Tonight is going to be a landmark event in the life of Tempe-based singer-songwriter Brooks Hansen.
The shabbily dressed 26-year-old acoustic guitarist is planning an "epic" street corner performance near the intersection of Fifth and Roosevelt streets during the monthly First Friday art walk in downtown Phoenix. He believes the show will "make waves in the local music scene" and "kick off some big things in my career."
"I've staked out a totally sweet spot near MADE and JoBot," Hansen says. "I'm gonna be bringing the kind of acoustic music to Roosevelt that no one has ever experienced before. This is gonna be big, man, real big."
Hansen laid out his plans for the street corner performance recently while relaxing on the outdoor patio of the Starbucks on Mill Avenue. Between sips of a Frappuccino he bought with panhandled change and long drags on Pall Mall 100s swiped from his mother's purse, the scruffy troubadour went into great detail about his intended set list.
Besides plenty of his own indie-folk stylings (self-described as "Great Lake Swimmers meets Bob Dylan after a three-day bender with Tom Waits") he'll include covers of Pete Seeger, Bonnie Prince Billy, and Bon Iver. He might even throw in a rendition of Iron and Wine's "Tree By the River" that is guaranteed to "blow everyone's minds."
"I really wanna cover all my bases in the set and include everyone in what I do," Hansen explains. "My intent is to make an impact on all those people at First Friday. I think once people hear my songs, it's really going to translate in to big things for me. I'm also hoping that Toby Fatzinger from Black Cactus Records or River Jones walks by -- those guys could be big connections for me."
Even if any local music tastemakers don't pass by his performance, Hansen says he's happy enough with being able to share the joy of music.
"I'm not even going to open my guitar case for change," Hansen says. "It's not even about the money, man. It's about making a connection. Of course if someone wants to buy me a beer and talk to me about my music, I'm down. I'm not, like, a pompous dick."
Hansen has been prepping for the gig for months now. He's been growing out his beard for weeks and made several trips to Kinkos to create fliers pimping out his upcoming solo gig at It's A Grind in Glendale, which he landed with assistance from his barista girlfriend, who waited until "the nice manager" was on duty to get the proper clearance. He will also be armed with dozens of CD-Rs of his latest self-produced album, Salvador Dali Cries at Sunset.
The disc, which takes up every second of the 80 open minutes, includes several brand new songs that he's been working on, which he'll be performing for the first time publicly tomorrow night.
"Most are about my ex, who broke up with me because I still live with my parents. It's totally her loss, really, since she didn't understand my art. It's my poetry, y'know? She sure is gonna feel stupid after people around town start talking about me because they saw me playing First Friday."
Hansen has played guitar and sang with several aspiring garage groups, but says locking down a full time gig in a band hasn't really a concern.
"I've played in a few projects here and there, but you know how flaky drummers and bass players can be," Hansen says, shaking his head wearily. "I'm mostly just focusing on getting out there and playing my songs and covers right now. I've put in a couple calls to Sara Cina at Teakwood's Tavern. Jack Maverik from Long Wong's said he'd hook me up with a Tuesday night happy hour set, but never put it up on the website, so I'm not sure what the deal is."
Hansen admits to being a little worried about his set being disrupted by rowdy high school students or getting upstaged by various performance artists out and about for First Friday.
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"I hope those Free Hugs Guys stay the fuck away from me," he says. "My music might be thoughtfully serene and melancholic, but I'm not above getting the face of anyone who harshes my mellow. This is my time to shine and ain't no one gonna steal my fucking spotlight. Hell, I'll even trip up that dude walking around on stilts if I have to."
Hansen has been promoting his gig relentlessly on Facebook and while out drinking, and has gotten some good feedback from friends, including an online comment from his high school buddy Trevor stating simply "Make it happen, pimp!"
"Matthew Reveles commented on one of my Facebook posts announcing my show recently," he says. "And I ran into the guys from What Laura last week at Casey's, and told them about me playing out. They said they might come by and check it out, so, you know, I'm thinking tomorrow night is really going to be the night."