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Music

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Desert Wind Middle School students are conducted by Roger Wagner. Photos by Kyle Norby

The fifth annual Music-a-Thon hosted by Maricopa Unified School District was Saturday, featuring student musicians from high school and the middle schools. Ivan Pour, Roger Wagner and Tanya Hobt conducted the orchestras through the five-hour event at the Performing Arts Center.

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Homestead residents JC and Laney perform at A Latte Vino in Casa Grande. Photo by Jim Headley

Sometimes harmonizing with someone else is just magical.

“We bought a million-dollar house for a quarter million dollars, because it is a desert surrounded by an Indian reservation and cows. It is a huge bang for your buck.” JC Scott

Nine years ago, Jay “JC” Scott and Laney Greynolds met and were on stage playing music together a half hour later. Little did they know that moment would propel them together into a love affair and a full-time musical career.

It just clicked.

“It the luck of the draw when you have your harmonies smack into each other,” Laney said.

JC said when his voice collided with Laney’s voice, a third magical voice of harmony was instantaneously created.

Today they are performing as the Americana singer/songwriter duo JC & Laney and they travel the nation singing to JC’s acoustic guitar playing. To say that they’re good is clearly an understatement.

In 2016, one of their songs, “When it Comes to Love,” was nominated for a Grammy Award.

“We just did our ninth Glendale Folk Festival and that was when our first album came out in March of 2010,” Laney said. “We knew each other five months when our first album came out.”

At the time, they lived in different states, with JC in California and Laney in Arizona. Their first album was mostly a collection of acoustic recordings. JC was already recording the album when he met Laney, and they “started singing together, and my heart went (pitter patter),” JC said.

Laney Greynolds joined up with JC in 2009. Photo by Jim Headley

When they met, Laney was in a rock band and went to hear JC perform at Whiskey Row in Gilbert. That’s when they ended up on stage together. Their first song was “Bell Bottom Blues,” and they have never sung it together since that night.

“We really spent the first five or six years only doing original music,” she said. “About the sixth album in, we got a job in Williams playing all summer, and we started learning covers.”

JC said when they started playing in the Arizona town near Flagstaff, they only had 15 cover songs worked up together. Almost every day they learned at least one new cover to entertain the tourists coming off the Grand Canyon train in Williams.

“We knew plenty of songs, but we didn’t know them with our harmonies together,” JC said.

The seasonal gig was canceled the past two years, but they’ll be back in Williams this year May 29-Sept. 2.

In nine years, they have come a long way from their humble beginnings.

“We have bigger and better shows,” Laney said. “We travel a lot. We were in the first round of the 58th Grammys for our album Hard Road Easy Street. He was in for songwriter for the song ‘Hard Road Easy Street’ and we were in for best Americana performance for ‘When it Comes to Love’ – that’s the one that got a lot of legs.”

She said there was a contest called the Grammy Amplifier sponsored by the Recording Academy, and JC & Laney received 194,000 hits to capture first place for “When it Comes to Love.” The win propelled them to Hollywood and the 2016 Grammys at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  On Spotify the song has over 100,000 streaming clicks.

“All our friends say they never want to hear that song again,” JC said, adding he wrote the lyrics to “When it Comes to Love” on an airplane and matched the words to music later.

JC usually writes most of their songs, but Laney has joined in to write three songs with JC.

“They’re not on albums yet, but they will be,” she said. “One is a wedding song that I wrote for my son.”

They have chosen Maricopa as their home and have purchased a house in Homestead. Before the resident gig in Williams begins, they’re entertaining crowds in Flagstaff, Casa Grande, Prescott, Tempe, Eloy and in California with gigs in Pasadena and Santa Rosa.

During the summer they will be playing at A Latte Vino in Casa Grande every three weeks. Diann Prechel, owner of A Latte Vino has been booking JC & Laney on a regular basis over the past year.

“They have a following here,” Prechel said. “They have people that come just for them. They play here on average twice a month but sometimes three times a month. There are some repeat customers because of them.”

Many people ask them why they’ve picked Maricopa as their home.

“We bought a million-dollar house for a quarter million dollars, because it is a desert surrounded by an Indian reservation and cows. It is a huge bang for your buck,” JC said.

Laney said they came to Maricopa in October 2017, looked around and “really liked the town.”

JC said then it was 40,000 people, no gangs and everybody talked to each other.

“It smells like cow stuff sometimes,” JC said. “It’s 16 miles from the I-10 and people go, ‘Why do you live in Maricopa?’ We say because it’s 16 miles from the I-10 and people don’t like to come there. We travel a lot anyway.”

They are building a recording studio in their home, where they can do blogs and musical recordings.

He said the average song on the Internet has a seven-second shelf life.

“We have to constantly put out new songs and videos,” he said. “That’s what the new room (studio) is going to be. It’s hard to keep up with, so we’re going to do it ourselves.”

He said JC & Laney isn’t a household name, but they’re working on it.

JCAndLaney.com

Photo by Jim Headley

This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

 

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Photos by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Music Circle performed its spring concert, “Masterworks: Music for Spring,” Saturday at Maricopa Agricultural Center. The 10-member chamber orchestra played Claude Debussy, Fritz Kreisler, Camille Saint-Saens, George Gershwin, Mozart, Modest Mussorgsky and more.

Los Lonely Boys

Los Lonely Boys AND Ozomatli – Live in Concert

When:  Saturday, June 8, doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.
Where: The Events Center at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino
How much: $25; $40;  $55
Ages: All
Info: TicketMaster.com

Los Lonely Boys and Ozomatli take the stage at The Events Center at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino in June. Tickets are on sale now. The Events Center seats 2,000, opened in early 2019, is part of the property’s multi-million dollar expansion.

The Grammy-winning Los Lonely Boys are an American Chicano rock power trio from San Angelo, Texas. They play a style of music they call “Texican Rock ‘n’ Roll,” combining elements of rock ‘n’ roll, Texas blues, brown-eyed soul, country and Tejano.

