Pittsburgh's Ear for Music

A project of Tarsier Music Network.
Serve the communities you love.


I've seen what heaven knows ~ Seven Color Sky at Club Cafe, March 14th 2009

Though I arrived a bit to late to catch much of the set, it was nice to see such a packed crowd for a band I know next to nothing about. Proof that the Pittsburgh Music Scene is bigger than my friends & their friends (though due to the one-degree of separation in Pittsburgh, I'm sure they are still friends of friends somehow).

Also proof that I don't listen to the X enough, as they're featured on this station. I suspect it's for the song "This City is Cold", as it's the stand-out rock song on the album, and it seems referential to both Pittsburgh and the weather here, which us yinzers gripe about more then when the Steelers are losing a game or the Arts are losing funding.

The emotional, interpersonal lyrics are right up front for most of the album, meaning it will be an album for the reflective and thoughtful days. But it rocks, 90's style, while tipping the hat to the generations before them. Dream Theater on the rocks, if the rocks were Van Halen, and the Cars.

There were some lovely moments in their softer songs too, my favorites being Chesterfield and A Rescue. OK, so A Rescue is not such a soft song, but it just feels more honest, a bit more telling, then the others. The entire second half of the album viscerally reminds me of "Friday I'm in Love", while the production of the guitars and keys securing this understanding.

I almost wish they'd started the album off with this half, perhaps Don't Walk Away, as these songs easier to get into for my personal taste. However, the progression of the album is nice, leaving the listener with a hopeful resolve.


WYEP Third Thursdays with the Harlan Twins

Mix a few parts country twang, a spattering of hipster appeal and mix it in a pot of neo-soul-jam-rock and you've got the alternative rock group known to Pittsburgh as The Harlan Twins.

There's a humble demeanor in the band's performances. No one seems to be the main lead, as the two lead vocalists have this cute shyness to them as they drink their beer too fast and talk about their bangs between songs. But the sound is far from something you'd expect from a wallflower group - it is loud, gritty, in-your-face rock-dance-party music.

I'm always impressed with the caliber of music at WYEP's events, and these third-thursdays are no exception. There's always a nice balance of empty-next couples looking to get back into the live music scenes now that their kids have flown the coop, young and hip college-aged trendsetters who are interested in this month's radio station favorite, and people of all walks of life who are interested in a good - free - thursday night event.

As is typical with my experience with the scenesters around, I'm disappointed with the lack of dancing to this very danceable band. What does it take to get people dancing these days? I guess cocaine made for a better party drug than vicodin, though neither really seem appropriate for such a pristine and welcoming venue as the WYEP live studio room. I would eat off the floors, if prompted (and perhaps on an entirely different kind of party drug), but it isn't uncomfortable at all. All the volunteers are great, the hosts are welcoming, and it's nice to see that many of the WYEP staff are present at these events. It shows a degree of pride in something that is truly a wonderful series.


Zafira's Vaudeville Carnivale + Mezmer Society + Raquy & the Cavemen!

Workshops with Mezmer Society today! Don't miss this awesome weekend chock full o'events!

Performance tonight with guests including Buddy Nutt and Mavi!

Zafira performing with Raquy & The Cavemen... see it again Sunday night at Your Inner Vagabond!


Resonance at Your Inner Vagabond

Resonance celebrates their CD Release party at Your Inner Vagabond this Friday, November 14th. Check it out!

Nick Ragheb with Lucas Legetti and Elie Kihonia at Wood Street Gallery

I had the pleasure of seeing my old friend Nick Ragheb perform alongside two master instrumentalists this past friday. Elie Kihonia of Afrika Yetu came in shortly after this clip during set 2. Lukas Ligetti was the touring performer in this set. The three of them had never set foot on a stage together, and practiced for maybe 20 minutes prior to the show. A true testament for the talent each of these men has, the show was a great escapade through the possibilities in percussive music.

At times, they would fall together in these ecstatic moments, rhythm pulsing through each of their instruments as if they'd been playing together for years. And even as these grooves fell apart, it seemed purposeful and directed, a zen-like grasp-release cycle.

Nick is teaching classes at his home in Lawrenceville on Sunday afternoons.

