Saturday, May 30, 2009


"I'll Do Anything" - The Diadems

The Diadems got together as a gang of ten Homewood pre-teens in 1953, organized by Cleveland "Butch" Martin (who was blind, though it never hindered his ability to sing or write a song) and Earl Thompson. They called themselves the El Moroccos.

In 1956, the core of the act formed up. Martin was the lead, and was backed by Thompson (first tenor), Jerry Hill (baritone), Alvin Allsberry, Gerald Johnson and Arlene Gore. Allsberry and Johnson left in 1958, and Gore in 1959.

They were replaced in the lineup by bass Jerry Mitchell and Earl's brother Robert, a second tenor that was singing with the LaRells. The revamped group renamed themselves the Countdowns.

They didn't find any angel to back them in Pittsburgh as far as a recording deal went, so they motored to the Big Apple in 1960 and met up with Teacho Wiltshire, of the Tin Pan Alley label. They did a demo of a Top Notes song called "Shake It Up Baby," and Wiltshire wanted them to stay in NYC to record it.

But the boys were grown up now, and headed back to Pittsburgh, where their girls were. Can't beat that home cookin'! They became the Diadems, and recorded "What More Is There To Say" b/w "Ala Vevo" in 1961 on LaVerve #187.

Wiltshire didn't forget about them. He called and asked them to come back to New York to cover "Shake It Up Baby," but they were under contract to LaVerve and passed. The Isley Brothers didn't; they recorded the tune as "Twist And Shout." They were that close.

The following year, they signed on with Joe Averbach's Fee Bee label, and released some wax for his affiliates. "Why Don't You Believe Me?" b/w "Yes I Love You Baby," (Star #514), written by the group, was released in 1963, and "Dancing On Moonbeams" b/w "My Little Darling," was issued on Goodie #207 in 1964, with Jerry Hilton on lead.

The Diadems quickly followed with the doo-wop Martin-Thompson song "I'll Do Anything" b/w "Goodnight Irene" (Goodie #715) the same year. Buddy Sharpe and the Shakers, local rockabilly legends, provided the musical track behind them.

That was the last hurrah for the Diadems. Mitchell took ill, and the group disbanded for a bit. They came back as the Torches in 1965, and became the Rhythm Rascals in 1966, cutting the ballad "Why Do You Have To Go" b/w "Girl By My Side" on Sonic #117 that still receives some love from oldie compilation albums. And like many soul groups from back in the day, their wax still spins for Northern Soul fans in England.

Their trail ends in the seventies, and so goes the tale of the Diadems. Their leader, Butch Martin, died in Wilkinsburg of cancer in 2002 at the age of 63.

(Old Mon thanks Mitch Rosalsky and his book "Encyclopedia of Rhythm and Blues and Doo Wop Vocal Groups" for filling in much of the story. Travis Klein's liner notes with "Pittsburgh's Greatest Hits" were quite helpful too.)

"Why Don't You Believe Me?" - Diadems 1963
(Don't let the label fool ya!)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Four Townsmen

The Four Townsmen from

The Four Townsmen, a four-part harmony, doo-wop quartet from Canonsburg (home of Perry Como, Bobby Vinton, and the Four Coins), formed in 1959. The charter members were Chuck Marshall (lead), Pete Kouklakis (tenor), Bob Kraushaar (baritone), and Lou Gadani (bass).

The Canon-McMillan High guys began like all the other hometown bands, performing locally for the talent shows, school dances and record hops.

They finally felt that they had enough material (albeit mainly covers) to expand their dates, and impressed Terry Lee enough (he was spinning at Canonsburg's WARO then) to land a date on his show. TFT eventually ran across Odell Bailey, a local bird dog with a pretty good track record, and handed him a demo tape.

Bailey liked what he heard, and arranged for The Four Townsmen to record their first original song "It Wasn't So Long Before (Graduation is Here)" co-written by Marshall and friend Alan Mark, b/w "Sometimes (When I'm All Alone)." They released the 45 in 1960, on the Artflow label, #145.

