Friday, May 29, 2015

First/Last-Sarah Blacker

"Boston’s “Sundress Rocker,” Sarah Blacker’s music will make you “feel it all, In Waves.” Taken from the title track of her forthcoming release, this lyric immediately informs the listener as to the emotional content of her songs. The record is filled with skillful rhythm guitar, piano and ukulele, and sung with a uniquely soulful voice which is much bigger than the size of the artist it comes from."

Sarah Blacker is a Boston singer-songwriter who isn't afraid to rock out. Her latest release is "In Waves" which she will probably dip into as she returns to Pittsburgh tonight at the Pittsburgh Winery on a co-headlining set with fellow Bostonians Laney Jones and the Spirits. I want to thank Sarah (Guitar/Mandolin/Ukulele/Piano/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Green Day “Dookie”.

Your last album bought?
“The Essential Bruce Springsteen”.

Favorite album of all time?
Joni Mitchell “Blue”.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I won't name who, but someone at a show gave me a CD that was quite frankly, completely terrifying. So wasn't the picture on the cover. It was an odd blend of sonic mayhem & Grownup man grunts & wails.

First concert attended?
Red Hot Chili Peppers & Silver Chair at The Boston Garden.

Last concert?
Keith Greeninger & David Jacob-Strain at Club Passim.

Favorite concert ever?
Definitely seeing Peter Gabriel at the Boston Garden (‘Growing Up Tour’) with my Dad.

Least favorite concert?
Biggest disappointment spawned from highest hopes was probably Tori Amos at the Orpheum. I was so ready for her to rock out & she played dreamy ballads for hours. All of the songs just blended into one. I ended up talking with the bartender outside.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I have only been once! I rode the Duquesne Incline after eating bad sushi. Even though I lay on a bench once I made it to the top, it was one of the most beautiful views I've seen to date. The Ohio River, parks & downtown plaza were also highlights of my trip. The city's churches also stood out to me. I am excited to return and to see one of my best friends too!

Thanks, Sarah. Ooof... bad sushi is never a good thing. At least it totally didn't ruin your time here.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

First/Last-Laney Jones and the Spirits

"Raised on an exotic animal farm in rural Mount Dora, FL, Laney Jones sings tales of love and adventure with a voice that has been described as “a mix of lemon, molasses, gin and gunpowder” (WPRK), mellifluous and smooth but brimming with passion. Her live performance highlights her multi-instrumental prowess on banjo, ukulele, tenor guitar and harmonica backed by her band the Spirits. Since releasing her first studio album Golden Road in 2013, she has traveled far from the orange groves and marshes of her home, graduating from Berklee College of Music and playing festival stages at Grey Fox, Shakori Hills, String Break, Lancaster Roots and Blues and numerous others."

Laney Jones and the Spirits is a Boston based folk rock quartet who's single 'Work It Out' will more than likely be played this tomorrow night (5/29) as the hit the Pittsburgh Winery on a co-headling bill with fellow 'Bostonian' Sarah Blacker. I want to thank Laney (Guitar/Banjo/Ukelele/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The 1990's ‘Romeo + Juliet Soundtrack’. But the first album that I bought with my own money was probably The Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs". A great album. Money well spent indeed.

Your last album bought?
“Hank Williams's 24 Greatest Hits” two-vinyl album via my local thrift store record bin.

Favorite album of all time?
It's a four-way tie: Bob Dylan's “Highway 61 Revisited”, The Beatles' “Rubber Soul”, Neil Young's “On the Beach” and Wilco's “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Bob Dylan's “Nashville Skyline”. I was pretty distraught when I heard that record. I love me some Dylan and Cash, just not together... also, an instrumental song, what's that about Bob?!?

First concert attended?
Tina Turner. My parents had won tickets through a local radio station giveaway. I'd like to say I learned all my dance moves from the best.

