Some news items don’t need translation. That’s why DPJ launched the From the Wire series, so we could serve the destinations here by posting information and announcements – in their own words.
Eighth Annual Certified Local Fall Festival Is On The Move!
New Downtown Phoenix location allows more space to showcase local business Phoenix, Arizona
After seven amazing years at the Duck & Decanter’s Camelback location, Local First Arizona’s annual festival of all things local will move to Downtown Phoenix’s Portland Place, a mini-park located on Portland Street between Third and Central Avenues. This beautiful green space will allow the Certified Local Fall Festival to better accommodate the many local businesses who want to be a part of the Festival as well as allow more room for attendees to stroll, shop, eat and be entertained in a unique urban setting. The Festival will be held on Saturday, November 10 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
This transition is a big move for Local First Arizona and is indicative of the rapid growth of the organization. “The Mettlers, who own the Duck and Decanter, are like family to us – they have been with us through thick and thin and they are helping us with this transition because we have just outgrown the space at our old location. They are outstanding event organizers and we are so lucky to still have them with us,” explained Kimber Lanning, Director of Local First. “We fully expect to have the same vibe, but this will allow us to include more food, more retail, more local beers and wines – it will just be the next step for us to grow an already successful event.”
Voted “Best Free Festival” in 2011’s New Times Best Of Phoenix awards, this family-friendly festival has a street fair atmosphere and has drawn upwards of 6,000 attendees in past years. The event is open to the public and will offer a variety of local businesses, restaurants, live music and children’s activities. Previous vendors include a variety of businesses that are unique to Arizona like Bookmans, Practical Art, Zia Records, Frances Boutique, Smeeks Candy Shop, Kidstop Toys, Pink House Boutique, Strawberry Hedgehog, Desert Song Yoga, Noble Beast Pet Boutique, Hubbard Family Swim School, Postino, Spinato’s Pizza, The Parlor, St. Francis, Urban Cookies, America’s Taco Shop, Changing Hands Bookstore, and Green New American Vegetarian. This year’s event will add a food truck court, an expanded beer and wine garden and more fun arts, crafts and games for kids. Live music will be provided by Arizona musicians and the first 500 attendees will receive gift bags. A raffle and silent auction will raise funds for Local First and will include stay-cation packages from around the state, free dinners and tickets to Valley-wide events.
The event historically has been a great place to get a jump start on holiday shopping, while attendees can enjoy some of the Valley’s best restaurants, breweries and wineries. Bring the whole family, there’s something for everyone!
What: 8th Annual Certified Local Fall Festival presented by Local First Arizona
When: Saturday, November 10, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Portland Place, on Portland Street between Third and Central Avenues, Downtown Phoenix
Cost: Free to attend. Admittance to Beer & Wine Garden is $10 which includes samples of a wide variety of Arizona beers & wines. Food will be available for $1 or less.
Local Phoenix band The Alchemy Heart recently participated in the Hard Rock Cafe’s Hard Rock Rising competition. This global battle-of-the-bands started with 18,000 groups from around the world — and The Alchemy Heart made it all the way to the top ten. Winners were determined each round by judges or by Facebook votes from fans, and the grand prize is a chance to perform in London with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, among others.
DPJ music blogger Erin Bartynski sat down with three of the six members (Israel Whittermore, vocals/guitar, Brian Whitman, producer/keyboard/guitar, and Tim Rahman, drums) over a pistachio-and-onion (the “Rosa”) pizza at Pane Bianco, to talk about the up-and-coming band, the competition, and their take on the Phoenix music scene.
Brian Whitman: What is our bio? What does it say?
Tim Rahman: Yes, please, read the bio.
Israel Whittermore: (Laughing) Great you guys, we look real professional already. While pulling out his iPhone and searching the web, he explained he and band member Josh came up with it while writing music together over Skype. He was in Phoenix, and Josh was in Kansas for school. Then he read the bio out loud: “A few guys who dream of playing music that changes someone’s life, if only for a second. We want to create something that is hopefully honest, a little original and simply honey to the ears.”
The idea was, you’ve been in these moments, whether it’s music or whatever inspires you, where it feels like everything just comes together, If you’re watching an artist, it’s like, this is what they were made for. So that’s the idea behind the bio: we want to create those moments.
Brian: Aw, that’s beautiful. I’m inspired.
DPJ: How did the band get started?
Israel: We all, throughout the years, have played together in one way or another, whether it was in church functions or in other bands or just writing together. Josh and I have known each other a long time — he’s from here — and it kinda worked out where he left (for school in Kansas) and that’s when we decided to start doing stuff. He comes back for big performances.
Brian: I was initially just the producer, and then I started to play keys a little bit at the shows that Josh couldn’t make it to.
DPJ: How long has the band been together?
Israel: We played a show in June last year together at this little dive bar, and it was good, we got a lot of positive feedback. Our first official show was at the Hard Rock here (in downtown Phoenix) on August 27th 2011. That was a big show, we sold out the Hard Rock…
Tim: Yeah, Israel has a lot of friends.
Israel: …but because of the distance thing, we’ve only played five shows together since.
DPJ: So what should your fans know about you that isn’t in The Alchemy Heart’s bio?
Brian: I think the cool thing about The Alchemy Heart is…obviously it’s driven by Israel. He’s the primary song writer, but everyone who comes and plays in the band..we were already pretty much friends to begin with. So it wasn’t like trying to hire guys out, [but] more like asking your friends to play with you. Which is maybe why it’s so enjoyable.
Tim: I think the reason it works is because we all musically had the same background (playing church music), so we all approached music from the same vantage point, as far as what works and energy and all that kind of stuff. We all came in and put our on spin on it, but it all generally worked together just cause we kind of approached it similarly. We didn’t have any rough moments.
Israel: I’ve always felt like its easier to work with musicians if you can just trust them from the beginning, so for me, even though they’re songs that I’ve written, I’ve never felt worried. Like, Tim is an amazing drummer so I just know Tim’s gonna do it, he’s gonna feel it, he’s gonna hear it, and it’s the same way with Brian and it’s the same with Alex. I trust it’s gonna work. They’re all incredibly talented guys. I’ve always said the way you make yourself look good is to surround yourself with better people…
Tim: Better looking people.
Israel: …and to be able to go, “I don’t know if that works,” or “Let’s try this instead,” and no one feels like you’re going to hurt someone’s feelings.
Tim: Everyone in the band is individually really talented. So everybody has nothing to prove.
Brian: We take it seriously but we also just like to play. And we’d like to play in London.
The Hard Rock Rising Competition
DPJ: Speaking of London, how did you guys initially hear about the competition?
Israel: We had played the Hard Rock before, so one of the managers had emailed me. Also, IAMWE, the band who took second place last year are also from here, and one of them had said it would be a great opportunity for us to maybe get some exposure.
DPJ: So once you made it past the live performance battle rounds at the Hard Rock Cafe with the judges, it was up to Facebook voters to put you in the top ten. How did you encourage people to vote for you?
Brian: (Laughing) We literally harassed people. The last couple of hours we literally called people on the phone walking them through with a laptop, having them log in to Facebook and vote.
Israel: After the first week it was not looking good, we were getting destroyed and were thousands of votes behind. But then we realized, the only thing standing between us and the guys who judge this final round is basically us. It really came down to how bad do we want it and what does it take to start getting votes. So we sent out like 22,000 emails, Facebook messages, tweets, all of the above.
Tim: The day when we really started coming back in the running, I remember getting some really frantic texts from Israel. He was losing his mind, saying “Oh my God guys, oh my God guys, it’s down to only a couple hundred, do what you have to, anything goes!”
Israel: I went to the hard rock at 5:30 p.m. and was literally standing on a table, and it was packed because of the diamondbacks game, and they gave me a microphone and I started explaining, this is the deal, this is how close we are, we could be one of ten bands in the world to have this opportunity. And that’s when we started calling everyone. My sister was even like, “I’ve had 10 people tell me to vote for your band. It’s my brother, of course I’ve voted for him!” In four days, we went from 52nd to 7th. We ended up in 8th place.
Brian: I just remember telling Israel when we got in the top ten, you know what, now, I don’t mind if we don’t win. Because it’s judged on musicianship and it’s not just internet votes, so if we don’t win it’s kind of because of who we are and that it wasn’t what they were looking for. We can almost lose with dignity now.
Unfortunately, The Alchemy Heart did not win the trip and performance in London. However, you can catch them at the Sail Inn on Friday May 11 for their CD release party. Doors are at 8 p.m., and the boys from The Alchemy Heart will be joined by other local bands The Cold Desert, IAMWE, Dr. Bones, The Buxtons, and Future Loves Past.
The day after the announcement was made, Israel emailed us the band’s reaction: As far as the Hard Rock Calling competition goes, obviously we are bummed. However, from the beginning we always felt that we would give our best and have no regrets. It has been an incredible, crazy and sometimes anxious journey and we have learned a lot, we have connected and met some great people and more people have heard our music because of it. So we can’t complain. Now we our just looking towards the release party and then we will see what happens after that!
On Downtown Phoenix: Favorite Spots and the Local Music Scene
DPJ: What’s your favorite downtown Phoenix hangout, since you all live and work around downtown and central Phoenix?
Brian: I like Cibo, it’s probably my favorite restaurant to just go and enjoy a night.
Tim: Thai Basil – I was just there today, I had panang!
Israel: We hit up Seamus McCaffrey’s quite a bit. We like Irish and British pubs
Brian: If you ever wanna find The Alchemy heart, check Hazelwoods. Or Rose and McCaffery’s.
DPJ: What do you think about the scene in downtown Phoenix these days?
Brian: Phoenix the past year or so has really just exploded with people and viability, it’s not just First Fridays that people go out for anymore, there’s people out all the time now which is great.
Israel: The funny thing is, we’d go to Austin for a festival or Chicago for a festival and we’d look around and wonder, why doesn’t Phoenix have this culture? It’s not the people, people want it. Literally in the last couple years we’ve seen downtown and even Tempe change some, and it’s bringing out a lot of good musicians over the last year. I feel like I’ve seen this Phoenix music scene really kind of blossom, where all of a sudden it’s like, ‘woah those guys are local?’ So that’s been great.
Hi Phoenix! Here is a map of arts and biz destinations that will make your First Friday a bit more fun.
These are the spaces that participated in the recent Art Detour 24, so you may find a few that are closed this evening – and then there a few that have popped up since Detour:
• Pedal Craft PHX – if you missed this the first time around now is the time to check it out in person. Kitchen Sink Studios, 828 N. 3rd St.
• bIGGY Art Sale – First Studio will be filled with iggyart paintings and artwork from the last 7+ years. First Studio, 631 N. 1st Ave.
• Fenix PCG – an open house at the Westminster Apartments on the corner of 2nd Ave. and Roosevelt St. (BTW, we’re calling it…2nd Avenue is the next big thing to hit Downtown. Keep your eyes/ears peeled.)
Check out the map below or download the First Friday Map here
Monday night at the Crescent, Givers and Grouplove came to Downtown Phoenix fresh off of the second weekend of Coachella 2012. However, the energy on stage and in the crowd betrayed the fact that Coachella had ended at all – Hannah Hooper even said to a beaming-with-pride PHX crowd, “So we just got done with this crazy thing called Coachella…but seriously guys, it’s places and shows like this that we love.”
Atmosphere: Like a music festival’s after-party. Hot, sweaty, and I hadn’t yet seen the venue as packed and energetic as it was last night. There were undeniably a small group of die hard fans that had been to Coachella (probably both weekends) and seen both Givers and Grouplove there. The crowd was also much younger than the Crescent’s norm — the show was 16+, and I’d say the age range capped off at about 25. Except for the 40-something guy dancing his long, curly hair off in front of me. The young crowd fed off the energy from the bands, with most kids dancing or at least singing along the whole show. Givers were the most animated band I’d seen on the Crescent’s stage so far — until Grouplove came on.
Opening Song: Although they took the stage not to their own song, but to the intro of Kanye West and company’s track “Monster,” Grouplove started their set off with “Lovely Cup.”
Closing Song: After re-taking the stage for the encore, they played the radio-friendly “Tongue Tied,” which lead singer Christian Zucconi transitioned seamlessly into a short rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and finally finishing with “Colours.”
Favorite Song: Slow. Hooper’s vocals were hauntingly, painfully beautiful, and drummer Ryan Rabin absolutely killed the drum solo, entrancing the crowd and eliciting a well-deserved cheer at the end.
What the band wore: Givers wore an assortment of plaid button downs, v-necks, and screen-printed T-shirts. Grouplove were more classic hippy than hipster with their fashion, with Zucconi in a flow-y floral button down, and Hooper in a breathy green patterned dress and kick-ass studded black short boots. Rabin took the prize for most unique, however, in a tank top, black leggings, and tall, patterned socks with — I think — bears on them. (It looked like the bear from California’s state flag, but it was too hard for me to tell.)
What the crowd wore: Lots of tank tops all around, on both the guys and girls. I spotted quite a few Coachella wristbands still on the wrists of the crowd as they waved their hands and danced.
Band’s Drink of Choice for the Evening: Nothing. I can’t even remember seeing them take a sip of water the whole set.
Blogger’s Drink of Choice for the Evening: Stella Artois.
When people ask where to go or what to do, I’m always doing a mental calculation on the beer situation. People kind of expect it now, but I assure you there is much more under consideration. The mathematical operation is the simple addition of “beer and ____”. If I go here I can get beer and there’s a great patio for people watching. If I go there I can get beer and an amazing fried bologna sandwich.
I became more aware of how this works with other people this week when sustainability advocate and architect, Taz Loomans, recommended Crescent Ballroom as a great place to eat. I realize that Crescent enlisted Chris Bianco and Doug Robson to create the menu, but I think most people think of Crescent Ballroom as premier music and event venue. Taz is not a drinker. She was calculating the Crescent using different math. I decided it might be time to add some more variables to my equation. I concluded there were Four Crescents.
You can catch up on the first Crescent, music, right here in DPJ. I can confirm that my Pastor Burrito was top notch–grilled crispy on four sides and just the right mix of spicy beans an pork. Taz and others offered glowing recommendations of the remaining menu items. Shout out to Courtney Nush who originally reviewed the Ballroom for DPJ, the kitchen indeed delivers (and it’s now open for weekday lunch). Great food is the second Crescent.
I’m going to focus on the beer and leave the cocktail and wine to the expertise of others when I discuss the Lounge as the third Crescent. It’s nice to see that this music venue relegated the Bud, Miller and Pabst to the can cooler leaving 3 of the 4 tap handles to Sierra Nevada Pale, Odell IPA and the local Kilt Lifter. There are cans and bottles of Hop Knot, Guinness, Anchor Porter and premium Mexican beers like Bohemia and Negra Modelo giving beer drinkers of all types to find their groove. I settled in on the Odell IPA on this particular afternoon. The beer’s clean malt, resin-y pine hops and bitterness to the finish amped the sweet heat of the citrus achiote pastor. On a warmer day, I may have chosen the malt rich Kilt Lifter or the more traditional Negra Modelo to balance the burrito spiciness.
While I was there, several at the bar latched onto the Michelada, a preparation of tomato juice, lime, spices, hot pepper and beer. It’s a fitting beer cocktail given the mostly burrito and all southwestern fare.
Knowing Taz is an architect, I’d have to think that the very building figures into her equation. The red brick Ballroom was formerly the F.L. Hart Garage built in 1917. The east facing patio provides plenty of shade and large garage doors create a desirable indoor/outdoor feel. The front lounge is an ideal space for Phoenix living and the re-use of a nearly 100 year old building happens so seldom in the Valley that it’s natural for a beer drinker to celebrate with a tip of the pint.
Cheers to the fourth Crescent!
308 North 2nd Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85003