Friday, February 9, 2018

First/Last - Gina Zo


"Gina Castanzo, who goes by her stage name, Gina Zo, is a singer-songwriter from West Chester, Pennsylvania. Gina competed on Season 10 of the NBC’s singing competition The Voice, performing on Blake Shelton's team. "

Gina Zo is an indie pop singer-songwriter from Philadelphia who recently filmed the video to her single "Grouplove" right here in Pittsburgh. The song is the lead off track off her sophomore album Free Your Soul released last year. I want to thank Gina for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
Stevie Nicks, The Wild Heart. That is also my earliest memory with music: dancing in the basement of my grandparents’ home while my grandmother used a flashlight to pretend it was a strobe light while I danced around the basement to "Wild Heart".


Your last album bought?
Zella Day's Kicker album. The last album I downloaded which is my general form of getting my music these days was Allan Rayman's Courtney EP. He is my favorite mix of R&B and Nirvana.

Favorite album of all time?
John Mayer's The Search for Everything. John Mayer's lyrics in any of his albums resemble the truest feelings of the human heart. He holds the words that you always wanted to say but could never get out. Specifically his song "You're Live Forever In Me" is stunningly brilliant in it's simplicity.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I honestly do not have a least favorite album. I seem to always find a song I like on every album I listen to, no matter what genre. I believe that every album was written with an honesty and a purpose and with that should be able to be given respect for the words written.

First concert attended?
I was 10 and saw the Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds Tour. I remember she had a body double for her Hannah Montana character and then came out as Miley Cyrus and I was literally shocked... definitely an amazing concert and I was totally that screaming fan in the nose bleed seats.

Last concert?
Coldplay. You cannot get much better than Coldplay for a concert. They packed Lincoln Financial Field. The pyrotechnics and graphics were absolutely incredible. When they played "Yellow" I was in tears.

Favorite concert ever?
Florence and The Machine. The way she can command an audience is absolutely incredible. I was third row to that show and I just could not contain myself. Florence Welch literally runs and dances around the stage. I remember she went into the audience and was talking this adorable girl with red hair and I was just so moved by the experience. Definitely the best show I have seen, besides of course, Stevie Nicks.

Least favorite concert?
Again with the least favorite album question, I do not have a least favorite concert. There is always a reason to dance and sing at any concert you go to. That is why I love music festivals so much... they are generally outdoor in the sun and people are just enjoying everything about the atmosphere. Definitely my favorite place to be.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
My brother has lived in Pittsburgh since he was 18 when he attended Duquesne University. I have always felt a connection to that city, I think because it holds such an important person in my life. My brother and I decided to film the video out in Pittsburgh and he came up with the idea to shoot it in an abandoned building on the south side. We shot it over two days in the August sun. I think this song can resonate with most 20-somethings in this city. Grouplove is essentially about any time you have messed up in your life and just wanted so bad to fix it. It is that dream of what you wished would happen. I think that is the beautiful most beautiful thing about life: letting the universe decide for you where you are going and appreciating the beauty in that.

Thanks, Gina. Love that you have that Pittsburgh connection. Let me know next time you come here to perform!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

First/Last - Colin and the Crows


"Smooth and sweet, sometimes psychedelic, the band mainly consists of the Songwriter/guitarist Colin A, the Violin player Aaron Pollard, and the Bass player James "earthworm" Bristol. Other members jump in every once in a while, including a saxophone, drums, piano, and trumpet."

Colin and the Crows is a Pittsburgh based alt-folk band that is associated with a loose collective of local bands including The Hills and the Rivers and Cousin Boneless. They released their debut late last year entitled Owl in the Murder and have just returned from a five week tour (where the following questions were answered.) I thank songwriter Colin A. (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.



The first album you ever bought?
Probably soul junk or of supertones, something from a Christian bookstore (the only place at the time we were allowed to buy CDs.)

Your last album bought?
The last album I bought was by the Ditrani Brothers.

Favorite album of all time?
Would have to be Demon Days by the Gorillaz.

First concert attended?
Creed, lol.

Last concert?
Last night in Fort Worth, TX with the Hills and the Rivers.

Favorite concert ever?
We play a lot of shows so it's hard to pick a favorite. But I guess I would say Share Festival near Harrisburg was my favorite so far.

Least favorite concert?
On tour in Phoenix Arizona, nobody was there.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
One of my favorite things about Pittsburgh is the artistic community, there's always something going on, and busking or street performing is always appreciated.

