This month we’re featuring another site devoted to a geographic region-
We asked webmaster/founder MIke Hanley to take about the Arizona music
scene in general and then move on to discuss the origin and aims and intents
of the site. ******
Like what’s happening in Las Vegas, bands are realizing that it’s more and more worthwhile to make a stop in the desert on their way to California or Colorado or wherever else they are headed. I’ve lived here since 1998
and there have always been bands that stop here regularly; smaller bands come to Arizona because the three biggest cities all happen to be college
towns (Flagstaff and Tucson) or have a huge college in the metro area (Phoenix), and larger bands are easily accommodated in our arenas or amphitheatres.
What is evolving is the local music scene. From the city that brought you
the Gin Blossoms, Tempe is having somewhat of a musical resurgence; its
expanding downtown area has several bars that host live music regularly.
Local jambands are also flourishing with several bars that cater to them,
such as the Sail Inn, Nita’s Hideaway, the Cajun House, and the Lucky
Dragon. The local jamband scene is stronger than you might think, with
strong support shown for most national touring bands. When Medeski Martin
and Wood came through here last year, around 3,000 people saw them play
outside. The most recent YMSB show sold out and was packed to the gills at
Nita’s. Phil Lesh is playing in a spacious new venue, the Dodge Theatre,
which holds almost 5,000 people. And of course, Phish has regularly played
Desert Sky Amphitheatre (Cap. 20,000). So the fans are here, just not too
vocal online….yet, I hope. That being said….
I started Arizona Heads after realizing that while Arizona has a buoyant
scene, there was a decided lack of online resources and communication.
Venues and bands had their respective websites, but there wasn’t anything
out there that tied it all together. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, I
had been a member of MoHeads for a couple of years and I had seen it grow
into a thriving online community: people threw taping parties, met up at
shows, debated about bands online, and everyone was getting into it.
I thought to myself, "why can’t that happen in Arizona too?" and I decided
to create the AZHeads discussion list back in September of 2001 on Yahoo
Groups. I soon followed with a website on my University’s web servers that
featured a concert calendar, links to local venues and a list of local tape
traders. After the new year, membership was growing slowly but steadily and
I decided to get more serious about Arizona Heads: I purchased a domain
name, www.azheads.com, and completely overhauled the website. Several new
sections were added: message boards, a photo gallery, and music downloads.
Members can now have their own free azheads.com email address, enjoy a
concert calendar that is updated automatically each day, and vote in a
monthly poll. Additionally, each month I highlight an emerging band that is
coming to Arizona as "Band of the Month" with pictures, an write up on their
style of music and where they will be playing, and links to mp3s for folks
The website now pulls in decent traffic (about 1000 hits a month) and both
the local trader list and photo gallery are growing. Discussion list
membership is close to 50 people, and I hope to have it near 100 by the end
of the summer.
My vision for Arizona Heads is for it to evolve into a portal for our local
community – a place where you can check out your favorite local bands and
vendors, see which shows are coming to Arizona, find directions to local
venues, and interact with other people in our community. I would also like
AZHeads to become a well known resource for nationally touring bands coming
to Arizona, with features like "Band of the Month" to help bands garner more
exposure for their shows here. Future plans include interviews,
merchandise, and more site interactivity.
So far the response to all of this has been very positive and I hope that
the scene keeps growing and improving. Arizona is such a beautiful place to
see a show (Sedona, anyone?) and our weather can’t be beat (unless you are
Dark Star Orchestra playing an outdoor show the one night it decides to
downpour several inches of rain). I encourage everyone to take a look at
the website and let me know what you think.