Monday, January 31, 2011

Artist of the Month January 2011

I am going to attempt to begin the new year by hopefully exposing the readers of this blog to new music released within the last 30 or so days that might have slipped under your radar. Yeah, The Decemberists and Iron & Wine came out with their highly anticipated new music but these little artists' that could deserve as much attention, therefore my new segment...Artist of the Month!

Now, you know I love this band. Even if they weren't friends of mine, I would still be highlighting this EP just for the fact that it is just so damn good, period. I listened to this relentlessly, almost to the point of getting sick of it...almost. The show they put on the other night was amazing, the best I have ever seen them play and I will have coverage of that soon. In the meantime people, if you haven't already, get these tunes! The band has grown musically by leaps and bounds and we the listener are all the luckier for it.

Other artists of note:

Apex Manor-The Year of Magically Drinking
One of my favorite bands, The Broken West, broke up. Bandleader Ross Flournoy starts another band and picks up right where the old one left off! I will have more on his band soon.

Fergus & Geronimo-Unlearn
Imagine if Beck and The Brian Jonestown Massacre had twins and Devendra Banhart raised them? That makes no sense at all. Either should these guys but they are cool as hell. Awesome freak folk from Denton, TX! Check them out.

Big Indian, New York-Slow To Visit Sticker Boy
This is such a weird little band. The music is odd, the running times are even odder. It's great!

Ringside-Lost Days

Catchy pop rock from Hollywood. Key word: catchy (as hell)!

Jenn Grant-Honeymoon Punch
It doesn't take long to appreciate this Canadian gal's sound. Like, maybe instantly?

Abigail Washburn-City of Refuge
Abigail plays clawhammer banjo. She takes 'Appalachian folk' music to the poppy side.

Twilight Hotel-When The Wolves Go Blind

This duo from Texas blend all kinds of genres such as rockabilly, lounge, and folk using lush harmonies.

Old Man Markley-Guts N' Teeth
An L.A. outfit that blends punk and bluegrass...what's not to like?

Anna Calvi-Anna Calvi
Retro cabaret music that's actually accessible.

Slowwave-Drag Lake Skin
Lo-fi electronic rock from out West.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ticket Giveaway-The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable
Smiling Moose
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Joy Formidable are a Welsh band releasing their debut album in March and are touring the US to celebrate. They have been described as "primal epic grunge rock à la The Breeders, Arcade Fire and Yeah Yeah Yeahs". They make a stop in Pittsburgh with support from The Lonely Forest. Courtesy of my friends at Drusky Entertainment, I have a pair of passes to the show for a lucky reader of this blog. All you need to do to enter is email me at with the subject line 'The Joy Formidable'. 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. Bring I.D. and remember this is an all ages event. One entry per person. This contest will run until Saturday, February 5, when the winner will be randomly chosen and contacted.
This band is about to 'blow-up' so this is a rare opportunity to catch them and brag to your friends that you saw them when they were still playing clubs! I totally expect this show to sell out. Rolling Stone declared them “Band Of The Week” and you can catch interviews with them at Virtual Festivals and Stereoboard. Good luck.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Image of the Day-"Beginning To Show Through"

The Rustlanders
Rex Theater
Tuesday October 19, 2010

It's been several years since I saw the band play. I was surprised how much they have grown musically in that time. They reminded me of the "Gram Parsons" era Stones, which is great thing. They reside in State College, PA so I should have ample opportunity to catch them again.

Friday, January 28, 2011

First/Last-Anya Marina

Image courtesy of the artist.

Whether you realize it or not, there are a ton of live music options occurring in Pittsburgh tonight. One of them is the Joshua Radin show at Mr. Smalls. Booked as support is Portland musician Anya Marina. She was way cool enough to participate in this edition of First/Last Friday.

The first album you ever bought?
Donny & Marie – Goin’ Coconuts.

Your last album bought?
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest.

Favorite album of all time?
The White Album – Beatles.

First concert attended?
George Michael - Faith tour. I was SHOCKED when he came out. He was my fantasy boyfriend.

Last concert?
Wild Flag at Bunk Bar in Portland, OR.

Favorite concert ever?
Sinead O'Connor in the 90s was life changing.
So were Liz Phair and Jewel in SF in 1994.
Flaming Lips in San Diego (2006?) when I got to wear an owl costume and dance with them onstage (although after 20 minutes of doing the electric slide in a costume wore by hundreds of sweaty fans you start to feel like maybe you should've brought disinfectant. )

Least favorite concert?
I usually duck out before I can remember whatever the band's called that I'm not that into. 50% of the time I leave a show early it's because I'm either hungry or there's an episode of something embarrassing waiting for me on my DVR.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
My dearly departed godfather David used to live there near a place called the Shamrock Inn. I had fond memories of visiting him as a kid and going to a nearby aviary.
After he died I made my then-musician boyfriend, find that bar on a tour stop. He said he almost got mugged by a couple of crackheads while he was there, so I guess the neighborhood had changed a bit. I'm hoping to have some fun experiences like that to write home about!

