Now that the Memorial Day weekend has past us, it is time to prepare for the time of year that only a true desert dweller could love – summer. I have lived here off and on for the past 30 years and Arizona summers are a badge of honor and thus we are rewarded with great summer music. I have listed some of the most special upcoming summer shows so get out and enjoy your reward!
May 31st Jane’s Addiction Tucson Music Hall Tucson
The psychedelic & progressive rockers Jane’s Addiction return once again to the road after both a “Farewell Tour” in 1991 and a “Relapse Tour” in 1997. The band’s ground-breaking and oft-banned music once again has taken the charts by storm with only their fourth studio album in 25 years with The Great Escape Artist. The band hasn’t toured since 2009 and 2003 before that so make sure to make the trek to Tucson to see the iconic blend of Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro & Stephen Perkins.
June 9th Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers Rocky Point, Mexico
These homegrown Arizona rockers once again make their trek south of the border and invade the “Sleepy drinking town with a fishing problem.” This will be the 21st time over the past 11 years that Roger & the boys will double or triple the population of Puerto Penasco for the weekend. Originally from Tucson and a graduate of ASU, Roger pens some of the most original songs about the dusty borderlands of our beloved Arizona. There is a running theme through most of his songs – drinking & partying with friends – so head on down to Arizona’s beach, it is safer now down there than it has ever been and relax with a cold beer in your hand and your feet in the sand.
June 16th Van Halen US Airways Center Phoenix
The veteran rockers return to the road once again this summer with yet another shuffle of the band’s lineup. With the release of A Different Kind of Truth, the band’s first studio album in 14 years, original members Eddie & Alex Van Halen are joined by the prodigal lead singer David Lee Roth and Eddie’s son Wolfgang playing bass guitar. This is Roth’s third stint as the Van Halen lead singer after the band broke up in 1985 and was kicked out again in 1996 after a brief stint together. Roth rejoined the group in 2006 but once again the band went on hiatus after original bass player, Michael Anthony was removed from the website and band in 2007. After struggles with arthritis and visits to rehab, Eddie and Van Halen returned with Wolfgang on the bass guitar and began writing Truth. There are only 11 concert dates in June and if you would like to see this current lineup, I suggest you see them on this tour because with such big personalities, you never know how long they’ll stay together.
June 28th Van’s Warped Tour Camelback Ranch Glendale
Over 80 bands on eight different stages will delight the eyes & ears of the younger generation in a sweat fest on the grounds of Glendale’s Camelback Ranch. With 100°+ temperatures and throngs of tweens, Millennials & Gen X’ers clinging to their youth; this will definitely be the “hottest” concert of the summer. Featured bands on the bill include All-Time Low, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, The Used & Yellowcard. This Festival runs the musical gamut with not only rock & alternative bands but also explores the genres of metal, electronic, punk, hardcore, hip-hop, ska & reggae. If you are looking for an eclectic blend of music and people, you will not do any better than the Van’s Warped Tour, but remember to stay cool & hydrated with free filtered water stations, shade areas, misting stations and even a slip & slide.
July 3rd Summerland Tour 2012 Comerica Theatre Phoenix
The first of the 90’s reunion band tours to hit the beautiful, downtown theatre on the day before Independence Day. The Summerland Tour has super groups Everclear, Sugar Ray and Arizona’s own Gin Blossoms. One-hit wonders Lit & Marcy Playground fill out the bill and will make Sex & Candy your Own Worst Enemy. Everclear is working on having their 7th studio album Invisible Stars available by the time the Summerland Tours embarks in late June. Sugar Ray is still promoting their latest 2009 release Music for Cougars and apparently branching into a new demographic with an album by that name. Tempe’s original Mill Avenue band Gin Blossoms have been touring with three original members and two personal friends of mine Scotty Johnson on lead guitar & Scott Hessel on drums; two great musicians and even better guys, go support them for the good of Arizona.
July 3rd Independence Day Music Festival Salt River Fields Scottsdale
Country music superstar Miranda Lambert brings her beautiful voice and body to Scottsdale for an Independence Day spectacular sure to delight the entire family with gates opening at 5:00 and boasting the Valley’s largest fireworks show. Miranda Lambert is the reigning Queen of Country music with all four of her albums going platinum and has been awarded Female Vocalist of the Year from both the Country Music Association & Academy of Country Music. Her second album, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend won Album of the Year from the CMA’s and her third album Revolution was bestowed with the prestigious title from both the CMA & ACM. If her music accolades were not enough, she was also named one of People magazine’s Most Beautiful People & Maxim’s Hottest Women of Country. Joining Miranda will be another flashback name from the 90’s – Darius Rucker, former front-man for Hootie & the Blowfish. In 2008, Rucker released Learn to Live on Capitol Records Nashville and it was a smash with 3 number one singles and was the first African-American with a #1 song on the country charts since Charley Pride in 1983. In 2009, Rucker was awarded the CMA’s Best New Artist and his sophomore album proved that he has found his niche in country music with 2 additional number-one songs. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, I assume that country music has always been a part of him but just recently tapped into the talent and we are thankful for that.
July 7th Willie Nelson Fox Theatre Tucson
The “Red Headed Stranger” returns to Tucson at the newly renovated Fox Theatre on the weekend following the Independence Day holiday and I, for one am excited. A renowned author, actor & activist; Willie Nelson is a living legend and an iconic figure in the outlaw country genre. The Country Music Hall of Famer has garnered numerous #1 singles & albums; Best Male Artist & Entertainer of the Year awards as well several Grammy awards. Country Music Television recently named him the #4 on their list of Greatest Men of Country Music and Rolling Stone magazine listed him as one of the Greatest Singers of All Time. I am assuming that the theatre will need to be fumigated after this show as he is one of the foremost proponents of marijuana legalization.
July 25th Last Summer on Earth Tour Comerica Theatre Phoenix
The second installment of 1990’s super groups continues with the Last Sumer on Earth Tour with venerable rockers Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler, Big Head Todd & the Monsters & Cracker. The Ladies, a three piece band for over 20 years recently added a fourth member and will be supporting their newest album All in Good Time. Blues Traveler have seen the ups & downs of rock music stardom and have re-emerged with a stronger, more connected bluesy rock feel with a slimmer, healthier front man John Popper. Colorado’s Big Head Todd & the Monsters has one of the most dedicated fan bases in music today due to their incredible live shows. They are one of those bands that have a truly unique sound that defies classification other than great music. On a personal note, I had the opportunity to hang out & party with Johnny Hickman of Cracker last year in Rocky Point and he is nothing short of amazing. He is a blazingly intelligent songwriter and critical thinker that puts his heart, mind & soul into his songwriting & performing. Cracker is one of the most experimental bands out there dabbling in Americana, alternative rock, country, punk & classic rock. This shows promises to bring back many college memories for me, hopefully not the black-outs.
August 10th The Tour 2012 Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion Phoenix
This is the big one, harkening back to sold out stadiums across the country and the world in the 70’s & 80’s, two of America’s best loved rock bands are touring together and will arrive in Phoenix to sufficiently rock your face off. Rock & Roll soldiers KISS have been rocking & rolling all night for close to 40 years and continue to put on an ostentatious show with their flamboyant costumes and elaborate stage show usually including fire breathing, blood spitting & pyrotechnics. Original band members Paul Stanley & Gene Simmons are joined by Eric Singer & Tommy Thayer who wear the stage makeup of original members Peter Criss & Ace Frehley respectively. Mötley Crue has been playing with all the original members since 2007 and released a new album Saints of Los Angeles to critical but not commercial acclaim. With nine albums, numerous #1 singles and millions of fans worldwide that love the bad boys of rock & roll, this show will be sure to be a rollicking ride with plenty of big hair, acid washed jeans and a fair share of nudity, attractive or not.
August 29th Neil Diamond US Airways Center Phoenix
I am not sure if there a better way to end the summer then with a concert from one of the most successful artists of all time in a great location like that of US Airways Center. I have seen several concerts there including the opening night of the center for Metallica’s seminal Black album tour. This venue will allow music lovers of all ages to enjoy the classic tunes of the songsmith who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. His music was the soundtrack of my childhood as my mother was a big fan of his music and I challenge you to find somebody who doesn’t sing along when they hear “Sweet Caroline.”