Wednesday, September 17, 2014

First/Last-Summer Underground

"Grant Carey and Chrissy Sandman began making music as Summer Underground during the summer of 2011 in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Retreating back home after a year of college, the duo recorded their first album, Beneath This City, in their basements and living rooms. Recorded on a macbook with a single microphone, the album was created through trial and error."

Summer Underground is a folk duo originally from Pittsburgh but is now based in New York City. They have a Kickstarter campaign which ends next week to help make their latest album "Honeycomb". I have been a huge fan of these two for a couple of years now and have been patiently waiting until they were ready to be on the blog. I want to finally be able to thank multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Grant Carey and Chrissy Sandman for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Grant Carey: Third Eye Blind's self-titled album.
Chrissy Sandman: Dixie Chicks' “Taking The Long Way”.

Last album bought?
Grant: “Tallahassee” by The Mountain Goats.
Chrissy: “The Moon Rang Like A Bell” by Hundred Waters.

Favorite album of all time?
Grant: Tie between “Boxer” by The National and “Born to Run”.
Chrissy: “Begin to Hope” by Regina Spektor or “Seven Swans” by Sufjan Stevens.

Least favorite album?
Grant: I was expecting more from “Battle Born” by The Killers.
Chrissy: Regina is my girl but I was a little disappointed by how produced “Far” was compared to her more performative earlier albums.

First concert attended?
Grant: My dad is a huge KISS fan so he took me to a show at the Post-Gazette Pavilion when I was nine. Full face make up and everything.
Chrissy: My dad also took me to my first show at the Post-Gazette Pavilion - John Mayer was opening for Sheryl Crow.

Last concert?
Grant & Chrissy: We both actually just went to go see Def Leppard open for KISS in Pittsburgh with Grant's family. Earlier this summer we went to see Andrew Bird in Central Park... quite the contrast!

Favorite concert ever?
Grant: Springsteen.
Chrissy: Most recently, Tycho - amazing beachy visuals were perfectly paired with the music. Sufjan Steven's ‘Age of Adz’ tour where he dressed like a futuristic astronaut and released neon balloons from the ceiling was also great.

Least favorite concert?
Grant: I saw Styx after a Pirates' Game at PNC Park and it was pretty goofy.
Chrissy: Feist getting rained out after one song at Governor's Ball was a bummer. The whole island was a swamp.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Grant & Chrissy: We have spent many fond memories driving in Grant's beat up green van over the many bridges and under the many underpasses in downtown Pittsburgh. For us Pittsburgh has always been home - we met in high school in the South Hills, and have returned here every summer to record  new music. From sneaking around in the South Side as teenagers (we thought we were cool), to food shopping in the Strip, to holding our first jobs (Chrissy worked at the Science Center, Grant at Eleven).... We love the Burgh!

Thanks, guys. How long has it been since I wanted you on the blog? (Answer: Christmas 2012!) So thrilled you are finally on it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

First/Last-Suavity's Mouthpiece

"An experimental, daring, refreshing, sound scape of music...Comparisons to other artists would only rob SM over their unique artistic abilities and expression. They truly are a band that one needs to experience." - Alan Welding (Pittsburgh Music Magazine)

Suavity's Mouthpiece is a Pittsburgh based experimental pop band that has a brand new album, "Peerless Suavity" out today via Purple & Pink Records and they are celebrating tonight at The Union Project with Midge Crickett, The Spectres and Nevhar Anhar. Much thanks to J. Trafford (Guitar/Vocals) and Dick Whiskey (Guitar) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
J. Trafford: My tenure in cassettes surely predates this by many years, but the first disc I can remember purchasing was a low-budget German compilation called “Pop Nuggets”. If you research this double-CD, you will find a shocking smattering of pop artists like Gloria Gaynor, Barry Ryan, The Communards shoved together in the same small room as Elton John for seemingly no reason at all.
Dick Whiskey: Either Green Day's "Dookie" Or The Offspring's "Americana”.

Your last album bought?
Dick: Bryan McPherson “American Boy / American Girl”
J.: Midge Crickett  “A Place to Sit Down”.

Favorite album of all time?
J.: Oohf.. Germanotta’s joint-album with Tony Benefit isn’t out just yet, is it? Oh well, I’ll have to say “Unanswerable Lust” by Luxuria.
Dick: Tom Petty “Wildflowers”.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Dick: Slipknot's "Vol. 3".
J.: I was sufficiently disappointed that Prinzhorn Dance School could not match their first effort. No more really needs to be said.

First concert attended?
J.: Blues Traveler, sometime in the 90s playing Hartwood Acres.
Dick: Mushroomhead at Laga.

