Wednesday, April 18, 2018

First/Last - Mike Mains


"Mike Mains and the Branches step into that world to offer a breath of fresh air in the form of eleven shimmering, propulsive indie rock songs. The message of their sophomore full-length, Calm Down, Everything Is Fine, is laid bare right in its title, so take forty minutes with your phone off and your eyes closed to let it sink in." - Troy Sennett Under the Gun

Mike Mains is an indie rock songwriter from Michigan who is kicking off his Spring tour in Pittsburgh tonight (Wednesday, 4/18) at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls behind his sophomore release Calm Down, Everything is Fine. Joining him for support are locals Matthew Maraist and blog faves Ryan Hoffman and the Pioneers. I want to thank Mike for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.



The first album you ever bought?
Hanson - Middle of Nowhere.

Your last album bought?
Big Thief - Capacity.

Favorite album of all time?
Third Eye Blind - Self-Titled.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Brand New - Daisy.

First concert attended?
Leanne Rhymes (Yes, I know I'm a farmer at heart, SUCH a good show though.)

Last concert?
The Weepies.

Favorite concert ever?
The National touring Trouble Will Find Me.

Least favorite concert?
Mickey Avalon (Woof. That was quite a trip I was tricked into watching.)

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Favorite thing about Pittsburg is the friendships we've made in that City. We've had so many fans open their homes to us and those relationships have grown into some great friendships. Pittsburgh people are loyal and tough, which are great traits!

Thanks, Mike. I had to look up Mickey Avalon. Maybe it would have been better if Simon Rex was with him... maybe not?

Monday, April 16, 2018

First/Last - Lindsay Dragan


"Lindsay Dragan is a Pittsburgh-based garage folk artist. You can catch her as a solo act and a full band on local, national, and international stages."

Lindsay Dragan is a singer-songwriter originally from Brooklyn and now residing in Pittsburgh who can be seen out on a regular basis in the flourishing open mic scene in town. Her debut from a few years ago, Be Good to Yourself is a beautiful indie folk pop collection of songs both personal and universal. She is taking part in a very special show tonight (Tuesday, 4/17) at Brillobox supporting ex-Pgh artist and blog fave Roger Harvey as he stops back in town along with his family of songwriter friends for a celebration of his latest release. Seriously, Paul Luc, Emily Rodgers, Anthony Heubel and Chris 2? What a lineup! This is going to be one hell of a show. I want to thank Lindsay for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
Hootie and the Blowfish, Cracked Rear View.

Your last album bought?
I traded a copy of my album with Liv Lombardi for her album, Freedom Girl.

Favorite album of all time?
Fleetwood Mac, either their self-titled or Rumours.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Honestly, if I don't like an album, I just stop listening to it.

First concert attended?
Hanson, on the Middle of Nowhere tour, 1998.

Last concert?
Paul Luc, Bad Seed release, March 2018.

Favorite concert ever?
I'll give you my top three: Feist, Carnegie Music Hall, on the Reminder tour (I think that was 2006 or 2007?); The War on Drugs at Terminal 5 in New York, Sept 2017; Savages at the Mercury Lounge in NY, January 2015.

Least favorite concert?
Wilco. So anticlimactic.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
This sounds so cliché and cheesy, but of the several places I've lived, nothing feels as deeply like home as Pittsburgh. I feel like a part of the land here. Also, raising my daughter in the city has been a pretty awesome experience so far.


Thanks, Lindsay. Shhhh on that Wilco pick. They have some pretty fervent defenders. Personally I love them but I can see how they can be boring to some... or most.

Monday, April 9, 2018

First/Last - Merilette



"Vocally heavy-hitting and thoughtfully written, Mindpaint is a collaboration of personal experiences, collective consciousness, and kinetic synth. It is the perfect mix of a little bit of everything that everyone can relate to in some way, shape or form. Because it is realistic. And it is distinct, yet divergent in the same instance. Because it is Merilette; she embodies every drop of sound that will soak your inner ear as you listen. So enjoy, lovelies; after all, it is about the music, and how it moves you, both literally and figuratively."

Merilette is the stage name for electro-pop songwriter Morgan Graf, who's debut album MindPaint is available now. A native of Texas, Merilette now calls Pittsburgh her home and you can catch her live at a couple upcoming shows including this Thursday (4/12) at The Black Cat Market on behalf of Sexual Violence Awareness Month. She will also be at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls next Tuesday (4/17) opening for LAYNE. I want to thank Merilette for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.



