Friday, December 25, 2015

Local group The Upper Strata releases new album, new sound for their new chapter - YabYum Music and Arts Sneak Peek

By Matt Marn

Published by YabYum Music and Arts

For years, Jonathan Sanchez and Regula Sanchez-Schmid of The Upper Strata have been devoted to not only the music they play, but the stories the music tells. And their newest release, Cabaret Wartaire, is still another prime example of an album devoted to the message behind the music. In recording the album, the group has created something all their own - purely for love of creating art for art's sake.

Jonathan Sanchez, guitarist and lead vocalist for The Upper Strata, called Cabaret Wartaire a genre-smashing journey: "accordion meets hip-hop, blues meets crunk, electronica and alternative sounds blended with old-world Kurt Weill theatrics." And while those mixtures may sound in conflict with each other, they blend well, in altogether new ways.

And that was kind of the idea to the message, too.

Read more about The Upper Strata and their new album at YabYum Music and Arts!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Four Chambers presents "Welcome Home" - YabYum Sneak Peek

By Matt Marn

Published by YabYum Music and Arts

Four Chambers Press is ready to launch their latest collection of works, assembled from an open call to writers in the community. "Welcome Home: Poetry and Prose for Welcome Hospitality" will serve as the launch event for the publication this Saturday, October 3, at Welcome Diner on Roosevelt Street in Phoenix.

Welcome Diner will not only be the venue for the publication's launch event, but it is the subject of the works inside. Four Chambers' founder and editor-in-chief Jake Friedman said Welcome Diner is a beloved staple in the Phoenix community, and has become a point of pride for people living in the area.

"The goals of the Welcome Diner and Four Chambers are closely related, using culture and space as a way to relate people to each other," Friedman said. "We decided to do something for Welcome - we felt very strongly, it turned out to be very rich, both in meaning and material. We hope the works encourage people to see Welcome in a different way, but also their sense of place - their sense of home."

See the rest of the article at YabYum Music and Arts!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Gary Clark, Jr. and Foo Fighters light up the night at Ak-Chin Friday - Sneak Peek

By Matt Marn

Published by

Fans were crowding the gates far in advance, even lining up in their cars before the gates to the parking lot opened. Once they did, the fans swarmed in as one, ready for this show featuring Gary Clark, Jr. and the Foo Fighters - many already wearing swag from prior tours. More will join them shortly from the merch table.

The shirts, posters, and albums for sale quickly paint the picture: the Foo Fighters have been through it all over the years. From traveling halfway around the world to revisiting their hometown, these men have spent more than 20 years capturing hearts the world over.

There was even a T-shirt featured at the merch table featuring the phrase, "The Break a Leg Tour." Truly, no one makes falling and breaking your leg mid-concert look cooler than Dave Grohl.

The sun continued to set as fans continued to pour in. Lawn seats in the back filled up quickly, with the audience crowding each other to get the best view of their beloved Foo Fighters. The sun set, the house lights took over, and the cheering grew louder. Spotlights trained onto the stage - first left, then right, then center, and finally, lighting up the entire stage. The crowd cheered again, ready to take the evening's end-of-summer heat to a whole new level. Even I can't help but smile. Here we go.

Read the rest of the article at!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Vintage Trouble's new album, "1 Hopeful Road," keeps energy moving with every note - Sneak Peek

Vintage Trouble's new album, 1 Hopeful Road
By Matt Marn

Published by

From the moment I hit 'play' on the debut album for the R&B group Vintage Trouble, I was blown away by their high-energy mix of great tempos, overdriven guitar riffs, and soulful vocals. And since I have heard their newest album, 1 Hopeful Road, I still feel that same excitement for the music.

And clearly, so does the band.

From the first notes on track one, starting the song with a snappy beat-clap, beat-clap tempo, drummer Richard Danielson helps make it very clear their spirits haven't changed a bit. The first song on the album, "Run Like the River," is a first look into the album's energy, which will have every city they visit clapping along during every show on their tour.

Ty Taylor's call-and-response during the chorus may remind listeners of their gospel style, which they blend so smoothly with their bluesy, juke-joint rhythm and solos. And by the time the call-and-response chorus, carried along with the bass rhythms of Rick Barrio Dill, gives way to guitarist Nalle Colt's magic work on the strings, you have no doubt you are in for quite the party.

See the rest of the Vintage Trouble album review at!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

YabYum Sneak Peek: Jeremiah Craig's campfire storytelling spins tall tales in Lost Keys in Lounge Strange

By Matt Marn
Jeremiah Craig - taken by Mandy Mothersell

Published in YabYum Music and Arts

As singer/songwriter Jeremiah Craig grew up, singing around the campfire went hand-in-hand with the tall tales that always take shape in the blaze and under the stars. And, once he picked up the banjo, his own story soon began to write itself.

