Some of the bigger names in local music are playing one last show before we step into the ’20s, from Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers playing a two-night stand at Talking Stick Resort Arena to Authority Zero headlining the Marquee Theatre and Jared and the Mill with a holiday show at Crescent Ballroom.
This month also brings the annual Alice Cooper Christmas Pudding concert, a benefit for Alice Cooper’s Rock Teen Center, which provide free music lessons and more for Valley teens. And this year’s bill is topped by Cooper reunited with the other three surviving members of the group he started here in Phoenix, playing his first concert in the Cortez High School cafetorium.
RPM Orchestra anniversary show
They’re celebrating their 10th anniversary with a live multimedia show, having previously honored the occasion in November by releasing two EPs, “Singles” and “Tenfold.”
Billed as an “immersive art experience” in sound and visuals, the proto-industrial Americana quintet’s celebration will include stilt-walking percussionist Ernesto Moncada, theater/music/ritual troupe Arcana Collective and two experimental silent film shorts (Dadaist classic “Ghosts Before Breakfast” (1927) and neosurrealist “Forge Ahead” (2019) with a live score by RPM Orchestra.
Andrea Garber will join them on lead vocals for their latest single, the opera classic “Che Fiero Costume” and they’re provide the musical accompaniment to a reel-to-reel tape player “sonic geography” playback of a field recording made at downtown’s Civic Space Park.
Details: 10:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. Langmade Project Space, 1345 W. McKinley St. Phoenix. facebook.com/RPMOrchestra
This Rhythm Room regular, who lives in Maricopa, earned a Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy nomination for “Somebody Save Me,” a soulful gem of an album that makes the most of Rayford’s gritty vocal presence.
Born in Texas, Rayford 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.”
Rayford was named 2019’s Blues Foundation’s Soul Blues Male Singer of the Year at their 40th-anniversary awards ceremony and Blues Blast Magazine’s Band of the Year for 2019.
Details: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. Rhythm Room, 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. $15. 602-265-4842, rhythmroom.com.
Jared and the Mill
These hard-touring local sensations bring their 5th Annual Holiday Extravaganza to Crescent Ballroom with Valley Queen, the Yawpers, Harrison Fjord, XIXA, the Color 8 and Sydney Sprague.
They earned some really nice press for their latest release, the expansive “This Story is No Longer Available.” Relix magazine raved, “Tunes like ‘Hope’ and ‘Feels Like’ are brimming with stadium-rock energy, and you can visualize the sea of cellphone lights being waved in the air as frontman Jared Kolesar belts out his lyrics.”
It’s their strongest album yet, an expansive collection whose highlights range from bluegrass-flavored “Broken Bird” to “Kelsee’s Shelves,” a brilliantly arranged performance that eases the listener in on an atmospheric bed of pedal-steel guitar before making its way through a Beatlesque bridge to a fiery climax of unhinged guitar abuse. It’s cathartic enough to leave you wondering if someone instructed that guitarist, “Just do something Neil Young might’ve done if he were here.”
As Kolesar says, “We really took some liberties as far as, you know, long-play-type songs – kind of expressive, more experimental-type tunes.”
Details: 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix. $18. 602-716-2222, crescentphx.com.
The Father Figures
Made up of scene veterans Michael Cornelius on guitar, Tom Reardon on bass and vocals and Bobby Lerma on drums, the Father Figures effortlessly lived up to the individual reputations each musician brought to the proceedings on a debut titled “Lesson Number One.”
It’s been two years since “Heavy Lifting,” which confirmed their standing as one of the Valley’s most consistently inspired voices on the underground while playing to the strengths that made their first three albums stand out on the scene and expanding the scope of their sound, if just enough to keep things interesting for them.
Those strengths include the musicality that drives their brand of tightly coiled punk and post-punk and Reardon’s delivery of lines as inspired as “Might makes right but so does acting right / Don’t you know? Even children know” or “I don’t believe in statements / I don’t believe in change / I don’t believe in the devil / I just can’t at my age.”
They’re joined by San Diego’s Death Eyes and a band whose name begins with Emperor at the Lunchbox.
Details: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. The Lunchbox, 4132 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix. 602-293-3893, lunchboxphx.com.
Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding
This year’s Pudding features Cooper reuniting with the three surviving members of the original Alice Cooper group – guitarist Michael Bruce, drummer Neal Smith and bassist Dennis Dunaway.
They’re joined by film star Johnny Depp (who plays guitar in Cooper’s other band, Hollywood Vampires), Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, Joe Bonamassa, Nita Strauss. Gary Mule Deer, Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme, Mark Slaughter of Slaughter, comedian Jim Breuer, Sixwire, the Solid Rock Dancers and the Bucket Brigade.
