Phoenix local music picks: The Maine 8123 Fest, Orkesta Mendoza, the Sunpunchers and more

·14 min read

One of the Valley's most successful rock acts of the century, so far, the Maine, will host a festival at Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix in a month whose local highlights range from that multi-act blowout to a benefit for Club Placebo, a new performance space that doubles as a local punk museum.

There's also a new label launching at Last Exit Live with the release of a four-song local-music compilation, Danielle Durack throwing the album she released last January, a birthday party now that live music is back in the clubs and a tribute to a legendary jazz musician who spent his formative years in Phoenix.

For more on local music, see our picks for the 20 top albums released in 2021 by Arizona artists.

More Arizona music: Flagstaff duo reflect on patriotism in post-insurrection lament

Wednesday Wednesday

Jesse Teer of the Senators launched this weekly singer-songwriter showcase in December, inspired by Joel Eckel’s Monday Monday show at Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, where Teer has been a guest performer. In a press release, Teer said, “This kind of songwriters showcase should have happened in Phoenix years ago. But, it probably couldn’t have. There just wasn’t enough of a coalesced scene then. There is now.” Teer hosts the series.

Details: 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 19-26. Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix. Free. 602-716-2222, crescentphx.com.

Prime Society

Their latest release is a romantic soul ballad, "No Brainer," that grooves with the seemingly effortless grace of a young Smokey Robinson. That's two romantic ballads in a row for Prime Society, following "I Don't Give a Damn." But they're just as likely to hit you with a hip-hop track as raw as "Nightmares," a highlight of their four-song 2020 EP, "Know Your Worth, Now & Forever." They're joined by the Color 8 and Rozotadi.

Details: 8:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21. Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. $15. 602-296-7013, therebellounge.com.

8123 Fest with The Maine

The Maine as they prepare to share the video for "Sticky," their first release of 2021.
The Maine as they prepare to share the video for "Sticky," their first release of 2021.

Delayed a year by the pandemic, The Maine's third 8123 Fest will celebrate the Tempe rockers' 15th anniversary with six days of events, from Jan. 19-24, including several side shows and a themed afterparty. The main event is a multi-band blowout at Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix. The Maine will obviously headline, joined by State Champs, 3OH!3, Tessa Violet, the reunited Summer Set, Derek Sanders (of Mayday Parade), Beach Weather and The Maine's John O'Callaghan doing a solo set as John the Ghost. They'll also have a local stage with This Wild Life, Breakup Shoes, Weathers, Doll Skin, the Color 8 and Sundressed.

Details: 12 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22. Margaret T. Hance Park, 1218 N. 2nd St., Phoenix. $55 and up. 81-23.com.

More festivals: Mark your calendar for these 2022 Arizona music festivals

Orkesta Mendoza

Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkesta
Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkesta

Joey Burns of Calexico had this to say about the joyous sound these Tucson heroes led by Sergio Mendoza make: "Orkesta Mendoza is one of the best live bands out there. Their music delves into a myriad of directions, rhythms and moods, big band orchestrations mixed with lo-fi electronica, vocals en español together with moving instrumentals.” Their latest album, "Curandero," is a brilliant mix of cumbia, ranchera, '60s boogaloo and first-wave rock 'n' roll with mariachi horns and beats designed to pack a dance floor, which means those songs will definitely translate live. In a press release for "Curandero," Mendoza summed up their approach with "It’s in my DNA to have Mexican and South American styles in my music. In my head, though, Orkesta Mendoza is definitely a rock band.” They're joined by Tropical Demons.

Details: 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22. Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix. $14.50-$20.50. 602-716-2222, crescentphx.com.

The Sugar Thieves

Together since 2006, these Arizona roots revivalists recently released a six-song EP titled "Good Ole Time Tonight." The title track welcomes you into their world with a glam-rocking swagger through the blues that ventures closer to the kind of vibe the Black Keys have been chasing than previous Sugar Thieves efforts. As always, the vocal spotlight is shared by Mikel Lander and Meridith Moore, who sounds amazing on the moody blues of the Dylanesque "Fast Train."

Details: 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22. Rhythm Room, 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. $12. 602-265-4842, rhythmroom.com.

The Summer Set

Their final show before they went their separate ways was in 2017 at the Maine's inaugural 8123 Fest in the parking lot at Crescent Ballroom. When the Maine heard they were getting back together, that made them an obvious choice for this year's festival. This show is one of several events related to the festival, bringing the weekend to a close with an event called Last Night in the Desert with Concrete Castles opening.

Details: 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23. Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix. $22. 602-716-2222, crescentphx.com.

The Sunpunchers

The Sunpunchers blend elements of psychedelic folk and alternative country with something they call “outlaw cabaret," as brilliantly captured on a full-length debut titled "Levity," whose highlights range from a shadowy Southwestern folk song titled “Screwtop Head” to a song about an Ouija board swamp séance. Singer-guitarist Betsy Ganz has a way with words and a vivid imagination and her songs are fleshed out by a stellar band that includes the great Jon Rauhouse coloring the atmosphere on pedal steel guitar.