And hey, both tunes got some radio love. They were spun fairly heavily on KDKA, and the group grew a regional fan base. "Graduation" was even reissued in 1963, and got play in some out-of-town markets. A career, even if at first blush short-lived, had begun.

They opened for other smooth acts like Bobby Vee at the South Park Fairgrounds, Paul Anka, The Lettermen, and Brian Hyland. They got a week of two-show performances daily at Atlantic City's Steel Pier.

Though their live performances kept them in demand, there were to be no more recordings. In 1963, the times conspired to pull the curtain down on Act One of The Four Townsmen.

Gadani went off to college, and then joined the Peace Corps. Kouklakis enrolled at trade school and Kraushaar joined the Army. So the group called it quits (not that there was much of it left, unless Marshall decided to gig as The Townsman).

But maybe more tellingly, the British Invasion hit America's shores. Doo-wop and vocal groups were replaced by the Brits guitar-driven rock, ending an era in American music. Notably, the Vogues, the Beach Boys and Frankie Valli hung on; most didn't.

Then lead singer Chuck Marshall passed away in 1985. But The Four Townsmen weren't entirely forgotten. Travis Klein of Itzy Records included their tunes on his "Pittsburgh's Greatest Hits" series, and that parlayed into some local radio play. The best was yet to come.

In October of 1998, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Museum in Sharon opened and The Four Townsmen were represented with a permanent exhibit of their record and memorabilia from the day.

It showed the respect the group had garnered as a doo-wop band in the sixties, even though they will never make it as inductees. To get voted into the Hall, groups must have at least three-part harmony, have 20 years in the business and a gold-record hit song.

And The Four Townsmen only have one out of three. Though their record was a hot number in Pittsburgh, it didn't break out nationally and so never approached gold record status. They're still working on the twenty years; we're betting they reach it.

In 1998, performing at the Vocal Hall of Fame, the group signed up lead singer and keyboardist Hug "Freebird" McKinney of little Washington to join the remaining three founding members.

The reunion gig became a full-scale comeback, primed by a performance at the 50th Anniversary Show for Porky Chedwick at Three Rivers Stadium that year, remembered by local doo-wop fans forever as "Porkstock."

The Four Townsmen were off and running with a string of concert dates and special appearances.

The group had once again charted songs in the top 10 oldies countdowns in the Pittsburgh area, and on New Years Day of 2003 had the number two song on the Mon Valley Memories show with their remake of Frankie and the Fashions "What Do I Have To Do?"

Then out of the blue, original baritone Bob Kraushaar retired in 2003. But that didn't stop the band. They added Nevin Van Riper from Washington without missing a beat.

Another newcomer to the group was Tom Battaglia of Bethel Park, who does the arrangements and plays sax and keyboards during the act. To run the tech part of the show, they brought in Washington's WJPA 95.3 FM jock Pete "I Got The Beat" Povich of "Mon Valley Memories" fame to hook up the amps and check the mics.

Today, The Four Townsmen continue to perform their doo-wop act throughout the Tri-State area. They have independently released two CDs, 1999's "The Four Townsmen Reunited" and 2000's "Just Cruisin'."

The group has shared stages with Charlie Thomas and The Drifters, The Orlons, Johnny Angel and The Halos, The Orioles, The Memories, The Jaggerz, and the Vogues while on the oldies, festival, club, and community event circuits, proving again that a second bite out of the apple ain't a bad thing.

"Sometimes" by the Four Townsmen live at the Mellon Arena Doo-Wop Holiday Reunion Show December 30, 2005

Saturday, May 16, 2009

WAMO Gets Religion...


Hey, WHOD/WAMO has been around even longer than Old Mon (tho not by much.) It's been the undisputed home and often the sole source of R&B in Pittsburgh since the days of Porky.

Today, WAMO 106.7 FM is an urban contemporary station, playing hip-hop hits during the week with Sunday jazz in the morning and oldies in the evening. AM 860 plays R&B and classic soul for the old school crowd.

Steve Harvey starts WAMO's day, and hey, Lynn Cullen even shoehorned a slot for her talk show on the AM side. But "The Home of Hip-Hop" is about to go silent.

WAMO spokesman Russell Bynum said yesterday that the FM station and its two sisters, WAMO-AM 860 and WPGR-AM 1510, are being sold by Sheridan Broadcasting to St. Joseph Missions, a Catholic religious programming outfit.

The sales price was $8.9 million. The deal has to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission, and their OK is expected within 90 days. That's how quickly WAMO could be gone from the airwaves. Enjoy the summer's last hurrah.

WAMO-AM traces its roots to Homestead in 1948, when its call letters were WHOD. It was best known then as the "Station of Nations" because of its ethnic programming, though that changed when a certain Mr. Craig Chedwick began spinning wax for them.

A bronze plaque commemorating Porky and WAMO was even placed on the nondescript yellow-brick building that housed the studio on 107 E. Eighth St., near the Homestead Grays Bridge spanning the Mon over the Waterfront Mall, just across the City line.

It's also had studios on the Boulevard of the Allies by Mercy Hospital, where its red WAMO letters beamed over the City from high atop the Bluff. They then moved to the Chamber of Commerce building in town, and now are located on Penn Avenue in Wilkinsburg.

In 1956, the call letters were changed to WAMO, representing the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers, and the station's desire to step out from being a local player to a regional powerhouse.

WAMO-FM went on the air in 1960 at 105.9 and had the most powerful signal coverage in western Pennsylvania. It also shimmied among formats during its early years, including AOR, disco, and R&B Contemporary Hits. But Urban Contemporary is what worked best, and that's been its calling card since.

In 1973, WAMO was bought by the Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation, owned by Ronald Davenport, who was then Duquesne Law School's dean (his son Ron Jr. is still WAMO's GM). Local lore claims the network was named for his home address on Sheridan Street in East Liberty.

It also purchased WAMO-AM/FM, WILD in Boston, and WUFO in Buffalo from Dynamic Broadcasting. It still owns the Buffalo station, with affiliates 1570-AM ("The Light") in Atlanta and WATV-AM ("900 Gold") in Birmingham.

WAMO-FM and WAMO-AM began separate programming in 1974. Gospel aired on WAMO-AM, Monday through Friday, and Saturdays and Sundays were simulcast with WAMO-FM. WAMO-FM was formatted as an R&B station, with gospel programming on Sunday.

In 1979, Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation finished buying out (they acquired a half interest in 1976) the Mutual Black Network and changed the name to the Sheridan Broadcasting Network.

The network moved its headquarters from Florida to Pittsburgh in 1985, where native Philadelphian Davenport had put down his roots.

In addition to syndicated music programming, Sheridan is the principal owner of the American Urban Radio Networks, bought in 1991, which provides AURN News. AURN became the first completely black-owned news network in the nation after the takeover.

It features White House correspondent April Ryan (the only African-American broadcaster with a desk in the White House), Black College Sports and the SBN Black College All-America team, "The Bev Smith Show," and the "The Light" Gospel music program, airing programs to 325 Black stations across the country.

WAMO was one of the top-rated stations in the Pittsburgh area during the eighties and early nineties. But it was about to make a strategic mistake in the mid-nineties that helped sow the seeds for its sale.

Sheridan swapped signals with Beaver Fall's WXDX-FM and moved to the 106.7 frequency in 1996. Clear Channel gave them about $10 million to make the deal. WAMO sold a strong local signal of 72,000 watts and moved more or less out of City earshot.

For years, they could barely reach into Pittsburgh's inner city until they moved their broadcasting tower from the Beaver Valley (with a trip to Greensburg in between) to Wexford in 2004. Until that shift, their highest ratings came from Youngstown, which could pull in the signals, instead of its home base of Pittsburgh, which couldn't.