Brothers Henry (guitar, vocals), Jojo (bass, vocals), and Ringo (drums, vocals) Garza, follow in the tradition of their father, Ringo Garza, Sr., who formed a band with his brothers called the Falcones.

The debut single for Los Lonely Boys, “Heaven,” was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard adult contemporary chart and reached the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2004. It received the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

In 2009, they signed to an Austin-based indie label, Playing in Traffic Records, and released an EP, “1969” and three albums under their LonelyTone label, Keep On Giving: Acoustic Live!, Rockpango, and Revelation.

Since its inception in 1995, innovation and creativity have defined Ozomatli. Hailing from Los Angeles, the group found a way to represent the city’s eclectic culture through music that appeals to the local community and the world beyond. They received Grammy Awards in 2002 and 2005 for Latin Rock/Alternative album. Ozomatli’s success is exemplified in an impressive variety of genres from classic to modern Latino, urban, hip-hop and other world styles.

The “Dioses del Baile,” or “Gods of Dance,” have created one of the most exciting, captivating and flat-out fun live shows touring today. They continue to harness their musical instincts by conceiving new concepts and forging new sounds that keep fans on their toes and the world dancing.

Ozomatli

Dwight Yoakam is scheduled to return to Maricopa in May.

IF YOU GO
Who: Dwight Yoakam
When: May 11, doors open 7 p.m., showtime 8 p.m.
Where: Harrah’s Ak-Chin Concert Venue, 15406 N. Maricopa Road
How much: $84.50. $64.50. $44.50 (plus tax/fees)
Info: HarrahsAkChin.com, Ticketmaster.com

Dwight Yoakam will bring his chart-topping music to Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino May 11 at 8 pm. Tickets go on-sale to the public on Friday.

Yoakam previously performed an outdoor concert at Ak-Chin Circle in 2015.

He has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide and is a 21-time nominated, multiple Grammy Award winner. Pulling from 12 gold albums, nine platinum or multi-platinum albums, five topping Billboard’s Country Albums chart and another 14 landing in the Top 10, this show promises to have something for everyone to enjoy

Nearly 40 of Yoakam’s singles have charted on Billboard, with 14 peaking in the Top 10. He is also the recipient of the Artist of the Year award from the Americana Music Association, the most prestigious award offered by the organization.

In addition to his musical career, Yoakam has appeared in more than 40 feature films including Sling Blade and Panic Room. In 2016, he recurred in David E. Kelley’s Amazon series “Goliath.” Recently, he appeared in director Steven Soderbergh’s film Logan Lucky with Channing Tatum and Daniel Craig.

Yoakam is capable of seamlessly melting into his roles and impressively standing toe-to-toe with some of the world’s top thespians over the course of his storied and successful acting career, including Jodie Foster, Tommy Lee Jones, Jared Leto, Forest Whitaker, and Matthew McConaughey.

The Harrah’s Ak-Chin Concert Venue seats 2,000 and is part of the property’s multi-million-dollar expansion.

Bob Ledbetter left an IT career to go back to school put his knowledge and talents to a different use. opening a recording studio. Photo by Jim Headley

A midlife crisis usually means buying a new sportscar, but Bob Ledbetter is singing a different tune in his mid-40s.

Ledbetter decided to take on a new career as a sound engineer.

After working for years as an IT guy, he just wanted more out of life. With his daughter moving out and going to college, the single-parent was left with an open mind, musical talent and deep knowledge of technology. It all combined into a soon-to-open recording studio named MuthaSuckaSound.

Ledbetter has the beginnings of his studio up and running in his Maricopa home.

“It is functional,” he said. “I decided to paint and redesign as I am learning more about how sound travels through a room.”

His main studio is a nicely converted bedroom in his house, complete with a rack of guitars, a drum set, keyboard and computerized, multi-track sound mixing station.

A collection of electronic guitar pedals decorates the floor and colored LEDs backlight his MAC-based computer mixing station using Pro Tools software. He also uses other parts of his home as “sound rooms” including his living room and even a walk-in closet that is converted into a sound booth for “something more intimate.”

Ledbetter said he was motivated to open his recording studio by his love of music.

“I have always dabbled a little bit with recording – as a musician and as an IT nerd. I have always been fascinated by the process,” Ledbetter said.

About four years ago he decided to go back to school to get a degree for business management at Central Arizona College.

“I had been an IT contractor for 12-plus years and working in IT in some form for over 20,” he said.

Retirement just wasn’t a goal in his life.

“When I hit 40, retirement is not really an option, not as a contractor. I change companies every couple years, which means the 401Ks change every couple years. Some companies match, and some don’t. It’s a joke. By the time the government allows me to retire, Social Security will be gone,” he said.

Instead of looking at retirement, Ledbetter set his mind on doing something he loves to do that can sustain his lifestyle. While going to business management classes, one of the elective courses he took was the history of rock ‘n’ roll.

Ledbetter did very well in the class.

“The instructor said I would be very good in the EIT (Entertainment Industry Technology) program at CAC,” Ledbetter said. “I was just taking classes here at the campus. When I looked deeper at the EIT program – they had a recording engineering program. I thought, ‘There it is.’ What better way to take my 20 years of IT experience and my passion for music and put them together?”

Education in sound engineering is something Ledbetter takes very seriously.

“Bob Ledbetter is a shining example of a student who takes full advantage of what the EIT program has to offer,” said Dan Bush, professor of Recording Engineering at Central Arizona College and E.I.T. coordinator.

After talking to his daughter, Ledbetter jumped into being a recording engineer a little more than two years ago and changed his major at CAC. She has been part of his music since she was a toddler. While living in Washington, D.C., he would take her with him to perform at “open-mic nights” at local venues when she was 3 or 4 years old.

