billy price

WYEP

WYEP has been proud to support the Pittsburgh music community for decades and in 2015 we were pleased to further extend our enthusiasm by instituting The Local 913, a weekly on-air highlight of a new local release. The Local 913 has been a great way to throw a spotlight on local talent, along with our monthly local music happy hour: The Local 913 Live. These five releases are the best of the best in our town for 2015. We encourage you to support each one of these fine hometown musicians!

*** WYEP’s Top 5 Local Acts for 2015 ***

1. Brooke Annibale The Simple Fear (Brooke Annibale)
brooke
Fear can be a complicated emotion when its root source is unclear. When layers of self-doubt, uncertainty, and miscommunication are peeled away, the truth tends to be relatively simple, and universal. Brooke Annibale explores and demystifies complications of the heart, drawing from personal insight without becoming overtly confessional. She uses concise, reserved language to express the frustration of waiting for an overdue apology, or the gentle acceptance of a relationship’s lost potential. Her spirit lifts with the hope of redemptive love. Annibale’s beguiling folk-based melodies reveal glimmers of pop and country. They unfold in subtle ways—a lone guitar is joined by piano, strings emerge, and percussion enters almost imperceptibly. Annibale’s vocals have a sweetly smoky, enigmatic quality, but her songs clearly depict the human experience. (RMW) 

2. Billy Price & Otis Clay This Time For Real (Vizztone)
BILLY PRICE
Local mainstay Billy Price has known Otis Clay, the Mississippi-born soul and R&B legend (and Blues Hall of Fame inductee), since the early 1980s. The two have recorded a few songs together over the years, and they decided it was time to record a full album. Blues guitarist Duke Robillard signed on to produce it; and the result is an entertaining romp through a variety of soul classics and other choice material. Robillard and his band provide crisp backing, and the Roomful of Blues horns keep the energy level high, but it's Price's and Clay's expressive voices that steal the show. (MS) 

3. Donora Ha Ha Heart (Rostrum)
DONORA
The nearly decade-long run of Donora’s catchy, bright, indie-pop continues on the band’s fourth effort titled Ha Ha Heart. The trio completely engulfed themselves in the creative process by diving into drummer and producer Jake Hanner’s newly created home studio in Gibsonia. The space worked in bringing out the band’s energy in a more complete form than previous efforts. Ha Ha Heart is filled with bouncy and catchy riffs, shiny choruses from Casey Hanner, and a 60s meets modern-electro pop collection of songs. The home-studio process is captured with a handmade booklet documenting the album with lyric pages, stories and production notes. (KS) 

4. Cold Weather When Waking (Cold Weather)
COLD WEATHER
Chamber indie folk Cold Weather has a gentle touch that might just knock you over with their delicate, yet intense album When Waking. Frontman Mark Ramsey’s vocals not only have a similar tone to Elliott Smith, they also have that emotional delivery where is seems like he’s not actually going to get the words out. Producer Jake Hanner, who has been the production master-mind of the indie-pop Donora, shows his versatility when working with Cold Weather, adding his magic touch here and there. He lets Ramsey and the rest of the band set the tone for this fantastic album. (CH) 

5. Mariage Blanc No Autobiography (Mariage Blanc)
MARIAGE BLANC
“Welcome to sunny… Pittsburgh?” Visions of 1960s Laurel Canyon don’t come to mind when pondering the Steel City, but local “melancholy pop” band Mariage Blanc have successfully summoned the feelings of a lazy afternoon in the California mountains on their new record “No Autobiography.” Lush instrumentation complements the subdued, lilted, sometimes whispered singing of a band that has aged like a fine California wine. Mariage Blanc demonstrates that, while rock and roll may be for the kids, the maturity and refinement that comes with age sounds incredibly compelling. (JS)

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Best of 2015 billy price Brooke Annibale Cold Weather Donora Local Music Mariage Blanc Pittsburgh

A singer–songwriter is a musician who writes, composes and sings their own material including lyrics and melodies. Recently I had the chance to see a couple of sets of singer-songwriters; from the local and national level.