Last concert?
Does a one I played at count? Truthfully, it's hard to go out to see other bands play while touring unless you're opening or vice versa. It's very easy to get caught in your own bubble. Anytime I have off I try to catch other bands. On that note, I'm seeing Jenny Lewis tomorrow.

Favorite concert ever?
Paul McCartney at Bonnaroo 2013. He just killed it AND there were fireworks.

Least favorite concert?
Paul McCartney at Bonnaroo. I needed to use the bathroom so bad the entire time he played. Most of the time you can dance through the crowd and get your spot back, but people there were nuts for him. I tried to venture out through the crowd thirty minute before he played, got about 12 feet out and I realized I would never make it back if I went all the way. Regardless though, it was still worth it.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I've never been before so I hope you folks take it easy on me (:

Thanks, Laney. We are a friendly bunch here in Pittsburgh. No need to worry, we'll treat you right!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

First/Last-When Particles Collide

"Sasha and Chris met in Bangor Maine during a 2010 local production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Sasha was cast as a guitar playing Yitzhak and Chris played Schlatko, the band’s drummer. Six months later the two were a band, and three years later the band became a marriage."

When Particles Collide is a Bangor, ME based 'American rock duo' who's latest album "This Town" will be relased soon. As an early warning, they hit Pittsburgh August 8th with locals Roulette Waves. I want to thank Sasha Alcott (Guitar/Vocals) and Chris Viner (Drums/Saxaphone/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Sasha Alcott: Carole King “Tapestry”.
Chris Viner: Ace of Base “The Sign”.

Your last album bought?
Sasha: The last vinyl I bought since I'm going to interpret "album" as a vinyl album was actually taken in trade for one of our own. The Shanks “Surfing the Lexicon”.
Chris: Will Daily “National Throat”.

Favorite album of all time?
Sasha: Michael Jackson “Off The Wall”.
Chris: Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Sasha: So to be a disappointing album I would have had to listen to all of it I suppose. Given that qualification I would say Four Non Blondes “Bigger, Better, Faster, More!”
Chris: Kanye West, anything after “Graduation”.

First concert attended?
Sasha: The Steve Miller Band sometime in 1988 I believe. I was in high school and my mom's best friend took me. I brought peach muffins.
Chris: I am going to assume one that I decided to go to by myself and not one that my parents bought tickets for and told me we were going. With that said I have to do admit that my first concert was 311.

Last concert?
Sasha: Always local: Petty Morals, Gene Dante, Parlour Belles, Party Bois at TT the Bears in Cambridge, MA.
Chris: Same as Sasha.

Favorite concert ever?
Sasha: I can't pick one of my own, or can I? I would say Helmet in Rochester New York around 1994 or 1995.
Chris: I can see Sasha’s face cringing already... Dave Matthews in Foxboro, MA in 2008.

Least favorite concert?
Sasha: I can't pick one of my own, or can I? I've been to so few big shows but hundreds and hundreds of local shows. Once Chris and I played a horrible show in suburban southern New Jersey a few years ago. We were truly awful.
Chris: I will not name names, but one of the worst shows I have ever been to was in Brooklyn NY. Ear bleeding awful.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Sasha: I love Pittsburgh. We've played there probably ten or more times. Nathan Zoob was once a student of mine when he and I both lived in NYC so we almost always play with one of his projects when we come to town. He puts on a great show and finds wonderful other bands for us to play with. I love the variety of bands in Pittsburgh and in general I love the rust belt because people seem to still go out and they also seem to like the rock 'n roll, which is what we're all about. Looking forward to coming back this summer.
Chris: Pittsburgh is a city that we keep coming back to because they have embraced us and made us feel loved. There is a pocket of people in PA, OH, KY, MI that love rock and roll and go out to hear new bands. Pittsburgh is one of those places where they will come see you for the first time, buy your album, buy your t-shirt and talk with you after the show. There are so many great musicians as well in Pittsburgh. With so many good musicians it makes all the bands work harder to be that much better. Such good music!