“A lot of them were family restaurants that just happened to have an open mic randomly on a Tuesday night. She’s sitting on a stool with an unplugged microphone singing along while I do a 20-minute set.”

As a musician, Ledbetter plays guitar and sings as a solo act. He’s his own recording client as well.

Recording is only one of the skills needed to be successful with a studio, according to Bush. “Bob has also learned the ‘business side’ of the music industry, particularly entertainment law, copyrights and how to actually make money by leveraging performance rights organizations to generate income from music royalties,” Bush said.

“My midlife crisis is a new career,” Ledbetter said. “I would rather get a sound board. My friends are out there buying all these really cool cars. Nah, I could get like an 8-track mixer and put it right here. Let me drop two grand on that. That’s my midlife crisis.”

 

Photo by Jim Headley

MuthaSuckaSound.com


This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

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Alex Medrano writes about his adopted home of Maricopa. Photo by Jim Headley

A 27-year-old custodian is seeking to make some noise in the rap world.

Alex Medrano spends his days as a janitor at Butterfield Elementary, a job he really loves, but his real passion is rap music and love for his city.

His passion for music is beginning to propel him onto stages and into awards. His music is bright, catchy, interesting and flowing. He’s quickly becoming an inspiration to those who love rap.

Medrano, known as BG Boss on stage, said rap fills his soul. He’s been honing his craft for the past decade.

“I’ve been performing in public for six years. I had to take that risk,” he said. “I like where I’m at right now. I’m in a good position.”

Alex’s older sister, Yuri Medrano, said her brother has always been musical.

“He is very passionate about rapping. He has always been into music. When he raps he is more comfortable with himself and more confident. It helps him a lot. It is his way of communicating with the world,” she said.

Alex Medrano is an MC rapper, and he’s got a deep message.

“Think before you react,” he said. “I hear music on the radio. They’re all about partying, and that’s cool. It’s good to have fun in music. I have fun in music, but then there’s my serious side. You know the real side of me.”

He just “dropped” an independent album titled “Highly Anticipated” in a deal with Rockstar Entertainment. The album is available through Reverbnation.com. According to Arizona Mixtapes (AZMT) in Phoenix, Medrano’s album was nominated for Lyricist of the Year and Album of the Year in its annual awards voted on by the public in December.

“When I was younger, I used to get bullied a lot. Basically, I took the anger and put it on paper instead of doing action. That’s how I released my feelings at that time. I was actually a good kid, you know. My brother is the one who kept me out of trouble,” he said.

Medrano writes songs about a lot of different subjects, including “metaphor-” and “true life-” inspired songs.

“Real-life songs about the struggle and what is going on in our society as well. It opens people’s minds. It’s kind of like saying, ‘wake up,’” Medrano said.

One of his songs on the new album is “520 in Arizona,” which is very much about something he dearly loves, the city of Maricopa.

“I’m originally from California. Once I moved down here, it opened a lot of doors. That’s why I represent Arizona. Now it’s about my family. They opened a lot of opportunities as well. I feel good when I’m in Maricopa. Maricopa is like my home,” he said.

He did weekly rapping videos while producing his album. After he released the album, he did his own show in Phoenix. He said Rockstar Entertainment is teaching him moves behind the scenes.

“I’m a lyricist and that’s what my music is about. I’m going to take this risk – you only live once. I’m going against the best but, win or lose, I keep my head up high. We’re all winners.”

He usually performs “a cappella” but sometimes to a beat.

“I just think about metaphors. With my rhyme schemes, I name drop a lot of artists or a line from a movie. People sometimes don’t get it. I find anything,” Medrano said, adding his inspiration for most of his rap music is “his whole day in Maricopa, the city he represents and is proud of.”

When he was younger Alex was bullied for being blind in one eye, a condition he was born with.

“He is blind in his right eye,” Yuri said. “Rapping has made him come out of his shell. He was more timid when he was younger. For a time, I know he has battled with anxiety. When he raps he forgets about the rest of the world and every worry.”

She added that Alex is pretty good at what he does and is also a nice guy.

“He loves to help others. His rapping helps him communicate and helps him overcome a lot. He’s always been into music, even when he was little. All his toys were always (musical) instruments. He’s always been into singing. When he was 3 or 4 years old he would use a toy microphone. Now that I see him rapping I knew he was something and I hope that he becomes bigger. He is so passionate and so good at it,” she said.

Alex said he is grateful for the support he receives from his family, fiancée and son.

“Even my little son, he supports me. He looks up to me and he gives me motivation,” Medrano said.


This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Jim Headley

The Gin Blossoms, Tempe-based favorites, played a free concert at Ak-Chin Circle for Ak-Chin Indian Community’s annual Masik Tas on Friday. Vertical Horizon was the opening act.

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Maricopa Music Circle and Maricopa Chorus Carolers performed a Grand Winter Holiday Concert on Saturday at Maricopa Agricultural Center with guest dancers from ONYX Dance Company, part of Desert Sun Performing Arts. Besides traditional songs of the season, they performed classical and ragtime music on a theme. Members of the audience joined the performers for Handel’s Hallelujah chorus.

Members of MMC are Isabel Holden, David Kordahl, Holly Kordahl, Suzette Moe, Mary Mullarky, Laura Olivieri, Josh Siegel, Gary Zaimont and Judith Zaimont. Members of Maricopa Chorus Carolers are Judy Figgins, Mandy Fisher Christine Fruchey, Amanda Gerros, Joey Lee Henkel, Cindy Kennedy, Carol Machovec, Mike Otis, Don Raflik, Kari Raflik, Connie Scheidt, Christina Smalley, Christina Surber, Priscilla Thomas and Music Director/founder John Jenzen.

Guest dancers from Onyx were Tatum Roeske and Hannah Struckmann.

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Band seniors get a selfie with director Ivan Pour at the end of the concert. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa High School’s bands performed the annual Pass in Review concert, featuring symphony, chamber orchestra and marching band playing music from their competitions this semester and tunes of the season. The department also honored its senior performers.

Maricopa Music Circle performs its winter concert Dec. 8.

 

December is a musical month for Maricopa. Student performers and veteran musicians alike are tuning up for holiday programs.

Dec. 4

MHS bands will present their annual “Pass in Review” concert highlighting symphonic band, marching band, percussion and intermediate band. “Pass in Review” is at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. Admission is free.

Dec. 8

Catch up with the MHS Marching Rams again at 7 p.m. when they perform in the Light Parade for Ak-Chin’s Masik Tas on Farrell Road.

Also that night, Maricopa Music Circle will be joined by soloists from ONYX Dancers and Maricopa Chorus for the “Grand Winter Holiday Concert.” The concert will be at the University of Arizona’s Maricopa Agricultural Center at 7:30 p.m.

Bizet’s cathedral bells ring in the evening, followed by Berlin’s “White Christmas,” Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, “I’ll be home for Christmas,” “Hark! The herald angels sing,” “The Christmas Song,” “Jingle Bells” in ragtime and, of course, several movements from Handel’s monumental “Messiah.” The concert will close with a sing-along to the Hallelujah Chorus – so bring your music and be ready to join in.

Dec. 9

Central Arizona College’s Handbell Choir has made its concert in Maricopa a winter tradition. “Let Them Ring” starts at 4 p.m. in Building A, Room 101. The rich harmonies of handbells perform a lineup of beautiful music. Admission is free, but seating is limited, and tickets disappear quickly. EventsAtCAC.com

Dec. 14

Gin Blossoms headline a free concert at Ak-Chin Circle for Masik Tas. Gates open at 6 p.m. Vertical Horizon opens the show.

 

Roger Wagner directs music at Desert Wind Middle School. Photo by Kyle Norby

 

For Desert Wind Middle School music teacher Roger Wagner II, classes are about more than sick beats and woodwinds.

In addition to teaching kids how to play instruments and compose music using digital tools, Wagner II is also helping develop their social and life skills. For Wagner, who is also assistant marching band director at Maricopa High School, and his wife Michelle, music teacher at Legacy Traditional School, music is part of daily life.

Wagner received his bachelor’s degree in music from Grand Valley State University in Michigan and began teaching in Maricopa in 2013. At that time, Desert Winds had around 90 kids in band and orchestra. The school’s choir was defunct. Further, he learned many elementary schools in the Maricopa Unified School District didn’t have any music education.

“They could realistically could go K through 12 without having a music class,” Wagner said.

Wagner immediately set out to revamp the school’s music programming and restart its choir. He estimates more than 300 students now participate in the school’s band, orchestra and choir.

Working toward his master’s in music education from Arizona State University while teaching at Desert Wind, Wagner began developing his modern music class in 2014. The class gave him an opportunity to experiment with a new kind of music education for his students.

“When you get in your car and you flip on the radio, you’re probably not listening to concert band,” Wagner explained. “There’s a cognitive dissonance not only for me internally, but for the profession about what’s the future.”

Photo by Kyle Norby

Wagner happened to be in the right place at the right time and met the brand manager for Ableton Live, a company that produces tools for creating and arranging music digitally. At first just using Ableton’s software, which the company gave to him through an educational partnership, Wagner began creating a course that would help prepare students to create and play their own music.

“In music education, we call that [course] more of a music industry sort of thing,” Wagner said. “What we’re working towards is having almost a little boutique record label.”

At first Wagner didn’t have instruments for the class, so he began by making instruments from reclaimed materials, what the unpretentious teacher preferred to call “trash.” Eventually, he was able to secure a number of guitars from a tax credit and later ukuleles as well. After reducing the class size slightly, he had enough instruments for each student.

“I’ve seen him grow that program considerably since he’s been here with the integration of technology,” said Desert Wind Principal June Celaya. “I think some of that is because he uses some really cool assessment approaches so that kids can really evaluate their own personal growth with it and how they’re playing.”

Celaya noted Wagner has also been very successful in engaging the community by partnering with ASU, CenturyLink and others. He also worked to integrate school music more deeply into Maricopa, helping make the band a fixture at parades and other public events.

Bella Ebner. Photo by Kyle Norby

While his integration of technology and contemporary music have done much to help him build his school’s music programing, his passion and humor are still key to his success as a teacher and music director.

“It’s really cool because he’ll use fun analogies when teaching us about intonation and notes and stuff like that,” said eighth grader Bella Ebner, who is also president of the school’s Band Club. “He just likes to make sure that we’re all on the same page and that we’re all getting better together.”


This story appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Kyle Norby
Photo by Kyle Norby

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Submitted photo

By Ivan Pour
MHS Band and Orchestra Director

Oct. 20 and Oct. 27, the Maricopa High School Marching Rams performed in Arizona Band and Orchestra Director’s Association (ABODA) competitions at Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe and Ironwood Ridge High School in Tucson.

The band finished in seventh place at Corona Del Sol with a score of 57.575. The band turned things around quickly at Ironwood Ridge, finishing in fourth place with a big one week jump in score to 64.313. The average of these two scores put the Rams into the top 20 bands in ABODA’s Division II. The Rams will advance to the State Marching Band Festival this Saturday, Nov. 3, at Hamilton High School. The Marching Rams perform at 3 p.m.

The band had its best performance of the year to date at Ironwood Ridge High School, highlighted by earning second place in the music caption and third place in percussion. They earned praise for good characteristic tone and balance and creating shape in musical lines. The band also posted significant gains in the visual performance caption. This performance truly showed off the hard work our students have put in this year.

We invite the Maricopa community out to the state festival on Saturday to cheer on the Rams! Admission to the event is $10 and children under 5 are free.

