Thursday, November 27, 2014

Slim and the Gang - Live From Neids Hotel

Slim Forsythe (photo by Rich of Coda Photography)

Kevin "Slim" Forsythe, Lawrenceville's country institution based out of Nied's Hotel on Butler Street, has released his first pilot for what he hopes will become a televised musical series "Live From Nied's Hotel."

Forsythe may be strumming and singing to one of America's oldest genres, but he raised funds (and awareness) for the show in a decidedly 21st century manner - he started a Kickstarter campaign in the spring, raising over $10,000 to shoot the first episode.

With the seed money in hand, he brought in the Beagle Brothers and Molly Alphabet, a pair of the area's better known country acts, to share the Nied's stage this summer. Just as importantly, a crew directed by Dino DiStefano, a Grammy-winning music producer who has recorded as the sound engineer on WQED TV's "Live from Studio A" and at the Manchester Craftsman's Guild, captured the show on tape. It's a first-class effort all around.

The performances are all top shelf, with mostly original songs with some distinctive lyricism and local name-dropping. The show is nicely paced thanks to the round table vignettes between melodies.

The Beagle Brothers ("The Architects of the Bloomfield Sound") reminisce about their start from St. Mary's, from getting their name from some backyard pooches and progressing from punk to rock (Slim himself started with ATS) to country. Molly explains how her typically Lawrenceville name of Molly Szramowski was transformed into the more user-friendly Molly Alphabet by an old country singer from the Great Plains.

Slim goes through his changes - fittingly for a country singer, he's been everything from a bus driver to attorney, with a couple of City Hall stops thrown in, and lives over a bar. He picked up his name to commemorate Pittsburgh's country legend Slim Bryant, who led the Wildcats and traces his roots back to Jimmy Rodgers. Slim's dad Frank was a big band singer, working with another seminal Pittsburgh Sound personality, Lennie Martin.

So come for the show and stay for the stories; it's an entertaining and tightly played opening act for the dream of a long run.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tuesday Musical Club

The living presidents of the TMC at the Stephen Foster Memorial dedication in 1937
(Photo credit: The Pittsburgh Tuesday Musical Club)

The Tuesday Musical Club is a non-profit, small arts group that provides free concerts of classical, chamber and contemporary music, music scholarships and stage opportunities for members. They're one of the many long-running and dedicated but under-the-radar organizations that keep Southwest PA a vibrant cultural region.

In 1889, the year Schenley Park was born, Andrew Carnegie was revolutionizing the steel industry and Gustav Mahler's First Symphony premiered in Budapest, a handful of prominent women in Pittsburgh formed a musical club. These female musicians, whose social status shut them out from doing anything professionally in a male-dominated age (this was way before Madonna), organized private recitals of classical music.

First calling their group Tuesday Afternoon Musicale (The Tuesday Afternoon Club concept was common back in the day; at least a dozen other cities had groups with the same, or very similar, names), their first performances were held in the rooms of the Mozart Club in the Hostetter Building on Fourth Avenue, by permission of Henry Clay Frick, a trustee. After a year, the performances were moved to the music room of Eleanor & Christopher Magee's mansion in Oakland, "The Maples," on the site of today's UPMC Magee Hospital.

In 1902, the club admitted non-musicians as associate members, resulting in larger audiences and more presentations. They played in top flight halls like the Schenley Hotel, Soldiers and Sailors Hall, the Masonic Club, and the Fort Pitt Hotel.

The hall-to-hall existence led to their most notable achievement, a collaboration among themselves, Pitt and a well-to-do Stephen Foster collector from Indiana.

They naturally wanted their own hall, and wanted it dedicated to Pittsburgh's own Stephen Collins Foster. TMC worked together with Chancellor John G. Bowman of Pitt and Josiah Lilly of Indianapolis for ten long years to achieve their goal. Bowman gave them some land and helped with fundraising while Lilly donated 10,000 pieces of Foster memorabilia and wads of cash. The building cost $550,000 in depression-era money, and Lilly and his son Eli (does Eli Lilly & Company ring a bell?) came up with nearly half the cost.

