In Praise Of Live Local Music

There's an amazing array of talent all around us. Immediately around us, not just what's accessible via the internet, the TV or our favorite streaming service. I'm talking about what can be found at some of the local open-mic venues here (in the Valley, Phoenix, but you can insert your town name here, too). I shied away from the open-mic thing for years, claiming variously that the venues were too far away, the hours weren't good, what? you only get to play two songs? there'll be a lot of lame-o bad music, etc etc etc. Well, once again (as family and friends are so happy to point out) I was wrong. Dead wrong.

At Walk-In Wednesday at the Tempe Arts Center (hosted by Valley icon Walt Richardson), the spectrum of performers is wide and vast. On any given night you'll find David And Clara (his computer) onstage delivering William Burroughs-style stream of consciousness raps over self-made loops and samples, followed by Carlos' take on a Muddy Waters tune, followed by Cottonwood Stone singing one of her sweet original songs, followed by Panama Pete killing "Masters Of War". Some musicians are able-bodied, some are in wheelchairs, some are old, some are disarmingly young. Some are insanely talented, some not as accomplished. All, though, perform with a passion that is endearing and infectious, and there's a real camaraderie between performers and those who come just to listen.

I've never failed to be delighted, amazed, moved and humbled (sometimes all at once) by these evenings. And I'm thankful to have the opportunity to be a small part of this musical community.

Check out local radio personality Blaise Lantana (KJZZ) playing one of her original tunes. (Thanks to Joey Weissgerber for the videos!)


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