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... in Washington County where the reception isn’t quite what you’d hope for as there’s some interference from a local lower power station.

Here’s how we fixed that problem.  By way of explanation, my buddy Scott and I are both retired. Between us we have probably 55 years of WYEP support and membership. And we both volunteer at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum where we work on the signals and wiring, including the 600-volt wire that supplies electricity to the antique trolley cars.

Our “shop” is in the southwest corner of a steel frame, metal clad building. The WYEP transmitter, in the best tradition of Murphy’s Law, is located far to the northeast. So not only do we have interference from the solar panels and various voltages in and around the building, the building itself blocks the radio signal.

Necessity being the mother of invention, we built an old-fashioned folded dipole antenna using the flat twin conductor wire that was once popular when TV antennas were the norm rather than cable and other digital media.  (For those of you who don’t recall this technology, you could get decent reception of local channels with an aluminum antenna on the top of the house, or with “rabbit ears” or by taking a piece of twin lead, and shaping it into a “T.” The stem of the “T” is wired into the center of the top arm, then into the FM receiver or TV set. With a little judicious fiddling, you’d get reception – of some kind!)

A quick on-line search revealed that for the lower FM bands – which includes WYEP – the top arm of the antenna needed to be 61.5 inches long for optimum reception. So after ordering the wire from a local chain electronics supply store, and procuring some ¾” inch plastic conduit and fittings, we soon had our own “T” with a 61.5” long top arm and a stem about 8 feet tall. This enabled us to raise the antenna high enough to clear the adjacent roof line.

We hooked the lead to the receiver, and with a little fiddling by the guy perched 30 feet off of the ground (“Twist it just a hair more clockwise  -- little more – wait – go back a smidge.”) we soon had reception that sounded as if we were actually in the studio.  Success.

This is good for listening in the shop when we work on bench projects – like painting, rebuilding relays, wiring assemblies, puzzling through 80-year-old wiring diagrams, etc.

Then we came to Part 2 of the project.  When we’re out on the trolley line we use a 75-year-old work car that allows us to maintain and repair the 600 volt DC trolley wire while it’s still energized. All of the electricity in the car is Direct Current – popular back in the early 1900s – and totally incompatible with modern appliances, including radios.  So, how do we take WYEP along while we’re working on the railway?

We did have a source of lower voltage DC, your choice of 24 volts or 12 volts. With a little scrounging in my basement, I found a portable FM/CD/tape player that operated on 8 D cell batteries. Hmmm.  8 times 1.5 volts equals 12 volts! Problem solved, sort of.  The task was to make the wiring necessary to plug the radio into the trolley car’s 12 volt electrical system.  So with some wire, solder, trailer connectors and tape, we soon had our boom box on wheels working.  We’re still tinkering with the antenna there as sometimes the car is oriented north-south and other times east-west or any combination in between depending on the twists and turns of the museum railway trackage.

But we’re calling it a successful project. Now WYEP helps to power the crews that keep the power flowing to the streetcars at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.  Thanks, WYEP.

-WYEP Volunteer Rick
you can talk trolleys, antennas, and public radio with Rick at ptm42@comcast.net

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Seven days and nights of music with over 40 performers on a cruise ship.

Sunday, 2.5.12: As we boarded the ship for the 7-night journey through song, we were treated to the music of Beth Wood performing. WPA played their first of three scheduled shows. Glen Phillips noted that this cruise is really the only gig WPA plays and that their genre of music is “sad”. Willie Watson (Old Crow Medicine Show) and Rhett Miller (Old 97’s) also joined WPA which included Sean & Sara Watkins, Sebastian Steinberg, Jerry Roe and Greg Leisz (who was much in demand throughout the week to play dobro and pedal steel with many other artists). Luke Bulla was not on the cruise, but WPA still performed a couple of his songs. I briefly went to see Levi Lowrey perform and he mentioned being on board in 2009 with the Zac Brown Band. He went looking for a slot to play and that he was honored to be back on board again. Next, it was a Rhett Miller solo set. Miller really puts his whole body into his performances, swaying and sweating through his shirt by the end of the hour. I was amazed at the depth of his songwriting, he looks too young to have written so many songs in his growing catalog of music. His most recent release is a cover CD The Interpreter: Live At Largo and he performed quite a few tracks in his sets including American Girl and the Wilco song California Stars. We caught a little bit of the married couple Sarah Lee (Guthrie) and Johnny (Irion)’s set as well as a couple of tunes by Sarah Jaffe. The evening of music ended for us with 90 minutes of songwriter Chuck Cannon (introduced by Shawn Mullins), whose latest CD Symphony of Scars was only available on the ship for now. Cannon was joined by Shawn Mullins and Nashville based country singer Sarah Buxton.