Last concert?
Dick: Motley Crue/ Alice Cooper at First Niagara
J.: Blues Traveler, sometime in the 90s playing Hartwood Acres.

Favorite concert ever?
J.: Bob Dylan, in 2000 playing the AJ Palumbo Center. I was so put-out that he was a rickety, incomprehensible shadow of the man who wrote “Tangled Up in Blue,” that I sat down on the floor and pouted for the duration.
Dick: The Annual Mushroomhead Halloween Show.

Least favorite concert?
J.: Come now, does Sleepwalk A Robot REALLY deserve that kind of negative attention?
Dick: I have no earthly idea.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Dick: The DIY Community and local artists in the city.
J.: Sharing a stage with Madame Christiane D will always be a life-highlight. And thank God we were able to put on Moran / Masudi recently.

Thanks, guys. Totally digging what I am hearing of your stuff. Have fun tonight.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

First/Last-Bad Custer

"Chewing bubblegum and rock 'n' roll, and we're all out of bubblegum."

Bad Custer is a Pittsburgh based roots rock trio that aren't afraid to get a little too loud. Find out what I am talking about tonight as the band hits Howlers with End Men and Carney Stomp. My thanks to Jesse Davis (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
“Greatest Surfing Songs” by the Beach Boys. Easily the best album to listen while surfing, if that sort of thing were possible.

Your last album bought?
“Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1”. Replaced a lost copy. It was a good decision.

Favorite album of all time?
Bob Dylan “Live 1966”. This is always a difficult question and, while it's not a studio album, it's probably the one album I've listened to the most. Every single time I hear the audience member call out, "Judas!" at Dylan, and his response of snarling, "I don't believe you, you're a liar," before turning to his band off mic and yelling, "Play fucking loud!" and breaking into a raucous version of ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ I get chills.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Dream Theater. All of it.

First concert attended?
The Beach Boys at Three Rivers Stadium.

Last concert?
The Devil Makes Three. Good stuff.

Favorite concert ever?
Bob Dylan with The Raconteurs in Philadelphia.

Least favorite concert?
Either a band named BJ who spent most of the time drunkenly giving "big ups" to Tommy Maddox, or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I can't decide which was worse.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh has really become a great artistic town and it's awesome to see such a burgeoning music scene happen. There's a lot of great talent and ideas being born here and it's a pleasure to live in a place that has become a city of the sciences with a vibrant art culture.

Thanks, Jesse. That 'Judas' incident is such a great moment in Dylan history... hell, rock and roll history. So great it's actually caught on film.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

First/Last-HughShows 10.8 with Balloon Ride Fantasy

 Balloon Ride Fantasy at The Wilderness Recording Studio presents HughShows Live @ Eide's on Saturday, August 9th, 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

First/Last-Frogbelly and Symphony

"A progressive rock sound echoes in folk landscapes. Urban poetry, pop melodies and repetitive chants cast a rousing wave of contemporary performance. Frogbelly and Symphony take the inspirational tint from centuries of musical repertoires, a universal perception of sound and examine the nature of music with an open door to a new dimension."

Frogbelly and Symphony is a progressive rock band from Brooklyn AND Sheffield, England. They are coming to Pittsburgh this Saturday the 13th at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern on a bill with Thom Hunter and the Rocket Surgeons , Blod Maud, John Kraemer and Mesiko. I want to thank Tom Hanley (Bass/Vocals), Liz Hanley (Keys/Violin/Vocals), Ben Trott (Guitar) and Ray Rizzo (Drums) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Ray Rizzo: I bought The Bay City Rollers first album and “The Monkees’ Greatest Hits” on the same day on vinyl. I was 3. My first cassette purchase was also a milestone and a two-fer: “The Golden Age Of Wireless” by Thomas Dolby and Def Leppard “Pyromania”. First CD was Keith Richard’s late 80's solo album.
Liz Hanley: “Middle of Nowhere” by Hanson and “Tubthumper” by Chumbawumba.
Ben Trott: Michael Jackson “Bad” on tape.
Tom Hanley: Paul McCartney "Flowers in the Dirt". First ever album I bought with my own money was Phil Collins "No Jacket Required", both vinyl.

Your last album bought?
Ray: (From a used bin) Public Enemy “Fear of a Black Planet”, Everly Brothers “Millenium Collection”, Prince “Lovesexy”, Sergio Mendez “Brazil ‘66 Greatest Hits”, Madonna “Like a Prayer”, Buddy Holly “From the Original Master Tapes”, U2 The Unforgettable Fire”, B-52’s “Wild Planet, Ray Charle/Milt Jackson “Soul Brothers Soul Meeting”, “Reggae Reggae Reggae, work song nat adderly, The Billy Taylor Trio “My Fair Lady Loves Jazz”, Buck Owens “Greatest Hits”, all used.
Liz: The last album I bought doesn't yet exist. “Ca$h 4 Gold” by Hank & Cupcakes. I kickstarted them.
Ben: Fleetwood Mac “Rumours” on vinyl.
Tom: Shellac "At Action Park".