Nick's friend Hakan from Turkey ain't bad either:

Pix from Rosa Sabrosa


Woven at the Dark Room in Chicago

We watched this band from row one of one, a surprise to us since they're, like, talent on the edge of godliness. What kind of brain must it take to control that many effects pedals, that complex of a drum rig?

We drove from Pittsburgh to see this show and visit Chad's family. It was f*ing awesome and worth it.

And, despite the general lack of advertising I saw for and within this venue, it was a pretty cool spot. Kickin sub-bass. Black and white photos everywhere, with red lights exclusively (hence: Dark Room)

The opening bands weren't bad, but they weren't particularly memorable. Not to mention that neither they nor their fans stuck around to see the band that travels from San Francisco. Boo on Chicago bands! Yuk!



The fiddler and accordionist were two of the best I've ever seen. And the rest of the band flat-out rocked, gypsy-style.


Swell Season

"Hansard has Bono-sized talent and charisma but with a straight-from-the-heart intimacy and playful sense of humor you don't get from his compatriot in U2.

The set was a dynamic mix of musicians coming and going, starting with Hansard and Irglova setting the tone with a sublime duet of Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" and then going right into Oscar winner "Falling Slowly," their harmonies as delicate and beautiful and as a male and female voice can be. He has the warmth and rasp of Cat Stevens, while she's like a shyer, gentler Sinead O'Connor.

With The Frames on stage for songs like "The Moon" and "When Your Mind's Made Up," the sound took on the epic quality of Radiohead.

Hansard was just as powerful stripped down to his acoustic guitar with the hole in it. For "Say It to Me Now," he stepped to the tip of the stage and belted out the emotionally charged song as he'd do it on the street, with no amplification. Before doing "Back Broke" and "Leave," the talkative Hansard joked of the songs being about "feeling like you're in a place where you can't get any worse -- which is kind of what we do." He balanced those angry breakup songs with "Happiness" -- more of a resigned breakup song, offering his lover his blessing."

Review by Scott Mervis


Zany Umbrella Circus

Possibly on good morning america tomarrow... So go TODAY to Penn Station downtown! I'm on my way now.



If you thought that seeing a premier Bulgarian wedding band would bring people dancing an ethnic electric slide, you may have been somewhat right. You may have even guessed, since this band is touring the States from a small, Eastern European country, that they are an entertaining group of entrancing performers playing on exciting instruments. Perhaps you would not have seen yourself being so engrossed in the performance, the atmosphere, and the lovely nature of the evening.

Kabile arrived with just minutes to perform, but when you make your living playing weddings and other high-pressure events, chances are you know exactly what to do to make your band sound the best in any given situation. In fact, it took less than 10 minutes to finish a sound check, including fine-tuning the EQ. For those of you who do not sound tech as an evening job, this is a feat for any band, especially one with five uncommon instruments and two vocalists. One of the pre-show highlights was finding out Croatian words for "high" and "middle" in reference to their preferred sound.

In the same spirit, they wasted little time getting into high energy songs, which quickly got the growing audience up and dancing. The first line-dance was one which anyone who could stand could readily understand. Many of the dancers seemed closely descendant from Eastern European heritage, while many were distinctly American.

As the music played, the dancing got more complex, and was a good litmus test to see who the best dancers were. I could imagine a wedding where the last two co-eds standing would be similar to the results of garder/boquet toss.

The part of the audience that was not dancing seemed entirely engrossed with the musicians and the jovial atmosphere they brought to YIV. While some seemed to inherantly understand the music, others may have been engrosed simply in the ability of these super-capable musicians.

The most locally-common instrument in the bunch - the guitar - played an entirely different role in the band then our US ears are used to. With the bass notes emphasized, and the rhythmic strumming patterns soft in the mix, the guitarist acted more as a liason between the melody instruments and the percussion. The role of lead guitar was picked up by the Accordian player, who not only played the accordian in a masterfully interesting and coherent manner, but he also sang!

And what powerful voices we heard! The male accordianist had a voice as strong as any I'd heard singing this music, and one so provocative and gutteral that it could wind your heart around the center of a yo-yo and toss you out the same way. The low, gutsy female vocalist had the air of wisdom in her voice, as well as a sometimes flirtatious and always sensual element that had me longing for more. A young lady - the guitarist's local daughter - got up on stage a few times during the evening and shared a youthful take on these songs with a voice that had tastefully innocent qualities, which showed serious potential for the future of her singing.

