Local Wire

In 'n' Out

There are ominous rumblings emerging from singer Robin Wilson's much-maligned Gas Giants camp. The latest bit of info more or less confirms long-circulating rumors that the group has all but called it quits. According to Wilson, the band is on an "indefinite hiatus," but it appears that may be an overly optimistic appraisal of the situation.

News of the split is not entirely surprising, as the group has been plagued with problems since forming in the wake of the Gin Blossoms breakup in 1996. Among the Giants' myriad woes: having to undergo a series of name changes, and experiencing the dissolution of their original label A&M and the Atomic Pop imprint, a start-up helmed by industry bigwig Al Teller, which released the band's one and only full-length, From Beyond the Backburner, in 1999.

Apparently, things came to a head internally within the past few weeks, reportedly over the future of the band -- something that did not look particularly rosy given the unfortunate turn of events of the past few years.

For his part, Wilson says his immediate plans are to continue to study recording in an effort to man the day-to-day operations of his Mayberry studio in Tempe. In addition, Wilson will provide the vocals for an album written and recorded by frequent collaborator Steve French, late of Brit-poppers Starclub. Wilson will also continue playing his Friday happy hour sets at Long Wong's on Mill.

Giants guitarist Dan Henzerling says he's planning on starting his own group, though no word yet on what direction the project will take. Henzerling may also be making an appearance with his long-running alt-country outfit the Grievous Angels. Grievous -- dormant since '99 -- will be making a small comeback of sorts as the band is set to play a pair of weddings in the fall, including that of front man Russ Sepulveda. As a warm-up for the nuptial gigs, the group may surface for a public performance as its bluegrass alter ego Ned Beatty and the Inbreds. Gas Giants bassist Mickey Ferrell, also a Grievous veteran, will be along for the shows as well.

Giants drummer Phil Rhodes, meanwhile, has surfaced on a number of projects, playing on the latest batch of recordings from Tempe rock acts Ghetto Cowgirl and the Living Daylights.

Jimmy Eats Europe: Valley rockers Jimmy Eat World -- poised for the release of their DreamWorks Records debut Bleed American on July 24 -- are living up to their name, as the group has been busy conquering multiple continents. Having just completed tours of Australia and Japan, the band heads to Europe this week, starting in Germany before moving on to Great Britain. The group recently added a handful of sold-out U.K. shows opening for Weezer to its itinerary.

The band will return stateside in mid-July for a couple weeks of much-deserved rest before venturing out for a string of dates on the East Coast leg of the Vans Warped Tour. The group will follow that up with a pair of concerts in the Pacific Northwest opening up for Blink 182. (JEW recently performed at the wedding of Blink 182 front man Tom DeLonge, moving the singer to tears, according to a People magazine item.)

JEW will arrive back in the Valley in time for a belated CD-release concert in late August. The show, originally set for the outdoor stage at Tempe's Nita's Hideaway, has been switched over to Phoenix's Celebrity Theatre.

In the meantime, fans can check out the video for the first single and title track off the new album at the band's official Web site (www.jimmyeatworld.net). The bulk of the clip, directed by Ross Richardson, was filmed during JEW's May 12 Nita's show.

Valley Visits: Local legend/producer/musician extraordinaire Lee Hazlewood -- the man who discovered Duane Eddy and made Nancy Sinatra -- will be making an ultra-rare concert appearance next month at the Rhythm Room. Local music historian John Dixon is promoting the show, which will feature Hazlewood backed by his longtime friend and collaborator Al Casey. Hazlewood last performed several sold-out shows in Europe in 1999, including one at London's Royal Albert Hall opening for Nick Cave. The upcoming Phoenix concert -- Hazlewood's one and only planned U.S. appearance -- is set for July 9.

Hazlewood's work has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the past few years. His solo efforts have been rediscovered by the current generation of indie-rock hipsters thanks to the rerelease of many of his classic mid-'60s LPs on Smells Like Records, a New Jersey-based imprint run by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley.

Hazlewood's last effort, Farmisht, Flatulence, Origami, ARF!!! and me . . . -- a charming collection of standards released in 1999 -- was recorded in the Valley at producer Clarke Rigsby's Tempest Studios in Tempe.

Speaking of music legends, punk icon Joe Strummer will be making his first local appearance in nearly 20 years as he heads to the Valley in the fall. Strummer, who will release a second disc with his new band the Mescaleros in September, is set to play the Cajun House in Scottsdale the following month. No announcement yet on when tickets will be available.

Say It's Yer Birthday: The precocious princess of Mill Avenue, Long Wong's booker/manager Sara Cina, has been serving up equal parts beer, bands and attitude for nearly a decade. This week she celebrates her birthday with a special double bill at the club featuring reunited Tucson desert rockers the Sand Rubies and local alt-rock trio Gloritone. The Rubies made their return to town after a three-year absence last month with a pair of packed shows at Wong's and the Sail Inn. The show is set for Saturday, June 23. Showtime is 9 p.m.

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Bob Mehr
Contact: Bob Mehr