Thanks, Colin. Busking to me is the most underrated aspect of the local music scene and I really appreciate your mentioning it. I have been hoping for several years now to see a strong and vibrant presence of street performers at every major music festival in town, Deutschtown included.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

First/Last - Matt Aquline & The Dead End Streets


"Singer/songwriter Matt Aquiline lived and performed in Washington, DC for nearly two decades, but he has always been of Pittsburgh first and recently returned to his hometown to raise his family and perform his music in the town where it was formed."

Matt Aquiline & The Dead End Streets is an Americana band from Pittsburgh who released the excellent EP Coming Home late last year. Influenced by such heavyweights as John Hiatt, Steve Earle and most notably Bruce Springsteen, the band bring a refreshing take on the roots rock genre by putting together a roster of seasoned musicians who have been around the local music scene for years. You can see them playing out all around town in the coming months and beyond so definitely check them out. I want to thank Matt (Guitar/Mandolin/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.



The first album you ever bought?
Either Neil Young Live Rust or Kiss Destroyer. I might have bought them on the same day.

Your last album bought?
Drive By Truckers American Band.

Favorite album of all time?
Jeez...  I guess I’m gonna have to say Born to Run, although I am wringing my hands over three other Springsteen albums.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
That is a hard one too, but Sun City was the first album that came to mind. Good cause, great musicians... bad album.

First concert attended?
Simon and Garfunkel, Three Rivers Stadium. I have no idea what year… early 80’s.

Last concert?
Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit with James McMurtry. January 29, 2018. Heinz Hall.

Favorite concert ever?
Springsteen, 1985 - Born in the USA Tour - Three Rivers Stadium.

Least favorite concert?
Train. My wife made me do it.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Too many, but my favorite at the moment is coming home (the act, not the EP we just released). I am repatriated here after 18 years in Washington, DC, so my view is informed by the stark contrast between the two places. Pittsburgh has the most decent and authentic people I have ever come across and I feel truly blessed to be living among you all again. The decision to come home is the best one I have ever made in my life and the experience I have had reintegrating into this community even bests my childhood filled with championships (which would have been my answer 5 years ago).

Thanks, Matt. That Springsteen stadium gig was unofficially the very first concert that I was partially 'on my own' for. My dad would take us to shows and at that one, I asked him if I could walk around and meet him later. The whole night I just bopped all over the stadium trying to find the listening sweet spot but unfortunately, I couldn't find one. I will always remember how bad the acoustics were for that particular concert but the band was on fire.

Monday, February 5, 2018

First/Last - Her Ladyship


"Her Ladyship is a Pittsburgh based indie-folk band featuring lush, soulful harmonies, acoustic guitar, and evocative, literary lyrics."

Her Ladyship is a Pittsburgh based acoustic folk collective who are the house band at Scratch Food and Beverage in Troy Hill. Every Thursday from 9:30 - 11pm you can catch them until April with the last Thursday of the month being an open mic. I want to thank Brian Reyburn (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.



The first album you ever bought?
Queen’s Greatest Hits (cassette).
Weird Al’s Alapalooza (CD).

Your last album bought?
OK, Wreck Loose.

Favorite album of all time?
This title is always changing, but a short list of albums that changed my life and held the title of “favorite” at one time or another is:
Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Leonard Cohen.
Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series #’s 2 and 7.
Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.
Joanna Newsom’s The Milk-Eyed Mender.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Joanna Newsom’s Divers and Fleet Foxes Crack-Up.

First concert attended?
My mother swears this was a Backstreet Boys concert, but the first concert that I remember going to however is a Kingston Trio concert in Layton, Utah.

Last concert?
The Easy Leaves and Pokey LaFarge at The Black Cat in Washington DC like four days before Pokey’s band-mate Koenig was hit by a car while on the sidewalk in Charleston, SC.

Favorite concert ever?
(At least most recently) Wreck Loose at Gooski’s.

Least favorite concert?
Robert Plant at Santa Barbara Bowl (approx. 2005). I was discovered while trying to sneak into the concert and ended up lying down on the ice-plant and listening to the whole show from the shrubbery outside the venue.


Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh’s array of abandon houses has always had a great appeal to me. I’ve always enjoyed exploring the ghosts of old houses and rummaging through the bits of histories that people have left behind in their homes. Although they are quickly disappearing (and many of them already have), the abandoned houses throughout this city are wonderful keys into Pittsburgh’s past and provide such  juxtaposition as to what Pittsburgh was against the shiny, face-lifted place that it’s becoming. The architectural relics around this city (rarities in most other places) have, over the past decade or so, shown me many lessons and just as many hours of (illicit?) entertainment.

Thanks, Brian. Scratch food is the bomb. I'm gonna have to stop by on a Thursday soon to see you guys. Also, I am with you on the abandoned houses thing. They are so interesting to explore and yes, they are disappearing very quickly.