This week’s concert offerings are heavy on legendary acts and artists. John Sebastian of The Lovin' Spoonful has a Valley gig lined up over the next few nights, as does infamous punk act The Hangmen, jazz/blues queen Francine Reed, influential artist Hans Olson, and the cowboy music kings of Sons of the Pioneers.
Best of all, a number of these shows are either free or of the low-cost variety, which should please your pocketbook (especially after the drubbing it took over the holidays).
Details about each of these gigs can be found below in our list of the best shows happening in the Valley this week. And for even more live music happening around the Valley, hit up Phoenix New Times' online concert calendar.
Monday, January 7, and Tuesday, January 8
Musical Instrument Museum
John Sebastian returns to the Valley this week with tons of material from his legendary stint with The Lovin' Spoonful and his solo catalog. Tons. Just from the former category, there are hits like “Do You Believe in Magic?” and “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice,” as well as such faves as “Daydream,” “Younger Girl,” “Summer in the City,” “Rain on the Roof,” and “Nashville Cats.”
In the mid-'60s, The Lovin' Spoonful – with Sebastian on vocals, harmonica, guitar and autoharp; Zal Yanovsky on guitar (later replaced by Jerry Yester); bassist Steve Boone; and drummer/vocalist Joe Butler – racked up a string of chart hits over the course of three years. Sebastian left the Spoonful, who were eventually inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and went solo in 1968. He then put out albums like John B. Sebastian, The Four of Us, and Tarzana Kid and even made a surprise appearance onstage at Woodstock. Oh, and he also penned and sang the theme to Welcome Back, Kotter, which became a hit song in its own right. You’ll hear that during this two-night stint at the Musical Instrument Museum this week. Bob Ruggiero
Sons of the Pioneers
Tuesday, January 8
Tempe Center for the Arts
The Sons of the Pioneers are a hugely influential Western group originally formed in 1933 and co-founded by the singing cowboy Roy Rogers, star of more than 100 Western movies and an eponymous TV show. Though he was born in Ohio, Rogers met his Sons of the Pioneers co-founders in Los Angeles. Evoking the 19th-century cowboy era, the group's smooth harmonizing was featured in practically every Hollywood western that featured music from 1935 to 1950. Their most well-known appearance on the silver screen didn’t come during a cowboy flick, however, but instead was in the midst of Coen Brothers cult favorite The Big Lebowski, which featured the Sons of the Pioneers’ signature song, "Tumbling Tumbleweeds."
Though the principal members have long since headed for that great ranch in the sky, Sons of the Pioneers gave survived over the years thanks to an ever-rotating cast of musicians. At present, the group is led by Tommy Nallie (their current “trail boss”) and features such musicians as Roy "Dusty" Rogers Jr., MC John Fullerton, and Paul Elliott. They’ll amble into town this week for a Tuesday night show at Tempe Center for the Arts. L.J. Williamson
Tuesday, January 8
Time Out Lounge in Tempe
In the decades since Hans Olson first moved to the Valley in the late 1960s, he’s served as a venue proprietor, session musician, songwriter, label owner, event promoter, and founder of the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. The renowned bluesman is also a living legend and one helluva performer who toted his harmonica and slide guitar around the world countless
Back in the '70s, Olson opened for the likes of The Allman Brothers Band and Boz Skaggs, toured with Dave Mason, headlined at the Whiskey A Go-Go in L.A., and reportedly raised a lot of hell with former drinking buddy Tom Waits. In the mid-'80s, he also ran Tempe's legendary Sun
Olson is still going strong to this day, releasing his music via Phoenix-based label Fervor Records (who have gotten several of his tunes of the soundtracks of notable TV shows) and holding down weekly gigs at a few different local venues. Every Tuesday night, for instance, you can find him performing at popular Tempe dive Time Out Lounge in Tempe, singing the blues and having a blast doing so. Benjamin Leatherman
Wednesday, January 9
Yucca Tap Room in Tempe
No matter how much the underground rock scene has changed over the past few decades, The Hangmen keep plugging away, seemingly oblivious to (and totally unconcerned about) passing trends. When singer-guitarist Bryan Small first moved from his Boise, Idaho, hometown to Hollywood in the late 1980s, the early Hangmen lineups rocked hard enough to be billed with hair-metal pretenders like Guns N' Roses, but they also had a punk ethos that aligned them closer with such heroes as the Gun Club, Johnny Thunders, and Tex and the Horseheads.
Band members and serious drug habits have since come and gone, but Small keeps on keepin' on, twisting wickedly spidery hard-rock riffs around weirdly sodden lyrics ("My head is pounding last night"), all of it delivered with his trademark garage-rock snarl. Instead of coming off as a relic from punk's heyday, the Hangmen are still vital, with recent recordings produced by Social Distortion's Mike Ness, and they're ironically more popular than ever — with their "bad" reputation pushing them always closer to legendary status. Falling James
Wednesday, January 9
ASU Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale
Francine Reed is an absolute treasure. Born into a family of musicians, which included her late sister (and fellow vocalist) Margo, Reed has spent a good portion of her life performing, dating back to her time singing gospel music in church while growing up in Illinois.
From the mid-’70s onward, she’s been lighting up local stages and venues with her brassy voice and lively personality. Back in the day, you could find her at such famed-but-bygone Phoenix-area spots as Boojum Tree, Chuy’s, or Bombay Bicycle Club. And when she wasn’t thrilling locals with her talents, Reed was sharing stages with the likes of Miles Davis, Etta James, Stanley Jordan, and Smokey Robinson (she’s also a longtime member of Lyle Lovett’s Large Band).
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This week, you can catch Reed lighting up the ASU Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale when she visits the venue on Wednesday night. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35.10 to $47.10. Benjamin Leatherman
Mill’s End (10th Anniversary Show)
Thursday, January 10
Last Exit Live
Local bands have a habit of dying off after only a few short years in the scene. Not so with Mill's End. The local indie ensemble – which consists of frontman and rhythm guitarist Jeff Bump, drummer Mike Eckert, bassist Geoff Butzine, and lead guitarist Keith Perillo – has been performing their style of “Southern rock disguised as that thing called alt-country” for a decade now and show no signs of slowing down. Later this week, Mill’s End will celebrate their 10th birthday with a show at Last Exit Live in downtown Phoenix. In addition to a headlining set by the band (which will reportedly feature some special guests), locals