Alice Cooper guitarist Michael Bruce plans concert for brother killed by drunk driver

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Michael Bruce, a founding member of the Alice Cooper group, will stage a memorial concert for the brother he lost to a drunk-driving accident.

Michael Bruce, a founding member of the Alice Cooper group whose songwriting credits include such iconic recordings as “I’m Eighteen,” “Ballad of Dwight Fry,” “Under My Wheels,” “Be My Lover” and “School’s Out,” will stage a memorial concert for the brother he lost in late July to a drunk-driving accident.

A Celebration of the Living and the Departed in Memory of Paul Stephen Bruce will take place Saturday, Sept. 23, at Pranksters Too in Scottsdale.

“He was kind of in a bad way,” the guitarist recalls of his brother. “He found out he had cirrhosis of the liver and he wasn’t dealing with it very well. He was out walking around at 1 in the morning and got hit by a drunk driver. The driver wasn’t cited for manslaughter or anything. He was just cited for too much alcohol, I guess. But he wasn’t driving erratically. Neither one of them saw each other. Apparently, he was out wandering around on the street. It was kind of shocking that he got hit by a drunk driver and he couldn’t quit drinking himself.”

Paul Bruce also was a talented musician and songwriter, although he never experienced the success Michael Bruce enjoyed as a member of the Cooper group, with whom he was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And that didn’t always sit well with Paul.

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Michael Bruce (Photo: Patrick Brzezinski)

“He said to me one time that he couldn’t live in the shadow of his big brother,” Michael Bruce recalls. “And I said, ‘Paul, it’s all just a bunch of bulls—t.’” But he was such a sensitive kid. He wore his emotions on his sleeve. And he had a hard time. Even though he came to the gigs and hung out with us, he just couldn’t deal with it.”

Michael Bruce’s group, which features his wife, Lynn Bruce, on bass, will be doing a lot of the hits he wrote while in the Cooper band. “I’ll be doing my best Alice,” he says with a laugh.

The four surviving members of the Alice Cooper group – which featured Dennis Dunaway on bass, Neal Smith on drums and the late Glen Buxton on guitar – recorded two new songs together on the latest Cooper album, “Paranormal.” And they’re doing a series of reunion gigs later this year in the U.K., where “School’s Out” topped the pop charts in the early ‘70s.

“We did a couple shows in Nashville and we’re going to the U.K. on Nov. 8 to do five shows,” Bruce says. “The Tubes are opening and we do a mini-set in Alice’s set with his band. They drop a screen with Billion Dollar Babies and we appear on stage and do the hits like they were back in the day. People love it.”

The memorial concert will feature performances by Bruce’s group, Scott Rowe’s Alice Cooper tribute show, Harvest, Serious Play and Billy Cioffi and the Monte Carlos.

Details: 6-11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23. Pranksters Too, 7919 E. Thomas Road, Scottsdale. Free, 602-350-1818, prankstersgarandbrill.com.

Phoenix electro-pop singer Miss Krystle shares message of hope

Phoenix electro-pop singer Miss Krystle has released a suitably dramatic music video for an anthemic message of hope called “Inevitable,” directed by Austin Nordell.

Miss Krystle says she and That Orko, her co-writer/producer, were looking to write a song that would provide some sort of commentary on our current social and political climate.

“We wrote the song right around when the women’s protest marches were going on, earlier this year,” she says, “in the midst of all the social and political turmoil. I remember saying that I wanted to write an uplifting song that would remind people that love and unity will conquer all.

"There is so much hurt going on in the world right now, and it can feel hopeless at times. However, nothing stays the same forever, and that really is the message of this song. To have a voice and to stand for what is right, and that things will get better.”

The video was directly inspired by the lyrics from the song and its optimistic chorus of "Victory is inevitable."

