Top 5 Must-See Phoenix Shows This Weekend

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Welcome to the holiday season nexus. Please turn in your seasonally appropriate pop songs. Please return to the city where you work. Please await further instructions.

Do not think about New Year's Eve. It's not here yet and kind of a disappointment anyway. (View our complete concert calendar here.)

PHX FMLY FEST 2013 - Fifth and Roosevelt streets - Today

Unless I catch Robbie Pfeffer dubbing cassette tapes in an alley somewhere during the PHX FMLY FEST, I'm calling it: Rubber Brother Records is officially suspiciously busy. Maybe time-turner busy. FMLY FEST is not two Motorola phones from the middle-aughts: It's an eight-stage outdoor festival that features recognizable local acts all afternoon and evening, including acts like Wolvves, Diners, Emby Alexander, and Dogbreth, all of whom we're pretty into here.

You can see the full roster -- and the places you'll find them -- on their Facebook page.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - Ovations Live, Chandler - Tonight

These days, swing revivalists seem to have comfortably settled into their own niche in the music industry. Brian Setzer has cornered the market in playing swingin' Christmas carols to grown folks; Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, out on its own Christmas tour all month, will play a post-Christmas show December 27 at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler.

Back in 1999, they were riding high on the pop charts at the crest of the Swing Revival. Now, to put it kindly, they ain't. he Swing Revival was one among many odd little musical fads that took hold of the mainstream in the late '90s. In fact, identifying and exploiting new fads was the dominant business model of the record industry at the time, and it was successful as hell. Record companies had never sold so many copies of hit albums before, and they certainly haven't since.

Nobody's going diamond anymore, but the musical trend Class of 1999 has had a great year. -- Nathan Smith

Future Loves Past, Bogan Via, ROAR, Vial of Sound - Saturday, December 28

December 28, even when it isn't a Saturday, is the least essential day of the year. You're still stuck firmly in the middle of the holidays, but the holiday that's the reason for the euphemistic season is already past, leaving the red and green decorations around town looking a little ratty. You've gotten your gifts, and you've just begun to confront the reality of New Years Eve, which is that you're going to be sitting in a bar only more people will be there than usual.

If you're willing to sit in a bar with more people there than usual a couple of days early, you can rehabilitate December 28 with four Valley stalwarts at a President Gator Records showcase: ROAR (our 2013 Best Local Band), Vial of Sound, Bogan Via, and Future Loves Past.

Live from Laurel Canyon - MIM Music Theater - Sunday, December 29

Laurel Canyon shoots upward from an intersection with Sunset Boulevard, eventually ending at Mulholland Drive. It's a small, lightly wooded community close to Hollywood, but worlds away in terms of attitude and lifestyle. In the mid-1960s it became the place to be for artists and musicians harboring a folk background, but looking for inspiration beyond the then-fading musical style. Word of mouth spread talk that something special was happening musically in those foothills, a place where folk music was indeed undergoing a progressive change.

Artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell came from Canada, while New Yorker Carole King, North Carolina boy James Taylor, Britton Graham Nash, and a host of others descended on the canyon to create, during a 10-year period -- a body of work that perhaps remains unmatched anywhere. Amazingly, many of these artists would go on to become some of the biggest names in musical history -- and most, eventual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members.

The music these artists created during this period is that basis for "Live From Laurel Canyon" -- Songs & Stories of American Folk-Rock, a 90-minute show featuring many of the iconic songs composed in that storied atmosphere.

"Most of us grew up with a lot of this music," explains Khani Cole, a Valley resident and creator of the show along with Brian Chartrand, and Kip Fox. "It was a unique, special time musically in that geographic area. All these people were neighbors. They hung out together, wrote songs together, rehearsed together, had relationships together. They were young and creative and it [made for a] really unique time. They created a lot of great stuff that is still with us and has stood the test of time." --Glenn BurnSilver

Bill Tarsha and the Rocket 88s - The Blooze Bar - Sunday, December 29

"I started listening to Little Walter, Big Walter, George Harmonica Smith, Jimmy Reed and Slim Harpo," Bill Tarsha says. "By the time I was 15, I got going on the blues harp." By the '70s, his band was touring with Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf and several other famous blues bands. "It was incredible. I was born in '48 so I was around when many of the legends were still alive. Now, there are few legends left." Tarsha played the blues harmonica for 46 years before switching to drums three years ago. His three-piece band, the Rocket 88s, includes his wife Susie on bass and Dave Forester on lead guitar and keyboards. All three members of the band play drums. "There's a real lack of good blues drummers in the Phoenix area -- maybe a handful, but not many." Tarsha's been around a while, but he's still learning -- at a recent harmonica blowout he backed up a 6-year-old player. "The crowd loved him -- three pretty women came up on the stage, walked right by me and went right for the kid. I learned that you never want to come on after a good-looking girl or a young kid."

-- Stan Bindell

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