Stefan Pruett

Stefan Pruett lived in Carefree during his formative years and graduated from Cactus Shadows High School.

When Stefan Pruett died of natural causes in LA in June 2020, his friends and family longed to have a tribute concert featuring music from his projects, Peachcake and The Guidance. 

COVID-19 derailed that, until Saturday, Jan. 15, when his family and musicians will gather at the Crescent Ballroom to celebrate Pruett’s life and music. 

Singing the former Carefree resident’s music are Jessica Biaett, Mike McHale, Michael Kraft, Damien Salamone, Mickey Pangburn, Jason Catlin, Chris Babicke, Johnny McHone, Forrest Kline (from hello goodbye) and Jake Greider. McHale organized the show.

Jeremy Dawson of Shiny Toy Guns will DJ, mashing Peachcake and The Guidance songs. A Claire Slattery and Jes Danz will also spin.

“This is the first and, likely, only tribute concert,” Dawson said. “This is a goodbye show. We were going to do something before in LA, but there was a COVID thing. There’s even a problem with omicron, but we decided to just do it. It’s been over a year.”

All proceeds will benefit Rosie’s House and Heal International.

A 2003 Cactus Shadows High School graduate, Pruett was born with a congenital heart condition, transposition of the great arteries, and survived three open-heart surgeries, starting at age 2 at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Stefan, who moved to Arizona as a youngster with his family, lived with a pacemaker.

According to the Mayo Clinic, transposition of the great arteries changes the way blood circulates through the body, leaving a shortage of oxygen in blood flowing from the heart to the rest of the body. Without an adequate supply of oxygen-rich blood, the body can’t function properly, and a child faces serious complications or death without treatment.

It’s usually detected either prenatally or within the first hours to weeks of life. Corrective surgery soon after birth is the usual treatment for transposition of the great arteries.

The condition pushed him out of basketball and into music, thanks to his mother, Paula Pruett. He was just about to turn the music industry on its head, friends said, as The Guidance when he was found unresponsive in his apartment.  

At the time of Pruett’s death, Tommie Sunshine, who had just signed The Guidance to a record deal, said the musician lived for the moment.

“When things like that happen, you really have to wonder what people know ahead of time,” Sunshine said.

“He was living on borrowed time his entire life. He knew that from the time he was very, very young. He didn’t think he was going to make it out of being a teenager. Every minute of every day was bonus points. He knew it and he lived in such a way that he never made you forget it.

“He made you feel how important life was and how important it was to do the things you want to do and not hesitate. Having somebody around who’s that much a cheerleader is such a positive thing. You really want someone like that in your corner.”

At the Crescent Ballroom, Pruett’s family will display Pruett’s “favorite personal items,” photos, instruments, shoes and hats. The concert will feature video presentations as well. 

Organizers chose to have it in Phoenix because “Peachcake had a good run in Arizona,” Dawson said. “The remaining members are going to perform a set of their music and then different people from different bands around Arizona and other states are flying in to do the vocals.

“It’s going to be intimate, but a celebration at the same time.”

For Dawson, the show allows him to have closure. 

“This gives me the ability to celebrate somebody who I worked with for several years, hung out with, went through all the ups and downs until the unexpected end. 

“Because of COVID, we never got the chance to celebrate his life. There was a private funeral, but that’s not enough. That’s not what Stefan would have wanted. This is what Stefan would have wanted.” 


A Night Celebrating the Life & Music of Stefan Pruett

WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15

WHEN: Crescent Ballroom,

308 N. Second Avenue, Phoenix

COST: $15; 21 and older