Modified memories: Ami Johnson (booking manager)


Modified Arts, an all-ages venue in downtown Phoenix that has been a staple of the local music scene and a vital venue for touring indie bands for nearly 11 years, will change direction and transform into a space focused mostly on art. (Read more here and here.)

As such, I am collecting thoughts and memories from the musicians who played there and the fans who attended its many shows. This is less an obituary and more a celebration of a less-than-perfect but charming venue that, as we know it now, will be missed.

This entry comes from Ami Johnson, the booking manager at Modified who recently was named “best bouncer” by Phoenix New Times.

I will be the first to say I am not an expert on Phoenix and everything and everyone that has helped shape it and dream it into the stimulated hot spot it is today. I moved here from Flagstaff only 5 years ago with, essentially, “big dreams”. But since being thrust into the culture a couple years ago, it’s been my goal to learn as much as possible from those successful and inspirational people around me. The kind of people that create, the kind of people that create change.

That is one of the main reasons I’m going to miss Modified Arts. Meeting new people everyday that have such an impact on those around them. Hearing people connect with others through their music. Seeing an absurd amount of show attendees packed into a small area just catch a little glimpse of something amazing. It was a special place where those life changing musical experiences would happen no matter if there were 20 people in the room or 200.

As I come upon my last week with Modified in my care, I know my woman hood will get the best of me and I will cry. I already got a little watery eyed during the Sea Wolf show a couple months back. I’m gonna miss turning on the vents because it smells, but then turning them off because it’s so cold. I’m gonna miss holding my breath watching the speakers sway when the crowd would start to jump or dance around. Definitely gonna miss running to Circle K because we ran out of change and them saying, “This is the last time!”

And no matter how many times I say I won’t, I will miss answering questions like, “Oh, is that beer in the cooler?”, “Can I leave and come back in with this stamp?”, “What is this stamp a picture of anyway?” and of course the crowd favorite, “Can you turn on the air conditioning?”. I just wish I took a tally of how many times I heard “Can I get my girlfriend in?”. I admit, I love it. I had a great time taking care of a simple building that had the ability to be such a huge and essential part of so many people’s lives. At first, I was scared out of mind but the community welcomed me with open arms. Thanks so much for that. I’ve had a blast sitting up front, it has made me into an extremely lucky person to have had the experiences I’ve had there.

My only regret is I never got to play on the stage myself. Well, I did once, but no one was there. And it was awesome.

Jared Bell (Lymbyc Systym)
Stephen Chilton (Psyko Steve)
David Jensen (Art for Starters)

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