Thanks, guys. I am with you... LOVE my man, Zoob!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

First/Last-Joshua Fletcher

"Born in Macon, raised in the Atlanta suburbs, living in Nashville. Grew up on Punk, fell into country, currently really into reverb. Josh Fletcher loves Coca-Cola, vinyl records, Atlanta Braves Baseball, Georgia Tech Football, old Gibson guitars, and rock and roll."

Joshua Fletcher is an Americana singer-songwriter based in Nashville who's latest album "Ready, Aim" was produced by Alex Dezen of The Damnwells and is available today. I want to thank Joshua for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The first album I ever went to a record store and purchased was No Doubt's "Return of Saturn", but I convinced my parents to buy me a lot of soundtracks when I was a kid. Think ‘Space Jam’, ‘Batman Forever’, etc.

Your last album bought?
I bought the new Alabama Shakes record the day it came out. In the time since, I've listened to it about a hundred thousand times.

Favorite album of all time?
I can't choose just one: “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison”, Ryan Adams "Heartbreaker", The Damnwells "Bastards of the Beat", The Replacements "Pleased to Meet Me".
There are more. I'll stop there.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
That I own? Probably the Rolling Stones' "A Bigger Bang." I think it's hard to write blues rock when you've been filthy rich for 50 years. That said, I'll still drop a great deal of money I haven't got to see them live.
But there are PLENTY of records I'd put in the category of "generally disappointing."

First concert attended?
I think it was Jars of Clay at the Capitol Theater in Macon, Georgia. To my 6th grade brain, it was the most rock-n-roll thing that ever happened. I'm still not entirely convinced it wasn't.

Last concert?
Shaky Knees in Atlanta last weekend. I got to see Ryan Adams and The Damnwells in the same day. 18 year old me was almost as excited as 28 year old me. I also met Danny Clinch, Vanessa Carlton, and Vanessa Carlton's dachshund.

Favorite concert ever?
Ryan Adams two nights back to back at the Tabernacle in Atlanta. July 29th and 30th, 2006. My best friend and I got to the venue four hours before doors opened both nights so we could get a spot in the front row. It was a truly life changing experience.

Least favorite concert?
I'll plead the fifth, as I'd still do terrible things to open for all the artists that have ever disappointed me live.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I've tragically never been to Pittsburgh, and the only actual experience with the city was on the phone with a talent buyer at a club who listened to one of my songs while we were on the phone, and before the first verse was finished just said "No." It was brutal. But, we press on.

Thanks, Joshua. Bummer about that guy from Pittsburgh on the phone. Don't let his douchiness skew your perception of our city. In fact, I bet I know who that dick is.

Monday, May 25, 2015


"Supervoid blends many influences resulting in crushing riffs, high energy and huge dynamics. Never letting their style be restricted to one category, tracks range from big energy rock and roll, soul crushing sludge, and atmospheric melody."

Supervoid is a Pittsburgh 'sludge & space roll psychedelic metal' rock band who's debut "Filaments" was released a couple years ago. The band's next gig is opening for Portland's Black Pussy this Wednesday night (along with locals Spacefish). I want to thank Greg Kemper (Drums), Brian Urban (Vocals), John Braymer (Bass), and Joe Madia (Guitar) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Greg Kemper: AC/DC “High Voltage”.
Brian Urban: Can't remember cassette but the first CD I bought was Silverchair “Frogstomp”.
John Braymer: Weird Al “Bad Hair Day”.
Joe Madia: Oh man, the first albums I ever got were when I was a real little kid, maybe 6 or 7, my dad took me to what at the time was Oasis Records (or Record Oasis, I forget which it was) on Rt. 88 in Bethel Park. I remember getting the ‘Ghostbusters’ soundtrack and "Make It Big" by Wham!... not off to an auspicious start as a rocker. I do remember the first real album I got was Metallica's ”Black Album” shortly after it was released.