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Miss Krystle, as seen on the cover of "Inevitable" single. (Photo: Tony Mandarich Creatives)

As Miss Krystle explains, “This music video is definitely a commentary and statement piece on the bigger issues going on right now. But the director and I wanted to focus on the individual struggle, to bring the narrative and responsibility back to each of us individually and remind people that positive change is always possible.

"We kicked around a few different treatment ideas, and landed on the stories: the drug addict, the dancer and the homeless person. One of the biggest challenges was trying to say a lot, but in the most minimalist way. I feel we accomplished that goal, and I love how the video turned out.”

In the opening scene, Miss Krystle is trapped in a jail cell, wearing a prison dress.

“In all the treatment variations, one of the consistent elements was the jail cell,” she says. “In the final treatment (and video), the jail cell is the primary aesthetic (besides the three individuals). Whether the focus is personal, economic, political or social, we all feel trapped at times, so the jail cell is symbolic of our psychological and emotional imprisonment.

"This is why you see me stay in the jail cell, even though walls come down throughout the video, and I could certainly escape at any time. I remain trapped by my self-made prison, until I have eliminated all the things holding me back.”

Each wall of the jail cell is made of a different material, representing the different characters.

“As each person frees themselves from their torment, a side of my cell drops,” the singer explains. “Finally, you see me facing the brick wall, which is my own prison. You see me push that wall down, and only then do you see me walk out of the jail cell and free myself.”

The other characters were chosen, Miss Krystle explains, “because we felt each of these characters represented experiences we all know on a personal level, or at a minimum could sympathize with.

"The dancer lives for her craft, but she is injured and misses a big performance that was important for her career. The drug addict represents the dependency we all have in our lives, be it relationships, substances, alcohol or the like. The homeless person represents great loss and need.

"We see these three at ‘rock bottom,’ then again when each has made a decision to change, or change has begun, and finally when each person has triumphed through their personal tragedies for a higher purpose.”

Phoenix entrepreneur sets out to 'fix the broken industry' with online streaming service

Phoenix entrepreneur Damon Evans has built a music platform called Arena Music on the concept of fair pay for artists and free play for listeners.

According to a press release, “the music streaming and merchandising platform is set to fix the broken industry" while going up against the heavy hitters of the industry, such as Spotify and Pandora.

“Through the platform we’ve created,” Evans says, “we are able to pay the highest rates in the world for music streams and merchandise sales. Artists simply cannot sustain a career in music from the low streaming royalties today's most popular subscription platforms pay per stream. If we don't act now, there will be no more music."

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Damon Evans launched Arena Music in 2013. (Photo: Jody Domingue/Special to The Republic)

Artists who work directly with Arena earn a penny per stream. As Spotify and Pandora, the world's most used services, artists earn just $0.003-$0.006 per play, and those platforms don't support other sales formats.

By paying the highest royalties for merchandise sales and music streams, Arena Music is hoping to position itself as a primary destination for artists and labels who want to maximize their earnings for both new releases and back catalog.

For musicians, Arena offers full sales support and real-time accounting, under a simple non-exclusive agreement.

Arena also says it offers artists more on products such as t-shirts, hoodies and caps than any other music or merchandising storefront currently online.

It's also the only streaming service to offer monthly royalty payouts through BitCoin.

Arena streams singles and albums from both independent and major-label artists without commercial interruptions or a monthly subscription fee. The user-friendly mobile app allows fans to purchase exclusive artist merchandise from anywhere in the world.

Arena also allows listeners to earn credits for using the service. The patent-pending Listen to Own (LTO) rewards program gives listeners the option of choosing between a $1 Arena credit or a free download anytime they've listened to any single song five times through the service.

“Arena makes the artist and their fans happy,” says Evans. “It provides knowledge and direction for today’s creative and artistic communities through an ad free and subscription free merchandising storefront designed to build and sustain viable careers in music.”

Arena Music will soon launch a crowdfunding campaign through Wefunder.com to market an investment opportunity to musicians, producers, record labels and both accredited and non-accredited investors.