The station then changed its longtime on-air identity from "106 Jamz, WAMO" to "106.7 WAMO, Pittsburgh's #1 for Hip Hop and R&B". But it was too late; it was a lost decade for WAMO.

In 2006, the station switched to an all-talk format; that flip-flop lasted about six months before the market corrected that little blip and it returned to urban contemporary music, its long-time gold standard.

So the home of Porky, Sir Walter, Bill Powell, Mary Dee, Frank the Freak, Brother Love, Zeke Jackson, Brother Matt, Hal "HB" Brown, KiKi, Ron Chavis, Sly Jock, Ray Love, and DJ Boogie will soon be a God station. Who woulda thunk?

Of course, it was all about the bucks; if you're not Clear Channel or Infinity, you're probably a struggling radio network. Switching formats too often and losing their ability to air in the City during the late nineties and early part of this decade hurt, too.

WAMO was also hard-hit by a change in the way ratings were collected by an Arbitron system known as the Portable People Meter, which critics say has a disproportionate impact on minority-targeted radio formats. A perfect storm had formed.

"This is a business decision," Bynum told the Post-Gazette. "That's the reality of the marketplace. The marketplace determines how businesses go, and industries have to change with the times."

Sheridan owners suppoedly tried to find minority buyers for the stations, but none could come up with the loot, and St. Joseph's could flash the cash. That's show biz for ya.

Besides the loss of the City's only urban music-maker, with no obvious replacement station to fill the void, a very real possibility exists of having a dependable cultural thread torn from Pittsburgh's Afro-American tapestry.

WAMO was the driving force behind promoting local hip-hop artists, with their DJs shepherding them through the club circuit like the jocks of old. And Sheridan was heavily involved in community charities and service projects, but with its flagstaff station gone, will it remain? The company says yes, but...

The move also marks the end of liberal talk radio in the 'Burgh. With the demise of the Bev Smith and Lynn Cullen shows on local airwaves, the market has finally surrendered unconditionally to the conservative talk hosts. No more different strokes in the Steel City.

And hey - what will all the four-wheeled boom-boxes cruising the City do now? Since Porky's day, car speakers have been blasting WAMO. Pittsburgh will become a lot quieter town now, in more ways than one.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Smoothtones

The Smoothtones from Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebook

The Smoothtone story begins, of all places, in the exotic climes of Tripoli, Libya. In this sweltering locale, Airman Alfred Gaitwood joined the Garden City (arid Tripoli's tongue-in-cheek nickname) Glee Club.

Why a glee club in Tripoli? Because that's where Alabaman Gaitwood and gang were stationed by the Air Force. Gaitwood had been in the club since 1949, and although he preferred to write and produce music, he took up singing, too. And hey, it sure beat washing and waxing airplanes or whatever Air Force guys do to pass their duty time.

But he caught on quickly, and the Garden City Glee Club toured bases across Europe, winning vocal contests galore as they rode the post-war barracks circuit.

In 1953, Gaitwood was transferred to a reserve AF unit in Pittsburgh, pre-saging the later escapades of the Del-Vikings. He connected with some Hill District vocalists and they began making some music together, quickly becoming the “Smoothtones,” a name selected by Gaitwood.

The members were: Enoch Hale (first tenor), Joe Martin (second tenor), Walter Lowry (baritone), and Kenny McMillan (bass), with Gaitwood on lead. When Hale was called by Uncle Sam in 1954, he was replaced at first tenor by Jud Hunter.

In early 1955, they recorded two sides (both written by Gaitwood) for Lennie Martin's local JEM label: “Bring Back Your Love” b/w “No Doubt About It” (JEM #412), backed by the Walt Harper Orchestra. The wax was released in June 1955.

As a historical marker, it's thought that disk was the first time that a song by a black vocal group, or as it was called back in the day, "race music," was issued by a Pittsburgh label.

