Friday, September 19, 2014

First/Last-John Velghe & The Prodigal Sons


"Over the course of his 15 year career, John Velghe has established himself as a particularly conscientious and talented tender of the rock and roll flame. The Independence, Missouri born musician/songwriter has played with several noteworthy bands, but it is his latest work, with the Prodigal Sons, which has given him a big enough vehicle for his ambitious vocal reach and vista-vision poetry. John Lennon and Chuck Berry lie at that core, but the guitars, horns and supportive backing vocals in this band allow Velghe to seamlessly blend other pieces of the greater rock story—from Sun to Stax to 2 Tone and Twin Tone. Organ Donor Blues is the perfect album for such a big sound. It’s both a record for rock’s true believers and a bare-knuckled face off with reality."

John Velghe is an 'alt-country' songwriter from Kansas City, Missouri who's latest album is entitled "Organ Donor Blues" which features Alejandro Escoveda on the title track. The tour which brings him to Pittsburgh tomorrow afternoon at the funky Leaf and Bean in the Strip is a motorcycle only trek to raise awareness for Organ Donation.

The first album you ever bought?
The first record I bought was a 45 of ‘Maybelline’ by Chuck Berry. But the first LP I bought with my own money was Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America” on an account of a crush I had in grade school.

Your last album bought?
“Midnight Souvenirs” by Peter Wolf. I was a little late to this party, it came out in 2014. It’s a great record.

Favorite album of all time?
It’s a tie between the two albums I find myself coming back to all the time: Big Star’s “#1 Record“ or Alejandro Escovedo’s “A Man Under the Influence”.  I think Chris Stamey brings out the best in Alejandro, and Jim Dickinson brought out the best in everyone.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I have thousands of albums, and I’ve bought a few clams. But only one has the distinction of being returned to the label. I actually mailed a Dashboard Confessional album back to Vagrant Records. I told them I didn’t want a refund, that I openly acknowledged the mistake I made in buying it, if only they’d admit the mistake they made in releasing it.

First concert attended?
I think it was The Kinks at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS for their “The Road” tour.

Last concert?
The last proper Concert (with a capital “C”) I saw (as opposed to a show in a club) was Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, KS. Sharon and the band just put bands a third their age to shame. Next week I’ll see the Replacements in Minneapolis at the Midway Stadium.

Favorite concert ever?
Probably that Sharon Jones concert; the joy and vitality and absence of pretense, how much she genuinely cares for her audience, it was all life affirming and reminded me that the audience is why you perform music. Leave your pretentiousness in the van/bus.

Least favorite concert?
Any concert where the performer is doing it for themselves and not the audience is a letdown. Luckily we live in a time where that reputation will precede you, so when I get wind of those I just don’t go to the show.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I love Western Pennsylvania. In previous tours I’ve not had a chance to stop in Pittsburgh so I’m looking forward to it. Tom Breiding, who’s gracious enough to host me, is doing some great things with the United Mine Workers union and helping restore healthcare to their retired members. I just think it’s important for musicians to engage in their community beyond selling them records and playing shows, so from that perspective, my impression of the music community there is a good one.

Thanks, John. I really dig the venue you are playing at. I also dig the concept of the tour you are on as well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

First/Last-Summer Underground


"Grant Carey and Chrissy Sandman began making music as Summer Underground during the summer of 2011 in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Retreating back home after a year of college, the duo recorded their first album, Beneath This City, in their basements and living rooms. Recorded on a macbook with a single microphone, the album was created through trial and error."

Summer Underground is a folk duo originally from Pittsburgh but is now based in New York City. They have a Kickstarter campaign which ends next week to help make their latest album "Honeycomb". I have been a huge fan of these two for a couple of years now and have been patiently waiting until they were ready to be on the blog. I want to finally be able to thank multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Grant Carey and Chrissy Sandman for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
Grant Carey: Third Eye Blind's self-titled album.
Chrissy Sandman: Dixie Chicks' “Taking The Long Way”.

Last album bought?
Grant: “Tallahassee” by The Mountain Goats.
Chrissy: “The Moon Rang Like A Bell” by Hundred Waters.

Favorite album of all time?
Grant: Tie between “Boxer” by The National and “Born to Run”.
Chrissy: “Begin to Hope” by Regina Spektor or “Seven Swans” by Sufjan Stevens.

Least favorite album?
Grant: I was expecting more from “Battle Born” by The Killers.
Chrissy: Regina is my girl but I was a little disappointed by how produced “Far” was compared to her more performative earlier albums.

First concert attended?
Grant: My dad is a huge KISS fan so he took me to a show at the Post-Gazette Pavilion when I was nine. Full face make up and everything.
Chrissy: My dad also took me to my first show at the Post-Gazette Pavilion - John Mayer was opening for Sheryl Crow.

Last concert?
Grant & Chrissy: We both actually just went to go see Def Leppard open for KISS in Pittsburgh with Grant's family. Earlier this summer we went to see Andrew Bird in Central Park... quite the contrast!

Favorite concert ever?
Grant: Springsteen.
Chrissy: Most recently, Tycho - amazing beachy visuals were perfectly paired with the music. Sufjan Steven's ‘Age of Adz’ tour where he dressed like a futuristic astronaut and released neon balloons from the ceiling was also great.