Currently, Arena exists as the largest commercial music platform that is neither funded by, or in any other way, associated with the three major labels.

For more information on Arena and its music and merchandise services, visit www.arena.com.

There is No Us unveil a chilling portrait of celebrity obsession

There Is No Us are premiering a chilling new video for "Angel's Face With Devil's Hands" that opens on a scene of singer Jim Louvau cutting a photograph of the video's striking  female lead, Miss Krystle, off the cover of a magazine to add it to shrine he's built beside his bed.

If that sounds creepy, that's the point.

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There is No Us (Photo: Nick Ruggerio)

As Louvau explains it, "The initial concept of the video was birthed from the idea that people in the era that we live in are obsessed with the idea of celebrity."

The specific event that inspired the song was Leonardo DiCaprio finally winning an Oscar and seeing people, including close friends, celebrate as though they'd won an Oscar.

"I thought to myself, this person you are praising couldn't care less about any of you," Louvau says. "I actually posted something on social media when it happened as an experiment to see what sort of reaction I would get and it inspired the song. For some reason we connect with these people we look up to and think that they care about us on a level outside of collecting a paycheck."

This was before Louvau and guitarist Andy Gerold, a former member of Marilyn Manson who portrays a darker side of our obsession with celebrities in the video, had decided form a band to play the music they'd been working on together.

There Is No Us reached out to Scott Conditt, who directed their first video, "In Violence We Trust," and told him they wanted to do something much more artistic than that first collaboration. 

"We had no interest in doing another typical performance piece that had a bunch of people playing heavy music jumping around like monkeys looking tough," Louvau says. "We are not looking to follow an expectation of what a band that plays heavy music is supposed to be. At the end of the day this is an art project that happens to be aggressive."

Bringing in Miss Krystle was a flawless bit of casting and the local singer effortlessly rises to the challenge. 

"Initially we were looking to cast a female actress to portray a celebrity or a pop artist," Louvau says. "Andy suggested that we worked with Miss Krystle since she was actually someone who had her feet in the pop world and was a close friend of ours. She turned out to be the best choice we could have made."

Alice Cooper's Solid Rock accepting submissions for Proof is in the Pudding

Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock is accepting submissions for its annual Proof Is in the Pudding contest. The entry deadline is Sept. 1 for bands and solo artists 25 and younger.

Solid Rock’s Randy Spencer says, “This year we have had bands and solo artists from California and even Washington sign up, which is pretty remarkable. In 2016, we had 300-plus musicians ages 25 and under a part of it. And this year we expect just as good of a turnout, if not more.”

In addition to the main prize — opening for Alice Cooper at his Christmas Pudding concert, Solid Rock has lined up an array of prizes including playing before an Arizona Cardinals game in December, meeting Avenged Sevenfold backstage when they open for Metallica this weekend, opening for P.O.D. at Mesa Music Festival and meeting Pat Benatar backstage.

The Solid Rock mission, Spencer says, “is to make an everlasting difference in the lives of teenagers, so part of the competition is an exposure process to let those kids receive more experience and learn more about our charity. One of the things we really pride ourselves on is diversity. Years ago the competition used to be full of rock and metal bands because of Alice Cooper. But the last couple years, we were actually thin on rock and metal bands. We’ve had country winners. We’ve had R&B winners. Jordin Sparks was our first winner in 2004 and she won ‘American Idol’ the follow year.”

It’s exciting for the team at Solid Rock, he says, to “see these young musicians go from scratching to be able to open for a legend like Alice onstage. For example, Vintage Wednesday, when they won our competition last year, they got to hang out a lot backstage. They got to meet the Gin Blossoms before the show and they were giving them advice.

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Vintage Wednesday (Photo: Rachel Surrealsister Photography)

"And it’s just a great and unique experience for a young musician like Lauren Case, who won the solo competition last year, to be able to open a Jonny Lang show for 2,000 people via our charity. It’s incredible to see those musicians get those kind of life-changing opportunities.”

