Props to Our Peeps: The Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame Awards on Sept. 23

By Niki D'Andrea

If you tuned into MTV's Video Music Awards this year, you may have noticed one big thing: they sucked. Between Britney Spears' underwhelming performance (note to Brit: your career is over; you might as well pose for Playboy while your body is still somewhat nubile), Kanye West's temper tantrum about not winning, and Kid Rock kicking Tommy Lee's ass, the VMA's were nothing but a sub-par Circus of the Stars, minus the cheesy '80s leotards.

Cyborg dominatrix mama Britney Spears: NOT performing at the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame Awards.

Thankfully, some awards shows are still more about paying tribute than playing to the lowest common denominator. The 2007 Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (AMEHOF) Induction Ceremony is one of them.

Before you start thinking this is gonna be some self-congratulatory milkfest on a cash cow, a little 411 on AMEHOF: It's a non-profit, registered 501(c) 3 organization with an all-volunteer staff. Today, I talked to one of the board members, Jon Iger, and he sounded audibly exhausted. “Yesterday was the copy deadline for our program, and we were all up until four in the morning,” he said.

Tired or not, Iger excitedly talked my ear off about AMEHOF and this year’s ceremony. The grassroots organization was founded a little more than two years ago, for the purpose of honoring musicians and entertainers from our great state.

No, I'm not joking. I know a lot of local music snobs love to wax sarcastic about how our scene sucks. In their opinions, Jimmy Eat World is sooo 15 minutes ago, the Gin Blossoms are sooo 15 years ago, and the Meat Puppets made the only good music to have ever emanated from the Grand Canyon State. They think Glen Campbell, Stevie Nicks, Steve Miller, and Alice Cooper are just "old." I think a better word is "legendary."

Stevie Nicks needs no introduction, but will get one for her induction.

"There's such a rich history here, and a lot of people didn't know so many famous or great people are from Arizona and spend time here,” Iger said. “We want to get the word out. It's nice to honor them, and it comes back to our motto: 'Inspiring the future by remembering the past.'"

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The first induction ceremony, in 2005, ushered in such local luminaries as Glen Campbell, Jessi Colter, Alice Cooper, Waylon Jennings, Pat McMahon, Wayne Newton, Wallace & Ladmo, and even New Times/Village Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey.

Inductees are chosen by a vast advisory board that includes local musicians Roger Clyne, Big Pete Pearson, Walt Richardson, Scotty Johnson and Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms, Jessi Colter, and Hans Olson; Live Nation promoter Danny Zelisko; Rhythm Room owner and blues harp guru Bob Corritore; radio personality and Jazz encyclopedia Blaise Lantana; and official Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble.

Board member Marshall Trimble: This guy knows his 'Zona.

This year's inductees are Steven Spielberg, Stevie Nicks, Linda Ronstadt, Jerry Riopelle, The Tubes, Buck Owens, Dwight Tindle, Rex Allen, Sanford Clark, The Herndon Family & Handlebar J, and the now-defunct/much-missed country bar, Mr. Lucky’s.

Spielberg attended Arcadia High School in Phoenix, where he made his first film, a science fiction odyssey called Firelight. “He said that he planned to be here [at the ceremony], if he wasn’t making a movie,” Iger said. “But last I heard, he was in Australia. Making a movie.”

Will Steven Spielberg get out from down under for the ceremony?

No word on whether Nicks and Ronstadt will be there, either, but all the other inductees will be represented -- including The Tubes, who will perform, much to the elation of Iger. “The Tubes! The Tubes! This will be the first appearance by the original Tubes in 20 years,” Iger said. “Bill Spooner will be there, and that’s a rare deal. That’s probably the biggest thing we’ve got going.”

The Tubes. Insert clever caption here.

Also performing will be the Herndon Brothers, cornerstones of local country for more than three decades. The Herndon family owns Handlebar J in Scottsdale, the oldest and most popular country bar/restaurant in town, and Ray Herndon is an established solo artist who also played with Lyle Lovett’s band for years.

The late Rex Allen, who did voiceovers for many Disney films in the ‘60s, will be represented by his son, Rex Allen, Jr., who also plans to perform a couple songs. Inductee Sanford Clark, whom Iger said “put out the first rockabilly record in Phoenix, back in 1956,” will also be on-hand. The house band for the ceremony is Marty Mitchell and the Smoke N Guns. Local television personality Pat McMahon (forever Gerald from The Wallace & Ladmo Show to me) will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

The evening’s events will also include slideshows of the inductees (courtesy of Harkins), a top-notch lighting and sound program, and an auction of rock and roll memorabilia from Rock Star Gallery in Scottsdale (word to collectors -- if you’ve never been out to RSG, you’re missing some awesome items).

Lady in Red: Governor Janet Napolitano.

“Oh, and the Governor!” Iger added proudly. “The Governor has proclaimed an official Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame Day.”

That day will be the day of the ceremony: Sunday, September 23. The event begins at 5 p.m. at Dodge Theatre, and tickets cost $10, $15, and $25, depending on where you want to sit. You can get ‘em through Live Nation.

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