February 12, 2011 by barbmstein@aol.com
In mid-February, Mr. Barb and I embark on our 4th  journey through song.  This year, we are on a larger ship, The Pearl.  Sold-out.  Almost 2,400 passengers on a 7-night cruise visiting ports-of-call in the US & British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.  Three days at sea, including Valentine’s Day.  It’s yet another stellar line-up of over 30 acts. There is one new headliner, John Prine, who is joining past headliners such as: Patty Griffin, Indigo Girls, Steve Earle and The Dukes, Brandi Carlile (who has been on all 4 cruises), and Buddy Miller. Other returning singer-songwriters on-board will be: Shawn Mullins (another 4-time cruiser) , Jim Bianco, Chuck Cannon, David Ryan Harris, Larkin Poe, Roddie Romero and the Hub City All Stars, and Works Progress Administration (WPA). New on the journey through song will be: Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III (there will be a Loud and Rich show one night), Allison Moorer (Steve Earle’s wife was scheduled to be on board last year, but she was due to deliver their son then), Colin Hay  Dar Williams, Scott Miller, Ellis Paul, Steep Canyon Rangers, Will Hoge, Sam & Ruby, Kevn Kinney, Toby Lightman, Enter the Haggis, Tyrone Wells, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Shannon Whitworth  and Sarah & Christian Dugas. This year, in a green initiative, instead of sending us a CD in advance, we were able to download 29 songs from the artists scheduled to be on the 2011 cruise. It’s a treat to see the returning performers; and we know, especially looking at this line-up, we are definitely going to discover some new artists too.  In addition, there’s some events I’m really looking forward to:  This year’s version of Songwriters in the Round will be with Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Dar Williams and Scott Miller; Shawn Mullins will be headlining a concert in the main theater (for which we have front row seats!); and the non-music onboard activity of Beer Tasting with Glen Phillips (WPA) – I don’t even drink beer, but with Mr. Phillips as host, it’s bound to be a hoot.  The cruise begins with Shawn Mullins on the pool deck as we sail away from Miami and ends with Brandi Carlile teaming up with the Indigo Girls. We again chose the earliest headliner show time of 6:00 PM.  The schedule remains friendly to those of us who are “morning people” and don’t necessarily want to try to stay awake until Midnight to see a performer every night. We expect plenty of sunshine, permanent smiles on our faces, unexpected impromptu collaborations (which is what this journey though song is really all about), and to add to our CD collection.  I’ll have lots of stories to share via the WYEP Music blog.  We’re packing sun block and hopefully I won’t bring back a cold this year. Barb S.- Sunday Mix Host
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February 9, 2011 by cindy@wyep.org

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: Wanda Jackson, "Shakin' All Over" - Jack White, the one-man Page-Plant from the White Stripes, worked wonders with Loretta Lynn on "Van Lear Rose." Now, he adds his manic production touch to the Queen of Rockabilly on this 1960 hit from Johnny Kid and the Pirates that most of us know from The Who's "Live at Leeds." The result is thrilling and bombastic, and that carries through to the rest of "The Party Ain't Over." Wire, "Bad Worn Thing" - This British post-punk band inspired the likes of R.E.M., Pere Ubu and the Pixies. Thirty-five years later, Wire is making music better than any of them. This is one of the more accessible, radio-friendly songs from the band's acclaimed 12th album, "Red Barked Tree."
February 4, 2011 by mike@wyep.org
Erin McKeown will be spending Sunday afternoon performing songs about sports live over the internet from her snowy cottage in rural Western Massachusetts. As part of her webcasting series "Cabin Fever," she's going to be chatting with fans and maybe even welcome a special guest or two. Erin is encouraging fans suggest songs for her to play via Twitter or her Facebook fan page. She has more info here. And it perfectly bridges the gap between WYEP's Alternative Souper Bowl and heading over to your big game party! Check out her short promo video for the event:
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February 2, 2011 by cindy@wyep.org