Bands and solo artists can enter the competition at alicecoopersolidrock.com/events.

The only screening process, Spencer says, is the audition.

“We do a big kickoff on Sept. 15,” he says. “And we usually have a guest performer at that kickoff. A couple years ago, we had a metal band from our charity called Ironkill and Max Cavalera of Sepultura was the guest performer at our kickoff but his band wasn’t in town, so we used the guys from Ironkill. They rehearsed with him for two days, got to work with a metal legend and one of their heroes, and got to back him up live. So you never know what could happen when you become part of this competition.”

The auditions are the day after the kickoff party and there are four rounds through November to narrow it down to one winning band and one winning solo act.

MORE: Alice Cooper finds forgotten Andy Warhol print

RELATED: Alice Cooper on 'accidental' concept album 'Paranormal'

The Lonesome Wilderness premiere new music video for 'Stay Out of the Sun'

The Lonesome Wilderness have teamed up again with local video director Roland Wakefield, who shot their "Tropicana" video, for "Stay Out of The Sun," the second single from their "Lush" EP.

Lonesome Wilderness singer Joe Golfen says, "We were interested in working with him because the 'Tropicana' video was so fun and sunny, but this song is much darker so we were interested in seeing what he could come up with."

Drawing inspiration from the Terry Gilliam film "Brazil," the director came up with the idea of having the Lonesome Wilderness trapped in a machine.

"I think he made it out of an old karaoke machine and some TVs he bought at Bookmans," Golfen says.

The result is on the psychedelic side of science fiction, capturing the darker essence of the song, which grooves like a grittier "Spirit in the Sky," Golfen sounding especially ominous while warning "Little children, stay out of the sun" and later sneering "Maybe Jesus will forgive my sins / But what's the use baby? You're not him."

In addition to premiering a new video, the Lonesome Wilderness, with Andrea Golfen on bass, Paul Golfen on guitar and Brian Weis on drums, have launched a Pledge Music page to raise funds to combine their two EPs on one convenient vinyl.

"It's called 'The Lonesome Wilderness Box Set,'" Golfen reports, "which is ridiculous."

A onetime Republic staffer and current member of this reporter's the Breakup Society, Golfen also writes about music at YabYum Music + Arts.

Linkin Park Tour cancelled in the wake of Chester Bennington death

The Linkin Park concert scheduled for Talking Stick Resort Arena on Wednesday, Aug. 30, has, of course, been cancelled in the wake of Chester Bennington's death. 

Live Nation, the concert's promoter, has issued a statement saying: "We are incredibly saddened to hear about the passing of Chester Bennington. The Linkin Park One More Light North American Tour has been cancelled and refunds are available at point of purchase. Our thoughts go out to all those affected."

 Bennington, a Phoenix native, was found dead in a private residence on Thursday morning.

Brian Elias, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's chief of operations, told a USA Today reporter the case is being investigated as a possible suicide but could not provide details other than that the coroner was called to a private home in Palos Verdes Estates in the southern part of the county shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday.

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Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington performs at Cricket Pavillion during the Projekt Revolution Tour, September 1, 2004. (Photo: Deirdre Hamill/The Republic)

Charlie Levy of Stateside Presents partners with Live Nation on new venue the Van Buren

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A rendering of how the Van Buren music club in downtown Phoenix will look after it opens later this year. (Photo: Stateside Presents)

Live Nation and Crescent Ballroom owner Charlie Levy of Stateside Presents have entered into a partnership on the Van Buren, the downtown Phoenix concert venue opening next month.

Plans for the 1,900-capacity venue include an indoor/outdoor dining bar, state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems, a VIP lounge, contemporary artist dressing rooms and a special-events room to take advantage of convention business.

Levy says, “Live Nation brings its national experience to help continue growing the Phoenix music scene. This partnership is great news for the blossoming downtown scene, while cementing Phoenix as one of the country’s leading music markets. It’s awesome to see a music district taking form.

"The deep relationships Live Nation enjoys with the world’s biggest acts and tours will help ensure that music fans here can regularly enjoy the top performances by the best artists anywhere.”

Ron Bension, president of House of Blues Entertainment, the Live Nation division involved with the Van Buren, says, “Tapping more deeply into Phoenix is the next logical move for us. It is a vibrant music market, which we’ve enjoyed with Comerica Theatre. What a great opportunity to build a new state-of-the-art club while partnering with the area’s pre-eminent independent operator.

"Charlie and his team have done a great job establishing Crescent Ballroom as the premiere room in Phoenix with performers like Twenty One Pilots, Walk the Moon, Café Tacuba, Neutral Milk Hotel, Macy Gray, Modest Mouse, Tig Notaro, Jimmy Eat World and Henry Rollins."

So what exactly is the nature of the partnership?

 

"It’s an actual true partnership,” Levy says. “We’ll be running more of the day-to-day stuff, but we’re gonna work with them on every aspect of the venue, from booking to production assistance to front of house to management. We’re gonna lean on them a lot.

"They own 100 venues across the country. Some of my favorites. The Wiltern, the Fillmore, the Tabernacle, Irving Plaza, Ace of Spades, the list goes on and on and on. And they’re gonna be an amazing resource from all facets, from booking to guest relations. So I think we’re all excited to work together and learn from each other and really bring the best of both worlds together so Phoenix can have a great venue that we can all be proud of.”

It will “absolutely” have an impact on the type of acts you see at the Van Buren, Levy says.

“Obviously I’m really proud of the shows that Stateside brings to the Valley, but working with Live Nation, they have people who just work on Latin shows and people who just work on rock shows. And then in return, we’ll be able to access those bands a lot easier and we’ll be working every day with the people of Live Nation to bring artists to the venue.”

For Levy, this felt like just what the venue needed, the same approach he's taken at Crescent Ballroom.

"When you have a venue this size and you see people who have amazing venues all across the country, of course you want to work with them," he says. "Why wouldn't you?"

Scheduled Van Buren shows include Death Cab for Cutie, Chase Rice, Lifehouse, Future Islands, Ani DiFranco, Portugal. The Man and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit.

alice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 8 September 7, 2017: Lifehouse with Switchfoot and Brynn Elliott | All Ages | The Van Buren at 7 p.m.  Jemal Countess, Getty Imagesalice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 9 9/8: Death Cab for Cutie with Charly Bliss | All Ages | The Van Buren at 8 p.m.  Jeffrey Lowman/The Republicalice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 10 September 14, 2017: Indigo Girls | All Ages | The Van Buren at 8 p.m.  Noam Galaialice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 11 September 16, 2017: Future Islands with Busdriver | All Ages | The Van Buren at 8 p.m.  Zoe Meyers, The Desert Sun-USA TODAY NETWORKalice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 12 September 17, 2017: Against Me! with Bleached and The Dirty Nil | All Ages | The Van Buren at 8 p.m.  Jason Merritt, Getty Imagesalice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 13 September 23, 2017: Jared & The Mill with Kolars, Luxxe and Bear Ghost | All Ages | The Van Buren at 8 p.m.  Thomas Hawthorne/The Republicalice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 14 September 29, 2017: Misterwives with Smallpools and Vunyl Theatre | All Ages | The Van Buren at 7:30 p.m.  Kevin Winter, Getty Imagesalice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 15 10/3: Bonobo | The Skinny responded to this EDM sensation's latest effort when it hit the streets in January with a total rave, concluding that "'Migration' is the acid test for electronic music in 2017, and sets a standard that will be undeniably difficult to beat, let alone match." Meanwhile, MixMag declared it "a record of subtle strength, with all-encompassing warmth and chilled introspection." Details: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3. The Van Buren, 401 W. Van Buren St., Phoenix. $28-$43. thevanburenphx.com.  Richard Lui, The Desert Sun-USA TODAY NETWORKalice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 16 10/12: Portugal. the Man | These psychedelic rockers pulled in raves from PopMatters and Paste for their eighth album, "Woodstock." As PopMatters wrote, "With 'Woodstock,' Portugal. The Man continues to be exceptionally colorful, polished, moving, and determined. Sure, the group has lost a sliver of their uniqueness in the move toward a more commercially viable and accessible sound, but the vast majority of their idiosyncratic identity is still here." And speaking of "still here," John Gourley's upper register remains one of the more distinctive instruments in modern rock, having inspired Alternative Press to name him the top vocalist of 2008. His singing on the new disc is as haunting as it was on such earlier triumphs as "Church Mouth," "The Satanic Satanist" and "Evil Friends," and have the timeless-on-impact appeal of all their finest work. Details: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12. The Van Buren, 401 W. Van Buren St., Phoenix. $27-$45. thevanburenphx.com.  Handout, Atlantic Recordsalice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 17 10/29:Iron & Wine | Fans of introspective indie-folk would do well not to miss Sam Beam touring the States in support of “Beast Epic,” an intimate,stripped-down album capturelive at Wilco's Loft Studios in Chicago. The A.V. Club was right to say it“perfectly distills a career into a nearly perfect collection.” After setting the tone with a stately waltz called “Claim Your Ghost,” the album makes its way through such obvious highlights as “Bitter Truth” an understated ballad whose rustic vibe recalls Bob Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding,” and the wistful chorus hook of“Right By Sky.” Details: 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29.The Van Buren, 401 W. Van Buren St., Phoenix. $30-$45. thevanburenphx.com.  Paul Morigi, Getty Images for Blackbird Productionsalice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 18 November 2, 2017: LANY with Dagny | All Ages | The Van Buren at 8 p.m.  Matt Cowan, Getty Images for Hangout Music Festivalalice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 19 November 9, 2017: Chase Rice | All Ages | The Van Buren at 8 p.m.  Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Upsahl drops soulful new single

Local indie-pop sensation Taylor Upsahl has released a great new single titled “Can You Hear Me Now” that you should definitely hear now.

The singer, who recently graduated from Arizona School for the Arts and plans to spend most of her time in Los Angeles, collaborated on the finger-popping soul-pop gem with Max Frost.

I saw her cover Spoon as a main-stage artist at McDowell Mountain Music Festival in March, and this track definitely speaks to the sonic sensibilities of a documented Spoon fan (which can only be a good thing).

“It’s a message to someone on the other end of a failing relationship,” she says. "It’s the kind of relationship that has been dysfunctional for a long period of time to the point where one person decides it isn’t worth the stress, time or energy anymore. I’ve watched so many women in my life stay in a relationship that they obviously aren’t happy in. They settle for a partner that doesn’t appreciate them or make them feel like the badasses they are.”

The track premiered on The Line of Best Fit, whose reviewer noted that Upsahl’s “rich, radio-ready vocal belies her 18 years of age, whilst her knack for a catchy, summery chorus is immediately evident."

Bob Corritore up for two Blues Blast Awards

Blues Blast Magazine has announced its nominees for the annual Blues Blast Music Awards, and two releases featuring the Valley’s own Bob Corritore are going head-to-head in the race for Traditional Blues Album.

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John Primer and Bob Corritore. (Photo: Chris Monaghan)

The titles are Big Jon Atkinson & Bob Corritore, “House Party At Big Jon's” and John Primer & Bob Corritore, “Ain't Nothing You Can Do,” both on the Delta Groove Music imprint.

"What an honor to have two releases nominated for Blues Blast Music Awards in the Traditional Blues Album category." Corritore says. "And also to be up for a Living Blues Award in the Harmonica Player category! I feel truly blessed by this recognition and I hope I can live up to these honors. Thank you everyone for believing in me." 

Corritore, a harmonica-playing Chicago native who owns the Valley's premiere blues establishment, the Rhythm Room, also guests on Kilborn Alley Blues Band’s “The Tolano Tapes” on Run It Back Record, which is up for Contemporary Blues Album.

Fan voting to determine the winners begins July 1 runs through August 15 at BluesBlastMagazine.com. Voting is free and open to anyone who is a Blues Blast Magazine subscriber. Blues Blast Magazine subscriptions are always free, and you are automatically signed up as part of the voting process.

AJJ tour marks 10th anniversary of 'People Who can Eat People'

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Phoenix rockers AJJ are launching a tour to honor the 10th anniversary of “People Who Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World” at the venue that started it all, the Trunk Space, on Aug. 18. (Photo: Erica Lauren)

Local rockers AJJ are launching a tour to honor the 10th anniversary of “People Who Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World” right here in Phoenix at the venue that started it all, the Trunk Space, on Aug. 18. To complete the mood, they’ll be performing the entire tour as the original two-person lineup of Sean Bonnette on acoustic guitar and Ben Gallaty on standup bass.

Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 28.

“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since our first decent record came out,” says singer/guitarist Bonnette when asked about his feelings on the anniversary. “I distinctly remember when we found the album title in Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Hocus Pocus’. We were in a daze driving overnight from Phoenix to L.A. to play a show. I called Asian Man and left Mike [Park] a message that morning. It felt dramatic. Why didn’t I just email him?”

“People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World” was AJJ’s second album, released long before their name was shortened from Andrew Jackson Jihad to the less controversial AJJ (a move that somehow proved more controversial than their former name).

This album was the starting point for one of Bonnette’s central lyrical themes: human duality and the inner struggle between good and evil. The anti-folk sound of the album, which put the duo on the map in cities that would constitute a huge commute from the Trunk Space, has been described as “sad in the key of happy” and "Neutral Milk Hotel on meth."

Asian Man Records is also releasing a limited-edition picture disc to honor the occasion.

Their latest album, the brilliantly titled “The Bible 2,”  was released last summer and featured one of the year's more entertaining music videos for "Goodbye, Oh Goodbye."

Ben Anderson releases music video inspired by Sandy Hook shootings

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Ben Anderson (Photo: Olivier Zahm)

“Clay Pigeon” is a song Ben Anderson had been wanting to write since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

“That's when I realized that we as a nation have a mental health issue and have violence overly integrated into our culture,” he says. “I wanted to make sure the music and lyrics could deliver this message in the most effective way possible.”

It wasn’t until he came up with the title “Clay Pigeon” as a metaphor for a gunshot victim, though, that Anderson believed he had a strong enough foundation for the song.

From there, he says, “I brought the idea to Olivier Zahm and we hashed out the song. It's an awesome combination of our writing styles.”

The darker subject matter required a heavier rock approach than his previous single, “Perfect.”

“I've always believed that you always do what's best for the song as a whole,” Anderson says. “So the style, recording and production of the song is tailored to what the song needs. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Like David Bowie, I want to be versatile in style (genres) and evolve over time. The constants with Bowie are his voice and his songwriting style (not genre but his Bowie-isms in his music/lyrics).”

He also worked with Zahm on the concept for the music video, with Zahm directing and Anderson playing an overworked and over-medicated character who begins to take extreme measures to cope with his discontent.

“The concept of the video came from the music,” Anderson says. “The Indian fiddle and other stringed instruments called for Eastern religious figures. Olivier and I thought of the basic concept of a Kali goddess taking control of a disgruntled, soulless 9-to-5'er and he leads an authoritarian movement using the ‘Pigeons’ as ammunition.”

To get into character, Anderson says, “I studied the psyche of a mass shooter/murderer using examples of mass murderers in the past. The research and developing my character was a haunting and insightful experience. The filming and acting portion was actually quite fun. I was able to disconnect from the brutal reality of this person's psyche and just do theater.”

Asked if he worried at all that the video may be too dark, Anderson says, “When you're creating any form of art, you must have a healthy balance of dark and light, yin and yang, etc. We made sure that the song and video were tasteful while still getting the point across. For example, the pigeons were originally going to be gunned down by my character, but we decided to have them drop by the hands of the Kali goddess. More abstract, less heavy

His goal for the video, Anderson says, is to raise awareness.

“We have a violence problem,” he says. “We need to work together as a nation to make the world a safer, healthier place.”

"Clay Pigeon" is the first installment in a trilogy of singles "relating a man’s relationship against and within society’s struggles, manufactured wants and needs, and its inherent dysfunction," all of which will be included on his "YouTopia" EP, due out this year on Chromodyne.

School of Hip Hop Phx Summer Camp returns to downtown's home of jazz, the Nash

School of Hip Hop Phx and the Nash are teaming up to host a Hip Hop Summer Camp for kids aged 12-19 from Monday, July 24 through Friday, July 28.

The cost is $20 for one child, $5 for each additional sibling.

Camille Sledge, a singer local music fans should know as the leader of rituals for Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, co-founded School of Hip Hop Phx four years ago.

 “We started the School of Hip Hop because we realized there were kids in our neighborhood, South Phoenix, who don’t really have the money for music lessons," Sledge explains. "They’re kind of disenfranchised. Music is very therapeutic. And it’s hip-hop that they know and respond to. So we use the five elements of hip-hop to reach out to these kids, mentor these kids and give back.”

It's important, she says, for these hip-hop camp students to "have a place to release a lot of the things they have to go through in life, just like we all need. Music is really therapeutic to them, I find. So are visual arts and dance. We have a B-Boy instructor. We have graffiti artists. And we bring in a lot of other teachers. We’ve seen kids grow up and mature.”

This is the second year the school is teaming with the Nash.

“Last year, the Nash wanted to find a hip-hop outlet," Sledge says. "They wanted to do something with that type of music. Joel Goldenthal (the Nash’s executive director) reached out. And it went great last year. So we decided to do it again and try and have this as a continual thing.”

Registration for the camp is now open at https://form.jotform.us/71396989684178.

The School of Hip Hop PHX is a not-for-profit creative-arts-based movement whose mission is “to break down barriers which block pathways for arts education, cultural enrichment and upward mobility for minority youth.”

Sepultura's Max and Igor Cavalera recording in Phoenix

alice-cooper-guitarist-michael-bruce-plans-concert-for-brother-killed-by-drunk-driver photo 23

Cavalera Conspiracy (Photo: Napalm Records)

Max and Igor Cavalera of Brazilian heavy metal legends Sepultura are holed up in a Phoenix studio recording their fourth Cavalera Conspiracy album, due to be released this fall on Napalm Records.

Produced by longtime friend Arthur Rizk, the recording of the album will be documented by Horns Up Rocks as “The Conspiracy Diaries,” released as individual episodes over the course of the recording to share an in-depth behind-the-scenes portrait of the work in progress.

The Cavalera brothers formed Sepultura as teenagers in 1984, releasing such thrash-metal classics as “Beneath the Remains,” “Arise” and “Chaos AD” while exploring the underbelly of third-world political issues. They also broadened the genre's horizons with an exploration of indigenous culture, culminating with the landmark “Roots” album in 1996.

Growing tensions between Max's bandmates and his wife, Gloria Bujnowski, who was also their manager, resulted in Max leaving Sepultura at the end of 1996. 

A decade later, Max and Igor reunited as Cavalera Conspiracy, which also features Marc Rizzo on lead guitar and Johny Chow on bass.

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

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