On Thursday, April 18, Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA visited Pittsburgh as part of his Wisdom of the Word Tour. The speaking engagement was held at the New Hazlett Theater, presented by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures, and hosted by local poet and National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes. Interviewing RZA, Hayes guided a conversation that ranged from the hip-hop artist, author, and film director’s childhood to current philosophies.
It was through these excursions around New York City that RZA discovered hip-hop, which evolved into a route for him to travel the world with his partners in the Wu-Tang Clan.
“The travelling mind I would recommend for any artist,” he said. “Since those days, I was able to have success in music and travel around the world and go to different places — whether it’s Albania, the pyramids of Egypt, the coliseum or the remains of Athens. I’m travelling and I’m seeing life, and it’s really expanding my creativity.”
Although he encouraged the audience of hundreds to explore beyond their usual environment, he also acknowledged the potential gift that can grow within a smaller living space — comparing his time living on Staten Island in New York to the position of local Pittsburghers.
“What’s the benefit of being stuck on an island — or in you guys’ case a peninsula,” RZA asked. “The benefit of it is that you get to nurture something that nobody else has. Sometimes these islands and peninsulas do give you a chance to develop something great and unique, and when that develops and goes out to the world it really inspires the world.”
At times throughout the discussion, RZA read parables from his currently available book The Tao of Wu. As a follow-up to his 2005 book release, The Wu-Tang Manual, RZA talked about how the books differed. While the Wu-Tang Manual digs deep into the origins of the Wu-Tang Clan, The Tao of Wu exudes stories more reflective of the day-to-day life that RZA has led — with both the remarkable career highlights and negative decisions that have molded him into the man he is today.
“If you’re going somewhere in Pittsburgh, and you wanna go down to Kirkpatrick Street on Centre, you’ll find your way there. But if you’ve got a map, it’s an easier ride. And so, my book … it’s sort of a map. Because some of the things I’ve gone through, you will go through … just by being an American, you’ll come across some of these things. And maybe there’s a way to make it better for you, or just to give you a pre-warning or to let you know that you’re not the first one to go here.”
RZA expalined that he strives to give us a living example of someone who has gone through these things.
“Who is the hero of my life? It has to be me,” he said. “In the book you’ll hear me talk about all of the different people that helped me, or all of the different philosophies we come across, and we take some of these things as fact and we take some things and dismiss them as fiction. It’s each a learning part building you.”
Today, Ayinde Bomani is the running backs coach of the football team at Chaminade College Preparatory School, which finished first atop the Daily News Los Angeles rankings this past season. He is also head coach of the Chatsworth Chiefs youth football team. Coaching football is a passion of his that he cherishes with much pride. While his legacy continues to be built in/on that field, his journey began years ago when he was born in the Hill District of Pittsburgh.
Growing up in Larimer, Bomani, known in the hip-hop world as Suga-Free, experimented with various forms of creative expression. While he finds satisfaction in the creativity that is required of him in his current roles coaching football, hip-hop was an alternative artistic outlet during his teenage and early manhood years. His involvement in the hip-hop culture began with break-dancing.
“I was the only chubby break-dancer who could windmill,” he says, with the slightest chuckle. “That's how I kind of got popular around the city. I used to be on Larimer Avenue every day practicing how to do the windmill. Once I finally got that shit, man... I broke that windmill off and that was probably the happiest day of my life. I would windmill and grab a piece of paper. So, people would be like, 'Ain't you that fat break-dancer that could windmill while reading the newspaper?' I was proud!” (The windmill is a popular move performed by experienced break-dancers, it's when the dancer uses their hands and upper-body strength to elevate their legs, as their neck and shoulders roll on the ground while their legs swing around in the air like a windmill.)
As the break-dancing phase began to fade out, deejaying and rapping became popular. And Bomani engulfed himself in the music, developing relationships with others who were active in Pittsburgh at the time — Mel-Man and Sam Sneed, to name a few.
“Major Harris, he's a quarterback from Pittsburgh and is one of the original black quarterbacks. He went pro in Canada and bought Mel an [E-mu] SP-12,” explained Bomani. “Sneed was in the other gang, he was in the streets and bought his own SP-12. They were two of the first people with an SP-12. I was probably the first one to get an [Akai] MP.”