"My dad played guitar, and so did a few of my friends," said Craig. "I wanted to be different, so I chose banjo. I stuck with it. I drove my parents nuts, playing the same songs over and over, but I stuck with it."

Craig progressed in his playing, winning the high school talent competition where he made his public debut. Soon, he formed a bluegrass band with his friends, calling the jam session Bluegrass Tuesday.

"We probably sounded awful," he said. "But it was a lot of fun, so we didn't care."

Craig remained nervous playing banjo until he reached college with Jack Swift, his group at that time.

"With them, we performed and played so much, I didn't have time to worry or get nervous," he said. "It was a jazz-rock group, heavily dependent on improvisation during the song... I was too busy paying attention to the band, and what the song was doing. I got caught up in the moment, almost like a trance. Ever since, I really didn't pay attention to or worry about crowds. Besides, if you mess up at an improvisation show, that's what makes it a jam. That's what makes it different from the last time the song was played."

Read the rest of the story on Jeremiah Craig, and his storytelling album, at YabYum Music and Arts!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Phoenician Four Jazztet brings a new twist to classic jazz - YabYum Music and Arts Sneak Peek

By Matt Marn

Published by YabYum Music and Arts

The Phoenician Four Jazztet can trace its origins to a different creature than the stylings you can see them showing off around the city today. But then again, adaptation and improvisation was how jazz itself was born - so they're off to a great start.

The players first met while attending an open-door jam band in Tempe, known as Unified Fusion. This large group included singers, drummers, guitarists and bassists, as well as saxophone players. Then the day came when Unified Fusion drummer Joshua got a gig through connections at a local venue, but the jam session group was too large for that set - so Enns chose a few players from the group to join him at the smaller gig. The smaller group included saxophonist Tony Salce and bass player Scott Harris.

For the music they played at the set, the trio revisited their classic jazz roots.

"We had this huge, awesome response," Enns said. "One random passerby tipped us like $80, and went on about how much he loved young artists playing older stuff. We had a great thing, so we just kept it going."

Read the entire story
on the group's evolution into The Phoenician Four at YabYum Music and Arts! 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

YabYum Music & Arts Sneak Peek: A Claire Slattery's Mix Tape Project

By Matt Marn

Published by YabYum Music and Arts

A Claire Slattery knows very well that everyone has their own unique taste in music, and most everyone likes to make mixes of that music to share. In fact, everyone knows that. But Slattery set herself apart by taking it one step further by orchestrating a massive mix-sharing event for her community, and beyond.

"The first time I did this project, I was kind of unsure why I was doing it," Slattery said. "But it seemed like a good idea. It caught on a lot faster than I thought it would. I thought that if 40 people participated, it would be a good turnout. But the day I got it up, I got 35 emails in the first 24 hours. I knew I had created a monster."

The first time she organized the event back in 2011, she called it "Make a Mix For Someone You Probably Don't Know." Over 400 people from all over the United States joined the project, as well as international participants from as far out as Germany and the Netherlands. This summer, she is hosting the project again, and according to the event's Facebook page, Slattery is on track to having just as many people join in on the fun this time around.

Read more on Slattery's Mix Tape Project at YabYum Music and Arts! Sneak Peek: Singer/Songwriter Bob Schneider Leaves MIM Cheering After Solo Acoustic Show

Photo credit: Mark Spoerner
By Matt Marn

Published by

Bob Schneider is a fantastic entertainer and songwriter, to say the least. Not only does he have an impressive album catalogue - and continues to release new work - but he leaves crowds cheering, from his home in Austin all the way to New York City. And when he visited the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, he certainly did not disappoint.

The crowd at the MIM began piling in early, excited for the show, A couple in the front row takes a picture in front of the stage, empty save for a keyboard, piano, acoustic guitar, and a few pedals crowded around a lone microphone. Fans outside already crowded around the merch table, grabbing up CDs and T-shirts before he even took the stage. Clearly, Schneider's music and reputation precede him.

Follow the link to read the full article on Bob Schneider's show at the MIM at!

Monday, June 15, 2015

CALICO brings original brand of California country style to the MIM - Sneak Peek

By Matt Marn

Published by

Kirsten Proffit, Manda Mosher, and Aubrey Richmond were already successful, dedicated musicians as solo artists in the Los Angeles area, but when they found each other, they formed CALICO the Band, and took their songwriting styles to new places altogether.

