by Dan Gibson
Every year, the Boston Phoenix picks a band from each of the fifty states and anoints them the "Best New Band" for that state. Previous winners from Arizona have included Phoenix's ROAR, Tempe's Hell-Kite, and Tucson's Shark Pants (who played our Spring Club Crawl). This year's winner? Stephen Steinbrink, who performs under his own name and as French Quarter.
Now, Steinbrink is an interesting songwriter, although he's not really new, per se, considering he's been playing shows since 2006, but turns out, he's not sticking around our fair state anyway:
Like nearly everyone in Phoenix, songwriter Stephen Steinbrink (you may recognize his project named French Quarter, as well) has a love/hate relationship with the city. It's easy to love the pockets of true community, the DIY art spaces, punk rock house shows, and the affordable, delicious Mexican food, but the summers are brutal, the politicians are maniacs, and the sprawling nature of the city makes it hard to get a real sense of what Phoenix even is....
"I feel like there's always sort of a baseline of oppression," Steinbrink says, finishing up some Salsitas and discussing his new album, I Drew a Picture, and the decision to leave Phoenix — not just to tour with bummer-pop songwriter Emperor X, but for good — following a stay in Olympia and an East Coast tour via Greyhound bus.
Steinbrink isn't sure where he's going to end up after his tours. He's got an opportunity to stay in Holly Springs, Mississippi, the same place bluesmen like R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Syl Johnson made their names. He's not sure where he's going, but he knows it's time to leave Phoenix.
It's still a little weird to me that the Boston Phoenix doesn't ask someone from the state they're covering to pick the "Best New Band," but it would be really nice if they picked a group that'll actually be an Arizona band at the end of the year they've been honored for.