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 some bonus songs): Big Hurry, "Gets Me Low" - This is the title track from this Pittsburgh band's new EP, released this past week -- this band plays kinda dancey, kinda '80s-ish, kinda contemporary pop. The songs are tight and the production is impeccable; make room on your best-of-2011 list. Justin Andrew, "Early Bird" - This song is an advance look at Justin's forthcoming album. Everything about it, from the songwriting to the production, takes it up a notch from his previous release. Especially impressive when you know that he played all the instruments on this recording himself! I posted it as a free download on CP's music blog here: Free "Early Bird" download. New Shouts, "Save Me" - This is the b-side to the Shouts' new single, "Kiss for Fun." It's absolutely infectious and has a timeless quality to it; Derek's falsetto is killer here. It's also available as a free download, on the New Shouts Bandcamp page.
January 29, 2011 by barbmstein@aol.com

  Joshua Radin

Joshua Radin started off his latest tour Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd in Millvale. Over the course of one-hour and ten-minutes, Mr. Radin performed songs with his three-piece band from his three-releases.  There was the poignant song that was one of the first he ever wrote around the time of  Hurricane Katrina "Everything'll Be Alright (Will's Lullaby)". The title track from his most recent (2010) release "The Rock and The Tide".  Showing his rock side on "Nowhere to Go".  A more pop side on "Brand New Day".  Mr. Radin, talked between songs, about being from Cleveland and how his songwriting has been influenced by two failed relationships. Brandon Walters proved he was a talented sideman by playing the guitar, keyboards and zylophone it seemed all at one time.  Audience participation was also encouraged from clapping to screaming out lyrics. "Today" was the song Mr. Radin sang at the wedding of Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi. Mr. Radin also included a song he wrote in one of his darkest times "You Got Growin' Up To Do".  "Closer" was the final song before the encore of "Winter". Opening the show was Anya Marina. There was the first night on tour glitch when Ms. Marina's microphone was not working during her initial song.  Once that was fixed, her 35-minute set continued on with the next 6 songs, including the title track of her latest EP "Spirit School".  A combination of Cyndi Lauper and Jill Sobule crossed my mind. She also got the crowd to sing and clap along with her songs. Barb. S - Sunday Mix Host
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January 27, 2011 by kyle@wyep.org

Introducing "Lamplight" - EPK from Katie Costello on Vimeo.

An artist that has filmed a video at The New Hazlett Theater in Pittsburgh has a interesting, upbeat 2nd release out in February called Lamplight.
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January 26, 2011 by cindy@wyep.org

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 Decemberists, "Rox in the Box" - The first truly great album of 2011, "The King is Dead" from The Decemberists, is more jangly and twangy than 2008's "The Hazards of Love," with notable contributions from R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and Americana artist Gillian Welch. Let's face it: The Decemberists' Colin Meloy would sound great singing the instructions on a 1040EZ form. But he really shines on this solid material, including my favorite track, "Rox in the Box," the folkiest one on the album. Yuck, "Holing Out" - Just when you thought rock had exhausted its supply of creative band names, along comes Yuck. Luckily, Yuck doesn't literally live up to its name, offering an engaging brand of Sonic Youth-ish, fuzzy guitar, lo-fi garage rock. Band members hail from New Jersey, London and Hiroshima... that pretty much covers it! Their self-titled, self-produced debut will be released by the Fat Possum label on Feb. 15. Get hip to Yuck now.
January 20, 2011 by cindy@wyep.org

Lubriphonic plays on Friday January 28th @ The Thunderbird in Lawrenceville

Info on Lubriphonic here Preview by Justin Jacobs:

Like all good Americans, you like your winters snowy and white, your eagles bald and soaring and, most importantly, your funk music hot and heavy. We lucked out in Pittsburgh this month with a wild show from Maceo Parker (he of James Brown and George Clinton band fame) at the Byham Theater. On Friday, Jan. 28, we'll get another dose — up-and-comers Lubriphonic will hit the Thunderbird. Where Maceo's brand of funk included a bit of jazz, this Chicago septet rolls up the funk in a driving rock'n'roll package. I'm not too sure where they'll fit all seven players in the small Lawrenceville venue, but that should make for a loud, brassy show. Lubriphonic's latest is called The Gig Is On; seems appropriate, as funk has always been best presented with a few stiff drinks someplace where you can dance. Check them out this Friday.
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January 19, 2011 by cindy@wyep.org

