Thursday, March 5, 2009

When was day the music died in northeast Phoenix?

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, February 8, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

In 2007, an Arizona Republic article stated that northeast Phoenix is larger than metro Atlanta. Yet in an area this large, there is pretty near zip to do for music entertainment.

There are less than a handful of bars. Most are in strip malls that feature live music. There's no renowned clubs like in Scottsdale.

The clubs I can think of with live music include Joe's Grotto, Dubliner, a bar at the southwestern corner of 32nd Street and Cactus Road -- I don't know the name of it -- and Loft Again on Cave Creek Road. Ten years ago, Cave Creek Road was littered with live music.

We have the third largest school district in the state, a branch of the nation's second largest community college district. There are probably bands and performers busting at the seams for places to perform close to home.

Then I remembered Desert Ridge. I was there the first day this mall had entertainment. The headlining act was Vitamin C. I know, who? She was the Hannah Montana of her day.

You need to thank Desert Ridge for having talent. It truly is a community center. One reader even wanted to find entertainment that started at 7 p.m. in northeast Phoenix. Desert Ridge has it. Occasionally Kierland does.

A problem I have is that Desert Ridge does not adjust its hours for the winter months. When it first opened, it had bands and acts starting at 2 p.m. Wish they'd revert to that during winter.

For a half-century, I've been a music enthusiast. I visited my first radio broadcast before 10 and by 12, I was pushing broom in a major Southwest recording studio.

At 15, I was setting up equipment for bands at a local club, one where what became Alice Cooper visited every other week. When they weren't there, I was pushing tubes in amplifiers for groups like the Dearly Beloved and Bo Street Runners, among others.

At 18, I was a radio announcer (I was dreadful, but station management loved my musical taste).

At 22, I had a personal first by having a music article run nationally over the Associated Press wire. Little did I know this was a prelude to being known as the guy who had the first national review of David Bowie's stage debut in Elephant Man and an expert on picture disks.

So like every other music writer not talented enough to be in the spotlight, I've wanted to be a music producer first, booking agent second. Rolling Stone writer Jon Landau produces Bruce Springsteen, lucky guy.

When Desert Ridge first opened, it had the top bands in Phoenix. An event I really love is the annual battle of the bands. Problem is, I never see those acts performing at Desert Ridge after the competition. There are some great bands out there. Desert Ridge should be tapping into that resource.

Same with Paradise Valley Mall. With nearly 30 percent of its floor space vacant, this is a cavern waiting to be launched. Where did the Beatles launch from? A cavernous club. It's indoors so it doesn't need to worry about the elements, an advantage over Desert Ridge.

PV Mall should have national acts coming through town. Would love to have Ali and AJ (yes, they are my current favorite, but I thoroughly enjoyed Sean Kingston's and Vanessa Hudgen's 2007 CDs) there before they open for Hannah Montana.

That would save me the $2,000 Hannah Montana tickets are going for. Saw this duo twice last year. Another great act was Baby Bash who opened for Rhianna when she played the state fair. I'm not a big fan of his music, but this guy is a great performer.

Certainly there are entrepreneurs who will see the vision of my dreams and will actually bring entertainment to northeast Phoenix, allowing all the local talent to get the recognition they deserve as Jordin Sparks did last year.

Then I can revert to my comfort zone of being a music journalist and report on it.