The first album you ever bought?
That would be Dookie, by Green Day!

Your last album bought?
In the present days of streaming, I don't buy many albums, but the last album I bought was Taylor Swift's Reputation.

Favorite album of all time?
The Dark Side of the Moon. I have never felt more spiritual than when I listen to that album. “Us and Them” will always make me cry.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. So much hype, and I just can't get into it.

First concert attended?
That would be again, Green Day. That band is my childhood, the soil that I grew from.

Last concert?
A couple weeks ago, my best friend Livy and I went to see Miranda Lambert. I'm a Texas woman, and will take any chance I get to quench my homesickness. This concert did just that.

Favorite concert ever?
I saw Skinny Lister in Houston about five years ago. That night they were opening for Flogging Molly. Skinny Lister was my favorite band at that time and their cheerful music carried me through my depression, PTSD, self harm, and suicidal ideation. After their incredible performance, I beelined to the merch table to meet them. The frontwoman, Lorna, was there selling merch and taking photos with people. I got to the front of the line and words just started spilling out - I told her how they had saved my life, how their music had been narrowly keeping me from the throes of misery. After the words spilled out, the tears started spilling out. Lorna and I were in this huge venue, with people all around us, hugging each other, crying, and reminding each other that we are loved. I left after that, before Flogging Molly played - I had experienced all I wanted to experience that night.

Least favorite concert?
My least favorite concert was Walk the Moon in Austin, TX. It had nothing to do with the performance - they were great. But it was a huge standing room only venue, I was 60 feet from the stage, and I am short. That's no fun for me. I saw them again at the Greek Theater in LA and THAT was amazing.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I started building my music career in Texas and moved to Pittsburgh a couple years ago. The thing I love about Pittsburgh is the small town feel. The interconnectedness is incredible. Everybody knows everybody. You don't get that where I'm from, because everything is so spread apart. You have to drive at least 30 minutes to get anywhere. If you want to go to another city it takes hours by car. Public transportation doesn't work because of the sprawl. Moving to Pittsburgh rekindled my connection with other human beings and made me feel like I was part of a community - something I had never felt before.

Thanks, Morgan. Wow, that interaction with Lorna sounds incredible. It's always great to hear cool stories of meeting musicians like that but that is an amazing story.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

First/Last - Scenes From a Movie


Scenes From A Movie is a pop rock band from West Virginia who are reuniting for a 10th Anniversary tour to celebrate and play in full their album The Pulse. They hit up Pittsburgh on Wednesday (4/4) at The Smiling Moose. I want to thank Tony Bush (Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
Kris Kross Totally Krossed Out. And not only that, I see to record myself rapping to this album on my tape recorder when I was about 8 years old. RIP Chris Kelly.


Your last album bought?
The last album I bought was Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Starting to see a hip hop theme going.


Favorite album of all time?
What a difficult question! This one took a minute to cycle through. But I think I’ve landed on The Matches Decomposer. And it edges most everything else out because we got to tour with them on the 2007 Warped Tour and they were just the best dudes. And Shawn has such a fucking way with words and ideas that always resonated with me.


Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Elvis Presley… Having fun with Elvis On Stage. “Enough with the funny business man! I’m just tryin' to shake my hips over here.”


First concert attended?
Creed/Three Doors Down. Ode still shreds. Tremonti is a GAWD. Tremonti/Stapp 2020. But only because there was not a ton of hip hop concerts rolling through our area.


Last concert?
I THINK it was the 10 year anniversary of The Question with Emery. But I could be wrong. Oh yes I am wrong. I saw Punchline and Nightbeast over Christmas.


Favorite concert ever?
Every single one that we’ve been fortunate enough to play. But for real, Aerosmith was absolutely top notch. Can’t be my real answer though. Maybe it is?


Least favorite concert?
Every Kris Kross show I was unable to attend. And every time I accidentally saw Escape the Fate perform on Warped tour.


Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
LOVE Pittsburgh. Great city that is on the upswing. Phenomenal food scene. Always been a thriving music scene. Fun fact... Jon, Jared and I have all lived there at different times. And I’m pretty sure we all look back on those times very fondly. Can’t wait to come rip it the fuck up.



Thanks, Tony. I always hate it when I 'accidentally' see a band that I never can forget because of the awfullness. Doesn't happen very often but when it does, it sucks.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

NPR Tiny Desk Contest Pittsburgh 2018




For the third year in a row, NPR is having their Tiny Desk Contest in which any band can submit a video of an original song to win a chance to perform for the wildly popular Tiny Desk Concert. The contest closed on March 25th, 2018
As with past years, Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania (that includes you, WV) is represented with some cool submissions. If I missed your entry, please feel free to contact me as this list will be updated to reflect ones that I have missed.

Monday, March 26, 2018

First/Last - Sadie's Song



"I was born and raised in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, PA. My mother being the largest influence in my life, the CD's she owned and the radio stations she listened to quickly became what I was humming as a child. Stevie Nicks and Jackson Browne were two of the largest influences in my music as an adolescent and as I grew into myself I discovered Folk and Blues music. Janis Joplin, Etta James, and Stevie Nicks became the three power houses I wanted to be. I've always loved a piece of every genre though. The lyrics in Folk, the raw emotion in Blues, the honesty of Country, the sexual nature of R&B, and the excitement of Rock n' Roll. I'll take it all. I try to emulate as mush as I can through my music. I hope you can appreciate my music as much as I've appreciated others."

Sadie's Song is the moniker for songwriter Sadie Freund, who is a regular in the vibrant open mic scene in Pittsburgh. She will be celebrating that scene with a 'solo' show entitled "Feel the Folk" with Sadie and Friends this Thursday (3/28) at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls featuring the Sweaty Already String Band, The Lone Pines, and Luke Sadecky. I want to thank Sadie for taking the the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.




The first album you ever bought?
That would be Celine Dion's Greatest Hits because I knew nothing of good music yet. I was around 10.

Your last album bought?
I rebought Ryan Adams Heartbreaker record for my record player. My old one had been played too many times and was a little scratchy.

Favorite album of all time?
Matchbox Twenty's Yourself or Someone Like You, because I'm a 90's kid I suppose. :)

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
The Head and the Heart's Let's Be Still. I don't like the direction they took their sound, and you can tell they were trying to create something that wasn't honest.

First concert attended?
Tim McGraw was my first ever concert. I was 8 and thrilled.

Last concert?
Tyler Childers in Cleveland. Great show, and good dude.

Favorite concert ever?
Iron and Wine performing at the Carnegie Music Hall. There was something in the air that night other than 90-degree weather with no air conditioning.

Least favorite concert?Toby Keith. He was drunk the whole time, but I went with my mom. She's a huge fan.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
My favorite experiences in Pittsburgh all revolve around music. It's difficult to pick one, because there have been so many shows I've been a part of or been a spectator for that have been a joy to my life.

Thanks, Sadie. I'll give you a pass on Celine Dion since she was ALL over the place when you got the album. PLus you were ten. Believe me, there have been way worse answers than that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

First/Last - Astrology Now


"Ten melodic, lo-fi, psychedelic rock n' roll songs. The album was recorded over the last few years in Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh, PA on a Tascam Portastudio 488 MKII cassette recorder."

Astrology Now is the moniker of Pittsburgh songwriter Greg Mastrean. Gathering together some friends, who happen to be in some of the best indie bands in town, Greg has created a stunning DIY debut entitled Semi-Hollow Review. As with the changing times, you can snag a physical copy on a limited edition cassette along with the standard digital download. I want to thank Greg (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
I grew up listening to a lot of my parents tunes, but the first album I remember having that was mine alone and certainly wouldn’t have been bought or listened to by my parents was Ego Trip, by Kurtis Blow; one of the earliest hip-hop artists. It had absolutely nothing to do with a really, young white kid from the suburbs having any sort of tangible connection to hip-hop culture, it was purely based off of a cut from that record named, “Basketball”. I loved basketball as a little kid and Kurtis Blow name-checked a bunch of NBA stars and referenced alley-oops and slam-dunks, so this obviously was my jam. “Basketball is my favorite sport/I like the way they dribble up and down the court.” Indeed.

Your last album bought?
The last album I purchased was OBN III’s – Live in San Francisco. “Live in San Francisco” is a multi-release set from Castleface Records in LA. Essentially, Castleface records live shows of killer bands and presses them to vinyl… sometimes it’s that easy. They completely RIP!!!! Previous iterations include sets from Thee Oh Sees, White Fence and Destruction Unit. But this one is from rock n’ roll savages OBN III’s. When considering how to transition Astrology Now tunes from a lo-fi, bedroom project to a full-band playing live shows, the Casteface “Live in San Francisco” albums were very inspiring.

