#SupportPGHMusic // Exclusively on HughShows Radio streaming at the bottom of the page, enjoy the entire December 13, 2014 concert of HughShows Live at Eide’s Finale featuring mini sets from acoustic and solo versions of my favorite Pittsburgh bands during the marathon 6 hour concert. //

Dumluv is the moniker for Pittsburgh based emo chill dreamwave musician Ryan Hilberg. After the dissolution of his band Rainbow Machine a couple of years ago, Ryan began his solo effort self-releasing EPs, the latest entitled letmeluvu ;( from December of 2020. I want to thank Ryan for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

dumluv 💘 · Eyes Closed (prod. ditten)

The first album you ever bought?
Hot Fuss by The Killers, I remember that was one of the first times I truly felt like an individual. I didn’t feel this way because of the music, but rather from the actual act of making that choice to buy the album. I was only 11 at the time, but I knew that there was so much music out there, and it was so truly exciting to have that first spark of taste that drew me to the album. I loved the music, and I had no idea why. It was mysterious and breathtaking, and I’m taken back to that sensation every time I listen to Hot Fuss.

Your last album bought?
Cure for Pain by Morphine.

Favorite album of all time?
Is This It by The Strokes. This is the one album that I constantly listen to that I am certain I will never get tired of. It is also the only album I can think of that I would give a 10/10. All of the songs on this album portray a different message not just in the lyrics, but in the fluidity and dynamics of the music as well. This album is for every type of mood and tells a story through emotion alone. Casablancas also provides lyrics that almost anyone can empathize with, and only lets his passion out of the box at the exact right moment. While listening to Is This It, I always find it impossible not to sing along.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
It’s hard for me to think of an album that was the most disappointing to me, because if I was disappointed by something, I pushed it out of my mind. If I had to pick one album I guess it would be Blink-182.

First concert attended?
Simon and Garfunkel at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. I was very young, so I only remember bits and pieces. My love of folk music comes from Simon and Garfunkel, as they were one of the first pieces of music I ever remember listening to.

The first concert I remember attending was Sum 41’s “Does this Look Infected” reunion tour. This was my first punk show and I will never forget that moment when the band came on and the crowd instantly condensed so tightly that I could barely breathe. I was 13 and only 5’5 at the time, and I had never felt more alive. I can’t even describe the aftermath of that show, the smells that rushed into my nose were so putrid and foul, but I loved every second of it. At that age, I had never witnessed a crowd be so influenced by the presence of a band. I had never even seen a group of that many people express themselves in a free and uninhibited way. It was magical, I wish I could go back to that night.

Last concert?
The last show I was at was Can’t Swim at The Smiling Moose.

Favorite concert ever?
Tobacco, Spiritualized, and The Flaming Lips. This concert happened during my freshman year of high school. It was definitely one of the first times I felt like I was a part of something, and not just observing it. My friends and I were stoked for the lineup, this was the first time we had all collectively gone to a show because we all have differing tastes. I will never forget when the Lips closed the show with “Do You Realize”, it was an emotional journey. We were all hugging and crying and belting along the words, we didn’t care how obnoxious it seemed. Then when they left the stage a gigantic LED light display spelled out LOVE on the projector, and it kept flashing until the entire crowd was chanting: “LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!” the Lips then came back out for their encore. I felt like I was in another world.

Least favorite concert?
That’s tough, because I’ve never had a negative experience at a concert. The closest one that comes to mind is probably The Flaming Lips and The Black Keys at Consol Energy Center. I was mostly excited to see the Lips; I was never a big fan of the Black Keys. I guess I was just disappointed that the Flaming Lips’ set wasn’t longer. It was also really lame being in that huge commercialized space, everyone drunk off of 6$ beer. I could sense that the people there didn’t come because they loved music and art and expression. I realized this when literally half the crowd left the stadium after The Black Keys played “Tighten Up”. I wish I was kidding.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I have lived in Pittsburgh all my life. Even though I’ve only been active in the music scene for a little over four years, I have made many friends and have made substantial progress along the way. I know there is SO much more hidden in the depths of the DIY scene, and I can’t wait to see what else it has to offer. I find myself being surprised by something at every corner. I guess that’s what I love most about the city, is that you really never know what’s going to happen or who you’re going to meet, and each person I meet is more colorful than the last.

 

 

Thanks, Ryan. So glad you are continuing making music. Any chance of Rainbow Machine making a comeback? Let me be the first to know if and when…

 

 

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stand by your decisions fuck what people say you know the moment you forget that you start withering away

Sheridan Woika is a Pittsburgh based anti-folk singer songwriter (with a cool Elephant 6 vibe a-going) who is a self-described “rough n’ tumble kid from Appalachia just trying to work through my trauma and express myself n’ at” as evidenced via the couple of releases available on bandcamp, the latest being rabbits from August of 2020, with promises of more to come. I want to thank Sheridan (who produces all music and plays nearly all the instruments) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

 

The first album you ever bought?
First album I ever bought was All Eternals Deck by the Mountain Goats. Changed my life. I used to have these wild psychotic episodes where I couldn’t talk and was hallucinating n’ at. I’d put it on to calm me down. I probly listened to it 500 times.

Your last album bought?
I bought an album called San Francisco by American Music Club, super underrated slowcore-kinda thing. Really interesting arrangements and the guy has this super unique singing voice, which that’s really what I go for in music these days, just weird and enigmatic singing voices. Like Björk or something.

Favorite album of all time?
I just can’t pick. Maybe it’s Love It Love It by Nana Grizol on account of all the good memories associated with it.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
People That Can Eat People by Andrew Jackson Jihad because I was in this sort of abusive relationship with this guy and it was his favorite album, so it always makes me feel like bleeeehhhg…

First concert attended?
Pink Floyd, Division Bell tour, in Syracuse right before I moved to Pittsburgh. I had seen live My first big one was I saw MGMT at a really bad music festival and my one friend kept saying she was gonna storm onto the stage and kill Andrew Van Wyngarden, I don’t remember why?

Last concert?
Well it is quarantine, but I went to like a rave back in… February.

Favorite concert ever?
My friend’s band came from Atlanta to play in my other friend’s basement and only like three people came but we just had a blast anyway.

Least favorite concert?
Hmmm… any concert where it’s just guitar guys singing about their exes or stuff like that.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I’ve lived here for a couple years now and I really do love it, but it’s got issues. Getting involved with the activist communities here really helped nurture my love for it. It’s got a long history of human rights violations alongside some really beautiful inspirational stories. I’ve traveled all over and Pittsburgh hits different, it really does.

 

Thanks, Sheridan. I have to say, your album/show picks are taking me back to where I started all this HughShows craziness. Those ‘indie’ bands opened my eyes to a whole new musical world that I never knew existed.

 

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Be safe. Stay weird. Embrace your inner creature today!

