Room
As regressive and arbitrary as the Arizona State Legislature can be, however, it achieved a moment of clarity in 2010 when it repealed Arizona’s blue laws
, which allowed liquor sales on Sundays before 10 o’clock in the morning. You can celebrate the seventh anniversary of this victory for both Arizona’s name and good sense at 6 a.m. on Sunday, August 6, at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe during the annual Rooster Club hootenanny. The promoters behind long-running country music night Valley Fever put on the event and this year’s lineup includes performances by Barefoot & Pregnant, Flathead, and Junction 10. There’s also a Bloody Mary bar, breakfasts specials, and no cover.
Blue laws, also referred to as Sunday laws, date back to colonial times. The idea was that immoral activities such as gambling, alcohol sales, and pagan sacrifices should not be permitted on Sundays, for obvious religious reasons. And when the bue laws came off the books, Valley Fever founder and DJ Dana Armstrong celebrated the repeal with friends — the "original" Rooster Club. It was a haphazard affair. "We met [at Yucca Tap Room] the first year it was repealed," Armstrong says, "but it was just a small group of us. ... It was almost kind of a dare — we kind of went out of curiosity, just to see if anybody else would be there. It was just 15 of us. We set our alarms and met there ... and it was crazy because when we got there, it was like a full-blown Saturday night." She and Monicque Faber (of Barefoot & Pregnant) came up with the idea for an official event full of drinks, music, and the strict door time of 6 a.m. "I’m treating it like it’s 6 p.m., because when you go in [Yucca Tap] and the doors close, it’s like a time warp. When the doors are closed and it’s daytime, it could be any time." Except the distant, sobering time of the blue laws, that is. Stephanie Chen