Up until then, the Smoothtones' appearances were mostly limited to record hops hosted by DJs Bill Powell (who would later break “Guided Missile” in Pittsburgh over WILY), Leon Sykes (WMBS), Jay Michael (WCAE), Barry Kaye (WJAS), and, of course, "The Daddio of the Radio" Porky Chedwick (WHOD), who gave the song its first airplay.

After the record broke and did well locally, the band booked a busy schedule of one-nighters, all in the Pittsburgh area. The live regional circuit was their bread and butter; they didn't follow up "Bring Back Your Love" with any new recordings. Then, in early 1956, Gaitwood was again reassigned by the Air Force.

His place in the Smoothtones was taken by Sylvester Brooks. The group then cut “It's Too Late Now,” a Gaitwood tune, for JEM. The song was apparently never released by Martin, although Gaitwood's next group would later record it on Dootone.

Gaitwood ended up at McClellan AFB in Sacramento, and surprise, he started singing with some other airmen, who eventually became the Cuff Links. (Gaitwood had long before decided on that name for his next group; he had a yellow shirt with French cuffs and brown cuff links, and that was his inspiration. Hey, we can't make this stuff up.)

They cut "Guided Missile," which hit the #2 spot in Pittsburgh in 1956 though it never charted nationally. A year later, Gaitwood was off to McGuire AFB in Jersey, where he hooked up with yet another group.

As for the Smoothtones, it seems that the transfer of Gaitwood, who did all their writing, took away their raison d' etre, and they disbanded shortly afterwards, in September of 1956.

(Old Mon once again leaned heavily on the expertise of Uncle Marvy at Marvin Goldberg's R&B Notebook for background. The Smoothtones are also included in the book "Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Doo-Wop Vocal Groups" by Mitch Rosalsky)

Smoothtones - "Bring Back Your Love"

Friday, May 1, 2009

Still A Thrill...

Thrills from Strutter Magazine

Thrills began in 1974, made up of players Tony Monaco (keyboards, vocals), Rob Owens (drums, vocals), Dave Fullerton (guitars, vocals) and Bill Gilbert (bass, vocals).

The core members of the band were Monaco and Fullerton of Penn Hills, who had started out playing in a seven-piece group called Menagerie that was horn-driven, doing some Chicago and BS&T stuff, along with a few Fullerton compositions.

They decided to put out a leaner and meaner sound, and formed Bad Company (no, not that one), with bass player Al Opsitnick after adding Owens to the roster, who had a lights out audition. They put together a playlist of some 20 cover songs, and were good to go.

Bad Company began playing high school dances, and became a mainstay of the frat party circuit, a pretty steady source of gigs back in the day. When they were all of age, they rocked the regional club and bar venues.

They dropped the Bad Company name - it seems some Brits were playing under that banner, too - in mid-1974 when Gilbert signed on, and became Thrills.

Gilbert replaced Opsitnick, who split because of the dreaded artistic differences. He was a pal of Fullerton's - they both belonged to the chess club, apparently a primo rock 'n' roll hangout in Penn Hills. Thrills continued on as popular act in the Tri-State area.

They picked up a manager, Tom Ingegno, originally from Long Island (he and Mike Frenchik served as writers, producers, and agents for the band). He was looking ahead towards the group's future, and was afraid that like so many area bands before them, Thrills would never become more than a big fish in a small pond if they got into a Pittsburgh comfort zone and didn't grow their fan base.

So using his homeboy connections, he booked some NY dates for the band. The rock music scene there during the late 70’s was thriving and Thrills were a good fit. After a few months of travelling back and forth, they made NY their home base in 1977. Playing the club circuit in New York City, Jersey, and Long Island, their career took off.

In virtually no time, Thrills were voted the #1 band on Long Island by Good Times Magazine in 1978. They started to put together more original material, and released a single "Not Gonna Run" on their own label, First Step Records. Then they inked a deal with indie G&P Records.

