Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle
A non-profit run by local folk- and roots-music enthusiasts, Calliope: Pittsburgh's Folk Music Society brings high-profile national artists to Pittsburgh, offers classes, and holds open stages and gatherings of musicians for the exchange of ideas. One of the more notable regular Calliope events is the Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle, a monthly gathering at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern in which members play for and with one another.
In 2007, for the third year in a row, participants put together a CD of original songs recorded with the help of other Songwriters Circle members, including contributions from active Calliope organizers like George Kantor and John Hayes and familiar local names like Stacy Mates and Sue Gartland.
While many of the songs deal with traditional folk themes like travel and rural innocence in the face of the city (such as Rick Bruening's "The Whole Day Fishin'"), others touch on more contemporary, urbane themes (Hayes' "Cold Comfort of Science"). Outstanding contributions include George Kantor's "Wendell and Cass," the ballad of the New York Aquarium's gay penguin pair. Bruce Hoffman's "Come On, Oprah" is a silly novelty song that comments on television culture in a playful way; Stacy Mates' "I Hate Ohio" proffers the more melancholy feelings of attempting to hold up a long distance relationship.
What the compilation ultimately offers is a document of musical community and local collaboration. And for that, anyone interested in folk of the '60s-revival style, or local music in general, might enjoy this collection.