Thanks Anya. Pittsburgh= crackheads? Hopefully you have some time to explore the city and change your perception a little this time around.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Image of the Day-"Know It Ain't Right"

I was asked by David Bernabo to contribute my meager talents to a new music video he is directing for a song by yet another project he is associated with called Host Skull. What is so impressive about Dave and his work is that he has so many different musical projects and collaborations going and all of them are unique. I follow him on Twitter and sometimes I am bewildered how he manages to accomplish all he does musically. More on the video soon.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Image of the Day-"Houses Of The Holy"

Robert Plant & Band of Joy
North Mississippi Allstars
Peterson Events Center
Wednesday January 19, 2010

This show was really good. Really. The band sounded excellent and if you took away the fact that almost everybody in the room was patiently waiting to hear more Zep tunes, I think that the anticipation factor unfairly lessened the show impact.
On a photographic note, we were relegated to the back of the floor. No PIT shots again tonight. Oh, well. As a fellow photog pointed out, once the musician is over fifty, your shooting from the back of the room. HA! His shots turned out really nice, then again my man had a $6,000 lens!
The North Mississippi Allstars opened the night as a duo and while I can appreciate the drums and electric blues vibe, it bores me after awhile.
More photos here and here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I Got Friends In Low Places-The Pittsburgh Scene

I am starting a new feature today that will sporadically highlight some other blogs in town.
It's great living in Pittsburgh and being a music lover right now. Besides the incredible musical talent popping up constantly, there are many of us who live here and are working hard to promote the wide array of musicians and bands that are homegrown. One such blog is The Pittsburgh Scene. Starting out as a destination to find MP3's of bands material, it has blossomed into a site that features band links, concert reviews, a concert calendar, and a round up of local music news. Their newest feature is a classified section for musicians to interact and assist each other, whether it's looking for equipment or people to fill a spot for a gig.
As a relatively small (but growing!) community of bloggers, it's awesome and imperative that we all support each other. Our main goal is promoting music, mainly local. Craig at the Scene is no different and I sincerely wish my man well in doing what he does! You should too.

Friday, January 21, 2011

First/Last-Jon Belan

Jon Belan's alter ego, Gene The Werewolf, is one of the city's more popular rock bands playing. They have TWO big performances tonight. The early show is at Stage AE opening for The Clarks in celebration of the Steelers AFC Play-off game on Sunday. They also play later on at the Altar Bar in celebration of my friends at Drusky Entertainment's 5th Year Anniversary.
They have also released a way cool updated version of the famous Pittsburgh Steelers Polka song. You can listen/download it here. Gene was nice enough to participate in this week's special BLACK & GOLD edition of First/Last Friday.

The first album you ever bought?
Growing up in a musical family, I started listening to music long before I could ever buy it on my own. But the first album I ever bought on my own, with my own money, was Metallica - "And Justice For All..."

Your last album bought?
To be completely honest, the last album I bought was AC/DC - "Highway To Hell". I had this on cassette when I was a young buck, and took it to school on my walkman, and it got stolen out of my locker. I had never got a new one. So the last time I was at the mall, I saw it sitting there, and got the sudden urge to buy it again, still just as badass!

Favorite album of all time?
The Beatles - "White Album".

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Gene does not buy, let alone support crappy music, so therefore he does not own any. So to be fair and answer your question, lets just say "everything released in 2010".

First concert attended?
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - The Civic Arena, sometime in the mid 80's. Maybe 1986?

Last concert?
Paul McCartney - The Consol Energy Center, last August 2010.

Favorite concert ever?
I'll have to go with Paul McCartney last August. If you meant my favorite Gene show, December 29, @ Stage AE w. The Clarks!

Least favorite concert?
I went to see Phil Collins with my friend and his parents at the old Starlake Amp in the 90's. I remember being bored to death, and couldn’t wait to leave.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
We love Pittsburgh, and are so proud to be a part of such an amazing city. The music is great, we are HUGE Steelers fans, and honestly can’t imagine being from somewhere else. In fact, we love to make fun of musicians that leave Pittsburgh and try to move to California, to try and "make it". People that have to leave, and drown themselves in such a larger pool of posers, truly shouldn’t be here anyways!

