May 25, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Justin Jacobs, contributing writer to Billboard Magazine, City Paper and Relix Magazine In case you missed it here's what he played (plus bonus songs): Dawes, "If I Wanted Someone" - This California band is a perfect mix of CSNY, Jackson Browne, The Band and assorted other totally awesome classic rock acts, and they do it without any irony or nostalgia — just great songwriting, amazing lyrics, perfect harmonies and killer guitar solos. I totally hate this band, if you couldn't tell. The Antlers, "Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out" - Pretty much the opposite of sunshiney Dawes — The Antlers just released "Burst Apart," the spooky, minimalist and ice cold follow up to their epic, much beloved "Hospice." The band is great at creating a mood; frankly, I hope they remain about as popular as they are now. It's hard to imagine a sell-out crowd at Smalls getting down to this. Best appreciated with headphones, or when lost in the woods. Bon Iver, entire album "Bon Iver" - It's really a beautiful record, and completely different than the now-classic "For Emma, Forever Ago." Also, it leaked a month early, so you can likely find it online pretty easily... not that I'm suggesting you do. My Morning Jacket, entire album "Circuital" - This one drops May 31. It's weird and awesome, and you should totally buy it. The title track alone makes my brain turn into a July 4th sparkler.
May 19, 2011 by [email protected]
Ben Sollee returned to Pittsburgh in support of his recently released CD Inclusions. The music on Ben Sollee's CDs sound lush, rich.  With 3 young and talented musicians on-stage, that robust sound and more was duplicated at Club Cafe Wednesday night.  Joining Ben Sollee (vocals, cello, guitar):  Phoebe Hunt (formerly of The Belleville Outfit) on vocals, violin and bass with Jordon Eillis on drums and percussion.  I was simply amazed at how electrifying the music was and how it filled the room and yet the concert was still very intimate. The show began with Ben Sollee singing Carrie Bell a cappella.  The set was heavy on the new music from Inculsions, which has only been out on the streets for a little over a week.  I've only had the chance to preview the new CD, and hearing the songs live for the first time, makes me want to listen even more closely to the CD.  Can I add again how amazed I am that the songs really come to life during a live performance - you can see the passion and how the musicians are feeling Ben Sollee's music. Close to You, Embrace, The Globe, Bible Belt, and Electrified were among the songs performed from Inclusions.  There was It's Not Impossible (Boys Don't Cry) and How to See the Sun Rise (also featured in the TV show Weeds) from Learning to Bend. From his project with Daniel Martin Moore (Dear Companion) Mr. Sollee sang Try.  I've seen Mr. Sollee perform a couple of times and I was reminded how beautifully he plays the cello when he intros his songs with an extended instrumental.  Ms. Hunt treated us to one of her own tunes Fly On.  It didn't seem like Mr. Sollee wanted the music to end, even after an hour and forty-five minutes.  For the encore, everyone on stage, including Sean Rowe, huddled around one microphone to sing and then the final song, a cover of Cat Stevens Wild World, which got the audience to join in on the singing. Ben Sollee with Phoebe Hunt and Jordon Ellis performed a Studio Session at WYEP earlier in the day, electrifying the space with music. Opening was singer-songwriter Sean Rowe.  He reminds me a lot of Darrell Scott.  He played about a 45-minute set, using a couple of different guitars (which he could finger-pick very well).  His newest CD is Magic and we heard a few tasty tunes like: Jonathan, Wet (which mentions Pittsburgh, and Mr. Rowe was happy to sing it here), Old Black Dodge, Time to Think and American.  He included a cover of a Tom Waits song (Jesus Gonna Be Here) and ended with a cover of a Richard Thompson tune, both of which really suited his playing and singing style.  I am a new fan of  Sean Rowe's music. Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
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May 19, 2011 by [email protected]

I am certain that everything Bob Dylan does is very humorous to Bob Dylan. The Victoria's Secret Ad? Playing the keyboard at concerts? Those are knee-slappers for old Bobby D. Take a gander at this recent blog post where Bob clears the air about what really happened with China. Hilarious! The ending is my favorite part:

"Everybody knows by now that there's a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I'm encouraging anybody who's ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them."

