The fifth edition of the Songwriters Spotlight, took place Saturday night at The New Hazlett Theater.

Hosted by Joe Grushecky and Rick Witkowski. The guest songwriters this time were EMay, Greg Dutton (Lohio) and Melinda.

The format: Each singer-songwriter performs a few 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; like you’re in their living room for a songwriter’s roundtable. One of the topics during the evening was what came first during the writing process: the music or the lyrics; in some cases the answer was the title.

Mr. Grushecky offered "Le Ann" (East Carson Street) for his wife who was in the audience, "Homestead” (American Babylon) which he co-wrote (lyrics) with Bruce Springsteen (music) in 1993-94, "Labor of Love" (American Babylon), along with his cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love", featuring EMay on accordion. It was the first time he performed that Elvis song. Mr. Grushecky also related a story about almost getting fired from his day job, since he took time off to record with Mr. Springsteen.

Mr. Witkoswki sang a “piece for hire” from the Current TV show “Bar Karma” - "Reap What You Sow". In talking about songs that wrote themselves, he said an example was “Vitamin L” . He covered The Beatles “All You Need Is Love”; the first time performing this Beatles song.

EMay performed "Upon a Mountain" (with Mr. Grushecky on harmonica), "Don’t Lock the Door”, along with a cover of a song written by local musician, Rob Gray.

Greg Dutton choose a Lohio song “We’ll Hide Ourselves Underneath” along with a new song in the process without a title. Mr. Dutton did a stripped down version of The Flaming Lips “Do You Realize” as his cover.

Melinda’s songs included "Leave Your Key" and "Don’t Be Sweet" with a cover of “Me and Bobby McGee”, the first song she sang for an audience when she was a teenager.

The final group number was Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" with the audience accompanying the talented singer-songwriters each time on the chorus.

I look forward to future installments and discovering more local singer-songwriters.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host


New Music


EMay Greg Dutton joe grushecky Lohio Melinda rick witkowski singer-songwriters

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

This time, Andy shares his Top albums for 2010. Take it away Andy! ....

Here are a few things you ought to know about me:

- I hate quantifying my favorite music. Or, generally, my favorite anything.
- I don't really care that much about telling other people what to like. (I know, I know, it's my job, sort of.)
- I've always liked paying attention to the microcosmic function of the local music scene more than I like paying attention to what big buzz indie band X is up to.
- I'm not very good at following directions.

With all that out there in the open, while I was asked to provide a top ten list of the best albums of 2010, I instead present to you a dual list: five new albums by local bands that I really liked in 2010, and five new albums by not-local bands that I really liked in 2010. In no particular order. Are they the best albums that were released this year? Maybe, maybe not. But they were the albums that spent the most time in my car and/or being pumped on my MP3 player.

My local faves:

Lohio, Family Tree - A light, fun, well-written collection of pop songs from the local stalwarts. Their most exciting material to date.

Meeting of Important People, Quit Music - A more eclectic collection than their first album, this release revealss the trio's versatility and showcases some spot-on pop songwriting.

Satin Gum, EP2 - This is one of my favorite local bands: messy, fun, none too self-conscious, often profane without being overbearing. Most underrated local release of the year.

The Ceiling Stares, S/T Cassette - A great debut from a band that's doing accessible rock (maybe art rock?) that's not formulaic.

Mariage Blanc, Mariage Blanc - An immaculate-sounding full-length from the reserved local indie-pop band.

My not-local faves:

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Let It Sway - This album has seven songs I absolutely love, three that are okay, and two that I just can't get through, but that I'm glad to skip in order to get to the good ones. It's just good, hooky pop-rock.

Beach House, Teen Dream - I wasn't sure if Beach House could keep it up after 2008's Devotion; their dreamy pop could get old pretty quickly. But solid songwriting saved them from losing me.

Aloha, Home Acres - Aloha has long been one of my favorites, and Home Acres didn't disappoint: the subject matter of the songs has slowly progressed to more grown-up themes, but Tony hasn't lost his ability to find magic in the mundane.

Secret Cities, Pink Graffiti - This one came out of nowhere; I wasn't familiar with Secret Cities until this album hit my desk, then it became a spacey, weird favorite.

Poison Control Center, Sad Sour Future - It's a double-LP that probably could've been a little shorter, but I forgive Poison Control Center because a good three-quarters of the material is stellar. Add an energetic live show to the mix and you've got a band that I hope finds the audience they deserve.


New Music Personal Picks


Aloha Andy Mulkerin Beach House Lohio Mariage Blanc Poison Control Center Satin Gum Secret Cities Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin The 9:13 Buzz The Ceiling Stares

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):

La Sera, "Never Come Around" - La Sera is the side project of Kickball Katy of Vivian Girls fame. This tune maintains the girl-group sound of that band, but is a little sweeter, more polished and less bored/angry than Vivian Girls.

Lohio, "Family Tree" - This is the second track off the local band's new EP of the same name. It's an upbeat number with airy vocals and fun little vocal flourishes. I like the direction this band has taken!

STRFKR, "Julius" - This track is from the naughtily named band's new single, a sample of its upcoming full-length to be issued on Polyvinyl. It's synth pop done exceedingly well, and, as I mentioned in the paper last week, will likely as not end up in a car commercial or something.

Sun Airway, "Infinity" - This Philly band is starting to get some buzz, having been featured on the World Cafe recently. The kinda muddy, psychedelic synth/vox band is touring with Bear In Heaven and will make a stop in Pittsburgh on October 26 -- incidentally, the day of the official release of this new album.


New Music


Andy Mulkerin La Sera Lohio STRFKR Sun Airway The 9:13 Buzz
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