Greg Leisz, Sara Watkins & Glen Phillips - WPA

Monday, 2.6.12: Our first day at Sea. The music began at 12:30 pm and probably went well past 2:00 am, as we sailed into the Atlantic time zone. Winterbloom (Antje Duvekot, Anne Heaton, Meg Hutchinson & Natalia Zuckerman) started out on the pool deck, but their set was shortened due to the windy conditions. I went to get a seat in the lounge early for Shawn Mullins’ first performance. Mullins does not travel with his full band on the road (Patrick Blanchard, Gerry Hansen, Davis Causey, and Tom ‘Panda’ Ryan), but they sounded very tight especially on the extended Beautiful Wreck jam. He was also joined by the talented British singer-songwriter Callaghan (Mullins produced her CD Life in Full Colour to be released on 5/1) who headlined her own show later in the week. Mullins shared a few new songs She Completes Me, Hold on Love and Sunshine, which sounded just great. He talked about 3-chord pop songs and how his songs do not often end on a chord, instead they fade out with a deceptive cadence. Meanwhile, Mr. Barb went to see Sara Watkins first solo show then to see the Ryan Montbleau Band. After Mullins, I stayed to see Edwin McCain and Maia Sharp perform. They each took a turn signing one of their songs, often co-written by the other. Great stories - Sharp talked about her song Red Dress turning into an Irish drinking song thanks to a male fan that was familiar with it at a past show and started singing along. Sharp has a new CD coming out in the summer. I met Mr. Barb in the atrium where we saw the end of Joe Purdy’s show. I also went to check out Bobby Long (definitely resembles Rhett Miller). Holly Williams has noticeably improved as a performed since her first cruise in 2008 (she also relayed the story of how she missed getting back on the boat at a port stop, when she didn’t change her watch to ship time and learned a valuable lesson that she wanted to pass along). It was our first time seeing James McMurtry and it was quite an upbeat rocking set of long songs. After that set it was another show from WPA. Sarah & Christian Dugas (The Duhks) hosted a throw down jam with musical guests that extended into the early morning hours. Shawn Mullins covered a Kris Kristofferson song, while the Watkins’ sang a Linda Ronstadt song.

Shawn Mullins

Tuesday, 2.7.12: Cayo Levantado. We stayed on board the ship. A nice discovery for us was Willie Watson, who had his own set. He commented that he was on board with WPA, then saw he was given a solo slot. He did a variety of songs on the banjo and guitar; joined on stage at times by Greg Leisz, as well as Sara & Sean Watkins. Mr. Barb stayed in his seat and saw Angie Aparo (he has quite a vocal range and uses one of those microphones that amplifies his speaking voice). I went out on the pool deck for Enter the Haggis. It was evident they fully absorbed all they could on their first voyage the previous year and took what they learned and put it into their current release Whitelake. Panda from the Shawn Mullins band joined them on saxophone & bass. Mr. Barb was really looking forward to seeing Iris Dement and he made sure to catch all of her shows as well as those of her husband, Greg Brown. I again went to see Edwin McCain and Maia Sharp – they were joined by Rhett Miller, the Watkins’ and the Dugas’. McCain and Sharp recorded Uncharted in a Holiday Inn on Sharp’s laptop, liked that version and put it on McCain’s Mercy Bound release (it sounded great live). We then enjoyed another set by the Ryan Montbleau Band. Afterwards “The Time Bandits” (the Shawn Mullins band with multiple guests) jammed in the atrium into the early morning hours with covers such as Ophelia, Statesboro Blues, Easy and Dreams.