What!?!? LOL, Bob! You are a comedian through and through.

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May 17, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Mervis of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Scott: The Love Me Nots, "He Doesn't Share Well" - As a rule, I'd rather not be driving around Sunday nights between 10 and midnight, but when that happens, it's a treat to flip on Little Steven's Underground Garage on that rock station up the dial. He focuses on '60s garage- and psych-rock and the bands that were influenced by it. Arizona band The Love Me Nots are a perfect fit, rocking hard with a fat, distorted guitar tone and Spector-style girl pop. The local connection is that the band, which just released "The Demon and the Devotee," features former Pittsburgher Bob Hoag (The Breakup Society) on drums. Ezra Furman & The Harpoons, "I Killed Myself But I Didn't Die" - For years, indie-rock bands played down the importance of lyrics to the point where a lot of people didn't even care about them anymore. With this Chicago band, which just released "Mysterious Power," the words jump out and demand your attention. But it's far from easy-listening singer-songwriter stuff. The Harpoons rock with noise and clatter, like on this song which recalls such indie greats as The Pixies and Pavement.
May 15, 2011 by [email protected]
In December 2010 I was asking myself who is Jann Klose? After having the opportunity to interview him via email for the WYEP Music Blog I was able to answer that question and after seeing him in concert for the first time, I became even more aware of his music.  On Friday the 13th I again had the opportunity to experience the music of Jann Klose. Jann Klose on vocals and guitar along with Lars Potteiger on keyboard, accordion and backing vocals performed original music for an hour at Club Cafe.  Mr. Klose even treated us to a few new songs, like The Kite.  Most of the songs were from his most recent release Reverie:  Mother Said Father Said (by request), Question of the Heart (usually with a harp, but this time with keys) Doing Time, Watching You Go and Hold Me Down.  The final song was an extended version of All These Rivers, when Mr. Klose invited Colter Harper and Preach Freedom back to the stage.  Mr. Klose has an engaging stage presence and is a talented songwriter. Two members of Rusted Root began the early evening of music.  Colter Harper on baritone guitar and Preach Freedom on percussion and vocals.  Mr. Freedom sang covers of Bill Wither’s Sweet Wanomi and Use Me along with a cover of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.  There was also Unity and Identity. Very entertaining, Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host
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May 11, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Andy Mulkerin of Pittsburgh's City Paper

In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Andy (plus  bonus songs):

Man Man, "Bangkok Necktie" - This is from the new album, Life Fantastic, from the Philly-based band. The record is, on the whole, quite pleasant and energetic; this was the song I could find that didn’t have swears in it.

Secret Cities, "Always Friends" - This is from Strange Hearts, the new album from this Midwestern three-piece psyche outfit. It’s got their signature muddy baroque sound, but is upbeat and has elements of old rock steady to it.

Poison Control Center, "Porcelain Brain" - Longtime Buzz listeners know I like this Iowa-based band a lot. Their new album, Stranger Ballet, comes out next month, and this song – a Silver Jews-sounding rocker – is on it.

Bare Branches, "Kids in Love II" - This Butler-based band issued a solid album, Haunts, earlier this year. There’s something nostalgic to me about the band’s guitar sounds and Christopher Wagner’s Ian Curtis vocals.

May 6, 2011 by [email protected]

The Solo and Low Down Tour brought Stephen Kellogg and Tift Merritt to a sold-out Club Café on Cinco de Mayo.

The petite and feisty Tift Merritt took the stage all in black.  With a lot of energy and spunk Ms. Merritt played the guitar and keyboards.  At only 5 feet tall, she commands the stage with her strong voice and musicianship.  She performed music from her catalog that included Broken and Mixtape, a song she wrote in France, Another Country, along with a couple of new songs and Good Hearted Man from her CD Tambourine, which was Grammy nominated in the Best Country Album category.