Favorite album of all time?
Ray: “The Golden Age of Wireless” by Thomas Dolby.
Liz: “More Adventurous” by Rilo Kiley.
Ben: Tim Edey “Daybreak”. Probably the most influential on my musical career.
Tom: Changes all the time. Right now Ambrosia "Somewhere I Never Traveled" or maybe Tom Huber "Walk Through Echo". The two most influential on my brain: Machine Translations “Happy” and The Beatles “Revolver”.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Ray: Rather not say, it involves friends of mine.
Liz: My least favorite album? I don't know. I don't think about that shit.
Ben: Lau “Race the Loser”. I share the sentiment of a friend of mine: "like a really crappy hand job that goes on for ages but never gets anywhere". Disappointing because their previous albums were much more satisfying.
Tom: Tesla "Five Man Acoustical Jam", quite possibly the worst album ever made.

First concert attended?
Ray: Ozzy Osbourne ‘Bark at the Moon’ tour with Jake E. Lee and Motley Crue opening on their ‘Shout at the Devil’ tour.
Liz: A Christmas concert my dad was fiddling in at a Boston Yacht Club. I was 2 months old. First concert I remember was ‘Peter and the Wolf’ performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Ben: My dad Morris dancing and playing flute somewhere in Kent, maybe Sittingbourne.
Tom: America in Hamburg, Germany at Club Grosse Freiheit.

Last concert?
Ray: Days of the New in Lawrence, Mass.
Liz: Leyla McCalla in Prospect Park, Brooklyn as part of Celebrate Brooklyn.
Ben: Nancy Kerr & The Sweet Visitor Band at Towersey Folk Festival on 24th August.
Tom: Spuyten Duyvil, Alternate Root TV near Boston, MA earlier this month.

Favorite concert ever?
Ray: Prince ‘Lovesexy’, INXS ‘Listen Like Thieves’, Replacements, Midlake.
Liz: My Brightest Diamond at the Haldern Pop Festival in Germany. She was raving about German bread. I cried.
Ben: I don't have an all-time permanent answer for this one, can we include our own? I'm going to say Frogbelly & Symphony when we played at Slothrop's bookshop in Tallinn, Estonia. We had strawberries and did it in the road.
Tom: There are two. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy at Manchester Cathedral UK and Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra & The Tralala Band at Club Knust, Hamburg, Germany.

Least favorite concert?
Ray: Rather not say, it involves friends of mine.
Liz: Damian Marley at the Wanderlust Festival. He was singing about unity and connectivity with his eyes closed. I don't know where he was but he was not in that tent with us connecting. He was somewhere else. It felt very contrived.
Ben: Going to pick one I played in again. In my early days I played in a ska punk band, we played a gig in the basement of a pub in Rotherham. The place was full of chavs, meatheads and druggys. Before we played someone threw one of those everlasting gobstoppers (the fist-sized solid sweets) that hit me on the jaw really hard. We were using their drums and during our last song the kick drum broke free and rolled up to our bass player, who then saw out the song kicking it in time with the music. The last words of our singer into the mic were "Thank you Rotherham, never again!"
Tom: Radiohead at Hurricane Festival, I think in 2002 or so.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Ray: I am a fan of Karl Hendricks and hope he is well. I may have venue names wrong but I have enjoyed performances at City Theatre, Gooskis, and 31st Pub.
Liz: Pittsburgh has the most bridges of any city in the world. Steel and robots come to mind as well. The first time I got drunk with my extended family was in Pittsburgh at my cousin's wedding.
Ben: I've never been before. I would like to meet "Dippy", the 22 foot tall fiberglass diplodocus you have in Pittsburgh. Apparently when it's cold he wears a gigantic scarf.
Tom: In the early 90s all these kids in Europe suddenly started wearing baseball clothes without having the faintest idea what baseball actually was. Pittsburgh Pirates was among the most popular gear. They must have liked the way the 'P' looked, or something. Hmm, otherwise, never been. I'm sure it has a baseball team. I, for my part had a horrendous St. Louis Cardinals denim jacket that was half pink, half indigo. I still don't know where St Louis is, but I sold it for 40 instead of 14 Deutschmarks because the Polish dude who bought it of me thought I said 40. I said 14, Christ' sake! He didn't even make an attempt to haggle...

Thanks, all. I am totally fascinated that your band is made up from members from across the Atlantic Ocean. Talk about a long distance relationship!