Normal Creatures is a Pittsburgh based hip-hop/rock group (formerly known as Sikes and The New Violence, who have been rocking hard since 2015) who cooked up big plans today for the release of their latest album Nightmare Arcade. Among the merch bundles (vinyl, cassettes, CD, shirt, buttons, pendant, beanie, hoodie, ZINE!) and streaming options, there is an online album release show ‘fakestream‘ going down later tonight at 8pm. Many thanks to local mainstay Brian Sikes Howe (Vocals/Dope Spits) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

 

The first album you ever bought?
The first album I remember buying with my own birthday money was Green Day’s Dookie from 1994. I was probably 9 years old and I still really love that album. I don’t have the CD from when I was a kid but I did pick up another copy on vinyl later in life that I still proudly listen to from time to time. Kind of wild to believe that it was recorded almost 30 years ago. Yikes!

Your last album bought?
I recently went out to New Kensington to visit my friend AJ’s record shop Preserving Underground on my birthday and treated myself to new pile of records. I won’t go through the entire list but the one piece from the pile that I was probably the most excited about would be a copy of Fear Factory’s Obsolete album from 1998. I’ve spent the past decade really trying to catalog all of my favorite childhood and teenage albums on vinyl and that Fear Factory record was one of the final pieces missing from my collection. Best birthday gift ever even if I still had to pay for it!

Favorite album of all time?
Mindless Self Indulgence’s Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy from 2000. Even though there is plenty that wrong with this album in hindsight, I simply cannot deny the impact that it had on my life. Hearing this album for the first time was legitimately life changing in every dramatic aspect of the phrase. It shifted my entire perspective on music, art, society, identity and set me on the path for the person that I am today. On the surface, the album may seem like nothing more than a collection of goofy sounds and crude humor but beneath the surface I think there are some very complex layers to the album that a lot of people overlook because of it’s unapologetically uninviting nature. I won’t get into all of it here but I actually made a fairly in-depth video about it that is on my podcasts YouTube channel. Feel free to look up ‘Start The Beat Podcast’ if you’re curious!

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I don’t really feel like it is healthy to mentally hold onto things that disappoint me or to keep track of one’s “least favorite” things so I can’t really think of anything off the top of my head. I’m really sitting here trying to come up with something but I am having a difficult time even tapping into it. I think when I was younger it would have been easier to answer this question but these days, I honestly try to give every album I hear the same level of respect & understanding. Ultimately, if I don’t like an album I just assume that it’s not for me and move on. To not leave you hanging though, I will say that out of all the artists who I have an infinite amount of respect for, Bjork has honestly probably been the most disappointing for me personally over the past decade. I still follow her work and have seen her live multiple times over the past decade but it just feels like her art is reaching a point of selfishness that has become difficult for me to find any meaning in. It’s incredibly disappointing to me because of she’s always been a huge inspiration. I’m incredibly happy that she is still active and has carved out a place in the world for herself to create the art she wants to create. It’s a really beautiful thing to see. I just wish I still connected with it the way that I used to. Her live performance from 2002 at the Royal Opera House in London still gives me chills every damn time I watch it. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. The whole thing is on YouTube.

First concert attended?
I’m actually not so certain about this. I went to a lot of shows when I was pretty young because my Dad and my Uncle were both music lovers who would attend a lot of concerts. Once I was old enough to start going with them to shows I went to a lot of shows. I was only probably 8 or 9 years old though. When I was talking with my Dad recently he brought up taking me to see Weird Al Yankovic and said that it was my first concert. I remember going to a lot of shows when I was a kid and I honestly don’t remember which one was “first” so I’ll just have to take his word for it!

Last concert?
Not counting shows that I was playing of course, I think the last “BIG” concert that I attended was when Iron Maiden played at the PPG Paints Arena in August of 2019.

Favorite concert ever?
Rammstein. May 2012 in Cleveland. Probably the best live band on the planet. For someone with my taste in music anyways… Hah!

Least favorite concert?
As I mentioned before, I’m not huge on keeping track of “least favorite” things. However, one of the most miserable experiences I have ever had at a live show was seeing Feist in July, 2012. The performance was great but the crowd was terrible. It was an outdoor show and for whatever reason, the crowd seemed to have no regard for the artists performing. By the nature of her music, the mix was kinda low and the crowd was very loud. It just sucked. I hope that if I ever get to see her perform again that it is in a more intimate setting with a crowd that actually wants to be at a show.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I’ve built an entire life for myself out of being an active member of the Pittsburgh music community. I’ve been going to shows since I was a kid, playing in bands since I was a teenager and working full time for a local record label for the better part of the past decade. I’ve also done a lot of freelance audio, art and video work for other artists in the city and have been hosting a podcast focused on the Pittsburgh Music Scene for the past 7 years. Hell, I even found the house that I currently live in through a friend who I met at a local show over 10 years ago. The connections and friendships that I have made in this community have put me in a very cool place and if I had never been a part of this world, I have no idea what my life would look like. It’s not uncommon to hear people poo-poo on the Pittsburgh music scene but I think there is plenty of opportunity here for anyone who is willing to be a decent person and work hard on putting out a good product. Obviously, Covid has complicated the situation and I don’t need to explain why or how to anyone reading this. When we’re on the other side of the pandemic however, I know our scene will be back and just as strong as ever. There are way too many people who care about this community for it to die.

 

Thanks, Sikes. Have fun tonight. Always a supporter of yours, buddy. You do great work with your efforts for the Pittsburgh musical landscape. ‘Start the Beat‘ is definitely a required must see/listen for any Pittsburgh music fan.

 

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Photo courtesy Shauna Miller

 

Need a sip of something quicker, the truest eyes under the bluest skies always shine through

Jack Swing is is a Pittsburgh based rock and roll band that has three fantastic EPs under their belt and are making a lot of noise in town through their dynamic and in your face performances. Ready to take the next step, the band has just started an Indiegogo campaign to be able to produce their debut full-length. There are many levels with varying perks and every little bit truly does help. Click the link below as I thank frontman Isaiah Ross (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

Jack Swing Indiegogo

The first album you ever bought?
I want to say Weezer’s Blue Album? It may have been American Idiot by Green Day though.

Your last album bought?
Aja by Steely Dan, needed CDs for my new car.

Favorite album of all time?
Hmm, that’s very tough. Axis: Bold as Love is a safe bet. There’s other things that are up there for sure, but that is definitely a constant.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Truly am not sure, I’d say I have an issue with Greta Van Fleet’s entire discography.

First concert attended?
Weezer. I believe I was… 14?

Last concert?
It’s been so long that it’s hard to remember. Aside from ones that we’ve played I want to say it was the Rave Ami 10 Year Anniversary Show.

Favorite concert ever?
Queens of the Stone Age on their Like Clockwork tour. I worked at the venue at the time but made sure to go to that show strictly for pleasure. I remember it being one of the tightest and most powerful performances I’ve ever seen. Also surprisingly up there was the time I saw Hall and Oates. I was extremely impressed.

Least favorite concert?
21 Pilots. Another experience courtesy of working at a concert venue. These guys infuriate me.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I believe Pittsburgh is a city with so much beauty and potential. The smallest big city in the world. Somewhere that I definitely recognize the work that needs to be done but ultimately am extremely proud to have been born and bred in this city.

 

Thanks, Isaiah. Been a fan of yours for a couple of years now and really looking forward to the new album when it comes out!

