The Future is Bright

•November 19, 2019 • Leave a Comment

On November 9, I had the opportunity to attend an all Pittsburgh Line -up at Stage AE.

This show gave me great confidence in the music scene in Pittsburgh.

Buffalo Rose opened the show. They are best described as folk and soul-grass with soaring vocal harmonies. This is a band that I plan to see again in the near future. So should you.

Up next, was Gene the Werewolf, a rock and roll staple in Pittsburgh. They are a band that likes to have fun on stage with solid vocals.

The headliner was none other than The Commonheart. If you haven’t seen them yet you better hurry. Clinton Clegg and the band are tearing up the country with their uplifting soulful sound that reaches your soul through music. They even made a stop at CBS This Morning, on November 2.

This line-up was three bands with very different styles. They had one thing in common. They are all very talented Pittsburgh Artists.

I want to mention a few upcoming local shows, including some record releases.

On November 22, The Hawkeyes will release their highly anticipated album Ever For After with a show at Hard Rock Cafe Pittsburgh. They will be joined by Snarfunkle.

On November 23, Buffalo Rose will release their new EP called Big Stampede with a celebration show at This is Red, in Munhall.

December 14 marks the 40th Anniversary of The Clash album London Calling. This will be marked with a concert by The Guns of Brixton at Mr Smalls with special guests 11th Hour.

Follow our Facebook page and our Facebook group to stay up to date on more local and national shows.

Get out there and Support Local Music and the venues that host it.

 

PM1

 

Celebrating a Friend

•February 7, 2018 • 5 Comments

I grew up, in a great little neighborhood, in Pittsburgh. A neighborhood where kids were all friends, where parents all knew their neighbors. A neighborhood where it wasn’t odd for someone else’s parent to holler at you for doing something wrong.

In our neighborhood, some kids played sports, some kids liked cars, but one kid liked music. One kid lived and breathed music. That one kid was none other that Tom Bellin. Some called him Tom, others called him Tommy, another group of friends called him B. To me, He was one of my best friends, Timmy Bellin‘s, older brother.

Tom passed on today to live in the Peace and Glory of God.

Tom was a chip off the old block. His father, Clyde Bellin, was an accomplished jazz trumpeter. At any time, you could walk down Claybourne Street and hear one of two sounds. It was Clyde practicing his trumpet, or it was Tom running through the bass chords for hours on end.

At one point, in the late 70’s, Tom was playing bass for Leggs Diamond featuring Ronda Zegarelli on vocals. Eventually moving on to bands like Modern Man featuring Sputzy, Ronda and the Arrivals, and doing recording sessions work with many artists. All before turning his talents to Jazz (just like his father). Jazz earned Tom some music scholarship and notoriety. I remember walking into the Shadyside Balcony one night, and there was my friend playing with the likes of Chizmo Charles, H B Bennett, and many more.

At one point, B E Taylor Group brought him on to be their bass player, where he did many Christmas tours with the band as well as recording five albums with the band, playing both bass guitar and the upright bass.

Tom was so versatile, he was your bass player whether you needed a funk, jazz, blues, rock, or heavy metal musician. He could play it all, to perfection. I have seen Tom play the broad spectrum Reb Beach Project, Mike Glablicki (Rusted Root) Band, No Bad Juju can all claim that Tom Bellin was their bass player.

Right about now, I imagine that B E Taylor is escorting him around Heaven, and telling everyone that he is the finest bass player around.

Tom was, indeed, the finest bass player around.

I will miss you Tom. Rest in Peace. See you at the Main Stage in Heaven.

 

PITTSBURGH MUSIC 1ST

 

 

Jammin’ for Charity

•November 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The 2nd annual WDVE Charity Jam took place at Stage AE on Pittsburgh’s North Shore, this past Saturday.  I know what you are thinking… yes, you probably did attend DVE Charity Jams back in the 80’s and 90’s. Those charity events went away for several years. In 2016, John Williams, tour manager for The Clarks, thought that it was a good idea to revive the charity event and give a portion of the proceeds to The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. 

The 1st event took place last year as a Nick’s Fat City Reunion honoring the former club on Pittsburgh’s South Side. See Welcome to the 90s” for more about this show.

On Saturday, November 25th, 2017 the event was billed as the 2nd Annual DVE Charity Jam starring The Clarks.  No automatic alt text available.

This event was so much more than a show starring one of Pittsburgh’s favorite home town bands. The show was a tribute to Pittsburgh Music and the fans that give them an opportunity to do what they love.

The show started out with a raucous set by up and coming superstars, The HawkeyesFront man, Jay Wiley, belted out several high energy tunes from their upcoming release.

Up next was the incredible sounds of Jim Donovan and the Sun King Warriors. It was the first opportunity, that I had, to experience this band. Donovan, the former drummer of Rusted Root, put together a group of talented musicians that produce a bright and fun sound that gets your feet moving.