By this time, Bomani had graduated from Wilkinsburg High School and was attending college at West Virginia University. Prior to getting his own MP drum machine and engaging in the production of the music, Bomani was a solo rapper.
“I used to come home and get beats from Mel,” he said. “I'd come over his grandmother's crib and he'd have 15 rappers over there. I could never get beats. So, one day it was like 11 in the morning. Rap City used to come on on Saturday mornings. And I was, like, kinda depressed. My mom and my grandmother, they was a little sauced... 11 in the morning, sippin'. And I was like, 'man, I just wish I had my own drum machine so I could make my own beats.' And my mom was like, 'I wish I could afford it, I'd get it for you.' My grandmother was like, 'what it cost, how much is it, what is it... I'll get it.' Five minutes later we was in the car going to Swissvale. From Larimer Avenue, going to Swissvale... I was like 'I need a SP-12'... He said 'I got something a little bit better called an MP-60,' so I got it. Once I got it, I just started making beats. When I made the beats, I just started recording. I had a couple decent songs and sent them to this guy in Florida, his son was MC A.D.E.”
MC A.D.E. was a popular bass music artist around this time. It took a while, but Bomani eventually heard back from the record label that he had sent his music to. The label wanted to signed him, and Bomani agreed to a deal.
“I was supposed to be their top artist,” he explained. “Then, all of the sudden, I came home and the label was holding up on my project because their focus became a group of four boys from Tennessee. They were trying to get their album done cause the label believed in them. And, so, I was like 'damn, what's going on? You're pushing me to the side for four little boys?' So, their project eventually got held up cause one of the boys wanted to go solo. That solo kid was Usher, which is wild. His mom became his manager and pulled him from the group and took him to LaFace [Records]. Meanwhile, my album never got done.”
Again at home in Pittsburgh, Bomani continued rapping and producing. In 1992, he joined forces with two female MC's, Ms. Chievious and Ms. Cellaneous, as rap group Misfits In the Attic. Bomani takes pride in the group's approach of being an alternative to the gangster rap that was popular during this era.
“When we came up as the Misfits we wore overall's,” Bomani said. “The girls had slingshots, I was in shape so I used to always do some shit. We had a song called 'Duckin' Bullets,' and every time we'd perform I would say, 'man, I'm tired of duckin' bullets' and I would drop my overall's and say 'they even shot up my boxer shorts'. And, you know, girls would scream ... you know how ladies cut-up. It was showmanship. People dissed us, but the girls liked it. I wasn't trying to be like everybody else. It was myself and two women, how gangsta could I be?”
A pioneer of Pittsburgh hip-hop and friend of Bomani, “Melle Mel” Plowden referred him to a man named Tom Cossie. Cossie was a music producer, notably credited for soul/funk group Chic's “Le Freak,” who had started his own label, Saturn Records. Cossie invested a few thousand dollars into the group's music videos, and his involvement presented a variety of placement opportunities.
“We shot a lot of videos at Kennywood Park, and then some at the Strip's Edge. The first video we shot, we were on the Jack Rabbit,” Bomani explained. “We ended up doing this thing for channel 13 called 'Where In the World Is Carmen San Diego?' I didn't know what it was, but it was a big show, a kids show.”
Watch Misfits In the Attic rapping at Kennywood Park at the 0:45 mark:
The group's first music video, “Kick It Anyway,” debuted on Video LP, which was a live viewer call-in program that aired on BET. The video was shown during a holiday special, alongside TLC's “Sleigh Ride” and a Christmas song by Boyz II Men. Although it wasn't a full-fledged Christmas song, the Misfits In the Attic song featured a chorus that said, “it ain't a holiday, it ain't ya birthday, but we can kick it anyway”. It was the lead single from the group's debut album, Enter At Your Own Risk.
“We had a really dope album,” claimed Bomani. “But we couldn't get a lot of the samples cleared. So, we tried to re-do the album without all of the samples, and it just didn't come out the way I would've liked. It just was wack the way musicians were trying to play the samples. And I was inexperienced. It was a mere skeleton of what it would've been if we'd have been able to use the samples.”
