Local Wire

Reggae, Esé

Like many roots-oriented idioms, the parameters of what is considered "true" reggae music are often dictated by stringent dogma. It's a sort of musical fascism that frequently ostracizes bands that don't toe the strict ganja party line. Unfortunately, such narrow dictates usually result in groups that either come off like human jukeboxes, playing an endless stream of covers, or worse, offering up flaccid compositions that inevitably end up sounding like Marley-lite.

Those types of concerns haven't seemed to affect Phoenix's Rasta Farmers. With a membership composed of mostly Chicanos, the group is already a sharp contrast to most of its peers. The band, one of the few Valley rasta combos with a predominately original set list, freely admits to taking traditional reggae and fusing it with elements of rock, low-rider oldies, dancehall, soca, afro-beat and Latin. All this ends up producing a sound that owes as much to P-Funk, War, and Earth, Wind and Fire as it does to St. Bob.

Formed 12 years ago by Ras Patrick -- a self-described South Phoenix pachuco whose life was altered after a trip to Jamaica -- the group's unconventional muse has made it a favorite among a number of communities, especially the local Native American population. Despite their long run, this month marks the release of the group's first recording effort, a 10-song CD titled Black Out. The Rasta Farmers will celebrate the disc's debut with a pair of performances next weekend. Black Out is available at the Rasta Farmers Web site at www. rastafarmers.com or at Zia Record Exchange.

Rasta Farmers are scheduled to perform on Friday, May 12, at the Montego Jamaican Café in Tempe. Showtime is 9 p.m. The group is also set to play on Saturday, May 13, at Alice Cooper'stown. Showtime is 8:30 p.m.

Log On: Fans of the esoteric and mysterious should hie to Nita's Hideaway next Wednesday for a concept night called 4-1-1. The premise? Four one-person acts, with each bringing one special surprise guest. Organizers are billing the show as a "celebration of the power of the individual -- and the one friend they could con into helping them."

The lineup includes acoustic songstress Cameo Hill, Valley eccentric Vic Masters, Sleepwalker/Year of the Mule main man Jamal Ruhe and notorious Old Pueblo punk-primitive Bob Log III, late of Tucson's Doo Rag.

Log is coming off an especially memorable Valley performance at the Arizona Mills Virgin Megastore last November, where unsuspecting suburban shoppers were caught off guard by his always unsettling act. Apart from his own bizarre shtick (raw, solo Delta blues slide playing while clad in protective outwear and a motorcycle helmet -- think Mississippi Fred McDowell meets Evil Knievel), Log's Virgin gig featured a mid-set appearance by a mysterious masked apprentice, a buxom, half-naked female who proceeded to wow the crowd, including several prepubescent boys looking at Pokémon videos, with her impressive nipple-gonging expertise. Though we're not sure exactly who'll be sitting in with Log for the 4-1-1 show, we suspect he might be taking another trip down mammary lane, and veteran Log-watchers are predicting a show of, ahem, titanic proportions.

Bash & Pop urges fans to bone up on the man by picking up Log's sophomore solo release Trike, a follow-up to 1998's School Bus, both of which are part of his ongoing "Vehicle Series" celebrating various modes of transportation.

4-1-1 featuring Bob Log III, Jamal Ruhe, Vic Masters and Cameo Hill is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10, at Nita's Hideaway. Showtime is 9 p.m.

Hope I Die Before I Get Old, Seriously: In the ongoing battle among legendary '60s bands trying to destroy their once-great legacies, classic-rock geezers The Who have announced dates for an extended U.S. comeback tour, their second (or technically, fourth) such endeavor since their 1982 "farewell" tour. Buoyed by strength of last year's acoustic performance at Neil Young's Bridge benefit, a smattering of recent club dates and an apparent desire to pad their offshore bank accounts, Messers Townshend, Daltrey and Entwistle (along with schnozzola junior, Zak Starkey) will be making the rounds of American amphitheaters this summer. The group's U.S. jaunt will bring them to Phoenix's Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion on August 14. Tickets for the event go on sale June 3.

I hope the warm Arizona evening won't encourage singer Roger Daltrey to appear sans shirt -- there's nothing less appealing than a man trying to belt out "Won't Get Fooled Again" with middle-age paunch hanging over his white-fringed buckskin pants. And I wonder how bad Pete Townshend's hearing has to get before he stops voluntarily standing in front of 50,000-watt Marshall stacks. Age gags aside, I admit to being a blatant fan who will no doubt be front and center for the proceedings. It is The Who, after all. And I fully expect my steely professional demeanor to degenerate into something akin to nervous schoolgirl embarrassment should I get the chance to speak one-on-one with the man behind blue eyes.

In an ironic twist, future classic-rock geezers Pearl Jam have also announced a Blockbuster Desert Sky show. Theirs is set for Saturday, October 21. The group will tour in support of their upcoming album (yawn) Binaural, set for release later this month. Judging by their rapidly descending sales figures, most in the crowd will be shouting for "Jeremy" or "Evenflow" instead of any of the "new" stuff.

Pearl Jam's decreasing commercial appeal is a bad news/good news scenario that should hearten lead moper Eddie Vedder -- "Hey Eddie, now you can stop acting depressed, because your career is really going into the toilet" -- or at least the way of greatest hits/arena-circuit dwellers like Foreigner and REO Speedwagon. Can't wait for that Bad Company/Pearl Jam tour in 2015. Fortunately, the PJ bill also includes Brit-poppers Supergrass as an opener, so at least half of the $26 and $30 admission prices will be worth the money. Tickets for Pearl Jam/ Supergrass go on sale May 13 at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster or Desert Sky Pavilion Box Office.

Vinyl Anniversary: Zia Record Exchange, the venerable Arizona music retailer started by the late Brad Singer in 1980, will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a free, all-ages bash this Sunday at Boston's nightclub in Tempe. The "hard-core" party boasts a lineup of performers that includes Zen Lunatics, Mind Advancement Team, Sonic Thrills, Truckers on Speed, Beat Angels, Whorror and many more. Also promised is a special "surprise guest" who some are speculating will be Rick Springfield, in town for a solo gig at Celebrity Theater. It seems unlikely, however, that the mystery musician will be the much maligned Australian heartthrob, but rather a much phunkier (hint, hint) outfit.

The soiree will also feature giveaways from Todd McFarlane Productions, raffle prizes from Music-Go-Round and Buffalo Exchange, and of course plenty of rock 'n' roll goodies from your hosts. While the event is all-ages, alcohol will be available for the adults. Fair warning: if past parties are any indication, the Zia staff will be entirely too hung over to take your warmed-over Grand Funk trade-ins come Monday morning.

Zia Records' 20th anniversary party featuring performances by Whorror, Mind Advancement Team, J16 Collage, Zen Lunatics, Gat* Rot, Truckers on Speed, Tolerance, Sonic Thrills, Beat Angels and surprise guests is scheduled for Sunday, May 7, at Boston's in Tempe. Showtime is 7:30p.m.

Contact Bob Mehr at his online address: [email protected]