 

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I am desperate, as of lately for it hasn’t been my year and the life that I’m living  brings me no sense of cheer

Sam Stuckey is a Pittsburgh based Roots, Progressive Bluegrass, and Country music artist and singer/songwriter. His blending of guitar picking styles complements his higher, rustic bluegrass harmony as evidenced on his debut EP from earlier in 2020 entitled Euphoric Premier. I want to thank Sam (Acoustic Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

 

The first album you ever bought?
Oh, gosh! I’m not sure I can even think back that far! Well, if I had to guess, it was probably an early Pink Floyd record – I used to eat that stuff up when I was younger. I loved everything about the arrangements, they lyric writing, the emotion in every beat – it’s really great stuff. What’s even more impressive, and what puts them above the rest for me, is the idea that each album they produced was different, while still maintaining the sound they were going for. For example, when you listen to The Wall front to back, you can feel this… subconscious tone throughout-this deep, dark, sad feeling in the tunes, in the lyrics, etc. However, take something like The Final Cut from their later years, and that same sort of feeling is there, BUT the arrangements, the presentation, the delivery – is completely different. When you, as an artist, can keep your fans engaged and entertained in your music, while still stretching the boundaries with the creativity of it, and still keep a hold of your sound, that really says something.

Your last album bought?
That’s an interesting question. I, like the millions of other millennials, grew up not having to “buy records.” Everything now is at the tips of your fingers on your phone or computer. Apart of me wishes it wasn’t like that, but that’s a whole other conversation. I’m not sure I remember the last one I bought, but the last one I listened to front to back was The Folkways Recordings of Doc Watson & Clarence Ashby: 1960-1962. It’s a collection of snippets from recording sessions and live shows in the 60s when Doc and Clarence played together – a mix of bluegrass and old-time, where each would take the spotlight, and they would share tunes between themselves, and with a backing band. It’s really neat stuff. I came upon it when I heard Billy Strings play a song called “Maggie Walker.” Of all the famous gals in bluegrass, I’d never heard that name before. So, I begin investigating, and found this record almost immediately. It’s so funny to listen to this stuff-there’s so much crossover in lyrical content. It’s like some guy listened to his buddy play a song he wrote, and then the guy goes “Dang, that was really good. Now I gotta go write something similar, so that I can use that line somewhere!” Before ya know it, there’s one particular lyric that can be sung into 20 or 30 different songs at the drop of a hat.

Favorite album of all time?
My favorite album right now is Alison Krauss & Union Station’s Everytime You Say Goodbye. The 90s for that group was stellar. I’ve always been a huge fan of Alison and her musical career, particularly with this arrangement. A lot of what I do is derived from this album – a nice blend of meaty traditional bluegrass, but with a progressive flare that keeps you wanting more. She hit it right on the button-no wonder she’s the most prized Grammy winner of all time.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Not really sure. I think that most of the music I’ve listened to has something great about it. Anyone who is really dedicated to music won’t record and release something that is subpar – musicians are crazy like that.

First concert attended?
I was a single digit age (not sure when) and my sister and cousins wanted to see The Backstreet Boys in concert. All I really remember from that show was how the band got on stage – it was a dark blue stage, and all you could see was the band fly in from the opposite side of the stadium dome, on individual glowing surfboards – I thought that was really weird. What’s even funnier is that when they got to the stage, there were men that had to help them off of their boards, so they didn’t break an ankle or something. 😂

Last concert?
It might have been DelFest 2019 – got to see Del McCoury, Billy Strings, Ricky Skaggs, and a bunch of other heavy hitters. I also got my band scramble band on both the main stage and the Potomac Stage for winning at The Academy.

Favorite concert ever?
I’ve got two – first, I got to see Roger Waters perform The Wall in its entirety when I was a senior in high school. If you want to see an all-encompassing entertainment show, that’s the one people should see-flying pigs, blow-up puppets on stage, the light show is extraordinary, and of course, the GIANT wall on the front of the stage, covering the band-like, who comes up with that stuff. The other was a whim show – I came back from college one weekend, and my dad and I got handicap tickets to see Jackson Browne at the Palace Theater in Greensburg. My favorite solo artist show – Jackson knows how to write a song and play it on the piano or guitar. Wow.

Least favorite concert?
Not sure. If you count some of the open mics I’ve been to as concerts, then maybe I could tell you about one, but I like to get my performers before I go see them live.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
So far, Pittsburgh has been really good to me. Especially for not being a heavy bluegrass town. One of my favorite experiences was with my first band I was a part of, Well Strung. First gig I was booked for was a corporate event, and who did we open up for? Bluegrass legend and Pittsburgh native Mac Martin. After we played our set, he came over to our table and asked, “So, you boys call that bluegrass?” We all laughed. We knew it wasn’t bluegrass in the traditional sense, but music does have to evolve, and I think Mac realized that.

 

 

Thanks, Sam. So great to hear your perception of Pink Floyd. I love them as well and you can hear a common thread throughout their catalogue while at the same time each album having a concentrated difference and growth.

 

 

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The howl of wheels on rails like a banshee’s cry but the dawn transforms it to a siren’s song

Doors In The Labyrinth is the darkwave electronic project of Pittsburgh based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Josh Loughrey. Drawing from his diverse background including synthpop, ambient/noise, film scores, traditional folk and more, Doors In The Labyrinth creates dark, often introspective landscapes with rich arrangements and instrumentation, and intense lyrics with a wide range of subjects as evidenced on the song “Something Wicked”, the first single off their upcoming album In the Shadow of the Monolith. I want to thank Josh (Guitars/Synth/Bass/Electronics/Programming/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The soundtrack to “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”. I’d like to play it cool and say it wasn’t for the Bryan Adams song, but when I got it, it was the Michael Kamen score that hooked me. The overture is, in my opinion, one of the best pieces of film music written.

Your last album bought?
The new album by locals The Molecule Party. Haven’t really dug into it yet, but they’re good folks and a lot of fun live!

Favorite album of all time?
Boingo (1994). A change and farewell for new wave stalwarts Oingo Boingo, darker and showing Elfman’s orchestral experiences. The funny thing is, I don’t even like every track (if I never heard “Pedestrian Wolves” again…) and as hard as it is to say a favorite of all time, the opening track “Insanity” is easily my favorite song, and so many others are just brilliant (the weaving guitars of “Spider”, the psychedelic madness of “Change”). No album has impacted me as much as that one.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Belly’s King, but not because I don’t like it. It’s fine, has some good songs. However, the b-sides of the era are some of my favorite songs, and I can’t help but wonder why that wasn’t the album instead!

First concert attended?
Pink Floyd, Division Bell tour, in Syracuse right before I moved to Pittsburgh. I had seen live music before, but that was the first “real” concert I went to. An experience I’ll never forget.

Last concert?
Wovenhand with OM at Spirit in March, just before the lockdown. Second time seeing Wovenhand, first seeing OM (though I had seen Sleep before). Beautifully intense and overwhelming show, and really impacted the music I’m making now.

Favorite concert ever?
Peter Hook and the Light, performing Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures and Closer in their entirety. It’s hard to pick a favorite show, just as it’s hard to pick a favorite album, but Closer was a huge influence, and seeing the material performed live, as close as I’ll ever get to seeing the band was a religious experience for me.