Least favorite concert?
Grant: I saw Styx after a Pirates' Game at PNC Park and it was pretty goofy.
Chrissy: Feist getting rained out after one song at Governor's Ball was a bummer. The whole island was a swamp.


Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Grant & Chrissy: We have spent many fond memories driving in Grant's beat up green van over the many bridges and under the many underpasses in downtown Pittsburgh. For us Pittsburgh has always been home - we met in high school in the South Hills, and have returned here every summer to record  new music. From sneaking around in the South Side as teenagers (we thought we were cool), to food shopping in the Strip, to holding our first jobs (Chrissy worked at the Science Center, Grant at Eleven).... We love the Burgh!

Thanks, guys. How long has it been since I wanted you on the blog? (Answer: Christmas 2012!) So thrilled you are finally on it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

First/Last-Suavity's Mouthpiece


"An experimental, daring, refreshing, sound scape of music...Comparisons to other artists would only rob SM over their unique artistic abilities and expression. They truly are a band that one needs to experience." - Alan Welding (Pittsburgh Music Magazine)

Suavity's Mouthpiece is a Pittsburgh based experimental pop band that has a brand new album, "Peerless Suavity" out today via Purple & Pink Records and they are celebrating tonight at The Union Project with Midge Crickett, The Spectres and Nevhar Anhar. Much thanks to J. Trafford (Guitar/Vocals) and Dick Whiskey (Guitar) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
J. Trafford: My tenure in cassettes surely predates this by many years, but the first disc I can remember purchasing was a low-budget German compilation called “Pop Nuggets”. If you research this double-CD, you will find a shocking smattering of pop artists like Gloria Gaynor, Barry Ryan, The Communards shoved together in the same small room as Elton John for seemingly no reason at all.
Dick Whiskey: Either Green Day's "Dookie" Or The Offspring's "Americana”.

Your last album bought?
Dick: Bryan McPherson “American Boy / American Girl”
.
J.: Midge Crickett  “A Place to Sit Down”.

Favorite album of all time?
J.: Oohf.. Germanotta’s joint-album with Tony Benefit isn’t out just yet, is it? Oh well, I’ll have to say “Unanswerable Lust” by Luxuria.
Dick: Tom Petty “Wildflowers”.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Dick: Slipknot's "Vol. 3".
J.: I was sufficiently disappointed that Prinzhorn Dance School could not match their first effort. No more really needs to be said.

First concert attended?
J.: Blues Traveler, sometime in the 90s playing Hartwood Acres.
Dick: Mushroomhead at Laga.

Last concert?
Dick: Motley Crue/ Alice Cooper at First Niagara
.
J.: Blues Traveler, sometime in the 90s playing Hartwood Acres.

Favorite concert ever?
J.: Bob Dylan, in 2000 playing the AJ Palumbo Center. I was so put-out that he was a rickety, incomprehensible shadow of the man who wrote “Tangled Up in Blue,” that I sat down on the floor and pouted for the duration.
Dick: The Annual Mushroomhead Halloween Show.

Least favorite concert?
J.: Come now, does Sleepwalk A Robot REALLY deserve that kind of negative attention?
Dick: I have no earthly idea.


Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Dick: The DIY Community and local artists in the city.
J.: Sharing a stage with Madame Christiane D will always be a life-highlight. And thank God we were able to put on Moran / Masudi recently.

Thanks, guys. Totally digging what I am hearing of your stuff. Have fun tonight.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

First/Last-Bad Custer


"Chewing bubblegum and rock 'n' roll, and we're all out of bubblegum."

Bad Custer is a Pittsburgh based roots rock trio that aren't afraid to get a little too loud. Find out what I am talking about tonight as the band hits Howlers with End Men and Carney Stomp. My thanks to Jesse Davis (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
“Greatest Surfing Songs” by the Beach Boys. Easily the best album to listen while surfing, if that sort of thing were possible.


Your last album bought?
“Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1”. Replaced a lost copy. It was a good decision.


Favorite album of all time?
Bob Dylan “Live 1966”. This is always a difficult question and, while it's not a studio album, it's probably the one album I've listened to the most. Every single time I hear the audience member call out, "Judas!" at Dylan, and his response of snarling, "I don't believe you, you're a liar," before turning to his band off mic and yelling, "Play fucking loud!" and breaking into a raucous version of ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ I get chills.


Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Dream Theater. All of it.


First concert attended?
The Beach Boys at Three Rivers Stadium.


Last concert?
The Devil Makes Three. Good stuff.


Favorite concert ever?
Bob Dylan with The Raconteurs in Philadelphia.


Least favorite concert?
Either a band named BJ who spent most of the time drunkenly giving "big ups" to Tommy Maddox, or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I can't decide which was worse.


Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh has really become a great artistic town and it's awesome to see such a burgeoning music scene happen. There's a lot of great talent and ideas being born here and it's a pleasure to live in a place that has become a city of the sciences with a vibrant art culture.

Thanks, Jesse. That 'Judas' incident is such a great moment in Dylan history... hell, rock and roll history. So great it's actually caught on film.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

First/Last-HughShows 10.8 with Balloon Ride Fantasy


 Balloon Ride Fantasy at The Wilderness Recording Studio presents HughShows Live @ Eide's on Saturday, August 9th, 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA.