Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First/Last-Heather Kropf


“I think I’ll be someone I’ve never been before,” sings Heather Kropf in “Sweet Liberty,” one of the key tracks on Chrysalis. The album is the Pittsburgh-based singer/songwriter’s fourth long-player, but in many ways it feels like a debut release. There’s a sense of transformation and new possibility pouring out of these tracks, heard in both the songs and the sound of the recording itself. Heather sings of change, healing and redemption with a voice tempered by experience and inspired by hope. It marks a breakthrough for her both personally and artistically." - Barry Alfonso

Heather Kropf is a Pittsburgh based singer-songwriter who's latest album is entitled, "Chrysalis". You can hear selections from it as she performs Wednesday at the Pittsburgh Mennonite Church with fellow local Brad Yoder and Allie Farris of Nashville. I want to thank Heather for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

First album ever bought?
Sting “Dream of the Blue Turtles”.


Last album bought?
Meshell Ndegeocello “Comet, Come to Me”.


Favorite album of all time?
This is an impossible question! Different albums are favorites and different times in my life. I'd say favorites include Joni Mitchell's "Hissing of Summer Lawns", Kate Bush's "The Sensual World", Miles Davis "Kind of Blue", Lizz Wright's "Dreaming Wide Awake" and Simon & Garfunkel's "Bookends" but there are so many others that are often on my playlist.


Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I can't say I've ever been let down by the music of people I admire so I can't really say.


First concert attended?
It's weird but I can't remember. It might have been Tracy Chapman, or else it was Anderson, Buford, Wakemen and Howe.


Last concert?
Well the last non-local concert was Maxwell at Heinz Hall. Locally it would have been the 2nd Annual Deutschtown Music Festival.


Favorite concert ever?
This is another impossible question, but I can point to a few transcendent moments: Meshell Ndegeocello on tour with her “Peace Beyond Passion” album. Incredible! K.D. Lang was superb, the 70th birthday tribute concert last year for Joni Mitchell at Massey Hall in Toronto was out of this world. They played obscure songs that I never in my life thought I'd hear live. I saw The Replacements final concert in Grant Park in Chicago, and I remember being pretty swept away by a Morphine concert at Metropol. Finally, I had a chance to be sitting about 20 feet from Brian Blade at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild for a Joshua Redman concert. I was transfixed by a drummer and before that evening I had never paid any attention to a drummer. That whole night just blew my mind.


Least favorite concert?
I must block out bad memories or something because I can't recall any outstanding moment of horrible-ness. I've seen some seriously dud local shows but that's O.K. I saw David Poe melt down from a heckler. That was super uncomfortable. And Mark Eitzel, who is so amazing, drank himself into a stupor during a show at The Rosebud. If his songs weren't already soaked in beautiful boozey melancholy it would have been impossible. So it wasn't a least favorite, but it was one of those sad moments.



Favorite thoughts/experiences about Pittsburgh?
I moved here after college and it's been both a charming and frustrating experience living here. What I love most is how real this place is. What you see is what you get. I love that there are so many opportunities to play music and get better. And my experience has been that the music community is essentially collaborative instead of competitive and that helps me keep on keeping on. Music isn't a contest. It's art and soul and we're all human. In that sense Pittsburgh is a gem and I'm really lucky to have made this place my home.


Thanks, Heather. I have to agree that this music community we have here is so supportive and vibrant. I just love that aspect of what is going on in Pittsburgh.



First/Last-Allie Farris


 "At the age of 15, while still in high school, Allie Farris formed her first band and begun playing small coffee shops and venues around her hometown of Flower Mound, Texas. In the fall of 2007, Allie made her first live studio recording at the Dallas Sound Lab, which was released the following May(“Songs Written Upside Down“). In 2008 through early 2009, Allie performed at well-known Dallas venues like Six Flags Over Texas, the Brooklyn Jazz Cafe, Dunn Bros. Coffee, and the Maximedia Studios Live Soundstage. She also won first prize in the Gorilla Productions Battle of the Bands, earning the opportunity to record a full album at the prestigious Maximedia Studios of Dallas. The Album, All You Can Eat, was released in June of 2009. Allie Farris (age 21) moved to Nashville, Tennessee in January 2011 to begin her life as a full-time singer/songwriter. She has already had the opportunity to perform in Nashville venues like Hotel Indigo, Pick’s in Nashville, and the Vanderbilt Hotel. She is currently working on her new EP recording in Nashville, to be released in early 2012."

Nashville based singer-songwriter Allie Farris heads to Pittsburgh on Wednesday in support of her new "EP" to play the Pittsburgh Mennonite Church along with locals Heather Kropf and Brad Yoder. I want to thank her for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Barenaked Ladies single ‘One Week’.


Your last album bought?
Rufus Wainwright "Want One".


Favorite album of all time?
The Jayhawks "Rainy Day Music".


Least favorite/most disappointing album?
When I bought a Herb Alpert album on vinyl at Goodwill, got home and there was a different, less-good album inside it.


First concert attended?
Backstreet Boys Millenium Tour.


Last concert?
PHOX.


Favorite concert ever?
Seeing Ben Folds on Halloween night in Fort Worth, Texas, 2006.


Least favorite concert?
A hard rock band that I can't remember the name of that I saw in high school. I got pulled into the mosh pit, where I almost broke my leg and had to be lifted out by my hair.


Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
My friend Brad Yoder took me on a sightseeing excursion overlooking Pittsburgh. It's a beautiful city. I also love the co-op grocery close enough to his house that I can walk.

Thanks, Allie. I assume you picked up the new 'deluxe version' of the recently released, "Rainy Day Music"? Such an underrated album.


Monday, July 28, 2014

First/Last-Cheers Elephant


"Dubbed, “Chew it up, Spit it out, Rock and Roll”, Cheers Elephant is a tight, rootsy, psychedelic poprock quartet from Philadelphia, PA... now SoCal. Digging deep into three part harmonies and pop song arrangements, Cheers has a sound that’ll make your dad’s toe tap, your mom’s hip shake, and your sister’s heart throb. And the live show? Some say it's something close to the devil, God, or cocaine."

The SoCal pop-rockers hit up The Smiling Moose on Wednesday for the all-ages EARLY show. My thanks to Jordan del Rosario (Lead Guitar/Vocals) for taking a minute to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Alanis Morissette "Jagged Little Pill".

Your last album bought?
of Montreal "Lousy with Sylvianbriar".

Favorite album of all time?
Paul McCartney "Ram".

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Paul McCartney "New".

First concert attended?
Reel Big Fish.

Last concert?
Tame Impala.

Favorite concert ever?
The Flaming Lips.

Least favorite concert?
Lynyrd Skynyrd.



Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
We love Pittsburgh. Every time we play there it’s a different venue. I’m sure The Smiling Moose will be the best yet.

Thanks, Jordan. Totally diggin' your music, man.  I am really looking forward to the show.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

HughShows T-Shirts are HERE


To commemorate a decade of SUPPORTING PITTSBURGH MUSIC, these shirts will be available for a limited time only. Utilizing the amazing artwork designed by Pittsburgh legend Budai exclusively produced for the occasion, these particular shirts will never be offered after this run. Show your pride for the local music scene.

Order now at the links below before it's too late!




First/Last-Jeremy Caywood


"Pittsburgh based Singer/Songwriter expanding abilities. Growing in knowledge of music and understanding of writing. It is something we all do in our own ways. Progress.
A passionate performance of original interpretation. Music is something that is to bring us peace.
Collaborating is a unifying piece to existence."


Jeremy Caywood is in the last days of his Kickstarter campaign to produce his first solo record, "Last Ticket to Heaven". Throw him a few bucks by this Friday to pre-order the record and help 'Support Pittsburgh Music'! I want to thank him for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
"Take Off Your Pants and Jacket" Blink-182. My parents were so proud.

Your last album bought?
"The Peoples Key" Bright Eyes. Released a few years back but haven't purchased a disc in a while.

Favorite album of all time?
"I'm Wide Awake It's Morning" Bright Eyes. Gave me the inspiration to follow my own songwriting path.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
A difficult choice... because I truly do enjoy most music I listen to, however the performer, The Tallest Man on Earth who has released a few records had one in his mix that disappointed me. Titled "Shallow Grave", the album offers more technical guitar performance but the vocal was lost for me. Taught me a lesson: don't smoke cigarettes kids!

First concert attended?
First concert I ever attended was I believe an *NSYNC concert back in elementary school... so for the sake of it, I'll reference the Blink-182 final tour before their official break up. Right after their self-titled album and Travis Barker popped up out of the ground to give a 20 minute drum solo… after which I caught a drumstick he threw into the crowd.

Last concert?
Last concert I went to was the Conor Oberst with Dawes show at the Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead. He taught me so much about music and life and performance and existence, seeing him live for the second time topped the first and truly showed a growth of an individual.

Favorite concert ever?
Favorite concert... just one?! Conor Oberst with Dawes at the Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead, Bruce Springsteen at the Civic Arena, and Simon and Garfunkel Reunion tour 1 back in the early 00's, if I remember correctly. They played at the Civic Arena and I knew my calling.

Least favorite concert?
This is a hard one. I can only say this because the next time I saw them they were 100 times better, Coheed and Cambria with Avenged Sevenfold back in 2010? At the Chevy Amphitheater, they had no life in comparison to their recordings. The other time I caught them in Chicago, incredible!


Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
My favorite thoughts about Pittsburgh are often location based, Mt. Washington view, the ever growing arts and food services, knowing I grew up here. Favorite experiences… more are always occurring. The first and second annual 3 Hour Rock tour on the Gateway Clipper hosted by Round Black Ghosts and Chet Vincent and the Big Bend, The Pittsburgh Arts Fest has always stuck out in my mind, as well as the community I am privileged to share and be a part of here in Pittsburgh. A growing songwriter community. Stellar friends who are all around me. A good family. Pittsburgh is home.

Thanks, Jeremy. Would really love to see you reach the goal, man.