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Monday, January 2, 2012

In Which I Relive My 2011 Concert Season
(1 of 2)

Okay, so not to be a braggy SOB, but 2011 was an incredible year in live music for me. Except for dry spells in January and October, I was fortunate enough to have seen a plethora of amazing musical acts every month. Haven't had this kind of run since my twenties.


The fun began in February with a Rhett Miller concert at City Winery in NYC for my birthday. It got all Chuckie Cheese in there, when Rhett kindly dedicated a song for each of us birthday girls present that evening. Mine was "Wish the Worst", a major burn on the Steelers competing in the Super Bowl three days later.

Wise Ass. Ha Ha! Here's his unveiling of "Perfume" from the then unreleased Grand Theatre, Vol 2.

As is in our cosmic charting, our other musical love, Francis Dunnery played a house concert in NJ the next evening. Again, blessed with the one-two punch of our faves playing in the same weekend. It's uncanny how often this has happened over the last couple years.

February brought another Francis house concert a short drive north of our own city, as well as the uber talented trio, Spring Standards to Club Cafe. These three of some of the loveliest artists we've ever met. They each play multiple instruments, often at the same time. Heather literally has the voice of an angel. I know, GAG. That cliche just got caught in your throat. They're up and coming and you should seek them out.


We went South of the Border with a Raul Malo and his unmistakable Tejano groove. You have to be deceased not to want to get up and shake your tail feathers at this party. Do not resist the power of the accordion.

In direct contrast was Canada's mild-mannered, anti-rockstar, adorably pudgy crooner, Ron Sexsmith.


Aaaah, April. What a stellar month! First up--a double shot of my favorite foursome, Coldplay.

I'm just dicking with y'all. Of course it was Old 97's! Steph and I saw them twice in four days, in Rochester, NY and DC. We were treated with two of the most incredible shows. These guys never disappoint or call it in. They. Are. Awesome! But of course, I'm a little biased. Still, I will never understand why they aren't higher up on the musical food chain.

They get two videos because it's my blog, dammit.

The Decemberists made yet another stop through the Burgh in April. It was... peculiar. Not unpleasant, but peculiar. I may have to give them another go when they come back around. One of the highlights for me was lead singer, Colin Meloy's jaunt through the audience (video on blog post).

And then there was Guster. Hands down the happiest eco-friendly pop band on the circuit. Their shows are upbeat, comical and always feature the oddest of oddball covers. They clearly have a ball on stage. Not only will Ryan dance about ungracefully with a disco ball reflective cloth on his head, he'll catch audience-tossed ping pong balls in his mouth. You cannot have a bad time at their shows. They love playing Pittsburgh and we love having them.

What the Hell. They're worth two videos.


Mike Doughty and his buddy, Scrap stop by Club Cafe often. Geo and I jump at the chance to spend an evening listening to the deeply resonant vocals of the thick, black-rimmed bespectacled, heavily tattooed hipster, Mr. Soul Coughing Cool. Go for the soul, stay for the magnificent calling out of club talkers.

Baby's first concert under the stars at our new venue was an evening with The Avett Brothers and Nicole Atkins. We only caught part of her act thanks to the looooong security line. She sounded pretty good from where we were waiting, but The Avett Brothers... Holy Crap! They hit the stage and didn't stop until they played the mellower I and Love and You. The cellist, Joe Kwon was a crazy man jumping up and down, whipping his two foot long locks next to the big bass while the masses sang all the choruses. F.U.N.


Crikey! June was a cornucopia of concert goodness.

First up, another annual favorite, the Irish lads of Bell X1. They alternate between a three-man acoustic and the full band tours. This time around featured the entire band. Their evenings are ethereal and hypnotic. And Dude, the lead singer totally looks like Michael Cera.

In the "Holy Shit are you kidding me?" category is the legendary Tom Tom Club who played for FREE at the Arts Festival. Them oldsters can cook. It was way more fun than I expected. I don't know why I was surprised. Beautiful sunny day + catchy 80s dance fare + the return of hoola-hoop girl = a very festive evening. For free. FREEEEEEEEE!!

Another great freebie over the summer was Josh Ritter and David Wax Museum. Josh Ritter is one of those talents whose name I readily recognized, but his music, not so much. Now I'm happily familiar with both. It was a great afternoon/evening which I seem to have neglected to share on this rambling open book of my narcissism. Weird. I was fortunate to shoot an interview with both Ritter and DWM prior to the show. They were all extremely nice and generous with their time. As is usually the case, the best conversations happened while the cameras were off.

Josh is seriously one of the nicest people I have met in the music world. He never stops smiling, on or off stage.

Homegrown fest was another freebie held at one of our county parks and featured four local bands, Meeting of Important People and LoveBettie being the top billings. Again, I had the opportunity to commando shoot the interviews, including this jovial 10 questions with the delightful LoveBettie. Her hair is the Eighth Wonder of the World. No shit.

Continuing on in the freebie of the month club, our kick-ass public station, WYEP hosted their annual summer concert in Schenly Plaza featuring Jukebox the Ghost, Fitz and the Tantrums and Eli "Paper Boy" Reed. Reed was the headliner, but Fitz blew him clean out of the water. So much so, I felt kinda bad for ole Eli when the crowd literally disappeared after just one of his songs. Fitz is da bomb. Seriously. Go see them. Here's their show stopper, Money Grabber.

Poor Eli.

You know, some days are just way better than others. June 29th was one of those days. That's the day Michael Franti strolled into our studios, sat on our humble set and performed two songs for us. He could not have been any nicer, even if he hadn't just lit spliff. Ha Ha! His shows are a non-stop party of positive energy. Everyone leaves with a bounce in their step and ear to ear grin.

Hey, Hey, Hey No matter how life is today... don't let another moment slip away.

Thus ends the first half of the year. For continued braggadocio

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