Favorite album of all time?
This is tough, but I think I’m going to go with The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Dylan was a big part of my Dad’s vinyl collection, so this was a discovery I made through him. Being one of Dylan’s earlier releases, its sparser, more acoustic and folkier than some of his work that came soon after, but this LP forced me to consider lyrics in a way I hadn’t previously. “Girl From the North Country”, my favorite track, gets me every time.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
When listening to music, I've always been more of an "album" listener than a "song" listener. I enjoy watching bands grow, change and evolve, and I think it's easier to notice when you digest full albums. Having said that, when trying to get into something I haven't heard before, I tend to start with early recordings, then work may way towards newer recordings. Unfortunately, with Iron & Wine, I didn't do that. I was aware of the early Iron & Wine stuff when it came out, but was late to the party in terms of actually listening. I ended up picking up a record that came out maybe five or more years ago and to say that it didn't click with me, is an understatement. I think it had a dog on the cover... just not for me, man.

First concert attended?
I forget the name, but I attended a radio sponsored music festival here in Pittsburgh years ago and it was terrible. I don't remember who the headliner was because I was out of there way early, but I do seem to remember the band Everclear taking part. I recall looking around realizing that hardly anyone was paying attention to the bands or music. Generally, bummer festival crowds like that can bring me down, but it was a no-win situation for all parties involved.

Last concert?
Local show at the Rock Room in Polish Hill. One of my favorite local acts is Bat Zuppel and I really lucked out because somehow I fooled two of them into playing in Astrology Now, too. The full line-up of the show was Zuppel, the Gotobeds (awesome) and B Boys (from NYC).

Favorite concert ever?
At the risk of not being specific enough, how about any Guided by Voices show I've ever seen? Great tunes, great stage presence, great crowd and all around great vibes. To merely say Robert Pollard and GBV were an influence on Astrology Now would also be an understatement. After all, our debut release Semi-Hollow Review was recorded on an old eight track cassette recorder, a decision some of my friends never understood. But they never got into GBV, so I just ignored them.

Least favorite concert?
There was a period in the late 90's when the Fugees, Wyclef Jean and Lauren Hill were doing some interesting stuff. In particular, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was stellar. Anyway, at some point I attended a solo Wyclef Jean show and it was a mess from the start. He would basically start a song, stop halfway through, pick up a guitar, rip a misplaced solo, start freestyle rapping, then cut the song short. I left early.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
As a native Pittsburgher, the growth and changes that are happening in many neighborhoods is very clear. I can completely relate to the apprehensions that come with these type of changes, but I view this evolution positively because of our city's fierce sense of unpretentiousness. Which I love. I expect that the unpretentiousness with which Pittsburghers carry ourselves will never be overshadowed by the negative aspects of gentrification and corporate encroachment.


Thanks, Greg. This is some killer music, man. Congrats on getting it out!

Friday, March 16, 2018

First/Last - Altar Boy


Altar Boy is an emo pop band from Pittsburgh who just released their debut self -titled EP this morning via the fantastic local boutique label Crafted Sounds. They will celebrate with a house show next Saturday (3/24) also featuring Closer (NYC) and fellow locals edhochuli and Space Buns Forever. Seriously, if you ever wanted to experience the vibrant DIY scene going down in Pittsburgh, hit up this gig. I want to thank Jake Doerr (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
Silence in Black and White by Hawthorne Heights. I think I cringe every time I answer this question but, honestly, it's such a good album.

Your last album bought?
A digital copy of Wait For Love by Pianos Become the Teeth. I’m only a week into it, but so far I think it's incredible.

Favorite album of all time?
Bring Me Your Love - City and Colour – HANDS DOWN. No matter what mood I'm in, or what kind of day I'm having I can always go back to that album and find something new to fall in love with.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
YEAH Metallica's self-titled aka The Black Album for sure.

First concert attended?
The first show I ever went to was with a close friend of mine in the eighth grade. We had his mom drop us off at the Altar Bar to catch Horse the Band open for The Chariot, and Norma Jean. It was honestly one of the most incredible things I've ever witnessed. There weren't too many people there; especially for the size of the venue, but that didn't stop K.C. Wolf from hanging from the ceiling and throwing his bass 10 ft. in the air.

