Check Out Arizona Foothills Awesome Best Local Band Picks

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best of our valley.jpg
Arizona Foothills magazine has blown The Arizona Republic away in the 2010 "Most Awesome Selection of Bands For a Reader's Choice Contest" contest held by local news outlets.

Check out this screenshot for their Best Of Our Valley contest. Have you heard of any of these bands, besides maybe Rock Lobster, an 80s cover band that plays Scottsdale? I'm not sure I have. The contest is currently being dominated by the Mike & T Band, which seems to do a few nights a month at Harold's in Cave Creek, and a wedding band called The Hamptons.


Now, actually, I'm not going to make fun of any of these bands. Not only because New Times has our own Reader's Choice contest that runs as a small sidecar to our beloved annual Best Of Phoenix issue (contrary to what some folks think, the main body of the issue is not done by reader ballot), which was won by Whiskey Six, but also because I've never heard any of them.

For all I know Pheed or The Myles David Lancette Band are the next Beatles. I have no evidence to argue otherwise besides the fact that their names are not delicious puns. Actually, I guess Pheed is a pun. Not delicious though.

Has anyone out there heard of Cold Shott & The Hurricane Horns, I'm With the Band, Rhythm F/X, Shining Star, The Crown Kings, The Groove Merchants, The Instant Classics, The JJ's Band, The Rakata Project or The Walkens?

Did they play your cousin's wedding?

If so, were they more John Lovitz or more Adam Sandler?

Were any members of the band that creepy guy in a weird tux who hits on your underage niece or did they show up on time, play the chicken dance song like professionals and eat a moderate amount after the guests?

If so, please give them your vote...

Sigh. Is this what "local music" is to most people or is Foothills as far afield as I think?

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Steve H
Steve H

The MIke & T Band won this joke of a contest last year with Pheed a near second. Overnight Mike & T band would dump in thousands of votes and they even posted a blog on how to fool the system by hitting the refresh button and recasting a vote. To which their 4 fans and the band stayed up nightly (even weekends when most bands would actually be gigging) dumping in votes. They incriminated themselves with the blog which was sent directly to Foothills Magazine who promptly did nothing. So yes, this poll is a joke. In my opinion, anyone making music for a living and not sitting in a cubicle commenting on these bands is living the dream and needn't worry about who does the best version of Jessie's girl. Who cares, really? Yes my band was head to head last year with Pheed then finished way down the list when MIke T and the Cheatin' Bloggers took over. Cheers to live music and thumbs down to this kind of folly.


this poll got wierd. all da votes is for hamptons and walkens, are they rly popular now??

Russ Mills
Russ Mills

Im a native that has been involved in one way or another in the Valley music scene. Your lack of knowledge of a lot of these bands I assume is a combination of a lack of curiousity, and not leaving Scottsdale enough maybe? I can tell you that while some are great, great bands...I have to admit I havent heard of some of them either.

I agree with some of the comments that this is geared to a different demographic than some of the other "contests" around town. It seems whoever did the "nominating" concentrated on corporate/wedding bands. Like:

The Hamptons - great band, but typical pop wedding group, Brown Eyed Girl, Sweet Home Alabama, Jessie's Girl, etc. I caught them a couple times when Blue Martini first opened....talented musicians, but kind of boring...nothing special.

Shining Star - A staple of the music for over a decade, fronted by Jodi Light and husband Mario, this band kicks ass. They play mostly funk/motown/little bit of pop. However, they only play corporates and weddings. You can catch them once in a real blue moon out n Scottsdale, but they are so good that almost all their gigs are taken up by other things.

The Crown Kings - A great fun band that attracts cougars galore (no offense)! They have a fun setlist and a great frontman in Casey, even though his voice could use a little training! Im surprised noones heard of them. They play all over town. Not a Scottsdale band though by any means...

Groove Merchants used to be the King of the town for a long time in the 90's. They still do a lot of corporate functions and are still great musicians...island style music.