When you see Stephen Kellogg without the Sixers, it really makes you focus on his strong songwriting skills.  I found myself listening intently to all the lyrics.  He stayed center stage, playing the guitar and harmonica with a crate nearby acting as a table holding his mugs and various harmonicas.  Mr. Kellogg, tall and slim all in black, performed for about 70 minutes with mostly a mix of Sixers fan favorites.  There was one new song 1993 that will be on the upcoming Sixers CD due out in September.  It’s another love song, about meeting his wife and starting a family.  Among the songs:  A (With Love), 4th of July, Sweet Sophia, My Old Man.  Mr. Kellogg shared some quotes about life, romance, work and success.  Ms. Merritt joined Mr. Kellogg on stage for a duet on the Kenny Loggins penned Danny’s Song.  The 3-song encore included The Bear and Satisfied Man followed by a toast to the audience.

Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host

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May 4, 2011 by [email protected]

A Note from Colin and Jenny About a month ago, we all at Decemberists HQ got hit with some pretty hard news. Jenny Conlee, our since-the-very-beginning accordion and keyboard player and all-around rad person was diagnosed with breast cancer. If you or anyone in your world has been handed a similar diagnosis, you know what a bolt-out-of-the-blue this news can be. The good news is that Jenny caught it early. And while the prognosis is very, very good for a full recovery, tackling the disease will mean some intensive treatment for our Jenny as well as a lot of important recovery time. So I'm writing this to say that, weighing our options, and with Jenny's fervent blessings, we've decided to go forward with our scheduled tour dates this spring and summer. What we know now: Jenny will very likely miss all nine of our concerts in May and June. We're all hoping that her recovery will be such that she'll be able to get back on board as soon as possible. And now, a note from Jenny: Hello to Everyone, I am very sorry to say that I will be missing a few shows coming up as I go through treatment for breast cancer. It has been great to be on tour these past few weeks. The band and crew are like family to me and have been incredibly supportive and understanding. To be making music with everyone and seeing the fans has helped me to feel more positive and keep my mind off of my diagnosis. But, alas, as the tour winds down, it is time for me to get back to reality. I will try to get into surgery as soon as I can after we return from this leg of the tour so I can begin my recovery. There are still a few unknowns out there concerning my cancer, but I am thinking positive and hope to be back on the road soon. Thanks for all of your support! See you soon! Lots of love, Jenny Thanks for everyone's understanding during this crazy time. Yours, Colin Meloy The Decemberists **************** More on The Decemberists here
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May 4, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Tady of The Beaver County Times. In case you missed it here's what he played (with commentary by Scott): The Smithereens, "Sorry" - No, the Smithereens hadn’t stashed their new album in a vault for 20 years, it just sounds that way. And that’s a good thing. Fuzzed-up guitar and crunchy drums and bass — British Invasion melodies filtered through East Coast pub rock — provide the vibrant backdrop to Pat DiNizio’s rich, vibrato-heavy voice. “The Smithereens 2011” kicks off effectively with this jangly, stomping single with brooding lyrics like, “Well my back’s against the wall/But I’m not afraid at all/I would like to say I’m sorry, but I won’t.” Andy Friedman, “Old Pennsylvania" - In typically off-kilter fashion, one of Brooklyn’s best and world weariest alt-country singers paints a picture of a late-fall