Phoenix Independents Bowl to Return in June

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Musicians of Phoenix, start limbering up your wrists and get practicing. Not at bettering your strumming or drumming abilities, but rather your skills at tossing strikes and spares. That's because the Phoenix Independents Bowl is back after a three-year absence.

Local concert promoter "Psyko" Steve Chilton announced earlier this week that the charity bowling tournament -- which has featured a number of Valley musicians and bands participating along with folks from local independently owned bars, venues, and businesses -- will return in June.

A collaboration between Chilton and Local First Arizona, the event was staged annually from 2008 until 2010 before going on an extended hiatus in 2011 due to other responsibilities the concert promoter (who works for Stateside Present in addition to putting on his own shows) had at the time. Namely, helping to open the Crescent Ballroom.

"It's funny, I never intended it to disappear, but when the fourth one would've been was right around the time we were opening Crescent and everything was kind of hectic and it was sort of like one project too many to think about," Chilton says. "And now it made more sense to do it again, since its something I've wanted to do."

The afternoon-long tournament (which is geared toward "independent minded citizens") will take place on Sunday, June 22, and feature teams of four people each hitting up the lanes at the locally owned Let It Roll Bowl in North Phoenix for trophies and bragging rights.

As we mentioned, a chunk of the participants involved at past editions of the event have been local musicians and artists (including such current and former acts as Treasure MammaL, Kinch, What Laura Says, and The Surfside IV), as well as teams from the Rogue Bar, Stinkweeds, and Flying Blanket Studios.

DJs like Anthony "Hartbreaks" Hart and local bands will also perform at Let It Roll during the tournament.

However, Chilton says, the Independents Bowl is by no means a strictly musician-oriented event as groups like Arizona Roller Derby and even Desert Living Today have fronted teams. (Full disclosure: New Times has also participated in 2008 and 2009.)

"The goal is bringing lots of bands and venues and people together that might not know each to`her, but anyone can participate," he says. "Most of the promotion is geared towards bands and musicians but it's not exclusively that at all."

And while the event was partially inspired by a music event (the popular Punk Rock Bowling concert fest held in Las Vegas every summer), it's open to both musicians and non-musicians alike.

"The event has a very low barrier to entry that's open to anyone and everyone. It's about coming together and bowling kind of as a meeting ground," he says. "I do so many events across all these subcultures and genres -- I book metal shows and country shows and indie shows and everything in between -- and all those bands don't necessarily know each other. And its like trying to do an event where they all can come and be inclusive and not where its like where its this scene or that scene."

It's also ultimately a charity event with proceeds going to Local First Arizona, which is helping Chilton out with organizing the event.

"In the past, it was kind of like the event came first and the charity came second. I knew I wanted to do the event, it felt like it should be a charity event, and Local First seemed like an obvious benefactor since its about bringing the local community together."

And although he admits that it's "not a serious bowling tournament," teams that are participating shouldn't expect it to be a cakewalk, as the competition can be sort of fierce.

According to the promoter, each team will bowl two rounds each and those groups with the best scores will go into a playoff bracket. The top three teams will then get "sweet" trophies.

"It isn't necessarily designed to find out who's the best bowler," Chilton says. "There have been a lot of teams that have taken it very seriously and a lot of teams that don't."

That may include the teams who have come in costume, such as the members of the aforementioned Treasure MammaL, all of whom sported their infamous brightly colored spandex.

Costumes aren't a requirement to participate, Chilton says, but are certainly encouraged.

"I thought about doing a costume contest with it, but then it just felt a little too gimmicky, you know? I didn't want anyone to feel like they had to dress up, but we aren't gonna discourage it," he says. "Nobody's done the Big Lebowski, but that would be awesome. It feels like someone should, right?"

The Phoenix Independents Bowl takes place at noon on Sunday, June 22. Registration is $20 per person. See the website for more details.

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