As it was, the group's singles received a significant amount of radio play. Bomani noted the importance of Freddy Live, who had a studio in New Kensington where they would do their radio edits. Assisting with the group's radio presence was Al B. Sylk, who was deejaying on WAMO at the time.
“I learned a lot from Al B Sylk. We did a really popular ad for Port Authority Transit. It was like, 'Push up on PATricia, Port Authority Transit/Allegheny County quick as a... something advancement',” Bomani said in reflection with a laugh.
Sylk eventually moved to Virginia Beach, and for a few months Bomani lived there as well. In December of 1996, Bomani moved to Atlanta. While in Atlanta, he got a record deal with Tony Mercedes and LaFace Records.
“Once again, I had a hot ass single," he said. "It was called 'I Can't Stand My Baby Momma' and sampled just a piece of a Donna Summer song. Next thing I know, Donna Summer tells me she denied my sample. She told TLC, who was also on the label, that they could use her sample for a song of theirs called 'Bitch Like Me'. And Donna Summer had told them they could use the sample, but they can't curse. And I'm like, 'Well, how can you not curse on a song called "Bitch Like Me"?' Anyways, they used it and she was like, 'Hell no.' She probably heard the name of my song and wasn't with it. We tried to replay the sample but it never worked out.”
Once again hitting a road block, Bomani's deal with LaFace Records fell through. As frustration with the music industry began setting in, Bomani received a phone call from his old Pittsburgh friend — Mel-Man, who was now living in California and working with Dr. Dre. Bomani went on to talk about his experience working alongside Mel-Man and Dr. Dre:
Mel called me one day and was like 'fuck rap,' come out here and do beats and get the money. And I was like, man, I'm not trying to come out there and let Dre steal all my music and get no credit. I was like, 'I'm a rapper first, forget producing.' I just produce cause I need a beat, I don't care about producing, I'm a front guy. So, I came out to Cali on February 17th. Came in the studio, Eminem was laying a record, 'I am whatever you say I am,' or whatever... taking forever to lay this record. I ain't ever seen an artist take so long to lay down one vocal. Me and Eminem's [partner] Proof got on the drum machine... and what they do is, they turn on the drum machine and whatever sounds is on there, and everybody gets a couple minutes to make the best record. So, I get on there and made a hot beat. Proof was like 'I like that.' Dre came in and listened to it real quick, then just took the headphones off and slammed that shit down like 'this is some wack shit.' So, that's how it started.
What Mel did, and Dre did, is he would let them hear a sample and then replay it, but it would be Mel's drums. And then I'd pick Scott Storch up from the airport and he'd play his parts. And that's how Dre's sound started. All of them producers used to come around Dre. Timbaland gave Scott Storch a Rolls Royce for ten beats.
It's a funny life, where you probably don't got the [amount of] money you wanted, but you were there... in the studio watching Dre make music, watching Snoop and them smoke weed and Xzibit come with all kind of weed. I don't even smoke weed, you know what I mean. In Pittsburgh studios, like in New York, there's just a studio that gets good sound but you don't care if it looks crazy... it could be in somebody's basement or wherever. Cali... sheiit... the studios look like spas. I mean, you come in and they got a work-out area. The studios are hidden away in some places cause they be robbing rappers out here. So, you got security guards and you got gates that roll back like it's Fort Knox. And you wouldn't even know it's a studio. Then you got a restaurant in the studio, you got a food kitchen. We used to not even buy food at Mel's crib, I would just wait til we go to the studio. Dre had a work-out gym. We used to go to his gym in the morning, me and Infinite. It's crazy, man, I've seen it all.
Bomani continues to perform spoken word, albeit sporadically. You can find some of his spoken word videos on his YouTube page, where he also updates with videos from his Run 2 Daylight Running Back Academy. It's through his coaching football that he finds himself interacting with many of the hip-hop music makers that he was once pitching his demo to.
“I never thought that I would be cooler with Snoop on football than music," Bomani concluded. "Most people from Pittsburgh don't leave Pittsburgh, but the ones who leave... they make it happen.”
