Monday, September 1, 2014

First/Last-The Feel-Good Revolution


"Claire Secen and Cody Kraski met in 2009 at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and quickly recognized their musical similarities, which lead to the much deeper connection they now share."

'Indie-folksters' The Feel-Good Revolution release their latest album "Home" today. Located in Greensburg, they are among a handful of bands that are quickly putting that town on the musical map. My thanks to Cody Kraski (Lead Guitar/Bass/Piano/Backup Vocals) Claire Secen (Guitar/Piano/Lead Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Cody Kraski & Claire Secen: Hanson “The Middle of Nowhere”.

Your last album bought?
Cody: Essential Machine “Underneath the Earth”.

Favorite album of all time?
Cody: The Bravery “The Sun & The Moon”.
Claire: The Beatles “White Album”.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Cody: Sam Smith “In The Lonely Hour”. Talented, but over-rated. Not my style.

First concert attended?
Cody: Alien Ant Farm with 311.
Claire: N'SYNC.

Last concert?
Cody & Claire: Essential Machine at Eide's.

Favorite concert ever?
Cody: Andrew Bird w/ Death Cab For Cutie.
Claire: First Warped tour.

Least favorite concert?
Cody: Last Warped Tour I attended.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Cody: I love how much the arts has become more appreciated... oh, and GO PENS!
Claire: Even after growing up in the city, I still love being downtown or in the South Side at night in the summer time. It's beautiful.


Thanks, guys. I am really loving this album. I have said it many times before, there must be something in the water over there in Greensburg. Some incredible music being produced.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

First/Last-Beat Cancer Benefit with Shannon Curfman


 "Sponsored by Pittsburgh City Paper, ABK Music, The Hard Rock Cafe, and Glimmer of Hope, the event will raise funds in support of a new integrative breast cancer oncology center called “A Home for Hope.” “A Home for Hope” will be built within UPMC’s existing Hillman Cancer Center of Pittsburgh. The center, a joint project from Glimmer of Hope and UPMC, will offer holistic, innovative treatment options for young women fighting breast cancer in Western Pennsylvania."

Beat Cancer Pittsburgh is this Thursday, September 4th at the Hard Rock Cafe Pittsburgh in Station Square. This show has an incredible singer-songwriter line-up, in one of my favorite locations in the city and benefits a great cause. It's a no-brainer, folks. Grab your tickets here.
Blues rocker and headliner Shannon Curfman will close the night and I want to thank her for taking a few minutes to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
I bought Rory Block's "When A Woman Gets The Blues" and Ani DiFranco's "Dilate" at the same time. They have both stood the test of time for me.

Your last album bought?
The last new music I bought was Sia's whole catalog. She dances to the beat of her own drum and it's so great to see that actually pan out in such an extraordinary way for an artist that has been busting her butt for a very long time.


Favorite album of all time?
Yikes. What a hard question. Zeppelin will always win out for me but Nikka Costa's "Everybody Got Their Something," is my favorite album of the last 20 years.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I can't answer this question specifically but I will say I get absolutely terrified when my favorite artists come out with a new CD. I get really bummed out when what I've been waiting for, for what is sometimes years, ends up being less than favorable.

First concert attended?
My first concert was the Marie Osmond and The Oak Ridge Boy's Christmas Spectacular at the Fargo Dome in North Dakota. Top that! :)

Last concert?
I've been on a big, local Minneapolis music kick so I've challenged myself to leave the comfort of my home while I have some time off from touring and try and go out to experience live music at least once every ten days. I live half an hour outside of town and I'm a homebody so this seems to prove harder than it really should. Anyway, the last big show (about a thousand person venue) I went to was a Greazy Meal reunion show which is an incredible, original funk band that consists of very accomplished national side musicians from Prince, Jonny Lang and more and big record producers. They remind me a lot of Sly & The Family Stone.

Favorite concert ever?
Jeff Beck always brings me to tears. I don't know what it is with that guy but as he gets older he seems to be really simplifying his playing and allowing more space and those are the moments that seem to move me most.

Least favorite concert?
Oy.. there have been loads but I'm not going to be the one to throw anyone under the bus!

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh has one of the best audiences in the world. There is an appreciation for music there that seems to have started to lack in some other parts of the country. My favorite, deeply personal memory of Pittsburgh will always be me secretly getting my first sonogram of my daughter there while on tour seven years ago.


Thanks, Shannon. Wow, what an awesome Pittsburgh memory! That is so sweet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

First/Last-Street Pigeons


"Emerging from the mystic fog of the great Allegheny united by Bob Sacamano and the U.S. Postal Service."

Street Pigeons are a five piece rock band from Pittsburgh. They are playing Brillobox this Thursday the 28th on a bill with fellow locals Paddy The Wanderer and The River Daughters from Turkey. My thanks to Dave Saccomanno (Guitar/Harmonica/Vocals), Drew Turak (Keys/Vocals) and Marty McElroy (Guitar) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Dave Saccomanno: Dylan’s “Greatest Hits Vol. 2”.
Drew Turak: Either The Allman Brothers “Greatest Hits” or Nirvana “Unplugged”.
Marty McElroy: The Red Hot Chili Peppers “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” and Jimi Hendrix “Are you Experienced?”.


Your last album bought?
Dave: The Band “Music from Big Pink”.
Drew: Tool “10,000 Days”.
Marty: Jack White “Lazaretto”.


Favorite album of all time?
Dave: Led Zeppelin “1 through 4”.
Drew: Tool “Aenima”.
Marty: I can’t pick one rock album so I’m just going with Wu Tang “Forever”.


