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Jerry Riopelle Returning To

Phoenix, Celebrity Theatre


Jerry Riopelle
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Jerry Riopelle.
Jerry Riopelle
Monday, Dec. 31 at 9 p.m.
Club Doors open at 7 p.m.
Theatre Doors open at 8 p.m.
Tickets: Row 1 to 5 are $95
Rows 6 to 25 are $55
http://celebritytheatre.com
Arizona’s Traditional New Year’s Eve Rocker May Not Be As Famous As The Ball Drop In Times Square, But He Delivers One Hell Of A Party

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By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

Dec. 21, 2012 — Some people think Arizona has few or no traditions, except, perhaps those that are nothing to brag about — like wacky, right-wing politics and sweating buckets in the summertime.

But every year since 1974, an underground legend has been growing. The year that saw Richard Nixon’s resignation was the first year that Jerry Riopelle played New Year’s Eve at Celebrity Theatre. Ever since that first night 38 years ago when he opened for Dr. John, Jerry Riopelle has established himself as much of a part of Arizona and New Year’s Eve as the ball drop is to New York City’s Times Square.

Riopelle, the former drummer of The Hollywood Argyles and a well respected name in the world of music, may not be as famous as, say, Bruce Springsteen, but he is so synonymous with his adoptive state that he was called to perform as part of the centennial celebration this February and former mayor Phil Gordon even proclaimed New Year’s Eve as “Jerry Riopelle Day” in 2005.

Over his expansive career that began in 1960s Los Angeles, Riopelle has been responsible for top 20 hits, worked with Phil Spector, and saw his tracks covered by Kenny Loggins, Meat Loaf and others.

In a career spanning five decades, he performed with a diverse catalogue of collaborators, as well as becoming a member of the Arizona Music Hall of Fame in 2007. Through this journey, Riopelle has amassed a large and loyal fan base.

His “crazy, wild, out of control party,” in Arizona on New Year’s Eve has been a lasting tradition. Driven initially by Valley stations putting "Walkin’ on Water,” "Blues on my Table,” "Red Ball Texas Flyer,” and "Naomi’s Song,” in regular rotation, the incredibly lively shows have become akin to a write of passage for Arizonans.

With promoter Danny Zelisko — also a member of the Arizona Music Hall of Fame — once again putting on the show, Riopelle said this year’s show will be as lively as ever.

“I’m not worried about turn out at all, we always have a great turnout,” said Riopelle. ”And we are going in the round, which always makes it special.”

Besides just being circular, Celebrity Theatre’s stage also rotates, which makes the show all the more personal, with every side of the crowd being able to see the performer.

“Last year we played in Flagstaff at The Orpheum and that was great theatre and a great time, but the Celebrity (Theatre) called us and said ‘what gives, we want you back,’” said Riopelle.

Excluding last year’s trip to Flagstaff, Riopelle has been playing the New Year’s Eve show at The Celebrity Theatre since 1975.

Riopelle will be headlining the New Year's Eve celebration, and even though the show is a 21 and up event, for the band it’s still a family affair.

Besides just filling in the needed spots in the headlining band with the children of current members, Jerry’s son Paul’s band will also be opening the night meant to welcome in baby new year.

“It’s really exciting to play New Year’s with Paul, he’s a great musician and it’s great to work with family,” said Jerry, and he takes that attitude into more than just music.

Riopelle and his son, besides just playing together, also co-founded The Beamz Music system, which produces the instrument of Jerry’s creation, the Beamz.

The Beamz is a laser based instrument that, has the beam go across four girder made into the shape of a “W’ and one makes a note but interrupting the laser stream.

While Paul oversees the company, Jerry is working on expanding the usefulness of the Beamz and bring the device to a different kind of musician.

“We have the Beamz in about 100 schools in Phoenix and California,” said Jerry Riopelle, also highlighting it’s uses for both therapy and special education.

“We have taken out all the bad notes ... with our software you can’t really make bad music with it,” he said.

He is even taking the Beamz one step further and starting an institute for music innovation, and trying to get the device into more schools.

But no matter what Riopelle does, he will likely always be synonymous with New Year’s Eve in Arizona.

Take that, Times Square.

Jeff Moses is a freelance writer and photographer from Teaneck, N.J. and is currently living in Mesa, Ariz. He has been published in The Mesa Legend, OccupyUprising.org and The Highway Herald. Contact him by calling 727-385-0624.
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