Just a quick heads-up: The folks from the SUNSTAR Festival let me know today that Jeri Lynn Johnson, who was to be the main speaker on tonight's panel discussion kicking off the festival, has been ill this week and won't be able to make the event. The discussion at the Alloy Studios will go on with the local participants, and the rest of the festival will go on as planned.
As previewed last week, Macy's of Downtown Pittsburgh hosted a Black History Month event honoring the work of iconic photographer and film director Gordon Parks. A diverse group of upward of 100 people, both young and old, were seated in anticipation of the “In Conversation” panel discussion, as local DJ Nate Da Phat played classic soul and funk music from the '70s era that birthed Parks' most popular film, Shaft.
Veteran freelance writer/producer Joseph Lewis hosted the panel discussion, while fellow Pittsburgh-based entrepreneur and Emmy-award winning producer Emmai Alaquiva joined as a member of the panel. Alongside Alaquiva were prestigious actors Terrell Tilford and Malinda Williams. In addition to his recent acting role as Sean Clarke on VH1's television series Single Ladies, Tilford is a painter and artist himself. Williams has acted in films including A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, The Wood and Idlewild, and may be best known for her role as Tracy “Bird” Joseph Van Adams on the popular drama series Soul Food, which aired on Showtime from 2000-04.
The conversation at Macy's included a variety of topics related to the panel members' individual artistic background and how Gordon Parks has influenced their lives and work.
“My interest in the arts was more about depicting life,” explained Williams. “I was just a child growing up who saw these interesting characters and interesting people and wanted to share them with the world.”
“You know, it's a privilege to be an artist, and I have to remind a lot of young people about this,” added Tilford. “We don't do a regular 9 to 5 job, some of us are incapable of doing so.”
Alaquiva, who is founder of the Hip-Hop On L.O.C.K. youth arts education program and currently manages his own video production company, acknowledged the life and work of Gordon Parks as an inspiration. He told the story of Parks being birthed a stillborn baby with no heartbeat. As the story goes, the family doctor declared Parks dead before another doctor went through with an idea to immerse the newborn in ice-cold water. The shock caused his heart to begin beating, as the infant Parks cried and came to life.
“When I hear that story, I connect,” said Alaquiva. “In so many ways as a young man growing up I felt like I was dead, but finding arts at the age of 13, and finding music and falling in love with hip-hop was my first introduction into the arts.”
Alaquiva added about Parks: “His legacy inspires me as a filmmaker, and as a photographer, and as an artist in general to continue to chase my dreams and to continue to use every second as a lifetime.”
“Gordon Parks was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things,” said Tilford, who is a long-time collector of art and fan of Parks' work.
“Of the works in my collection, and I own almost four hundred pieces, there's a piece by Carl Sidle... He shot a photograph of Gordon Parks with a silhouette of a tree over Mr. Parks' face. And, it's appropriately titled 'The Learning Tree,'" explained Tilford, who was evidently impacted by the piece as he began to tear up while talking about it. "The significance of that work resonates in terms of our journey as a people. And when I see that tree and the silhouette over his face, it reminds me of the journey, the struggle, the all that our predecessors gave so that it would even enable us to be here right now."
Like Alaquiva and Tilford, Williams shared a story about Parks that has had a profound impact on her life.
“I remember him saying something, and I'm paraphrasing, that at one point in life he wasn't sure where he was going or what he was going to do but he knew he had a fear of failure,” said Williams. “And that resonated with me because ... in some respects I have a fear of failure, but I also in some respects have a fear of success. What Gordon Parks said was 'I just knew that I would spend the rest of my life beating that down, chasing down my fear of failure.'”
As the “In Conversation” panel discussion concluded, the audience made their way to the table of concessions that was provided by Savoy Restaurant. Lewis, Alaquiva, Tilford, and Williams continued to talk with attendees and share their appreciation for this informative event that Macy's put together.
“Macy's has a tremendous responsibility, being an American staple from a commercial aspect, to give back to the community,” said Alaquiva. “And the fact is that Macy's doesn't necessarily just take one month to recognize African-American history, or diverse history. They do this year-round, it just so happens to be that it's February so we're gonna celebrate Black History Month.”
