Music is an important part of the Tempe vibe and now it will be literally cemented into the city’s culture.
Each November, as part of Tempe Music Revival Month, the City of Tempe and Tempe Music Revival Group will select a bands, musicians or venues to honor with a plaque embedded in the sidewalk on Mill Avenue, creating Tempe’s Music Walk. Tempe is the first Phoenix Metropolitan Area city to honor its musicians in this way.
Listen to a KJZZ interview with Walt Richardson and Councilmember Joel Navarro.
“It is appropriate that we honor our musical heritage with Tempe’s Music Walk. We are choosing musicians who have made a true difference in the culture of music, not only here in Tempe but throughout Arizona and even the world,” Councilmember Joel Navarro said. “Tempe’s musicians have earned platinum albums, had their music included in the soundtracks of award-winning TV shows and movies. They have left their marks on many generations.”
Walt Richardson was the inaugural musician to be inducted into Tempe's Music Walk. The plaque honoring Richardson was installed on Nov. 7, 2014 at Fourth Street and Mill Avenue on the southwest corner.
With his funky reggae sound, Richardson has been a part of the Tempe music scene for more than 30 years. Many of his original tunes include Tempe locations, such as the song, “Mill Avenue.” Richardson started out playing as a street musician with a hat that people would throw change into. He’s come a long way, with albums, world tours, an induction into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame and many other honors. He hosts a music show on Radio Phoenix that is nationally-syndicated on the African American Radio Consortium.
Walk-in Wednesdays Open Mic Night at Tempe Center for the Arts, which gives singer/songwriters an opportunity to perform original music to an appreciative audience. He also hosts Songwriters’ Showcase at Tempe Center for the Arts, which airs on PBS Eight/KAET, on Tempe 11 and on many other stations as well as online. Richardson is so much a part of Tempe that the City of Tempe declared Jan. 18, 2014 to be Walt Richardson Day.
“I want to shine a light on the music and talent in Tempe and Arizona. Music connects people and local music is a reflection of our community. Our sound is different from Nashville and L.A. It’s a homegrown sound and people like it. It’s organic,” Richardson said.
The Gin Blossoms
The Gin Blossoms received their plaque on the Tempe Music Walk on Dec. 30, 2014, at Fourth Street and Mill Avenue, northwest corner.
The Gin Blossoms received a Grammy Award nomination, platinum and gold records and have toured dozens of countries. The band is an iconic part of the Tempe experience. Watch the band perform its song, Mrs. Rita, as part of Farm Aid and notice the ASU Sun Devil jersey that lead singer Robin Wilson is wearing.
The Gin Blossoms have sold more than 8 million records. They continue to have hit records and tour today. The groups most recent Tempe appearance is the 2014 Circle K New Year's Eve Block Party on Mill Avenue. www.ginblossoms.net