"Everyone dreams of being discovered by a big record label," said Mosher. "Instead, we discovered each other. We met each other; we had watched all the different talent in Los Angeles... we kind of talent scouted each other. Now we feel like a family - we've created a musical family."

Richmond agreed, saying as if she has two extra sisters in her band mates.

"We really lucked out that we like each other and get along so well," she said.

CALICO the Band - which stands for California Country - describe themselves in their bio as beginning their story in that dusty stretch of desert where their music began, haunted by the Western ghosts of the past, but gentle with modern spirits, too... all blown together like tumbleweeds towards the big city. CALICO, they said, is about that eternal place where the big city meets that lonely desert - where the freeways converge at the ocean.

The ladies of CALICO the Band shared the stage with violin, acoustic and electric guitars, as well as mandolin melodies. They are devoted to timeless roots music, and voices singing in harmony.

"We are all about our sound," said Proffit. "We wrote separately before, but now we join together, and simplify melodies to focus on harmony. We didn't even know we were doing it until we played back the first tracks we had recorded. We had joined together to create something new, something greater than the sum of its parts."

See the rest of the spotlight on CALICO and coverage of their MIM concert at

Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix celebrates five years strong with new activities and events - sneak peek

By Matt Marn

Published by

With more than five years of providing entertainment and music education to more than 1 million guests from around the globe, as well as more than 140,000 students as part of the school field trip programs, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is ready to keep the music playing.

Since MIM opened its doors five years ago, it has taken its place as one of the top attractions in Phoenix, not to mention the world's only global musical instrument museum.

And 2015 should be MIM's biggest year yet.

"In five years MIM has already carved a path to being recognized as one of the best museums in the world, but this is just the beginning," said April Salomon, executive director of MIM. "As a museum in constant evolution, we're excited to continue fulfilling MIM's mission and look forward to inspiring and entertaining guests for many years to come."

MIM works to enrich the world by collecting, preserving, and making accessible a wide variety of musical instruments and performance videos from every country in the world. The facility offers guests a welcoming and fun experience, interactive technology, and special programs, as well as musical performances from both local and internationally renowned artists.

MIM and its staff foster appreciation of diverse cultures around the globe by showing that we all innovate, adapt, and learn from each other to create music - the language of the soul.

Read the full article on the Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix at!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Joe Bonamassa brings his unique Blues twist to Phoenix - sneak peek

By Matt Marn

Published by

With his unique flair and creativity for the blues music he loves, it is always a pleasure when blues/rock icon Joe Bonamassa stops into Phoenix. And this time, he had a few extra surprises in store.

The evening before his April 30 concert, Bonamassa was the guest of honor at the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game. Wearing a custom "Bonamassa" Diamondbacks jersey bearing the number 59, he stood near home plate; with his trademark gold-top Gibson Les Paul at the ready. After he was announced, he began a stirring, bluesy rendition of our National Anthem, moving expertly up and down the neck with a blues slide. Everyone in attendance seemed to enjoy the music - a new, unique way to pay tribute to our nation.

That new, unique spin on the traditional way of things is exactly what Bonamassa does best. The night of the concert, crowds began to flow into Comerica Theatre, many wearing T-shirts of past concerts and music adventures. It was clear everyone present was excited, ready for something big. And with Bonamassa, fans are always in for a unique treat.

As the blues fans headed into the venue, they were met with lights beamed toward the bandstands, and a mist covering the stage. As the concert began, Bonamassa moved out onstage, green spotlight on the blues master, and blue lights on the rest of his band. He started right in with lightning-fast work on the strings, to the great thrill of the crowd.

"Oh, beautiful, if you were mine, I would write you letters, and pour you sweet wine..."

Read more of the article about Bonamassa's concert at!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Songwriters Sarah Lewis and Gina Loes finish tour in the Valley, meet new friends and fans along the way - Sneak Peek

By Matt Marn

Published by

One is a newer singer/songwriter - setting up a tour to promote her newest EP. The other is a member of a full band, with a number of group albums in the books - but remains nervous to get back to her bare-bones, acoustic roots. For both performers, this trip from Canada through the West Coast was exactly what they needed.

The duo, Sarah Lewis and Gina Loes, respectively, began their tour by traveling from their homes in Vancouver, and making their way through Oregon, California, and finally Arizona - meeting new people and new inspirations along the way.

"I love performing," said Loes. "I love being on the road - making new friends and seeing new places. Everything else in my life seems to disappear for that moment. All I have to think about is where we're playing next, and what part of town to explore. You get the unique chance to see tiny, snapshot examples of people and communities along the way."