Least favorite/most disappointing album?
All: We got nothing!


First concert attended?
Dave: James Brown.
Drew: Probably some random band in the 90’s at Graffiti.
Marty: Offspring at the Civic Arena, but technically Michael Jackson ‘Bad Tour’ when I was about 5.


Last concert?
All: Jack White.


Favorite concert ever?
Dave: Paul McCartney.
Drew: Local band Midnite Snake under the Bloomfield Bridge outside.
Marty: Is it cheating to say Bonnaroo? If so, I’ll go with Tool at Bonnaroo…Tom Morello came out and did an improvised solo in the middle of the song ‘Lateralus’.


Least favorite concert?
Dave: Three Dog Night.
Drew: My girlfriend and her friends dragged me to see Bush. I swear.
Marty: Rage Against the Machine and Beastie Boys at Star Lake… it got cancelled!


Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Drew: Well I grew up here in Lawrenceville all my life. So all of my family, and good and bad experiences are in Pittsburgh. It’s great to see all the changes and embrace them. It’s amazing to see the vibrant music seen that has expanded in the last couple of years. I would not live anywhere else, but I don't know any better.
Marty: The intersection of yinzer and hipster… a great catalyst for weird experiences.


Thanks, fellas. Jack White, huh? Well they do say that the band that sees shows together, stay together. Well, not really.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First/Last-Chancellor Warhol


"Antonio Dewayne Boleyjack was born in Nashville, TN. He grew up drawn to art, cinema, fashion and a diverse culture all of which helped shape his very own style of music today. Channeling an alternative/electro rap style, Warhol released his first solo album titled Japanese Lunchbox in 2010 (Voted Best Rap Album of 2010 by the Nashville Scene). He has gone on to release two more well received projects, The Silver Factory (2011) and the Playlist for Edie mixtape (2012). His unconventional sound has earned him a place on stages such as Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, and Sundance Film Festival. Warhol has also supported several artists including Questlove, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Chance The Rapper, and Yelawolf. His music has been played on major networks such as ESPN, HBO, MTV, VH1, and the E! network. With a strong command of his own art, Chancellor Warhol continues to redefine not only music but culture as well."

Chancellor Warhol comes to Pittsburgh (at The Warhol Museum, no less) this upcoming Saturday the 23rd to debut a unique one time visual interpretation of his latest release, "Paris is Burning". I want to thank him for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Two actually. Jay-Z “Reasonable Doubt” and OutKast “ATLiens”. I bought them both at the same time.

Your last album bought?
I just bought the new FKA twigs album. Super vibey.

Favorite album of all time?
Hip Hop: Dr. Dre :The Chronic”, 2001.
Other: Daft Punk “Discovery”.
Both of these records changed me for the better musically.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
That's a long list.

First concert attended?
N.E.R.D.

Last concert?
Phantogram.

Favorite concert ever?
M.I.A. She shuts it down!

Least favorite concert?
The Neighborhood.


Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Never been, but I'm looking forward to creating some in the Steel City.

Thanks, Chancellor. How cool is it that you are actually debuting the performance at The Warhol? Should be a really great night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First/Last-Literature


"Autumn of 2013 saw the band begin work on their second album, Chorus, with lauded engineer Gary Olson (whose body of work includes records by Crystal Stilts, Mad Scene and The Beets) at his Marlborough Farms studio in Brooklyn, NY. As a beautiful autumn turned into one of the harshest winters in recent memory, Olson and the band began stretching out, enhancing the album with studio techniques dating back to the late 60s including true-tape flanging, sending vocals through Leslie speaker cabinets, and the same analog style of automatic double-tracking created at Abbey Road Studios. The result is an album that is as immediate as it is timeless, full of effortlessly catchy and well-crafted tunes that echo pop legends like Smiths and Orange Juice. All of that time in the studio has resulted in a rich, considered sound that puts the band's arranging and playing front and center. Chorus is one of the most exciting pop records in years, and marks Literature at true contenders."


Literature is a jangle pop band out of Philadelphia who's latest album, "Chorus" drops today via Slumberland Records. I want to thank Seth Whaland (Bass) for taking a few to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Aerosmith “Big Ones”, duh.


Your last album bought?
Got that new Wild Honey EP, “Seventeen Forever” and have listened to it over & over & over.


Favorite album of all time?
Leonard Cohen “Death of a Ladies Man”.


Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Aerosmith “Big Ones” upon listening to it now.


First concert attended?
I think it was Peter Paul & Mary with my family and I don't really remember it. As a teenager I think I saw Ted Leo and Atom & His Package anytime they played within 100 miles of the Lehigh Valley, PA.


Last concert?
I know different members of Literature are going to different shows tonight as I write this. I personally am going to see Spenking and Viking Moses in South Philly.


Favorite concert ever?
The NYC & Baltimore Popfests were extremely fun to play because of how many excellent bands we got to see, and the crowds were so much fun. I know it is probably lame to mention our own shows. But I couldn't possibly pick out a single show I've attended that is clearly the best.


Least favorite concert?
Once I won tickets to see Robyn Hitchcock but I didn't find out I'd won until the day after the show, which was a huge disappointment. So while I'm sure that was an excellent show, it is my least favorite because I missed it.


Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Yes! We know some great people that either currently live in Pittsburgh or are from there. Plus it is cool all the sports teams share the same colors.

Thanks, Seth. Totally loving this record. It's got a throwback sound similar to the Paisley Underground I loved in the early 80's.