Writer Lynette Carrington discovers the sweet ’90s hip-hop sounds of Livewire’s spicy house band for North Valley Magazine
Behind the scenes with Vanilla Spice, Livewire’s house band
By Lynette Carrington
Photos by Tavit Daniel
New venue Livewire recently opened to much fanfare and now boasts its own specially created house band, Vanilla Spice. The large band encompasses stellar talents that will work the house Sunday nights and during special events.
Steve LeVine, a partner in Livewire and owner of Steve LeVine Entertainment and Public Relations, came up with the idea for a house band. “We did a casting call,” LeVine says. “I knew that I wanted to create this band. I was a part of other cover bands that had happened over the years. I saw the ’70s thing happen, I saw the ’80s thing happen—rock and pop and hair bands.”
LeVine knew he’d be casting for a ’90s hip-hop cover band and was impressed when he auditioned rapper/singer Andy Savage. “I knew that he was the guy,” LeVine says.
LeVine kept Savage in mind as he selected other players for the band. “We put together a band of people that pretty much didn’t know each other,” he says. “Literally, by practice number two or three, the band was starting to get tight, and Andrew said, ‘I have a lot of words to learn!’ You think you know the words to all these songs you grew up with!”
Taking the lead from Vanilla Ice, the monstrously successful hip-hop artist from the ’90s, Vanilla Spice takes everything that was cool from that decade and kicks it up a notch with a hot urban appeal and real musical talent. The nine-piece band comprises DJ Prince Paul (Paul Nazzaro), vocalist Queen V (Venessa Mendez), guitarist Richniss (Rich Kniss), bassist Old Spice (Todd Middleman), drummer Rev Kev (Kev Philips), rapper Andy Savage (Andrew Patti), keyboardists DMC (Danielle Cooke), Snoop Dugg (Doug Borman), and Secret Spice (Lily Zobel). Their unique musical backgrounds and stylings, old-school dance moves, and urban apparel bring a new flavor to the Valley’s music scene.
Savage promises one heck of a party experience when guests come to Livewire. He wants to up the draw of Vanilla Spice and is planning special guests and visitors on Sunday. There’s been an enthusiastic response from acts like Shock G from Digital Underground, Candyman, Ja Rule and other ’90s stars.
“All the songs we play are the best hip-hop songs, party songs, songs that people are going to know and sing along and dance to,” Savage says. “We do ‘The Humpty Dance’—one of my personal favorites, ‘Poison’ by Bel Biv DeVoe––everybody gets to shine in that song, ‘California Love,’ and we do a lot of Notorious B.I.G. Of course, we have to do Vanilla Ice.”
Livewire, located in the heart of Downtown Scottsdale’s entertainment district, is Arizona’s newest live music and concert venue. The 14,000-square-foot two-story indoor live performance and concert venue was developed by Evening Entertainment Group and will feature all genres of touring artists, popular bands, up-and-coming local performers, DJs, comedians and more while also acting as a multiuse nightlife venue. Notably, Livewire landed Jeff Bridges and the Abiders immediately after it opened as well as acts such as Steve Aoki, Nat and Alex Wolff, and The Voice 2014 winner Craig Wayne Boyd were also booked in its early months.
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