Read more about Sarah and Gina's tour from the full article, posted at!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Taylor Jayne remains true to herself in new album, "Fold" - Sneak Peek

By Matt Marn
Published by

Local singer/songwriter Taylor Jayne has spent most of her life listening to great music. Ever since her father introduced her to legends like Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley and the Beatles, she has held a deep respect for not only music that evokes strong emotions, but also the powerful words behind each song.

But once she discovered her love for writing her own songs, everything changed.

"That's when it clicked," Jayne said. "I can write my own music; I can make people feel the same way, get the same feelings I get when I hear great music."

Jayne has since gone her own direction, performing her own style of music - and every time she does, it has become a very positive experience. Jayne said it is wonderful to watch her music reach people in that way - it is a nice reassurance of the work and thought she has put into everything.

"I don't know where I would be if I hadn't gotten that kind of support," she said. "Creativity, originality... these are things that should be respected, in a welcome environment."

Jayne's newest project is "Fold," a new album of her original songs, full of her own creative twist.

Jayne said that at one point in high school, she recorded an EP, but she was never satisfied with the result. This new album, however, is a very personal look at the struggles she faced with her own demons - and the journey she had to go through to remain true to herself.

"One day, I said to myself that it was time," she said. "It was time to record something I was truly proud of, something that was me... uncompromisingly me. The writing is from a good place; a good representation of me. I wanted to put good, quality art out there that showed who I was."

Read the full article on Taylor Jayne and "Fold" at!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 sneak peek: Phoenix Fashion Week provides springboard into style for emerging designers

By Matt Marn

Published by

While fashion is a difficult industry to break into, Phoenix Fashion Week serves as a great opportunity for emerging designers and models to showcase their talents. Phoenix Fashion Week executive director Brian Hill is putting Phoenix on the map in the fashion scene, and helping talent from across the country use the event as a launch pad to begin their journeys down the runway.

"It started out of need for something to call our own - for our fashion industry," Hill said. "In the past, I was a fashion designer myself - sewing, sales, shipping... everything. I was interested in furthering my own clothing line. That's why I can help emerging designers, because I've been there. We aren't afraid to try, even to make mistakes. But we learn from our mistakes, and improve upon them."

Hill and his team were approached by TIME Magazine, asking to write a story on Phoenix Fashion Week. The article ran in October 2012.

"We were blessed by that opportunity," he said. "It gave us credibility... but we try to stay on course, stay true to our mission. If we help a designer succeed, it's a win-win. If we help launch a successful clothing line, it helps us - but mostly, we want them to succeed."

Read more of this article at!!

Monday, February 9, 2015 Sneak Peek: State Forty-Eight Clothing - a perfect fit for Arizona pride

By Matt Marn
Published in
Spangenberg (far right) and the State Forty-Eight crew

From when Michael Spangenberg was a child, he always knew he wanted to start a fashion line. Now, he has a growing clothing and apparel line to share with Arizona.

Spangenberg grew up in Chandler along with his friend, Stephen Polano, and Polano's younger brother, Nick. Stephen was soon on board with Spangenberg's idea to begin a fashion label, and one morning, the name came to Stephen - State Forty-Eight.

"Nick got involved in the graphic design, and after that, we just went all-in on it - just going for it, using our resources," Spangenberg said. "Fashion shoes, community events, talking to stores... just really going for it."

While none of the three have business degrees or backgrounds, State Forty-Eight is truly taking off. New, fresh designs, local sporting team colors in many of their collections, and social media marketing - not to mention word-of-mouth interest - are helping State Forty-Eight grow into a household name in AZ.

"It all starts in sports for us; for me and Stephen in particular," Spangenberg said. "I remember going to Cardinals games, and half of the stadium is full of fans of the other team. It was embarrassing. It's about pride in our home."

What began as a show of pride in local sports teams has quickly grown into a popular show of pride in all things Arizona. Their collections feature vibrant colors, designs and patterns - including colors of the Phoenix Suns, the Arizona Diamondbacks, ASU, U of A, as well as Patrick Peterson Cardinals designs. Clothing and apparel varieties include men's, women's, and youth T-shirts, hoodies, and hats... even infant outfits - something for everyone in AZ.

"It's just like everywhere else," Spangenberg said. "It's about pride in our hometown. Great weather, sports and activities... It's one of the largest cities in the United States. The local movement has grown - what better way to grow support than from local residents, people who feel the same way as you do. It's a great way to wear your support on your sleeve."

Read more from the article on State Forty-Eight in the full article, featured at!