Music News

The Phoenix Music Community Hosts a Benefit Show for the Family of Former New Times Staffer Megan Irwin

By Niki D’Andrea

A benefit show featuring some of the Valley’s brightest music stars is always an event worth attending, but in the case of the “Purpose” benefit show on Sunday, November 23, the cause hits close to home for us at Phoenix New Times.

This past Labor Day weekend, the family of Megan Irwin — former staff writer for Phoenix New Times— was involved in an automobile accident near Yuma. The crash not only claimed the life of one family member, but seriously injured Megan’s mother, Leesa Irwin, a schoolteacher and mother of three. Leesa spent more than six weeks in St. Joseph’s Hospital and still faces a recovery process that is expected to take more than a year.

In addition to being a very kind and likable person, Megan Irwin was also one of our most esteemed staff writers. She began writing for us an intern while still attending ASU, and was eventually hired as full-time staff. She covered a wide variety of topics in her stories, from high school Eurotrips gone wrong (“Eurotrashed,” September 12, 2007); to local Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, just as she was on the brink of becoming a phenomenon (“Charmed,” July 11, 2007); to Liz Cohen’s infiltration of the male-dominated lowrider scene (“Hard Body,” October 4, 2006). She received numerous awards during her time at New Times, including a Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism, an award from the Society of Professional Journalists, a Hearst Award for Excellence in Journalism, and four Arizona Press Club awards.

The family crisis that Megan faces is not only emotional, but financial, as well, so several local forces have come together to put on “Purpose: A Benefit Show for Leesa Irwin.”

The musical acts performing at the benefit truly represent the cream of the Phoenix music scene.

There’s sultry Americana artist Dakota Jeane, who deftly blends blues and folk in soulful, stripped-down acoustic numbers.

Dakota Jeane

Dry River Yacht Club is also on the bill, and they’ll be bringing their unique brand of experimental acoustic music, complete with instruments like clarinets and bassoons.

Adding some mellow electro-energy to the bill is Sean Brennan and The Yellow Minute, an act that gives pop music a softer edge with smooth melodies alongside sweet and simple vocal harmonies.

Topping off the benefit bill are two lauded multi-instrumentalist bands, local funk-blues fusionists Black Carl, and indie pop sensations What Laura Says, who’ve been the buzz of the indie music biz since playing multiple gigs at the 2008 SxSW festival in Austin, Texas, last March.

What Laura Says (photo by Jeff Ambrose)

The benefit will also include some DJ sets by electro/crunk/house DJ Kevin M.O.B., who regularly spins at the “Party Foul” events at Homme Lounge.

Our editorial assistant, Lilia Menconi, says the idea for the benefit came about while she was talking with local scenesters Katie K, Adriane Goetz (also a New Times freelancer), and Craig Citizen. “We were sitting around, just trying to think of what we could do to help,” Menconi says. “And I tried to think of what we’d be good at, and realized, ‘Well, we’re really good at partying.’”

Once they’d decided to organize a benefit show, Citizen (who puts on the “Faux Show” every Friday at Glam) sprang into action and started booking bands and looking for sponsors. And it just so happened that some of the best bands in Phoenix were friends of his. “I picked the bands because they’re all really good friends of mine, and I didn’t want anybody to say no,” Citizen says. “And all the bands were really cool with it. I think Mitch Freedom from What Laura Says is the only person in any of the bands that knew Megan personally, so they all basically agreed to do it on good faith and for the cause.”

Citizen says he was somewhat surprised at the support they’ve received for the benefit. “A lot of our parents have helped, with making gift baskets and donating money for the bands to have free drinks, and local businesses have really helped with donating money and items, too,” Citizen says.

Sponsors for the benefit show include New Times, Green Restaurant, Stinkweeds Records, Rose & Crown Pub, Buffalo Exchange, and Haus Modern Living. 100% of the proceeds from the show will be donated to the Irwin family.

PURPOSE: A Benefit Show for Leesa Irwin When: Sunday, November 23, at 7:30 p.m. Where: The Rhythm Room, 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix How much: $8 at the door (additional donations are welcome and appreciated)