Tuesday, August 7, 2012

“Tuesday Bluesday 2.0:” The Blues can smile once more

Popular blues jam reopens at new venue as fans look forward to bright future

By Matt Marn

When the Glendale blues jam known as “Tuesday Bluesday” ended along with the closing of its home venue, Next Coffee Company, they went out on a high note, with a packed house – the largest turnout of the event’s history. It was a bittersweet night for all, as everyone gave their best performances onstage, unsure what the future would bring for both Tuesday Bluesday and for the group of regulars who support it.

 But the following week, “Tuesday Bluesday 2.0” opened at Zendejas Grill, right next door to their former coffee shop. Without missing a beat, the group had found a new home.

Tuesday Bluesday organizer and band leader Tom Mein breaks out his familiar guitars, takes the stage with his usual band mates, bass guitarist Rich Alfano and drummer “Rumblin’” John Rumbaugh, and begins their set with their favorite blues medley. As cheers grow louder from the audience, he welcomes the crowd, “Welcome to Tuesday Bluesday 2.0!”

Mein explains to the crowd how grateful he and the band are to have Zendejas as their new venue to continue this event. He said, as he always does, how important it is to continue to support live music, particularly on the west side of the valley, where local talent can have a place to perform and grow.

After the band’s intro blues set,  Mein starts moving through the list of performers in the crowd who wanted to step onto this new stage and jam with other local performers. The night featured a variety of blues, jazz, funk and even some country, as Tuesday Bluesday is admired as featuring a variety of genres for all tastes to share and enjoy.

“One thing I have noticed in the past year, there’s been an explosion of all sorts of jam sessions around here,” said Mein later. “But we have one of the best varieties. That’s our niche; we’re the most varied jam session. I don’t want to be just a blues or a jazz jam, I like mixing it up. I hope it stays that way.”

One of the performers to take to the stage was Blair Robertson, a guitarist and longtime blues admirer.

“I thought the whole night was phenomenal,” said Robertson. “I’m amazed at the amount of talent. It’s great we found a new place, and so quickly. Tom deserves a lot of credit. When something goes really well, you’re under pressure to keep that up, and Tom’s doing a phenomenal job.”

Robertson said the only problem is Tuesday Bluesday hasn’t grown, it has exploded.

“I see that as a good thing, since it brings better and better talent,” he said. “Tom just has the problem of getting everyone that wants to play onstage.”

That difficulty of organizing and ensuring everyone makes it onstage is the greatest stress for Mein.

“It can get hectic, scheduling everyone,” Mein said. “A lot of players drive a long way, and if they don’t get to play, they leave. That’s the last thing I want.”

Mein said he is very pleased with Zendejas Grill, and is sure it is a move in the right direction.

“Next was nice, but there’s good food here, a family atmosphere, everything we could want,” he said. “Here at Zendejas there’s more space, nicer seating, and they stay open later than 9 p.m. We always got to the end of the night at Next, and had to cram everyone in. This will help getting everyone onstage.”

Robertson celebrated the new venue’s opening night by performing the favorite “Honky Tonk Woman.” He said later this was a new song for him, a song he has wanted to perform since high school.

“This kind of event inspires you to learn a new song,” he said. “The beautiful thing is, I screwed up, but when you play with so many other musicians, they can help cover you, and together, you all sound great. It encourages people to come up and try new things.”

Regular Tuesday Bluesday supporters Jim and Paula Cowley didn’t expect the amount of talent they started seeing on a regular basis when they started attending the jam, and were also impressed with the great job Mein does every week organizing the jam.

“I didn’t expect this,” said Paula Cowley. “It grew from a little Tuesday night coffee shop to something much bigger. Tom is one of the better players I’ve ever seen. I was also surprised at how friendly everyone was. They are so supportive of young people or all the first timers. It’s a great group of people that go do it.”

Cowley said she is certain the jam will only get bigger from here, and the new venue will help them grow their reputation further.

“Everyone was starting to notice the crowds we were drawing in at Next,” she said. “I think Tuesday Bluesday will keep growing.”

