The Via Maris: The Better Year


Last Wednesday I went to the Last Exit in Tempe with the selfish intentions of seeing Source Victoria and then taking off. But then The Via Maris kept me around for a song … and then two … then three … then the whole set.

It makes sense that singer Chad Sundin is a Valley native. The Via Maris’ music, like Calexico, expertly conveys the feelings of living in a desert metropolis, especially on the title track to the band’s first album The Wilderness Underneath: “Even though the air is dry, the ground is feeling softer now.”

As Serene Dominic of the Phoenix New Times put it: “Sundin has waged an internal tug-of-war between belonging to the desert he came from and feeling decidedly landlocked.” It’s a feeling not uncommon among a lot of young people in Phoenix – we envy a city like Los Angeles but wouldn’t dare move there.

As big as Phoenix has become, it’s still seeking an identity – socially, musically and all points in between. The Via Maris, an alternative to alt-country, follows the likes of Calexico and Giant Sand in helping us feel like we belong.

The group is releasing its second album, The Bicentennial, with a release show on April 11 at St. Augustine’s Church in Tempe (1735 S. College Ave.). It starts at 7:30; cover is $5. Nick Jaina (Portland, Ore.) and David Williams (Utah) also are performing.

(Thanks to Chad Sundin for providing a song from the new record to post.)

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