The highlight for me were the melody instruments, particularly the Bagpipist and Flautist. I was blown away with their speed and the character of the tones they could release from their instruments. The piper could bend these notes directly or subtly, and knew when to do each. Likewise, the flute had a dynamic range far beyond seasoned, which could play a primary role in the melody or back into a supportive spot.

On Kabile, from Noel Kropf:

Traditional Bulgarian folk music has attracted worldwide attention and scholarship for its incredible virtuosity and musicianship. Varied rhythms combine with gorgeous harmonies, ancient instruments with modern, and traditional styles are rendered with a modern sensibility to produce an exquisite musical brew that is bound to enthrall roots music enthusiasts and novices alike.

Kabile is a top favorite in the south and east Thrace regions of Bulgaria for weddings, baptisms and other cultural celebrations. Dzhenko Andreev, Ivan Handzhiev, Angel Krastev, Nikolay Doktorov, Nikolay Kolev and Donka Koleva are excellent representatives of this traditional style. Mr. Andreev plays the gajda (bagpipe), Mr. Krastev the tapan (double headed drum), Mr. Doctorov the kaval (shepherd's flute), and Mr. Kolev the gudulka (lyra). Mr. Handzhiev plays accordion and is a vocalist in the traditional Thracian style. Ms. Koleva is also a vocalist in the traditional Thracian style. Individually, each member of the band has an exceptional history of scholarship and performance. Collectively they form one of the most respected ensembles in Bulgarian Thrace.


Kabile at Your Inner Vagabond

What an awesome show! Full of lively dancing and some of the most talented musicians this side of the equator. Check out the bagpipes!


Vote Best of Pittsburgh in the City Paper now!

My vote?

Best Place to spin fire
Winner: Mount Washington
The Fantasmorgasmical f*ing view, of course! Now *that's* hot...


Merhaba! From the Ren Fest...

Whether you don't know what the "Ren" in "Ren Fest" stands for, or you critique our shoes for not being period, there's a party for everyone up in the Laurel Highlands. There are excellent live entertainment for free all day, including jousting competitions, fire breathing, magicians, comedy, musical acts and bellydance.

For the past few weekends, I've been in a stage show called "The Sisters of Ameretat", which we did not name, nor did we write the description, however it has been an awesomely fun experience, and I encourage all of you to attend! This upcoming weekend is the last that I'll be a part of it, unfortunatly, so come out while I'm around if you can. The last two weekends will have a drummer fill in -perhaps Temujin "Papa" the Storyteller? I will be owned by the city, attending to the Junior and Great Races.

I've also enjoyed wandering the streets as a roving bellydancer, and have danced for a bagpipist (sp?), a cellist, a classical guitarist, and many others. There are excellent vendors who paint henna, sell walking sticks, give live glassblowing demonstrations, and cook turkey legs. You can dress up in a rented costume or purchase corsets and weaponry from around the town. Let your inner history dork shine! Or, get drunk at the pub! The day is yours to create, and I'll be there for one more week to help you have a wonderful time.

Sunflower Photography, Pester the Jester, and several others have taken some great footage of the past few weekends. The video at the top of the page was of the closing gate cerermony, and has been the most fun and carefree time of the festival for the cast members. Here are some other great links:
Sunflower Photography:
Pester on Youtube:
Feather Photography:
Feel free to add or post more here!


Rock the Block with WYEP

Tomarrow night, celebrate the presence of one of the best independent stations in the country! WYEP is a listener-supported public radio station that streams all over the US. Mostly AAA (Adult Album Alternative) formatted, some of my favorite WYEP moments have come in late at night. Many of my current favorite artists (Devotchka, Baja Boulat, Trevor Hall) are played regularly, and DJ Cindy Howes often features local artists on her show.

Saturday will be a great chance to give back! Cracker will be the featured artist, also playing live will be Pittsburgh's own Donora. Visit for more details, and be sure to make it out! See you there.


