Prescott Band Spafford's Jams Aim for the Greats

Say you've been waiting for your favorite band to perform at a music festival. You've spent some time scoping out the best spot on the lawn, and you've sacrificed any object you can spare to carve out your spot. It's a tough decision to give it up to check out a local band on another stage, but those who left their coolers and lawn chairs behind before STS9 took the stage on the first night of the McDowell Mountain Music Festival in late March experienced the sweet reward of Prescott's very own Spafford, a band bent on providing "electro-funk therapy."

See also: 10 Things We Learned at McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2014

The quartet's tight sound bled past the vendor tents and into the ears of an improvisational music-hungry crowd who craved something crunchy and unique.

"It was like a virus," recalls guitarist Brian Moss.

The audience grew as the band played a set that seemed much too short for its eclectic, exploratory sound. Like many groups in the jam-band genre, it's hard to nail down Spafford's influences.

"They're all over the map," he describes. "The sound is more of a philosophy."

It's a philosophy of respect for your elders. One moment they sounded like a space-age Steely Dan and the next like a funky version of the Grateful Dead (all in the same song, no less).

This month marks the kick-off to Spafford's "Spring Into Summer Tour," which began in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Cafe. As it is with their jam-band contemporaries, no show is exactly the same, so the band archives its shows on its home page. One night will feature a jazzy take on "Stuck in the Middle with You" and another will feature an extended jam of one the songs on the group's 2012 self-titled album.

For those who enjoyed the taste of Spafford they got at McDowell Mountain Music Festival, Friday, May 9, is an excellent chance to see the band in its natural habitat. The band is taking the stage at Tempe's Sail Inn with the band Relief Crew. The Sail Inn, a haven for blues, independent music, and jam bands in the Valley, will shut its doors for good June 29.

See also: The Sail Inn in Tempe to Close in June

"It's a bittersweet feeling," says Moss of the Sail Inn's demise. "We are going to play like it's not going anywhere."

If you can't make it, the band will headline Sail Inn's Farewell Festival's first night on June 27.

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil