Wednesday, October 1, 2014

First/Last-Jasmine Tate


"Jasmine Tate is a singer/songwriter with a flair for creating one-on-one encounters with each audience member. With roots in gospel music and a recent passion for the indie and singer/songwriter scene, she's cultivated a soulful sound that some would compare to the sultry sounds and rhythms of Lauryn Hill."

Jasmine Tate is a Pittsburgh based singer-songwriter who is starting to makes some waves in the local independent scene. You can catch her with a few upcoming dates this fall and I really want to thank her for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Hmm... I honestly think it was Kanye West's “College Dropout”! I regret that it was the first album I ever bought, but I think it's actually the best of his work! I wish I could say it was “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”, but I'd be lying.... Haha!

Your last album bought?
I just bought Jake Hamilton's new CD last week. I bought it because I had the opportunity to do some collaborations on the album! I had a blast! The album actually consists of a BUNCH of old hymns and negro spirituals with a crazy rock-edge to them! It was a unique project, but I really enjoyed it.

Favorite album of all time?
As of right now, my favorite album of all time is tied between Lauryn Hill's “MTV Unplugged” album and JohnnySwim's newest album. Those are definitely two of my favorite artists today. I LOVE when people make music that actually carries a message or tells a story. I really value substance, so those two artists definitely have earned my support for that reason.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Whoa. I don't know! That's a really hard one for me! If an album doesn't catch my attention with at least 4 or 5 songs right off the back, I won't buy it... So I'm not sure what my least favorite has been recently. Good question... Perhaps I don't have one right now?

First concert attended?
My first concert was Andy Grammer, Andrew Ripp and Parachute! Haha! It was a great show, but again, not quite as epic as I would've liked to answer! I wish I could've said Aretha Franklin when I was 3 years old... But that would be a lie. Haha! I did really enjoy my first concert though! I had a blast! It was actually not too long ago at all!

Last concert?
The last concert I attended was a Needtobreathe show! It was incredible! They are also one of my favorite bands! Great message, but they're also phenomenal performers! Honestly, I might venture to say that they were my favorite concert EVER. I felt so inspired when I left to grow as a musician/artist.

Least favorite concert?
I haven't been to a lot of concerts outside of my own! Music didn't become a big part of my life until just recently, so I'm little behind! Haha! I don't think I've been to enough to really have a least favorite one, unfortunately.


Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I've had such a great experience with the people of Pittsburgh! Even after going on a national tour and having the opportunity to meet a lot of different people, Pittsburgh people are some of my favorite! You can be in a beautiful place anywhere in the world, but it's the people that truly make the experience. I know that to be true because Pittsburgh is absolutely beautiful to me, but the people have made my time here absolutely worthwhile!


Thanks, Jasmine. I think it's funny how almost everyone wishes their first album or concert was something much more epic or cool than it actually was. Believe me, you are not alone in feeling that. The majority of answers tend to be somewhat embarrassing.

Monday, September 29, 2014

First/Last-Luke McGowan


Luke McGowan is a Pittsburgh based 'indie psych pop anti-folkster'. Definitely my kind of music. I want to thank him for taking a few to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
I think the first album I ever bought was a Monkees' “Greatest Hits” disc. I know for a fact that the first album I ever had was “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles.

Your last album bought?
I got a few albums from Unifaun Records before it went out of business. I think I got “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra doing highlights from Wagner's “Der Ring”, and a John Denver “Greatest Hits”.

Favorite album of all time?
Either “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel or “The Monitor” by Titus Andronicus. I really like the whole concept album... concept. Both bands really know how to layer instruments and noises well.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I had super high expectations for The Front Bottoms “Talon of the Hawk” LP, especially after their self-titled, but I really only got into one or two songs off of it.

First concert attended?
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on their ‘Magic’ tour. I went with my dad. It was great.

Last concert?
Well, Say Anything was the headliner, but I went to see The Front Bottoms on their most recent tour.

Favorite concert ever?
Either Neutral Milk Hotel with Elf Power in May at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland or Titus Andronicus with Roger Harvey and the Wildlife and Baked at Cattivo in Lawrenceville. A super cool thing about the NMH show was when Elf Power dedicated a cover of ‘Jumping Fences’ by The Olivia Tremor Control to the late Bill Doss.

Least favorite concert?
I felt really weird when I saw Titus Andronicus open up for Lucero. All of the Lucero fans stood still and drank cheap beer through Titus Andronicus and all I wanted to do was dance. The only times I have a bad time at a concert is when everyone wants to stand still.


Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I really like the community. It's the only city that I've been to where you can say hello to a stranger on the street. I grew up and Shaler and then made the huge move across the river to Lawrenceville. I like the sense of community. Everyone has a relative or something in Shaler that has moved to Bloomfield or Lawrenceville to get away from the suburbs. Everyone in Lawrenceville knows someone who went to settle down in Shaler. As far as the music scene goes, it is awesome and super welcoming.

Thanks, Luke. Turns out my dad took to to a Springsteen show for one of my first concerts. Granted it was 27 years before yours...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

First/Last-Leanne Kingwell


"She bought her first guitar in high school and formed her first band while earning a degree in Graphic Arts at University. Thus began a decade-long odyssey of constant live gigs that honed her performance and song-writing skills and took Leanne from small Underground venues to Centre Stage Stadium shows."

Leanne Kingwell is an Australian hard rocker who latest album is entitled "Choking on Halos". Dubbed 'the Queen of Aussie rock', she recently released the acclaimed video for the title song and I really want to thank her for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
A rock compilation called “FULL BOAR” that I bought with my Christmas money when I was 8 because it came with this wicked  poster of a nasty looking punk Pigs Head wearing Ray-Bans… Ray-Bans became my signature eyewear for quite some time. The poster disappeared mysteriously from my bedroom wall one day. (Mum had hated it from the moment she saw it.) I was pretty upset so she replaced it with a "My Little Pony" poster. This damaged me for life.

Your last album bought?
Verdi and Mozart “Greatest Hits” compilations. Needed the de-stress. Working two time zones recording in L.A. was taking a toll. It's a proven fact their music has all sorts of soothing, therapeutic effects on body and brain. I'll be first in line for tix when they tour.

Favorite album of all time?
Pink Floyd's "The Wall". Simply the best public psychoanalysis session ever.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Without a doubt, Keith Richard's solo album. WTF were you thinking, Keef?

First concert attended?
David Bowie ‘Glass Spider Tour’.

Last concert?
30 Seconds to Mars, Gibson Amphitheatre, L.A. It was great to see a show in that famous venue before they pulled it down.

Favorite concert ever?
Nirvana, at The Palace in my neighbourhood. They were yet to break big in Australia. Still playing smaller venues and building the buzz. Seeing them at The Palace was like Nirvana were playing our local pub. Unforgettable.

Least favorite concert?
Um…. the one where my guitar got left behind at a venue by lead guitarist of my band, who was carrying it around as a spare. He got drunk. Left the gig. Hadn't realised he'd left it there till I asked him where it was 2 weeks later. Moral of the story, never lend your Axe to a dick-head. He'll never love it like you do. Do I still sound angry?


Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I've never been there but I'm sure it's a wonderful place.

Thanks, Leanne. Hi from the other side of the globe! Can I be the first to claim the album title, "Never Lend Your Axe to a Dick-Head"!?!

Monday, September 22, 2014

First/Last-Arum Rae


"Arum Rae, formerly known as White Dress, is a modern day siren based in Brooklyn, by way of Austin, TX. Arum’s music and her voice is here to inspire… it is honest at its core so that you can do with it what you please, with no regrets. Everything Arum has lived through and all of the songs that have been born from it, are not meant to impress. They are meant to lead. Her ability to transcend styles allows the music to complement country, resurrect the soul, feel the blues, and ruin then re-invent rock, through her deeply rooted foundation as a singer-songwriter."

Arum Rae is a singer-songwriter from Brooklyn who stops in Pittsburgh tonight to play the Hard Rock Cafe in support of her latest EP, "Warranted Queen". I want to thank her for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
"Forever Your Girl" Paula Abdul.

Your last album bought?
Common "Nobody's Smiling".

Favorite album of all time?
Don't think I can answer that.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Hmmm… I’m trying to think of an actor or baseball player who decided to try music...

First concert attended?
Lauryn Hill / Outkast.

Last concert?
Aretha Franklin.

Favorite concert ever?
Gary Clark JR. playing doing the ACL taping in Austin TX several years ago. I heard God that night.

Least favorite concert?
Swedish metal band Watain who throws pig or goat blood on the audience at each show.


Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I don't believe I've ever been to Pittsburgh but I remember the Steelers used to beat the Broncos all the time when I was growing up... is that true?

Thanks, Arum. I really don't know for sure but yeah, the Steelers spanking the Broncos over and over sounds about right.

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.