House bass guitarist Rich Alfano agrees this is a good move for the Tuesday Bluesday group, and everything he’s heard from regulars suggests this was surely an upgrade.

“We’ve retained our core of regular jammers, and seem to be adding new faces all the time,” Alfano said. “The best part for me is working with talented players like Tom and John every week, and being a continuing student of the art of music, the variety of material we run through… Country, jazz, blues, funk, there’s always something different being offered.”

Mein said he has a great time performing at and leading Tuesday Bluesday, and said it is the most fun gig of his busy week. He also enjoys seeing new players come up and perform along with the group.

“That’s part of the great thing,” he said. “It’s not just about playing with others; I really enjoy giving people an opportunity to play onstage, and watch them grow better and better. After all, one gig is worth ten rehearsals. Once you play onstage, that experience multiplies your growth. And everyone is welcome at Tuesday Bluesday.”

Tuesday Bluesday begins every Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Zendejas Grill, 19420 N 59th Avenue, Glendale, Arizona 85308

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Jivemind Cooperative Music Labs features Glendale Jazz Jam, outlets and opportunities for musicians

By Matt Marn

The organizers behind two of Glendale’s best kept secrets are ready to share.

People from all over the valley, musicians and supporters alike, gather in the lounge of Jivemind Cooperative Music Labs to enjoy the Downtown Glendale Jazz Jam. Performers of all ages and skill levels, from seasoned professionals to a grade-school student with a ukulele, take to the stage with their guitars, drumsticks, and voices every Thursday night to share their talents and have fun in a friendly, supportive atmosphere.

But there is more at work in this building than the Jazz Jam, and whether you are a passionate musician, or you just want to try a new hobby, Jivemind Music Labs may become your second home.

Getting the Jazz Jam started

The Downtown Glendale Jazz Jam, which meets at 7:30 every Thursday evening, got its big break when the organizer, Elizabeth Doré, was offered a booth at Glendale’s annual Jazz and Blues Festival through a music organization of which she is a board member, Jazz in AZ.

“We have been after a space to perform for 2 years,” Doré said. “I was working with Glendale, and they gave Jazz in AZ a booth 3 years ago. I met Gabriel Bey, the founder of AZ Culture, and told him we were looking for a venue. When he heard about Jivemind this year, he told the founders about us.”

Doré said she hires a new professional jazz band every month to facilitate the Jazz Jam, and people from all over the community are welcome to play. She said the arrangement with Jivemind is great, since the Jazz Jam satisfies Jivemind’s needs through the city, and it also gives Glendale nightlife business. Doré’s business, ABD Antique appraisers, is the sole sponsor of the event so far, but she hopes to get support from more organizations as the event grows in size and reputation.

“It’s a dream come true, holding a jazz performance in downtown Glendale,” Doré said. “There are so many people on the west side, and they don’t have anywhere to go. And the new performers get to play with professionals. Everybody wins; that’s how we roll.”

Doré wants to use the Jazz Jam to share the west side’s musical talent, and establish relationships with people who are participating in events like this in the community.

“We now have a west side center for live music on a regular basis. With this low cost and high-quality entertainment, we strive to bring young students out to play with seasoned professionals. It is such a wonderful outlet… there are so many well-educated musicians here.”

Jivemind Music Labs: A place to call home

Jivemind Cooperative Music Labs, the home of the Jazz Jam, is also starting its own rise through the valley’s music scene. On the corner of 58th Avenue and Glenn Drive in downtown Glendale, the founders describe Jivemind on their website as “a community workshop where musicians, producers and hobbyists realize their projects, practice their art, and connect with others.”

Jivemind offers rehearsal space and a growing collection of accessible instruments, recording studio space, as well as regular clinics, workshops and performances, including the Jazz Jam. With nearly a dozen varieties and levels of membership plans at Jivemind, Rose and Chaffin believe everyone interested in music should be able find a comfortable environment to enjoy and practice music, and meet others who enjoy doing the same.

“I’d like Jivemind to continue to gain momentum, said Rose. “It’s going to be the happening spot, with lots of events, lots of really awesome equipment. We’ve gotten to funnel performance opportunities to younger performers. I’d like to see musicians playing, learning and networking.”