Least favorite concert?
My least favorite are the shows that I’ve missed. Sometimes life comes up and you can’t make it. This year I had tickets to several bucket-list level concerts that were cancelled due to Covid-19. So if we have to pick one, I was supposed to see Einstürzende Neubauten on Halloween, and I didn’t.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I’ve been involved in a lot of different music scenes here in Pittsburgh, and my favorite thing has always been the people. Lots of people trying different things, making all sorts of music, and not afraid to take risks. Most of the people are fantastic, and I’m always excited to hear and share the stage with other bands, and the crowds are always fun to play for. Things are rough right now with venues shutting down, but I know things will come back strong!

 

Thanks, Josh. I couldn’t agree more with your sentiment about the amazing people that make up the Pittsburgh musical landscape. So supportive, so nice, and so willing to engage and help each other out.

 

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Neostem is a loud, rock band band from Pittsburgh that produces the rustic sounds that embodies the working class town in which they call home as evidenced on their latest release, Return to Sender from March of 2020. I want to thank Rob Marsili (Drums/Percussion) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Motley Crue – Shout at the Devil. The album that changed my life! Was a game changer.

Your last album bought?
Sacred Reich – Awakening. Solid thrash album.

Favorite album of all time?
LIVE – Throwing Copper. Top to bottom, a perfect album.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Metallica – St. Anger. As a drummer, HATED the snare sound and the songs were lackluster. Huge disappointment as a Metallica fan. I gave it away to a friend the next day.

First concert attended?
Barry Manilow. Parents took my sister, brother and me to the Civic Arena, and not trying to be funny, third song in, I fell asleep.

Last concert?
Y&T at the Crafthouse. Finally got to see them live and it was a memorable “last” concert before all Hell broke loose this past year with Covid.

Favorite concert ever?
Pink Floyd, Division Bell Tour at Three Rivers Stadium. Nothing will come close to that show. The sound, visuals, atmosphere. It was spectacular!

Least favorite concert?
I have walked out on two shows in my life. Motley Crue’s 1994 tour and the Counting Crows’ Recovering the Satellites tour at the Palumbo Center. Uninspiring and forgettable performances.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh has a lot of great musicians that we’ve met and played with. It’s a diverse group of all genres and if you look hard enough, you will find someone or a group of musicians that shares your musical outlook and goals. NEOSTEM have played some really memorable shows, whether it’s 95 degrees in the shade or 30 degrees where we could see our breath. You have to be able to adapt because you never know what obstacles you will be given. I think we have done quite well, whether we are sharing a bill with a thrash band or a rockabilly band. We can play with anyone!

 

 

Thanks, Rob. That Division Bell show was great but I will always remember the crazy party waiting in the stadium line all night for tickets to go on sale. When the box office opened in the morning, half the people waiting were still sleeping and people just arrived and walked up to the front of the line. It was a beautiful, chaotic mess.

 

 

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The bridge to curiosity bended with my questions as I poked it not to break but to show it some tension

Leila Rhodes is a Pittsburgh based singer, producer and guitarist who created her recently released debut full-length album Attunement solo but has since been playing her songs with a band made up of Ty Danzuso on rhythm guitar, Eric Dowdell (Bass Ric) on bass, and Colin Humphrey on drums that takes them to another level live. I want to thank Leila for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Insomniac – Green Day.

Your last album bought?
Voicemails and Conversations – INEZ.

Favorite album of all time?
Low End Theory – A Tribe Called Quest.

First concert attended?
Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Last concert?
Sierra Sellers.

Favorite concert ever?
Janet Jackson.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
The music scene is so much bigger than I had thought previously. There are really incredible people in it who are not only talented but truly great hearted and genuine.

Thanks, Leila. I have to agree, the positivity I see within the Pittsburgh music community is something that I have witnessed for so many years now that sometimes I have to be reminded just how special it is here.

 

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…reminiscent of your lonely Emo days

The Middle Room is a Pop-Punk/Emo quartet from Pittsburgh. They popped onto the scene at the beginning of 2020 and haven’t let up since, releasing 4 singles throughout the year and a 7 track debut EP at the beginning of November entitled Never Satisfied. Their main interests include goofing off and eating chili dogs. I want to hank Mikey Dripps (Lead Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
When I was a kid I had a lot of burned albums from my friends, but when I first used my own money to buy a real album I bought three: The Used, Brand New – Deja Entendu, Silverstein – Discovering the Waterfront.

Your last album bought?
I honestly haven’t bought an album in so long I can’t even remember! I normally show my support by buying merch or something. But if I had to recommend an album right now it would be either Execution Days’ new album or Seaways’ new album.

Favorite album of all time?
There’s no way I could ever choose just one but New Miserable Experience by Gin Blossoms and From Under the Cork Tree by Fall Out Boy come to mind.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Probably Folie á Deux by Fall Out Boy. It’s by no means a bad album but they were like my heroes and it pretty much solidified their departure from their old sound that shaped my musical journey.

First concert attended?
Fall Out Boy, All American Rejects, Hawthorne Heights and From First to Last in 2005.

Last concert?
Besides the one we played in March, it was As I Lay Dying and After the Burial around this time last year.

Favorite concert ever?
I don’t even remember the year but it was Alestorm and Epica. Alestorm had always been a favorite of my friend group and we always jammed out to them at parties, so we went to see them and when Epica went on it was my first time seeing them and my mind was just melted. I couldn’t get my jaw off the floor.

Least favorite concert?
Blink-182, A Day to Remember and All Time Low.
Now I know what you’re thinking. How could that be my least favorite concert? Well, it was just a combination of things. All Time Low was great and A Day to Remember blew me away with their live performance but then Blink-182 came on and I was totally let down. They just didn’t sound good at all even with the new singer. Could have been an off night or something I don’t know but they just sounded bad. On top of that I was there with my ex and we were fighting and there were college kids everywhere blowing vape clouds in my face and I had to work the next morning. Just killed a vibe of what should have been a great show.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I just love the live music scene in Pittsburgh. When bands go on national tours we normally get one of the shows around here. I also love the metal scene around here. Lots of great bands blowing up. I’m happy to see it.

 

Thanks, Mikey. Fun stuff, man. I agree about bands blowing up around here. I have a feeling you might be one of them!

 

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Ever feel negative and shitty and absolutely hate everything. to the point you just want to piss everyone off. This is for you.

The Anti-Psychotics formed around 2010 in Ford City, Pennsylvania as a four piece with two guitar, bass and drums. The band has three song writers in Ian, Mike and Eric. They released three albums between 2010 and 2014, the latest entitled Fully Medicated, which are available on BandCamp, Spotify and iTunes. They currently have another album in the works so stay tuned for that as I thank Eric Johns (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Social Distortion Live at the Roxy.

Your last album bought?
Amyl and the Sniffers.

Favorite album of all time?
The Dead Boys – Night of the Living Dead Boys.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
The Stooges at The Electric Circus. I just thought it sounded like shit.

First concert attended?
Blink – 182 and Bad Religion at the Mellon Arena.

Last concert?
The Addicts, don’t remember the name of the venue? It was in Pittsburgh. I’ve only been there once.