The next set brought the legendary Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers to the stage who opened with his classic Pumpin’ Iron followed by the title track of his soon to be released album “More Yesterdays than Tomorrows”. Then the fun really began, the guest stars started filing out on stage. The aptly nicknamed “Wizard of Weirton” Rick Witkowski, joined the Houserockers and performed Vitamin L, a song that he wrote but was made famous by the late B E Taylor. Rick talked about his friend during the song and how BE represented love. His love for his family, his love for his music, his love for the Steelers, his love for his GOD. Rick got the crowd to sing the refrain from Vitamin L and raise their thumb and index fingers to the heavens as a tribute to B E’s memory.

The next guest spot brought Kelsey Barber Friday of Brownie Mary fame who belted out a couple of high energy tunes, like only she can do. The highlight was a duet between her and Scott Blasey which paid tribute to Tom Petty with Stop Dragging My Heart Around.

Guest spot number three brought King Cool to the stage. The one and only Donnie Iris. Donnie, who will turn 75 in February, belted out his classics “Love is Like a Rock” and “Ah, Leah” with the assistance of the packed house.

The final set brought the nights headliner, The Clarks, to the stage for an always entertaining set. They mixed their classic songs throughout the set and even threw in a couple of songs from their next studio album which will be released in the spring according to bassist Greg Joseph. Always a highlight for me, in their sets, is when they feature “The Silver Fox” Gary Jacob on pedal steel. Gary may be one of the best pedal steel players around.

I would call this night an overwhelming success. In addition to a portion of each ticket going to the food bank, fans were asked to bring non perishable food items to be donated to the same cause. According to the Clarks Facebook page, the amazing Pittsburgh Music fan community was able to donate 1355 pounds of food to The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Well done Pittsburgh fans, Well done John Williams, Well done The Hawkeyes, The Sun King Warriors, Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, Rick Witkowski, Kelsey Barber Friday, Donnie Iris, and The Clarks.

I can’t wait for year three. You should all make plans to join us.

 

Pittsburgh Music 1st

Welcome to the 90’s

•November 28, 2016 • 3 Comments

nicks-fat-city

In the 1990’s, the was no bigger local music venue for local music, than Nick’s Fat City. Time passes and clubs close. Memories never fade. Nick’s Fat City was around during a golden era of the Pittsburgh Music Scene.

Last night, at Stage AE, a reunion was held that for one night brought Nick’s Fat City back to life. When Nick’s arose from the mist, it brought some of the most popular acts from that era with them. For five and a half hours, 90s Pittsburgh music rocked two stages. Musicians came home from as far away as Los Angeles.

The Dick Clarks, as they used to be called, opened the show on the Club Stage.
Buzz Poets followed on The Main Stage
Sho Nuff reunited for a set on the Club Stage
Gathering Field hit the Main Stage bringing up guests Rob James, Scott Blasey, and Kelsey Barber Friday.
Grapevine was next on the Club Stage
Brownie Mary was next on the Main Stage with special guest Rick Witkowski who laid down a guitar solo that I will not soon forget. It was show stopping.
The Club Stage then featured none other than The Vibro Kings and their special guest Gene Walker.
The night ended on the Main Stage with The Clarks with special guest Bill Deasy, Kelsey Barber Friday, and Ford Thurston.

All sets were 45 minutes, with flawless switch over by the sound and stage crews. The show was emceed by Val Porter, Mike Steele, Michele Michaels, and Sean McDowell of 102.5 WDVE and all proceeds from the sold out show went to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
There was talk during the evening, that this may become an annual event for charity. If they are all as successful as last night, this town will have a perpetual smile.
Special recognition should go to The Clarks tour manager, John JW Williams, who came up with the idea and put everything together.Atta boy J-Dub!

What a night! The music was perfect, the venue was perfect, the crowd was perfect. I can’t wait to do it again!

Note: In addition to the money raised, people brought non-perishable food items. According to the Clarks facebook page, 771 pounds of food was delivered to the Food Bank facility in Duquesne. Way to go, Pittsburgh!

Pittsburgh Music 1st

I will remember…

•August 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

August 7, 2016. The day that the world lost a legend. William Edward Taylor was born and raised in Aliquippa, PA where he loved his Quips as much as he loved his Steelers. We lost him to complications from an inoperable brain tumor, at the youthful age of 65. B E Smiling

My first memories of B E Taylor date back to the MTV era. Vitamin L was the video. https://youtu.be/qwZhk-hPhew He topped the regional Billboards chart with that song.

The funny thing is B E Taylor is better known in the tri state area as the guy who does the Christmas shows. Many families, including my own, attend one of his Christmas shows as a tradition. I am really going to miss that show.