As always, we want to acknowledge our awesome, hard working parent volunteers as well as our staff – Roger Wagner – Assistant Director, Eliana Araiza – Colorguard, David Hales – Percussion Head, Stuart Delaney – Front Ensemble. Without these people, our success this year would not be possible!

In addition to ABODA State Festival, the Marching Rams will support the football team for their playoff game at Williams Field High School on Friday, Nov. 2, and they will perform in the Maricopa Veterans Day Parade and AzMBA Championships at Perry High School on Nov. 10.

We also have our “Pass in Review” concert in the MHS Performing Arts Center on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Thank you for your support of the Maricopa Marching Rams and the Arts in MUSD.

Submitted photo

 

IF YOU GO
What: Maricopa Music Circle “Autumn Musicale”
When: Nov. 4, 3 p.m.
Where: 43356 W. Courtney Drive
How much: Free

Maricopa’s premier music ensemble ushers in its 10th season with a free special event Nov. 4. Maricopa Music Circle chamber orchestra’s “Autumn Musicale” is a fundraising event for the orchestra and includes both a concert and a silent auction of fine-art works on paper and canvas.

The concert’s theme riffs on the foliage’s perennial change of colors in fall. Composers often think of individual orchestral instruments in painterly terms, like expressions of a palette of colors with each instrument possessing its own color and degree of transparency or opaqueness (along with high or low range and other features).

MMC’s “Autumn Musicale” will shed its spotlight on music for solo instruments and smaller ensemble combinations, along with music for the full ensemble. The natural pairing with the music will be the silent auction of fine-art works by established artists such as Colorado’s Sandy Day Selbert and several Maricopa-based artists.

The concert highlights the individual artistry of MMC’s own dedicated musicians and includes several rarities – a newly-discovered work for viola and piano by Russian master Dmitri Shostakovich (an Arizona premiere) and a Mozart piece for glass harmonica now arranged for mixed quartet. Other program music is by Glazunov, Bartok, Tchaikovsky, Bach and U.S. composers Edward MacDowell and Scott Joplin, the ragtime king.

The free event includes a light reception. It will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Rancho El Dorado at 43356 W. Courtney Drive, where there is ample on-street parking.

Samples of MMC live performances at bit.ly/YouTube_MMCmin and bit.ly/YouTube_MMCbran


This story appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Submitted photo

By Ivan Pour
Music Director/Fine Arts Department Chair

Oct. 8-11, the Maricopa High School Marching Rams held its first-ever Fall Band Camp. Using feedback from the Sept. 22 AzMBA performance, in 29 hours over four days we went in depth on improving music and marching technique, re-worked drill for about half of the show, added multiple new visual body movements, and incorporated moving props into our performance. Our students were awesome all week and created a professional rehearsal climate that allowed for creative collaboration and some really amazing adjustments to our field program – “Spirits of the Nile.”

On Saturday, Oct. 13, the Marching Rams braved the wet weather to show off our work at the AzMBA – University of Arizona Band Day. The band came in fourth place in the 3A class out of a crowded field of nine bands. The band overall improved almost 11 points from their previous score from Sept. 22. The band saw big increases in every caption area, topped their high score from 2017 AzMBA Championships and came in second place in the General Effect Caption – the result of our work on changing drill and added visuals. Our color guard also earned praise in their caption as well as the Visual General Effect Caption for marked improvement from their previous performance, with a big score gain of 15 points in the “excellence” sub-caption.

A big thank you to Assistant Director Roger Wagner, who came up with many of our new visuals, and guard Instructor Eliana Araiza for helping teach band visuals in addition to her awesome work with the guard. A shout-out to percussion Caption Head David Hales and Front Ensemble Instructor Stuart Delaney for their work with our percussion section where we have also seen significant growth this season.

We also want to thank our amazing band parents who constructed the awesome pyramid props to add another layer to our show.

In addition to our performance in Arizona Stadium, band students had the opportunity to interact with members of the University of Arizona “Pride of Arizona” Marching Band, and see and hear an awesome, albeit damp, performance by the UA Band prior to the awards ceremony.

The Marching Rams will be performing at the following events:

– Home Football game against Casteel on Oct. 19.
– Corona Del Sol  “Crown of the Sun” Invitational on Oct. 20 at 6 p.m.
– Senior Night football game against Gilbert on Oct. 26.
– Ironwood Ridge Invitational on Oct. 27.
– ABODA State Marching Festival at Hamilton High School on Nov. 3.
– AzMBA Championships at Perry High School on Nov. 10.

If we are fortunate enough to be in the top 8 in our ABODA division, we will also perform Nov. 17 at ABODA Championships at Sun Devil Stadium.

As always, we will be having our “Pass in Review” Fall Concert at 7 p.m. in the MHS Performing Arts Center on Dec. 4. Admission is free.

Thank you for your support of the MHS Marching Rams and the arts in MUSD.

Submitted photo

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Submitted photo

The Maricopa High School Marching Rams and the MHS Chamber Orchestra both performed before judges during the past week, both collecting strong feedback.

The Marching Rams performed Saturday at the Arizona Marching Band Association (AzMBA) Millennium Show in Goodyear and finished in second place in the 3A class. The band earned praise for establishing solid musical and visual performance fundamentals in the first part of the year, significant contributions from all sections of the band, and growth in percussion and color guard performance.

“We will be using this feedback to build the objectives for our Fall Band Camp for our students Oct. 8-12 and the band will return to competition on Oct. 13 at University of Arizona Band Day,” Director Ivan Pour said.

The band finished just ahead of a very good Verrado High School program and trailing Chandler Perry. Based on judge’s comments, the Marching Rams are off to one of their best starts in recent years.

Friday, the MHS Chamber Orchestra traveled to Campo Verde High School in Gilbert to participate in the ABODA (Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors’ Association) Fall Orchestra Festival. The orchestra performed well, receiving top-notch feedback from a judging panel including Margaret Schmidt, Ph.D., professor of music education at Arizona State University, Cayce Miners, director of orchestras at Tucson Magnet High School in Tucson, and John Haggard, director of orchestras at Mesa Red Mountain High School.