Favorite concert ever?
Hard to pick. I’ll say Social Distortion at the Ice Garden Arena. Tiger Army opened and after the show I met Mike Ness and Tiger Army almost beat up my friend. I’ll never forget it.

Least favorite concert?
Guttermouth at the Altar Bar. The sound sucked and they started throwing people out for taking their shirts off and dancing and the feel of the show suffered from it, though it was still better than sitting at home.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Growing into the music community. Developing as a crappy punk musician. starting out watching shows, then playing small shows, then getting on some bigger shows. meeting people… the whole experience. It made me who I am today.

Thanks, Eric. The sound sucking at Altar Bar? That is quite shocking… not.

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Reaching out, to an outer space reaching to annihilate – we’ve lost our grace

Horehound is a Pittsburgh based band who distills a potent blend of snarling riffs, morose melodies, and rhythmic intricacy that owes equally to doom metal convention and goth/dark ambient atmosphere since forming in 2015. Over the course of several releases, including their EP from 2019 entitled Weight, has established themselves as mainstays at major doom festivals as well as in cities over the East coast and Midwest. I want to thank Shy Kennedy (Synth/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The first album I ever bought with my own money was Metallica’s …And Justice For All on cassette.

Your last album bought?
Come to Grief’s Pray For The End, although it wasn’t the latest release I purchased (Jan). Brimstone Coven (Woes of a Mortal Earth) I purchased about a month prior but it was the day it was released on 8/21.

Favorite album of all time?
An impossible absolute answer. I could never pick just one but the first Black Sabbath is one of the best albums ever written and stands the test of time as well as influenced an immeasurable amount of musicians, including myself and most every member we have ever had. It was released 50 years ago and still sends chills through me.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Metallica’s Load. I hate to even mention them twice in one article but they went from truly original inspiring musicians to commercial sell-outs. It was probably the best thing they could do for their careers but the worst thing they could do to their original fans.

First concert attended?
First pop concert ever was Paula Abdul. I was 8. First rock concert was Van Halen at 14.

Last concert?
Wovenhand opened for Om in Pittsburgh the Sunday before lockdown this year. I did get to catch Brimstone Coven at a private outdoor party in August which was much needed medicine but I don’t anticipate anything else until next year (hopefully).

Favorite concert ever?
Again, almost impossible to answer among so many great experiences. From a fan standpoint contenders would be Roger Waters, Prince, Cher, Godflesh, Sunn O))), Diamanda Galás, and Subrosa. I promote and run a lot of shows and my own festival and my first festival Descendants of Crom 2017 was by far the happiest musical day of my life from all standpoints.

Least favorite concert?
I once did some media coverage for a Warp Tour back in 2001. I got to interview Henry Rollins but most of the bands and crowd were excruciating for me. Let’s just say pop punk and most of the late 90’s alternative bands were among my least appreciated music then and now.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh isn’t the best or worst of anything but it is a great place for original music if you know how and where to look for it. It’s full of positive people who really support each other, and I am glad it’s a place I live and know intimately. We need to work better at keeping our venues, small and large, packed.

 

Thanks, Shy. Appreciate your commitment to contributing to the Pittsburgh musical landscape, both as a performer and as an organizer.

 

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its in the flowers of the ghostly light of the beez its in the ripples of the mattress springs

Thousandzz of Beez is a DIY indie band from Pittsburgh who’s latest release from July 2020 is entitled faceless toad, a loose concept album about a discovery in Connecticut by a herpetologist of an amphibian lacking a nose, eyes, jaw and tongue. Fun stuff! I want to thank H. Colt Paulson (Instruments/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Aquarium by Aqua from a K-mart near my house. I still break out that record on the regular.

Your last album bought?
Last Summer – Eleanor Friedberger. I’ve been poking around for it for quite some time.

Favorite album of all time?
Oh wow, hmm… that changes so often but I would have to say Random Spirit Lover by Sunset Rubdown is doing trick right now.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Probably when Le Tigre reunited and put out that horrendous song about Hillary Clinton. One of the main tragedies of 2016.

First concert attended?
Lilith Fair ’98 — this explains a lot.

Last concert?
of Montreal in Millvale.

Favorite concert ever?
Joanna Newsom in Philly last year.

Least favorite concert?
Swans. Fuck that band.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
This city continues to cultivate some really singular artists. The nine years I’ve been here have not dulled at all. Shout out to I4a, Sneeze awfull, moon baby, Spenking, ky vöss, Bruiser Beep, and olivia ii…so many more that I’m failing to remember right now.

 

Thanks, Hunter. Got to hear why the hate towards Swans. Message me and I can’t keep it hush-hush.

 

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Not that anyone asked, but… I don’t miss playing shows. I don’t necessarily miss going to them, either.

Creedmoors is an ongoing songwriting/recording project that has officially been put into motion during the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be moving towards live performance once shows return on a wider/regular scale. You can check out some music at their bandcamp page, including the latest single “2 Late Kate” b/w “Seconds Out” from a few weeks ago. As we anticipate new tunes next month, I want to thank one man band Joe Tarowsky (Guitar/Bass/Drums/Percussion/Keys/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The Beatles – Rubber Soul.

Your last album bought?
Cleaners from Venus – Under Wartime Conditions.

Favorite album of all time?
The Who – Who’s Next.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
If an album is in my collection (or in my playlist) then it’s good enough to keep, even if just for a song or two.

First concert attended?
New Kids on The Block. I was 10. I’d been to things with my parents before then, but this was the first big concert that was “mine.” In terms of sheer magnitude and volume (all the screaming) it was the closest thing to a Beatles experience that I could have had. It was great, won’t pretend otherwise.

Last concert?
Nellie McKay, 2019.

Favorite concert ever?
The Who at PPG Paints Arena, 2019.

Least favorite concert?
Wire, a few years back. The presentation was unremarkable. It’s the only show I left early out of boredom. Their records are where it’s at, for me.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I drove up Troy Hill Road for the first time yesterday, since Rialto was closed. I’ve never had that view of the city before, so that’s the most recent favorite Pittsburgh experience.

 

Thanks, Joe. I have to say, I am a tad shocked there’s no mention of Queen in your answers at all. However, I am not surprised that NKOTB are there… you wouldn’t believe how many people respond to that question with them. Maybe the most mentioned band in the history of these posts with the exception of Nirvana and Weezer.

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Enemies are getting closer

Holy Rivals are alternative punk rock band from Pittsburgh who’s latest release from October is entitled Auto-Pragmatic. I want to thank Mr. Sunshine himself, Jason Orr (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
None of your fucking business!

Your last album bought?
Again… too personal.

Favorite album of all time?
That’s personal.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
All of them.

First concert attended?
Never been to one I thought was worth the time.

Last concert?
Pre-‘rona, I accompanied a friend to see King Dude in Columbus. He put on a fabulous show, and not gonna promote other bands here.

Favorite concert ever?
No such thing.

Least favorite concert?
Church.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
To be honest, the community in Pittsburgh has been so loving during this whole pandemic. We live in shit.

Thanks, Jason. Yes, we are in shit. Where is the TP where you need it?