Pennsylvania day in an old, rural town. Critical exultation for Friedman include “the king of art country” (Minneapolis’ City Pages), “art-damaged, ragged-but-right” (L.A. Weekly), “dusty, paint-splattered Americana sage” (Rochester News & Democrat) and “Ingenious originals” (The New Yorker, one of the New York publications for which Friedman has done freelance illustrations.) Indie-rock icon Sufjan Stevens once said, “I’ve always wanted to be Andy Friedman.”) See what the buzz is about May 9, when Friedman performs at Hollywood Gardens, an eclectic, TV-less bar in Rochester, Beaver County.
April 29, 2011 by [email protected]
Sometimes you have to travel 95 miles to see a show.  Edwin McCain, with the acoustic trio, plus one, performed at the Kent Stage, in Kent, OH, Thursday night. The Kent Stage is one of the best "listening rooms" I've been to over the last couple of years to see some of my favorite singer-songwriters perform including Livingston Taylor and Marc Cohn.  I can now add Edwin McCain to that list. Mr. McCain was in Pittsburgh in March with his full band.  It was an energetic performance with the songs sounding like what you hear on the CD's with some great jams.  But where Mr. McCain is at his best is when he can tell stories and just let the songs speak for themselves.  The acoustic trio consists of Edwin McCain on vocals and guitar with long time sidemen Larry Chaney on guitar and Craig Shields on saxophone and wind instruments.  A couple of songs into the set a long time friend of Mr. McCain's, Kay Smith from Kent State made the trio a four-some when he came on stage to play percussion. In his early 40's. Mr. McCain is married with three young children at home.  His stories now are more about his family life and how he tries to still look cool driving a sedan to a local coffee shop drive-thru with car seats in the back. Mr. McCain casually walked on stage and began the show with Walk With You. The set included more of the songs that make you think and sound good in a small theater with just a few musicians on stage.  White Crosses, I Could Not Ask For More, Shooting Stars, Sober, and I'll Be were intertwined with stories of Mr. McCain's life with his family, including his mother-in-law. The three song encore started with Mr. McCain on stage alone singing The Lucky One, and ended with all the other musicians joining him on stage one by one on Holy City. Opening the show was 22 year-old Seth Glier. He began his 35-minute, 7-song set singing the title track of his latest CD The Next Right Thing acapella. He next performed Walk Katie Home and Gotta Get Away before Pittsburgh musician Brad Yoder joined him on stage to play sax on I Don't Need You and First.  Mr. Glier also tells stories:  living at home in a small town in MA with his parents and taking care of his 26-year old brother Jamie who is autistic.  The young singer-songwriter has been polishing his performance by spending 200 nights on the road each year.  Mr. Glier ended his set with the song he was thrilled to hear on the radio as he was driving into Ohio, Lauralee.  The audience rewarded Mr. Glier with a standing ovation. Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
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April 29, 2011 by [email protected]
Okay, I dare you to watch this live version of "Last Night I Dreamed of Television" by Jeffrey Foucault and not wanna hear more: I know, right? Wow. That song is included on his upcoming release Horse Latitudes (out May 3rd on Signature Sounds). Currently living in Western Massachusetts, Jeffrey's released a few other albums prior to this, but none have been so striking to me as this one. His voice, band (including lovely harmonies from his wife, Kris Delmhorst), lyrics and overall tone will shake you into submission. This album is totally on my best of 2011 list.
April 27, 2011 by [email protected]

