Great Music Returns To Rim Country With Summer Concerts


There is something really special about music in the open air, under an open, starry sky. The Payson Parks and Recreation Department is once again bringing that special treat to residents and visitors with its Concert Under the Stars series.

The Concert Under the Stars series in Green Valley Park started June 14 with a performance by Sonoran Swing. This popular series of concerts will continue through July 26 on every Saturday night, starting around 7 p.m. The one exception to the schedule will be Fourth of July weekend, when the concert will be on Friday, July 4, as part of Payson's Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration.


Sonoran Swing opened the 2008 Concert Under the Stars series with their big band sound on June 14 at the bandstand in the Green Valley Park amphitheater. More great music is planned through the end of July every Saturday night, except July 5.

The concerts are presented in the amphitheater bandstand of Green Valley Park, between the playground and the War Memorial. The concerts are free and last about two hours.

Bring your lawn chairs or comfy blankets as no formal seating is provided. Pack a picnic supper and make a great night of it. There is even an area for dancing in front of the bandstand.

The remainder of the 2008 Concert Under the Stars series includes a wonderful variety of performers bringing all kinds of music to the Rim Country.


  • Saturday, June 21: Junction 87 with classic country
  • Friday, July 4: John Carpino and The Hot Cappuccinos with classic rock and beyond
  • Saturday, July 12: Gypsy Juke Rockers with rock, blues and R&B
  • Saturday, July 19: Cold Shott and the Hurricane Horns with funk and jazz
  • Saturday, July 26: Brandon Shepard with contemporary country


Billy Ichida, Bob Lewis and Jim Norman are Junction 87. The three men have been performing country standards and 1950s rock 'n' roll together for more than three years. They will perform at Green Valley Park this weekend, Saturday, June 21.


Junction 87

Billy Ichida, Bob Lewis and Jim Norman are Junction 87. The three men have been performing classic country and 1950s rock 'n' roll together for more than three years.

Japanese-born Ichida picked up the guitar as a teenager and once he discovered country music and bluegrass in college, he was determined to come to the United States and become a professional guitarist. In addition to lead guitar, he also plays a mean electric fiddle.

Lead singer Bob Lewis plays both bass and rhythm guitars.

Jim Norman goes to town on his vintage bass fiddle. He also plays bass guitar.

Junction 87 has played a weekly jam session at the Buffalo Bar and Grill for six years, as well as playing numerous gigs in the Rim Country. The trio also toured Japan in April.

The band has just released its first CD, "Almost Live."

Big Daddy D and the Dynamites

The high-energy dance music of Big Daddy D and the Dynamites brings upbeat blues, soul and Cajun music midway through the Concert Under the Stars series. Singer and lead guitarist Darryle Porras formed the band a decade ago.

The mixture of songs such as "Shotgun" and "The House is Rockin'" are played by a collaboration of musicians. They are: Anton Teschner on saxophone, Carlos B. Jones on drums and Steven Ayers on bass. Drew Hall shares guitar and vocals with Porras.

Although the band specializes in improvisational covers, they also mix in their original tunes.

John Carpino and the Hot Cappuccinos

Post games and pre-fireworks on Independence Day, John Carpino and The Hot Cappuccinos liven up the evening for the fourth time in the past three years.

When solo songwriter and acoustic guitarist John Carpino takes the stage with his ensemble band, they are The Hot Cappuccinos.

"Musicians have regular gigs with their own bands, so I pick and choose from whomever is available on a given weekend," Carpino said. "I get to draw from a wonderful pool of talent."

His bandmates for the July 4 gig are: his wife Lu on keyboards and percussions. She also sings. Billy Ichida (normally of Junction 87) sings, plays lead guitar and electric fiddle. David Brooks adds his voice and lead guitar. Deak Deitrich plays lead guitar, pedal steel and vocals. Last, but not least, is drummer Marty Tkachyk.

"We have the two best lead guitarists in all of Rim Country on stage with us," Carpino said.

This concert marks the first time Ichida and Deitrich, who knew each other when they played in the Valley in separate bands in the 1970s, will perform on the same stage at the same time.

"We're really excited about this line-up. The energy and the people and the family environment with people dancing and enjoying themselves make playing in the park fun on Fourth of July. It should prove to be a great show," John Carpino said.

Gypsy Juke Rockers


For those who have not caught Gypsy Juke Rockers in past Rim Country performances, their 2008 concert in the park is an opportunity not to be missed. They perform Saturday, July 12, presenting rock, blues and R&B. The Phoenix-based band has made more than 360 appearances in the past 36 months.

For those who have not caught Gypsy Juke Rockers in past Rim Country performances, their 2008 concert in the park is an opportunity not to be missed.

The Phoenix-based band has made more than 360 appearances in the past 36 months.

Gypsy's wailing harmonica and vocals are reminiscent of Big Mama Thornton and at the same time sweet and sultry like Billy Holliday ... and have been known to make grown men cry! JC will step in with his smooth guitar style, mellow vocals, and also some pretty smooth moves. Add in the "locked groove" drum and bass combination and these guys are "off the hook." Bassist Paul Thomas has worked with folks like Ike Turner, Bo Diddley, Junior Watson, Nappy Brown, Pinetop Perkins and others and drummer Vince Curtis spent time with STOMP.

"The group has a wide ranging appeal that spans various demographics from 20-somethings to Baby Boomers alike and always gives an extremely exciting musical presentation tailored to fit each event," agent John Chavez of Gruntwerks Productions wrote in an e-mail.

Cold Shott & the Hurricane Horns

Funk is coming to Payson's ponderosa pines as part of the Concert Under the Stars series in Green Valley Park.

Cold Shott and the Hurricane Horns' veteran musicians will drive up from Phoenix to play a mixture of jazz and funk.

The eight-piece group boasts a rocking rhythm section and a three-piece horn section.

Their song "Headin' Down the Beeline" is one people can relate to.

"We're centered around that good ol' classic rhythm and blues, with a rock edge to it," said guitar player and band manager, Rich Brydle. "We cover jazz, soul, blues and funk."

The band's "old school authenticity" is completed with Tim Finn on guitar and vocals Scott Engel on keyboards and vocals, Tony Flores on bass and vocals and James "Slim" Scroggins on drums.

Saxophone player Keith Kuchzinski is the newest addition to the band's three-piece horn set. He joins trumpet and flugelhorn player, Dave Axton, and saxophonist and flutist, Tim Matteson.

The audience in the park will hear tunes made famous by ZZ Top at one end of the spectrum and Otis Redding on the other end.

Brandon Shepard


Courtesy photo

Popular country singer Brandon Shepard is scheduled to perform during rodeo weekend festivities at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino.

Shepard is a musician, a singer and a songwriter.

At the age of 5 he began to teach himself to play the guitar by ear.

His first professional gigs were playing in hard rock bands as a teenager.

For the past two years he has been playing the country music circuit in Arizona and has received exposure on small FM stations across the country.

Although the music Shepard plays on stage is country, he likens the lightning energy of his concerts to a rock 'n' roll show.

He has learned to use the Web to advance his career.

Current visits to his online site tune in at 10,000 per month and he has tracked his music to more than 40 download sites.

"I love being in front of an audience," he said.

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