Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First/Last-Emily Rodgers

Yeah, yeah...I realize it's not Friday but yours truly is going out of town for a few days and since the blog literally blows up for this wildly popular segment, I will not be denying my dedicated readers their weekly First/Last fix.
Today features Emily, who I partially credit for helping me get into local music in the first place. She will be playing Howler's next Thursday July 8th, and since it's her only confirmed date for the summer, you don't want to miss it. Without further ado:

The first album you ever bought?
Cassette: The Bangles-Everything (2nd grade), or possibly something New Kids on the Block. Though I don't think I ever owned any of their music, just a variety of paraphernalia from J.C. Penney including a giant button, a Joey McIntyre key chain, and a fluorescent orange t-shirt
First CD: Green Day-Dookie (8th grade).

Your last album bought?
The Cynics-Cynicism and This Mortal Coil-Filigree & Shadow.

Favorite album of all time?
Two more recent favs: Iron & Wine-Creek Drank the Cradle, Great Lake Swimmers-(s/t)
Standbys: Paul Simon-Rhythm of the Saints, R.E.M-Monster, Nirvana-In Utero.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Post-Creek Drank the Cradle Iron & Wine...

First concert attended?
The Violent Femmes in Elkhart, IN.

Last concert?
Lohio in Athens, OH (while on tour with them...a bizarre show in a college kid's basement...though it should be said that the night before we played a fantastic show in Louisville at a great art space). Last big show: Johann Johannsson at the Rex in Pittsburgh.

Favorite concert ever?
múm at the Brew House in Pittsburgh (2004-ish).
Least favorite concert?
I think I can safely say that it was Up With People in 1996...

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Moving to Pittsburgh and meeting a few choice musicians was life-changing for me. I'd listened to a lot of acoustic/more formulaic Americana non-commercial music but I'd never heard records put out on indie labels like Misra, Secretly Canadian, Merge, Kill Rock Stars, etc. Listening to this music, specifically artists including: Thalia Zedek, Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Company), Cat Power, Nina Nastasia, Tony Dekker (Great Lake Swimmers), Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), Kristin Hersh. It really opened me up creatively to hear this sort of innovative songwriting and art-rock that was new to me. And from that initiation 6 years ago I have somehow landed a contract with Misra, which was an (or I thought because I am a seasoned pessimist) impossible goal a few years ago.

Thanks a lot Emily. 'Up With People'? I honestly don't even know what that is but it just SOUNDS awful.

Image Of The Day-"Dear Citizens"

Colonizing The Cosmos
Hartwood Hometown Music Fest
Hartwood Acres
Sunday June 20, 2010
Hampton Township

So my recent enthusiasm for this band has not diminished one iota since settling in and familiarizing myself with their music. In fact, it has only intensified with the additional release of a live EP (free to boot!) and having the opportunity to see them play again. They have such a cool vibe going. For some reason they seem to me to be a band that's best suited playing outdoors. Their sound not only could fill up a room but as they proved at Hartwood, an entire meadow.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Sunday Ticket Giveaway #1-Devo

Total Trib Media Amphitheatre
Friday July 9, 2010
Station Square

Yeah, I know it's Monday but some details needed ironing out.
Check this out! I am thrilled to announce that my awesome friends at Drusky Entertainment and yours truly have teamed up to give the readers of this blog a weekly chance to win a pair of tickets to an upcoming Drusky show at Trib Total Media Amphitheater at Station Square. That's right, every week on Sunday in July and August, I will announce a new contest for a different show.
First up is Devo! They are back with their first studio album, 'Something For Everybody', in twenty years and will be headlining Pittsburgh to celebrate the release.
All you have to do is email me at hughshows@comcast.net with the subject line 'Devo'. In the message, supply the full name you want for the folks at will call the night of the show which will be good for two tickets. Sorry, parking not included. One entry per person.
This contest will run until Saturday July 3 when I will randomly pick and contact the the winner.
Remember, next Sunday starts a new contest for a different show. Good luck!