The quarterly local songwriters spotlight hosted by Joe Grushecky and Rick Witkowski featured guests Billy Price, Carol Lee Espy and Bob Corbin. All five songwriters took turns performing three of their signature songs, old and new. There were stories and laughter and a good camaraderie and mutual admiration and respect. I would watch the other singer-songwriters sing and play along almost spontaneously being caught up in the moment. Grushecky did some older songs “Fingerprints”, and “Pumping Iron” and something new, the title track of his latest release “East Carson Street”. Witkowski started with “Soul Control”, then did a personal song about “Love & Food & Rachel” for the daughter they never had and B.E. Taylor Groups “Vitamin L” became a sing-a-long (taking us back to the MTV video days and a #1 hit in Pittsburgh). In between the guests took their turns in the spotlight. Billy Price offered “Who You’re Workin’ For,” “Eldorado Cafe” and a new song he co-wrote with someone from France “Under the Influence”. Carol Lee Espy kept commenting how hard it was to follow Price’s energetic performances with her laid back country tunes. Espy sang what she called her signature song “My Name is Mary” along with “Cross the River” (written from a farmer’s point of view; she had to think like a man) and “The Allegheny Song”, about the river. Bob Corbin began with a new going away tune “I’ll Be There”, then did “Scooter, Michael, Danny and Me” and one the six songs which he wrote that reached #1, Alabama’s “Fire in the Night”.

The most interesting part of the evening was when each of the songwriters performed a song that they wish they had penned. “You Better Move On”, by a relative unknown (except to the Beatles and Rolling Stones) Arthur Alexander was the choice by Grushecky. Price chose an Al Green song “Love and Happiness”. Espy likes the 3-chord songs by John Prine and sang “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness”, a song about the dissolution of a relationship. Another John; Hiatt, was the choice for Bob Corbin, at the piano he sang “Have a Little Faith in Me”. Witkowski went with “I Want To Hold Your Hand”.

After a standing ovation, the songwriters came back on stage to sing a song from The Band, “The Weight”. Does anyone really know all the lyrics to the song or even the words to the chorus? A sheet was passed around to each performer as they took a verse and the audience joined in on the chorus. It was an wonderful two hours of music and a great way to spend a Saturday evening.

Just a few days later Pittsburgh was the first stop on a brief tour for a trio of singer-songwriters. Ben Sollee and Carrie Rodriguez have been joined by Erin McKeown. All three came on stage to start the show, then Rodriguez did a solo set. She used two different guitars and really knows how to play the fiddle. The half-dozen songs included a couple of tracks from her 2008 release “She Ain’t Me”: “Infinite Night” and “Absence”. Her new CD is going to be a covers CD, including the Townes Van Zandt song “Rex’s Blues” (appropriate tune for the venue, The Rex Theater) and a song that her dad e-mailed to her “When I Heard Gypsy Davey Sing”. Ben Sollee’s set was filled with long, lavish instrumental introductions on the cello, proving that songwriters can also compose beautiful music without lyrics. At the end of his set, Sollee was joined by Rodriquez and McKeown and really “electrified” the stage. After a short break, it was McKeown’s turn. Despite jet lag (returning from a European tour), she took center stage. She treated the audience to three tracks from her most recent release “Hundreds of Lions”, by introducing each song as “Track 1”, “Track 2” and “Track 3”. For the encore, the trio played Cat Stevens “Wild World” and rounded out the two hour show with a rousing instrumental. Despite little rehearsal, these singer-songwriters really came together and treated the “school night” crowd to a warm, enjoyable evening of music.

Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host

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New Music Personal Picks

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ben sollee billy price bob corbin carol lee espy carrie rodriguez erin mckeown joe grushecky rick witkowski singer-songwriters
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