Edwin McCain

Wednesday, 2.8.12: St. Maarten. Philipsburg is a beautiful city, we really enjoyed walking around. It was warm and sunny, in the upper 70’s, with a breeze. Once back on the ship, it was our first opportunity to see Mr. Buddy Miller. His guest was Jim Lauderdale, who wore an Elvis Presley like red sequenced jump suit and performed with Miller three George Jones songs. We saw the end of Shawn Mullins’ show on the pool deck, then went to see David Ryan Harris (who is simply captivating). I checked out Shannon McNally and Bobby Long (he tells great stories and is quite a developing young talent), while Mr. Barb stayed to see Greg Brown. In the midnight hour, I went to see songwriter’s talk about their songs and perform them. It was a stellar line up that could have gone on for hours. Edwin McCain was the host and he was joined by Rhett Miller, Angie Aparo, Joe Purdy and Jim Lauderdale. Miller told a story about trying to get Waylon Jennings to pronounce the word elixir correctly. McCain did an impassioned version of White Crosses. You could see the respect they had for each other and it is always interesting to hear the stories behind the songs. Mr. Barb went to see the duo of Aurora Belle.

Jim Lauderdale

Thursday, 2.9.12: St. Barts. One of the most beautiful port cities we have visited – where they speak French, use the Euro and tolerate visitors from a cruise ship walking around their village of Gustavia. It rained briefly, which only added to the ambience. I had to balance my time between seeing Edwin McCain & Maia Sharp (on keyboard & guitar) then to the final WPA show. We had two more Buddy Miller shows. At one show he had the drummer from Lucinda Williams band and Miller also had the upright bass player from the John Prine band accompany him and of course Greg Leisz on pedal steel. He had Richard Thompson as a guest at his last show – Mr. Miller was in awe of Thompson’s guitar playing. We caught a bit of Chuck Cannon’s show in between the Miller shows. We saw Sarah Buxton (married to a great guitarist, Tom Bukovac –who also sat in with Chuck Cannon and others). The evening ended with Enter The Haggis playing in the atrium into the morning.

Buddy Miller

Friday, 2.10.12: A day at sea. The music started at 12:30 p.m. and went past 2:00 a.m. We went to the pool deck to see the Ryan Montbleau Band. Hard to categorize their music, but we like it. I attended a beer tasting hosted by Glen Phillips. I learned a lot about the different types of beer with Phillips sharing some trivia and he even performed a song. Next it was to a very interesting songwriting workshop hosted by Shawn Mullins and Chuck Cannon (who did a signing in the merch store afterwards), while Mr. Barb was seeing Iris Dement. As we were walking into the main theater for a seat, we were treated to Loudon Wainwright III singing Dead Skunk (in the middle of the road).  We found a seat and finally got to see Keb’ Mo’. His special guest was Maia Sharp – she co-wrote All the Way on his current CD The Reflection, which they sang together. I have yet to hear a song by Keb’ Mo’ that I did not like. While Mr. Barb stayed to see Greg Brown, I went to see a Glen Phillips solo show (his guest was Ruby Amanfu, who can be heard on the new Jack White (solo) track Love Interruption). Then to see parts of shows by Bobby Long, and Sarah Buxton, before wrapping up the evening with The Watkins Family Hour - hosted by siblings Sara & Sean Watson. They normally do not perform the Watkins Family Hour outside of Largo, so this was a treat. Special guests included Buddy Miller and Glen Phillips, among others.

Keb' Mo'

Saturday, 2.11.12: Another day at sea with well over 13 hours of performances scheduled on the last full day of the cruise. We began on the pool deck with Chuck Cannon. We had front row tickets to see Shawn Mullins in the main theater. It was a highlight. Rhett Miller’s pool deck show got moved inside to the atrium, due to rain, so he just picked up where he left off on song #6, and guests included Sarah Lee & Johnny and Sarah Jaffee. Mr. Barb went to see another solo Sara Watkins snow. Enter the Haggis was the last show of the cruise on the pool deck. Mr. Barb went to see Iris Dement again. I caught a little bit of Antje Duvekot and then we saw Michael McDermott – who only did two shows – he is definitely an artist that we would like to hear more of. We attend Native Run’s last show – the trio singing Luke Brindley’s Wrecking Ball being a highlight each performance. Then to check out Anne Heaton followed by Levi Lowrey. The final show on the cruise was with David Ryan Harris, Edwin McCain and Angie Aparo each talking about and singing their songs and that turned into another jam session as guests joined them.

Shawn Mullins with his band

It was smooth sailing with wonderful weather and beautiful port stops. With over 40 performers and collaborations, these journeys through song continue to amaze us. The amount of talent on board a ship for 7 nights would be hard to fully duplicate on land. The performers seem to enjoy the cruise as much as we music fans do – since they normally do not get to see each other and perform together due to touring and recording. Saying it’s amazing does not seem to fully capture the experience. You get to interact with the performers – who you are in awe of and they are in turn in awe of the other performers on board. The artists say at their shows that it is an honor to be a part of this journey through song with all of us.

