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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Jimmy Adler

Longtime Pittsburgh bluesman Jimmy Adler comes out swinging on his latest song “Living Upside Down.” Full of fat, melodic guitar tones and references to Pittsburgh’s favorite condiment, “Living Upside Down” will make you smile bigger than that time you got the ketchup to flow on the first tap.

Jimmy Adler recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar.

This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.

What’s your musical history up to this point?

I have been performing in and around Pittsburgh and beyond for more than 30 years. After being the guitarist for many Pittsburgh blues based bands, I started the Jimmy Adler Band in 2001.

How do you describe your sound? 

Always gritty, soulful, and sweet with clean, fat melodic guitar tones.

Tell us more about the song “Living Upside Down.” What inspired you to write it and what does it mean to you?  

The lyrics were sent to me by Matt Wohlfarth. I made some adjustments to some lines to make it melodically sing better in my mind. The swinging musical sound exemplifies a specific flavor of my style. The lyric is a clever play on words that also emphasizes the pride of Pittsburgh’s iconic Heinz Ketchup.

What was the first album that really changed your life?    

"Sticky Fingers" by The Rolling Stones was a game changer.

Who are some other Pittsburgh artists you think more people should listen to?  

There are too many to mention, but if you come to one of the Jimmy Adler Blue Monday shows at the Bridge Music Bar in East Liberty, you will be able to see and hear many Pittsburgh blues- based artists doing their thing. In addition, Ron Esser of Moondog’s and Jonnye Weber with the Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania do an exemplary job of supporting many of our local blues-based musicians. Please visit Moondog’s and consider joining the Blues Society of Western PA.

Any other super interesting things we should know about you?

I have been a high school English teacher in the Pittsburgh Public schools for many years and a performing musician for many more. I am also a DJ on a summer radio show at 92.1 WPTS called “Absolutely Blues!”Thursdays from 3-5pm and would love to do a radio show more often.

Learn more about Jimmy Adler:

Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.