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, Relix Magazine and Pittsburgh's City Paper In case you missed it here's what he played (plus two bonus songs): The Low Anthem, "Hey All You Hippies!" - These folks are WYEP (and Cindy Howes) favorites, so I'd expect to hear some more of them once their fourth album drops. It's called Smart Flesh, and it's full of ragged rockers like this one, as well as beautiful, hushed folk tunes. If you like folk, gospel, country or, really, any music at all, I think you'll dig The Low Anthem. Jay Reatard, "My Shadow" - Last week marked the one-year anniversary of Jay's death. He was found in his home in Memphis last year, dead of an overdose at 29. Jay was, hands down, one of the most important voices in punk rock in the last 20 years - he released dozens of albums, 7"s and EPs in his short time here, and it was all raging, 77-era, speedy punk that fit right alongside The Buzzcocks and Sex Pistols. Here's to you, dude. Callers, "Life of Love" - Picture a slower, more sultry Florence and the Machine. This new band creates some sexy chamber-pop just in time for Valentine's Day. Even the record is called Life of Love. Lead one yourself and check out this band. Mister Heavenly, "Mister Heavenly" - This sorta-supergroup features band members from Islands, Man Man and Modest Mouse. The band calls their music 'doom-wop,' but I call it awesome. No record out yet, but this track just dropped and is 3-minute party perfect for weird-ing-out by yourself or with friends.
January 16, 2011 by barbmstein@aol.com
Even though it’s only January, I have a CD already on my Best of 2011 list.  “The Next Right Thing” is the sophomore release on MPress for singer-songwriter Seth Glier.  This musician from Massachusetts has assurance well beyond his 22-years.

The CD opens with the title track.  It only includes vocals, drums and percussion coming in under 2 minutes.  A unique way to take the listener into the next dozen tracks.  There are also two short instrumental transition pieces among the 13 tracks.  “Beauty in the Breakdown” is one of the songs that have a brief instrumental introduction which helps the song build.  “Walk Katie Home” and “What The Others Have Done” tell stories in about 4 minutes.  “First” gives you the hint that this is a young lyricist with a line referring to high school sweethearts who keep the zip code where their folks live. The song also includes current events like what’s going on in Detroit and Bagdad.  You may write about what you know, but with Mr. Glier you can relate to the images he paints no matter what your age.  My favorite track is “Lauralee”  This song sounds like Ellis Paul joining with Coldplay (really!)  Edwin McCain provides backing vocals on “I Don’t Need You”.  Mr. Glier has performed over 200 shows and “No Place to Land” talks about missing someone while out on the road. Mr. Glier’s friends / mentors / fans include the likes of James Taylor, Livingston Taylor, Ellis Paul, Maia Sharp, Edwin McCain, Stephen Kellogg, and The Verve Pipe.  I too am a fan of Mr. Glier and this CD.  I’ve seen Mr. Glier open for Livingston Taylor and Maia Sharp.  I look forward to the day Mr. Glier earns his status as a headliner. Barb S - Sunday Mix Host
January 14, 2011 by kyle@wyep.org
A Bit of a preview of the forthcoming R.E.M.
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January 12, 2011 by cindy@wyep.org

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: Gang of Four, "She Said" - Gang of Four is one of my favorite bands ever, despite the British post-punkers only having about three albums worth of stellar material. It's been 16 years since we've heard anything new from them, so the appearance of "Content" is a thrill. From the sound of this lead track the new rhythm section sounds as solid as the original and guitarist Andy Gill is as menacing as ever. Social Distortion, "Alone and Forsaken" - These are hard times, so it's a good time for this vintage Orange County band that delivers its punk rock with a bluesy edge. "Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes" doesn't break any new ground (why would it?), but it rocks from start to finish and Mike Ness brings the same old passion to these tales of woe.
January 11, 2011 by kyle@wyep.org
Many listeners have been turned onto The Low Anthem over the past couple of years. The band did a great studio session at WYEP and we carried their show Live from Club Cafe. The band was recently out on tour with the great Emmylou Harris and really impressed the crowd with their new material. Enjoy "Ghost Woman Blues" their new video and song. The band is back for a full show in Pittsburgh on February 26th at Brillobox.
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January 10, 2011 by barbmstein@aol.com

