In honor of Music Month, we’ve gathered some of our favorite songs by our favorite bands. It just so happens that these bands reside right here in Arizona – when they aren’t touring the globe, that is. By elevating Arizona to international levels, these home-grown musicians are taking the multifaceted culture of our community on the road and showing the realness of Arizona on a world stage. From Cumbia to Blues to Afrobeat to Mariachi to Mambo, check out what amazing talents we have right here in the Grand Canyon state. Take a listen and find out how these Arizona bands are reinventing vintage sounds through original compositions in order to create an alchemy of tradition mixed with innovation. The best part is that we can catch all of these bands playing live shows in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff. So whether you buy a ticket to their next European show or get out and dance to the following songs at a local venue, make sure to show these incredible Arizona musicians some love.
Arizona bands

Orkesta Mendoza with Salvador Duran: Caramelos
We love Orkesta Mendoza and Salvador Duran so much, we would fly, sail, or hitchhike to to the ends of the earth in order to see them play. Lucky for us, this incredible Tucson-based band frequently makes stops at home. Don’t be caught without their latest album, ¡Vamos a Guarachar! – a staple of any record collection.
Las Chollas Peligrosas: The Witch
Our newest favorite! All-female Phoenix quintet, Las Chollas Peligrosas blend multiple genres to reinvent traditions and honor heritage. From Rancheras to Mariachi to Cumbia with a little Old World Gypsy Folk for good measure, Las Chollas are creating a sound that no other group can match.
“Each member of Las Chollas Peligrosas have arrived from different musical journeys, but share a love for this music and the power it has to unite the community and communicate the voice of the people for positive change.” -Las Chollas Peligrosas
XIXA: Shift & Shadow
Tucson favorite, XIXA infuses the grandeur of the Sonoran desert with dust, heat and concrete in their original music. Originating from the Tucson indie rock scene, XIXA incorporates traditional Cumbias with electronica, psychedelica, blues and rock. Founding members, Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan lead listeners on an unexpected desert journey through the beauty and eeriness of the American southwest.
“The desert has a frequency, a sound you can hear in the wilds around. XIXA tunes in and warps it, in glittering, gritty psychedelic cumbia tracks on their debut album, Bloodline (Barbès Records/Glitterhouse Records, February 2016), an expansion on their recent EP Shift and Shadow.” -XIXA
Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra: Catchu
Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra (PAO) continues the tradition of the great Fela Kuti and Tony Allen, originators of Afrobeat. Featuring Camille Sledge on lead vocals, this 16-piece orchestra incorporates some of the very best musicians in Phoenix. PAO stays true to Afrobeat roots while also creating an abundance of original material. Check out their NPR Tiny Desk performance of Catchu, (above) it will blow you away.
The Sugar Thieves: The World Keeps Spinnin’
The always charming Sugar Thieves bring us to the end of our list. Lead vocalists Meridith Moore and Mikel Lander infuse soul into their original compositions with mystery and grace. A staple of the Phoenix music culture since 2006, the Sugar Thieves are wise beyond their years. Traveling around the world, spreading meat-shaking joy to international crowds, this band is one of the best of all time. The Sugar Thieves have shared the bill with greats including Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, The Flaming Lips, The Blues Brothers, Lucinda Williams, Robert Cray and more. We’re always fortunate to catch this awesome band when they’re back home in Arizona.
With so many great Arizona bands to choose from, it is hard to narrow the field. Catch all five of these local bands in action across the state. As a convenience, Bookmans offers ticket sales for concerts, but the real musical fun happens for free in our stores and at events we sponsor. We hope you enjoy picks for best Arizona bands and we want you to to add your selections. Advocate for your favorite local band in the comments!