The benefit will also feature performances from the Solid Rock Dancers and the winners of this year’s Proof is in the Pudding Musical Talent Search: the Joeys, who revived the sound and spirit of their favorite rockabilly records with reckless abandon to spare and a frontman who was just unhinged enough, and Japhar Pullen, who could’ve done that same performance at the Grammys and seemed right at home.
Details: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd St., Phoenix. $75-$175. 602-267-1600, celebritytheatre.com.
Decker. the Halls
Brandon Decker and the band that bears his name will be hosting a holiday party at Valley Bar billed as Decker. the Halls (which is beyond endearing) with the Stakes, Ali A. and the Agency and Hi-Dreams DJ Collective.
They’ve been throwing these annual holiday parties for a few years now, the singer says, “along with what I call the decker. Company Party, getting together for dinner and to celebrate the year and one another.”
The holidays are an important time to Decker, he says, “as a space for both reflection and renewal and I love getting together for music with my loved ones.”
In assembling this year’s talent, Decker says, “We wanted to have the great diva Ali Atkins and her band out to sing some Phil Spector Christmas songs and we have been eager to join The Stakes for a few years. We’ll sing some John Lennon ‘Xmas’ and get cozy.”
If you’re going, you should definitely score a copy of the latest decker. album, “Greetings, All Ye Playful Prisoners of Spacetime,” a live recording that feels as much like it could go on to become a calling card as undeniable as “Frampton Comes Alive” or “CHeAt Budokan.”
Details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. $10. valleybarphx.com.
Fresh from headlining the Arizona Hip Hop Festival, Mega Ran returns to Valley Bar to host an Ugly Sweater Show with Snailmate, Optimystical and Latosque.
The day after Thanksgiving, Penn State graduate and self-proclaimed “teacher/rapper/hero” launched a tour in support of a new surprise release called “Ages, Vol. 1,” which finds him reflecting on aspects of the awkward journey through youth to adulthood while also weighing in on the important issues of the day.
On the gospel-flavored opener, he sets the scene with “We have progressed from the stone age to the age of stone-hearted / In the Information Age, but yet we are constantly outsmarted.” That same track goes on to offset richly detailed memories of his life in rap with observations on the world in which he makes his music, rhyming “It’s been a roller coaster 2019” with “We bagged R. Kelly forgot about Weinstein.”
Other highlights range from the soulful “Superfriends,” with guest raps by SkyBlew and Mickey Factz, to “Walking on Water,” on which he memorably raps, “They wish I didn’t talk about race so much /I prolly wouldn’t if it wasn’t thrown in my face so much.”
Details: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18. Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. $12. valleybarphx.com.
A month after finishing fourth on “American Idol,” Wade Cota was back in Phoenix, staring down a hometown crowd of 20,000 at Ak-Chin Pavilion with country superstar Luke Bryan, an “Idol” judge who took an instant shine to Cota’s raspy vocal style. A week later, he found himself singing the national anthem for the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Now, he’s ending the year with a headlining gig at Pub Rock with the Jacks.
Cota’s “Idol” journey began with a gritty rendition of “Blame It on Me” by George Ezra. Katy Perry responded with “You’re got one of the most unique voices I’ve ever heard in my life.”
And yes, he’d heard that kind of thing before.
“You hear it from your friends and family and your mom and all that stuff,” he says. “Your dog. But to hear it from people that have been in the business for so long and are so hugely successful, you know, just really solidified it in my mind. I didn’t think I was anything special until they came along.”
Details: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20. Pub Rock, 8005 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix. $12. 480-945-4985, pubrocklive.com.
Apocalypse Pony release show
These guys have mastered the thrashing intensity, tortured vocals and instrumental complexity of classic death metal on the self-titled EP they’re releasing at a show that also features the Exiled Martyr, I, Pariah, Malnourished, The World To Come and Arboroth.
Singer Michael Coleman says, “We wanted to come out strong and show the world what we all are musically capable of. We wanted a symphonic element that compliments the rhythms while still having intensity to keep the energy high flowing. We want these songs to be heavy but have different elements to keep it interesting.”
And that’s exactly how the EP turned out.
“We’re proud of the final product,” Coleman says. “It highlights the sound we wanted. We want to stick out from the other bands in our local music scene and we believe we’ve accomplished just that. We wanted to establish a sound within this band and now that we have, we’re ready to continue growing that sound for future releases as well.”
Details: 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21. Club Red, 1306 W. University Drive, Mesa. $20; $15 in advance. $10. 480-258-2733, clubredrocks.com.
Injury Reserve Comes Home is how they’re billing this show by the formerly Phoenix-based hip-hop sensations who latest self-titled release is a welcome addition to a catalog packed with ambitious releases that offset experimentation with swagger and hooks built to last.
