A Neighborhood Gathers for WayneFest 2021
Wayne Newton lived in Phoenix. Yes, Mr. Las Vegas and known for his iconic look performing music Wayne Newton. For a part of his childhood he grew up in the Coronado District of Phoenix. He attended North High School before moving again to set him up for all the grandeur of Las Vegas. Why bring this up? That is because WayneFest is a celebration named after him and a get together of the neighborhood he once lived in. It started in 2018 making it one of our newest festivals in Phoenix. Like other festivals, it brings out vendors, food trucks, and music. For 2021, it brought a breadth of genre with the Blood Feud Family Singers, The Rebel Set, Mega Ran, and the 2 Tone Lizard Kings. Former Maricopa County recorder Adrian Fontes played our MC for festivities and introducing all of these wonderful acts.
Up after Phoenix Mayor, Kate Gallego, decreed it WayneFest day, were a few of my favorite people in the Blood Feud Family Singers. It has been a little since I caught these darker and broodier lyric filled bluegrass music players. There is no step lost in the two years since last I saw them. Leading the set, Daryl is wonderful on lead vocals and guitar. Marc Oxborrow to one side of him with the standup bass I know him most for. This show he was sporting a metallic one of the designs of his bandmate on the other side of the stage,
Mark Allred. Allred was showing off another of his work on his own electric guitar. They appreciated the young kids dancing in front, parents distanced behind them on blankets and lawn chairs. They pointed out how gorgeous it was if anyone were to take a picture of them with the dusk sky colors behind them. It was a delight to catch the Blood Feud Family Singers again and somehow they were just our appetizer for the night.
Next up would be another I missed seeing live that put on a wonderful performance, the Rebel Set. These guys and gals shifting us into grooving to their surf rock and garage rock sounds. Joe Zimmerman with the calm cool look while playing fast paced guitar chords and the vocals center stage. Though with the swagger and the biggest smiles was Katey Wilkins over on keyboard.
When she wasn’t dancing on the keys, she was lending the screams that echoed around the Coronado Park and neighborhood. All the while the youngsters continued to dance and run around up front of the stage. This set served as the reminder that The Rebel Set stand as one of the best doing surf rock in Phoenix.
Then this neighborhood was treated to the raps of Mega Ran. He immediately offered what he called “bribes” of inflatable basketballs for all the kids up front. For context, that’s because he is riding his awesome new album “Live ’95,” named after his favorite in the old Electronic Arts basketball series. With it came a set that included a few of the tracks off that, like “Comeback Player of the Year” and “Tractor Beam.” That means, yes, DN3 was back behind him helping provide the mixes and Nico White Gold was up there with the trumpet on tracks.
There were other favorites in there including “Avalanche” and his freestyle song. However, instead of doing the freestyle off of items in the pockets of the crowd members, Mega Ran came down to the crowd using names to create the verses. This went over very well by the amount of grins, smiles and laughs observed the entire time. He invited friends to join him on songs toward the end where they shared the mic and helped with a new dance he’s working on to close out shows. Mega Ran always with the fun sets and this time he showed exactly why he is such a master of the stage.
Last up brought us over the ska side of Phoenix with arguably the best in the valley, the 2 Tone Lizard Kings. The expanded lineup included Barton, also of Mr. Incommunicado, for additional percussions for the occasion. This one got a few people skanking on the grass in front of the stage. There was a pair that even shouted at how excited they were to see 2 Tone as they watched them in college. Adam came down during a song instrumental for a second to play with Foyce’s daughter Amara and the lingering inflatable basketballs from the last set.
They brought an arsenal of familiar songs of “Way O” to “Blow Fish,” off their latest album release, to make it hard to stand still for anyone hanging out there. Like the crowd, you had near every member dancing when they weren’t needed on a microphone or their instrument for a little. I don’t think you could have asked for anything better than to let the 2 Tone Lizard Kings get people’s toes tapping to finish the neighborhood get together of WayneFest 2021.