Interview with Kody Holmes of The Brave Optimistic

brave 2Kody Holmes, frontman for the indierock outfit The Brave Optimistic, chatted with our own Song River about music, math, and the new album, Oh, Odonata, which comes out tomorrow!

by Song River
Staff Writer


Song River for YabYum: Reading over your bio, Kody, have you taken a new look at how things add up? Songwriting/playing to higher math. Why?

Kody Holmes: Looking back, my whole life has been reevaluating how things add up. I certainly never planned on studying higher mathematics. I got into my math PhD program with a sociology degree, which is crazy. But I feel like every time I reevaluate I get a little closer to the truth, or at least my truth.

As to how songwriting plays into higher math, I could go so many directions with that. Higher math isn’t about numbers. It’s about ideas and their consequences. It’s about relationships. Music is very much the same way. Certain notes sound good together because of the way their sound waves interact and fit into each other. You can model this mathematically, but even just hearing it and knowing it sounds good, at that point you’ve already done the math. It’s innate; it’s a part of you. I had opportunities to take it further on this record though. For example, on one song I coded software to randomly place a drum hit using something called a Beta distribution. As the beat is placed in each measure, the points at which the drum hit takes place are added together and divided by the number of measures, an average. Each measure a new average is taken, and eventually the drum hit settles on a particular beat of the measure. It’s the law of large numbers in music-form. I love opportunities to combine math and music, and it’s crazy how naturally and subtly math can be incorporated.

SR: A long desert Valley dweller, you’ve experienced many changes here haven’t you about how music is played and received?

KH: It’s really felt like it, but my perspective is a limited one. I feel like many of the changes could have been more of me growing up than the scene actually changing. In high school, an early variant of The Brave Optimistic was playing with bands like The Summer Set and Anarbor. I grew up with a lot of the guys in that scene, and then pop-rock seemed huge here. Maybe if I was in high school now, going to see friends play, it would feel the same. But to me that scene really seemed to die as a lot of those bands were signed and the others broke up. All the venues we used to play closed too. Everything from ChyroArts to the One Place. We used to go see shows at the Mason Jar (which is now the location of The Rebel Lounge). I’m glad that place finally reopened under a new name.Brave

SR: What have been some of the largest changes you’ve witnessed? How have you found them to be? Positive/Negative?

KH: One change that seemed very real at the time was the drop in the numbers of touring acts coming through. This seemed to be a very real thing, especially after that controversial immigration bill a few years back. In my view, the scene really rose to the challenge after some initial struggles. Local acts have become very self-sufficient. Bands like Playboy Manbaby, Fairy Bones, and Captain Squeegee – they all have their own little cult followings. Every show is this experience of not only sound, but also culture.

SR: You said that leaving Phoenix and going to Nebraska was a bittersweet mix, how so? Seems there is a bit of a story here.

KH: It was bittersweet in many ways. I’m leaving behind an amazing family. It’s large, we’re all very close, and almost everyone is still in Phoenix. We have four generations of Phoenicians still living in our family. That’s remarkable. Even now that I’m living in Lincoln, it doesn’t feel real. I can’t imagine living anywhere but Arizona. Also, unlike the album lyrics purport, I’m not fleeing Phoenix to escape the memories of a girl. My current girlfriend was probably the hardest thing to leave.

At the same time, I think Nebraska is awesome. I always loved Saddle Creek Records and the Omaha/Lincoln scene. Completely separate from that, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln became an obvious first choice for me when I decided to pursue a math PhD. It just fit all my academic interests perfectly. I am excited to be here, but also really sad about everything I’m leaving behind.

SR: Can you share some of the musicians you’ve written for, and the song titles?

KH: I’ve always written either as a producer or as a favor to bands, but I’ve never been officially credited, so I don’t want to rear my head and take credit now. I guess it’s basically ghostwriting, but all those experiences were very collaborative. I never felt like I was giving someone else my vision. Instead, I was helping them realize their own. Nothing I’ve ever written for an artist has ever become a huge radio single or anything, so the answer wouldn’t be too interesting anyway.

SR: Which ones were some of your favorites? Anyone in particular more memorable in its final outcome and production?