The result was the Stephen C. Foster Memorial, dedicated in 1937 on the lawn of the Cathedral of Learning. In a nice touch, ground for it was broken on January 13th, 1935, the 71st anniversary of Foster's death.

The Stephen Foster memorial from All

The club didn't stop there. TMC members are credited with forming the Pittsburgh Opera Society in 1939, as well as the Pittsburgh Concert Society and The Renaissance and Baroque Society of Pittsburgh.

And though it took a few decades, TMC broached the final frontier and began admitting men in 1976.

More than a century after its inception, TMC remains on the go. Their first scholarship was awarded in 1928, and auditions for the scholarships are held biannually, with $40,000 in tuition money going to young musicians in the latest round. TMC also has a community outreach program called Musicare, which provides recitals for residents of nursing homes, subsidized housing, and senior centers throughout Allegheny County. The club musicians often perform at public and city events as well.

Many club activities are in-house and take place during their meetings in member's homes or churches (which are awesome venues in their own right), with musical performances as well as coaching sessions provided by PSO musicians and university faculty.

This year, they'll present eight free public Tuesday afternoon concerts, three Saturday afternoon recitals and one Sunday afternoon concert to showcase current TMC scholarship winners. 125 years and still going strong...

(The info on this post was shamelessly swiped almost verbatim from Anne Marie DeGeorge's TMC history on their website. Check them out; they're one of the oldest-running and quietly active musical groups in the region and handily headquartered at the Stephen Foster Memorial in Oakland.)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

More Concerts...

And here are some more shows to help pass your summer...

May 29 - Mia Z (Mellon Square, 11:00)
June 5 - Angel Blue & the Prophets (Mellon Square, 11:00)
June 6 - MOIP (First Friday - Frick Lawn, 7:00 - $5)
June 6 - Jeff Tweedy (3 Rivers Arts Festival - Point Park, 7:30)
June 7 - Sam Bush (3 Rivers Arts Festival - Point Park, 7:30)
June 7 - Roger Humphries (Riverview Jazz - 7:00)
June 8 - Trampled By Turtles (3 Rivers Arts Festival - Point Park, 7:30)
June 9 - PSO (3 Rivers Arts Festival - Point Park, 7:00)
June 10 - Kaiser Chiefs (3 Rivers Arts Festival - Point Park, 7:30)
June 11 - Center Stage Band (Flagstaff Hill - 7:00)
June 11 - Amos Lee (3 Rivers Arts Festival - Point Park, 7:30)
June 12 - Lyndsey Smith & Soul Distribution (Mellon Square, 11:00)
June 12 - The Smithereens (3 Rivers Arts Festival - Point Park, 7:30)
June 13 - Curtis Harding (3 Rivers Arts Festival - Point Park, 7:30)
June 14 - Reggie Watkins (Riverview Jazz - 7:00) 
June 14 - Lucinda Williams (3 Rivers Arts Festival - Point Park, 7:30)
June 15 - Allegheny Brass Band (BB&B - Mellon Park, 10:30)

June 15 - Jake Bugg (3 Rivers Arts Festival - Point Park, 7:30)
June 18 - Gramsci Melodic (Flagstaff Hill - 7:00)
June 19 - Charm & Chain (Mellon Square, 11:00)
June 20 - Buzz Poets/Gene the Werewolf (Summer Jam - Station Square 6:30)
June 21 - Paul Thompson (Riverview Jazz - 7:00)
June 22 - Pittsburgh Philharmonic (BB&B - Mellon Park, 10:30)
June 25 - Justin Fabus Band (Flagstaff Hill - 7:00)
June 26 - The Bill Ali Band (Mellon Square, 11:00)
June 27 - Ten/One Sweet Burgh (Summer Jam - Station Square 6:30)
June 28 - Sam Roberts Band, Valerie June, Elizabeth & the Catapult, The Red Western (WYEP Festival - Schenley Plaza 2:00)
June 28 - The Tania Grubbs Quartet (Riverview Jazz - 7:00)
June 28 - Chris Higbee (Jam on Walnut - 7:00)
June 29 - Edgewood Symphony Orchestra (BB&B - Mellon Park, 10:30)

July 2 - Darryl & Kim (Flagstaff Hill - 7:00)
July 3 - Holiday (Mellon Square, 11:00)
July 4 - Joe Grushecky/Time Tested (Summer Jam - Station Square 6:30)
July 5 - Thomas Wendt (Riverview Jazz - 7:00)
July 6 - West Hills Symphonic Band (BB&B - Mellon Park, 10:30)
July 9 - L'Lamint Dance Band (Flagstaff Hill - 7:00)
July 10 - Kiersten Kelly (Mellon Square, 11:00)
July 11 - Marshall Tucker Band/Sick Sense (Summer Jam - Station Square 6:30) 
July 12 - The Brydge (Riverview Jazz - 7:00)
July 13 - Tom Roberts "Harlem Slide" Piano (BB&B - Mellon Park, 10:30)
July 16 - Shinizyn (Flagstaff Hill - 7:00)
July 17 - The Nied's Hotel Band (Mellon Square, 11:00)
July 18 - Bastard Bearded Irishmen/Good Brother Earl (Summer Jam - Station Square 6:30)
July 19 - Stacia Abbott (Riverview Jazz - 7:00)
July 20 - The Matt Murchison Mutiny (BB&B - Mellon Park, 10:30)
July 23 - Frank Sinatra tribute (Flagstaff Hill - 7:00)
July 24 - Trigger Happy (Mellon Square, 11:00)
July 25 - Molly Hatchet/River Trail (Summer Jam - Station Square 6:30)
July 26 - Sean Jones (Riverview Jazz - 7:00)
July 26 - Donora & Dancing Queen (Jam on Walnut - 7:00)
July 27 - The Amadeus Trio (BB&B - Mellon Park, 10:30)
July 30 - Bruce Katz (Flagstaff Hill - 7:00)
July 31 - Shannon & the Merger (Mellon Square, 11:00)

Aug. 1 - Bruce in the USA/Traffic Jam (Summer Jam - Station Square 6:30)
Aug. 1 - Jerry Groevich Tamburitza Orchestra (First Friday - Frick Lawn, 7:00 - $5)
Aug. 2 - Poogie Bell (Riverview Jazz - 7:00)
Aug. 3 - Carnegie Brass (BB&B - Mellon Park, 10:30)
Aug. 3 - Maureen Budway (Reservoir of Jazz - Highland Park 5:00)
Aug. 6 - The Grid (Flagstaff Hill - 7:00)
Aug. 7 - Highland Brothers Band (Mellon Square, 11:00)
Aug. 8 - Classic Rock Experience/Lily Wine Affair (Summer Jam - Station Square 6:30)
Aug. 9 - Salamba Latin Jazz Group (Riverview Jazz - 7:00)
Aug. 10 - Klezlectic (BB&B - Mellon Park, 10:30)
Aug. 10 - Salsamba Latin Jazz Group (Reservoir of Jazz - Highland Park 5:00)
Aug. 13 - Muddy Krrek Blues Band (Flagstaff Hill - 7:00)
Aug. 15 - JillWest & the Blues Attack/Silent Partner (Summer Jam - Station Square 6:30)
Aug. 16 - Benny Benack III (Riverview Jazz - 7:00)
Aug. 16 - Kelsey Friday & Radio Tokyo (Jam on Walnut - 7:00)
Aug. 17 - Dr. Alton Merrell & Impact (Reservoir of Jazz - Highland Park 5:00)
Aug. 20 - Ferla-Marcinizyn Guitar Duo (Flagstaff Hill - 7:00)
Aug. 21 - Kung Fu Radio (Mellon Square, 11:00)
Aug. 22 - Gathering Field/Mercury (Summer Jam - Station Square 6:30)
Aug. 23 - Jevon Rushton (Riverview Jazz - 7:00)
Aug. 24 - The Horn Guyz (Reservoir of Jazz - Highland Park 5:00)
Aug. 27 - Bridgette Perdue (Flagstaff Hill - 7:00)
Aug. 30 - Roby Edwards (Riverview Jazz - 7:00)
Aug. 31 - Cross Currents (Reservoir of Jazz - Highland Park 5:00)
Sept. 5 - Sean Jones Quartet (First Friday - Frick Lawn, 7:00 - $5)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Allegheny County Concert Series

It's time to head out to Hartwood or South Park - the pools are almost open and the Concert Series is will kick off at the end of the month; Joe Grishecky will lead the charge:

May 30: Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers (South Park - 7:30)
June 1: The Abby Lee Dance Company's Kick-Off to Summer (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)
June 6: Lil' Ed and the Imperials with Jill West & Blues Attack (South Park - 7:30)

June 8: 28 North with 7Horse (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)
June 13: Pittsburgh Opera (South Park - 7:30)
June 15: Father's Day Car Cruise followed by Pure Gold (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)
June 20: Buckwheat Zydeco (South Park - 7:30)
June 22: Sonny Landreth with Kevin Garrett (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)
June 27: The Stickers with Christian Beck Band (South Park - 7:30)
June 29: Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)

July 5: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (South Park - 8) 
July 6: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (Hartwood Acres - 8)
July 11: Ha Ha Tonka with Townsppl (South Park - 7:30)
July 13: BNY Mellon Jazz Presents Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra with Paquito D'Rivera (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)
July 18: Sister Hazel (South Park - 7:30)
July 20: Lake Street Dive with Brooke Annibale (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)
July 25: Gospel Music Night (South Park - 7:30)
July 25-27: Pittsburgh Blues Festival featuring Dr. John, Bernard Allison, J.J. Gray & Mofro, Spin Doctors and other acts (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)

Aug. 1: Serena Ryder with the Harlan Twins (South Park - 7:30)
Aug. 3: Jerry Douglas with Nameless in August (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)
Aug. 8: The Hitmen featuring original members of Tommy James and the Shondells, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (South Park - 7:30)
Aug. 10: Macy Gray (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)
Aug. 15: Lovebettie (South Park - 7:30)
Aug. 17: Pittsburgh Ballet Theater (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)
Aug. 22: BNY Mellon Jazz presents Gloria Reuben and Caribbean Jazz Ensemble (South Park - 7:30)
Aug. 24: Duquesne Tamburitzans (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)
Aug. 29: River City Brass Band (South Park - 7:30)
Aug. 31: Allegheny County Music Festival; acts TBD (Hartwood Acres - 7:30)

All the shows are free, except for festivals (tho the Friday 7/25 opening of the Blues Festival is free of cost).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mountain Top Festival Makes Its Debut In June At Grandview park

The Mountain Top Music Festival, an all-day indy music blast, will hold its inauguration on June 8th, 2014. The show will feature mostly Pittsburgh groups with a little eastern flavor added in.

This all-ages festival will be held at Grandview Park in Mt. Washington with a $10 suggested admission on the day of the festival; the gates will open at noon. No food or alcohol will be served to the public during the event. We suppose that means you're on your own for munchies and drink, although we're not betting that the City will look kindly on bringing in your own hootch. Caveat emptor, as they say.

The schedule is:
  • 1:00 – 1:30 Unraveler (Pittsburgh, PA) 
  • 1:45 – 2:15 Bat Zuppel (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 2:30 – 3:00 Skull Kid (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 3:15 – 3:45 INFLUX (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 4:00 – 4:30 Partly Sunny (Pittsburgh, PA)  
  • 4:45 – 5:15 Gypsy and His Band of Ghosts (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 5:30 – 6:00 White Like Fire (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 6:15 – 6:45 Kevin Garrett (Pittsburgh/Brooklyn, NY) 
  • 7:00 – 7:30 DRGN King (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 7:45 – 8:15 Nevada Color (Pittsburgh, PA) 
  • 8:30 – 9:15 Legs Like Tree Trunks (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 9:30 – 10:15 Cold Fronts (Philadelphia, PA)

For more information about the festival, visit the official Facebook event page.

Nevada Color "Painted Dogs" from the WPTS Live Show