When your main instrument is harmonica, you might not have so many folks to swap war stories with. But the upside, especially if you live in Pittsburgh, is that you're always in demand. That's how Stu Braun has ended up in so many different acts, here and elsewhere.
"I've been in a lot of bands, yeah," Braun admits with a characteristically sheepish shrug. "The B-3s, The New Alcindors, The Johnsons Big Band, Local Honey ... Currently, I'm in Daryl Fleming & the Public Domain, The Turpentiners and Man in the Street."
While music is the overarching theme in Braun's life, there's more to him than mean blues harp player: Schoolteacher at Propel East by day, in his spare time, he also supplements his income with winnings from online poker tournaments, of all things. ("It's a way to help pay the bills, and I find it relaxing," he says, then adds: "If you only have so much room, don't worry about this, write about my music.")
A Squirrel Hill native, Braun went to college in St. Louis and, having brought a harmonica to school because his piano was too big to carry, fell in with roots musicians like Chris Peterson, a fiddler who took Braun on tour with him to Europe (where he proceeded to stay for several years in the mid-'90s). Stints in NYC as a subway musician and touring Southern juke joints with guys like James "Super Chikan" Johnson took up some years of Braun's life. Returning to Pittsburgh, in addition to spending time as a cab driver, he laid down roots in the local rock scene.
Party-blues-ska outfit The B-3s are one of the better-known bands he's played with, and this weekend Stu Braun is getting the band back together: "I wanted to have a B-3s reunion around my 40th birthday -- that's the impetus," he says. "I think everyone -- whether they admit it or not -- wanted to play the songs again."
Besides the songs, perhaps it's the shenanigans that Braun wants to bring back. The quiet harmonica player recalls with relish a weekend trip to Boston that the band took during its prime: "Everyone who came into contact that weekend with The B-3s was either bleeding, laughing or crying soon after. That's how we like it."
The B-3s reunion takes place at 9 p.m. Sat., Aug. 7, at Shadow Lounge; The Human Brains and Raw Blow open.