Jivemind held an open house the weekend leading up to when Rose and Chaffin opened the doors. They got overwhelmingly positive feedback, including a news network affiliate. They are excited about the publicity, but they remain most excited about the good it will do for music enthusiasts in the area.

“Dawell, a drummer and regular here, said it best: ‘Everyone has a voice, however developed, and everyone should have a right to express it,’” Rose said. “And we’re trying to do that. We want to foster a culture that is growing. We want to give all the musicians in town a voice, and we’re here to help them develop those voices.”

Different roads to the same song

Rose said he and co-founder Chaffin arrived at the need for a place like Jivemind separately, knocking on doors, making contact with musicians and organizers in the area.

For Rose, it started when he played his drum set at home, and with the paper-thin walls of his apartment complex, that didn’t go over well.

“It was not a healthy environment to play and practice,” he said. “I got my drums out of home, and I took them to another sketchy place, and soon they were trashed. I just wanted to play my drums…”

Rose said he wanted to also go out and meet musicians, and have a good, safe place to play.

“There ought to be a place in town that can provide you with contacts, instruments, and a place to play, a central location in Phoenix that provides that,” he said.

Rose said when he asked around for who he should talk to in the area to get started in the music industry, Kimber Lanning’s name kept coming up. Rose said Lanning, a “well-connected and approachable player” in the music scene, put him in contact with other active members of the music community, including Nate Anderson.

Meanwhile, Chaffin grew up an hour north of Austin, Texas.

“Any day of the week, you can just walk down the street, and see a show,” Chaffin said. “The music scene is incredible. Plus, I’ve been writing and recording music since I was able to read at all. Anything I did in music, I was very encouraged, coming from a musical family.”

Chaffin said when he looked into the issue; he found most recording studios in the traditional sense weren’t making money. So he formulated the idea for a “lean and mean” studio. He, too, approached Kimber Lanning, who also led him to Nate Anderson. This was when Rose and Chaffin first met.

“Together, we came up with a holistic concept,” Chaffin said. “Venues, recording, and gear usually get expensive, and can stifle you. We provide these resources, and a great chance to meet other musicians.”

Chaffin added with a smile, Jivemind is “like a gym for musicians,” and advised enthusiasts not to buy an expensive elliptical, but to go to the gym.

“And there are people there with you, with a shared interest, a like mindset you can’t get at home,” Rose added. “However serious or recreational it is, there ought to be a place like this.”

Taking it from the top

Now that Jivemind has opened, Rose and Chaffin are amazed, seeing their dreams for what the local music scene deserves turned into a reality.

“I don’t know about Dustin, but it’s better than I had imagined,” Rose said. “We’re happy with where we are, but we know what we have to do to keep improving. It will grow so much greater from here.”

As part of that list, the duo is working more heavily on spreading the word to the community. As they show the community their finished product, Rose said more people will get on board.

Rose said the pair is working now on workshops and activities based around various musicians’ topics. Many are still conceptual ideas, but Rose mentioned a possible drum lab as an example, facilitated by a teacher, where music lovers can jam, practice and socialize.

“For sure, we want to expand our membership base, and the continued growth of what we have to offer musicians, from instruments and performance space to fun, interesting programs,” Rose said. “That’s the kind of stuff we like to do.”

The Start of Something Great

Now Thursday’s Jazz Jam wraps up at Jivemind Music Labs, and everyone in the crowd who wanted to take the stage has gotten the chance to jam with professionals in the valley music scene. The crowd is clapping for great performances, and tapping toes and bopping heads can’t help but keep the rhythm that fills Glendale’s newest spot for live music and music lovers. And off to the side, Jivemind co-founder Jeff Rose works the sound console, and in the back, Rose’s co-founder Dustin Chaffin stands with Jazz Jam organizer Elizabeth Doré, all three nodding and tapping along with the crowd.

Their smiles, however, may be just a bit larger.

Downtown Glendale Jazz Jam
Every Thursday, 7:30-10:00 pm
Held at Jivemind

Jivemind Cooperative Music Labs
5754 West Glenn Drive Glendale, AZ 85301
(408) 475-5483