8 Phoenix Bands Who Entered NPR's Tiny Desk Contest

Phoenix's Rising Sun Daughter is one local band with eyes on the Tiny Desk prize.

Adele, T Pain, John Legend, Wilco, Trey Anastasio, Cat Stevens, Jackson Browne, The B.O.T.S., Trampled By Turtles, Hozier, The Pixies, and Neko Case are just a few of the notable bands and musicians that have participated in National Public Radio's Tiny Desk Concert Series.

The concept is pretty simple and straightforward. People come to the NPR Music office and perform a short concert for the NPR staff. But the series has grown into more than that. The videos, meticulously shot and edited, have an intimate feel, and offer a chance to see bands that don't always perform at small venues up close and personal. It has become somewhat of an honor to be selected as one of the bands

NPR seems to have realized the power which the Tiny Desk Concert wields and have opened up the concert to a national contest. Bands from all 50 states and the District of Columbia turned in videos of themselves playing around a tiny desk. The contest was open from December 2 until January 19, and the winner will be announced Feb. 12.

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Alvin Brothers Breathe New Life Into Pre-War Blues and Brotherhood

Categories: Blues

Beth Herzhaft
The Alvin brothers

Brothers Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin have made musical careers of taking what was once old and making it new again. In some cases, the two who were the creating force behind acclaimed roots rock 'n' roll band The Blasters, have also created new music that you could swear was from a by-gone era when original music was recorded on vinyl for audiences steeped in blues, country, folk and of course early rock.

Like most brothers, the two siblings, who formed The Blasters in 1979, have quarreled during the past 35 years. But in the past two years, time has healed wounds, even one that came dangerously close to having Phil meet his maker.

But a brush with death has a way of reconciling brothers. The key, then, was to find one thing they could agree on, and apparently, that was easy.

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Nonagenarian Blues Pianist Henry Gray to Celebrate Birthday at Rhythm Room

Categories: Blues

Dave Blake
Henry Gray celebrates his 90th birthday in Phoenix this weekend.

They say women love blues pianist Henry Gray, and Henry Gray loves women. He married a woman 30 years younger than himself.

Rhythm Room owner Bob Corritore recalls him joking that you shouldn't put two older people together.

"You don't get a spark with two dead batteries," Gray told him.

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Savoy Brown Frontman on Losing and Regaining Passion for Music

Categories: Blues

Ian Brooks
Savoy Brown

Keith Richards, in his autobiography, Life, claims to remember everything from his lengthy musical career. Clearly, there's some embellishment. Kim Simmonds, who's been playing music approximately the same length of time, and has fronted British blues rock heavyweights Savoy Brown for almost as long as Richards has led the Rolling Stones, is somewhat more realistic when it comes to memory. When asked about his March 6, 1972, Phoenix gig at the Travelodge Theatre with Fleetwood Mac and Long John Baldry, Simmonds honestly offers up nothing.

"If he remembers everything, he's fantastic because I don't remember a whole lot," Simmonds says with a laugh. "I can't remember that show in particular, but it was a great tour."

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Kaye Bohler Does Her Part to Keep the Blues Alive

Categories: Blues

Can you handle those curves? Need a map?

Kaye Bohler will perform at the Rhythm Room on Tuesday, January 6, to push her new CD, Handle the Curves.

She has a wonderful voice. People have compared her Turner because of her high-energy, in-your-face performance style that draws the audience in.

Bohler remembers watching Turner when she was 10 years old. Turner was wearing a red flaming dress and Bohler was absolutely star-struck. Bohler admires and emulates Turner's authenticity and athleticism.

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Mr. Beer Comes to Town to Play the Blues

Categories: Blues

Piedmont Talent
The 44s -- we see plenty of candidates for "Dad" and "Toot," but not Mom...

It's not often that an Arizona blues club gets an international act for New Year's Eve, but the 44s will play the Rhythm Room in Phoenix as 2015 comes in.

