Who: Gin Blossoms & Better Than Ezra

What: Free Friday night concert

Where: Champions Square

When: Friday, December 16, 7:00pm


In the late 80’s Gin Blossoms started to grow a huge following as the #1 local music draw in Phoenix and certainly were the hometown hero’s of their favorite hang, Tempe, Arizona.

Gin Blossoms indelible jangle-pop sound was evolving during radio’s diverse mix of hair bands and grunge music superstars. They qualified to perform at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin Texas in 1989. That same year college music journal dubbed them “The best Unsigned Band In America” and added an invitation to perform on MTV’s New Music Awards in New York City. Their Breakout record New Miserable Experience was where their rise to fame began. This album kept the band on the chart for almost 3 years with singles “Hey Jealousy,” “Allison Road,” Until I Fall Away,”    “Mrs. Rita,” and “Found Out About You.” The crossover hits on New Miserable Experience played on 4 radio formats and to date has sold over 5 million records.

Those hits were followed up by “Til I Hear It From You” which rocketed to #1 and moved the Empire Records smash soundtrack to platinum status. The track also became Canada's longest-running #1 hit of 1995, its #1 tenure lasting six weeks. This song was co-written with the great Marshall Crenshaw and Billboard described it as “the closest thing to a perfect pop song to hit radio in recent memory.” Their next gem “Follow You Down” spent ten weeks in the top 10, and "As Long As It Matters" earned the band a Grammy nomination for "Best Performance by a Duo or Group” making their Congratulations I’m Sorry record another multi radio format favorite and multi-platinum success.

Having dominated radio and MTV playlists for most of the 90s, Gin Blossoms took a brief turn of the century hiatus, a provisional parting of the ways that Wilson chalks up to “personal dissatisfaction and the mistaken impression that we could perform at that same level with another group.” The brief break allowed Valenzuela and Wilson to reenergize via solo recordings, new combos, and production credits for an array of local Arizona acts. However, Gin Blossoms’ idiosyncratic magic proved impossible to ignore for long and on New Years Eve 2001 in their hometown of Tempe. The band reconvened and never looked back.

“There’s a certain civility among us now,” Valenzuela says. “None of us are as brusque as we once were. We’re too old to have shouting matches.”

The revivified band hit the road hard, earning a well-deserved reputation as one of the busiest touring acts in the world, playing close to 150 shows a year. Those chops were readily apparent on 2006’s Major Lodge Victory – Gin Blossoms’ long awaited fourth album and first new recording in almost a decade. Rave reviews followed, as did a top 10 Triple A smash in the album’s lead single, “Learning The Hard Way.” The albums second single “Long Time Gone” quickly became another favorite among both fans and the critics and Major Lodge Victory made Billboards top 10 independent albums.

Next, Gin Blossoms recorded “No Chocolate Cake” and released the single Miss Disarray which is now one of the most requested songs in the bands live set and the album reached #1 on Amazons sales chart. 

These talented tunesmith’s promise the inevitable arrival of new material and as they approach their third decade, Gin Blossoms remain a rare breed – rock ‘n’ roll lifers, destined to continue creating, crafting, and performing for audiences ever rapt by their glorious catalog of material. “We’re entertaining and we have chops,” says Wilson, “but it really comes down to the songs. The reason we’re still here is that we have good songs. When young musicians ask me for advice, what’s the best thing to do to further my career, I always say, ‘Write good songs.’ It always comes down to that.”

The bands fusion of Pop, melodic rock, Folk and Country elements took the airwaves by siege, making the band an MTV playlist hostage for almost a decade and the group a natural 90’s mainstay. From their breakout album through today, Robin, Jesse, Bill and Scotty have sold over 10 million records and are one of the most in demand 90’s live artists who began at the end of the grunge era. This coming February 2017 the band is back in the studio recording their next album that will released this Summer. Don’t miss this rockin’ the house down performance!





To say the past 20+ years have been ‘Good’ for New Orleans-based rock band Better Than Ezra would be an understatement. The band had been selling out venues across the country since forming at Louisiana State University in 1988 where the band started touring on the Southern college circuit.

After self-releasing their first album Deluxe in 1993, major record labels expressed an interest in the band. But it wasn’t until after two years of touring and creating an intense loyal fan base that dubbed themselves the “Ezralites,” that Better Than Ezra signed with Elektra Records. Elektra rereleased Deluxe and its single ‘Good’ which reached the #1 position on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart driving the album sales to platinum status.

When discussing the overnight success of Deluxe, lead singer/songwriter and founding member Kevin Griffin said, “The timing of things is always so interesting because it took us seven years to get signed and then seven weeks to get to No. 1 on the charts.”

The band quickly became a staple in the ‘90s pop/rock scene immediately releasing two new albums within three years of being signed. Friction, Baby, released in 1996, and How Does Your Garden Grow? in 1998 produced hits ‘Desperately Wanting,’ ‘King of New Orleans, ’ and ‘At the Stars.’

In 2001, Better Than Ezra released the critically acclaimed Closer, followed by Before the Robots in 2005. The latter featured the hit ‘Juicy,’ licensed by several commercials and brands, was also featured in the promotional advertisements for the popular ABC television series Desperate Housewives.

The band came to a cross-roads in early 2009 when longtime drummer Travis McNabb made the difficult decision to leave Better Than Ezra and become a full time member of the hit country supergroup Sugarland. “Travis is like family and this was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. We couldn’t be happier for him,” says founding member Tom Drummond of McNabb’s departure.

McNabb was replaced by drummer Michael Jerome as the band announced their seventh studio album Paper Empire which was released in May 2009. This album reached the Top 10 albums on iTunes, with hits like ‘Absolutely Still’ and ‘Just One Day.’

While the band has found success nationally, they never forgot their beloved home of New Orleans. Wanting to find a way to leave a lasting impression on the city that first embraced them, the band created the BTEFoundation. With the annual Ezra Open, which they established 10 years ago, the foundation is committed to funding renewal efforts to support the structuraland cultural heritage of New Orleans and Southern Louisiana.Throughout the years, the entertainment community has joined Better Than Ezra in their cause and has raised over $850,000 for various causes in and around New Orleans.

Looking for new and creative ways to connect with their fans, in 2011 BTE debuted their inaugural Krewe of Rocckus Mardi Gras Extravaganza in March of 2011, which was hailed by visitors and locals alike as the “the best way” to experienceMardi Gras. Designed as a fan-based vacation event, the band gave patrons the ultimate insider experience to the nation’s biggest party.

In addition to the BTEFoundation and Krewe of Rocckus, the band is currently writing music for their long-awaited eighth album slated for release in 2014.