Thanks Gene. Good luck on the shows tonight. Hopefully, we'll all be celebrating Sunday night!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Image of the Day-"Innocence Abroad"

Meeting Of Important People
Carnegie Lecture Hall
Saturday, January 15, 2011

Incredibly sweet 'wooden' music from the guys. Little old me got a shout out from the stage...thanks fellas. Some audience members scored some video action here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Image of the Day-"Temperature Rising"

Dean & Britta play Galaxie 500
Carnegie Lecture Hall
Saturday, January 15, 2011

As promised, this show was great. I always enjoy seeing Dean & Britta. What made it extra awesome was the venue. Not a bad seat in the house and the acoustics were fantastic. Hopefully the Warhol books more shows there. More pics here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Image of the Day-"Here We Go!!!!!!"

What an incredible game last night! Perfectly timed to watch the outcome and to be able to catch an amazing show in Oakland. Here are some photos from my one (and hopefully not only) Steelers game with an official photo pass. Let's go JETS! More here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

First/Last-Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips

Dean & Britta
Carnegie Lecture Hall
Saturday, January 15, 2011

The band is playing a special show tonight in Oakland. The set consists entirely of songs from Dean's former group, Galaxie 500. So that means probably no Tiger Lily...sniff. Opening the night are local favs Meeting Of Important People doing a rare all acoustic set. Seriously, this is the year's first not miss show. Dean & Britta released one of my favorite albums of last year and were kind enough to participate in this special 'preview' edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Britta: “Frampton Comes Alive”.

Your last album bought?
Dean: Handel's "Bejun Mehta".
Britta: “The Essential Nina Simone".

Favorite album of all time?
Britta: Too difficult to choose, but off the top of my head, "Love and Other Crimes" by Lee Hazlewood, "Loaded" by The Velvet Underground".

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Britta: I can't answer either of those questions. There are so many disappointing and "worst" albums, I think I just automatically block them out.

First concert attended?
Dean: Leo Sayer in Central Park.
Britta: Blondie opening for Rush.

Last concert?
Dean: The Zombies.
Britta: Dirty Projectors.

Favorite concert ever?
Dean: Pere Ubu.
Britta: The Feelies.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
We love Pittsburgh!

Thanks to both of you. Take my word for it, Pittsburgh loves you guys back. I am really looking forward to this show tonight.

Friday, January 14, 2011

First/Last-Josh Pyke

Basement Birds
are an Australian 'supergroup' made up of established singer-songwriters who got together to release a really good album last year that you might not have heard about. One of them birds, Josh Pyke, was cool enough to participate and begin this new year of First/Last Friday.

The first album you ever bought?

Your last album bought?
Deerhunter-"Halcyon Digest".

Favorite album of all time?
Guns n Roses-"Appetite for Destruction".

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Guns N Roses-"Chinese Democracy". Talk about not living up to expectations! What a waste of 12 years.

First concert attended?
Motley Crue at the Entertainment Center in Sydney Australia. It was the Tommy Lee revolving drum cage blew my freakin’ mind.

Last concert?
I see lots of bands at festivals that I’m playing at, but I guess that doesn't count. I think the last actual dedicated concert I went to was the Pixies at an outdoor amphitheater in Perth.

Favorite concert ever?
Very difficult. I think Alice In Chains and Suicidal Tendencies was an amazing double bill when I was about 16, and kinda highlighted everything I love about live music. But I also thought Wilco was incredible at the Enmore Theatre a few years back, as was Interpol at the same venue. I think I probably have about 100 favourite concerts.

Least favorite concert?
I'm a huge Iron and Wine fan, but when I saw them play live at the University of Sydney venue, I just found the whole thing a bit flat and too much like a session musicians band, which was surprising and disappointing. It was actually a good show, played well, but just a bit too "slick", and I didn't even stick around for the encores.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
No personal experiences. I remember seeing a punk band called Anti-Flag who were from Pittsburgh. It conjures images of it an industrial city? Do you make large SUV's there? Is it often cold? Is it a grey city, where people spend months in doors, and only venture out in puffer jackets, and emerge from their cars in billows of steam from the hot air inside their vehicle hitting the cold air outside? And sometimes they close their doors again, and drive away real quick, to vanish like a magician throwing down a novelty smoke bomb? Is that Pittsburgh?

Thanks Josh. It's uncanny because that's EXACTLY how Pittsburgh is. Really. Hope you can make it here one day to find out for yourself buddy.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Image of the Day-"Building A Mystery"

Sarah McLachlan
Heinz Hall
Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thanks to my friends at the PSO, Ms. McLachlan has the distinct honor eight days in to be my very first show of the year. So, yeah...she's got that going for her. Performing the always fan satisfying "An Evening With..." format, she entertained her beloved audience for two and a half hours. It was my first time shooting in Heinz Hall and being that the folks in the PIT payed some good scratch to be up there and not have a pesky photog ruin the experience of the first three songs by getting in their way, I was regulated to the back of the room by the soundboard to shoot. Kind of makes the photos look all the same. See Paul McCartney, Jimmy Buffett, Emmylou Harris and Bruce Springsteen. I always like to hug the stage (without hopefully being a nuisance to the other audience members) when I document a band. That far back creates a 'flatness' to the pictures and it doesn't occur often enough for me to invest in a long lens that I won't be able to use at Brillobox. No worries. What other photog in the city can say they shot Sarah M. at Heinz Hall besides me? No one, baby. So, yeah...I got that going for me.

My very first picture of 2011. Incredibly, the seats were full ten minutes later.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Image of the Day-"Show Me Your Eyes"

Club Cafe
Saturday November 27, 2010

I previewed this show a couple of months ago when the band's guitarist Josh participated in First/Last. Hailing from Greensburg, I guess you can call them local, right? Cool dudes to boot.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Image of the Day-"Take Your Places"

Club Cafe
Saturday November 27, 2010

After many times trying, this was my first time seeing the band. My man Jon gave me the hook-up. Thanks buddy. I encourage everyone who reads my blog to please support live local music.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Between The Lines-Rock And Roll

The Complete Road Map
of Rock 'N' Roll

Bruno MacDonald
Collins Design

When I first stumbled upon this book, I was immediately under the impression that it would be a take on the whole 'family tree' concept of musicians who either played or recorded music together in some sort of collaborative way. I was sort of right. This book offers a history of rock by pointing out influences and how almost any band is affected by the groups who came before them. Under categories such as Artists, Bands, Labels, Producers, Clubs and Festivals, the author takes a somewhat encyclopedic approach of how they are all related in ways big and small. You won't get complete discographies and in depth minutiae here, just a smattering of interesting factoids taken as an artists' general overview. and Almost every major band is represented from Sam Cooke to Coldplay, with a few glaring omissions (The Grateful Dead, Simon & Garfunkel among them). Using a loose timeline, biographies are emphasized with easily cross referenced highlights that shed new light on a musician's work.
A few anecdotes I discovered from this book are:

U2 and Bruce Springsteen's relationship began when The Boss attended an early show by the Irish rockers in 1981 with Pete Townshend.

Before she was the household name she is today, Lady Ga Ga played the obscurity of the second stage of Lollapalooza in 2007.

Dave Grohl has seemingly played with everybody.

I would highly recommend this book to any fan of music. It's not to be read straight through but to be appreciated over time in a casually presented form.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Image of the Day-"Dollybird"

New Shouts
Thunderbird Cafe
Saturday December 11, 2010

New Shouts are a local band you really have to hear. If you haven't, I have a feeling you will soon enough. They are so much fun live and you can check them out a few times this month here and here. Word is new music is going to 'leak' from them next week. Twitter them to be the first to hear it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Image of the Day-"Real Talk"

Thunderbird Cafe
Saturday December 11, 2010

Neighbours opened this night with their hip, soulful, and infectiously fun as hell music. My absolutely favorite aspect of going to shows is seeing a band for the first time, not knowing a single note from them and coming away a fan. I am really looking forward to seeing them again. Listen to some live love here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Image of the Day-"Birthday Fever"

Delicious Pastries
Thunderbird Cafe
Saturday December 11, 2010

This band headlined one of the most joyous nights of music I have seen in a long while. With two other awesome Pittsburgh bands on the bill, who I will feature over the next two days, this turned out to be one of the best shows I saw last year. Without any 'official' musical output available from any of the bands at the show, I cannot wait to hear what they come up with soon. I am hoping to bring you some studio shots of the Pastries working on their debut in the future!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Image of the Day-"We'll Take a Cup O' Kindness Yet"

Colonizing The Cosmos
First Night Pittsburgh
Friday December 31, 2010

What can I say about this band that I haven't said before? How about how cool they are as people and it's been a great pleasure of mine to meet and eventually get to know them this year. Expect a follow up to their debut sometime in the near future. More photos here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Image of the Day-"Should Aulde Acquaintance Be Forgot"

First Night Pittsburgh
Friday December 31, 2010

Over the next few weeks I'll be backtracking and bringing you a bunch of images from local bands, many who I saw for the first time. These guys aren't one of them. I really can't tell you how many times I have seen them perform and it's so fitting for me for them to be the last band I saw play in 2010. More photos here.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ticket Giveaway-Liz Phair

Liz Phair
Rex Theater
Monday January 24, 2011

Happy New Year Pittsburgh! 2010 was such an incredible year for me. I sincerely want to thank the countless people who have supported me over the last twelve months. It means a lot. I am hoping that 2011 will be even better and to kick things off, I am giving away two tickets to this highly anticipated show, courtesy of the great people at Drusky Entertainment.
All you need to do to enter is email me at with the subject line 'Liz Phair'. 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. Bring I.D. and remember this is a 21+ event. One entry per person.
This contest will run until Saturday January 8, when the winner will be randomly chosen and contacted.