New Times' Bar Flies Storytelling Event Heads to Musical Instrument Museum

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New Times’ monthly live reading series Bar Flies is back, this time, with a musical twist.

The event happens underground and downtown at Valley Bar, but on occasion it rises above street level. This month is one of those times. The May 27 installment of the wordy shindig is headed to the Musical Instrument Museum in North Phoenix, for a collaboration with a Phoenix band.

The theme? The Desert is a Mix Tape. The readers? Becky Bartkowski, Katie Johnson, Lauren Gilger, R. Bradley Snyder, and Jason P. Woodbury.

This one is curated by New Times Managing Editor Amy Silverman and features live music by local folk rockers The Senators. The event always has a musical component, with tunes that follow each story determined by a DJ. This month’s event puts a twist on that formula as one of the readers, R. Bradley Snyder, has written an as-yet-untitled piece inspired by the Senators' song “Promised Land.” 

Snyder, who has read at a couple Bar Flies events, including the inaugural one, said his early experiences reading led him to want to collaborate with musicians directly.

“This musical twist came from doing one of the readings and following a band whose music seemed out of sync with what I was about to read,” he says. “I knew if I did the event again, I wanted to find a way to do it with music that related more to my subject matter, even if it was just tonally.” 

Snyder shot an email to Jesse Teer, the Senators’ guitarist and vocalist to see what he thought about some type of collaboration and Teer responded with interest, telling Snyder about “Promised Land,” a song that featured some quieter parts that could be played while he read.

It worked out even better than Snyder expected. 

“The song immediately brought a memory into my mind," he says. "Then it became a puzzle as I had to figure out how to break up the story into parts that would work with the choruses."
Teer and his bandmates are just as thrilled. This show's theme is meaningful to the band, as they are focused on making music that emphasizes how this region and the desert are important to them.

“'Promised Land' is about my brother and how he chose to disown me a couple of years ago,” Teer says. “[Snyder] liked it right away. I offered him other songs but this one really resonated with him. ... I haven’t heard his story yet but I am excited to see where he goes with it in relation to our music.” 

Making the night even more special for Teer is the fact that his wife, Lauren Gilger, is one of the storytellers.

The reading begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.50-$25.50.

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