Last concert?
I just recently had the opportunity to play with the boys in Rchrd Prkr and it was really sick.

Least favorite concert?
One time I went up to Penn State main to see MGMT and they were pure trash live. I did get some pretty good take out that night though, so It ended up being a decent little trip.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is a really dynamic city, man. There's something here for everyone to appreciate and get into with passion – I really love that about this city. Most of the local shows here have a charisma and energy that you don't really see all that often. It's all about getting together with your friends having a good time and meeting new people to share life with. I don't think that I would be who I am today without the friends that I've met playing music in Pittsburgh over the years and I cannot express how grateful I am for that.

Thanks, Jake. Fantastic thoughts on this scene we have here, man. We get out of it what we put in and the foundation is to have fun doing it. After that, the good will come.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

First/Last - Merrow


Image courtesy Merrow

"Merrow is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has been writing and performing her entire life, starting with piano and voice and then recently adding guitar, bass, and drums into the mix. In 2017, she started testing out original music in front of audiences, and the project took off much faster than anticipated. Her debut show at the former James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy with Nashville artist Lydia Brittan led to more gigs such as opening for The Beauty Slap at a For the People event and landing a spot on a Redfishbowl lineup at Olive or Twist."

Merrow is the stage name of Pittsburgh indie soul singer-songwriter Molly Cavanaugh, who is relatively new to the local scene but has enthusiastically jumped in with a positive and collaborative spirit. As she works on releasing debut music, you can catch her perform next on Friday, April 6th for ZAM First Fridays at Mixtape. I want to thank her for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
This one was tough because in middle school, everyone would burn each other CDs. Somewhere in there I think I bought Chroma by Cartel.

Your last album bought?
Notion by Tash Sultana. She's a monster, it's been on repeat.

Favorite album of all time?
The impossible question. I usually go with White Lighter by Typhoon. Mostly for sentimental reasons, but it's also just a damn good album.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
The last Bahamas album. Barchords got me through some tough times, but this one had some real questionable choices...

First concert attended?
Kenny Chesney concert in middle school. I am from a very small town (two stop lights and a feed store kind of small) in Western PA so it was just expected. I remember the opening artist complained about everyone still tailgating in the parking lot during his set.

Last concert?
Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote performing solo in Philadelphia last fall. I stood right in front of her, two rows back. It was unbelievable.

Favorite concert ever?
I'd have to go with the Nai Palm show for this as well. Two of the openers were lesser known but local to Pennsylvania, but they were extremely talented and the audience was engaged from the start. It was all very intimate and raw, which was really nice to experience.

Least favorite concert?
Transiberian Orchestra... Sorry. I could not get out of there fast enough.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Man, I've been here since 2010 when I moved for college so narrowing it down is tough.
Watching my friends take huge strides in the music scene, bringing in incredible acts, starting killer bands, writing dope music.
Being able to go to James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy any night and knowing at least one person there who would have a drink with you.
Grand opening for The Stage at Karma, mostly because everyone just moved the hang from James St to that spot, and it's when I felt the most like I was part of the community.
Finding the local spots with pool, darts, and cheap whiskey.
Living in the North Side, biking the North Shore river trail with my pup (especially biking to the bar to watch the pens win the cup in '16).
Mostly, watching and being a part of Pittsburgh's struggles and fight to improve. We have issues, but the people in this city represent a beautiful mix of creativity, forward-thinking, and old-fashioned, blue-collar hard work. I think it's only up from here.


Thanks, Molly. It is always great to see fresh faces emerge on the Pittsburgh music scene. I love your attitude as well, which is always welcome!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Deutschtown Music Festival Band Submission 2018


If you would like to be considered to play this year at the Deutschtown Music Festival, please submit here by Saturday, March 17th.
The two day, all free festival takes place on Pittsburgh's historic Northside on Friday and Saturday, July 13 & 14, 2018.

Monday, March 12, 2018

First/Last - Chip & The Charge Ups

 Image courtesy Chip

"Chip & The Charge Ups is the new power pop band from internationally-known and Pittsburgh-based recording artist, Chip DiMonick.  Taking cues from a diverse array of power pop luminaries such as Green Day, The Ramones, and Marvelous 3/Butch Walker to name a few, Chip & The Charge Ups are ready to deliver an eclectic and electrifying experience to music fans world wide."