Barb S.- Sunday Mix Host

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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:

Christopher Paul Stelling, "Mourning Train to Memphis" - Excited about the forthcoming debut LP from this Brooklyn-based Americana songwriter. It's beautiful and touching in an understated way.

Howlin Rain, "Beneath Wild Wings" - One of my favorite bands of the past five years of so -- Howlin Rain is the post-Comets on Fire project of Ethan Miller. This is from their new album, The Russian Wilds, released by American, which finds them straying further from the noisy Southern rock they started out playing, and more into smooth Southern soul.

Hospitality, "Betty Wang" - This is the first single from the garage-pop band's debut release on Merge. It's right up my alley, and I'm excited about it -- also about them playing Brillobox later this month.

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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 (talking to us via Skype!), contributing writer to Billboard & Relix Magazine.

In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Justin - Best of 2011 version!!

Dawes,  "Fire Away" - Dawes' 'Nothing is Wrong' is my pick for album of the year, yet it isn't necessarily the edgiest or most innovative record — it's simply the best rock'n'roll album to come out in a long, long time, balancing classic rock guitar and harmonies with timelessly amazing songwriting. Nothing fancy here, just great rock music.

Tune-Yards, "My Country" - Weird and wonderful, Tune-Yards' 'Whokill' was exactly the opposite of Dawes — innovative in every way and never looking back. Singer/songwriter Merrill Garbus mixes hip-hop, lo-fi garage pop and folk to make a seriously electrifying record.

Lana Del Rey, "Diet Mt. Dew" - This lady was just booked to appear on Saturday Night Live - and she hasn't even released an album yet. That's nuts. Lana Del Rey, whose album 'Born to Die' drops early next year, is my pick for Most Promising of 2012. She writes sharp, sexy retro soul music; let's hope she isn't as self-destructive as pop music's last soul diva.

Bonus! An orderless handful of my other favorite records of 2012:
- Fleet Foxes, 'Helplessness Blues'
- Drake, 'Take Care'
- The Weeknd, 'House of Balloons'
- Bon Iver, 'Bon Iver'
- Oddisee, 'Rock Creek Park'
- Beastie Boys, 'Hot Sauce Committee Part Two'
- War on Drugs, 'Slave Ambient'
- Jay-Z & Kanye West, 'Watch The Throne'
- Felice Brothers, 'Celebration, Florida'
- The Head and the Heart, 'S/T'
- M83, 'Hurry Up, We're Dreaming'
- Ryan Adams, 'Ashes and Fire'

Way to go 2011, you had some really great music! I'm proud of you.

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It is hard to believe that Darrell Scott’s first solo performance in Pittsburgh was Tuesday night.  Mr. Scott was here with Robert Plant as part of the Band of Joy in January, and in October 2000 with Tim O’Brien; but never alone on stage.  There is a Pittsburgh connection however; his daughter Mahala is a student at Chatham University.

I discovered Mr. Scott’s music a couple of years ago when he was one of the acts on a singer-songwriter cruise.  He is a gifted songwriter – his songs have been covered by the likes of The Dixie Chicks, Keb’ Mo’, Sam Bush, Faith Hill, Brad Paisley and Travis Tritt.  He is also a multi-instrumentalist (mandolin, guitar, accordion, pedal, lap steel and banjo).

All Mr. Scott needed for his “evening with” performance was one guitar and an octave mandolin.  He only used the mandolin once, to sing a song about the history of the banjo called Banjo Clark, which included a demonstration of his mastery of the mandolin.

Mr. Scott does not work with a set list.  It’s based on how he feels that evening, the crowd, the city he is in.  He did honor one request You’ll Never Leave Harlon Alive.  From his 2010 double CD release A Crooked Road, he sang The Day Before Thanksgiving and A Father’s Song – for which he wrote the lyrics, but “borrowed” the music from one of his dad’s (the late Wayne Scott) songs.  Mr. Scott talked about living in East Gary, Indiana until 4th grade and how he never heard of a city changing its name (it’s now called Lake Station), so he wrote a song about it - East of Gary which he also related to Pittsburgh because of the steel mills.  We also joined in on the chorus to Mahala, as his daughter was in the audience.