On Valentine's Day, Pittsburgh music artist Ricardo Iamuuri released a music video for his new single, “Imperial Sugar”. Directed by Alisha B. Wormsley, the video begins with Iamuuri typing on a type-writer, speaking aloud presumably acting as a news writer asking for his deadline to be pushed back. “I just need more time, can you make that happen? Yes, make time happen,” he says, before adding that it is a story he is not capable of sugar-coating.
The soulful tune was produced by Akil Esoon, of Formula 412, and will be made available on Iamuuri's album that is slated to be released later this year. On the songs chorus, he sings uplifting lyrics:
“It's never too late to shine, fill up your heart and your head will rise/
above the sky, it's a sweet life, sweet life”
The video concludes with various sugar-covered faces hymning “don't refine your shine,” you can watch Ricardo Iamuuri's “Imperial Sugar” below.
That's what the front door of Brillobox said on Saturday night as Donora was set to perform the final show of their Play Nice Tour. Presented by Opus One Productions, the locally bred band was joined on this night by fellow Rostrum Records electro-pop/rock group Teammate.
On a snowy night in Pittsburgh, hundreds of fans found shelter inside the Bloomfield club. The tour that started earlier this month took Donora and Teammate on the road to ten other cities throughout the Midwest and East Coast. The tour promoted Donora's new release, the Play Nice EP. It also helped introduce audiences to Teammate, who plan to release their debut project in the coming months.
After an opening set by acoustic artist Greg Dutton, Teammate's Dani Buncher and Scott Simons took the stage. Buncher on drums and Simons on a dual-keyboard set-up, the duo received a warm welcome from the growing Pittsburgh crowd.
A few songs in to their set, the opening bassline to their new single, “Girls With Boys' Names,” rumbled through the room as Simons began singing the song's opening line “she shoots down everything, even your best intentions”. Another highlight of Teammate's was a song that showcased Buncher as the main vocalist as she simultaneously maintained the beat on her drumset throughout the song. Their set closed with the previously released single, “Sequel,” which had the audience mimicking the chorus aloud. Having showcased a number of catchy tunes about the opposing emotions that are attached to love and heartbreak, Teammate's performance instilled high anticipation for their soon-to-be-released debut album.
Donora followed the great performance by Teammate with one of their own. In a glittery red shirt, lead singer Casey Hanner was joined on stage by bandmates Jake Churton on guitar and Jake Hanner on drums. They performed their hits, including to new EP's title song, “Play Nice,” and popular single from their prior album, “And Then the Girls”.
Throughout the set, Ben Tabas provided visuals on a projector screen that covered the wall behind the stage. The visuals certainly added to the quality of the overall show experience, as they often aligned with the lyrics of the songs — for example, the visuals for my personal favorite song from the new EP, “Under the Lights,” showed vintage video of couples dancing blended with video of rows of light bulbs lighting up.
What Casey said was the last song of their set on this tour, “Boom Boom” had the entire room dancing, as anyone standing still could feel the black-and-white checkered floor shaking beneath them. For this homecoming and final tour stop, the band agreed to perform a few more songs. “The Chorus,” engaged the audience to put their hands in the air and clap along to the beat. They aptly closed the tour on this Saturday night with “Weekend Tongue,” which again had the jam-packed audience singing along.
On Thursday, February 7, Pittsburgh-bred DJ Petey C competed in the Red Bull Thre3Style East Coast regional event. Having advanced after winning the Pittsburgh qualifier a few weeks prior, Petey would be competing against fellow qualifying round winners from Boston, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia. The night's event took place in Philly at Voyeur Nightclub. Less than an hour after doors opened, the venue was jam-packed with people ready to dance, party, and rock-out to some of the regions best DJs.
“I'm feeling great,” Petey C said as the audience began flooding into the club around 10 P.M. “I'm starting to see a lot of 412 tee's show up. I'm stoked, man.”
Two of Petey C's competitors from the Thre3Style Pittsburgh qualifier, DJ Midas and Pete Butta, were in the building to support their hometown friend. DJ Bonics, who judged the Pittsburgh qualifier, hosts a radio show on Wired 96.5 FM in Philly and made his way out as a spectator.