One word describes B E Taylor and that word is LOVE. He loved God. He loved his family, biological and musical. He loved the Beatles and music in general. He loved to perform. He loved to meet people. He loved life.

B E Taylor was always upbeat and positive…always! Our world needs more people like him.

B E with red guitar

If you want to truly honor the memory of B E, be like him. Love your family, Love your friends. Love life….be kind to one another.

Rest in Peace, Bill! Thank you for sharing your voice, your music, and your love with all of us.

Pittsburgh Music 1stIMG_0535

Still Daring to be Different

•November 29, 2015 • Leave a Comment

In 1986, WXXP hit the airwaves in Pittsburgh at 100.7 FM. “Dare to be Different” was the tag line, and they were. They played music by bands like The Cure, Gene Loves Jezebel, Squeeze, and Elvis Costello. They believed in supporting local alternative bands like The Affordable Floors, 11th Hour, and The Clarks. They were one of four alternative music stations in the entire country. Their impact on Pittsburgh music was eternal.
Fast forward to November 28, 2015. Thirty Years after XX hit the air, Mayor Bill Peduto declares the day “WXXP Day in the City of Pittsburgh“. The reading of the Declaration was done at the WXXP Reunion Show at Stage AE.
The show was put together to celebrate all things WXXP and to raise money for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund.
Music director, Rod Schwartz, put together a little show with a few of his friends. When I say a few of his friends, I should clarify that there were in excess of twenty musicians participating. Oh, by the way, the little show was roughly five and a half hours. Former WXXP on-air personality Paul Cramer, who now runs the WXXP internet radio station, coordinated bringing back the staff for the reunion.
Back to the music. The show opened with Mayor Peduto introducing Seven Color Sky who played about a thirty minute set mixed and matched with members of Generation XX.
Up next was the Generation XX Band consisting of almost two dozen all stars from the Pittsburgh Music scene including members of the Optimists, The Aviation Blondes, Submachine, the Re52s, and more. This set was probably high lighted by a tribute to Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure”.
The Re-52’s did their tribute to the B52’s featuring a rare cover of “Wig”
By now, the crowd was really wound up and ready to sing and dance. It was time for the reunion within the reunion. Back together, for one night only, The Affordable Floors took the stage. They sounded like they never stopped playing together and featured so many of their popular songs, beginning with The Sounding and ending with New Order’s Temptation.
You would think that this would be enough music to satisfy the 900+ people in attendance. Rod Schwartz had a different idea.
The Reckoning paid tribute to REM with Chris Colpo leading the band through rousing renditions of songs like “Can’t Get There From Here”.
Generation XX band closed out the shows final hour with tunes like Madness “One Step Beyond”
The show closed with the entire talented ensemble belting out a rousing rendition of “Radio, Radio” by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. The final word of the night came from Rod Schwartz who simply said “To Be Continued”

If you didn’t enjoy yourself at this reunion, you might want to check your pulse. Special thanks to Paul Cramer, Phil Kirczyk, DJ Bird, Bob Studebaker, DEEJ, Chris Winter, Deb Brady, Garrett Hart, Darren Smith, Dave Reedy, and Keith Mitchell for making our music relevant.

Pittsburgh Music 1st

Farewell, Chizmo

•April 22, 2015 • 1 Comment

Back in the 1980’s I worked at a retail audio store in Shadyside. One of the things that we used to do, as a group, was go to The Balcony on Wednesday nights. We would have a few beers and listen to the live music.
Chizmo Charles performed on Wednesday nights. When I say performed, I don’t mean that he stood on a stage and sang jazz and blues standards. I mean that he performed.
Chizmo, if you never saw him perform, was quite a showman. A thin black male in a sport coat and slacks. On his head was a ball cap. Most of the time it was a St Louis Blues cap, with a large blue quarter note on the front of the cap. He wore glasses and had a thin mustache. In his hand was a microphone with about a fifty foot cable. Chizmo was not tied to the stage.
Chizmo loved the blues and he loved to flirt with women. Boy, did he love to flirt with women. Luckily, he found a career where he could combine the two. Chizmo would use every inch of that microphone cord working the crowd. He loved to sing to people, especially the ladies. He would get a few inches away and serenade them, at times he would even sit on their laps. The room would be filled with smiles and beautiful music.
Today, we learned that Chizmo Charles has left us.
This local blues legend was beloved. He was funny. He was entertaining. He was soulful, He was pleasant……He was Chizmo

.Chizmo
When Chizmo played there was one theme, Joy and the Blues. In his audience, there was only one race, the Human Race. In life, the was only on Chizmo!
Farewell Chizmo. Eternal Rest to you. Thank you for being you!

Do yourself a favor. Find some audio or video clip of him performing and enjoy them. If you do, you will never forget him. I know that I won’t.

Pittsburgh Music 1st