Resevoir of Jazz

Working for the city is sweet. I get to do some heavy lifting for a while to build up those fire-twirling muscles. Then I get to introduce myself to artists, who sometimes already know who I am. Then I get to listen to music, and sometimes get asked to dance by swanky 60-year old swingin fellows. For a while, I might be free to, say, take a walk around the Highland Park resevoir. And after I'm done cleaning up the trash, and moping about someone stole my shoes (it's okay, karma comes around, they will regret it. those shoes had the stink!) - I get to go home and bask in the fact that I just got paid overtime to listen to music outside all day.

This all happened at Resevoir of Jazz, held at Highland Park. It was a beautiful day, with a stageful of excellent musicians. Dave Pellow, director of Jazz studies at CMU, lead the band on his upright bass. While I don't know a whole lot about Jazz, there were moments of pure musical beauty that I fully enjoyed... more on the band soon as I can remember the names of the players

Another pleasure was meeting Ethan, guitarist for Charles Wallace Trio, who also heads the Highland Park Community Council. Yet another good-hearted musician who is also invested in his community. Not a bad job he's got, either ;0) It gives me continued love for this city.



That's right folks! I'm a singer too! OK so I'm sure most of you knew that, as I talk about performing a lot. But, I have a lot of fun singing with Between Liberties, and I want to share this experience with you!

As much as I could write all day about music, *nothing* can compare to the live experience. You can turn it into an essay, you can think about it, you can tell your friends. Again, *nothing* compares to the live experience. Even CD's, as amazing of an experience as they can be, they just can't beat a good old fashioned live show.

And, on a personal level, I must admit that I love the range of emotions being on stage can put you through. In the set we'll perform tomarrow, there's a distinct shift in our storytelling. Sure, there are at least a half-dozen new songs since the last show we played at Club Cafe, but it's the order you put them in too. With this said, I hope that everyone leaves with the enlightened and hopeful sense with which we are phrasing this set.

Club Cafe, 10pm. $7 at the door. Also featuring Zack Simmen and the Electric Lemonade Stand, with openers The Lost sea. See you there!


Lord knows I can change (blindmelon)

So, I wanted to drop back in and say that this blog has not been forgotten about. Slightly neglected, perhaps, but sometimes seeing my family (the presently sick Chad & the ever-energized PDukes) and getting some sleep before my daily 6am rise is top of my priorities. However, I've not been having a shortage of times to be a part of great happenings, just a shortage of time to write about them.

I'm working on done with a few backlogged reviews now, like the Life in Balance CD release party, Consider the Source with Complex Complex, and the Kerouac Fest 08 at Grand Midway Hotel.

With that said, I'd like to mention that soon (time permitting) I will be starting an MP3 archive in addition to the youtube video archive. These will be mostly live sets, and many of them will be whole sets. If anyone out in interweb-littlebox-land knows of a good way to separate huge MP3 files into smaller mp3 files, and would share this information with me, I would happily consider doing this extra work as well. In the meantime, it's full sets for y'all.

Some of what I have up on youtube includes: Uni and her Ukulele, the Gypsy Nomads, Agnes Wired for Sound, Midge Crickett, Between Liberties, me playing with fire... and will also soon include: Consider the Source, Ikonoklast, Complex Complex, Damien Youth, David J, Buddy Nutt, House of Assassins, Otantik, Armed Aria, and much more.

MP3 collection will include lots of the same and lots more. Stop back soon for more details, or subscribe to the feed for latest updates!


Kerouac Fest 2008 for entire album

As a short note, I must say that I've found no better place to perform than to a room of artists, writers, musicians and freaky-creative-types. It's like breathing, being able to feed from that flow. Everyone was excited to see what we had to offer, and Blair, Lord of the Grand Midway, gave us an extrordinary introduction. We hope to return to the haunted hotel and to Kerouac Fest in the future years to come!

I hear that Phat Man Dee and Jason Kirin both has fantastic sets on Friday night, and I was very well impressed by Damian Youth, David J, and other lovely poets, musicians, magicians and dancers. What a lovely congregation. The energies were intense.

Congratulations to Blair on his future father status, and thanks to everyone who supports the communities they are a part of. There is no other way to continue forward.