Instant Classics are the same guys as I'm With the Band. I'm with the Band plays at Blue Martini every Monday as a "live karaoke" band where people show up for their chance to to get on stage and pretend to be a rock star. Its pretty painful actually. The band has some great players...but the sit ins are terrible as you usually find at a karaoke bar. Instant Classics are another band that does mostly corporates and weddings.

Ironically, the one leading, The Mike and T Band I have never even heard of..and I spend a lot of time at country bars too. I smell a voting bot.

The exception to the rule may be The Walkens. They are made up of guys from previous well knows bands like The Scones, T.A.T.E. (with the Chadwicks old guitar player), and Frank Lloyd Vinyl. I have caught them a few times, and mostly on purpose. These guys play a lot of corporate and weddings from the looks of their website (they are playing all over the place), but they also play a lot of bars too. PrimeBar in Scottsdale, Cocomo Joes, Margaritaville, Aunt Chiladas. These guys have an incredible setlist. I saw them one night play Journey, Marvin Gaye and Rage Against the Machine back to back. They do a Led Zepplin medley that is 8 minutes long and will knock your socks off. That being said, they come off as cocky sometimes, but generally nice guys once you get to know them. I dont know if they have any original music or not. Never heard any.

In any case, I find it funny that the only one you have heard of is Rock Lobster. They are the same kids in The Chadwicks, Metalhead, etc. They have cornered the Martini Ranch scene for years. But while they have been around for years, I could never get around the fact that they play to background tracks. It always seemed like cheating to me. You go see a "live" band and what you get is a band playing along with tracks like it was rock star karaoke. Next time you catch them, take a good listen and wonder why there is a horn section and 4 part harmony with no horn player and only two people singing.

Cold Shot...great blues says it all. Stevie Ray, etc....bad ass band...period.

The rest Im afraid Im with the rest of you. It does seem that this list was geared more towards Arizona Foothills Magazine demographic, which would be high end parties, event planners, etc. Other than Rock Lobster, The Walkens, and The Crown Kings, Ive never seen any of them at a local establishment. It is kind of sad that some of these magazines dont do a category for original music. We've had some great ones come out of here...Gin Blossoms, Mister Mister, Jimmy Eat World, etc...but that would definitely deserve its own category.

To answer your question, no Foothills is not offbase as much as you think. Your may think of your Best of as bands that are playing original music and trying to make it big...the bands on here (well, most of them) are just as talented as any original band in town and make a lot more money than most of them I am sure. They have probably either given up on being rock stars, or never wanted to be and now are only concerned with feeding their families!

Joe Distort
Joe Distort

not surprised...also i believe 'I'M WITH THE BAND' is actually just live karaoke, which is a whole other thing in and of itself. a lot of these are cover bands as well, and while i know some of them are cool folks, they would probably be the first to admit that they are really in different categories than hard working, show booking, touring, original musicians.

Phoenix New Times
Phoenix New Times

You'd be surprised how seriously people take these poll things, even from AZ Foothills... I would not be surprised if their readers genuinely thought these were the best options.


I don't think the AZ Foothills demographic lends itself to a relevant "best band" contest. Why even worry about it?


Perhaps we've never heard of them because you need to study history to know of them?

I think it's more a genre then anything else.


you really need to brush up on your local music history. if you knew anything, you would know that the groove merchants and cold shot have been playing around here since you were in go get your shine box


and no...i'm not in either band nor a fan...just observant

Stephen Chilton
Stephen Chilton

That may be the case for some of them. But I think the point that none of them are doing anything new or relevant today when there are great bands DOING something that did not make the cut is more the point. All the bands that are making a splash and doing anything at a national level (and there are quite a few in town doing just that) are noticeably missing form this list.

I now virtually none of these acts and I am at local shows several times a week.

Maybe some are that great musically that they deserve to be on this list, but any list that has nothing that is resinating in the press or nationally is missing far to much to be taken to seriously.

If there was a healthy mix of bands touring and releasing new interesting music with older acts that are good musicians in spite of not doing any of that today the list would be far more valid.

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