KH: I did get to write a rap verse once, and I think it turned out decent. That’s still probably my favorite contribution to date. It was just so out of my wheelhouse, which is fun. I have enjoyed every project though. I love writing. I love storytelling. I just hate most of what is required of a professional musician, so I’ve been very happy hiding in the background and just doing the things I like the most.

SR: You refer to your music as more of a hobby?

KH: It definitely is. I haven’t made serious money off of music for about three years. At one point it was my entire income, but I was honestly miserable. I eventually realized that, at least for me, anything I love too strongly could not be my job. Having something you love that passionately as a profession, it just strangles the life out of it. Math is great in that respect, because I enjoy it and it stimulates me, but it’s also not a burning passion. More often than not, math is a perfect bridge that gives me new ways to interact with some of my more intense passions like music and biology. It’s also a pretty reliable way to make money.

SR: Why the creation then of the album?

KH: I suppose my answer to your last question sort of answers this too. Hobby makes it sound like a passing interest, but it’s not. Music is a very serious passion of mine, which is why it’s now a “hobby.” As for why I’m finally making a full-length record, it had a lot to do with helping me deal with leaving home for a new town. It was also the perfect time to get music out of my system, temporarily. Graduate school can be grueling. I don’t want to be too distracted. Fortunately, the process of making the record was also grueling. I’m more than a little burned out, so I probably won’t even think of writing another song for at least another six months. So yeah, it buys me a semester of focus.

SR: The album is a story. Relay the connecting dots.

KH: The album is structured to chronicle a relationship. The very first song is about some down-on-his-luck, young Phoenix-Metro bus passenger who fantasizes about a girl seated across from him. He’s too afraid to talk to her because he is embarrassed by his current life circumstances, but of course she’s on the same bus. I love that song, because it really spoke to some of my insecurities while I lived at my parents’ house, preparing for grad school. If you buy into my mild embellishment that the album relays a cohesive story, then somehow things work out between the two of them. Sparks fly. Then things get shaky. Eventually our protagonist is heartbroken and flees his hometown for a math degree in Nebraska. The album is definitely structured in a way that makes this story coherent, but a few songs are admittedly tangential detours. Those are just songs that I really wanted to write and put on record.

SR: Kody you chose to release a song, one at a time, prior to the full-length album. Are you creating videos to go along with the tracks as well?

KH: It’s actually a song every three days. Some of the musicians who helped on the record unofficially voted on their favorites. There were five songs consistently mentioned, so I decided to put them all out as singles before the record drops. No videos, unfortunately. I don’t have the stamina or time to put that all together myself. I also don’t have the money to pass that job onto someone else, and I’m not really into asking for favors. I’ll probably put the audio tracks on YouTube eventually though. That seems to be an interesting marketing strategy some bands take on these days.

SR: How brave in truth is the, Brave Optimistic?

KH: I don’t know if I’m all that brave in the traditional sense. I do think there’s something to be said about someone who is always open to the truth (or what appears to be the truth), no matter how scary or uncomfortable it may seem. I’ve always tried to be skeptical, scrutinizing and honest with myself. I’m maybe brave in that sense.

SR: Words mean something. As you took adjectives and decided they were nouns… what was the drive behind your development into songwriting?

KH: I first started learning guitar in 6th or 7th grade. Pretty early on, I got curious and tried my hand at songwriting. I found it completely impossible. It reminds me of when I was a kid. I wanted to learn to wiggle my ears, but I just couldn’t find the muscle. I never could figure it out, and it frustrated me. Songwriting was similar. Then, freshman year of high school, one of my friends chose to end his life. I wasn’t really sure how to deal with those emotions, and one night I just sat down and wrote a song about how I felt. It came together so quickly and naturally. The song was terrible, but Paul McCartney’s first song was terrible. That’s just how it is. But I found the muscle, and it’s been this incredible way to express how I’m feeling ever since. I never felt good with my words, when I’m interacting socially. So songwriting is a cool way to set things straight about who I am and what’s going on in my head.

SR: As music lovers listened to your completed album and support its release; is traveling back and forth between Nebraska and Arizona possible? If not, how do your propose to connect your audience to who you are?