Image Of The Day-"Come On Come On"

Ben Hardt and the Symphony
Hartwood Hometown Music Fest
Hartwood Acres
Sunday June 20, 2010
Hampton Township

This week I will be highlighting the incredible line-up from this year's Hartwood music fest. I really could not think of a better way to celebrate Father's Day. First up is my man Ben Hardt.
Amazingly, of the tons of shows I attend here in town, I have never seen Ben play a full set with his symphony. It's funny, because I have seen him dozens of times in the audience lending support for other musicians, more so than anyone else in town. He and the band sounded so good. There's a magical quality mixing strings with 'rock' music and no one does it better.
He is currently recording new material and could use a little help. I have done this a few times now, donating a couple bucks to help an artist reach their goal. You get the album anyway (in this case three of them), so why not pay for it now? Get more info here.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Black River Killer"

Blitzen Trapper
Saturday June 19, 2010

I was amazed that there were so many people at this show. I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable guy when it comes to under the radar indie bands. I have heard of this band but would never have guessed that so many other people would have also. It wasn't crazy packed, which made for an easier time bopping around Diesel for some different angles. Always a bonus. A proper mini review here and a preview from the new kids on the Pittsburgh music scene here. Welcome fellas!

Friday, June 25, 2010

First/Last-David Bernabo

David has a couple interesting gigs this weekend. Tonight he is playing Garfield Artworks with Matt Griffin as a duo called Tony Blowad. Also on the bill are The Friction Brothers who play...dry ice!?! Not a song titled 'Dry Ice', actual dry ice. Must be seen to believed.
On Sunday the 27th, he is participating in Nathan Hall's Music of North Side Spaces.
As with most of David's musical contributions, it sounds extremely interesting.
He was kind enough to take some time and contribute to this latest edition of First/Last Friday.

The first album you ever bought?
Bruce Springsteen - Human Touch, however, my dad reimbursed me since we both agreed that it was a pretty pathetic effort. After that was Pearl Jam - Ten.
Your last album bought?
Technically, these were all bought at the same time: Rolf Julius - Music for the Ears, Sylvie Courvoisier - Signs and Epigrams, Jamie Lidell - Compass, Arild Andersen - Green In Blue Early Quartets, and Gangwish 7".

Favorite album of all time?
Richard Youngs - Sapphie (Jagjaguwar) - just three tracks of voice and classical guitar - incredibly beautiful.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
This took forever for me to think of, but the Charlemagne Palestine/Tony Conrad record called An Aural Symbiotic Mystery may be the most disappointing record for me. I really just don't like the sounds on this one. But I love both artists' work in music (and beyond).
First concert attended?
Steely Dan at Star Lake!!! However, I may have seen some classical concerts prior to this, but I'm not sure who they were aside from Itzhak Perlman.

Last concert?
OPEK at Club Cafe, 6/4/10. Great show, OPEK played two sets of loose, but nicely arranged tunes from Sun Ra, Monk, Ellington, and more. 

Favorite concert ever?
Free Music Ensemble at Pitt Union Health Building. This was an alternate lineup since Paal Nilssen-Love could not make it. Ken Vandermark (reeds)/Nate McBride (bass)/Tim Daisy (drums). Possibly one of the first improvised music concerts that I had seen. Tim Daisy was playing this shifting half-time beat that knocked me out. This was also the first time I saw Vandermark live and the whole thing blew me away. (Thanks to Manny Theiner for continuing to bring these jazz shows.)

Least favorite concert?
After playing shows for the last nine years, I've seen tons of horrible bands and have played countless shows where no one comes and it can be hard to get into the mood. But, for this question, I am going to go with R R I I C C E E. This is Vincent Gallo's band with two other guys. I was really into his solo albums and some of his films, so I had moderate expectations for this show. Then I saw the gear - mellotron, vibraphone, nice amps, drums, nice guitars, and a beautiful microphone recording the set. However, the music that followed was an out-of-tune, unbalanced mess of what seemed to be most improvised ideas. Don't get me wrong - I had a great time, but mainly for the shock of how bad it was. I am still unsure if it was performance art.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is a place that if you want to do something and you put in the work, you can achieve it on some level. We still need better distribution channels to get music out of the city - more labels, more licensing opportunities, more touring, but this is one of the best places to create freely and have an audience for it. It is a very (musically) accepting city. There are tons of great musicians around, and I'm very thankful to be able to work with many of them.