The 90 minutes (there was a one song encore) goes by very quickly when you’re watching a professional with a velvety voice singing his songs and playing his guitar so effortlessly.  Darrell Scott will be releasing a new CD on January 31, 2012.  I’m already expecting it to be on my best of CD list for 2012.

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Headliner - Fountains of Wayne

Rock the Block’s headliner this year is the fun and quirky Fountains of Wayne. Having not released an album since their 2007 effort Traffic and Weather, the band is back with a musical vengeance to create catchy tunes with their latest release Sky Full of Holes. The album takes listeners on an emotional roller coaster, causing a chuckle here and there and bringing on the heavy stuff with songs like “Cemetery Guns”.

Fountains of Wayne has been deeply involved in TV and film soundtracks. Their songs have appeared on hit series such as How I Met Your Mother, Gilmore Girls and Scrubs. There is sure to be a song known by every Rock the Block attendee, such as their hit single “Stacey’s Mom”?

If you are in need of a pop-rock revival, allow Fountains of Wayne’s up-beat, poppy melodies to bring in the festive air of a night on the town at WYEP’s Rock the Block!

VIP Performer - Ben Sollee

There is no better artist to perform the intimate Rock the Block VIP session than the pop-folk cellist Ben Sollee. His songs are layered with a sweet innocence meant to bring a crowd together. Every track is filled with his honey-brushed vocals and passionate, percussion style cello plucking.

Sollee is a devout environmentalist and uses many of his songs to speak out against ecological atrocities. Born in Kentucky, he struggles with the sight of his Appalachia being ripped apart by the removal of mountaintops in coal mining. His lyrics are often a plea for a nature that cannot speak for itself.

Collaborating with talented artists such as Abigail Washburn, Bela Fleck and Casey Driessen, Sollee has had incredible opportunities to formulate and tweak a sound that is all his own. Come see this unique performer live at WYEP’s Rock the Block and you will not be disappointed.

Local Opener - Chet Vincent & The Big Bend

The Pittsburgh music scene is overflowing with local musical talents. Chet Vincent & The Big Bend are representing this cultural niche at Rock the Block with their blend of alternative rock and country.

The band started out as a group of young guys playing music together, just scratching the surface of Pittsburgh’s nightlife. A few years later, they all met up again to dive right into a city thirsty for new artists.

Chet Vincent & The Big Bend’s old-timey clothing style gives their performances an air of entertainment and whimsy. They come to shows guitars tuned, shoes shined and suspenders at the ready.

--- All previews written by WYEP Summer Marketing Intern Katie O'Leary

Rock the Block takes place Saturday, September 17 at The WYEP Community Broadcast Center (67 Bedford Square) and in Bedford Square on the South Side.

VIP starts at 6pm, General Admission starts at 8pm. Tickets are available until 12pm Saturday at showclix.com. Tickets will then be available at the gates, day of the event, starting at 5:45pm. More information at wyep.org.

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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):

Jeff Bridges, "Maybe I Missed the Point" - Yesterday was a big day for The Dude! Along with the re-mastered Blu-ray debut of "The Big Lebowski," Jeff Bridges released his self-titled country-western album. Picking up where he left off with his Oscar-winning portrayal as a seasoned, cut-to-the-bone philosophy-slinging singer, "Bad" Blake, Bridges delivers 10 sincere, homespun tracks helmed by longtime friend/Oscar-Grammy winner T-Bone Burnett. Like a true country star, Bridges writes just 3 of the album's songs, and not this standout track penned by John Goodwin, where a guy admits life's been good, but he could of and should of done more. Bridges' weathered and wisdom-filled voice makes the song sound autobiographical on lines like, "I laid low when I could've stood high/I said nothing when I should've asked why" and "Inside I'd like to believe I'm cool/Easy to love and hard to fool/But I know there's more I could have enjoyed." In terms of Hollywood stars-turned-music-artists, I'd rank Bridges well above Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner ... though a step below Kevin Bacon.

Holy Ghost!, "Wait and See" - I saw this New York band make its Pittsburgh debut Saturday in a matinee slot on the Identity festival at First Niagara Pavilion. I liked their enthusiasm, tunefulness and the pop-rock spin they gave to techno-trance-house-EDM-dubstep (or whatever term you prefer for what many of us consider "rave" music.) A few of their songs, this one included, remind me a bit of Pet Shop Boys. The album's lead-off track has a Love & Rockets feel (remember them?)