KH: There won’t be much traveling back and forth, except maybe for winter and summer break. But Arizona really isn’t missing much in that sense. I haven’t played live in years. It became this incredibly stressful thing for me. I would have a bad taste in my mouth for weeks just because I sang one note a little off or forgot part of a verse. And live sets will never be perfect, so there’s really no escaping that. I haven’t found a way to escape the self-hatred, so I just stopped playing live. That’s why I could not have recorded my album with anyone but Dan. He knows how to talk me off a ledge, when I want to trash a song or a part because I don’t feel like it’s perfect. He’s given me a lot of confidence through the years. It also helps working closely with musicians like Timothy O’Brien and Alex Dorr, who basically wrote the record alongside my heavy hand. Every part they write is mind-blowing good. It gives me something to like about the songs, even when I dislike my contributions.

How will I connect with audiences? The Internet. This would have been the case in AZ, just as it is in Nebraska. What that’s going to look like? I’m not really sure. I’m hoping to gauge the response to my album first. I don’t have the time to be making YouTube videos that get ten views. At the same time, music is my favorite way to interact with people, so I really want to have an opportunity to reach out to listeners and interact. I want to hear what they’re getting out of the lyrics, and see if they notice all the goofy “Easter Eggs” I’ve hidden in the album for my own amusement.

SR: Eventual long-term goal. As your hobby of songwriting is obviously a part of your passion, how are you planning on combining both entities of writing and math?

KH: I already mentioned some ways I incorporated math into the album, in terms of composition and production. I also use a lot of math and science terms in the lyrics. Part of the beauty of math is the precision of language used. I feel like there are ways I can really use this to my advantage as a songwriter. There are a lot of really cool concepts that I can relate to feelings and situations in life. The song “Isaac Newton on the Human Condition” is definitely the best example of this. I take concepts from physics and mathematics and apply it to relationships. I was especially excited to reference the “Coastline Paradox” in that song. It’s a really cool thing. I suggest looking it up. Math heavy lyrics are new to me, but I really liked it. I’d like to continue to play with that.

I know if UNL ever trusts me with a differential equations class, I’ll be bringing in my guitar to explain beating and resonance. One of my advisors, Dr. Richard Rebarber, is also a super talented musician. He has a great band called Floating Opera. So I’m sure there will be ample opportunities to think about how I might further combine math and music. It may be to educate and it may be to make my music more awesome. Maybe both.

SR: Never stop learning, never stop growing. Are we looking down the road at Professor Holmes… mathematician and songwriter by chance…Watson?

KH: That describes Dr. Rebarber pretty well. I would be proud to stand in his shoes one day. We’ll see if I’m really smart and diligent enough to earn a mathematics PhD. It’s no small thing. But I’ll be teaching starting this fall, so I already feel like this weird blend of academic and entertainer. It’s not all that unusual of a thing. Brian May, the guitarist for Queen, has a PhD in astrophysics. John Urschel is a lineman for the Ravens and publishes math papers in the offseason. Mathematics seems to be a welcoming place for those who want to live a double life.

SR: In truth, Kody, are you an optimist?

KH: I think so. I tend to think very highly of people. I think people are very smart and are full of kindness. Sometimes I’m disappointed, but I think high expectations bring a lot out of people. They bring a lot out of me.

The new release – Oh, Odonata – will be available on Aug. 18th. Until then, you can preview tracks here

Follow The Brave Optimistic on Facebook here

YabYum Seven: Emmanuel “Manny” Tripodis of Rogue Bar

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Photo provided by Manny Tripodis

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Manny and I make dreams come true. Just kidding. My real name is Emmanuel.

How did you get your start?

Either by necessity or forced attrition. I bought a bar 8 years ago that was a hipster night club and we had capacity turnouts every Friday and Saturday for two years. I thought I was a genius. Then the economy dried up and we had to change things up or shut things down. The crowds stopped coming out for weekend dance nights. We focused on building up our Sunday thru Thursday nights and now we do live music 7 days a week. We’ve had our ups and downs, but the doors are still open.

What inspires you?

Seeing people take the stage. Watching these kids write down their most personal, intimate thoughts and feelings, put it to music and sing it in front of a room full of strangers. That’s vulnerability. All the while hoping that no one boos or laughs at a song about how their dad abandoned them or how their girlfriend is a tramp. I’m also inspired by the journey. Banana Gun played their 2nd show ever on our stage and now they’re superstars. That’s probably not why they’re superstars, but sometimes I tell myself that’s exactly why they are. We’ve had other acts that have either played their first show here or got started at our open mic. Then they eventually put out a record and do a record release show. I get to watch these bands cut their teeth and find their identity. Fast forward a few months and they do a release show to a capacity crowd and I sit back like a doting father.

What do you like about AZ?

From October to about May, there really isn’t anyplace better. I’m originally from the Midwest. I read these reports about record cold or snowfall and I get confused because I don’t remember what that feels like.

Where can we see you(r) work?

I used to bartend at the Rogue Bar. I have since removed myself from those duties. I can still be seen walking thru the premises with several days of hair growth on my face and I’m usually carrying a computer bag. I’m the guy that looks like a transient, a secret shopper or Serpico.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I used to joke about being 8 years into my 5 year plan. I guess it’s really not a joke. Personally, I’d like to live on a remote island in the Aegean Sea for half the year and come back and run things at the Rogue the other half. Hopefully that will happen sooner than later. Professionally, I’ve talked with friends about possibly moving things downtown or creating a touring circuit in the Southwest or even starting a label. This talk usually stops once the alcohol wears off.

What is your mantra?

I have a John Lennon quote on my Facebook profile. I think it makes me sound smart. The quote is “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” That’s not really a mantra though, it’s more of an observation. My mantra would be “Just shut up and do it already.” Six months after I bought the Rogue, I realized I could have done this five or ten years earlier. That would have put me that much closer to the remote island scenario. Figure out what makes you happy and then do that. Figure out what doesn’t make you happy and avoid doing that or do the opposite of it.


rogue card

YabYum Seven: Josh Louchheim

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All photos courtesy of Josh Louchheim

1. Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Josh Louchheim and I’m an artist living and working in Scottsdale. I am a disciplined painter working strictly with oil. My paintings are a combination of the natural world and the world within my head. Essentially I am a landscapist and when I begin a piece the first thing I paint is the sky. The sky is what sets the tone for the story that each painting tells. I then block in the lay of the land adding mountains, trees and anything else I feel the landscape needs. Next I begin to add the figures, whether they are animals or people, and the objects they are manipulating. Though each painting tells a story, the story I envision may not be the same as the viewers. Therefore I give each one a title that acts as a guideline for its true meaning.

2. How did you get your start?

I started writing music years ago and put together a band which performed locally. The band eventually ran its course and we broke up; which is the case for most bands. Shorty after this is when I made the decision to focus on an aspect of art I could do souly alone without having to rely on the creativity of others to fulfil my vision. Oil painting was something I had always admired so the decision was an easy one. I dedicated myself to it and I have now been painting consistently for the past six years; the past three of which have been my most disciplined in keeping to a schedule as opposed to just painting when I felt inspired. I first started exhibiting four years ago at Art One Gallery and then branched out to Phoenix where I have shown at MonOrchid Gallery as well as Herberger Theater Art Gallery. My work currently hangs in the homes and offices of various collectors from Arizona to New York.

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“Elephants Searching Shadows of Spheres III” Oil on 35.5″ x 21.25″ panel

3. What inspires you?

I am inspired by the natural world as well as by life and experience; where you come from and what you’ve been through is an intricate part of a person. Without experience we aren’t much at all. I try and use my life experiences combined with the emotions associated with those experiences in every piece I create.

4. What do you like about AZ?

I’ve been here the majority of my life so this is my home. I enjoy the harsh desert landscapes; I find it fascinating how life doesn’t just exist here but actually flourishes. Monsoon season is my absolute favorite part of desert life which is one of the reasons I paint so many clouds. And there is nothing as beautiful as the sunsets we have here in the valley.

5. Where can we see you(r) work?

I will be having a solo exhibition at MonOrchid Gallery in May of 2015; opening night being May 1st. Then the following month at Willo North Gallery where I will be exhibiting in a group portrait show. You can also view some of my work on my Facebook page.