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It scares you to death chills your weary bones and the sight of her face turns you to stone

Bonnie & the Mere Mortals combines Southern Gothic music while blending Appalachian folk with the gothic from the Paris of Appalachia. A juxtaposition of analog and digital showing that they have more in common than you might think. That description is none more evident than on the video premiering today for their song “CURSES”, the first single off their upcoming album entitled Call of the Void. I want to thank Bonnie Ramone (Rhythm Guitar/Banjo/Lead Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The first cassette I ever received was Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell II: Back into Hell from my older sister. She wasn’t much into Mr. Loaf, but when she complains about my black-clad existence, I’d like to think it’s partially her fault.

Your last album bought?
I recently went on a vinyl spree in the half-priced books bargain bin and purchased a Dolly Parton Christmas album, a Disney Halloween sound effects album, a live album of Billie Holiday, and an album of Gregorian chanting. I don’t really think I can explain myself better than that.

Favorite album of all time?
That’s an impossible question. I think I can narrow it to a top 5 that I’m still unsure on. I think a perfect album has to have a flow where you’re already singing the melodies for the next song before it starts. I’ve listened to these hundreds of times on repeat on every porch I’ve had: Southeastern by Jason Isbell
American Football’s self-titled
Disintegration Violator by Depeche Mode
Kind of Blue by Miles Davis.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Picture it: Pennsyltucky, June 6th, 2006. A young mall goth who talks out of the side of her mouth is eagerly awaiting Davey Havok’s next offering from the local fye, only to receive December Underground. My favourite spooky punk band had traded 5 syllable words for fuse fame. The depression lasted until The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me would be released later that year.

First concert attended?
Discounting the number of Christian shows I was made to see, my first real show was Bob Dylan. He may have played all my favourites, but truly, who’s to say? That was also my first contact high. Thanks, Bob.

Last concert?
Pre-‘rona, I accompanied a friend to see King Dude in Columbus. He put on a fabulous show, and said friend had a big ‘ol crush on him, so we made sure to get to talk and take photos.

Favorite concert ever?
In 2015, I traveled out to Riot Fest in Chicago and had the absolute pleasure of seeing The Cure perform a 3 hour set. I was alone and smoking a clove while he played an extended version of “A Forest,” and I’m not sure anything else will ever live up to that moment. Sorry, husband.

Least favorite concert?
In my old metal band, Until we have Faces, we used to play the Cornerstone Festival in Illinois in July. One year we had a set that was going particularly well… until I decided to jump off stage for a guitar solo. I jumped and tripped over my mic stand (which traveled with me to the ground), unplugged my guitar, and landed on my face. It was like that scene at the beginning of School of Rock. On the upside, my stage fright has gone way down, because nothing that bad could ever happen again. I hope.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
To be honest, the community in Pittsburgh has been so loving during this whole pandemic. Between Mere Mortals and our livestream show, the Pittsburgh Creative Collective, I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with an award-winning drag queen, bullshit with a famous comedian, watch a number of firebreathers, and I’ve met and connected with so many incredible talented musicians who’ve kept me going in 2020.

 

Thanks, Bonnie. That falling off the stage story is actually amazing… not that I cherish in your utter embarrassment at the time but because that moment was the worst thing that can probably happen to you as a performer and yes, it probably went a long way to cure any stage fright you may ever have.

 

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She told a story with her eyes and she danced without any music

A-Money & the Downtown City is the multi-genre music project of singer-songwriter Adam Merulli incorporating heartfelt lyrics and unique sounds as a band, solo act and spoken word playing shows in the Pittsburgh area. Today sees the premiere of their latest effort The Schoolhouse Sessions Vol.1, the first of a two part release featuring intimate acoustic songs recorded at the Schoolhouse Studio by producer Daniel Blake focusing on lyrical moments and a raw unplugged sound inspired by the likes of songwriters Leonard Cohen, David Bowie and Jackson Browne. I want to thank Adam (Guitar/Vocals0 for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Boyz II Men (II) was the first album I owned as a kid. I didn’t understand half of the lyrics at that age but the vocals and songs were amazing. First album I bought with my own money, probably Red Letter Days by the Wallflowers or American Idiot by Green Day. The first album album I bought (vinyl) was Ben Harper – Both Sides of the Gun.

Your last album bought?
The Killers – Imploding the Mirage.

Favorite album of all time?
Magic Potion by The Black Keys. I had no idea blues and rock ‘n roll like that could still be made So tough. I’ll just say some favorites. Is This It – The Strokes, Viva La Vida – Coldplay, Blue Train – John Coltrane, Bringing Down the Horse – The Wallflowers, Green Day – Dookie, Beatles – Abbey Road, Revolver, Let it Be…, Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie, Bitches Brew – Miles Davis, Bob Dylan – Time Out of Mind, Low End Theory – A Tribe Called Quest, Blue – Weezer, U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind, The Roots – How I Got Over, John Mayer – Continuum.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
The Strokes – Comedown Machine.

First concert attended?
U2 at the Civic Arena. I only knew them from “Beautiful Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” at the time. It was impressive. Lights, fireworks, everything. It was around 2000 right around when “Beautiful Day” came out. Very inspiring. A great first concert.

Last concert?
The last live show I saw pre-covid was Joseph Arthur with my good friend Mike Berginc (Reliable Child) and it was great. This guy is amazing, kind of a Lou Reed vibe. He did live painting while he was singing and had a looping pedal with him adding all kinds of cool and sometimes strange layers to the sound. It was a great performance. Very New York.

Favorite concert ever?
A few bests that come to mind… Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at Starlake, Brett Dennen in Millvale, U2 at Civic Arena, The Wallflowers at Altar Bar, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals at The Benedum.

Least favorite concert?
Definitely Bob Dylan. He played at the Peterson Events Center with Elvis Costello and Amos Lee. Sounds amazing right? Nope. Terrible. Everything about it was off. The sound was terrible there at least that night. Amos and Elvis played songs but I could barely hear them from up top. A much smaller venue or theater would have been more suitable. Then Bob Dylan and his band came on and he sounded terrible. It was a nightmare. Couldn’t hear a single word. I get it that he wasn’t known for having a technically “great” voice, but he was mailing it in. Really a letdown. Everything was garbled and mumbled and it was just sad watching someone so inspirational so on auto-pilot not caring.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Community. People coming together and lifting each other up. It’s strange now since the music scene is almost non-existent. But some amazing things to have existed in Pittsburgh – The Shadow Lounge. Man, so many memories. Everyone was welcome, the vibe was always poppin’, the music was always amazing, the people were real. Mixtape was a really sweet spot, inclusive, unique made everyone feel comfortable and great music as well. Open mics at places like Eclipse in Larryville and The SouthPaw on the Southside and Hambones. These places were community, you felt like family. And generally speaking, besides the architecture and the views, I’d say the good people here, are really, really good people. Even if they move or pursue goals elsewhere that thing stays. That Pittsburgh thing stays within someone. Oh, and the strip district. That’s a special place, too.

Thanks, Adam. Totally weird times right now but I strongly feel that live music and camaraderie will definitely be back. That kind of thing doesn’t go away no matter how long it might be dormant.