The orchestra received praise for their work in the classroom on musical interpretation, contrasting styles and dynamics. Following their performance, the orchestra enjoyed a 30-minute clinic with Arizona State University Associate Director of Bands Jason Caslor, Ph.D., where they worked on maintaining intensity in their musical performance and bringing out the main musical ideas in their repertoire.

In addition to their performance and clinic, the orchestra was proud to support the Desert Wind Middle School Orchestra in their first ever Fall Festival Performance.

“It was so great to see the huge DWMS orchestra take the stage and to hear these budding musicians perform,” Pour said. “We can’t wait until we see all of them as Maricopa High School Orchestra Rams.”

The orchestra will be performing in the MHS Instrumental Music “Pass in Review Concert” on Dec. 4 along with the MHS Symphonic Band and the MHS Marching Rams. The show begins at 7 p.m. and admission is free.

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Desert Wind Middle School Orchestra participated for the first time in the ABODA (Arizona Band and Orchestra Director’s Association) Fall Orchestra Festival on Friday.

The event was at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert. Desert Wind Orchestra gave a quality performance and earned praise for their fundamental skills and energy. They received excellent feedback for continuing to develop technique for beginning and intermediate players.

These sixth, seventh and eighth grade students followed their performance with a clinic from Cindy Petty, the artistic director and conductor of the East Valley Youth Symphony, artistic director and conductor of the Oregon Arts Orchestra, and managing director of Concert Productions for Music Celebrations International. The clinic focused on continuing to develop fundamental skills in intonation and styles of bowing.

Roger Wagner, Desert Wind Orchestra director, received direct feedback on what students were doing well and what to continue to focus instruction on.

“Fall Orchestra Festival was a great opportunity for our students to hear other orchestras, perform on a fantastic stage and receive feedback from Arizona’s best string teachers,” Wagner said. “This was also a first for our program. Our students put in a tremendous amount of work to prepare and perform for Festival in Quarter 1.”

In addition to their performance, Desert Wind Orchestra was able to listen to Maricopa High School Chamber Orchestra’s performance.

Orchestra will be joining Tiger Band and Symphonic Band for the Desert Wind Winter Instrumental Music Concert on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. in the Maricopa High School Performing Arts Center. The first concert of the year will feature a reprise Orchestra’s music prepared for Fall Festival. Admission is free, but the memories are priceless. Thank you for supporting Desert Wind Performing Arts.

Ramon Ayala performs in the amphitheater at UltraStar to a large crowd. Photos by Victor Moreno

 

There was a packed amphitheater for Grammy-winner Ramón Ayala on Saturday, but his oldest fans may have been his most enthusiastic.

Joseph and Jeni Zozaya of Cottonwood were surprised with a trip to the concert at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center by daughter Veronica Martinez, who lives in North Phoenix. But it was more than just attending a concert.

Jeni, 88, and Josef, 92, were invited to a personal meet-and-greet with the Norteño star.

“I have a lot of his CDs with the music he played at the concert,” Jeni Zozaya said. “I just love the accordion and the way he sings.”

A fan of his music since he came on the scene in the 1960s, Jeni said her favorites are among his new music. He has recorded more than 100 albums.

“They have never had the opportunity to see him live in concert, mostly because all eight kids were pretty close in age, so Dad was working, and Mom was taking care of everyone else,” Martinez said. “I tried to get tickets to any of the venues in California and Texas, and all were sold out or on days I could not take them. I heard he was going to be in Tucson, so I was literally about to buy the tickets when one of their granddaughters tagged me in Facebook for the concert in Maricopa.”

Jeni’s reaction to learning they were going to a Ramon Ayala concert? “Oh, my goodness.”

Martinez said her parents were ecstatic. “They could not believe they were going to a concert at their age.”

Delia Velasco, a human resource training specialist at UltraStar, had given Martinez information about the concert and then told the marketing department the Zozayas’ story to see if something special could be arranged, especially because Josef is a World War II veteran.

Originally from Flagstaff, Jeni met Joseph there after the war, when he came to town looking for a job. They wed in 1947 and have been married 71 years.

Martinez said she was “in shock” when she received a phone call telling her a meet-and-greet had been arranged with the Mexican star.

“We kept it a secret right until they were going to walk in to meet him,” she said. “Mom started crying and said, ‘I just love him,’ and Dad was excited as well. I think he was in shock.”

Jeni Zozaya said Josef doesn’t hear well in crowds but enjoyed the whole experience. She said Ayala still looks good. The last time she saw him, she said, was when she lived in California and he had a beard and long hair.

“When he met him, Dad stood there and just talked about his music and how he enjoys it,” Martinez said.

Josef and Jeni Zozaya with Ramon Ayala. Photo by Victor Moreno

The music of Ayala, who will be 73 in December, is a bonding experience for the family. If Jeni’s in the car, there’s a good chance someone has his music playing. Martinez keeps his music on her phone, too.

“This was a special concert for them as we listened to his music daily and it brings back memories of when they were younger and life events that occurred,” Martinez said. “Mom and Dad danced all night holding onto their walkers and sang away. It was truly a blessed time to see them hold hands and have fun without any worries.”

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The fourth annual Music-a-Thon at Maricopa Unified School District filled the Performing Arts Center with music for seven hours Saturday. Bands and choirs from Maricopa High School, Desert Wind Middle School and Maricopa Wells Middle School performed from 1 to 8 p.m., directed by Ivan Pour, Tonya Hobt and Roger Wagner, along with guest conductor Mayor Christian Price. The MHS Marching Band has been invited to perform in the American Veterans Center’s National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. For the following year, the music department will attempt to raise $165,000, especially through the education tax credit program.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The fourth annual Music-a-Thon by Maricopa Unified School District is May 12, 1-8 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.