6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I can only hope that my talent and the body of work I leave behind will allow me to live far past my death. While I’m still here I plan on expanding my resume and exhibiting across the country eventually making my way overseas. I also plan on continuing to write music as well as exploring other creative avenues.

7. What is your mantra?

You’re either living or you’re dying. So work hard at what you love while continuing to grow and everything else will fall into place.


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“Old-Timer and a Penny-Farthing” Oil on 28″ x 22″ panel
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“Caboose” Oil on 20″ x 16″ panel
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“Ornaments” Oil on 36″ x 24″ canvas
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“Desert Oasis” Oil on 19″ x 39″ panel
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“The Greatest Performance Never Seen” Oil on 25″ x 42.5″ panel
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“A Room with a View” Oil on 20″ x 26″ panel

YabYum Seven: Lexie Bowers

1. Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Alexandra Bowers, people who know me call me “Lexie.” I am an Arizona native, born and raised in Scottsdale (not that many of us out there). I am a pyrographer, or wood burning artist. I like to work on red birch, which is a light wood, with a pinkish hue that allows for the type of contrast that helps me render my subject matter. With my artwork I’m trying to push the pre-conceived ideas of wood burning being thought of as a “craft-based” form of art making, into a high-brow technique.

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Coyote Skull (Posterior Cranium), 2012, Wood Burning 20″ x 26 “

2. How did you get your start?

I grew up loving to create. Whether it was drawing, painting, or experimenting with other mediums, I could sit for hours in my room and just make. I don’t think I ever made anything when I was young that would have my teachers or parents thinking I would grow up to be in artist, but I knew deep down that’s what I wanted to do with my life. A semester in at ASU I switched from sociology to the art program on a whim. It started with me wanting to take a drawing class, and at the time not being allowed because I wasn’t an art student. So I switched majors to take that one specific class. Thank God I did, I found my calling and never once regretted the decision.
I fell into wood burning about 6 years ago when I was meandering through the aisles at Home Depot. I stumbled upon a soldering iron, and by shear randomness an employee told me I could wood burn with it. So I left the store that day with an iron and some scrap wood. About a year later I was walking through an outdoor market in Italy and saw a gal with an entire kit, she was wood burning these ornate boxes. I thought man I could do that, but not with the shitty tool I have at home. So I skyped my parents and told them about what I had seen. With their undying support and awesomeness I acquired a professional wood burning kit for Christmas that year, and still use that same kit to this day.

3. What inspires you?

I get inspired by being outdoors. I grew up hiking and camping. My parents would take my siblings and I out of town for the weekend and we’d get a chance to see Arizona, beyond suburbia. That curiosity towards nature has continued with me into adulthood and is the inspiration for my work. I’m 25, so I’ve seen over the last couple of decades the exponential growth that’s occurred around the greater Phoenix area. With that growth what’s affected me the most is the destruction of the natural surrounding environment. So I think it’s important to leave the city and be surrounded by nature instead of concrete and cookie cutter developments.

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Hawk Moth, 2014, Wood Burning 8″ x 16″

4. What do you like most about AZ?

What I love most about Arizona is its expansiveness. I love being able to see hundreds of miles of open land while on road trips. I love how drastic the topography of this state is. I love monsoon season, especially the smell of creosote after a huge rain storm. I love watching thunderheads rise above the McDowell mountains before an epic storm. I love that Phoenix has an art scene that caters to up and coming artists. It’s a city where you can make a mistake, experiment, and not have to worry about it ruining your career. You can make a name for yourself here.

5. Where can we see you(r) work?

You can check out my work on April 17th in the middle “hot box” (shipping container art gallery) on Roosevelt Row. The show is all about moths from North America. It’s been in the works for quite some time, I’m really pleased I’ve had an opportunity to work with phICA, the ASU Frank Hasbrouck Entomology Collection and some other amazing valley residents to make this show happen. To see other work check out my website.

6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I was bitten with the travel bug a long time ago. My list of places to visit is always growing (and may never be completed) but I’d like to check off most of it before I die. Even though my work revolves around AZ flora and fauna I’d like the opportunity to live elsewhere for awhile, possibly abroad, to help grow as a person and see how it influences and changes my work.

7. What is your mantra?

I try to “live in the moment.” I’m really bad at it, like most people my mind is stuck a lot of the time thinking about the future… worrying about finances, if I’m pursuing the right path in life. Being in my mid-twenties I feel like I’m just now beginning to understand who I am as a person and where I’d like to see myself in the next 10 years. It’s really hard to just be present. So I’m hoping I can get better at that.


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Crossed Paths (Eye Lounge Solo Exhibition Install Shot) 5×5 inch panel grid
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Sonoran Javelina, 2013, Wood Burning 24″ x 28″
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Crossed Paths (Eye Lounge Solo Exhibition Install Shot) Birds of Prey Feathers
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Datura Moon Flower, 2014, Wood Burning 12″ x 60″


Awesome Alternative Arizona HipHop

by Mark Anderson
Senior Editor

As some of you may know, I am a fan of the absurd when it comes to my hiphop musical listening pleasure. Unorthodox beats, comedic delivery, and taboo subject matter all score points with me, and creativity is the key. Here are three artists taking a different approach to the mainstream hiphop sound, and sounding all the better for it.

vibe prescribeThe Vibe Prescribers

Grown Man Slumber Party

Although The Ref tends to work with Mouse Powell these days (check out his sick production on the recent “Love Is” here), his work with Sergeant Love and Wizard Lips, collectively called The Vibe Prescribers, is a must hear. The May release of Grown Man Slumber Party went totally under all known radar, and that’s a damn shame, this shit is funny as hell. As “Hot Girls” started the album, I wasn’t real sure if these guys were serious or completely joking, and, like all the greats, it’s a little of both. The sophmoric sillyness of “V-Neck” (with it’s chorus of “Chillin’ in my v-neck tryna’ get my ‘d’ wet”), completely contrasts with stark reality of “I Can Change” with it’s hook “Wanna change, need to change, gotta change But I’m basically the same.” Although even that is said with a little tongue-in-cheek. By the time “Millionaire (feat. Michael Jordan) played I knew these guys were geniuses. “Textin’ & Drivin’ (Swerve)” keeps the hilarity and hiphop strong before “Jesus Came Inside of Me” comes along and just blows everything out the gate with it’s 1970s Hammond Portable Organ bossa nova inspired beat and redneck-voiced delivery. The single from Grown Man Slumber Party is the track “Period”, and, although it’s instrumentation might sound like a modern top 40 rap track, it’s chorus of “As long as you get that period. As long as you get that period again, and again” is anything but. The album closes with the title track, a six-minute ode to three grown men having a slumber party. With nods to the likes of The Lonely Island and Jon Lajoie, anyone who’s a fan of solid, comedic hiphop should dig the hell out Grown Man Slumber Party. Listen and download here.


bbb 01Boom Box Bros.

Introductions” and “Let’s Eat

Now here’s a way to introduce your music to the world. The Boom Box Bros. out of Flagstaff dropped these tracks in October as means of introducing their act and the members involved: Colin Haviland (aka “Smallz”), Kris Hogge (aka ‘Mic Hogg”) and Justin Stump (aka “DJ 001”). And I can say is that if the rest of their music lives up to their “Introductions”, we at YabYum will be fans for the long haul. Their recent opening slot for the Dilated Peoples at the Green Room certainly boasts well for the BBB’s, and their debut album slated for release in the spring is now much anticipated in my book. “Let’s Eat” offers a more low-key vibe about (you guessed it) food, throwing out shout-outs to local Flagstaff businesses along the way. Listen to the slinky smooth “Introductions” and the fun, food-lovin’ “Let’s Eat” by Boom Box Bros. here.


deloreanSidney Delorean


Wow. So finding out about Sidney Delorean was completely an accident, but now that I’ve experienced AssCashSeaBass, her message of “Period Sex” and “Average Dicks” is one that I feel compelled to shout upon the mountaintops. A fine artist in her own right, as Sidney Delorean uses “photography, illustration, costume and performance, I attempt to tackle these heavy issues head on, with color, vibrancy and a persevering joie de vivre.” Her self-produced singles “Marc Maron” and “Who Farted?” are swell and all, but the recording and mixing by Jalipaz at Audioconfusion and the beat production provided by Jason “Hug of War” Kron give AssCashSeaBass a very high leg up on the Sidney Delorean catalog. Her recent, interative installation of AssCashSeaBass is described by Sidney as “wall mounted dicks contain MP3 players, playing on a loop the song which corresponds to the album art seen projected directly above it. The participants wear the headphones coming out of the dick to listen to each song individually.” Eat A Dick cookies were also served. I highly recommend checking out everything you can on Sidney Delorean. For starters, peep her on YouTube and download AssCashSeaBass on Bandcamp.

