Something is different this week: Downtown Phoenix really has drawn the best. The Live Music Capital of the World, classic photographic process, rising local stars, a celebration of community, genre legends and the one and only Rhinestone Cowboy all have gathered in our fair city to share their craft. As Phoenix continues its centennial year, downtown is making the case for being a national cultural landmark. This week, celebrate legacy and future, tradition and progression. It’s all downtown.
- Thursday, Feb. 16
- 6:30-8:30 p.m.
- Phoenix Urban Research Lab: 234 N. Central Ave.
- Getting there: Walk—Central Avenue and Van Buren Street
- Price: FREE with Facebook RSVP
Recommended if you like: a local music scene, SXSW, Jimmy Eat World
Austin has long been known as an anomaly in Texas. With its left-leaning politics, progressive city planning and vibrant arts scene, it’s no wonder that Austin has become regarded as “The Live Music Capitol of the World.” For 25 years, the city has hosted the famed South by Southwest festival, a trade show, conference, film and music festival and so much more that brings up to 20,000 registered attendees and $167 million in revenue to Austin.
Each month, Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory (PURL) opens its doors to the latest and most thought-provoking films on city development. Tonight, PURL will screen Nathan Christ’s latest film, “Echotone,” documenting the impact of music and the arts on the growth and sustainability of Austin, Texas. With the city’s ever-increasing prominence, the staunchly-independent culture of Austin has been challenged more and more as corporate interests attempt to make a buck out of the city’s cultural success. The film focuses on a few particular Austin artists, aiming to bridge the gap between independence and success and looks at how underground culture both rejects and attracts commodification. Following the screening, Charlie Levy of promotion company Stateside Presents and the Crescent Ballroom, Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World and others will discuss the film and its relevance to the culture and development of Phoenix.
- Friday, Feb. 17
- 6-10 p.m.
- eye lounge: 419 E. Roosevelt St.
- Getting there: Walk—Fifth and Roosevelt streets
- Price: FREE
Recommended if you like: art + nature, preservation, mixed-media
Photography, salt, leaves. Eye lounge member artist Claire Warden mashes up natural processes, human manipulation and classic photography for her latest solo exhibition at the famed Roosevelt Row art space. First, Warden crystallizes various flowers, leaves and branches in saltwater, mimicking long-standing traditions and methods in preservation of nature. Then, she uses her decades-old film camera to document her creation. Finally, Warden utilizes the platinum printing process, a technique developed in the 19th century involving intensive chemical mixtures and a delicate hand, transferring each image from negative to photo paper. According to her artist’s statement, Warden sees her current work as an examination of control, as well as human interaction with nature, creating an intimate, personal vision of the normally straightforward art of photography.
- Saturday, Feb. 18
- 7:30 p.m. Doors, 8:00 p.m. Show
- The Trunk Space: 1506 NW Grand Ave.
- Getting there: Bike—15th and Grand avenues
- Price: $8 at the door
Recommended if you like: Regina Spektor, the uke, local jams
Four years, three full-lengths, dozens of shows and hundreds of fans later, Michelle Blades is now fully primed for success. Niece to the legendary Latin singer Rubén Blades, at the age of 18, Michelle famously threw a dart at a map, leaving her home in Miami for the heat of Phoenix. Almost immediately upon arrival, Blades began wowing crowds at Conspire’s weekly open mic night with her ukulele-driven, fully improvised songs. There, she drew the attention of musician and producer River Jones, who recorded, produced and released all three of her albums on his well-regarded River Jones Music Label, best known for bringing the world Courtney Marie Andrews. And while many have known the uke for its niche, kitschy appeal, Blades takes the instrument to an entirely new level, blending jazz, soul, Latin, French, classical and folk elements in developing her sound.
Tracing Blades’ musical evolution follows an extremely uncharacteristic trajectory. Her first album, Where the Water Boils, was recorded and largely written in one day. Then her second, Oh, Nostalgia!, catapulted her to local fame and attracted French record label Camaraderie Limited, which brought the young artist to tour in France and released her record in the country. For her third album, Blades has been much more methodical, working all year with Jones to write and arrange the songs, adding strings, percussion and more guitar to the mix while utilizing her recent affinity for classical composers such as Chopin. Most recently, Blades took on a totally new crowd through her performance at this past year’s TEDxPhoenix at Mesa Arts Center. For her CD release this weekend, Blades will be pulling out all the stops, bringing along a percussionist and cellist to accompany her on stage and calling on her acclaimed friends, violin-looper Tobie Milford, indie newcomers Nova Joven and gospel-blues specialists Wooden Indian, to open the evening. This is the future of Arizona music.