Music-a-Thon features all of the bands, choirs, and orchestra from Grades 6-12 in MUSD. This event will feature over 500 students in seven bands, three orchestras, five choirs, and combined performances from Desert Wind Middle School, Maricopa Wells Middle School, and Maricopa High School.

Roger Wagner, director of Instrumental Music at Desert Wind, said, “We are in our fourth year of this event and it has become a must-see for music fans and our community. The beauty of a combined choir of 200 students, the incredible sound of a shared orchestra, and the power of 180 band students in performance cannot be matched.”

This year’s closing combined band piece will be conducted by Maricopa Mayor Christian Price.

“We’re excited to show what MUSD Music can do, as well as invite our yearly special guest to conduct the MHS Fight Song, Rams Fall in Line,” said Ivan Pour, director of Instrumental Music at Maricopa High School.

See the schedule

 

Photo by Michelle Chance

Tejano music fans danced for hours Saturday night during a Latin music showcase at UltraStar Multi-tainment amphitheater. Grupo El Regreso, from Phoenix, opened the show for Texas-based bands Da Krazy Pimpz and Las Fenix.

maricopa-music-fest4_-chance_-04072018
Photo by Michelle Chance

Live music boomed under the blazing sun at the Maricopa Music Fest last weekend. It’s the second event hosted by Founder Chrystal Allen-O’Jon after the inaugural fest four years ago. The lineup spanned genres from indie, rock and reggae to rap. Entertainment ran from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Copper Sky.

See photos at http://www.inmaricopa.com/photogallery/gallery4/ 

 

Four years after its debut, Maricopa Music Festival returns on April 7.

IF YOU GO
What: Maricopa Music Festival
When: April 7, 1-10 p.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
How much: $20/adults; free to children under 12 and military veterans
Info: MaricopaMusicFest.us

The event, scheduled from 1 to 10 p.m. (and maybe beyond) at Copper Sky Regional Park, spotlights indie music, which itself stretches genres. Founder Chrystal Allen-O’Jon said more than 20 music acts are scheduled as well as other entertainment.

From pop and hip hop to reggae and a Jimi Hendrix tribute, performers are expected to bring the diversity to a concert organizers want to make an annual event.

“There will be two stages with three screens and a smoke machine,” she said. “Presentation is super important.”

The acts will have a distinct local flavor. Many are from Arizona with others coming from California, Florida and even one from Sweden. Allen-O’Jon said the musicians have been vetted to ensure quality.

As the music is playing, there will be an art walk, science walk, a glow-in-the-dark face painting contest, festival-wear contest, food and product vendors and a beer garden.

“Things will be going on all the time,” Allen-O’Jon said. “We would like to build it to be more like Coachella,” referring to a music-and-arts festival in California. She would like to draw around 1,500 music lovers.

The previous event four years ago was free, with organizers and sponsors footing the substantial bill. This time, there will be an admission fee.

At the gate, attendees pay $20, or they can purchase in advance for $15 from EventBrite. VIP tickets, which include dinner, are $45 in advance and $50 at the gate. Children under 12 and military veterans get in free. The first 20 low-riders who register their cars get two free tickets.

Charging stations will be available for electronic devices. Maricopa Police Department and private security are scheduled to be on site to maintain a safe atmosphere, Allen-O’Jon said.

For those wishing to indulge in True Grit Tavern’s beer garden, organizers have a Lyft code for a safe ride home. They have also partnered with a hotel for discount prices.

“We’re going to be honoring Bikers Against Child Abuse,” Allen-O’Jon said. “They’ll be our honored guests, and all the bikers can attend free.”

 

Scheduled Performers at Maricopa Music Festival

Jimi Hendrix Review By Derrick Cummings
Lighthouse Band AZ
The Sink or Swim Band
AlmostBlu
Somewhat Damaged
Pachamama LA
John Kelley
Eric Seats & The 333’s
Born Divine
Xavier Keyz
Jean-Dominique
Carmolina
Theolodge
SomeSay
Young Energy
Prothamaddmann
Taylor McLeod
Ida Divine
Elizabeth Pope
Tanta T
Posterwall Band
The PA System
Dance Glam
A-Mac & The Height
Maricopa Brothers Taekwondo


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Photo by Mason Callejas

A “Grand Holiday Concert” Dec. 9 was an annual musical event with music, singing and dancing as Maricopa Agricultural Center played host to Maricopa Music Circle, Maricopa Chorus and Desert Sun Performing Arts.

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Clay Walker on stage at Ak-Chin Circle. Photo by Michelle Chance

Ak-Chin Indian Community celebrated its birthday Friday evening with performances from Parmalee and Clay Walker. The concerts are an annual event on-stage at Ak-Chin Circle that are free to the public. Country singer Kacey Tyndall opened the show.

Click on photos to enlarge.

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Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa vocal students performed a winter choral recital Dec. 7 at the Performing Arts Center. High school and middle school choirs participated.

Parmalee

Country Rock Band Parmalee departed Nashville, Tennessee, early Wednesday morning and headed toward Arizona.

The group – made up of brothers Matt and Scott Thomas, their cousin Barry Knox and close friend Josh McSwain – will perform a free concert Friday night at Ak-Chin Circle.

The outdoor show will take place on the lawn north of Ultra Star and will open with “firecracker” Kasey Tyndall. Gates open at 6 p.m.

Tyndall has been on the road with Parmalee on their “HOTDAMALAMA” tour since November.

Parmalee frontman Matt Thomas said it’s the first headlining tour for the band that includes an opening act every night.

“We have Miss Kasey Tyndall with us. She’s a firecracker. We do some collaborations and it’s been fun playing all this new material and just going across the country,” Thomas said over the phone while strumming a guitar inside a Nashville recording studio Tuesday afternoon.

Friday, the band will perform songs off its newest album ‘27861,’ released in July. The album’s namesake is the ZIP code for the tiny town of Parmele, North Carolina. Its population was last recorded by the U.S. Census to include less than 300 people.

The group changed the spelling of their band’s name to “Parmalee” to make pronunciation easier for their fans, according to the Parmalee website.

The story behind the band’s homage to the Parmele community begins with their origin story, naturally.

When the band formed in 2001, the group sought out a recording space where they could write songs far away from distractions. They eventually found it inside a barn in Parmele that belonged to a friend of Thomas’ father.

“The first beginnings of the band came from that little barn, so we figured we’d give it a shout-out,” Thomas said.

The 12-track album was whittled down from 35 pieces the group had to decide from, including its single “Sunday Morning.”

Local fans can also expect to hear favorites from Parmalee’s previous records at the show as well.

Parmalee will play a show in Flagstaff Thursday before arriving in Maricopa. The band will open for Clay Walker Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

To listen to the full interview, click here.


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Clay Walker is on his way to Maricopa to perform at Ak-Chin Circle during Masik Tas.

Country music singer Clay Walker will hit the stage Friday as headliner of a free concert at Ak-Chin Circle.

A conversation with Clay Walker

The show is part of Ak-Chin Indian Community’s Masik Tas celebration and also features performances by openers Parmalee and Kasey Tyndall. Gates open at 6 p.m. on Dec. 8. Walker’s set begins at 9 p.m.

The country star will perform his classic hits Friday as well as new material that has yet to be released.

“That’s exciting for us because no one’s heard the music and it’s kind of nice to offer that exclusively in the live shows right now, but of course, it will be out soon enough for everyone to enjoy,” Walker said during a phone call from his home outside of Nashville Tuesday.

The unreleased tracks will soon be released online, he said.

The show will also feature some of Walker’s Christmas album with songs such as “All Wrapped Up In You,” written by Walker and holiday favorites “Winter Wonderland” and “Please Come Home for Christmas.”

Walker first appeared on country radio airwaves in the early 1990s with hits “What’s It to You,” “Live Until I Die” and “Dreaming with My Eyes Open.”

Then in 1996, Walker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis while in his early twenties.

“The doctor who diagnosed me, and most professionals would agree with his opinion, and that was that I was going to be in a wheelchair in less than four years and dead in less than eight,” Walker said.

But the prognosis didn’t stop Walker. He went on to regularly record music, produce hits and tour the country ever since.

“Twenty years later I can say that I know that I’ve been blessed and I know that what has happened to me is nothing less than a miracle and I’m very thankful to God for that,” he said.

Walker also founded the charity Band Against MS about 15 years ago.

“We’re going to do everything we can to find a cure for MS,” Walker said.

Walker begins a six-month tour Jan. 6. Listen to full the interview here.



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Ivan Pour chairs the Fine Arts Department at Maricopa High School and is the leader of the band. Photo by Mason Callejas

A union of imagery and sound began when Ivan and Maria Pour wed in 2008.

“In our marriage vows there is even something about ‘supporting (my) artistic endeavors and supporting his music.’” Maria said. “It’s so engrained in who we are.”

The pair’s mutual support of each other’s passions soon led to collaboration inside classrooms at Maricopa High School.

Ivan Pour is the band director; Maria teaches fine art.

Ivan Pour teaches music. Maria Pour teaches art. Photo by Mason Callejas

Every year Maria’s art students visit Ivan’s band room filled with musicians. The band performs for the young artists, who are then instructed to draw “what they hear.”

After the artwork is complete, the musicians take a gallery walk to view the results. Afterward, they compose an original piece of music inspired by their peers’ art.

“Take what you’re seeing and write what sounds like that,” Ivan tells his students.

The band programs at MHS have grown in the near decade since Ivan came to the district. What once was offered as a single class has evolved into a competitive force.

“This year we have three wind (instrument) classes and now a fourth class for the percussionists, and the color guard has their own,” Ivan said.

In April, the Division 1-ranked Maricopa High School Band and Orchestra advanced to the ABODA State Concert Festival for the second consecutive year, and the program continues to produce talented musicians.

Recent graduate and standout tubist Chance Ackerson studied under Ivan Pour during all four years of high school.

“Honestly, being in the marching band was one of the best experiences of my life. It’s basically like a family,” Ackerson said.

The culture within the marching band mirrors that of the art students, and even of the high school, Maria Pour said.

“Whether our students are captains of the football team, cheerleaders, art nerds, band nerds, gay, straight, bi-sexual, black, white, green, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “It’s a family atmosphere here, and the teachers work really hard to get to know each of their kids to teach them valid, really important lessons.”

For the Pours, one of the most vital teachings is reinforcing their belief that art and music education lead to valuable, sustaining careers.

“What a lot of employers are looking for nowadays are people who can also think creatively and critically, and think outside of the box. A lot of our economy now is not creating things, but creating experiences,” Ivan said.

In addition to teaching advanced placement art classes, Maria teaches a 3D art course that constructed costumes for the high school’s recent performance of “Beauty and the Beast.”

She hopes her digital art program grows at MHS.

“I had students the first year I started doing the computer modeling unit in my 3D classes just all of a sudden say ‘Oh my gosh, this is something I could do.’”

A future grant written by Maria could accomplish her goal of exposing students to additional digital art classes and cutting-edge software by next year.

In November, Maria will graduate from Full Sail University with a bachelor’s degree in computer animation. She received her first bachelor’s degree in fine arts from ASU in 2010.

“I want to still stay in traditional art, that’s where my heart is, but using those traditional art skills in more of the modern setting is something that needs to be shown to them,” she said.

At home, Ivan and Maria are raising more young talent, their 5-year-old son Leo.

“There is always the constant battle to see whether he’s going to be an artist or a music nerd,” Maria said.

“It looks like he’s leaning toward art,” Ivan added.

Maria Pour is also growing a digital art program at MHS. Photo by Mason Callejas

This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.