You never know how long an endeavor is going to last. If it is something you are passionate about, you hope the rest of your life. It is why you celebrate each moment as the things that matter to you hit significant benchmarks. For 80/20 Records’ founder, Michael Zimmerlich, this year marks ten years of just that. It is ten years of him helping musicians get their music out there. I met him through one of my favorite locals that his label plays host to, Captain Squeegee. Then I kept running into him more frequently after that. He is one of the coolest people you will meet in the Phoenix scene. So before I go any further, I must give my congratulations on this excellent benchmark. As for the awesome stable of bands he has compiled over the ten years, this night was a superb taste of it plus Bear Ghost.
Opening up was a musical act that just happens to also be an 80/20 Records intern, Emily Grieve. She voiced preshow jitters, but on stage it appeared they had disappeared into the ether. Her voice shined in front of the growing crowd. The set started with a band behind her, but middle of it she did her regular solo performance.
The band returned for the rest of the set, which included her guilty pleasure of Avril Lavigne’s “Ska8er Boi.” The band she had assembled included another 80/20 intern, because they jested that this band could be “The Interns.” Emily Grieve only the first example this night of how strong the music of the 80/20 Records family is.
Ben Anderson another artist on the night that occasionally plays solo, but tonight brought a band. Backing him in the band were a couple other 80/20 musicians, including two playing later in the night. He took advantage of having a band by strictly singing on a couple tracks, while the rest he alternated with acoustic and electric guitars. His sound a blues and soul meets rock. It is a sound great for grooving with, and tapping a foot to the beat.
The additional fiddle, Josh Hill, on a few songs added a great country mix to a few of his tracks. I can see why the label was attracted to bringing Ben Anderson on board.
Smack dab in the middle was the band 42 Eternal. Michael had managed to talk them into reuniting for the special occasion. They were one of the first artists on his label. They are a dynamic band on that stage. That is from Daniel, lead vocals, going from guitar to bass to keyboard, while Daphne seemed to change between bass and guitar, and their cellist, Megan, doing some singing and bass playing too.
Despite the amount of talent on stage, they brought up more including Danny, of Captain Squeegee, for added trumpet. Later, his bandmate Austin went up to play keys. 42 Eternal is one hell of a performing band. I consider myself lucky I got to see them reunite for this anniversary.
Next was a band currently not on 80/20 Records, but easily one of my favorites in the Phoenix music scene, Bear Ghost. Of course, with the enjoyment and fun in every one of their sets, I could see why they would be invited for the special occasion. The set itself was the usual dancing and jumping around that every Bear Ghost set inspires. Even with my camera in hand, I found myself dancing during their set for portions.
The treat for this night was seeing the regular line up of the band, with Andrew on bass. They jested about how his work schedule made the set a race against the clock. However, it didn’t appear that they changed anything up from their usual on stage pace. Of course, with music as good as Bear Ghost, time flies so perhaps I just couldn’t tell while I moved to their set.
Last up was the first 80/20 band I ever listened to, and my favorite on the label, Captain Squeegee. The once ska now alternative, jazz, and rock hybrid band continues to produce fantastic music. Not to mention Danny has to be hands down the best male vocalist I know in Phoenix. Then there is just the amount of character this band brings to the stage. This was only magnified by the special reason of the night, with the interactions between Danny and 80/20’s founder, Michael, for a couple moments.
There was when they sat him down on a stool while they played to him and stole his iconic hat. There were smiles and laughter across that stage as they moved the hat around. The other fantastic moment was when they brought Michael back up with his trumpet to play along with Captain Squeegee. It is apparent this band loves the person in charge of their label, and loves the music they perform. It is no wonder that Captain Squeegee is a gem of the 80/20 Records family and of the Phoenix music scene.