Your last album bought?
Greg: Clutch “Earth Rocker”.
Brian: Death From Above 1979 “The Physical World”.
John: Dot Legacy S/T.
Joe: The last thing I ordered was the newest record by a band called Giant Squid, "Minoans". Also the newest 7" by Pittsburgh locals Shaky Shrines.

Favorite album of all time?
Greg: Led Zeppelin “Physical Graffiti”.
Brian: Local H “Pack Up The Cats”.
John: Mastodon “Blood Mountain”.
Joe: So many different favorites from so different times in my life. I guess the one band I've listened to for what feels like most of my life is Strung Out. I bet I've listened to “Twisted By Design” more than any other record in my life. Which is weird, because I've never been in a punk band like that or ever played punk rock as a musician. I still think they keep putting out good stuff.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Greg: Metallica “Load”.
Brian: Anything Converge does... I just don't get the hype.
John: Mastodon “The Hunter”. God I hate that album.
Joe: Like millions of other people, probably "Load" by Metallica. I started playing guitar because of them, and as I said above, the black album was my first 'real' rock record I ever bought. Having spent the previous 4-5 years absorbing everything on those first 5 records, the haircut sound was not what I was expecting.

First concert attended?
Greg: Men At Work (I'm old.)
Brian: Aerosmith.
John: Bad Religion with Blink 182 at the Civic Arena in 2000!
Joe: Bad Religion in 1994 at Metropol.

Last concert?
Greg: Clutch - Earth Rocker Tour.
Brian: Mastodon (I'm going this week ha-ha).
John: Elder at Gooski's.
Joe: National act was Helmet at Altar Bar. Locally, LadyBeast at Cattivo.

Favorite concert ever?
Greg: Lollapalooza '93.
Brian: It's really hard to pick but Mastodon/Gojira/Kvelertak, CKY or Horse The Band.
John: Probably get a different answer every time you ask me, but I'll go with Red Fang, Big Business and American Sharks at the Beachland Ballroom.
Joe: Probably Andrew WK at Metropol right when “Party Hard” came out, 2002 or so. And a bunch of shows when I was a teenager at then Starlake… Dokken, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper, etc.

Least favorite concert?
Greg: George Thorogood.
Brian: I'd be hard pressed to remember one I didn't enjoy but I remember seeing Marilyn Manson on a festival show later in his career and he was HORRIBLE.
John: The Sword... love their albums but was incredibly underwhelmed by their live performance.
Joe: Somehow I ended up seeing Muse at Consol. Dude can play guitar for sure, but I can't take his voice. Also I took my college girlfriend to see Nelly and Destiny's Child. That show wasn't that bad actually, but I do remember getting in a fight with her because I said that it was only a matter of time before Beyonce left the rest of them behind, and she said "NO SHE WOULD NEVER DO THAT THEY'RE A GROUP!!"

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Greg: I'm from a small town and farm area (Butler), so moving down here and meeting a lot new and interesting people, playing in Pittsburgh bands and experiencing a great city that I love is something I'll never regret.
Brian: I really enjoy meeting people that go to shows, as I've gotten older I don't get out to them as much as I used to but the connections and friendships you make through local and touring music shows are great.
John: I've only lived here for a few years but the camaraderie between musicians is great. I've met and made friends with a lot of great people in my short time here thanks to the music scene.
Joe: Outside of four years in college and a year spent living in Austin, Texas, Pittsburgh is my home, and I don't really want to live anywhere else. There are certainly things that can be improved about the city, but I'm always perplexed when I hear people say there's nothing to do. So many good restaurants, art, shows, etc. Incredibly talented musicians and songwriters too, I'd encourage everyone to go out and check out some bands that are outside of the scene your band plays in.

Thanks, fellas. I totally agree, Joe. Go check out bands outside your scene! There is soooo much going on and the variety of musical styles we have in Pittsburgh is amazing!