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Cosmically chaotic

DiLisio (formerly Fly.) is the brainchild of Mark Jeffries, a Pittsburgh-based singer/songwriter with an edge. In collab with drummer Garrett Grube and producer/engineer Matt Very, DiLisio’s brand of garage & blues rock has been on display all year with the release of seven current singles (and two more in the works!)
In fact, their latest release entitled “Pain” drops today and to celebrate, I want to thank Mark (Guitar, Bass, Keys, Synth, Harmonica/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The Space Jam soundtrack. “I believe I can fly…”

Your last album bought?
I’ve been on a huge Bon Iver kick for most of 2020. I love everything and every side project Justin Vernon puts his hands on.

Favorite album of all time?
Magic Potion by The Black Keys. I had no idea blues and rock ‘n roll like that could still be made in these modern times. It blew my mind as a college sophomore in ’07.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed by many albums, but the one that comes to mind is Enema of the State by Blink-182. Because because it came out when I was 11 and my grandparents bought it for me; can’t imagine what they thought about that cover art! Ha!

First concert attended?
The Clarks in the Outer Banks, NC. It was SUPER yinzer.

Last concert?
The Blue Stones at Thunderbird Music Hall. Kickass blues rock band from Toronto.

Favorite concert ever?
The Raconteurs in August ’19. Jack White is a god among men.

Least favorite concert?
First time I saw Cage the Elephant in 2010. They sounded okay, but Matt Schultz kept screwing up the lyrics!

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I grew up in Moon and now live in Brighton Heights. My work, family, friends, and passions are all here. It’s home.

 

Thanks, Mark. Funny that you saw The Clarks in N.C. and not in Pittsburgh. I was out of town once and saw Rusted Root. It was cool to see them out of their blanket of love

 

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The Whelming Waters is Pittsburgh based folk rock band which formed in the winter of 2015. The band began when three high school friends John, Collin, and Nina, decided to start a folk trio consisting of mandolin, guitar, and violin. However, when the songwriting quickly started to expand, and with the introduction of two new members in the form of Collin’s older sister Kelcie and her husband, Jereme, the group suddenly became a rock band with a wide variety of musical styles and a “no rules” attitude when it comes to songwriting or genre restrictions. With the addition of more friends in the form of a second saxophone player, Andy, and Kristen on keys, the band’s sonic profile was established with music ranging from heartfelt country ballads to raucous horn-laden rock and roll romps. Their debut full-length release from June of this year entitled Bon Voyage, captures the expansive sound of the band while retaining the simplicity of their beginings. I want to thank Collin Joseph (Guitar/Lead Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
I think the first album I actually went out and bought was an original vinyl of the soundtrack to The Song Remains the Same film by Led Zeppelin. I was young and had never bought vinyl, so of course I didn’t check it. I got home and realized that one of the two records was missing. I learned an important lesson about buying used vinyl that day.

Your last album bought?
A few months ago I played a show at the awesome The Government Center record store on the North Side and before the show I purchased a reissue of my favorite Bowie album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Favorite album of all time?
It’s hard to say, but it would probably be …Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I’ve never been a big Taylor Swift fan, but I kept hearing that her new album Folklore was a departure from her normal style and pretty good, so I took a listen. I still didn’t find it particularly interesting. I have nothing against her or fans of her music, just can’t get into it for some reason.

First concert attended?
My first concert was G Love and Special Sauce in Millvale.

Last concert?
We played a show on February 6, 2020 at Thunderbird Music Hall in Lawrenceville before the pandemic happened. Got to okay a gig with two great Pittsburgh bands, Standard Broadcast and Back Alley Sound. After our set we got to hang out and watch them play. Better times!

Favorite concert ever?
My favorite concert was seeing The Dead Weather at Prospect Park in Brooklyn around 2009 when they were on top of their game. Great show!

Least favorite concert?
I went to see “Umphrey’s McGee,” a jam fusion band, with a friend. To be honest I thought they were some sort of Irish folk band, but I was of course mistaken. I didn’t enjoy the music much. Again, nothing against them or their fans, just isn’t my thing.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
It’s hard to pin down individual experiences because there are so many, but generally, it’s been really great to get to know other artists in the Pittsburgh music scene. It’s a great community and we’ve formed a lot of awesome relationships in just the past couple of years.

 

Thanks, Collin. I have been really excited to see your band grow and come into your own within the last couple years. I cannot wait until this is all over and actually see you PLAY LIVE!

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Singer, Writer, Rocker Mom

Emily Zuzik is an L.A. based Americana singer-songwriter originally from Pittsburgh who has planted her musical roots in a unique eclectic blend of alt-country, modern, rhythm & blues and rock music. She brings to her songs a woman’s vulnerability and strength in the tradition of Patsy Cline and Madonna.  Her latest solo album Torch & Trouble produced by Ted Russell Kamp is available today on all platforms. As a singer-songwriter, her music captures the film-noir essence of Los Angeles’ haunted past infused with the soul of the Memphis Stax sound. Her songs compel and engage as they call to mind her musical kinship with Carole King and Rickie Lee Jones. Her voice is warm as she seduces the listener in a way reminiscent of Sheryl Crow and Liz Phair.  Emily has been a recording and touring independent artist for over 15 years. She’s written with artists such as Grant Langston, Ted Russell Kamp, Benji Rogers, Moby, Wes Hutchinson (Sundown) among others. I want to thank Emily for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Julian Lennon, Valotte.

Your last album bought?
The Adobe Collective (vinyl).

Favorite album of all time?
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon or Beatles, Abbey Road.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I honestly can’t think of one… maybe I wanted to get one and then someone warned me or I had a test listen and decided not to buy it.

First concert attended?
INXS, The Kick Tour at Pittsburgh Civic Arena.

Last concert?
Wilco, The Orpheum, Los Angeles.

Favorite concert ever?
Neko Case at Central Park, Wilco at The Greek Theatre or James Brown in Oakland.

Least favorite concert?
Honestly, if it was that bad, I likely walked out.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I love the closeness of the town. It has so much character and uniqueness that often get lost in a big city. I also love how the city is surrounded by green hills and rivers. It’s a city in nature. It has also hung onto the industrial past that is often washed away over time. I like how the city keeps reinventing itself with new clubs, new restaurants, museums like the Warhol. I’ve lived in a lot of cities since I left for college. There’s something that always ties me to the ‘burgh. I am not sure what it is all the time, but when you meet folks from Pittsburgh on the road, there’s an instant camaraderie.

Thanks, Emily. You captured Pittsburgh beautifully in your response. It’s always nice to hear from a perspective of someone who knows the city intimately coming from experience from living elsewhere.

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The way music evokes feelings, memories, and mental pictures is powerful and magical.

Hell’s Oasis is a Pittsburgh based multi-genre band who fuse progressive rock with funk and punk. They’ve added trip-hop, singer-songwriter, and folk styles to their repertoire. This is evidenced on their latest release from July, the single “Lilacs”, which draws you in with echoing guitar and dreamy vocals with segue into an energetic guitar solo, grounded by a poppy sax line. I want to thank Alexis Polozoff (Guitar), John Rheaume (Saxophone), Abhishek Ravi- (Bass), and Ginger Polozoff (Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Alexis Polozoff: Dark Side of the Moon.
John Rheaume: Do I have to answer this one? OK, when I was 9 years old, I got To the Extreme by Vanilla Ice. But in my defense, I was 9 and I most certainly wasn’t the only one! Seriously, I still think it’s an OK album especially for a One Hit Wonder.
Abhishek Ravi: Buying albums wasn’t really a thing in our household! We owned a cassette player at home and had one in the old car and my parents bought a couple of tapes. I guess I might’ve been in the 7th grade when we went to Planet Music, which was the new big music store in the city, and I could afford one CD, so I bought a Best of Evanescence compilation album. Still a pretty solid choice I’d say!
Ginger Polozoff: Saturday Night Fever. O.M.G! The Bee Gee’s harmonies! Also, I fancied I was quite the disco dancer. Jazz splits were my specialty.

