Music News

Steve Weiss, What Are You Listening To?

Weiss is a fine art photographer with Candid Landscapes and executive director of No Festival Required Independent Cinema, a four-time Best Of Phoenix winner. Weiss will be doing film programming for Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art's new SMoCA Lounge in November.

When you put your key in the ignition and turn on the radio, what station would play right now? Sadly, it's usually going to be the news on KJZZ, but sometimes it's KBAQ or KSLX. Mostly, it's a cassette tape of whatever jazz I have in there, from Miles Davis to Charlie Parker.

What's the first album you bought? I can't recall if it was The Monkees' first album or the mono copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, by that band you might remember, The Beatles? Mind you, I bought them when they first came out! I played both on a portable record player.

What's the first concert you saw? It was May 23, 1969 -- Iron Butterfly, The Alice Cooper Band and Blues Image, at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. My parents drove a friend and I and picked us up after. Life was pretty much never the same after that. I was in 7th grade.

What's your favorite concert you've ever been to? It's incredibly hard to pick that very easily, as each era in my life probably hinged on some incredible life-fulfilling show, and each artist I follow usually has done several favorites. To make it easier and not discriminate, I'd instead give my top three.

Bruce Springsteen at Gammage Auditorium, November 6, 1975, when the balcony shifted a foot in position from the sustained clapping and stomping. It was the last show of three days of shows there, and it seemed everyone who'd been at the last two shows and the entire state of New Jersey was there.

Koko Taylor at Rhythm Room in the late 1990's. She was an incredibly powerful force of nature singing 5 feet from me.

To be contemporary, I'd list the last tour of Tom Waits at Orpheum Theatre. I was in the very back row of the balcony, but I could not wipe the smile off my face through the whole show and for days after. I had sworn to not go to another concert that would be more than a $40 ticket, until I heard Tom was coming. I then had to re-think my position.

What's the last song played on your music player?  "Man With A Gun" by Jerry Harrison, off the Jonathan Demme-directed film Something Wild soundtrack, because frankly I just keep hitting rewind and replay as I'm driving. I don't listen to music much outside of my truck.

Preferred format: CD, vinyl, cassette, 8-Track or digital? Vinyl is what I'd prefer, generally on a day when I can crank the volume and maybe sing along a little, but CD's and cassettes are what I listen to when I drive, and I drive more than I play vinyl.

What's your favorite album? A toss-up between Astral Weeks, by Van Morrison, and Cahoots, by The Band, in part because of "4% Pantomime," a duet with Richard Manuel and Van Morrison! The trick with Astral Weeks is to play the B-side first.

Who is your favorite singer or band? Van Morrison has always spoken to my romantic side, John Coltrane makes me think, Toots and the Maytals gets me dancing.

Does you computer track how many times you've played something -- if so,
what's at the top of the list?
 Right now, Calexico's "Roka" from their Live in Nuremberg concert is tops on the list. I have been greatly inspired to play Calexico ever since I booked the film Circo at FilmBar.

What was your favorite new or new-to-you album from 2010?
 I'm pretty much a latecomer to every kind of contemporary music, but discovering Gogol Bordello when I screened the documentary Gogol Bordello Non-Stop is probably the most recent and enjoyable thing I've experienced. 

What one song would you play if you had a world-wide radio audience? "The Fever," Bruce Springsteen, on constant repeat play and high volume. There is no better song to sing along to on a straight, lonely road.

Who is your favorite local artist? Again, it's a toss-up between Vanessa Atalanta, Towncraft and Snow Songs. I miss Lisa Marmur.

What is your favorite local venue to see music? Certainly Rhythm Room has the best sight lines and sound, but I actually recently drove up to the Orpheum Theater in Flagstaff to see Toots and the Maytals and have a chair, rather than see him here in Phoenix at the chair-less Marquee Theatre. I'm really excited about the coming-soon Crescent Ballroom.

What is your favorite music video? "Solstice" by Andy Ditzler, mainly because it was directed by my personal hero, friend and mentor, George Kuchar, the most prolific and inspirational underground filmmaker who ever lived. George died September 6, 2011. R.I.P. George, I miss you every time I watch this.

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