Thanks Dave. Springsteen's Human Touch, eh? I would have wanted my money back as well. Even though the shows he did promoting those records were hot!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Image Of The Day-"When My Time Comes"

28 North
Allegheny County Summer Concert Series
Hartwood Acres
Sunday June 13, 2010
Hampton Township

Another summer, another bunch of Sundays spent at Hartwood. This year kicked off with a band that I just started to get into to. 'North Hills' is a great album and live they did the music justice. Can't go wrong with great music outside on a beautiful evening,now can you? As for openers 28 North, they were stripped down but still sounded nice. Man, I love summer. More Dawes pics here. More 28 North pics here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Image Of The Day-"True Love Will Find You In The End"

Mates Of State
WYEP Studios
Friday June 18, 2010

I never actually heard any music from this band until this mini set. I was delightfully surprised how much I enjoyed it. They were such nice people who seem way down to earth. More photos here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Image Of The Day-"So What If We're Outta Tune"

Thunderbird Cafe
Thursday June 10, 2010

I can't believe it's been 4 1/2 years since I last saw Marah. They have been to town since then but for some reason I couldn't make the shows. It was strange not seeing Serge in the band and even though the band was rocking, there inevitably was a touch of sadness that permeated the festivities. They are not the same band as they once were and hopefully they soldier on and I can get over whatever feelings I have to appreciate the rock machine that they are now. Blah, blah, blah. It's rock and roll. They smoked. 'Nuff said.

Good News/Bad News

Above image courtesy of not me

If you have not heard yet, the Brandi Carlile/PSO concert has been cancelled due to 'unforeseen circumstances'. Bummer, I was looking forward to that show. A big thanks to all of you who participated in the ticket giveaway contest. I really appreciated the many responses.

To end the post on a high note, there is a tentative date set for Teenage Fanclub at Smalls on Sunday October 3, 2010. Coincidentally, I have been on a mini TFC kick as of late and am excited to see this show. Key word is tentative so hopefully it sticks.

Friday, June 18, 2010

First/Last-Josh Verbanets

Meeting Of Important People are readying their sophomore release. Mastering. mixing, finalizing. Whatever that means? I have been so lucky to be jamming on the new songs early and will be able to exclusively offer a preview right here in the weeks to come before anyone else. Nice! Seriously, you will not believe this music.
They have two parties coming up to celebrate the occasion. July 24th is the over 21 gig at the Thunderbird. July 30th, all ages at the Warhol, outside with Good Night, States. To understate the obvious, I will be at both.
Before all of that goodness, they will partake in the hometown showcase this Sunday at Hartwood along with a slew of other great bands. My ultimate Father's Day. It is my extreme pleasure to say that Josh was so kind to participate in this, my birthday edition, of First/Last Friday.

The first album you ever bought?
Aerosmith's "Get A Grip" purchased
with allowance money.

Your last album bought?
Hmm... I bought the MGMT record off of
iTunes, and bought a new copy of "Arthur" by The Kinks.

Favorite album of all time?
"Love It To Death" by the Alice Cooper Group.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I threw "Wish You Were
Here" by Pink Floyd the f*ck out of my car window.

First concert attended?
U2 Pop Mart tour at Three Rivers Stadium in 1996-7.

Last concert?
Round Black Ghosts CD release at Thunderbird.

Favorite concert ever?
Saw The Vines at a little club in Buffalo New
in 2002 when their first record was big. The only concert I have
ever seen where I didn't want it to end when it did.

Least favorite concert?
Iron and Wine at the Palace Theater in
Greensburg a few years back.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
My friend Matt Miller
claims to know every street in this town.

Thanks Josh. Floyd's WYWH? You have some 'splainin' to do next time we see each other brah!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Scrap"

The Chad Sipes Stereo
Thunderbird Cafe
Thursday June 10, 2010

Showtimes. Of the literally dozens and dozens of concerts I see in a single year, I can count on my hand the number of times in my life that I have been late to a show. I am usually early to be able to get a good angle to shoot and I know by now that 8 p.m. probably means 8:30 at the earliest. So it was O.K. that I was shooting Ingrid Michaelson's first three songs at the Point and had plenty of time to catch Chad and the boys up Route 28. I even stopped at the drug store for crying out loud. Imagine my utter dismay when the guy at the door explained to me that they were already playing for a half hour when I walked through the door. I immediately hugged the stage as they were in the middle of a ferocious jam and started to fire off a few 'test' shots as I usually do to get a feel for the room. With that, Chad said his good nights and I missed the whole set. Damn! Chad was cool about it and even extended the end of the song so at least I could get a few. Thanks buddy, next time.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Image Of The Day-Blowing Glass