What a treat: two hours of stories and music from Colin Hay on Tuesday night.

There may have been more stories than music from this singer-songwriter, who was born in Scotland, moved to Australia and now calls California home.  He came to the Rex Theater alone, not only reminding us of his success with Men at Work, but also of his body of music as a solo artist.  Between sipping water and changing guitars were the stories of his father, touring with Ringo Starr, meeting Paul McCartney, Men at Work supporting Fleetwood Mac, writing Men at Work songs, and even goats.  There was some music too, in between the banter.  The title track of his most recent CD Gathering Field began the set. The title track of his 2nd CD Wayfaring Sons and his 5th album Transcendental Highway, with a track from his 3rd CD Into the Cornfields. In the early 1980's we probably would not have appreciated hearing acoustic versions of Down Under, Who Can It Be Now? and Overkill but the songs have aged very well. Another new song Invisible. Also Beautiful World and Waiting For My Real Life To Begin, which he gently reminded us was now 17 years old.  The evening ended with Kool & the Gang's Celebration playing over the speakers. To really appreciate that song, you would have had to be there to hear that story.

Opening was Chris Trapper, out of Boston, MA. You may know him as the leader of The Push Stars.  I came in near the end of his set as he was introducing a song which he had written in Pittsburgh. He ended with a song he wrote for his parent's 50th wedding anniversary.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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April 22, 2011 by [email protected]
Ellis Paul, playing a new space Thursday night, Calliope Center Stage, reminisced about the various venues, including house concerts that he has played in the Pittsburgh area over the years.  The Center Stage would be a welcome new home for Mr. Paul’s future visits. Performing two sets of music, with a brief intermission, Mr. Paul was alone on stage with his guitar, harmonica and keyboard in a very intimidate setting.  It was like having your very talented singer-songwriter friend in your basement performing just for you. Mr. Paul opened with Rose Tattoo from his most recent release The Day After Everything Changed and ended the set out in front of the stage with an acoustic version of Annalee.  In between, he also performed Hurricane Angel, Dragonfly and Once Upon a Summertime.  Roy Orbison would have been 75 this Saturday (April 23) and Mr. Paul paid tribute by doing his version of Crying. He did a new song that he co-wrote with a member of Enter the Haggis, which is about Johnny Cash.  The audience joined in on the chorus of “Kick Off the Lights – Johnny Cash”.  Mr. Paul said the song was about the time Mr. Cash kicked out the stage lights at the Grand Ole Opry.  There were old favorites like Alice’s Champagne Palace and 3,000 Miles. The second set had older material, fulfilling some requests from the audience.  In addition to asking for song suggestions, Mr. Paul opened up the floor to questions.  He shared with us which guitars he favors, and how he tunes them.  He also revealed he was working on his second children’s CD (he recited a poem about Thomas Edison to us) and a Christmas CD.  Before singing Jukebox On My Grave, Mr. Paul mentioned the gravesites of famous musicians that he had visited and the audience let him know that he could add another to his list, as Stephen Foster’s grave is nearby.  Maria’s Beautiful Mess, Eighteen, Roll Away Bed and The World Ain’t Slowin’ Down were highlights.  Mr. Paul ended the evening at the keyboard singing Johnny Cash’s The Night Hank Williams Came to Town. Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
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April 21, 2011 by [email protected]

Gerard Smith, bassist for Brooklyn rock band TV on The Radio, passed away yesterday (4/20/2011) at the age of 34 due to complications from Lung Cancer. The band released a statement: “We are very sad to announce the death of our beloved friend and band mate, Gerard Smith, following a courageous fight against lung cancer. Gerard passed away the morning of April 20th, 2011. We will miss him terribly.” This shocking and sad news comes only about a month after it was announced that Smith had been diagnosed. TVOTR seemed positive about his recovery. The band noted at the time that Smith's had seen "dramatic results" and with his “legendarily willful disposition … it might just be cancer that has the problem.” TV on The Radio just released their latest album, Nine Types of Light on 4/12. Below is the video for "Will Do":
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April 20, 2011 by [email protected]

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Justin Jacobs, contributing writer to Billboard Magazine and Relix Magazine In case you missed it here's what he played (plus a bonus song): Black Lips, "Modern Art" - This is the first cut from this Atlanta punk band's new record, Arabia Mountain, which was produced by Mark Ronson. It's a true story about the band taking ketamine and walking through a Salvador Dali museum in Spain. Not sure if that sounds fun to you, but the song certainly is. This band is pure rock'n'roll - sloppy, catchy, danceable, dangerous, fun. The album's out next month, and it is amazing. US Royalty, "Equestrian" - Weird name for a song, but somehow fitting — the tune sounds like some majestic ride down a mountain on a horse, probably during a windy day, possibly while wearing a crown or something. Either way, it's a perfect cross between Fleet Foxes, Local Natives and the Black Keys. The D.C. band's most recent album, Mirrors, came out just last month. Girls in Trouble, "Lemons" - This act got its start writing songs about girls in trouble... girls from the bible, that is. That narrative continues on Half You Half Me, out May 17 on JDub, the sophomore album from Alicia Jo Rabins' band featuring the bassist of Old Time Relijun. The record's no Sunday school affair, though. It's a string-driven, haunting folk record topped with Rabin's plaintive voice and poetic lyrics. Slip it to your rabbi; he'll be exponentially cooler.