The five competing DJs in Red Bull Thre3Style's East Coast regional event were, in order of performance, DJ Petey C, DJ Trayze, DJ Zeke, DJ LayZee Boy, and DJ PHSH. As the only of the bunch that made it to this round last year, Petey seemed comfortable with the news that he'd be the first to perform the 15-minute DJ set that is asked of the competitors.
“This is the destiny, man, this is what was made for me,” Petey said before going on stage. “Everyone's watching me and everyone's gonna start this whole battle off with me.”
DJ Petey C rocked out, showcasing skills in all five of the criteria categories that Thre3Style DJs are judged on — song selection, creativity, mixing, audience response, and stage presence. One of my favorite portions of Petey's set was his blend of the vocals from Notrious B.I.G.'s first single, “Party & Bullshit,” atop the instrumental of “Insane In the Membrane” by Cypress Hill, followed by a mix into Jagged Edge's 2001 R & B/Pop hit “Where the Party At?” Embracing the energy that had accumulated in the audience as they awaited the first performer, Petey's set closed with several areas of the crowd chanting his name.
“I think that he embodied the Thre3Style, to me at least and my taste,” said DJ Bonics during a follow-up phone call a few days later discussing his thoughts on Petey's performance in the event. “He made it more than a DJ set, he made it a story and took you on a journey. And I think that makes the best Thre3Style sets. Overall, he definitely should've placed and he did.”
Following the individual performance sets of the five DJs, the panel of reputable judges — DJ Jazzy Jeff, A-Trak, Z-Trip — decided on a winner. Of the five competitor's, the three top-ranking DJ's would receive prize packages. Event host Rich Medina announced Petey C as the third place recipient. It marked his first time placing in this East Coast regional event. In second place was DJ Trayze, with DJ PHSH finishing in first place and being awarded the opportunity to advance to the Red Bull Thre3Style National Finals event in Los Angeles later this year.
“Pittsburgh's a small town, I don't think people were expecting someone from Pittsburgh to place over someone from New York,” said Petey, as he went on to talk about the other advantages of being a part of the Thre3Style competition. “I met so many people networking, you can't buy that or fake that... coming off stage and getting props from DJ Cash Money and legends and stuff.”
Petey also noted his appreciation for having been able to share this experience with D.C.'s representative, DJ Trayze, whom he had met about two years ago.
“I'm happy we were up there together,” said Petey, continuing on with a story that happened as he and Trayze stood at side-stage after the competition. “We were just standing there waiting for [Jazzy] Jeff to go on [to perform], because we were so excited to watch this legend go on and shut it down. So we're standing side-stage, and all of the studden these huge bouncers come in and blow everyone out of the way. And then A-Trak and Z-Trip just, like, walked in. And, they were like 'we're gonna watch the show right here with you guys.' We were just like, 'great!' (laughs). I did kind of have a quick moment, they were both like 'you did good' and we took a pic.”
Currently, DJ Petey C is taking on a variety of deejaying gigs. This Thursday, Feb. 14, he's playing at S Bar in the South Side with DJ Bromeo. On Saturday, Feb. 23, Petey will be playing a double at Seven Springs Ski Resort — on the deck during the day and at night at the Matterhorn. He also recently began a monthly residency at Bent Willey's in Morgantown, West Virginia, as he continues to expand his brand beyond Pittsburgh.
Wrapping up our conversation on his performance in the East Coast regionals of the Red Bull Thre3Style, Petey said “[advancing to] the next round is really what I'm after at this point.”
Contact and booking information for DJ Petey C can be found at DJPeteyC.com.
In the paper that comes out today, we ran a short version of my interview with Reid Paley, the onetime leader of Pittsburgh's The Five, who's now best known for his work with his eponymous trio and with Paley and Francis, his duo with Black Francis of The Pixies. Here's a less-abridged version of our talk. The show at Club Cafe on Tue., Feb. 12 is now sold out; see below for other dates on the tour.
What was the impetus for this short tour?
Oh, I don’t know what’s going on — it’s not my tour! It’s Charles’ tour. I think he’s going to be doing a little bit of recording in Nashville, and we might do some as well.
Have you been doing more writing together as a pair? I understand that the last record was written very quickly, before recording.