Your last album bought?
Alexis: Moorcheba.
John: The last one I bought is actually 40 years old – Wizard Island by Jeff Lorber Fusion. Lorber has put together a lot of great bands together, and this one features a very young Kenny Gorelick before he became a household name as Kenny G. Now, you can’t argue with the mainstream success he has had, but I like the old (young?) Kenny a lot better. He had this killer R&B sound on the tenor back then. Anyway, the tracks are really funky with great basslines and drumming. Jeff’s improvised solos are really impressive.
Abhi: Wow it’s been a while! I guess I must have been in the 11th grade before everything went handheld and online. I went back to the same store and bought Metallica’s Reload. Had a great time ripping high quality tracks off the DVD so I could put them in my little MP3 player.
Ginger: Uhhh… it’s been a while, but I think it was Wilco’s A Ghost is Born and Ryan Adams’ Easy Tiger at the same time. But who buys albums anymore? I download singles. Probably the most recent single I bought was “Gimme All Your Love” by Alabama Shakes.

Favorite album of all time?
Alexis: Abbey Road
John: The Stranger by Billy Joel. You know you have a great album when you crank out four hits knowing that several more would have been hits on any other album. It really turned his career around, in fact it might have even saved it all together because besides “Piano Man”, he really hadn’t achieved much commercial success. The Stranger had a huge impact on me. I was actually introduced to “Just the Way You Are” after we played it in my middle school jazz band. I went out to buy the entire album, and I still have the CD 26 years later (it still plays!)
Abhi: I have far too many, so the less thought I put into this, the better. Still Life by Opeth is definitely my all-time favorite. It’s an excellent concept album that tells the story of a banished tribe member returning to reunite with his lover. It’s a progressive death metal masterpiece that explores everything from bone-crunching riffs to smooth jazz and acoustic ballads. I love each and every track.
Ginger: My “favorite” album changes over time. For many years it was Van Halen’s Women and Children First and though that album has faded in popularity, it still has its hooks in me. I discovered The Beatles’ Abbey Road as an adult. That’s probably my favorite rock album. However, going in a completely different direction, Flower Duet by Léo Delibes and Claire de Lune by Claude Debussy are probably the two songs I never tire of.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Alexis: Dark Side of the Moon. Would listen to album with puffy 80’s head phones after swim practice. I’d fall asleep to the music and be woken up by the alarm clocks in the song time.
John: All I can say is, critics have a tough job and I’m not a critic! I plead the fifth.
Abhi: Hahaha, I feel like I just have least favorite songs or even genres. Why listen to a whole album when a single track isn’t good.
Ginger: Alannah Myles. I only liked two songs on it.

First concert attended?
Alexis: Saw Genesis with my sister at Madison Square Garden when I was 17. Still remember Phil’s face spot lit while the garden is in total darkness. Next song, “In the Air Tonight”.
John: Not too surprisingly as a young saxophonist it was Kenny G in 1994. I feel his studio recordings are quite vanilla, but his touring band was actually really tight. He had Vail Johnson on the bass, who had the ability to do the unthinkable: put some soul and funk into elevator music.
Abhi: Iron Maiden, Rock ‘n India 2006 in Bangalore. I wasn’t allowed to go unaccompanied, so my dad came along and we had a great time! It was a legendary show and they were touring right after releasing A Matter of Life and Death, another kick-ass album. A steppingstone to much heavier concerts I’d eventually attend.
Ginger: AC/DC in Hammersmith Odeon, London. It blew my mind!

Last concert?
Alexis: Willie Nelson. Glad I got to see a legend and a real inspiration. Willie played the whole set standing, and had lots of improv solos! At 86 I hope I am still playing!
John: Not including local shows, I’ve been slacking in this department. I went to the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival last year which was great.
Abhi: Was lucky enough to catch Opeth at the Apollo in New York this February, before the world caught fire. It was the third time seeing them live and it was spectacular!! Although it was a seated concert which made absolutely no sense to me.
Ginger: Willie Nelson, last summer. As a native Texan, I had to see him. He’s a national treasure. And he was great!

Favorite concert ever?
Alexis: Santana.
John: I saw Ben Folds in Boston when he was doing a solo tour: Literally just him with no bass and drums. It was a totally different way to hear his music and he was great at getting the audience involved. They recorded it and he used a couple songs on his Ben Folds Live album. Also, our show was picked as the album cover depicting him hanging his head in shame as we (the audience) flip him off as if we were booing him off the stage. It was awesome to be a part of the production.
Abhi: Lamb of God came to my hometown of Bangalore back in 2011. This was my first ever heavy metal concert with a lot of my favorite metal bands from India opening for Lamb of God. I had my first mosh pit, ran in the wall of death and had an absolute blast. Woke up with a terrible neck ache but totally worth it!
Ginger: Texxas Jam (yes, two Xes) 1986. It was hot; we were crushing each other against the stage (no one even thought about how dangerous that could’ve been); they were spraying us with firehoses; women were on men’s shoulders; got thrown over the barricade next to the stage—sopping wet, my cigarette tobacco smushed all along my belly—it was AMAZING! I was so sore the next day from being crushed! And oh, yeah, the music was great! Van Halen was the headliner—I was still in that phase. ( -:

Least favorite concert?
Alexis: ?
John: I had free tickets to see Rufus Wainwright about 7 years ago. He’s clearly very talented. It just wasn’t my thing. I gave it a shot!
Abhi: I saw Tool in December at the PPG arena. Tool were fantastic of course, but the opening band, honestly, were garbage. They were terrible and we were seated high up from a weird angle with the worst view. Plus, it was a seated concert, which again, makes no sense!
Ginger: Robert Palmer didn’t say one word to the audience during his show in Austin. May he RIP.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Alexis: Love the fact that it is very raw and underdeveloped compared to other cities like Austin, TX where the music scene is fading due to high cost of living and commercialism.
John: Coming to Pittsburgh from Boston two years ago, it’s clear that the scene is smaller, but it’s more tight-knit. More people know each other and there is a sense of camaraderie between musicians.
Abhi: Pittsburgh was my first home after coming to the US for the first time ever, so it’s very special to me. The metal scene here is great, especially for prog rock and djent! Bands that I’d have to wait for years to do an India tour just casually gig in pubs here every couple of months! It’s a great place to live, Plus the Thai food is to die for!
Ginger: I really like all the free outdoor concerts and festivals in the summer. It really builds a sense of community.

Thanks, all. It’s really comforting to know that you are still able to work on music through all of this. Looking forward to hearing the next single “Shoes” soon!

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