Arizona blues lovers will have to enjoy the 44s while they can, because the Los Angeles-based blues-roots-rock band will tour Europe five times this coming year, including trips to the Netherlands, France, and Germany.

"New Year's Eve will be a blast," said Johnny Main, frontman for the 44s with his vocals and guitar.

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Phoenix Blues Musicians Band Together to Send One of Their Own to Memphis

Categories: Blues

Courtesy of R.d Olson
R.d. Olson and his band want to head to Memphis, they just need a few grand.

Ten bands will perform on December 21 at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix as a fundraiser for the R.d. Olson Blues Band, winner of the Arizona Blues Showdown, to help them afford competing Jan. 20-24 at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis.

Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. and the bands will perform until midnight. There is a suggested $10 donation.

The performing bands are Smokestack Lighting, Common Ground Blues Band, The Effects, Toolshed, Kathi Davis and the Groove Tones, Salty Gringos, Tom Grills and Brick House, Steve Rush, Paul CruiZe Blues Crew and R.d. Olson Blues Band.

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Bluesman Mike Presents Blues for a Good Cause at Rhythm Room

Categories: Blues

Bluesman Mike and the Blues Review Band
Bluesman Mike
Bluesman Mike's annual charity drive rolls around again this weekend.

Blues will help kids and needy parents during the seventh annual Toy and Diaper Drive Sunday, December 7 at Rhythm Room in Phoenix.

Bluesman Mike Anderson and the Blues Review Band will head up an all-star cast that includes Lucius Parr, the Sugar Thieves, Paul Cruize and Blues Crew, Sir Harrison, Rebecca Bond from the Diverse Band, Charli Hopewell from Adrenalin, Dave Riley, Mike Black, and Bam Bam.

Bluesman Mike started the toy and diaper drive seven years ago at Bogey's in Chandler, but moved it to the Rhythm Room three years ago because of its central location for those who live in the east or west parts of the valley.

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Bob Corritore Finally Hosts Release Party for All-Instrumental Blues Album, Taboo

Categories: Blues

Dragan Tasuc
Bob Corritore is bold enough to replace vocals with the harp on his new album.

Local blues harmonica player -- and Rhythm Room owner -- Bob Corritore could not have picked a better title for his latest release. That Taboo is an all-instrumental album is rare enough these days in the blues world, but one fronted by a harp blower makes the outing even rarer still.

"The bold thing about it is that an album of all harmonica instrumentals has rarely been done," Corritore says from his Phoenix club "It's kind of a statement about harmonica, as well as a statement about instrumentals."

The album is also a statement to Corritore's ability to craft a dangerous idea into a package of 12 tunes that flow smoothly over a blend of styles. Corritore covers the blues spectrum, tackling jump blues, traditional Chicago shakedowns, sultry after hours ballads and dance floor party numbers in a manner that's compelling enough that lyrics -- or the lack thereof -- becomes an after thought.

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Bob Margolin Reflects on Blues Lessons Learned from Muddy Waters

Categories: Blues

Courtesy of Bob Margolin
Steady Rollin', Muddy Waters-backing Bob Margolin

Claiming blues legend Muddy Waters as a teacher is something few musicians can do with a straight face. "Steady Rollin" Bob Margolin is one such musician. Already showing promise as an upstart blues musician following a short-lived foray into the psychedelic rock world with Boston's Freeborne (the band's lone album now fetches big bucks), Margolin was lucky enough to have Waters draw him under his wing in 1973. Margolin calls it a "crossroads" moment in his career.

"I was completely aware of the significance as it was happening," Margolin explains via email. "I knew I had to do it if I could, that I had a lot to learn, and I had to prove myself to keep the job and go farther with it. Muddy knew that too, and he gave me a chance. I owe him forever."

The ensuing seven years provided Margolin the tools to sustain a lengthy music career. Leaving Waters in 1980, Margolin became a staple on the east coast blues circuit before succumbing to the realities of needing to make albums to "get back out on the world's blues scene." Margolin, now a blues master in his own right, has been racking up awards and accolades ever since.

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