Brandon Decker had been making music for 10 years when he embarked on a tour in support of his first album, Long Days. He says when the tour ended he decided to “pursue music with reckless abandon.” The Denver-born singer, songwriter and guitarist relocated to Arizona to get a degree in philosophy from Northern Arizona University (ask him about Sedona’s music scene, and the philosopher in him comes alive); he has lived in Sedona since 2008. His band, decker, includes Kelly Cole on drums, guitars and vocals; Amber Johnson on keyboard; and Andrew Bates on bass. Decker will release an EP titled Patsy this summer. The band’s fourth album, Slider, came out in March 2013 to overwhelmingly positive reviews from the Arizona music press.
Decker’s music isn’t easy to pigeonhole, and Brandon’s quite aware of it. Some people call it folk-rock while others say it’s alt-country. “I call it psychedelic desert folk,” says Brandon, who checked in with Sedona Monthly in the middle of the band’s latest tour. “There’s a tendency to call our music ‘folk’ because of the structure of the songs, but it’s edgier than that. It’s spacey and ethereal.” Brandon counts Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, PJ Harvey and Portishead among his influences, but local musicians he meets when he travels also inspire him.
Brandon says living in rural Arizona hasn’t hindered his music. “There’s a vast culture of American songwriters living in pockets of the country,” he says. “I don’t feel like I need to move to a big city.” Decker has toured extensively, playing Austin’s famed SXSW in 2012 and 2013 and Arizona’s McDowell Mountain Music Festival in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The band has a standing gig the first Saturday of each month at Main Stage Theater in Cottonwood where Brandon works as the booking manager. Decker performs at Main Stage July 5 and Aug. 7. The evenings begin at 9:30 p.m. and typically feature three acts including decker and a late-night DJ. For a list of upcoming shows, visit www.deckermusic.org.
Tucked inside Cliff Castle Casino Hotel is Dragonfly Nightclub where revelers can dance to their heart’s content until 1 a.m. The casino opened its doors in May 1995 and has expanded several times to include a hotel, bowling lanes, arcade and four restaurants. Dragonfly Nightclub was part of an expansion in 2000. Keep in mind that smoking is allowed at Cliff Castle, and ashtrays are on the tables at Dragonfly Nightclub – an unexpected sight in our otherwise nonsmoking state.
Friday and Saturday nights, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
What it’s going to cost you:
Usually nothing unless a major tribute act comes through, then it’s $10
This is a locals’ hangout, and when a Latin band is onstage, the dance floor is packed. Picture trucker hats and cowboy hats; exposed midriffs and wedge sandals; cougars in red pumps; cowboy boots and miniskirts. There’s even a handful of patrons in wheelchairs, tapping their fingers to the beat.
Everything from reggae and Latin to Top 40, country and tribute acts
The nightclub was recently remodeled to include party booths, up-lit tables that change colors and high-top tables surrounding the stage and dance floor. The walls are adorned with signed guitars from the bands that have played at the nightclub and adjacent 3,500-seat Stargazer Pavilion. Toward the back of the club, you’ll find the Cliff Dwellers bar, which boasts red-rock walls reminiscent of an Arizona cave.
Thirty-five beers on tap. If you want to try something different, order the Sleepy Dog Wet Snout Milk Stout. Our favorite standby is Four Peaks Brewing Company’s Kilt Lifter.
Three Sisters Market inside the casino offers grab-and-go meals that can be taken into the nightclub. Otherwise, reserve a table at upscale Storytellers steakhouse before the show.
The head honcho says:
“Since our remodel, Dragonfly has turned into a true nightclub experience,” says James Perry, advertising and production supervisor. “We attract people from all over the Verde Valley who want to dance and have a good time.”
The talent says:
“The room itself was beautiful and inviting and the stage is equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system,” says Renee Claybon of the band Diversity. “The engineers really seem to know what they’re doing to help you create the best experience for the ready-to-be-entertained audience.”
Check the casino’s website for themed weekends when the bar offers specialty cocktails. When Phoenix-based jam band Powerdrive comes to town, expect a wild night.
555 Middle Verde Road in Camp Verde; 928-567-7900; www.cliffcastlecasinohotel.com