Nine Questions

Tony Ford

The old Mountain Oyster Club hasn't been the same since Tony Ford and his wife, Vanessa Ford, opened Maker House last year. The collaborative workspace for artists joined other downtown DIYer spaces, such as CoLab and Xerocraft Hackerspace. There are classes at the old 283 N. Stone Ave. mansion, as well as food and craft beers, and a concert series in the courtyard. Ford told the Weekly he's pulled back from Maker House, however, and is working with Startup Tucson to launch Thryve Next, an SBA-funded accelerator program that will help businesses in Tucson grow to create more jobs in our economy. More information can be found at and for more on Maker House, go to

—Mari Herreras,

What was the first concert you attended?

The first one I ever attended on my own would be Billy Joel with Elton John.  "And So it Goes" was "our" song for myself and my girlfriend. Twenty-two years later, we're still married.  So, I'd say the concert was a good plan.  

What are you listening to these days? Louis Prima, Gangsta Grass, Old school Fleetwood Mac from their Blues Jam days, and jazz standards performed by my daughter, who has a real talent, even if she hasn't admitted it to herself yet.

What was the first album you owned?

"Thriller," on cassette. I was 7. I also got my first taste of brilliant voice over work. Vincent Price's voice was as impressive as Jackson's performance to me. It makes sense I ended up working in radio.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone seem to love, but you just don't get?

That list would be too long to publish. I don't listen too much in the way of popular music. I am also not hip enough to know about that band I have probably never heard of. I am, however, overjoyed to see that direct-to-fan has allowed for the full weird micro-segments of narrow interest music to blossom and find both an audience and potentially some level of economic reward.   Viva technology.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Otis Redding. If we could give back decades of over-produced pop to get just a few more months of Otis, it would be a good trade. .

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Bad TV. I used to seek it out. I was fascinated by the Rural Farm Network's antique tractor parade,  Spanish language talk shows that mix Jerry Springer with reality game shows,  the weirdest niche cable programming like re-runs of a regional polka show or shows about gold prospecting ( not the hits from reality TV—the low-budget stuff). Did you know you can watch nuns pray the rosary on TV for long periods of time? We had to kill the cable off, it wasted too much time.  

What song would you like to have played at your funeral?

Bagel Man by Crawdaddy-O. It seems odd. But that was our closing song on the jukebox at Maker House. We started that song, and the customers in the bar started hauling trash and putting up chairs. People did not just leave, they pitched in, because it was THEIR place and they were a part of it. Every night we did that, it reminded me that we had created something special. It was a community, not just a business. It is something I am incredibly proud to be a part of.  

Also, I think the New Orleans tradition of a brass band second line striking up after burial is brilliant. The dance party back from the cemetery seems fitting to celebrate the life of the deceased and the joy of living. So, it would be a local band, NOLA tradition, great music, and representative of one of the purest, most important things I have ever been a part of.

What artist changed your life and how?

Most recently the poem "Japanese Maple" by Clive James brought me to a life changing halt and reassessment.   I realized that the only difference in our mortality was that he suspected his death would be soon and I simply did not know when mine would be. Reading that poem through the eyes of someone who might in fact have only the next season as he expected, I recognized that I was not doing a great number of the things that brought me joy. So, I decided to refocus on the things that bring me joy as if that poem was my reality.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

The Rat Pack live at the Sands September, 1963.  It captures both the polished perfection of professionals at the peak of their game and the easy back-and-forth of friends and colleagues who can improv and joke with each other because of deep connections and experience with each other onstage and off. It is less a show than a glimpse into the group dynamic. While it includes a clear time capsule of the civil rights and racial issues of the time, the back and forth of those issues is also a small clue to what was really an intentional  and strategic push by artists to fundamentally change society through their work. Plus, it really swings.