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Toad the Wet Sprocket is on the last leg of a tour before they head back into the studio to record their first new album in well over 15 years... so I thought I'd check them out live one more time, Monday night at The Kent Stage, in Kent, OH.

In 1998 Toad the Wet Sprocket parted ways and I didn't have my first opportunity to see them until 2009.  Thus; I don't know what their shows were like in the 1990's.  What I do know, however; is that I overheard other concert goers at the venue say that it was like listening to their records...that this was an awesome show...that they still sound great.  This was from both first timers and from those who've seen Toad perform many times over the years.

For about 1 hour and 45 minutes Toad delivered 23 songs, 3 of which came in the encore.  It was a live cranked-up version of their music catalog: Something's Always Wrong, Whatever I Fear, Good Intentions, Stupid, Windmills, All I Want, Crazy Life, Nightingale Song, Come Down, I Will Not Take These Things for Granted and Come Back Down.  In the middle of the set they tried out two new songs (which they also did at the show in Pittsburgh back in April): The Moment and Friendly Fire - they already sound like old Toad favorites. To me the overall mood seemed to trend a bit more moody and darker than the other concerts I've attended.  As part of the encore, Toad did an amazing version of Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie) and then slowed things down with their final song Walk on the Ocean.

Jonatham Kingham with Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket

Jonathan Kingham pulled double duty.  Playing keys and other instruments for Toad, and opening the show. Mr. Kingham, who now lives in Nashville and resembles Keith Urban, immediately developed a rapport with the audience that carried him through his brief 5 song, 40 minute set.  The highlight was when Mr. Kingham did a free styling rap in the middle of Every Little Step (Bobby Brown).  He has this natural ability to improvise - encompassing everything that he talked about during his set into the rap.  The audience showed their appreciation by giving him a standing ovation before he did his final song Grace.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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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

In case you missed it here's what he played:

Cloud Nothings, "Should Have" - I already listed this last month as one of my extra picks, but hell, I just couldn't get away from it. Few things are better than a three minute sugar rush of some catchy, electric power pop, and this song takes the cake this summer.

White Denim, "Street Joy" - An ethereal cloud of dreamy acoustic folk, this song is alone stylistically on White Denim's album "D." That's a shame, too — the rest of the album is full of assorted rock genres, but none touch on the gorgeous ache of this brooder.

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(Photo by Mr. Barb)

Lucinda Williams and Amos Lee performed on the North Shore Sunday Night.

Amos Lee may be from Philadelphia, but he knew he was on the other side of the commonwealth and felt comfortable enough to refer to us as “yinzers” by the end of his 14 song 1-hour and 15-minute set. Mr. Lee brought a larger band with him than did Lucinda Williams. Pedal Steel, banjo, upright and electric bass, drums, electric guitars, keys and male and female back-up singers; while he stood center stage switching between electric and acoustic guitars. Mercifully, the stage and seating area were in the shade by the time Mr. Lee took the stage at 8 p.m. Mr. Lee began with El Camino and showed versatility though out the evening with gospel, country-tinged songs - varying the tempo to bring the crowd into his performance (those who had never heard of Amos Lee before this show, surely knew who he was afterwards.) There was the title track of Supply and Demand, (2006) Flower from Mission Bell (2011), along with Truth, Street Corner Preacher from Last Days at the Lodge (2008). One of his backup singers, “Angel” (Mutlu), came out all in white to do a song reminiscent of Soul Train circa 1976 (Shower with Love) as he sang about cereal and shampoo – it was hilarious. Ms. Williams joined Mr. Lee on Clear Blue Eyes. He ended his set with Windows Are Rolled Down.

Lucinda Williams performed 16 songs (including 2 in the encore) with her 3–piece band (bass, drums, guitar) in a 1-hour and 20-minute set. A few new songs off of her current CD Blessed (including the title track as part of the encore): I Don’t Know How You’re Livin’, Copenhagen, Born to Be Loved and Buttercup. Ms. Williams never stood still, bouncing around and swaying even when she was just at the microphone without her guitar. She told us that a couple of people (her brother and a person in jail) were subjects in her songs previously. There was Pineloa (about poet Frank Stanford) and Metal Firecracker. Also Joy and Honey Bee. All delivered with passion and wrapped up neatly by 11 p.m on a warm night in Pittsburgh.

Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host

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