As I have done for the past several years, I close out the musical year Downtown with WYEP’s artists of the year. Can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

Two of my favorite local bands coming out of ‘hiding’ to play a double bill in a place I’ve never been? Nothing was stopping me from seeing this gig. Unfortunately, the fire code occupancy limit did stop several from attending and they were turned away at the door, even though there was PLENTY of ‘space upstairs’ available.

The problem was that there is only one stairwell in the joint and I am guessing getting caught packing the place was just too much of a risk to all involved. Besides new music, both bands are working on changing things up in the 2012 and you can bet I will be covering it all.

What can I say about this band that I haven’t said before? How about how cool they are as people and it’s been a great pleasure of mine to meet and eventually get to know them this year. Expect a follow up to their debut sometime in the near future. More photos here.

Two of my favorite bands decided to make a pair of short horror films and they will screen them tonight along with full sets by both. Dress up in your full Halloween regalia and have a blast. I love the fact that both these bands think of cool ways to put on shows. Here’s a couple shots from behind the scenes. As an aside, you may not know, I was an aspiring filmmaker once. Evidence here.

Rock The Block Alejandro Escovedo Colonizing The Cosmos Freedy Johnston WYEP Community Broadcast Center
Saturday September 18, 2010 Bedford Square

This was my first time shooting WYEP’s annual outdoor party and I have to say that I had a blast. You really couldn’t have asked for a nicer night weather-wise and all three bands brought it. Can’t wait till next year already. You can scroll through a bunch more of my (along with John’s and Jennifer’s) photos here.

What a fantastic idea. Throw a family friendly party in probably the most scenic park in the city. Organized by Colonizing The Cosmos, it included some of my favorite bands we are lucky enough to have here. There are plans to make this an annual event, and I can’t imagine not going every year. A sweet short video here.

Tonight there is going to be a cool party on the West End Overlook. Billed as a “Circus on the Mount“, Colonizing The Cosmos is hosting a bunch of sweet bands and activities that hopefully is not a one off gig. The band has become a regular in my listening rotation and I always jump at the opportunity to see them. Guitarist/violists Josh Moyer was kind enough to wrestle over this week’s edition of First/Last Friday.

What is the first album you ever bought?

This is tough to remember, but I think it was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. It was on tape and I remember listening to it on the stereo in my room while trying to moonwalk like Michael. I purchased it again last year, this time on disc. He was an absolute musical genius.

What is the last album you bought?

At the persistent recommendation of a few friends I recently purchased Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming”. I must confess, it’s my first Dylan album and up until this point, I haven’t listened to him that much at all. However, I was finally convinced to give him a try and thus far, I’m really digging it on all sorts of levels.

Favorite album of all time?

This too is pretty difficult. There are so many albums that I like for all sorts of different reasons. Some because of the music, some because of the lyrical content, and others because they remind me of a particular time in my life. That said, here are the albums that I consistently listen to: James Taylor’s “Greatest Hits Volume 1” (I know it’s cheating to list a greatest hits album), Richard Bona’s “Munia: The Tale”, Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago”, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and any album by the Police.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?

Guns N’ Roses – “Spaghetti Incident”. Please, don’t make me talk about it.

First Concert Attended?

Early 90’s (maybe 1993?) – Steve Miller Band at what will always be the Star Lake Amphitheater to me.

Last Concert?

WYEP Summer Music Festival.

Favorite concert ever?

My all around best experience was at a James Taylor show at Star Lake when I was mistaken for one of the venue owner’s sons. My friends and I were welcomed into the owner’s box, center stage where we enjoyed the best food, drink and view in the house. James Taylor is obviously a musical genius too, so that was nice. Another amazing “concert” experience occurred about a year and a half ago when I stopped into AVA for the live jazz on Monday nights. I had gone hoping to hear jazz trumpeter Sean Jones play. About thirty minutes after I got there he walked in wearing a long coat and hat and carrying his trumpet case. He sat down at the bar for a while, had a drink, played a game on his iphone and just listened to the band like the rest of us. About twenty minutes passed, he got up, took off his coat, pulled out his trumpet and played the most amazing solo I have ever heard. He wasn’t just playing the trumpet, though. He was the trumpet and it was unbelievable. If you haven’t heard him yet, you need to.

Least favorite concert?

Can’t remember. That’s a good thing, right?

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?

What can I say? It’s my home and the home of all sorts of spectacular family, friends, artists, athletes, professionals, organizations, communities, cultures, etc., etc. I love the city. And I think that there are a lot of promising things happening here, both musically and otherwise.

Thanks, Josh. It amazes me conducting these Q&A’s of how many local musicians aren’t schooled on Dylan yet! I’ll throw you a few rec’s when I see you tonight.

So my recent enthusiasm for this band has not diminished one iota since settling in and familiarizing myself with their music. In fact, it has only intensified with the additional release of a live EP (free to boot!) and having the opportunity to see them play again. They have such a cool vibe going. For some reason they seem to me to be a band that’s best suited playing outdoors. Their sound not only could fill up a room but as they proved at Hartwood, an entire meadow.

Going into this show, I thought from the press photos that this band was a trio. I was taken aback when TEN people ambled onstage for a fantastic set. They sounded incredible as a live band. The debut album is equally as great and although I sound like a broken record at times when describing some of these bands, I cannot wait to see them again. I also want to point out that I have never seen the studio packed with as many people that came to see this band. I am sure I am not the only one in town expecting some exciting things from them in the future. Listen to the show here.