Chip & The Charge Ups is blasting onto the Pittsburgh music scene this year with an in your face power pop sound featuring catchy hooks courtesy of longtime Pittsburgh stalwart punk rocker Chip DiMonick. The band will make their live debut at the Second Annual Millvale Music Festival on May 12th at the Strange Roots Experimental Ale Stage at 4pm. They will be releasing two EP's starting later this year but you can actually hear new music starting next week (3/20) via the band's Patreon Page. I've heard some and it's really good! I want to thank Chip (Guitar/Lead Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
Yikes!  I think it may have been either Colour By Numbers by Culture Club or Business As Usual by Men At Work. Could have been Michael Jackson's Thriller. I know for sure my first cassette was Led Zeppelin IV, bought when I actually knew I had a passion for music and to keep definitive track of such things.

Your last album bought?
Vale by Black Veil Brides.

Favorite album of all time?
Twelve-way tie between Led Zeppelin II, Blizzard of Ozz by Ozzy Osbourne, Appetite For Destruction by Guns-N-Roses, ...And Justice For All by Metallica, Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz by Pretty Boy Floyd, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich by Warrant, Black Out In The Red Room by Love/Hate, Wasted in America by Love/Hate, Let's Rumble by Love/Hate, Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette, Sycamore Meadows by Butch Walker and The Strange Case of... by Halestorm.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Chinese Democracy by Guns-N-Roses. It's not that it was that bad. But after what? Waiting 17 years for one of the most iconic rock bands in a generation to release an album? I think, along with the rest of the world, I was hoping for a timeless classic but didn't get it.

First concert attended?
Cinderella & Kix.

Last concert?
Anti-Flag on February 10, 2018.

Favorite concert ever?
You're gonna hate me, but I have another multi-way tie. Motley Crue/Warrant (‘Feelgood’ tour), Metallica (‘Justice’ tour), Marilyn Manson (‘Mechanical Animals’ tour), Shinedown/Saliva/Halestorm 2009, Uproar Festival 2010, and Carnival of Madness 2013.

Least favorite concert?
When I was in college at Duquesne University, they brought in the Gin Blossoms to play the Palumbo Center. It was only $3 for students. It was the worst $3 I ever spent. I had only been to metal concerts up 'til that point. And I was shocked at how lame a concert and its attendees could be when there wasn't a metal band on stage!

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I love many things about Pittsburgh, but mostly my fellow yinzers. We all seem to be happy here, like there's no other place in the world we'd rather be. A high percentage of my friends that do leave end up coming back. For all that we have to complain about: weather, tunnel and bridge traffic, the limitations of the music scene... we stay here. And I think it's because, deep down, we know that Pittsburgh is the best place to live if you wanna be surrounded by the best people on the planet.

Thanks, Chip. Seriously, I get dibs on the band name, Twelve Way Tie!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

First/Last - Good Sport

"As for the name Good Sport: “There’s not a specific purpose behind it. I really like sports so maybe that fed into it but I doubt it. I just kinda thought it was a cool name.” - Cindy Howes WYEP 

Good Sport is a Pittsburgh based electro lazy pop band from songwriter Ryan Hizer. With a few self produced releases under his belt, Ryan is starting to perform out live with a band as he explains this week as the featured artist for the Local 913 at WYEP. I want to thank Ryan (All Instruments/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
Probably an MTV Party to Go compilation full of singles I liked. The first real album was either Dangerous by Michael Jackson or Totally Krossed Out by Kris Kross.

Your last album bought?
The Ann Steel Album by Roberto Cacciapaglia.

Favorite album of all time?
Impossible to give a real answer, but for now I'll say A Wizard, a True Star by Todd Rundgren.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
The new Justin Timberlake album really disappointed me. He's usually good for a handful of jams, but the whole thing is butt. I like Justin Timberlake, bummed me out.

First concert attended?
Not counting local punk shows, Weezer at Mellon Arena.

Last concert?
Tyler Childers.

Favorite concert ever?
Either Guided by Voices or Grizzly Bear. Grizzly Bear is one of the most surprisingly gifted bands I've ever seen.

Least favorite concert?
My high school girlfriend took me to a Dave Matthews Band concert, that was pretty tough.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I love Pittsburgh. I've only been musically active here for two years, but I've met a ton of great artists, collaborators, and lifelong friends. The arts community in Pittsburgh is so welcoming and supportive. I feel like an active participant, which is all I can ask for. Very happy to be here.