They spent the next year playing and recording in New York and Los Angeles, where the band laid down their initial album, "First Thrills," in 1979. It was original stuff, with a couple of cuts from an earlier 10-song demo they had made, but decided not to release. The vinyl hit the racks in February of 1980.

And hey, it did pretty good. Thrills expected some New York area love, but the LP nudged into Billboard's Top 200, featuring the single "Breaking My Heart." They toured heavily in support of it, backing bands like John Kay & Steppenwolf, Foreigner, Quarterflash, Nick Lowe, and Donnie Iris.

Thrills took some time of from the road and went back to L.A. in September of 1981 to record "Front Page News," their second G&P release.

Monaco said "I think it was our best album. It was by far our biggest commercial success, especially in the tri-state area near Pittsburgh. There was a radio station in Pittsburgh known as 96KX. They got behind one of the songs that Dave had written called 'Tonight' and placed it into heavy rotation. It held a top 10 status for over 10 weeks! We really felt that we on the brink of making it."

Yah, the band can leave Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh never leaves the band. 96 Kicks and DVE pushed the singles "Tonight" and to a lesser degree, "High Side of 55." The group returned to the road, hoping to hit the rock 'n' roll jackpot of fame and fortune.

Owens left the band after that, and Pittsburgh drummer Linda Mackley (she played for local acts Harombee & Axys) took his place.

In 1983, they went back to the studio to cut "Thrills 3." The ten tracks showcased power keyboards with slick harmonies and choruses. Though tilted a bit towards ballads, Thrills rocked hard with cuts like "The Feeling’s Gone" and "Too Many First Times."

It was supposed to be the band's breakout disk. But G&P ran out of money and steam, and folded after the taping. The label's demise left Thrills without a record company, and their latest master collected dust in the vaults.

That bad hand led to the end of Thrills. As Monaco said of the album that wasn't: "I really believe that it could have broken the band on a national level. That was what upset us so much. We were so close! The stress of over ten years of hard work ending so abruptly is really what broke the band up."

Fate, though, is a funny beast. G&P and Thrills (to be replaced in name by another Thrills band in 2001, an Irish indy group. Must be karma left over from the Bad Company days) may have faded from existence, but that tape was still sitting on its shelf, waiting for an ear. And it finally found a friendly one.

A Thrills' fan, Steve Allen, knew about the unissued album, and he introduced the bands' suits to Dane Spencer of Rewind Records (and Sojourn), a division of Song Haus music and classic rock reissuer. He liked what he heard on the buried T3 tape, and Rewind remastered and released "Thrills 3" in 2000, almost two decades after it was cut.

It was well received by the public, and the reviewers dug it, too. Rewind followed by issuing "Live from My Fathers Place" in 2002, which was recorded at the Roslyn NY club My Fathers Place and broadcast live over Hempstead's WLIR Radio, on March 17, 1981.

"Front Page News" was reissued last year by AOR-fm, and is being distributed through CD Baby. The band hopes that a double CD of "First Thrills" and "From Kingdom Come" (taped in 1979 at Kingdom Sound Studios in Syosset, NY. It was going to be their first album, but didn't quite make the cut) will join the list. Not a bad discography for a group that disbanded in 1983, hey?

And the music still holds up. It's great AOR work from the early eighties, in the pomprock vein of Asia, Styx, Yes, Kansas, and REO Speedwagon. Their stuff was that good and well-produced.

Who knows where Thrills would be now if they signed with a national label that had the muscle to place them on some more radio playlists, or if G&P could have hung on financially until the MTV era and its monster PR potential? It's an old story for Pittsburgh bands, even those that head to the bright lights.

What's the band up to now? Monaco says "We all went our separate ways although we remained close friends. Dave, Linda, and I went to work with various local bands. Bill wasn’t interested in doing a local circuit. We all got day jobs and went about our lives."

"Linda Mackley still lives in New York and she is always doing something new musically. Rob Owens, our original drummer, lives in Pittsburgh. Bill lives here in Florida near Dave and I. We are just normal guys with normal jobs, families, and nice homes."

