Arts & Culture
Most people don’t have the money or time to venture off to other states to stumble upon up-and-coming talent, but Phoenician music fans got that chance this week. Portland, OR’s Archeology is a calm, tap your toes and sway from side to side, indie band, and they rocked the Rhythm Room last night.
Daniel Walker, Jason Davis, Zachary Dilday and Ben Hayson make up Archeology, but only two of them have an actual love for archeology.
“Sometimes, we just go onto the desert and hike around,” Walker says. “We drag the other guys along and they say they like it, but I can tell that they don’t.”
During an archaeology dig, Walker and Davis met and began talking. Shortly after, the two were playing in a band together. In 2009, they began writing and playing a lot, but by the end of the year, the band felt like they needed some change.
“The music we were playing then… felt really forced,” Walker remembers.
Walker and Davis, both brought up in Evangelical backgrounds, soon spun off and started Archeology.
“I was raised in church,” Walker says. “My dad was the pastor from when I could remember. In my early 20s, I just kinda sat back and reconsidered about what I was taught.”
For all the questions they never got answers to, they wrote it out in lyrics. That’s where Memorial, their first full-length album, was born and was released earlier this year. And that’s how Archeology was quickly mistaken for a Christian band.
“We got a lot of e-mails from this album saying, ‘I don’t know if I could write on this Christian band.’ and I was like, ‘Whoa, we’re not a Christian band,’” Walker recalls.
In April, they did a quick West Coast tour, and now they’re embarking on their first national tour supporting Memorial.
The tour has been quite a journey for the band. They left Portland thinking a van with no air conditioning would be OK until they hit that blistering summertime heat.
“As soon as we hit Vegas and got over to the Midwest, it was like hell,” Walker says. “We’ve gotten use to the heat really quickly. I think we’ll be tougher for it.”
The band has mostly been accepted with open arms on their tour, except for a stop in Charlotte, NC. The band pulled into a campground at around 4 a.m., exhausted and a little tipsy, just wanting a couple hours of sleep. (Mind you, the park closed at 10 p.m., but they thought it’d be OK and smart to rest for a while.)
An hour later, Hayson was woken by an officer. The band was detained and surrounded by a park ranger and two more police officers.
“They told us to go to the church parking lot to sleep,” Walker says.
The officers were puzzled on why the band would sleep at a campground when there was a perfectly good parking lot down the road. Because nothing screams comfortable like asphalt. Other than that, the tour has gone well for Archeology.
“We’ve been stranded a few times,” Walker says. “The van has been picky on when it wants to go. We are a good 5,000 miles over for an oil change.”
The band likes playing in and visiting Arizona. Walker loves going out and exploring what our desert landscape has to offer.
“It’s the Indiana Jones in me from my childhood,” he says.
Thanks to a $150,000 grant from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust’s ART Fund, the Heard Museum will see a couple of exciting new additions in 2011. The project will relocate and expand the museum’s bookstore, currently located in the Heard Museum Phoenix Shop, and add a coffee bar and cantina to provide quick-service offerings as well as a relaxing environment in the museum’s beautiful arched entry courtyard. Both additions augment the existing Heard Museum Café and Heard Museum Shop and free up those spaces to focus on full-service dining and an expanded inventory of artwork, respectively.
The ART Fund grant will also enable the Heard Museum to create space for artists to demonstrate on site. This will provide the public with an opportunity to witness artists as they create while elevating the exposure of local artists.
The expansion utilizes currently non-public space on the east side of the central courtyard and will create new opportunities for native artists, enhance the museum experience for visitors and improve its economic viability. The boutique bookstore will house one of the United States’ finest collections of books pertaining to native art, culture, history and literature written by and about American Indians. The coffee bar and cantina will offer museum patrons and nearby local residents and workers a relaxing venue for lunch, snacks and coffee, with many of the items coming from tribal communities or with native influences.
Both projects are scheduled to open in early 2011.
If you’ve lived in the Valley long enough, you’ve probably seen “Psyko Steve Presents” stamped on many a flyer and poster. But who is this Psyko Steve?
Stephen Chilton, an Arizona native, has been promoting shows for a decade, and has showcased so many bands that Coachella might even be jealous.
Every promoter has to start with what they’re familiar with, so Chilton started his promotion career with friends’ bands.
“Really, it just started by helping bands in high school,” Chilton recalls. “I kind of just fell into it.”
And that’s when Psyko Steve was born.
“It was just a dumb nickname in high school and it stuck,” Chilton says of his “psyko” moniker, as easygoing as ever. “There’s no cool story about it.”
Chilton grew up in the East Valley, and hit his stride in 2000, when he started promoting. Back then, the Nile Theater in Mesa was still going strong, but a new venue was on its way up in Downtown Phoenix. The venue? Modified Arts. Chilton started booking shows there with bands like Before Braille, Fight Shy and others.
“Modified was just the small place that everyone could do anything,” Chilton says. “It was kind of the perfect place to do that stuff.”
For nearly a decade, Chilton and Modified had a close relationship to say the least. Before being converted into a gallery space late last year, Chilton put together Modified’s last shows, including a surprise Jimmy Eat World show.
“To see a band of that caliber in Modified was crazy,” Chilton says of the multi-platinum Mesa band.
Jimmy Eat World wanted to grace the iconic Downtown stage before its conversion, and no one knew about the show until the day of. When word of mouth hit everyone’s ears, the show was pushed far beyond capacity.
“We had to turn away more than 1,000 people,” Chilton recalls. So much for it being a secret.
Psyko Steve has promoted countless up-and-coming bands before they found their way to thousands of iPods. Cold War Kids, All-American Rejects, Motion City Soundtrack and Thrice have all visited Arizona in conjunction with Psyko Steve Presents.
But Chilton isn’t the kind of guy to demand credit. It seems like he’s doing his civil duty by helping bring a band from nothing to something. And he always likes to bring the attention back to his home state. He planted an Arizona seed at South by Southwest by putting on the showcase called “I Heart AZ” featuring only Phoenix bands like Kinch, Dear and the Headlights, Miniature Tigers and What Laura Says. The showcase attracted about 2,000 attendees.
“One of the things I like about Phoenix is that there are all types of different bands that are doing well,” Chilton says. “There isn’t one sound that is a Phoenix sound.”
Phoenix bands have grown so much throughout the past 10 years, and the scene has definitely progressed toward Downtown Phoenix. Chilton, who lives in Garfield, aims to promote Downtown as much as possible, and regularly books shows at Downtown spots.
Last year, he put on nearly 100 shows, and this year he thinks he’s on his way to the same. Be on the lookout for Psyko Steve Presents shows around Downtown and beyond!
Downtown Beat offers a random sampling of the exciting things happening around Downtown Phoenix. Want something included in the Downtown Beat? Email Monica with any information you can provide.
Love history and need a refresher course? The New Carpa Theater may have your lesson. The New Carpa Theater Company is presenting “The Eagle & the Serpent: A History of Mexico Abridged,” an 80-minute play about the history of Mexico from 30,000 B.C. to present — with only five actors. The new play is directed by James E. Garcia and written by Arturo Martinez.
Tickets will be on sale soon at showup.com. The show opens Sept. 24 at Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center, 147 E. Adams St. in the Downtown District.
At 10 p.m. in the middle of a Tempe neighborhood, most people are going to bed — kids dreading the first days of school, parents watching David Letterman — but behind one door, there’s a family reunion going on. A Dry River Yacht Club reunion to be exact.
For the first time in a while, all eight members are together again and yes, it feels so good.
The night before they’re off to record at Chalice Recording Studios in Los Angeles, they get together to practice, have a few beers and catch up. DPJ was lucky enough to be part of the late night festivities.
In the kitchen, we talked about their history together, stories from tour days and how the new record is going to be beyond amazing.
The Dry River family consists of Freddy Reyes (sax, bass clarinet), Steve Bohn (cello), Henri Benaro (percussion), Kristilyn Woods (bassoon), Megyn Neff (violin), Ryan Probst (guitar), Jordan Robert (French horn) and Garnet (vocals, accordion).
This isn’t your usual guitar-bass-drums band, but when all these instruments come together, it’s like you’ve found that missing puzzle piece to your music collection. A well-oiled machine, at one time or another the band either played together or worked together and decided to become one band. Dry River started playing open mic nights at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe with a set list of three songs.
“We put together an EP, made shirts that we bought at the thrift store and our friend Nate silk-screened them. That’s how we funded our tour,” Woods recalls.
You can only imagine the amount of stories that will come out of 10 days in a seven-passenger minivan full of gear on tour together for the first time.
“We went out with 100 discs on that tour and sold them all,” Benaro says. “Then we were like, ‘Let’s start playing with this band.’”
The band came back to town to play its EP release show with no EPs, but no matter. They soon introduced two new bandmates, Neff and Robert. You would think with so many members that they wouldn’t be able to fit on stage, but they surprisingly do… most of the time.
“We broke a stage in Austin one time,” Reyes reveals. “Jordan and I were scared and we got back on the floor.”
Three members of the band don’t live in town anymore, yet the band still plays on. They recruit friends to come in and play shows or fill in the bandmates’ absence with a heavier influence of the available instruments. As they say, the show must go on.
Dry River has played so many places in Arizona that it took five people to remember all of them, from ASU to the Botanical Gardens, and MADCAP Theater to even the light rail. The list goes on and on.
“That felt like we were illegal bandits, man. It was cool,” Benaro said of playing the light rail music competition, Train Tracks.
As much as their local fan base loves them, they love the local music scene right back.
“There’s a very diverse palette,” Bohn says of Phoenix. Dry River has played with bands that aren’t even in their genre, and they feel like in other cities there isn’t much of that going on.
“In other cities that I’ve lived in, bands that are in the same genre are always sort of tearing each other down,” Woods says. “It’s very cliquey. Here it’s not like that at all. You’re excited when your friend’s band has a good show or wins a competition or gets to play a big festival.”
Speaking of big festivals, Dry River will be playing a festival coming in Page next month, Powellapalooza. Yes, Arizona’s very own Coachella!
And, definitely keep an eye out early next year for a CD release party.
“We’ve been giving out free champagne in the past,” Reyes says of CD release shows. “We just get as many people there as possible. You get a free disc when you get in… who knows about the free booze, but we’re gonna have a lot of fun.”