Details: 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 27. Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix. Free in the lounge. 602-716-2222, crescentphx.com.

Fee Waybill

Scottsdale High School grad Fee Waybill returns to Phoenix for a hometown show at Crescent Ballroom, promising an evening of songs and stories from his "unique history." The best-known chapters of that history hinge on his time at the helm of the Tubes, who spent the ’70s making a name for themselves on the rock-and-roll fringes while touring the country with strippers and sex toys as part of what Rolling Stone magazine later looked back on as “one of the wildest stage shows in the business (verging at times on soft-core pornography).” They were a perfect fit for MTV, which hit the airwaves just in time to take them to the masses with the '80s hits "Talk to Ya Later" and "She's a Beauty." Waybill arrives in support of last year's Richard Marx-produced "Fee Waybill Rides Again," a hard-rocking effort packed with timely social commentary.

Details: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28. Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix. $36-$56. 602-716-2222, crescentphx.com.

'Hookworm One' release show

Paper Foxes
Paper Foxes

Hookworm Records celebrates its first release, a limited-edition 12-inch EP with one song apiece from the Woodworks, Paper Foxes, Shovel and the Psychedelephants with Bob Hoag handling the production. All four bands will be on hand to launch a label started by a local music blogger, Ryan B. Clark of Keep the Greasy Side Down, who says this is the first in a series on local-music compilations. "I see this as a set of records that encapsulates an entire era of Arizona indie music," Clark explains. "So that way down the line, if there are 10 records, you'll have 60 artists all preserved on vinyl at the absolute top of their production game."

Details: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7. Last Exit Live, 717 S. Central Ave., Phoenix. $12-$15. 602-271-7000, lastexitlive.com.

Burgandy Jurk

There's a breathless abandon to "Keeping That Pipe Dream Alive," an explosive collection of punk anthems shouted with throat-shredding urgency as they make their way through such obvious highlights as "Dancing Monkey," "The Violent Overthrow of Some Guy Named Jeff" and the album-closing "Cherry Kryptonite." They're joined by Pop Icons, the Posters and the Fast 86'ers.

Details: 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7. Yucca Tap Room, 29 W. Southern Ave., Tempe. Free. 480-967-4777, yuccatap.com.

A Benefit for Club Placebo

No Volcano
No Volcano

The Father Figures, No Volcano, Scorpion vs Tarantula, Fat Gray Cat, JJCnV, the Gnomes, the French Girls and the Human Torch, Serene Dominic all on one bill would be reason enough to go to Crescent Ballroom on a Saturday. But they've joined forces for a great cause — raising money for the opening of Club Placebo, a performance space and gallery in downtown Phoenix that will also serve as something of a local punk museum dedicated to preserving the Placebo Records archives. Placebo was the Valley's first punk label, putting out essential early punk recordings by the Feederz, JFA, Sun City Girls, Mighty Sphincter, Victory Acres and the Brainz. There's also music in the Crescent Lounge at the benefit from Tom Reardon, Derrick Bostrom, John Rose, Todd Joseph and DJ Gila Man.

Details: 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8. Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix. $12; $10 in advance. 602-716-2222, crescentphx.com.

Sugaray Rayford

Sugaray Rayford outside his home in Maricopa, Ariz. on May 3, 2020.
Sugaray Rayford outside his home in Maricopa, Ariz. on May 3, 2020.

This Texas native grew up singing gospel in church and turned to the blues in his teens after moving to San Diego. When he moved to Maricopa in 2013, the Rhythm Room's Bob Corritore told Phoenix Magazine, "We're so blessed. The blues gods have smiled upon us.” After winning Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year in 2019 at the 40th annual Blues Music Awards in Memphis, Rayford earned a Grammy nod for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2020 for "Somebody Save Me." Written and produced by Forty Below Records founder Eric Corne, known for his work with blues legend John Mayall and the great Walter Trout, the album puts a refreshingly contemporary spin on classic Memphis soul and gritty blues. The follow-up, "In Too Deep," is due March 4.

Details: 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8. Rhythm Room, 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. $20. 602-265-4842, rhythmroom.com.

Charles Lewis and Alice Tatum

Charles Lewis
Charles Lewis

This show is being touted as a Phoenix jazz reunion with Alice Tatum on vocals joining Charles Lewis on piano and Frank Smith on flute and saxophone for an afternoon concert as part of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts' Jazz Lounge series. Bassist Lloyd Moffitt, drummer Dan Tomlinson and percussion Steve Banks will round out the ensemble. Lewis, who's been a celebrated figure in the local jazz community for decades, was the first jazz artist enshrined in the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Details: 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9. Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. Second St. $24-$28. 480-499-8587, scottsdaleperformingarts.org.

Commiserate

Commiserate opened last year's "Just Smile" with a brooding alternative power ballad called "Despair" that more than lived up to the promise of its title, from Tommy Lake's opening sigh, "Take everything away," to his tortured howling of the same lyrics over some of the heaviest, sludgiest fuzz guitar this side of early Sabbath or the Melvins. There's some really nice interweaving guitar lines on several highlights of an album that doesn't sound like it's in any mood to "Just Smile" — even on the track that bears that name, where Lake is "smoking resin just to feel." They're joined by Reruns, TV Messages and Flowers.

Details: 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9. Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. $15. 602-296-7013, therebellounge.com.

Going to Memphis Fundraiser

The Rhythm Room and Phoenix Blues Society will host a fundraiser to send the winner of the AZ Blues Showdown, Cros, to Memphis to represent Phoenix at the International Blues Competition. It's an early show with Cros, Charles Mack, Hans Olson, Cold Shott & the Hurricane Horns, Big Daddy D & the Dynamites with Betty Jo Vachon & Lila Sherman, Smokestack Lightning, Eric Ramsey, Aaron McCall Band, Joe Kopicki & Gypsy Wild At Harp, Dry Heat and the Scott O’Neal Band.

Details: 12 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9. Rhythm Room, 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. $10 donation. 602-265-4842, rhythmroom.com.

Weston Smith

Smith is celebrating the release of an album titled "Dungeon." And judging from the songs he's shared so far on Bandcamp — "Darklord" and "Beyond" — he likes his synth-pop on the haunted side. In a recent interview with Voyage Phoenix, Smith said of his approach to writing songs, "I’ve always been interested in fantasy, so I try to incorporate that into my writing. I also always touch on mental health struggles and really listen to how I’m feeling when I’m recording new songs." He's joined by Winterhalf, Secret Attraction and Snailmate.

Details: 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10. Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. $12. 602-296-7013, therebellounge.com.

Jerry Donato

This saxophonist once released an album titled "It's a Cool Heat" with a cover image of a saxophone encased in a big block of ice in the desert. And you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better title for a tribute to the cool jazz of the post-war era by an Arizona saxophonist. Donato is a major talent who plays soprano, alto, tenor and baritone sax as well as flute and clarinet. He's joined at Jazzbird Nights by Mark DeCozio on piano, Ben Hedquist on bass and Emerson Laffey on drums.

Details: 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14. The Ravenscroft, 8445 E. Hartford Drive, Scottsdale (in the Scottsdale Perimeter Complex). Free. 800-785-3318, theravenscroft.com.

Celebration of Life for Stefan Pruett

Stefan Pruett of Peachcake was what Katherine Amy Vega, a longtime friend who often photographed his concerts, describes as "an undefinable, magical man who offered support, escape and illumination to those around him." The Carefree native had been living in Los Angeles, releasing music as the Guidance, when he was discovered unresponsive by friend and producer Jeremy Dawson of Shiny Toy Guns on June 14, 2020. Dawson will spin music by the Guidance at this celebration of the singer's life, which also features Peachcake's Mike McHale + Friends with special guests performing the music of Peachcake, a quirky electronic pop group that landed Pruett on the Phoenix New Times cover at 19. Forrest Kline of Hellogoodbye will also perform and A Claire Slattery and Jes Danz will DJ. The event will also feature an exhibit of costumes, props, posters, photos and other items from Pruett's lifetime.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15. Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix. $15. 602-716-2222, crescentphx.com.

Danielle Durack

Danielle Durack
Danielle Durack

It's been a year since the release of "No Place," an introspective treasure Durack likes to think of as her private heartbreak journal. And she obviously couldn't throw a party celebrating that release in early 2021 with all the venues shut down in response to a global pandemic. So she's doing a first-anniversary party instead. "No Place" recently landed Durack on our year-end list of best albums made by Arizona artists (for obvious reasons). "No Place" offsets understated bedroom pop with more electrifying pathways to catharsis, much of it written as she was living through the heartbreaking dissolve of the most serious relationship she'd ever had. It's the vulnerability that pulls you in, from an opening track reflecting on the breakup of an earlier relationship to the devastating heartache of the album-closing "Eggshells," where she lays it on the line with "I can’t fight the feeling that we are slowly dying like those flowers you always bought me, all those insincere apologies."

Details: 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15. Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. $15. valleybarphx.com.

To Phoenix with Love – An Art Farmer Tribute

The Nash presents a tribute to Art Farmer, the acclaimed jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player whose family moved from Iowa to Phoenix when Art and his identical twin brother, double bassist Addison Farmer, were 4. The brothers played professionally while in high school in Phoenix before moving to LA to finish high school at the music-oriented Jefferson High. This show will focus on the songs he played on flugelhorn, as brought to life by Denny Monce on flugelhorn, Stan Sorenson on guitar, Reka Parker on piano, John Donnelly on bass, Bob Daniels on drums.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15. The Nash, 110 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix. $39-$49. 602-795-0464, thenash.org.

Reach the reporter at ed.masley@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4495. Follow him on Twitter @EdMasley.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix local music picks: The Maine 8123 Fest, Orkesta Mendoza, more

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting