When people look for music in Downtown Phoenix, they ultimately find their way to Stinkweeds. Stinkweeds is an independently owned and operated music store and website dedicated to independent labels and bands. A Valley institution since 1987, Stinkweeds has been a fixture at the corner of Camelback and Central Avenue since 2004. While owner Kimber Lanning can often be found in and around the store, she relies on a committed staff to keep things humming. One of these people is store manager Lindsay Cates.
Lindsay has been working at Stinkweeds for the past decade, and is also responsible for keeping stinkweeds.com up to date. When asked what she likes most about working at Stinkweeds, Lindsay doesn’t hesitate to mention Kimber, who she says is the ideal boss: positive and passionate with a contagious good attitude. Lindsay also cites working at an independent business and her customers as job perks. “It is awesome being able to engage with others about music,” Lindsay says. She sees many customers on a weekly, if not daily, basis and notes that the customers, staff and bands that frequent Stinkweeds are like family. “If a regular doesn’t come around for a while, we miss them,” she says.
Lindsay eats, breathes and sleeps music. In addition to working at Stinkweeds, she is also the data entry guru behind SilverPlatter.info, a website dedicated to bringing Phoenicians the most comprehensive information about live music shows, venues and bands in the Valley. When Lindsay steps away from Stinkweeds her passion for music goes with her. She plays bass for several local bands, including Farewell Review, snow songs and Harcuvar. If she’s not working or on stage, Lindsay can be found at local music venues (especially the Rhythm Room), supporting as much live music as possible. On one of the odd days the Lindsay isn’t immersed in the local music community, she enjoys spending time at Downtown spots Copper Star Coffee, Conspire and The Lost Leaf. When asked where she likes taking visitors to Phoenix, Lindsay names her favorite new restaurant, Moira Sushi.
Lindsay is a Phoenix native, who, like many people who grew up in the Valley, had long desired to leave. Over the past few years, however, she has changed her mind and is now excited to be part of the Downtown Phoenix community, noting, “Downtown Phoenix is becoming a destination, with new, exciting businesses opening up.” In addition, Lindsay is thrilled about the cross pollination of local businesses, such as how local coffee institution Lux plays music from Stinkweeds, and refers customers to the store to buy music they hear while enjoying a coffee.
She acknowledges that Downtown Phoenix is still a work in progress, but encourages people to get out and participate in the Downtown community. “Getting around Downtown is easier than many people think,” says Lindsay, noting that by light rail, bicycle or walking, people have several options to get around and between the hubs that are developing along Roosevelt Row and near Central and Camelback.
Lindsay can be found behind the counter at Stinkweeds,12 W. Camelback Rd., weekdays from 11 a.m. until around 5 p.m.
All photos by Paul Valach
Well, it opened early. Sort of.
A week ahead of its latest opening date extension, last night (Friday, September 4) welcomed the addition of Uptown’s biggest dining anticipation in quite some time: St. Francis. Named after the eponymous residential neighborhood the restaurant borders directly to its south, St. Francis quietly opened its doors to humble fanfare. No splash, no glitterati, just come in and eat.
Helmed by résuméd local chef Aaron Chamberlin, tenured by way of critically acclaimed restaurants in New York City, Washington, and San Francisco, as well as spots elsewhere in Phoenix (most notably La Grande Orange), St. Francis intends to pull its weight in a neighborhood full of growing potential.
The restaurant itself sets up residence in a circa-1950s office building designed by architect Harold Eckman. Though completely transformed inside and out, the revamped, slick new structure still retains critical hints of its original, mid-century charms.
St. Francis presents an interior well designed, modern and warm. Exposed (original?) brick walls exist throughout, seemingly unfussed, accented by strategic uplighting that brightens as nighttime approaches. The kitchen, though not unnecessarily exposed, is open, bright and efficiently located near the main entrance of the restaurant — providing an attractive bookend to diners’ experiences, entering and exiting. It displays a bustling kitchen brimming with sights, aromas and the controlled, hurried pace of a well-run operation.
The main dining room is anchored by a long bar, fit equally for drinking or dining. Immediately behind the bar exists the restaurant’s trophy design feature: a towering, glass, two-level, garage-like door intended to be rolled up during Phoenix’s more agreeable weather months. Outside, an expansive, walled-in, gravel patio area presents itself for future usage as both an extension of the bar area, as well as outdoor dining, once the hotter weather subsides.
Toward the rear of the main dining room is a staircase ascending to a second-level dining space. Though not open to patrons as of last night, the vaulted area floats over diners below like a balcony, trimmed with exposed wooden beams. The views alone from atop this space will guarantee it prime chow real estate when completely utilized. In addition to said views of dining hubbub below, vistas of area mountains exist in plain sight during daylight hours, with streaking lights of traffic, along a heavily traversed Camelback Road below, coming into play as the evening descends.
In theme with a subdued opening, St. Francis is presenting a paired-down menu at the moment. It’s a menu that we are told will soon grow to full presentation in the days and weeks to come. For a brand-new restaurant of this caliber (with such promised expectations), it is a very positive sign of their intentions to get things correct the first time.
Foodwise, the main thread of St. Francis is solid American food with a rustic French sensibility, much of it prepared entirely in a wood-fired brick oven. Besides the more relaxed, even cooking the wood-burning method translates to, it also brings an added dimension of flavor to its respective dishes.
Main entrées listed on the opening, interim menu include a pepper-crusted flat iron steak ($20), roasted pork chop with fresh corn polenta and a piquant whole-grain mustard sauce ($19), a roast chicken served with tomato, hummus and a cucumber salad ($17), as well as an intended house specialty, their take on a classic bouillabaisse, a hearty seafood stew with aromatic vegetables ($20).
Appetizers include a sweet corn chowder ($6), baked goat cheese with a walnut pesto ($8) and a pile of crispy fingerling potatoes with lemon aioli for dunking ($6). An equally brief trifecta of salad offerings round out the starters — romaine hearts and summer vegetables tossed in a salty, tangy buttermilk dressing ($8); a forbidden “rice bowl,” with varied vegetables in a lemon soy dressing ($15); and a meal-sized wild salmon salad with beets, celery, herbs and crushed potatoes ($18).
For the dessert minded, there is a summer fruit trifle ($7), warm “sticky” toffee pudding with gelato ($8) and strawberry meringues adorned with a finely aged balsamic ($7).
Located where Midtown meets Uptown, St. Francis is at the cusp of a new upscale dining wave engulfing all corners of Central Phoenix. Serving well-intentioned, well-prepared eats in an atmosphere neither cloyingly modern or overtly pretentious, St. Francis seems like a restaurant both meant to exist in urban Phoenix, as well become a premier local bellwether of things yet to come in the world of intelligent upscale dining.
St. Francis is located at 111 E. Camelback Rd. 602.200.8111
The First Friday in October, KBAQ and the Phoenix Chorale are teaming up to expose listeners to the vibrant arts scene in Downtown Phoenix through the first-ever First Friday scavenger hunt!
Head to KBAQ.org now to download a virtual scavenger hunt of things you would see on a First Friday artwalk — it may be a new view of a familiar gallery or an unfamiliar art space that could be a fabulous find. Your mission is to identify correctly all images on the KBAQ.org Scavenger Hunt webpage at tonight’s (September 4) First Friday artwalk for a chance to win a fun Phoenix Chorale prize package.
Then, come visit KBAQ and the Phoenix Chorale on First Friday, October 2 at the Trinity Cathedral (100 W. Roosevelt St.) from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. to turn in your entry sheet and see how many you answered correctly. Stick around to listen to the Chorale’s open rehearsal for its fall performance! Test your eagle eyes against other arts enthusiasts this September – and discover a new part of the Phoenix arts scene — with KBAQ and the Phoenix Chorale.
What happens when you pair local bands and musicians together to pay homage to each other? Valley resident Nick Kizer asked the same question, and created the When in AZ music compilation as the answer. Kizer graciously coordinated the idea to expose Arizona music in a unique way by bringing together numerous artists to cover each other’s songs. The CD explores the different sounds of the Valley, ranging from alternative country to electronica. The genius behind the compilation is that it compels you to explore not only the original artist’s versions of the songs, but also the covering band’s original work.
If you aren’t familiar with the local music scene, or aren’t sure what is out there, this is a great way to be exposed to the vast musical talent Arizona has to offer. You get a real sense of community from these artists coming together to pay respect to each other, plus, it’s for a great cause, as all proceeds will be donated to Valley nonprofit organizations that support music education in schools and around the community. Some of the Valley’s most popular bands and up-and-coming artists have put their hearts into the compilation, which features nearly 3.5 hours of tunes. Be sure to pick up a copy for yourself at www.wheninaz.com or at one of the several CD release shows going on this month. The first show is this Friday, September 4, at Modified Arts starting at 9 p.m. It’s free for all ages, featuring artists Matthew Reveles, Stellaluna and Flyaway Tigers.
Check back with DPJ for full recaps of each of the When in AZ shows.
From my experience, it seems that many people have the misconception that Arizona is lacking when it comes to having an actual musical scene. Hopefully the release of the new When in AZ compilation can change their tune. When in AZ is the brainchild of Nick Kizer, a member of the Tempe band Babaluca, and features 55 Valley artists covering songs by other Arizona artists. The compilation is available for download for $8, and there will be several live events throughout September showcasing some of the contributing artists.
The compilation features a wide variety of local artists such as The Necronauts, Dry River Yacht Club, Andrew Jackson Jihad, FutureKind, Emperors of Japan and The Premiere. With such an eclectic mix of performers, the music styles presented are as varied as you would expect. The songs range from the folky to the funky, from the rocking to the electronic and everywhere in between. The compilation is put together in such a way that the styles are well dispersed throughout the track listing, and it flows well from one track to the next.
Not only does the compilation provide for great exposure for those involved — both those performing and those whose work is being performed — but it also benefits the community. Proceeds will benefit two nonprofits, Ear Candy and the Phoenix Conservatory of Music, whose mission is to provide musical education to children.