Vessel Studios
Tuesday May 18, 2010

So I am circling around Southside looking for a parking spot (sound familiar?) before Josh Ritter, when I see my man Sven (drummer extraordinaire for such bands as Lohio and Horse or Cycle). I stop for a quick hi and it turns out he is assisting Drew Hine at Vessel Studios blowing some glass. Hey, I love art and they were cool enough to let me fire off a few shots. In the few minutes I was there, they recovered a failed attempt at a bowl to produce a plate. Cool.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Bible Days"

Jessica Lea Mayfield
Friday June 6, 2010

I was surprised how much I liked Jessica's set. For the most part it was difficult getting into her music with most of the crowd babbling away, especially during the slower tunes. What saved it for me is that her band is killer and they brought it on more than a few moments during the show. The crowd practically came to attention as Scott and Joe joined them for the last song. Weird. Expected but still weird. More photos here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Image Of The Day-GNS Moo

Good Night, States have been awfully quiet as of late. So what's up you ask? Well, am very happy to report that they are currently working on new material for an upcoming release. They are also getting ready to play an as of now one off set supporting MIOP for their all ages CD release show at the Warhol on July 30th, the first performance in six months and the first without multi-instrumentalist Joe Tanner. As a bonus, at least to me, they have used my photos for their Moo mini-business cards. Nice!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Image Of The Day-TRAF 2010

So as the Three Rivers Arts Festival came to a close last night, at least for me, I am kicking myself as I write this. Some of my favorite bands and friends are playing on the main stage and I am not there. No worries. I just had to take a break from the picture taking to hang with my lovely family. Some things are more important ya know. Tomorrow as the fest ends officially with Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller, I am taking the less popular route and checking out Dawes at Hartwood. Call me crazy but 'North Hills' is totally kicking me arse. Here are my thoughts and images on this year.

  • Bill Deasy is a Pittsburgh treasure. The guy is humble, nice, and talented as any musician we have here. His son running up to the stage right before the music to say,"Hi Dad!" was endearing as you can get.
  • Alejandro Escovedo should have canceled due to the weather. He didn't. One of the many reasons why he's incredible.
  • Matt Morris was the only national act I saw who came out to greet fans. Note to bands: Do this and you will be successful beyond belief!
  • I would kill to have a WYEP studio cam on Cindy Howes in the morning just to capture her infinite hand gestures.
  • The pure joy and volume of Ingrid Michaelson's fans screaming was my favorite part of the festival run.
  • City cops don't like fans asking Justin Townes Earle for his autograph. Not one bit.
  • Kris Kristofferson could use a kick-ass band.
  • I discovered THE best parking spot for the fest this year. Free, closer than any of the garages, and it's right in front of...yeah, like I would tell you. If you really have to know, email me.
My sincerest of thanks go out to my friends at The Cultural Trust who actually have faith in my photographic abilities. It means everything to me. You are wonderful.

Friday, June 11, 2010

First/Last-Rob Collier

Rob is a recent Kentuckian transplant who now calls Pittsburgh home. He leads the fantastic band Small Cities who is having their debut CD release show tonight at the Thunderbird. He was cool enough to participate in today's installment of First/Last Fridays.

The first album you ever bought?
The Righteous Brothers Greatest Hits. I think maybe this had something to do with loving Top Gun.

Your last album bought?
Motorhead's Ace of Spades. This is the first metal album I've ever bought. I bought it largely on the basis that Lemmy plays a Rickenbacker. Turns out it was a good choice.

Favorite album of all time?
There are always the same few albums at the top of my list, but it's never easy to pick a #1. I will say that I've listened to the Beatles' Abbey Road nine or ten times in the last two days. That one is always a contender.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I think I'll catch hell for this, but Bob Dylan's Planet Waves. It was the record that preceded Blood on the Tracks which is one of my top five favorite albums of all time. Not to mention that his backing band was The Band. It seems like I should like this album, but I don't. It is not my least favorite album by any means, but given how much I love The Band and Blood on the Tracks, Planet Waves is very disappointing to me. But I'll probably go back and listen to it sometime later and absolutely love it.