Camp Dreamtree

camp dreamtree 05by Nicole Royse, Staff Writer

It’s that time of year when you are frantically searching for air conditioned things to do… unless you are by the pool. Well thanks to Scottsdale Public Art and Scottsdale Civic Center Library you have an exciting option perfect for the entire family! Scottsdale Public Art has done it again with an amazing family friendly interactive public art installation titled “Camp Dreamtree”. Many may know the dynamic married duo of local artists, Roy Wasson Valle and Visual Arts Instructor Koryn Woodard Wasson, who are based out of Phoenix. Valle is known for his Fuzzy Balls Apparel merchandise and Wasson is an instructor at the Metropolitan Arts Institute. Through their art collaborations they “seek to create artwork that appeals to children and adults alike” thus we have Camp Dreamtree which Valle originally conceived back in 2006, creating the characters and continuing to build upon them until now.

Camp Dreamtree can be described simply as a fantastical camp experience where the walls of the gallery have been boldly painted and transformed into an otherworldly place or alternate universe. Enjoy the complete experience as you explore several giant wooden houses reminiscent of teepees, witness beautiful giant fabric trees, and read books about camping by the fire next to a fabric camp fire complete with log seating.

Camp Dreamtree truly is a magical place with the camp being set deep within the Fireweather Forest within Crystal Burn. Campers known as “Dream Scouts are invited to go on an achievement quest, collecting achievements at each Dreamhouse, exploring the Fire Weather Forest, and finding surprises in the sky, amongst hanging clouds, flowers, and fantastic creatures.“

Visitors are greeted by an enormous bright yellow structure with one eye at the center known as Dreamhouse. A mirror adorned with the scout pledge for Camp DreamTree camper’s states “on my honor I pledge to be kind, present, and to hold high respect for wonder. I will remember that I am small, but part of the whole.” There are three additional Dreamhouses each containing a book with its own story. Campers are encouraged to read the camping books while they sit by the fire, perhaps cook a pretend meal, or draw and display pictures at one of the dreamhouses.

Make sure you head over to The Gallery at camp dreamtree 01Scottsdale Civic Center Library to experience “Camp Dreamtree”. It is easy to get lost in this incredible and enchanting world, use your imagination and go camping, over a truly interactive and striking piece of public art that is enjoyable for all ages!


This engaging exhibition is on view until July 31st during regular library hours Monday through Thursday from 9am to 9pm, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. There will also be special events taking place over the next two months including “Campfire Stories with Dreamtree Camp Founder, Even Stevens on June 20th from 6-8:30pm, and “Camp Dreamtree Bird Watching” on July 26th from 10:30-11:30 am.

The Scottsdale Civic Center Library is located at 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale.

For more deatils:

 Scottsdale Public Art

Roy Wasson Valle

Koryn Woodard Wasson

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February Recap

3 Rad New Punk Albums w/ The Rebel Set, JJCnV, Joe Arpaio & the Bumblebees
YabYum Music & Arts Hour PODCAST from December (for January’s show, keep scrolling) 
Tucson Knows What the Folk is Going On, Or 3 New Albums w/ Clay Dudash, Jillian Bessett, & Human Behavior

4 Stellar Singles w/ The Woodworks, American Longspurs, Electrisad, & Hair Cut
YabYum Music & Arts Podcast from Jan. 24th w/ Rubber Brother Records

5 New & Eclectic Albums w/ Dirt Moon, Banshee Speak, Green Line Operator, The Bleep-Bloops, & Elder Basin
6 Fabu Singles w/ Dogbreth, Banana Gun, Drive-By Dunk, Signals, Celebration Guns, & Kathryn Rose
5 Stellar Singles w/ decker., The Madera Strand, Gabriel Sullivan, Brain Child, & Brooke Lynn
3 Strange & Wondrous HipHop Experiences w/ Calculus Man, Earth Born, & Gross Boy
3 Totally Unexpected Albums w/ Leonardo DiCapricorn, Serene Dominic, & Old Jack City
5 Stellar Singles w/ Mess, Banana Gun, TK and the Irresistibles, Hi My Name Is Ryan, & The Chris Light Quartet
Music Videos for the Month:
Fairy Bones “Anything” 
Captain Squeegee “Inevitable”
The Haymarket Squares “Anything”
The Venomous Pinks “Never Say Never”
Hexs and Miranda “I Don’t Know”
The Prowling Kind “Melted Together” 
Calabrese “There is an Evil Inside”
Lost in Atlantis “Hypnotic” 
Safewerd “Beats” 
Emby Alexander “Creepers [Kid Cudi Cover]”
Human Behavior “The Wolf It Is”
Jillian Bessett “Villanelle”
The Wavelengths “Don’t Wanna” 
Drive By Dunk “Taking Time”
Marianne Dissard “Am Letzen”

Go Have a Sunday A’Fair in Scottsdale

Image Source

Yes, that’s right, the Sunday A’Fair is back in Scottsdale at the Civic Center Park with a bright patch of green grass just aching to be sat on by you. Put on by the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, this A’Fair has been going on for 27 years!

Spanning from January to April, this FREE event happens most Sundays and lasts from Noon to Four PM. Grilled foods, adult beverages and “softer” drinks will be available for purchase as well. If you missed the January kick off month (including a sweet opening day featuring Dry River Yacht Club and Walt Richardson) you still have plenty of opportunities to make it out. This upcoming Sunday Feb. 9 will feature Teneia Sanders with her “Motown era vintage vibe,” and the Pete Pancrazi Quartet offering “nimble guitar work, warm vocals and original jazz compositions.”

But wait…there’s more. Not only will there be music and food, but plenty of Arizona artist/vendors will be under tent with their magnificent fares and awaiting your arrival. As if this couldn’t get any better, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art will be open and FREE during every A’Fair event until 5 PM. You can even participate in free, docent-led tours of the art both inside the museum and out in the Civic Center.

“Guests are invited to bring blankets, lawn chairs or pic-a-nic baskets and enjoy a relaxing afternoon of great entertainment.” Ok, I made the “pic-a-nic” part up but you get the idea. Bring your partner, go with family or friends and giddy on up to Scottsdale to have one helluva A’Fair! For more info, including complete showtimes and directions, visit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts website here.

8 Local Blogs You Should Check Out

We might be our own personal favorite, but there are plenty of Arizona-owned and -operated blogs out there that you should know about (if you don’t already). Here are some new blogs we love to follow. Check ’em out!

AZ Kaos brings out some of the best in local punk. Check out “Skate & Annoy” wherein Mikey Kaos explores the relationship between skate boarding and punk here.

Valley Hype is pretty awesome. All things art, music, and events in the Valley of the Sun, even polo parties like the one covered here.

Courture in the Suburbs tries to keep us style-savvy for those nights we find ourselves in Scottsdale. I love love love statement jewelry like the ones featured in “Fall Trends at Kenda Scott“.

Design-conscious cat people, we have found your leader and it’s Kate Benjamin of hauspanther. Prepare yourself to be overwhelmed by cuteness… with a welcome nod toward style, functionality, and ethical production.

Metronome talks live music downtown with regard to two of our favorite Phoenix venues: The Trunk Space and the Crescent Ballroom.

TTD PHX highlights things to do in Phoenix and around the Valley. This weekend, for example, the Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts on Saturday and the Phoenix Pagan Pride Day on Sunday are a’happening.

Craving Phoenix offers its readers local food reviews and events as well as recipes and cooking tips. That recipe for the Ginger Margarita from J & G Steakhouse looks pretty amazing… comes straight out of Tucson, our friendly Southern neighbor. Check out their photos from PURE X at Club Congress here.