"As far as a formal re-grouping, we are all in different places in our lives so while it is unlikely, it is not impossible. Hopefully, we will get second chance to make our mark, leave a legacy, if even a small one. Like my hero Billy Joel once said, 'Don’t forget your second wind.'”

Fullerton explains Thrills more simply. "We were all Pittsburgh boys living a dream and trying to achieve it," he says. And hey, 25 years later, the dream lives on.

Thrills - "Tonight"

(To keep up with the band, visit the Thrills My Space page. And Old Mon would like to thank Tony Monaco - who is quoted from a Strutter magazine interview - Dave Fullerton, Sonny Derdock and Audrey Monaco Danovich for their generous and invaluable help.)

Rebekah Starr Band

Rebekah Snyder-Starr

Hey, a trio of Kittanning's finest rockers, The Rebekah Starr Band, are having their initial CD release party at 10 PM tonight at Station Square's Hard Rock Cafe to push "Rockstar Girl."

The band is trying to tap into the 21st Century business model for music sales. They bypassed the label chase and bricks-and-mortar distribution system, and are counting on the web to get their sound to the public. For starters, they handled the financing, recording, and production themselves.

TRSB recorded at North Hill's Audible Images Studio for a couple of weeks in February and March. The studio has laid down the sound for just about every genre you can come up with, including world music, rock, pop, C&W, and hip-hop.

Rock producer Marc Jordan flew to Pittsburgh from L.A. to oversee the project, and even played bass for them. He returned home with the raw tracks to mix at his studio, Dragonfly Revolution. Then the record was mastered by Tom Baker of Precision Mastering in Hollywood, California. And viola, "Rockstar Girl" was ready to roll.

Now comes the hard part, moving some wax. They're selling the tracks on iTunes, Dig Station, their web site, and some non-traditional hometown outlets.

"We think we have a great business plan for pursuing multiple sales avenues," says Rebekah. "And just like national artists turn to nontraditional retail outlets, like Starbucks and Victoria’s Secret, for selling their music, we’re also not completely leaving out brick-and-mortar for our local fans either.”

Old Mon wishes them success. But even the new ways of pushing platters is a dog-eat-dog venue; there are a lotta bands out there vying for some web love.

But hey, enough about the industry. TRSB itself plays a little raw live, which isn't a bad thing at all, and they categorize their music as funkrock. It's a good sound, and like every solid Pittsburgh band, the group tosses a little R&B into their rock.

Lead singer, guitar player, and writer Rebekah Snyder-Starr has performed from Kittanning to Manhattan (as a solo act). With drummer Michael Starr (her hubby, who she's known since grade school days) and Nathan Mancine (bass & vocals), she formed rock trio The Rebekah Starr Band.

If you're into degrees of separation, Snyder-Starr went to school with Starr, who worked at a drum shop in Cranberry with best bud Mancine. It makes for a pretty tight group.

It shows during the act. Snyder-Starr might jump behind the kit, Starr could play a few licks on the lead ax, and Mancine will take over the vocals. It's a high-octane performance and a good mix of pop licks from the three players.

The band was one of the finalists last week in the Hard Rock/WDVE Battle of the Bands, and they're gigging tomorrow at the Belmont Arena in Kittanning ahead of Butler's Bret Michaels, lead singer of 1980's rockers Poison and the star of VH1’s “Rock of Love” show.

They've got dates on Saturday, June 13, playing the "Waves of Thunder" Motorcycle Show at the Kittanning Riverfront Ampitheatre, and on Saturday, July 10, opening for the band Girls Girls Girls at The Warehouse, in Kittanning.

TRSB is working to put together their summer schedule - yah, even venturing outside Kittanning and Station Square - to support "Rockstar Girl." Check their web site for bookings and catch them when they show up near you; you'll get righteous in a hurry to their boogie.

"Very" by The Rebekah Starr Band live at the Warehouse