Pandy Raye's guitar - a Gibson J-200 - is so nice that guys sometimes approach her about it."They'll say, 'Wow, that's a cool guitar. Do you really know how to play it?' And my response to that is, 'Hmmm. Would you even ask a guy with a guitar that question?'" says the 49-year-old guitarist for local band Rondavous.
Pandy Raye's guitar - a Gibson J-200 - is so nice that guys sometimes approach her about it.
"They'll say, 'Wow, that's a cool guitar. Do you really know how to play it?' And my response to that is, 'Hmmm. Would you even ask a guy with a guitar that question?'" says the 49-year-old guitarist for local band Rondavous.
It's that kind of guff, says Raye, that led her and former Help Me Rhonda lead vocalist Rhonda Hitchcock to form AZ Chicks with Picks, a grass-roots collaborative that celebrates the state's female musicians. The group's music festival is 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday at Tempe Beach Park, and among the more than 50 artists playing are Sedona-raised pop star Michelle Branch, country newcomer Sarah Buxton, singer-songwriter (and Waylon Jennings' widow) Jessi Colter, and AZ Idol Bethany Wright.
The event is designed to give women who rock a place to show off their musical chops.
"I think sometimes people have this idea that we're going to be singing about flowers and rainbows or something, but there's some serious songwriting and guitar-playing going on out there among women," says Raye, who's performed since age 8. "The talent we have here is amazing."
Raye and Hitchcock, 36, founded AZ Chicks with Picks 15 months ago as a way of showcasing women artists through weekly performances at venues like Buffalo Chip Saloon, Aunt Chilada's, Joe's Grotto and Pranksters Too. But the response, says Raye, has been overwhelming. Seventy-five artists have joined the group, and the pair have had to turn away requests from musicians in Los Angeles and other cities hoping to get in on the landmark Tempe festival.
The effort, says Raye, has touched a chord. "There's just something that happens, a feeling, when we're all in a room, focused on the music. It's hard to explain, but there's just a common thread."
It's something not only women can plug into.
"We don't have a chip on our shoulders, and we're not anti-guy, believe it or not," laughs Raye. "We just noticed, through our own journey coming up on the music scene, that there's a little bit of different stuff women sometimes have to deal with. We just wanted to get really talented women together who really want to play good music, and everybody likes good music."