- Sunday, Feb. 19
- 6-8 p.m.
- Fair Trade Cafe: 424 N. Central Ave.
- Getting there: Walk—across Central Avenue from campus
- Price: FREE with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Recommended if you like: sharing a meal, quality time, Earth-conscious consumption
Each week, Fair Trade Cafe opens its doors for a community dinner. Normally, these events are reserved for a select few who sign up through the Cafe’s mailing list. But this Sunday, ASU’s Discover Phoenix series has pried open the invite list to students of the Downtown campus and the rest of the community. As always, the event will focus on sustainable dining, with local, organic and vegetarian/vegan-focused menu items, and an RSVP-only guest list to limit waste. The dinners celebrate propinquity and community in downtown Phoenix and provide a perfect recharge for all attendees leading into the working week. Make sure to send in your RSVP to ensure a spot at this savory, FREE event.
- Tuesday, Feb. 21
- 7 p.m. Doors, 8 p.m. Show
- Crescent Ballroom: 308 N. 2nd Ave.
- Getting there: Walk—2nd Avenue and Van Buren Street
- Price: $16 in advance at crescentphx.com, $17 at the door
Recommended if you like: Skatalites, real dance, sweet soul music
The Slackers are the kings of the American ska scene. For 20 years, these scene veterans have been spreading their gospel through the so-called Church of Slack, keeping the purist vision of Jamaican ska alive throughout the United States and across the world. Core members Marcus Geard (bass), Vic Ruggeiro (organ, vocals) and Dave Hillyard (saxophone) have led the group through numerous incarnations across 12 full-lengths, eight live albums, two EPs and dozens of collections, singles and compilations. Denouncers of the fast, “punk with horns” sound that dominated the 1990s, the band’s smooth, ever-confident mix of ska, garage, reggae, rocksteady, soul, R&B and early rock-n-roll has kept The Slackers at the top of its game even after the fallen third wave died out at the turn of the century. Long known for its suave live shows, the slick Slackers arrive in full suits to treat the crowd to seemingly endless sets, augmented by audience requests and solos on every instrument to provide an entirely unique concert experience. Twenty years on, The Slackers have shown no signs of slowing its incessant pace, with new material being released every year, and the band’s creation of its own record label, Whatevski, to release digital live albums, new albums by ska up-and-comers and forgotten classics from the ‘90s NYC ska boom. Enter the Church on Tuesday, and don’t think you’ll stop dancing.
- Saturday, Feb. 18
- 8 p.m. Show
- Comerica Theater: 400 W. Washington St.
- Getting there: Walk—Fourth Avenue and Washington Street
- Price: $61-$79 in advance at livenation.com
Recommended if you like: classic country, Paul Westerberg, fond farewells
After recording music for seven decades, the Rhinestone Cowboy is finally hanging up his cap. After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009, Glen Campbell announced his retirement from music but not before one final album and a grand tour to commemorate the singer-guitarist’s lengthy career and thank his fans for their endless support. Beginning in the 1950s as an in-demand session musician in Los Angeles, Campbell built his career out of impeccable musical chops, working many times with production legend Phil Spector. Through the ‘60s, Campbell began a solo career that would last decades, collaborating with Brian Wilson and working as a touring member of the Beach Boys. The ‘70s and ‘80s then brought Campbell’s greatest success, as he hosted The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on television, and recorded numerous country radio hits. Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005, Glen Campbell solidified his legacy as one of country music’s greatest stars. For his final album, Campbell worked all angles, collaborating with Chris Isaak, Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Paul Westerberg of The Replacements, Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices, Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers (and son of Bob Dylan) and many others to write a heartfelt swan song, acknowledging his musical past while passing the torch to the stars of the future. Far from the country kitsch associated with “Rhinestone Cowboy,” Glen Campbell will mosey into the sunset this year, but not before ensuring that all are aware of his joy, music and grace.
Events compiled by Connor Descheemaker.
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