First concert attended?
I saw the Righteous Brothers when I was 9 or 10. An odd choice for a boy at that age, but I loved them.

Last concert? Other than local shows, the last concert I saw was Paul McCartney in Washington DC last summer. I still can't believe I saw an actual Beatle.

Favorite concert ever?

The first time I saw Wilco was pretty eye opening. I was not really into them at the time, but my friend had an extra ticket. I left that concert thinking they were the best band in America. Though in all honesty, the aforementioned McCartney concert would be hard to top.

Least favorite concert?
Luckily, I don't remember seeing too many concerts that were just awful. When I was in Europe in college I saw a German Beach Boys cover band. It's disorienting to hear songs like "Surfin' USA" and "California Girls" sung with thick German accents. The crowd loved them, though.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh got hit with a big snowstorm at the beginning of February on a Friday night. The next night was Small Cities' first show. There was about two feet of snow on the ground and the roads were a mess. The other two bands that were supposed to play with us couldn't even get to the venue. We ended up playing our set and then having a two hour jam session with some of the other musicians who made it out to see the show. Looking back on it, I can't believe anyone actually came out, let alone enough musicians to have a jam session like that.

Thanks, Rob. BTW-Planet Waves was an absolute musical revelation to me. Then again, I first heard it in the wee hours of the morning after a Dead show so that could have influenced me now that I think about it!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Image Of The Day-"I And Love And You"

The Avett Brothers
Friday June 6, 2010

Not my first time seeing the band but man, do I like the latest record and their live show has been taken to another level with the material. They were spot on the entire evening and really know how to deliver for the fans (who just might be the most loyal in all of rock, giving Josh Ritter a run for his money). Fan discussion and setlist of the show here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

First/Last-Aaron Jentzen

I realize it's not Friday but in honor of Aaron's upcoming European itinerary and his show at the Thunderbird tomorrow June 9th, I have decided to post his responses in this special edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?I had a bunch of dubbed stuff, but probably the first I actually bought was a cassette called "Dancing Feet" by Scottish folk group The Tannahill Weavers. Either that or Capercaillie. I wasn't really into pop music, except for listening to my mom's Moody Blues and Beach Boys LPs.

Your last album bought?A limited-edition LP by UK duo Smoke Fairies, "Ghosts: A Compilation of A-Sides, B-Sides and an EP from the Recent Past." I saw them play at the Warhol recently, opening for Laura Marling, and was quite smitten.

Favorite album of all time?I've never been able to narrow it down like that -- I probably have 100 favorite albums of all time, none of which I could live without.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?Really, anything by Nirvana. I discovered them at exactly the right age, at the right time, and my other tastes in music then pointed clearly toward Nirvana becoming THE band of my teens. But I just couldn't get into it, and not for lack of trying. Even now, I'll listen about half-way through an album, and get bored. I recognize there's something powerful there, but it's just lost on me.

First concert attended?Again, probably folk concerts, early on. First rock concert was Bob Dylan at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I had no idea what was happening.

Last concert?The Twilight Sad and Mono recently at Brillobox. Stunning sets by both.

Favorite concert ever?
Possibly the Flaming Lips at an outdoor pavilion in downtown Cleveland. But how do you compare that to, say, Nick Cave and Grinderman in Gothenberg, or seeing The Locust in a disgusting Michigan basement? They're all my favorite ever.

Least favorite concert?
It may have involved a local band and "The Jam on Walnut." But it's impossible to say -- there's always a new low out there ...

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?For years, my existence in Pittsburgh was primarily nocturnal -- playing shows, going to shows, hanging out in dive bars and at house parties -- and I started to burn out. Lately, I've been seeing new sides of Pittsburgh, often from a bicycle, and by daylight. It's made me appreciate the whole city a bit more, and given me more energy for what I do here.

Thanks Aaron and good luck on the overseas tour.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Hit My Door"

Small Cities
Sunday May 30, 2010
Strip District

I love this band. They have a CD release show this Friday June 11th at the Thunderbird. I am really looking forward to hearing the disc. More photos here.