Longtime local musician Ethan Newman, a regular performer at bars and venues across the Valley, died on Tuesday, December 29, from complications of COVID-19. He was 46.
A post to his personal Facebook account announcing the news read: “He fought as hard as he could until the very end, and we will be forever grateful to the Banner Desert [Medical Center] staff who took such good care of him for the past few weeks. Our lives, our hearts and the music world will never be the same from this. The joy and love that he brought to others is unmatched, and we are comforted by knowing that he brought smiles to the faces of everyone he met.”
A guitarist, bassist, and vocalist, Newman was a prolific entertainer who played a mix of rock, blues, and country at a wide variety of local haunts over the past few decades, ranging from neighborhood taverns to upscale drinkeries.
His most recent schedule included weekly sessions alongside fellow guitarists like Joel Maze, George Brunson, and Tod Miller such spots as Good Time Charli's and Jolie’s Place in Chandler. His gigging wasn’t limited to the southeast Valley, as Newman also performed at Copper Blues in downtown Phoenix, The Living Room Wine Cafe in Scottsdale, and TapHouse Kitchen.
Newman also played bass in several local bands, including Zowie Bowie, Azz Izz, The Robert Street Band, Mogollon, Tate, and Capital Down. Since 2005, he was also a member of local “folky-funk rock” band Delcoa, which performed throughout the Valley and at bigger events like M3F (back when it was called McDowell Mountain Music Festival) and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado.
A native of Prescott, Newman’s passion for music started in his youth and he began performing in his teens.
Besides his exhaustive performance schedule, Newman was known for his upbeat personality, sense of humor, and everyman charm. Friends shared memories on social media after news of his death broke, including more than 600 comments to the Facebook post announcing his death.
Fellow guitarist Matt Ventre recalled their shared interest in music. “Not even sure what to say, my bond with Ethan was special,” Ventre wrote. “We often would geek out together about the music we loved … and I feel like we had a way of constantly, respectfully challenging each other. I will dearly miss our conversations, no one will ever rival your passion. Rock on my friend.”
Local drummer Christopher Reidy described Newman as an influence: “I learned so much from you, on and off the stage. You made me a better player, and taught me to look at the stars in a whole new way. I will remember you every time I look into the evening sky.”
Newman was survived by his wife, Keirsten Newman. According to his Facebook account, information regarding funeral and memorial arrangements will be provided at a later date.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.