Arizona: A Primer

The primary focus of this blog is to highlight some of the talented musicians and bands from Arizona, a state that, at times, lags in its suppport of local music. To that end, I’ll regularly post about bands/musicians/DJs (with music) from the state, past and present. From Flagstaff to Phoenix to Tucson and points in between.

But, first, a little background (which in no way is meant to be an all-encompassing history): The scene in Phoenix/Tempe — and the rest of the state for that matter — probably isn’t unlike most cities. There are bands that have “made it” commerically (Jimmy Eat World, DJ Z-Trip and, going back a few years, the Gin Blossoms and the Refreshments), bands that have been on the brink (Gloritone, Dead Hot Workshop) and others that have had success to the chagrin of the majority (we apologize for Trik Turner).

The talent is diverse, but the support is typically slow to follow. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reasons. Apathy is as good as any. Of course, we all know the influence of radio and MTV, so familiarity — or lack thereof — enters the equation.

Tempe, home of Arizona State and a lot of the Valley’s music activity, always seemed on the verge of national recognition but never quite got over the hump. The cause has been handicapped by the commercialization and big-box takeover of the city. Two of the cities best local-music venues, Nita’s Hideaway and Long Wong’s, a divey spot that gave rise to plenty of bands, were forced to fold.

The momentum, hopefully, is on the upswing. Jimmy Eat World’s success has brought mention of Arizona (Mesa, to be exact) to the masses. Calexico (Tucson) has built quite a following, as well. Two local stalwarts — Kimber Lanning (owner of Stinkweeds Records and Modified Arts and promoter Charlie Levy of Stateside Presents — are helping the Valley’s hip factor, by drawing indie acts like the Mountain Goats, Sufjan Stevens, the Decemberists, to name a few.

I have a personal investment in the scene (which I’ll get to in the next post), but most of all I simply think there are quality bands that deserve a forum. Hope you take the time to give ’em a listen — and I promise: no Trik Turner.

One thought on “Arizona: A Primer”

  1. As a suffering valley resident, who moved here from Austin 5 years ago, i have to say ‘thank you’ for this blog. The music scene is looking much MUCH better than it did when i moved here, with Modified, Marquee, and The Clubhouse picking up where Wong’s and Nita’s left off. Keep up the blatant pimping of the P-H-X.

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