Forged from a dangerous combination of modern jazz, iron ore and rabies, Running From Bears came into being after a fateful lightning storm in early summer of 2009 (A.D.) This Phoenix area jazz sextet both thrills audiences with its inventive, complex sound and instills in them an unwavering fear of the bears that continue to roam the earth while fueled by an unquenchable flesh-lust.

How did Running From Bears get its name, you ask? Was it bestowed on them by a gypsy? Did it come to them in a hive mind nightmare? Perhaps it was one of the member’s mother’s Christian names? Wrong, wrong and DEAD WRONG. To these human brothers of jazz, Running From Bears is more than a random name chosen by drunken chance; it’s a life philosophy. Originally a 107-piece orchestra, Running From Bears continues to whittle its sound as North American Grizzlies choose to feast on the souls of its members (referred to simply by the rest of the clan as The Fallen). Perhaps donning performance ensembles made entirely out of fresh fish and honey was to blame. Thus, it is upon the group’s surviving members—alto saxophonist Eric Rasmussen, tenor saxophonist Adam Roberts, tenor and baritone saxophonist Keith Kelly, guitarist Jeff Libman, bassists Andrew Schiller and Ben Hedquist, and drummer Ryan Anthony—to not only evade the blood-thirsty jowls of the forest beasts but avenge the deaths of The Fallen by continuing to deliver unparalleled modern jazz to the ear-holes of adoring audience members.

Running From Bears takes the stage every first and third Monday of the month at The Lost Leaf, which is, of course, well known throughout the Valley of the Sun for its life-giving spirits and biker gang magnetism. You can also see them at various Phoenix area venues and whenever you close your eyes and truly believe.

Before You Attend a Running From Bears Show…

If you’ve attended a Running From Bears show before, you’re well aware of the group’s conventions and, perhaps more the point, the oft-violent consequences of not being in line with the band’s established, rigid regulations. For the unfamiliar, here are a few things to expect from a performance of Phoenix’ hottest jazz group (and 72nd hottest teenage garage band):

• Never look directly at the band while performing, unless you want to bring about a small-scale goblin riot.
• Audience members are highly encouraged to throw their undergarments onto the stage, especially the young, virile men. Bring it (meaning your man-ties) on, gentlemen!
• Yes, Running From Bears does take requests, but only from the Slayer catalog.
• In order to offset its extensive costs (equipment, travel, hair bows), Running From Bears sells merchandise after all its shows. It should be mentioned that, in this case, merchandise means the finest heroin in all the Southwest. And who better to supply you with the White Dragon than jazzmen?
• Be sure to ask for the Running From Bears cocktail, the Salmon Swipe, A powerful elixir made from Old English, Snapple and top-shelf anti-freeze, it’s perhaps best consumed in back alleys between paint-huffing sessions.
• Any attendee who mentions a fondness for bears and bear paraphernalia will be ejected from the show and likely roughed up.
• Please refer to all Running From Bears band members as “your majesty." They are performing in crowns, after all.
• If Keith Kelly breaks out a jazz flute, you know that trouble is on its way.
• The rumors are true; Running From Bears has encrypted its tunes with messages to militia groups. But the content of these messages is largely about the deliciousness of CheetosTM.
• Running From Bears is made possible by equal parts genie wish and thumb war victory.