Thanks, Ryan. As for your last concert, you can certainly count punk shows, especially if they are local bands. There is some great music and energy going down in Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

First/Last - Matthäus


"Matthäus began as a project of composer Ben Montalbano of Chicago, Illinois. With strong roots in folk and bluegrass as well as a music conservatory education, Montalbano started writing simple songs that served as templates to experiment with orchestration. As the songs began to take more form, Montalbano enlisted an array of like-minded artists to record and perform. After a debut performance featuring a nine-piece ensemble, the group has continued to play with the size-and makeup of the group. Performances have consisted of Montalbano solo, as well as numerous combinations of instrumentalists. With their debut EP currently in the works, Matthäus has expanded to a collective collaboration, allowing further avenues of influence."

Matthäus is a chamber-folk band from Chicago who are touring behind their debut EP from last Spring entitled Effigy. The band make stop in Pittsburgh for the first time this Thursday (3/8) at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls with local support from Ancient History. I want to thank Justin Peters (Vibraphone/Aux Percussion), who also takes on drum duties this tour, for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.




The first album you ever bought?
This is a funny one, but it was the Rugrats in Paris Soundtrack. It featured such great hits as “Who Let the Dogs Out” by Baha Men.

Your last album bought?
Cardinal by Pinegrove on vinyl.

Favorite album of all time?
Such a tough one to answer. It's definitely always changing, but I think I'd have to go with Canopy Glow by Anathallo. It's this really beautifully crafted album that has a really nice balance of intricate composition, catchy hooks, lyricism, amazing orchestration... It really gave me a new perspective on what you could do as a songwriter.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I grew up totally in love with the band Incubus. Over the years, I've really fallen out of love with them for various reasons, but each time they put out a new record, I give it a try, for old time's sake. Their most recent album, 8 truly is the final nail in the coffin for me.

First concert attended?
My parents took my brother and me to a Dave Matthew's Band concert when I was about 10, 11. I fell asleep somewhere in the middle, woke up again, and they were still playing.

Last concert?
Most recently, I saw this incredible percussionist Hamid Drake at Constellation in Chicago. He opened his set with an incredibly enlightening discussion about his personal relationship to faith, his travels, and his studies of different faith systems around the world, followed by a nearly 90-minute long improvisation on drum set.

Favorite concert ever?
I got to see McCartney a few years back with a ton of my friends, and it completely blew me away. Total showman, playing the songs I grew up loving.

Least favorite concert?
Another one my parents took me to... Earth Wind & Fire with Chicago. Each set was all of their 80’s ballads and deep cuts, which as a 15-year-old kid, I didn't have any patience for. The encore was killer though; they played all the hits together, but man, that first 2 hours was brutal.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
This will be my first time there! Super excited to see the city, and get to share the stage with some local musicians.

Thanks, Justin. Once again, add another McCartney show to the fave concert list.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

First/Last - sluggs


Head collage courtesy sluggs faces

sluggs is an indie rock band from Pittsburgh on Wild Kindness Records who are no strangers to the local DIY scene. People sometimes ask me what is the DIY scene. Easy answer? Hit up the band's next show on Saturday, March 31st as part of Pitt Fest 2018 and all your questions will be answered. I want to thank Benjamin Truckenbrod (Drums) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.



The first album you ever bought?
With my own money... it was U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

Your last album bought?
Homeshake - Fresh Air... I don't buy too many albums these days :)

Favorite album of all time?
So hard to choose! Weird Al – Poodlehat.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Lotus - Eat the Light. I like disco, but this album could change my opinion pretty quickly.

First concert attended?
With my own money... Green Day on the ‘21st Century Breakdown’ tour. My parents took me to shows far before that though...

Last concert?
Dan Koshute, Slugss, Rachel Lynn. I'm pumped to go see the Honey name change show with Astrology Now and String Machine.

Favorite concert ever?
Paul McCartney Bonnaroo 2013. Tears.

Least favorite concert?
Black Keys opened for The Flaming Lips... I had a really bad seat at Consol.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Running a house venue in South Oakland and being a part of the DIY scene!!

Thanks, Benjamin. That particular McCartney show has been mentioned on these Q&A's a few times over the years. I have seen video of it but that must have been something to be there.