Yeah — we just spent three short days here writing, then — we normally don’t break it up like that, but this time we came up with the music together, then kind of split the lyrics. We each took five, then came back to Nashville to put it together. Which I think is a good thing. To be able to do something that I think is good, that quickly. It’s not like we weren’t paying attention, nor were we hurried. We’re just motherfuckers. We’re fast. I realize we live in a world where, engineers, in a studio, if you walk in and intend to play a song all the way through, they kind of look up and their eyes start to glow. Generally, people go in, [makes guitar-riff sound], loop that, it sounds like crap. I’m not a Luddite, and I’m not anti-digital, but one of the problems with digital is that it’s kind of reduced music — Jaron Lanier said that — the reason vinyl sounds so great is it’s a physical process. There are grooves, there are squiggles in the grooves, the vibration is picked up and amplified, and you’re hearing a thing. It’s like life; it’s how your eyes see things. Whereas digital is kind of like watching a movie, where your eyes are extrapolating between the 24 frames per second. Music is now a series of beeps, if you look at it closely.
But yeah, we did it pretty quick, not because we don’t care; not because we’re being arrogant; because sometimes there’s not much time allotted and you do what you can and sometimes it works.
Was there trepidation about being two guys known as strong songwriters, working together in this way?
I think collaborating is a pretty difficult thing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We’ve known each other for ages; we actually started writing together about 10 years ago. It started as a lark; we threw together a song. We had telephone conversations; we’d sit there and play for each other over the phone. And that was a song he recorded on Honeycomb, called “Another Velvet Nightmare.” And we wrote a number of songs together. It’s just a thing — whenever he’s got time. He’s got certain other commitments, in terms of family and … another band. He does a lot of stuff. When there’s time, we do this stuff. This time, we’ll see what we can write on the way down to Nashville.
In the late evening, Donora and a slew of friends made their way to Club Cafe in the South Side for the Play Nice EP release party and performance. Show openers Mark Ramsey and Greg Dutton mellowed the audience with solo acoustic performances. Ramsey shared a laugh with the crowd as he sarcastically made a remark about both he and Dutton's soft singing voices. As their performances concluded, WYEP's Morning Show host Cindy Howes directed those in attendance to a projector screen that stood to the right of the stage. Attendees collectively watched Donora's new music video, “Play Nice” (watch below), and were given a sneak peak at the band's yet-to-be-released video for another song from the new EP, “Float Away”.
Hand-claps and cheerful hollers from the jam-packed audience welcomed Donora to the stage. The band's lead singer/guitarist Casey Hanner, her brother/drummer Jake Hanner, and bassist Jake Churton were joined by aforementioned show opener Mark Ramsey, who played keyboard with the band during their performance. After beginning with a couple familiar tunes from past releases, the band began playing songs from the new EP. Those in attendance tapped their feet, danced, and nodded along with the music as Donora performed the Play Nice EP in-full, and concluded the performance with a few more of their previously released popular songs.
In February, Donora begins a national tour with label-mates TeamMate. Tickets are on sale now for all tour dates, including a return to Pittsburgh on February 16 for a show at Brillobox in Bloomfield.
Donora - “Play Nice” (Music Video, directed by Ben Tabas and Casey Hanner)
The electro-hip-hop DJ duo Tracksploitation, who ranked third behind only Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller as the city's best hip-hop acts of 2013, are looking for your help as they prepare to set-out on a tour that will include a performance at the SXSW film and music festival in Austin, TX this March.
The duo made up of DJ's JCT45 and Professor ASAP has launched a Kickstarter that welcomes donations to fund the tour that they're booking around their showcase at SXSW. Donations will also be invested in new performance equipment and instruments.
This is all so very exciting but the bottom line is we are booked to play at an official SXSW party on March 9th and we need your help to get there. Help us represent all of you on a national stage.
More information on the group and benefits of donating can be found on Trackploitation's Kickstarter. For example, an exclusive Tracksploitation t-shirt will be sent to anyone who donates $25.
Free mixes produced by Tracksploitation are available at www.soundcloud.com/tracksploitation
ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW!?! The 90's were all about paying $20 for 2 good…
Yeahhhhh, that song's OK. That "Secret Smile" song straight-up sucks, though, and I think it…
Did you even listen to that whole CD Andy? Have you forgotten about singing in…