The Line of Best Fits raved, “I can’t imagine there will be too many rap albums this year that better Injury Reserve’s debut. This is a band who can achieve the same volatility and straight-up ingenuity of Brockhampton on less than a quarter of the manpower.” They’re joined by Pro Teens, Tony Velour, Lil Qwerty, Dovi, Gasol and Separate Ways.
Details: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27. The Van Buren, 401 W. Van Buren St., Phoenix. $25; $22 in advance. 866-468-3399, thevanburenphx.com.
Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers
Roger Clyne is celebrating 20 years at the helm of one of Arizona’s most beloved bands, the Peacemakers, which Clyne and drummer P.H. Naffah assembled following the breakup of the band that put them on the map outside Mill Avenue, the Refreshments.
They’ve released eight full-length albums, not including live recordings in the course of those two decades, self-releasing every one and touring hard to stay connected to the fans – or “mi familia,” as Clyne likes to call them at Peacemakers shows.
Earlier this year, Clyne and the Peacemakers took their place in the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame.
As to what the future holds, it won’t be long before the followup to “Native Heart” starts taking shape.
“I’m always writing,” Clyne says. “I will take ideas, melodies, cadences and try to keep them somewhere, whether it’s on a recorder or I write them down. And I let them just sort of do their thing and then I’ll visit them when I’m not on the road and see what they have to say.”
Details: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 27-28. Talking Stick Resort, Loop 101 and Pima Road, Salt River Reservation. $45 and up. 480-850-7734, talkingstickresort.com.
These local punk veterans are bringing their 25 Year Tour to Tempe with Madd Dog Tannen, Skull Drug, ZeeCeeKeely and Black Mountain Moonshine.
Singer-songwriter Jason DeVore is the only members who’s been on board for all 25 years. Current bassist Mike Spero joined in 2013. Drummer Chris Dalley signed on in 2015 and guitarist Dan Aid rounded out the lineup in 2016.
“We have one of the tightest groups we’ve had in quite a long time with this lineup,” DeVore says. “Everyone’s super talented, super respectful of each other, great friends. It just feels good again.”
And it’s led to a sudden burst of creativity, resulting in three albums in the past two years. “Broadcasting to the Nations” and “Persona Non Grata” were recorded at the Blasting Room in Colorado with Bill Stevenson, the drummer for a band a local DJ thought they sounded like back in the ’90s (the Descendents). “R&B III” is their latest live acoustic album.
Details: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28. Marquee Theatre, 730 N. Mill Ave., Tempe. $20-$40. 480-829-0607, luckymanonline.com.
No lesser an authority than Eric Clapton is said to have responded to this blues guitarist’s playing by declaring, “Carvin Jones is a young cat out of Phoenix who I think is the next up-and-coming blues player.”
And fans of Clapton’s work would definitely find a lot to like about “The Big Time Souvenir,” the Texas-born, Phoenix-based bandleader’s latest release. The man can play, as he reminds us on highlights as electrifying as “Can’t You See What You’re Doing to Me,” “Going Down” and “Room With a View.”
Details: 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 29. Rhythm Room, 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. $10. 602-265-4842, rhythmroom.com.
Ring in the New Year while singing along the undeniable, effervescent songcraft of the Technicolors.
These guys filter classic power-pop through ’90s Brit-pop and turn-of-the-century rock-revivalism while bringing the hooks and harmonies in equal measure to guarantee that songs like “Neon Roses” and “Impostor!” are lodged in the listeners’ memory banks before the second chorus hits.
It helps that singer Brennan Smiley has the perfect voice to put the hooks across on those and other highlights of their latest album, “Metaphysical,” from the swaggering chorus of “Lillies for Lily” to the forward momentum of “Valedictorian,” a track that rocks like over-caffeinated Supergrass.
Details: 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31. Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. $25; $20 in advance. 602-296-7013, therebellounge.com.
Mambo ‘Til Midnight with Orkesta Mendoza
Valley Bar is ringing in the new year with a very festive Mambo Espectacular. The bill is topped by Orkesta Mendoza featuing Salvador Duran with special guests Bye Bye Lullaby from Spain. The night will also feature rhumba, Cubano, salsa, cumbia, merengue and cha cha music spun by DJ Musa Mind as well as a special performance by Flamenco guitarist Kristofer Hill and a traditional Spanish midnight toast.
Vintage clothing is highly encouraged.
Joey Burns of Calexico had this to say about these Tucson heroes: “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.”
For further praise, we go to Camilo Lara of the Mexican Institute of Sound: “Sergio Mendoza is probably my favorite musician of this time. He has the cumbia and mambo in his DNA, but he has the power to make it sound like today. His Orkesta is as punk as the Sex Pistols and as violent as Perez Prado.”
Details: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31. Valley Bar, 130 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. $24. valleybarphx.com.
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