The first show of the second season of what is usually a quarterly event, the Songwriters Spotlight, took place Saturday night at the New Hazlett Theater.

Hosted by Joe Grushecky and Rick Witkowski. The guest songwriters were Greg Joseph (The Clarks), Maddie Georgi and Jeff Schmutz (Good Brother Earl). The format:  Each singer-songwriter performs two to three of their original songs, then each performs a cover of a song that they wish they wrote, and the two hours of music ends with a group collaboration / sing-a-long. The hosts Mr. Grushecky and Mr. Witkoswki are at each end of a semi-circle with the guest singer-songwriters in the middle. Mr. Grushecky offered "The Sun is Going to Shine" (East Carson Street), "Another Rainy Day in Pittsburgh (Fingerprints) sounding like it was from Jimmy Webb/Burt Bacharach 1960's era, "Beauty Fades" (A Good Life), along with his cover of The Rolling Stones "Wild Horses".  He also reminisced, on the anniversary of Elvis Presely's birth, about a visit to Graceland before it was open to the public, which gave way to an impromptu short medley of Presley's songs. Mr. Witkoswki sang the rocky hip hop Gothic "Do You Have it (Guts)" and a song from the "Prog Rock" group Crack the Sky's 3rd album that he wrote with his wife that had the 1940's feel to it "A Night on the Town" (played on the ukulele).  He covered the Carole King and Gerry Goffin penned "Will You Love Me Tomorrow". Mr. Joseph performed "Mississippi Mud" (with a sampling of "Delta Dawn" at the end), "Snowman" (a children's song about cocaine), and "Magazine" along with a cover of David Gray's "Babylon" which was spot on. Ms. Georgi is a freshman in college, who found herself center stage amongst the more seasoned songwriters.  She sang "Shades of Green", "I Like The Way That Feels", and "Already Gone" (about your senior year of high school going by too quickly).  Ms. Georgi's cover of Leonard Cohen's "'Hallelujah" was simply breathtaking. Mr. Schmutz songs included "Glass Tiger" and "Firefly" with a cover of the Hank Williams Sr. song "Long Gone Lonesome Blues" which gave him a chance to yodel. The final number was Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" with the audience accompanying the talented singer-songwriters each time on the chorus. It was the 3rd Songwriters Spotlight I was able to attend and I look forward to future installments to discover more local singer-songwriters. Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
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January 5, 2011 by cindy@wyep.org

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 some bonus songs): Wye Oak, "Civilian" - This is an advance track from the Baltimore-based duo’s forthcoming album, also titled Civilian. It’s a beautiful song that starts out mumbly and quiet and turns pretty raucous with an abrasive but great guitar solo. The record comes out in early March. Howlin Rain, "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" - This is one of my favorite rock bands, led by Ethan Miller, former frontman of Comets on Fire. They hope to have a full-length – their third – out later this year, but this track was released as part of a three-song EP in December. With a ’70’s-guitar-rock-cum-‘90s noise rock sound, there’s a lot to like for folks with a lot of different tastes. Lemuria, "Pleaser" - This Buffalo three-piece has been putting out sweet dual-vocal indie pop-rock for a few years now; the last time I saw them was probably 2008 or so at the late Mr. Roboto Project. This is from their brand-new Pebble LP. Asobi Seksu "Trails" - This duo from Brooklyn makes noisy dream-pop that’s just plain pretty. This is an advance track from Fluourescence, due to drop on Polyvinyl in February. They’ve already ended up in some TV shows; I imagine they’ll be ending up on some indie mix CDs as well when the new album arrives.

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